Mike Skocko

Gamified Curriculum Delivery System

Digital Asset Published 9/6/12 Last updated on 7/21/18
Demonstrating a functional, customizable WordPress package that will enable you to package and deliver your own gamified curriculum.

I've all but fallen off the edge of the Earth for the past year because of this project. All I can say is that it's been worth it.

VIDEO: Sometimes the embed glitches. If so, here's the video.

For some of the back story, see Gamifying the Learning Environment: The View from Level 80

Adobe Connection: The studets create mock-ups in Fireworks, design graphic elements in Illustrator and Photoshop, and write code and upload to the test server in Dreamweaver.

UPDATE: The story continues to evolve in the comments. New functionality and features are being added and the kids are loving the gamified learning experience.

SPECIAL OFFER: Test drive the GCDS from a student's POV. Right here on page 17 of the comments.

UPDATE: Settings and how-to videos may be found on Page 28 of the comments. Shortcode video on page 30.

DOWNLOAD: Unified version of the plugin Use the Lite Version

>>> UPDATE >>> SEE NEW POST: FTW! Turnkey Online Gamification System

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Ayman Raafat

Posted on 11/14/18 3:56:48 PM Permalink

Thanks for your resource​

Mike Skocko

Posted on 7/19/13 12:31:42 AM Permalink

Remember when Apple cut the cord on PowerPC and Mac users had to move to Intel? That worked out pretty well in the end, didn't it?

Well, CubeGold is now the OS 9 of Gamification Systems. You can still use it, and it will still work as promised, but we now have something light years better.

Announcing GameOn | Gamified CDS 3.0

Coming soon to a classroom near you.


P.S. Ryan, you know how you hated the pain of adding ranks one-by-one? Now, just copy and paste a comma delimited list and you're done! Just one of the improvements.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 7/12/13 12:06:13 AM Permalink

If anyone's interested, I've begun a new thread to reflect on wins, fails, and meh from the past year and have also begun sharing my plans and strategies for the upcoming year.

Gamifying the Learning Environment: The View from Level 90 is the resource and you're invited to share your ideas as well.

Mine are still somewhat sketchy but perhaps we can help each other avoid pitfalls and forge new trails in this uncharted land. :)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 7/11/13 11:58:01 PM Permalink

I missed Tony's comment (below) but answered it in the FTW thread. The answer there, if anyone else in interested, is...

Others have automated the process of setting up user accounts but I do it manually (for a couple of reasons). Before activating their accounts, I require the students (and parents) to sign forms agreeing to district and classroom policies (you can find these on my home page). Then each student has to email me, with Mac Lab in the subject line and their ID number in the message. I trash any email that doesn't have both. The kids learn my email address and that I expect them to follow instructions. This also allows for spreading out the initial logins. We've all learned that the very first time anyone logs in, a lot of data is written to the database. If everyone hits the server at once on day one, it crashes or freezes. Subsequent days aren't a problem.

Tony Martinez-Malo

Posted on 7/9/13 4:16:15 PM Permalink


This is awesome. I have been Lurking for some time, and just finally got around to testing this out on our server. Installed everything as it is in the instructions. I do have one quick question. Does the admin create the accounts, or do the students have the capability of going to a part of the site and create their own account? I am sure Ill have more questions, but will first review all the comments.

Thank you for this, I think its what we need right now in our field.


Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/31/13 4:46:02 PM Permalink

I'm not sure if this has been documented on any of our multiple threads, but to anyone having issues with WordPress Multisite (WPMS) installs (for student blogs), here's a proven, safe solution (as suggested by my IT guru at the district): Use two WP installs.

Our primary install is at the root level (but yours could be in any directory) and our secondary -- the student blogs -- are in a sub-directory.

The primary does not use the multisite functionality. All the plugins for the gamified environment are installed on the primary.

The secondary does use the multisite functionality for the student blogs. None of the plugins for the gamified environment are installed on the secondary.

Our primary install is at:

Our secondary install is at:

Our IT guru says this strategy adds a layer of insulation for the primary to protect it from bad guys (but nothing is bullet-proof). As an admin, you'll have two separate WP installs to manage (and that means a little extra work). One thing to remember: Change the name of your admin accounts. Do not use the name admin as that's the first line of automated attack for hackers.

I hope that helps.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/31/13 2:51:57 PM Permalink

Hey Nathan,

Love the concept on your site (and the leaderboards). I'm working on support material for all of the new gamified classrooms launching this fall -- all over the world! In the spirit of Richard Bach's You teach best what you most need to learn, I figure some great new ideas will emerge in the process, and in the conversations that follow.

Meanwhile, here's an interesting post entitled Why does Gamification Fail? (Not an anti-gamification article.) Good read.

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 5/31/13 3:22:55 AM Permalink

I didn't notice a "subscribe" button so I'm just posting in here so I can follow this thread as well as the FTW one. I am going to be implementing the system in my class this year and I can't wait! I experimented a little bit with "money" and badges at and the kids were into it but it didn't keep their attention. This system adds so much more to gamification - thanks again Mike!!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/30/13 7:52:50 PM Permalink

Discussion is fine here. Or there. Most discussions seem to take place via email. (I like them better on the AEE so we all benefit.)

$20/month for hosting is 100% of the out-of-pocket expense. Everything else is free. You just need to pick a BuddyPress compatible theme (info on FTW thread). All required plugins are free and I'll be happy to record videos or Skype to help. It's really not that hard to set up and use. Creating interesting, engaging quests is the real challenge. That's a constant with any system.

As for penalties, yep! Part of system. You can easily set up buttons to deal with time, XP, and/or Gold (or whatever you choose to call your system elements). My hammer of doom is the -900 Club. That one's -300 minutes, -300 XP, and -300 Gold. The best part? The kids have to click the button themselves. Big crowd-pleaser! (Here's the temporary page while we work out the new one.) All purchases, penalties, earnings, etc. are tracked on the Stats page.

But... Use the system that fits your needs. If you like 3D Game Lab better, run with it! Whatever works best for you and the kids. :)

Donald Peters

Posted on 5/30/13 7:24:55 PM Permalink

ok, so trying to wrap my head around this... the link you gave is for hosting - $20/month. What else is needed to set up and run your system? Don't I need a specific WP theme? Do you have to pay for CubePoints? any other upfront or hidden costs?

Trying to weigh pros/cons. My principal is all for me doing this with my students, but the district doesn't want to give me any money for it (fine I'll pay for it out of my budget, but that won't be until next school year). The benefit to the 3d Game Lab system was the training they provide that I could do this summer, but I don't have $245 of my own money to give them until probably July (working a full time job this summer) - I will hold onto the receipt and get reimbursed next fall.

As for requests in the update (maybe you already have this) I would love a way for the teacher to give out a penalty for minor class infractions that they then must overcome. (Off task, cursing in class, etc.)

BTW, should I move this discussion over to the new thread?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/30/13 4:27:53 PM Permalink

Donald (and anyone else who may be interested): I didn't mean to be coy with that last comment. The kids have been and are continuing to streamline the system. They're working on incorporating content types to eliminate the need to insert some of the shortcodes manually (makes the system easier to use). They're also working on a drag and drop management system for the store. (You've got to have a way for kids to spend their virtual currency.) We've struggled with implementing this and think we're on to a great solution. Lots more nifty ease-of-use features on the way but it'll be easier to show after the fact then explain right now.

The system is pretty darn solid. One drawback is that pages become slow to load when there are lots of comments. That seems to be due to the way we've coded the players' individual levels to display next to their comments. (You can turn off this feature in the admin page to eliminate that issue but we're trying to solve the problem as it's cool for kids to see their level displayed.)

Feature requests? Now is the time to ask as we're gearing up for the fall.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 5/30/13 3:13:54 PM Permalink

Just got an automated email from Adobe about your comment, Donald. Will reply next but first up...

Adam: Are you still encountering those problems? Sorry if so, I had no idea you'd commented as I'd moved on to the FTW thread. Please post here so others can benefit from the info. We're not encountering those issues in any Mac browsers. Please let me know and we'll try to get you back to smooth sailing.

