In a seventh-grade class in Okeechobee County, Florida, every kid’s dream has come true: the school has been replaced by video games. Well, more accurately, classes have been gamified and incorporated into a software system called Schoology.
Teacher Elizabeth Box was having trouble getting her student’s engaged, and many of them were heading for a failing grade. Taking inspiration from Chris Aviles and the Teched Up Teacher blog, Box spent an entire summer developing the game-like program that would change her doomed Civics class’s destiny. Students now log into their Chromebooks and begin completing assignments, laid out as video game quests, to save a dystopian future U.S. by returning the game’s fictional society to the civic values we live by today.
Students not only enjoy completing quest assignments, but they are also able to compete with each other via a leaderboard and purchase in-game items. Box herself now functions as more of a moderator and overseer; her lectures and class information is all present in the game she created, and students learn the material as they play. Box says the Schoology system works like a dream. Every one of her students is passing.
“Kids that have failed, kids that have learning disabilities, they flourish in my class,” Box claims. “And when you look at my leaderboard and the top ten, about half of them are kids that flat out refuse to work for other teachers.”
While that last comment may seem like many of these students are simply acting up, remember that an entire quarter of Okeechobee County’s population is below the poverty line, according to a Quick facts census. But, thanks to the presence of technology and interactive learning applications like Schoology, these students are seeing their own true potential. The key element at work is engagement. The aptitude and ability were always there; we all possess it. All people need is the right motivation to turn failure into success. Video games have always presented players with an ideal of some sort – an ideal goal, ideal world, character, even moral compasses. Video games inspire people, and they have the ability to take us to new heights we might not have imagined on our own.
Images for this article provided by Venturebeat
Matt Eschbach is a PC, Mac and Android indie game developer and fiction writer. His works have won multiple monetary awards from various contests. Graduating college in 2012 with a major in Game Design, Matt spends his time making stuff up and then building it. His favorite hobby… is sleeping.