Fun Theory & Gamification

Thanks for joining us for this month’s Circles session. To the right is a copy of the handout and below you will find the outsourced memory for the day. Enjoy!

The Spark

We started with a little word game…

Instructions: Take out a sheet of paper. How many different words can you create from the letters below in 1 minute?

Question Framing/Functional Fixedness

You may recall our conversation,  just by asking you to take out a piece of paper, we question framed you into a very specific type of answer. It was very difficult for you to “Think Outside of the Box” once the lid was closed on the box by the question frame. We then asked you about how you question students in class. Are students permitted to use their devices to look things up? Do you allow them to outsource memory? Is outsourcing a good thing? Is it something really within our control in the long run? What was your take? When students Google the answer, is it…

Cheating or Research?


After watching and discussing Don’t Be the Lid!, we shared some trivia challenge type questions that work as sparks and conversation starters for focusing interest around content. These authentic searches also allow you to demonstrate best practices for 21st Century Digital Literacy within your respective fields.

Gap Fill – Fact or Fiction – Show Me What You Know – Six Degrees

Eggs, Bacon, and Fun Theory

Google Easter Eggs – Atari Breakout – Askew – Google in 1998 – Barrel Rolls

6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon – What is Your Bacon Number

Guns & Rock-n-Roll – How to Rock a Google Search

PowerSearching with Google

Games or Gamification

According to Kapp, Blair, & Mesch (2014),

“A Game is a self-contained unit. There is a “Game-Space” in which the players agree to engage in game activities. There is a clear beginning, middle, and end. There is a defined winning state, and players know when someone has completed a game.”

Gamification in the classroom includes elements of games such as points, badges, freedom to fail, challenges, quests, etc, but there is no self-contained unit. The goal is to use the game mechanics to engage learners as they progress toward learning the content of a course.

Ed Games      Kahoot

Common Classroom Game Mechanics

Quests & Epic Quests

Quests are shortened activities where students earn Experience Points (XP). Consider breaking up an hour’s worth of work into 3 to 4 fifteen or 20 minute quests. Name your quests and assign XP based on the difficulty of the quest. Be generous with your XP, you are no longer on the “90pts = A” scale.  Varying the difficulty in the quests can also help you allow for differentiation within your classroom. It is also important to make sure there is an element of Choice in the design. Students should be able to choose their quests based on what they are comfortable with. Don’t give them too many choices as this can lead to Analysis Paralysis. Also, decide if you want to allow for Modding, or the ability for students to Modify and Create their own quests.

  • Flawless Victory: Complete 10 homework assignments with perfect scores (200 XP).
  • Earlybird: Be the first to complete assignments in a given week. (50XP)
  • Be My Neighbor: Help tutor a classmate with their homework (50 XP).
  • Brotherly Booster: Let a classmate teach you something that you have mastered so that he or she can earn a Respawn (50XP)
  • At Least I Showed Up: Show up for class on time 10 times in a row (50 XP).
  • Dig Deeper: Study a subject (you could even write a list of potential subjects/”bosses” as prompts) on your own and create a 15-minute presentation to explain your research to the class (100 experience; BONUS: If at least 10 students complete this Epic Quest, experience is doubled for all participants)


Feedback loops are foundational to all games, they inform players of what they are doing well and what they need to improve. How are you using feedback loops? How can you increase the speed of your feedback?

Phrase ExpressText Expander – Hoot Suite – Infinite Loop Solution

Unlocking & Modding

How can students unlock additional content within your course? Are they able to mix and match content and create/modify assignments that make them more interesting to them?


Consider redefining failure in your course. In games failures are simply steps in the learning process, and gamers always enjoy the Freedom to Fail. How can students come back to life and continue to learn in your class? Should they be able to?

Classroom Gaming Software

Below are some classroom management softwares that can help you implement game mechanics to your content.

Gradecraft – 3DGameLab –  Classcraft –  TheVirtualLocker.

Good Reads and Research