Donald: I love the 3D Game Lab model. Much slicker than ours. Once it's rock solid, I might consider moving to it myself. Right now their forums are still reflecting enough issues to give me pause. (There's also plenty of praise, too.) I'm sticking with ours for at least another year. And we're still refining and expanding the system. Exciting things on the horizon! :)

On a side note, we just won a Classroom of the Future Foundation Inspire Award. Came with some nice coin for the lab and they sent someone out to document the story. Of course, some of the info got muddled but here's the video.

Server: If anyone has better ideas, I'm interested. For now, I'd recommend this option from Media Temple. We had 40+ simultaneous connections working without problems in a recent test. I'm sure there are better solutions out there. Anyone have a better power/price point? Cheap will just lead to freezes and headaches.

Donald Peters

Posted on 5/30/13 1:28:54 PM Permalink

Mike, any new updates on how this is proceeding? I'm trying to plan for next year between your system and the 3d Game Labs system. Probably posting this in the wrong spot, but any ideas on cost of running the 'uber-lite' system from scratch? and is it running smooth enough to use (and easy enough for a tech dummy to understand)? Thanks for your attention. =D

Adam Coulson

Posted on 2/19/13 2:24:49 PM Permalink

Just found out that quest pages won't hide pre-Accept if you use google Chrome. Its still works fine in safari. My computers have a plugin issue though with safari that won't let students watch the videos in safari.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 2/19/13 1:40:47 PM Permalink

I also just noticed on our stats page there is the category "not encountered" doesn't exist. Is that something Semar had to do away with in the light version or is there still something I am missing when i create the questpages?

Adam Coulson

Posted on 2/19/13 1:28:47 PM Permalink

Hey mike, I'm not sure if I am doing something incorrect but when I turn a page into a quest [questpage] before content [/questpage] It applies the quest but the page is always fully visible before they even accept the quest, its not a huge deal but I want to make sure they are accepting the quests first. Any idea. I couldn't find anything in cubegold about it.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 2/18/13 10:28:30 PM Permalink

Hey everyone, I have just begun the use of this gamified system in my class and I finally have it up and successfully running. As Mike said I can confirm that the initial login of students will crash your site (freeze it up) if all students try to log at the same time for their first login. Be sure to have them slowly log in one at a time when you start. This was only required the very first time except that I then had all students move over to a different browser (google Chrome) and once again on their first login we froze it. I found out that was because once again all of the cache has to reset and thats a lot of info. Since then however the site is working great and we have not had any issues. They all can easily login simultaneously now. Thanks Mike!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 2/10/13 4:54:34 PM Permalink

Long reply gone due to my stupidity. Never trust a text field with carefully crafted words! Or at least copy and paste into a text editor before clicking the %$#*ing Post Comment button.

Deep breath...


Terrence, I said a bunch of nice things about your system and explained that we still use the now defunct WPMU because we started before multisite existed and multisite seems to have an alarming number of issues that some folks have encountered.

It's one of those "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" situations but there's no doubt we'll have to move on at some point.

Around this point I noticed your, "Did the fresh install things are working great" update and went on asking if you were speaking of WordPress or Cube Gold. Either way, I asked for more details of what "working great" meant and invited you to post about your ideas and experiences on the new thread so others -- myself included -- could benefit from your journey.

Also, if you make it to Sacto (or CUE) we definitely need to get together.

terrence banks

Posted on 2/9/13 10:45:27 PM Permalink

Hey, Iv'e been researching something like what your doing for years, its great to see someone actually doing it. This year is first year that I have implemented it. I teach in Bakersfield, CA. I am teaching a digital art/photo class at the high school level. I am a techie at heart (which is why I was offered the job), as well as an artisit. I taught begining art for 8 years, then switched to the digital side this year.

I say hybrid gamification becuase, I use cubepoints and all its wonders along with a concept called buying your grades (, from a teacher friend of mine here in Bako). I use buddypress for its message board where my students do warm-ups as well as mini contests. I also use cubepoints with bbpress. I'm still tweaking it a bit. This summer I add going to take a look at what worked and what didn't then revamp it, I plan on adding the gamification aspect with it. Here is my site ( Instead of XP or gold the students are paid or get cash pretty much the same way your XP works. I really like the progress bar, I'm not sure how I would use it but i'm sure I can figure something out.

Yeah I read that about the multiste, I was hoping the the problem was solved.

Thanks a lot, yeah I have a multiste set up becuase my advanced students have websites created through it.


Did the fresh install things are working great, I'm going to play around with it to see if it fits with i'm trying yo do. Thanks!!!

I might be going to the the conference in Sacramento hopefully I will get to chat with you...

Mike Skocko

Posted on 2/9/13 5:13:48 PM Permalink

Important: The instructions (below) are incomplete. In the next dew days I'm going to create an install walk-through on the FTW! Turnkey Online Gamification System post.


Way back on page 1 of the comments, Rob said:

Note to all- DO NOT try to install on a WPMU (multisite) install... go with a straight up WP install. I'm on my 3rd install now...


A couple of other things...

Are you using the latest version of the unified plugin (right now it's 1.0.6)? (I forgot to edit the post above to reflect that. Mea culpa. Fixed now)

If you're using the older version(s) with CubeGold and Clipboard (two plugins), deactivate then delete them.

Next the CubePoints Modules in the image below need to be activated (CubeGold uses the data in those settings and in User Role Editor -- which needs to be explained -- see further down this comment):

CubePoints Module Settings

Note: Just to be clear, the ones that say Deactivate are the ones that are active. You must set the Ranks too. Here's a word about that.

User Role Editor Steps:

  • In admin panel Users > User Role Editor
  • Add New Role (scroll down to find)
  • Name: Student
  • Make copy of: Subscriber
  • Default Role for New User: Student

IMPORTANT: The CubePoints Module Settings and the User Role Editor settings must be set before activating Cube Gold

After that, upload and activate the latest version of Cube Gold then configure it in the admin panel but CHOOSE THE LITE VERSION. (The full version makes too many server calls at present. We're working on it.)

Please let us know if this fixes your issue.

Plus, where are you and what do you teach? (My kids and I are always curious.) Good luck!

terrence banks

Posted on 2/9/13 6:56:53 AM Permalink

Ok it only crashes when both clipboard and cubegold is activated...has an attendance error..

terrence banks

Posted on 2/9/13 6:15:30 AM Permalink

You guys are awsome, Iv'e been working with a hybrid gamifiacation site for my students. I really would like the levels to my site but the cubegold plugin crashes my site. I have a multsite install, i wonder if that is the problem.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 2/8/13 4:55:07 PM Permalink

Adam, will you please post screenshots so we can see the glitches?

Here's what I'm seeing:

Admin Bar Comparison

As you can see, there's an existing visual glitch (the rectangles) and an alignment issue in the Add drop down. Both are on the to fix list.

For anyone who's interested, this is what I wrote on the new post:

Know Issue: A brave soul testing this in his classroom today just reported that his site crashed when all the kids tried to login for the first time. My first reaction was: Yeah, that happened to us too.

Wait a minute...

Then, it occurred to me to ask Semar (lead coder for Cube Gold) how much info is written the first time a user logs in.

It turns out that there are a number of plugins writing info to customize the user's experience during that initial login. After that, only specific changes are written. (Pretty obvious in retrospect.)

Since none of us has a bank of servers to draw on, we would be wise to stagger those initial logins. It might even be fun to go one by one and see how fast the class can complete the relay race that first day next fall. Cumulative time divided by total users equals time to beat.

Moral: Tech happens. Roll with it. (...with it, not in it :)

Known Issue #2: Would you believe that our system exhibits visual glitches when using IE? (Every Web developers' favorite browser.) Since we're all Mac, we've only tested with Safari, Chrome, and Firefox. Maybe we'll partition a hard drive and try Windows next fall. Till then, IE is not supported.

Apologies if that's your favorite browser.


Just don't want any clarity lost between the two responses.

For the record, reporting these glitches publicly helps to improve the plugin. We've got to know what works and what doesn't. Experiencing weirdness is part of the process. Thanks, Adam!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 2/7/13 11:46:32 PM Permalink

We have open house tonight at school. Really rushed. Short answers...

