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Going through my google reader recently, I stumbled upon an atricle titled ‘5 Reasons to “Gamify” You Class’. The article sparked my interest and lead my to look into ‘Gamification’ further. I feel like I’m a little late on this idea as my search revealed many articles and sites on the topic.

To me ‘Gamification’ made me think of the term ‘If you can’t beat them, join them’. Our students whether we like it or not a playing computer games at an enormous rate, in particular boys and the trend only looks to be increasing. ‘Gamification’ looks at why games are so popular, engaging and often addictive and aims to incorporate these aspects into an education setting.

Bellow are some links to videos and sites on the topic of Gamification that I have found interesting, informative and in the case of John Hunter’s speech inspiring.

John Hunter: Teaching with the World Peace Game (TED Talks)

Gabe Zichermann: Gamification (TED Talks)

Website: superfunner.com

Tom Chatfield: 7 Ways Games Reward the Brain

My own thoughts

After watching the videos and reading further about the subject, it made me think about some of the games I played when I was young and some of the games I still play.

I thought about the game ‘Pokemon’ which I am unashamed to say I was addicted to when it first came out on the Nintedo Game Boy way back in 1996. I chose my starting Pokemon and raised him and earned badges by defeating opponents and completing different tasks. I remember wanting my Pokemon to get stronger and looking forward to them evolving and changing, the anticipation and reward of my little creature learning something new or catching a new Pokemon was enough to see me play and focus on the game for hours at a time.

What if at the start of the year, each student got to choose a little creature either digitally or from a couple that have been printed, every time they completed or attempted a task at school whatever it may be they gained experience points to go toward growing their little creature. At designated levels the students creature may have the to option of evolving, changing names, learning new powers or attacks.  The aim is to have the students as engaged in their learning through game like rewards as they would be playing a video game.

Gamification isn’t without its sceptics and doubters:

These article warn about token motivation and what happens if or when the novelty wears off. They talk about psychological factors that influence our engagement and need to achieve.

Have a look at both sides and make up your own mind.

What are your thoughts and ideas on ‘Gamification’?

Have you or do you know of anyone that has tried to Gamify their classroom?

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Just uttering the word ‘Ultranet’ around teachers is enough to stir emotion. Its fair to say I’ve heard more than mixed reviews of the conroversial Victorian government anitiative. For those that are not aware,  the Ultranet is state wide secure site for students, teachers and parents to collaborate within.

As a graduate techer I am yet to be ‘burned’ by the Ultranet and am open to giving it a go, however as I write this I feel I am beginning to feel the heat of an impending burn, mostly at this stage due to the frustration of a steep learning curve.

My initial thoughts and discussions with a fellow teacher has lead me to believe this amazing, inovative and ground breaking tool that will lead our students into a new stratesphere of learning may be well and truely over sold.

I must say that I do like some of the features, like the learning tasks section. I like being able to set a task, take notes on the students work, mark it, and link the task to a specific VELS standard. However there are a few reasons Facebook took over and crushed Myspace, one was it was simple to use! No longer did I have to mess around with HTML to personalise my page, connecting with others was a click of a button, everything I wanted to see was in one place, and everything was called and did exactly what it was supposed to do. My first impressions of the Ultranet have me comparing it to an even more complicated Myspace, which has lead me to explore ulternatives namely the much better marketed ‘Edmodo’ which styles its self as a Facebook for education.

From what I can tell so far I haven’t seen anything new on the Ultranet or anything that someone or something on the internet isn’t already doing better, e.g. Edublogs, Wiki’s, Edmodo, Pinterest, Twitter…etc.

I will continue to explore the Ultranet and educate myself on its uses. From what I’ve heard it is still a work in progress and is continually being improved with an eye to a possible relaunch in October (please correct me if im wrong or you have more info).

*Currently the Australian Education Union have impossed sanctions on the use of the Ultranet as part of industrial action over the current EBA*

What are your experiences of the Ultranet?

How do you use it in the classroom?

@Mick_Sweeney