Weird indeed. The Add pulldown and Progress Bar on both our sites look exactly the same from here. Both working as in the video on the other thread.

Video: Add 16 pixels to height for the bar. Camtesia is a sports car. I drive a go cart called Snapz Pro. No bells or whistles. Just the results I want.

Gotta run. Sorry for your problems. Tech happens. :)

Adam Coulson

Posted on 2/7/13 10:58:52 PM Permalink

Okay now this is weird. I just logged onto your site and the progress bar is missing minutes there too. It must be me specifically. When logged into my account on your site no minutes and the add menu is messed up as well. I guess it not my site its my computer? I checked both Chrome and Safari.

P.S. When uploading videos how do I get the play pause bar? I am just showing the straight video. It works but not what I wanted. still exploring how small I can make the files and still have them at good quality. In addition to learning/exploring wordpress I am trying to learn Camtasia for video capturing. I swear this should be easier than I am making it.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 2/7/13 10:16:01 PM Permalink

The website is and we were using safari so no easy explanation there. I also tried out Chrome but it looked exactly the same. I really hope that subsequent logins will go better. I am nervous it's a GoDaddy thing though. Yeah I can create you a generic account

Login: 000001

Password: emailed it to you

I am using pagelines or at least its my theme. I have a long way to go before saying I "use" it. The things that are strange where like that before any new porblems. Thanks for taking a look. I was so disappointed to get going. I have massive work to go to truly be ready to run but I am not willing to wait for everything to be done before running. I havn't even cleaned up my embedding of video. Its tougher than I thought. Just exporting a 5 min. video took WAY longer than I expected.(20-30min.)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 2/7/13 6:50:42 PM Permalink

Semar just confirmed that a lot of info is recorded in that first login. Much more than subsequent logins.

Pretty obvious in hindsight, especially since the same thing happened to me the first day.

Stagger the initial logins and report back.

As for the rest, what's the URL? You want to make a generic student account for us to test? Are you using PageLines? Did things go screwy after the server crashed or before?

Wait a minute... you're not using IE, are you? If so, yes, things visually geek out on it. We can't test it in here w/o loading Windows (and so far we haven't done that.)

Adam Coulson

Posted on 2/7/13 6:05:04 PM Permalink

Hey Mike or Rob ,

I didn't want to bog down the new thread so i thought I would just post here still. I finally started pushing out the website today and it already came to a screeching halt. Just having the students login to their personal accounts for the first time the site froze! Do you have any idea what that is about. I am running the new Lite version even. I already had to abandon it for the day. I am using GoDaddy server still. I suppose I will try to transfer my site over to Blue host like Rob suggested but I am worried its something other than using up my bandwidth by just simply logging in. I only had 26 students login at once.

Any Suggestions?

I am also having some simple issues with the tracking bar at the top. It doesn't show minutes anywhere and the ADD panel is visually messed up(missing icons). Also all the icons on the log page are messed up. Any insight on these?


Mike Skocko

Posted on 2/5/13 10:09:17 PM Permalink

I finally bit the bullet and started a new post.

FTW! Turnkey Online Gamification System

I want to thank everyone here for your great ideas, requests, critiques, support, and participation. You've helped to push this project into new uncharted territory.

Please join the new conversation. I'll be adding lots of new info about some sweet new features and hopefully coaxing a few new adventurous souls into the world of the gamified classroom.


Mike Skocko

Posted on 1/31/13 10:25:10 PM Permalink

w00t! Works like a charm.

CubeGold Unified Plugin (1.0.6)

I've got to make some new videos demonstrating the slick new features.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 1/31/13 9:56:40 PM Permalink

CubeGold is set up so you can set as many or as few levels as you want -- and call them whatever you want. I like the theme-based alternatives to our "levels" but World of Warcraft is our model and Levels rule there. :)

BTW, they aren't real frequent jumps once you get rolling. Most kids are in the mid to high twenties right now. The highest level in the class is 38 (and he does a lot of work at home).

Can't wait to hear how this works for your kids, Ryan!


Semar is dialing in the next great feature-set in our unified plugin. I think it's time for a new thread to celebrate the ready-for-prime-time version.

Will post a notice here when that happens.


UPDATE: Semar just asked for the flash drive. I'll post a link to the plugin as soon as I verify it works on our primary site.

Ryan Hayes

Posted on 1/31/13 7:45:21 PM Permalink

So, I am looking at levels. I see that you have 99 levels for your setup with frequent level jumps. I wonder how that would compare to less levels, but with higher experience thresholds?

Being a Star Wars fan I was looking at Jedi Levels, of which there are five. However, would less level progression minimize the incentive of gaining levels. Students may be less engaged if it takes too long to gain levels compared to leveling up fast. The flipside, Level 1, Level 2, etc. don't sound as cool as Padawan, Jedi Knight, etc. or with Kevin's Design Dojo: white belt, yellow belt, etc.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 1/25/13 3:36:57 AM Permalink

I love Kevin's Design Dojo. Was lucky enough to co-present with him last summer at Adobe about our respective gamification endevors And can't wait to see what evolves in your classroom, Ryan. And also with Rob's epic plans.

The game's afoot!

Ryan Hayes

Posted on 1/25/13 1:05:49 AM Permalink

With what Mike has going on and what I read at Design Dojo: I have been tossing around the idea of using the "gamified"concept in my video class. It wouldn't be automated and tracked via Wordpress, but tracked manually.

I was thinking I could have three or four skill trees (cinematographer, editor, director, etc.). For each project that a student completes in each role they could build experience points based on how well they do. They'll start out as interns in each skill and move up to different "classes" or titles as the gain experience.
We also participate in a film consortium with 13 other schools that puts on a huge film festival with multiple categories (broadcast, short film, music video, spa, best director, etc.). If students get a nomination and/or a win in a skill category, like best cinematography, they could earn bonus points in that skill tree.

Ryan Hayes

Posted on 1/24/13 5:06:46 PM Permalink

I remember when you were converting over from Drupal to Wordpress. Drupal is more powerful, but definitely much more cumbersome. I like where Wordpress has been moving the last couple of years and how large scale plug-ins have been transforming it from Blog platform to something more.

I like the concept of this plug-in. Especially interested in how it can integrate with what has been developed here. I have been piloting the Canvas LMS this year and it is amazing.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 1/23/13 4:57:51 PM Permalink

Hey everyone!!

Wanted to throw out a Plugin I've been watching for a year or so, it's a full LMS kind of plugin to sort of moodlefy your WP site. Mike and I are obviously huge wordpress fans for it's ease of use and ubiquity, and this plugin allows you to have a ton of the features that some more traditional principals and admin- as well as teachers- expect. It's called "Learn Dash" and it's coming out of beta soon. For some of you, this may take the whole site online and you can leave your traditional gradebook behind.

The new site will incorporate a WordPress based Learning Management Solution that includes testing, assessment tracking, Drip feeding, and most importantly for our teachers, a really cool feature of capturing actions to track student progress and activity to see who’s not getting it… and who’s simply not doing it. Slackers beware… the day of reconing is coming! Videos embedded, testing and assessment embedded with certificates (badges?) of completion you can print to document your completion of main learning streams. I’m excited about the possibilities for it and for Brainbuffet and the thousands of users that visit us every day!! Teachers that use WordPress- It’s called Learn Dash and you can CHECK IT OUT HERE.

I'm pretty excited as there is an emphasis in my state on Industry Certifications. Doesn't matter much how I feel about it, it's in the legislature and I and the kids benefit by preparing for the exams... some of which is traditional testing. I can include tests that assess what ideas and concepts the kids are struggling with and start to help them before they get too lost. Vocabulary IS important in many of our related fields, and this is a great way to get the feedback on what you haven't covered....

I use assessment not to see what kids failed... but WHERE i have. ;)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 1/20/13 7:27:05 PM Permalink

Vincent has also expanded Shortcode Buddy.

I especially love that I can now add content that visitors can see but players don't (and vice versa).


Creates some cool shortcodes that use wordpress functions to make it easier for you to place functions in your theme without coding.

Including: [page_grab] Grabs the Page Title of each Page you have and lists them.

[post_grab] Gets the Post Title of each post you've created and makes a list of them.

[get_email] Gets current user's email and replaces shortcode with it in content area or comment section.

[get_username] Gets current user's username and replaces shortcode with it in content area or comment section.

[get_firstname]Gets current user's first name and replaces shortcode with it in content area or comment section.

[get_lastname]Gets current user's last name and replaces shortcode with it in content area or comment section.

[get_fullname]Gets current user's full name and replaces shortcode with it in content area or comment section.

[get_displayname]Gets current user's display name and replaces shortcode with it in content area or comment section.

[post_grab_content_exerpt] Gets 2 of your latest posts, and echos out thier titles with exerpts from them below.

[latest_post cat="1" usetitle="yes/no"][/latest_post] Gets latest post from certain category, and it will use the title of it as it's text for the hyperlink to the post. If you put text inbetween the 2 sets of brackets, that will show up as the hyperlink text.

[user_only_content]Text/Media Here[/user_only_content] Only loads the content within the bracket sets if the user is logged in.

[visitor_only_content]Text/Media Here[/visitor_only_content] Only loads the content within the bracket sets if the user is not logged in (a visitor).

The Following Also work: [one_half] and [one_half_last] [one_third] and [one_third_last] [one_fourth] and [one_fourth_last] [one_fifth] and [one_fifth_last] To use the above shortcodes, simply put text inbetween an opening and closing version of it. For instance, to divide the text on a page in half, simply write [one_half]Here is some content[/one_half] [one_half_last]Here is the rest of the content[one_half_last] This will cause the text in the content area of your site to be split into two columns. Fancy huh?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 1/20/13 6:48:07 PM Permalink

UPDATE: We've been testing the unified version of CubeGold for over a month and almost have all the bugs ironed out. The next version will (hopefully) cut down on database calls for required quests and quest lines (two new features).

Known Issue: Definite conflict with Jetpack Publicize and Jetpack Sharing modules. (i just turned those two options off and everything works fine.)

New Features:

  • Works with any theme (we think)
  • Uses shortcodes rather than templates
  • Full/Lite version toggle in admin panel
  • Required Quests: All other quests locked until mastered
  • Quest Lines: Next quest in series only appears after prior quest mastered
  • Hidden Quests: No longer revealed on Stats page
  • Custom Naming: Quests can be called Missions (or whatever). Encountered, Accepted, Completed, and Mastered can also be renamed in admin panel
  • Players' current Level or XP can be displayed in comments (Level and/or XP can be renamed as well)
  • Clipboard links to players' Stats Page and blog. Current Level displayed (along with all other stats)

Much more to update. Some details on Google Doc (feel free to add your own). Hundreds of student suggestions (some really good) on this post.

Very exciting stuff coming!


Read Me File:

ï Author:
Semar Yousif
ï Contributing authors:
Vincent Astolfi
Ezio Ballarin
ï Supervisor:
Mike Skocko
ï Description:
This plugin extends CubePoints to add systems of gold and minutes.
ï Shortcodes:
*Paid Content and Quest Page opening and closing shortcodes must be the first and last things in the page.
ï Options Page:
Version: The Full version adds timestamp to quests.
Stats Page Titles: The titles in the stats page next to the gravatar.
Level in Comments: Adds level/XP in the comments next to the commentor's name.
Change Log
1.0.1: Loading Quests on load in the stats page
1.0.2: Fixed: Stats Page: Tiny font size
Stats Page: Missing XP column
Add Bar formatting issue (not aligned)
Clipboard: Completed and Mastered have sorting below words
Clipboard: Auto-load sorted by computer numbers
1.0.3: Fixed: Oddness with Pagelines admin appearance
Stats Page: Minutes Leaderboard
Stats Page: Leaderboard Links
Added: A drop down list for level limit
Hidden Quest option that changes the title of the hidden quests and unlinks them
A system name option in the options page like quests or missions

Mike Skocko

Posted on 1/8/13 8:17:36 PM Permalink

Great advice, as usual.

When I grow up, I want to be a power-user like Ryan.


FYI: Ryan's built a killer program from the ground up but he has more preps than a surgeon!

Ryan Hayes

Posted on 1/8/13 5:13:15 PM Permalink

Hmm, my last post didn't make it through.

Anyhow, I have not implemented Mike's gamification system, yet. However, I have plenty of experience with Wordpress, hosting student blogs/sites, and running my own server.

Rob, before I spent $1,000 on hosting, I'd just purchase a server. Web servers don't have massive horsepower requirements. About 6 years ago I got Perkins to fund an Xserve that I use as a Webserver. It is overkill, but I was (am) very familair with OSX and since it was my first time implementing a full Web host I wanted to go with what was familiar. A linux server would be cheaper and easier now (there are plenty of tutorials/videos on-line), but even a Mac Mini server for around a grand would work. It is much easier than the Xserve I maintain as a Open Directory and Netboot Server. Unlike Mike, I like network accounts.

Anyhow, I started out hosting a CSS/HTML class website and students sites that were created with a combination of Dreamweaver and Flash. Several years ago I moved to Wordpress. I host my class Website, a couple of other school websites, and hundreds of student blogs/protfolios (several years worth still up). Plus, like Mike and Rob, I host hundreds (if not thousands) of video tutorials, including some of Mike's older ones for my students to use. I even used BuddyPress in its pre-1.0 days. The server has never once come close to having load/bandwidth issues.

So, implementing a Linux (LAMP) or even a Mac (MAMP) server should be more cost efective. It is easy to maintain. You just need an IP address and have the IT guy open a hole in the firewall.

As far as student accounts, I import using a CSV plug-in. Most schools now have an SiS and you should be able to get a spreadsheet of your class rosters. Follow the structure in the plug-in documentation and it is easy. We have Google Apps for Education at our school. All students get a school Gmail account. I created a Google Form students put in name, period, e-mail, and I used teh resulting spreadsheet to import into Wordpress. No confirmation e-mails required.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/14/12 7:09:01 PM Permalink

More on the good news/bad news front...

First the bad: Way back in this comment, Rich implored me to submit to CUE. I did but wasn't accepted for the gamification session. My fault for not writing a better speaker submission.

Now the good: Matt Cauthron, who does know how to write a winning submission, was successful in submitting our Student Creative session.

So I get to go to CUE after all. Anyone interested in talking gamification at CUE? We can have a mini session of our own. Maybe even after hours with a cold one or two?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/14/12 6:35:03 PM Permalink

Now the semi-good news...

Semar is getting close to releasing the unified plugin with sweet admin customization options.

Will be a painless transition for all users... well, all except one.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/14/12 6:24:36 PM Permalink

First the semi-bad news (that really isn't bad but if you visit the Mac Lab you'll probably think it is...

From our IT department:

Yesterday evening, an attack on the GUHSD main web site was detected. This manifested as unobtrusive embedded advertising links and scripts to redirect visitors to sites known for propagating malicious software. While we immediately initialized steps to remove the threatening content, Google's malware detection agent has nonetheless categorized all GUHSD web sites as suspicious. When we are confident that the threat has been completely eradicated and protections are in place to make success of any similar subsequent attacks unlikely, we will complete the formal process of having removed from Google's list of suspicious sites.

In the meantime, employees are advised to use our web sites only as needed to perform essential work. Please refer concerned parents, students or community members to this statement.

To bypass the malware warning, select the advanced option on the red screen and choose the option to proceed.


Internet scum, enjoy the 9th circle.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 12/3/12 4:06:13 PM Permalink

Yeah, your logic makes very clear sense. Not only is there going to be more and more issues trying to put both on one install but years down the road the student blogs will continue to change. The only advantage I saw was with a single login students could access both their blogs and the main site. It also allowed me to see their blogs in the same window. Clearly not an advantage worthy of the potential problems!

Ah, Widgets. I haven't gotten into those at all yet. That makes sense.

I only puchased Godaddy for the month so I think I will try to switch to another server you suggested then (via your links). The install went well on GoDaddy so that was nice but it shouldn't be too tough to get the file off that server. I actually don't have a root file of the site on my computer they way they installed it.

That's impressive to letterally buy into something new at that level but I really hope you can get the money back. You more than deserve it. Have you ever tried using I don't know if that would work for server space but teachers here use that a lot.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/3/12 3:15:35 PM Permalink

That makes me nervous about the Godaddy server I am using then

Yeah, never had any good luck with GD servers. Better off with a hosting company with a better rep and better prices for hosting

THIS PAGE has my recommendations...

Don't go with a VPS until it's time. It's stupidly expensive... With all the setup and migration I'm over $1000 for the next 12 months already. :/

But I can't go back to teaching like I used to...even if I didn't have plans for how to recoup some of it... I'd still do it anyway.

(by the way, they're affilliate links on that page, in the interest of full disclosure. Helping others get started and having the web companies pay me for it is one way I keep teachers with the best info and deals and still giving the info out for free to the teachers! :)

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/3/12 2:30:15 PM Permalink

Might be mission impossible to get it working on Multisite... Have you thought that through???

WP is database driven. You're going to be integrating your curriculum website (stays relatively the same every year) with your student websites (relatively HUGE changes every year where you'll want to drop all the kids that graduate or leave the program). Have you thought about the database impact that this will have when it comes to managing your site? How will you keep student work from 3 years ago DRASTICALLY dragging down your main site when you need to make a database call?

What we're doing is really Enterprise level... this is not at ALL a regular classroom blog that will run on everything... this is BIG.

What advantage do you see in having the main site and the student blogs on the same install and database?

Oh, and leaderboards on the front page is just the cubepoints leaderboard widget. Addit to a widget where you want it! ;)comes with CP.

EDIT- Oh, no closing tags should be used when the shortcode presents content rather than alters it. So no for statspage because it presents the whole set of data. Yes for store, quest, etc... because it modifies the existing page into a purchasable/questable page.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 12/3/12 1:43:28 PM Permalink

statspage work great now. I was attempting to get it working on the Wordpress MU install. because I got everything else to work great except statspage. On my normal instal everything works fantastic!

PS I am contemplating a Mission Impossible/ James Bond Game theme?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/3/12 4:20:45 AM Permalink

Adam, [statspage] doesn't work?

Rob, does it need a closing tag?

[/statspage] (Rob replied below. Answer is no.)

Adam Coulson

Posted on 12/3/12 3:20:08 AM Permalink

So i did go back to seperate the Multisite install. I actually got everything to work except the stats page. Quest, Blogs, and paid content worked. Oh well.

Rob, I'm still curious how you got the leader board on your homepage in the box.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/1/12 3:55:10 AM Permalink

Paid content is:


What you're selling...


Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/30/12 10:46:46 PM Permalink

Student blog page is [gamerlist].

Semar is heading out the door. He's going to email me with other shortcodes. I think [paid_content] is how to activater a Paid Content page. Also, [get_displayname] calls their nickname so you can address everyone personally. I love that one.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/30/12 10:39:54 PM Permalink

I'm going to continue my MS test for another day before abandoning it in favor or what looks like the obvious original suggestion from Rob that I for some reason disregarded.


I guess sometimes I'm a gluttan? for punishment.

So Rob you are going over to the VPS, huh? That makes me nervous about the Godaddy server I am using then. It has been really smooth so far but obviously I am not actively hitting it with queries yet! I am going to play it safe a go month by month for now and make the switch if what you are experiencing hits fast.

Mike, what is the shortcode command for the new blogs page? Are there any other shortcodes than [statspage] or [questpage] that I should be aware of?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/30/12 10:24:37 PM Permalink


Man, you're not supposed to have to pay to do your job. You district needs to get with the program. Good luck fighting that fight.

Adam: If you need any help this weekend, I'll be around. Videos are easy to record. :)

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/30/12 8:37:04 PM Permalink

Hey guyys... sorry about the late responses... having my own problems with hosting. BB has been up and down all week and it's hsot related... looks like I need to upgrade to a VPS since the district still hasn't approved this. ugh.

just went from $90 to over $600 a year! But I guess with all I'm learning I can set up a few sites each year and get it paid for. :/

Anyway- looks like you already learned the lesson I did trying to install on the MS site. Not a good idea. Multisite has enough probs of it's own, throwing in a completely untested variable prob not a wise choice... but if you have nothing better to do and don't mind your curriculum crashing in the middle of class... ;)

Yeah, to enable signups, Dash- Settings- general and check the box that says "membership- anyone can register"

I just turned it on at the beginning of class and then shut it off 20 minutes later. Also put a format on the board in class so I could easily identify any account that didn't have the right format. But never had anyone sign up anyway.

I think the activation key stuff you were getting was from multisite??? I don't think mine has that.

And remember, google is your best friend. I've forgotten a lot of the details, so it's best to check the old videos first... I can't even remember what I did this morning, much less a couple months ago setting up the site! LOL.

Sorry I'm so off the grid... trying to keep the site from going down from too many users.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/30/12 8:13:24 PM Permalink

Update process right now: deactivate, delete, replace, reactivate.

Once it's ready for prime time, it'll be via the regular update notification in the plugins admin panel.

As for the Stats page, I went to the site and couldn't find anything. Have you separated WP and WPMS yet? If not, you're probably going to run into all kinds of problems.

You need a secure foundation to build on.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/30/12 7:54:14 PM Permalink

I just tried to create a stats page with [statspage] shorcode and when I went to view the page a strange login window popped up. It said

"The server requires a username and password. The server say: Statistics." Followed by a username and password space???

Anyone ever seen this or know what is is asking for?

Also I figured out how to add plugins but how do I update CubegoldLite without deleting it and reinstall. Or is that the correct method?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/30/12 7:38:06 PM Permalink

"...however the network admin has completely different plugins listed..."

That's how it's supposed to work.... Separation of powers.

Try, try again. :)

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/30/12 7:32:32 PM Permalink

My Wordpress MS is functioning great even installed on the gamified install however I did just encounter a potential major drawback. All the plugins I had already installed for the gamified install function correctly, however the network admin has completely different plugins listed and wordpress will only allow me to add new plugin onto the network not just onto the main site so I can't update that cubegold lite plugin if I keep the network/ multiuser on the same install. I was so excited because management of a student blog and stats for the game were on the same account and it works really smooth.

Looks like you were right Rob! So close I got excited though.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/30/12 12:29:47 PM Permalink

Maybe Rob can verify this...

You do have two separate logins to the WP (your site) and WPMS (student blogs) admin panels, right? That's how it works for me. Here's my plugins. Note that CubePoints is NOT active (and isn't needed or wanted). I don't use WP-Mail-SMTP either (and I don't believe it's necessary). I added the Flash plugin last year so kids could embed swfs. I should replace it with Embed-Width now.

Student blog plugin JPG

Compare that with the plugins for the main site. Is that how you're configuring it? I have no idea if there's a better way; that's just how I have it set up right now. I'd love to get an expert's feedback one day.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/30/12 5:20:16 AM Permalink

Wow, that is pretty labor intensive but I wondered if that was the solution. I wish I knew MySQL databases because I think that we could import spreadsheets into those databases outright and get the same results outside of those extra advantages you mentioned. Thanks for spoiling me with the video. I might have my ultra trusted student aid help load all the student accounts for me before Xmas Break.

I did just try a MultiSite configure on the same wordpress install to see what happened. Not sure yet, but it hasn't gone bad yet. I just reactivated all the plugins after the the setup and I just made sure the plugins were only activated on the original site not the network. I'll try more tomorrow with my fingers crossed...I did back up the original to scrap this if it fails.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/30/12 4:44:53 AM Permalink

Yep. A little bit of work to set it up but then it runs smothly for the rest of the year... or at least that's the plan.

Students use the same username and password for our respective class sites and their personal blogs. No big deal, especially when they learn to let the browser remember the login for them. They also have local accounts on the computers. (I loath server-based solutions. They're slow and prone to glitches.) Learning to login to multiple accounts every day is a real-world skill.

Anyway, here's how I do it. It's old-school but it works: Video.

IMPORTANT: (Not in the video.) At the 5:01 mark, the student email address (that was copied a few seconds earlier) is then pasted into the search field in the upper right hand corner of the User page in order to locate the newest user (to change the password). Make sense?

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/30/12 4:09:23 AM Permalink

At the possible expense of messing up the blog again I am going to try and configure and enable Multiuser on the primary wordpress install with Cubepoints light!

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/30/12 3:20:15 AM Permalink

Oh the Questions...

Mike, I successfully made a test student account and a test student blog. Both function successfully but the idea of input info for every student account and then repeating that for every student blog seems heavy. Am I correct that you did all of that on your own? I know Rob said he had students create their own account but I can't even find where or how that is an option.

I also just realized my students will have two completely seperate logins for their class account and for their personal Blog account. I'm worried this could become a major issue.

When I set up a student account it had me submit their email and then wordpress automatically generated a password and emailed it to them. How did you set the passwords for students without using an email that they received with the randomly generated password?

Rob, to confirm you said that MultiUser does not work with Cubelight correct? I am starting to question how effective/efficient this will be putting all MultiUser accounts on a different wordpress install.

Rob how did you put the wordpress login on your homepage for students?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/29/12 11:17:23 PM Permalink

Gratz, Adam! Keep us updated on progress. It's exciting for us, too, to hear about what working (and what isn't).

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/29/12 11:03:31 PM Permalink

I just had to put it out there that I just installed a second installation of Wordpress on a subdirectory and then single handedly installed, configured, and enabled Wordpress multisite in my FTP File manager. I had no idea what I was doing but everything is up and running so that I can install all of the students websites now. Its great to know that Semar was already able to add the blog shortcode as well now! If anyone wants to do the MultiSite install these directions worked well even though they are from GoDaddy should work for everyone.

Yes my first little triumph! ...after the original install

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/29/12 9:01:55 PM Permalink

UPDATE: Cubegoldlite now supports the student blog page shortcode.

Process for student blog page:

  1. Create a new page
  2. Add this shortcode: [gamerlist]
  3. Publish and/or preview
  4. It creates a page like this: click

Note: I added the:

Pick a period to see student blogs.

(Ignore Period 7 as that’s a testing zone.)


Important: It pulls info gathered from the student proifiles on the main site so make sure the info is correct.*

*This is one of the reasons I manually register the students. They enter their own Gamer Tags (nicknames) but I enter their website URL.

The new plugin is linked from the post at the top of the page or right here. (You just need to update cubgoldlite, not the clipboard.)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/29/12 3:20:35 PM Permalink

Hey, where did Rob's comment go?


Oh, it's right here on page 35. Comments crossing in the mists. :0

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/29/12 3:19:31 PM Permalink

My shortcode days are quickly approaching. This is Semar's last week of college apps and essays. He says the new unified plugin will be complete a few weeks after that. (He usually beats his self-imposed deadlines.)

Tech will happen. But it will be worth it because it'll open the doors to adding new features I've been salivating for.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/29/12 3:05:17 PM Permalink

Semar just agreed to add student blogs to cubegoldlite. Hopefully by this afternoon. Will post it as soon as he delivers.

Some other ideas have percolated and I'll share them when time permits. :)

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/29/12 3:04:16 PM Permalink


Ultimate Tiny MCE is great, and works on my site fine... but definitely not necessary for doing shortcodes.

To make a page a quest page , just wrap it in the questpage shortcodes like this post.

I've also learned that it doesn't like to have any info after the closing tag. So don't hit return after or anything.... just type it in and publish


Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/29/12 2:50:23 PM Permalink

"Tiny MCE just gives you buttons for the shortcodes you use most often to throw on to pages easilty without even remembering shortcodes."

Ooh! That's good to know. Could be a great time-saver!

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/29/12 2:28:22 PM Permalink

Okay. Cool! I started researching about shortcodes last night. I didn't realize there isn't really any "coding" to be done when you use shortcodes. Someone else already did it...Thanks Semar and Vincent!! Tiny MCE just gives you buttons for the shortcodes you use most often to throw on to pages easilty without even remembering shortcodes.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/29/12 12:10:14 PM Permalink

Semar reports that the Blog page may not be in cubegoldlite yet but that the Stats page is included right now (but I got the shortcode wrong).

And yes, those are shortcodes.

Process for Stats page:

  1. Create a new page
  2. Add this shortcode: [statspage]
  3. Publish and/or preview

That's why I was asking what TinyMCE had to do with writing shortcodes. They don't call 'em "short" for nothing. :)

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/29/12 5:28:55 AM Permalink

[gamerlist] ???

[stats] ???

is this what is refered to as shortcode? Are these coding tags that refer to something that my wordpress site will interpret? I noticed that Rob is even able to put a leaderboard and Points "box" or something on the frontpage to his site. Are these things done through plugins that I am not familiar with yet or is the more complex coding that you guys have learned over time with your experiences with Wordpress? I think I can get the lessons up but it seems like those other little things create even more a gaming experience feel from the get go.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/29/12 4:42:22 AM Permalink

Just have a sec...

[gamerlist] = Blog page.

Not sure about Stats. You might try [stats] (Mine uses a template.)

Back in am.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/29/12 3:17:43 AM Permalink

Also, is there any information out there on creating the Stats, and Blogs Page.

Rob you said you had your students sign up for their own accounts and then closed that so that others couldn't sign up. How or where did your students get access to sign themselves up for an account? I have seen that there is an "activate" page but it says it needs an "activation key" and I have no idea what it is referring to. Is this where you sign up for an account or is that something different?

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/29/12 1:50:32 AM Permalink

Rob suggested Ultimate TinyMCE for adding shortcode with simplified buttons. I have not tried yet but since I don't do code I figured this will definitely help.

So Mike, I am very envious of your system for evaluation and grading. I love the "Worlds Simplest Rubric" idea but how in the world did you get your administration to buy in to that. My principal is very familiar with the Daniel Pink's philosophies but isn't so interested in actually implementing the idea of removing the primary motivator of grades from the equation. Its not an option to have little to no grades posted in our online grade system. I getting told I need to tie the game into grading but thats exactly what we don't want right?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/27/12 4:01:54 PM Permalink

Forgot to mention that Semar confirmed the update issue was tied to GitHub. GitHub is wonderful but we're not ready to implement it in our workflow and will be moving the plugin back to the Codex when it's ready for prime time.

"...everything else that I did was the same with a better comfort level of what I was doing and looking at."

Repetition is the key. There's really no way for mere mortals like us to use this system without putting the reps in.

And when you record the videos, remember to use an iOS-friendly format. I'm using m4v and they not only play nice with iPhones and iPads, they dynamically resize. The problem is Android. It doesn't like m4v's. Anyone have a better solution?

This thread only adds to my confusion.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/27/12 3:30:39 PM Permalink

That's great news, Adam! Can't wait to hear about additional progress. :)

Maybe I'm missing something... Why do you need TinyMCE to use shortcodes?

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/27/12 2:15:26 PM Permalink

Everything looks good. All plugins installed and look good to go. Time to start building and recording. My guess is the updated plugin is what did me in the first time as everything else that I did was the same with a better comfort level of what I was doing and looking at. I havn't configured TinyMCE yet to try out shortcodes but will get to that soon enough. Thanks again

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/27/12 1:17:23 PM Permalink

Adam, download the Lite plugins here (same file as in the post at the top of the page) and ignore any updates to them for now. I'll check with Semar and Vincent to see what's up with the update prompt as the files (above) should be the latest version. (It's probably soemthing to do with github but it might, as you suggest, have something to do with the new combo plugin.)

From this comment: You MUST activate modules* and configure CubePoints before activating Semar's CubeGold and Clipboard plugins (in that order). Take some time and explore the settings (not shown above). The rest are season to taste.

*See this comment for which modules to activate. (Activate the ones that say Deactivate in the Activity column.) After you get it rolling, you can experiment with other modules if you want.

Hope it works better for you this time. :)

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/27/12 5:12:38 AM Permalink

So I see why I ended up with Cube gold instead of Just CubeGold Lite version. It offered me an update to Clipboard lite which I did and it changed to just straight CubeGold which I then deleted before ever activating to await anyones suggestions as to if this is correct or an error with the lite plugin"update". Is this the new plugin Semar is working on? maybe that is a problem because I also have Cubegold Lite still installed at the same time?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/27/12 4:32:45 AM Permalink

You're set up, Jay. Just sent the password. Have fun!

Jay Ferguson

Posted on 11/27/12 3:06:37 AM Permalink

ok Mike I'm going to give it a go from the Student side..


Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/27/12 1:42:10 AM Permalink

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/26/12 10:27:29 PM Permalink

Users > User Role Editor

  1. Add New Role
  2. Name: Student
  3. Make Copy of: Subscriber
  4. Default Role for New User: Student

Semar's code looks for the "Student" role to identify players.

Will look into BP setting when in a bit...

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/26/12 10:10:06 PM Permalink

Yeah I did use your guides on page 28 as well as those videos that were really helpful. I wonder If I just accidentally did something out of order or configured out of order. I was still figuring out the activate and configure stuff while installing. I think I am fresh enough that its worth scrapping and reinstalling. I am just a bit nervous because I used the GoDaddy Wordpress install the first time that was REALLY easy and I think I will lose that when I scrap it all. I guess its learning though...right? Looks like round 2 tonight!

Rob said he thought the order was this. This is more pieces than Mike suggested I think. And I have no idea HOW to setup student role or buddpress outside of activating. Maybe that is significant!?!:

User Role Editor (and setup student role)

Buddypress (setup, too)

buddypress theme pack if your theme needs it


cubepoints for buddypress

cubegold lite



Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/26/12 9:16:05 PM Permalink

Adam, did you follow the steps that begin on this page? Really important to activate in order (or at least it seems to be -- we haven't tried it that many times). Be sure to configure as well as install and activate in order.

I've never encountered that error message (or anything like it).

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/26/12 9:15:25 PM Permalink

For me, when I bonked it, I just deleted the whole site and started from scratch...

Did mike ever make an install video? we did it together on the phone as an experiment... but I changed so much so often I don't think I really remember what I did.

Mike prob has a better install document that the kids helped with. There was really only one or two catches, and the lite version seemed much more friendly than the full version that needed the special themes and such.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/26/12 9:00:04 PM Permalink

Dunno... let's find out! ;)

Deactivate and delete Cubegold. then deactivate all the other related plugins and try again.

I think Mike posted the order you have to install everything. If I remember, it's:

User Role Editor (and setup student role)

Buddypress (setup, too)

buddypress theme pack if your theme needs it


cubepoints for buddypress

cubegold lite



Think that should work. But I don't remember.... would you mind taking notes on what doesn't work if it bonks? We need a dang wiki. :) LOL

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/26/12 8:57:43 PM Permalink

I tried to reinstall cubegold lite and clipboard lite then TinyMCE but still the same exact issue.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/26/12 8:48:40 PM Permalink

Ah crap! Can I just delete CubeGold and install the lite version? Or do i need to start from the beginning with the plugins?

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/26/12 8:38:00 PM Permalink

Looks like you've got cube gold instead of lite???

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/26/12 8:11:15 PM Permalink

Did I not install Cube Gold lite correctly?

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/26/12 8:09:53 PM Permalink

I got this error message along with lines and lines of "stuff" above my site and dashboard when I installed Ultimate TinyMCE Plugin.

The plugin generated 4082 characters of unexpected output during activation. If you notice “headers already sent” messages, problems with syndication feeds or other issues, try deactivating or removing this plugin.

Has anyone else encountered this? It goes away if I deactivate the plugine but thats not the solution I am looking for as I think I really need TinyMCE for the quests. You can see all the lines of text on my site here

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/26/12 7:59:12 PM Permalink

Rob's right. Expect "tech" to happen.

The first day of school our site crashed every single period. It looked like a total FAIL but the district came through with extra horsepower and the next day worked like a charm. Rob is responsible for conceiving of the "lite" version and his ideas continue to drive the new unified CubeGold plugin.

Collaboration is the best way to push this idea forward and, as scary as this sounds, we need others to find new ways to crash and burn so we can keep improving the system.

So, go forth an find new ways to fail, Sir Adam, intrepid knight of the Gamification Realm.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/26/12 7:18:09 PM Permalink

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/26/12 6:03:56 PM Permalink

Every journey begins with that first step. On August 31, when the pieces finally fell into place (four days before school began), I created my first quest.

We're all just getting started. :)

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/26/12 5:42:47 PM Permalink

I thought I remembered you saying something about multisite problems, Rob. I will do a subdirectory when I am ready to attempt a build of student blogs. I am definitly worried about that part but it is still a ways away. I am getting cloer but like you said the time commitment if the implementation will be daunting. I'll do my best but will probably start as a very weak version of the depth both you guys have. Plus your creativity in several of your lessons is awesome and inspiring as well even aside form the delivery of it on the site.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/26/12 4:16:13 PM Permalink

Forgot about that. Thanks, Rob!

Adam, the kids' blogs are in a subdirectory on my site -- I know nothing about the installation process though. Our district guru handled that.

Please continue to ask questions and report progress and/or problems. The documented process will be of value to others following in your footsteps.

Can't wait to hear how your students react when you're ready to roll.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/26/12 4:02:52 PM Permalink



Tooka while for me to figure out why nothing was working right on my site when mike was walking me through the setup.

Make a separate install that will handle their blogs. You can put it in a subdir (challenging sometimes) or just get another URL for their pages (I recommend- domains are cheap)

Either way, make it a separate install. WPMS is a biggie to tackle, and many plugs DO NOT WORK with multisite.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/24/12 5:56:12 AM Permalink

Aha, I found Rob's Vid on Shortcode so I think I can get that part figured out. Still a bit lost on Multisite. I am planing on checking out a bunch of Youtube videos on it tomorrow. I am trying to figure out if MS was part of my Wordpress install or not. Godaddy had the Wordpress install all ready to go so i don't know ixactly what was being installed.

Slowly but surely its coming together. My brain has a bit of swelling to recover from but should be good to go with a little more research.

Thanks again

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/22/12 8:48:29 PM Permalink

We're off to grandma's so this is only a partial answer...

You don't have the templates because you're using shortcodes. (You're using the Lite version, right?)

I'm using WordPressMU for the kids' blogs but now it's called MS (MultiSite). Check for info.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/22/12 4:08:31 PM Permalink

Okay...This is awesome but a bit more challeging than I thought! Mike videos on pagelines were heaven sent. Those calmed a lot of my fears and questions but I still have at least two big questions that I have to figure out sometime soon. Any help Mike or Rob, would be great.

1. In the templates section I do not have a Quest Page, Stats Page, or Paid Content. Does this mean I did not install the plugins correctly or am I missing something. I am very excited to try and create the quest pages but assume those templates/sections are the key to being able to make them.

2. I really want all of my student to have their own blog to manage like you do Mike. I know you briefly said something about how to set up the student accounts and blogs but I am lost on both how to create their accounts and their blogs.

Thanks again guys! I am getting the itch. Have started some late nights already even though I am implementing next semester.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/20/12 2:33:58 PM Permalink

Mike's swamped gang... Talked to him yesterday... So I'll answer my own question here-

he's doing the time phasing manually... just logging in each day and making the projects worth less points.

He's also making a huge set of projects for the whole break so they have about a project/research/thinking kind of quest (no software required) each day.

we talked about how time-intensive this is to get started... but next year should really roll off as all we'll need to do is update tech on new software releases, tweak videos that lead to common problems, and update the research/thinking quests as we read new books. ;)

I'm planning on having almost a quest a day ultimately that are on my fave books (psychology/workplace/success/self-help stuff). Want to have a series on body language, dress, thinking about motivation, happiness, persuasion, How to win friends and influence people, etc...

That soft skill stuff is natural for many of us, especially teachers, but many of our kids don't understand the subtle communication we shout with in our clothes, our voice, our body position, etc...

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/19/12 4:21:18 PM Permalink

Mike- is the time phasing built in or you doing that manually??

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/19/12 4:20:04 PM Permalink

I had them sign up. I just enabled enrollment during class and turned it off after. I checked those first few days as the stragglers got in for anyone that didn't belong.

I didn't use student numbers, I used a system of lastname, first letters of first name, classs period (schwartzro1 is rob schwartz 1st hour)

Their password was their student number. This way I can tell if the user is in my class or not, but I don;'t have their personal info on my site. They can't be identified by their full name because it's not in there anywhere.

Think there are free plugs for an import of users, but you'll have to find them. the only ones I have are paid.

Send any other Q's! happy to help, just busy with a VERY exciting possibility that's on the horizon.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/19/12 2:53:40 AM Permalink

So i got a godaddy account and got the wordpress site, pagelines theme, and all plugins loaded and activated. Now I am pretty overwhelmed with the dashboard menus and settings. Specifically I was trying to add a test run student user but am unsure of adding this through the add users menu. Is there a way to import a spreadsheet or do you have to do them individually. You said you used the student ID numbers? I am just unsure of myself at this point. Also if it helps my new website is

Thanks...MANY MANY more questions to follow!

would you rather me email directly?

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/16/12 6:46:31 PM Permalink

Hey Rob

My district if fighting me tooth and nail on my server purchase so I am giving up on them...I am just gonna do it on my own. I am just gonna puchase server space now since I will be using the lite version instead. Do you have a reccomendation of server to use? I wasn't sure if going on the cheap was worthwhile or not. I was looking as the VPS options and the prices range a lot. I reccomendation would be great otherwise I will probably just guess with a middle of the road monthly fee. I saw a low price VPS space for around $30 a month but my tech dept friend here says that is still really high?


Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/15/12 7:12:38 PM Permalink

The Blog's new groove...

Just made a mistake and put a quest into a post instead of a page. Works flawlessly!!! Forgot about it, but I think that was one of the main advantages of shortcoding it instead of template.

Thinking I might make every week's blog post a simple quest to track who's read the weekly post!!! Mastery will be that they've read on LAST day of week and checked all updates!!! ;)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/15/12 4:17:56 PM Permalink

Additional Gamified Bonus: Some of the kids liked last years' crummy gamification system so much that they asked for extra Quests over holidays.

BreakQuests were born.

This year, without mentioning anything about that in class, more kids asked if we could have special Quests over Thanksgiving Break (we get a week off -- 9 days if you count the weekends). They even voted to have a Mac Lab Saturday School the first day of the break.

Pretty cool, eh? Here's the preview from this post:

Thanksgiving BreakQuests: [get_username], do you want to rack up extra Gold and XP over the break? If so, you’ll find new Quests linked from our homepage over the Thanksgiving holiday. None of the Quests will require that you have Adobe apps, just an Internet connection. The Boss guarantees you’ll be rewarded with new concepts to ponder, new Web 2.0 tools and resources to utilize, and a few other surprises.

Important: The Quests will be time-phased. A Quest worth 100 XP and 50 Gold (or more) on Saturday, might only be worth 30 XP and 10 Gold (or less) on Monday. New Quests might appear each day. No way to know unless you check the site each day.

Remember: Color prints will go on sale in the Store after the break so the extra Gold might come in handy.

The "color prints" refers to their ability to print their work on our Epson using Gold from the game as currency to pay for paper and ink. The "time-phased" quests reward those who check every day. BreakQuests lose value over time and expire the night before we return to school.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/15/12 4:00:54 PM Permalink

UPDATE: Semar is making good progress on the new consolidated, hybrid plugin. Besides containing far less code, a comparison of the two leaves me with a sense that the new code is more beautiful too. Some of it almost feels like music.

Sorry for waxing poetic, but that's really how it seems to me when looking at the page (and not trying to read it).

Besides lots of admin settings, he's solved the reload riddle. Students move through phases of each quest without the page reloads.

Vincent is working on a plugin which will launch the videos via lightbox. That will save time for players and far more time for admins (us). Creating the extra pages, the additional navigation, and embedding the videos takes a lot of time. Especially if you create hundreds of videos!

Exciting stuff. :)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/13/12 6:02:04 PM Permalink

Just say the word when you're ready, Matt. :)

(He said the word and is testing.)

Matt Hensler

Posted on 11/13/12 5:24:25 PM Permalink

Mike, I would love to try this out (and possibly one of my upper classman completing an independent study for me this year). I will be in touch.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/1/12 7:11:10 PM Permalink

Just got confirmation of our slot at the 2013 Educating for Careers Conference.

On Sunday, March 10th from 2:30 to 4:30 at the Sacramento Convention Center, our little gamification project will share the stage with Alex Peake, creator of Code Hero (and a dozen other epic projects), Carter Tatge, founder of STEM Fuse, and Melissa Jones, Adobe's World Wide Education Program Manager.

Heady stuff!

A big thanks to everyone here for helping to push this project forward. :D

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/1/12 3:58:08 PM Permalink

Took me an hour to compose that last comment (bopping around the lab helping kids) and missed your first wish.

I'll pass it along to our genie -- the great and mighty Semar!

Am also writing his letter of recommendation to the University of Chicago right now. The kid's going to go far.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/1/12 3:51:39 PM Permalink

Donald, four presentations?! You crazy, boy. I tried two at Adobe last summer and was overloaded. I can't even imagine what four would cost the presenter. Sleep? Sanity? Ack!
I'm in awe. Rock their worlds!
Rob, good idea using Diigo to organize resources. After my single measly presentation this weekend, I'll give it a go.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/1/12 3:21:23 PM Permalink

Woot! First add to the GDS spreadsheet wishlist! ;)

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/1/12 2:48:18 PM Permalink


This thread is so collaborative, I wanted to share another way we can all collaborate. The web is BIG. Hard to find the best resources out there all the time... but I found one way we can all easily share our own sites, and have each other contributing to everyone's websites at once when we get all our sites going. It's called Diigo... It's basically like delicious (which is on Yahoo's sunset list- they'll be shutting it down in the future) or any of the other web-bookmarking/ social bookmarking sites with some GREAT added features (notes, hilighting, screenshots, teacher consoles, etc..)

Posted about it here. If you already have a great lost on another service, please post a link to your list so I can share it with my students on brainbuffet as well as browse your links myself!!! Always looking for great free resources for the kids!

I also have a wordpress diigo list here. Good themes and tech info pages I've found or needed in the past. Might come in handy for you guys coming aboard the wordpress train.


Donald Peters

Posted on 10/31/12 5:52:32 PM Permalink

Thanks for the help guys.

Mike, I'm going to the North Carolina Art Education Association state conference in Asheville tommorow through Sunday. I'm doing 4 presentations! (remind me NEVER to submit more than 1 proposal EVER again!) one I'm copresenting with two other teachers from my district on flipping the classroom and my section is on screen capture programs (since I use screenflow for my graphic arts class) and on the 'next step' gamifying the classroom (so I'll be mentioning you and your students)

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/31/12 4:09:28 PM Permalink

On PC, snagit lately has been my go-to app... it's just FAST. For my bigger projects I use camtasia. (when I need editing and want the theater)

Snagit is cheap, nice and simple. all it does is record and export the h264 video (which is great). It doesn't resize or anything, though. Also works on Mac but I haven't tried it yet there. Assume it will work just the same.

For Mac, I use Telestream's Screenflow4. Has some amazing features for a great price.

But I've experimented with MANY of these and have presented on it at conferences in the past... Below are all the apps I both own and have used extensively. I put notes on the ones I recommend (Snagit, Screenflow, Camtasia Studio Windows)

JING (Both) - FREE - but 5 mimute video limit and it makes HUGE files. Not recommended (jing Pro discontinued and replaced with snagit)

snagit (Dual License) - $29 (with ed pricing) - Best choice if money is really tight. What I use daily for quick video captures (all the ones you've seen here in the. Quick and easy. Dual platform license for basic video captures. Virtually no post production or export options (like resizing). I upload the full size videos and they get resized through the district vodcast server.

Snaps Pro X (Mac Only)- $69 - Mac only, Simple video capture, very limited post production capabilities, but can resize export.

Camtasia MAC- (Mac Only) - $75 (with ed discount) - Basically the same as snapz Pro X but more editing features, but not as rich as Screenflow. Not worth it in my opinion. Have it and NEVER use it.

Screenflow (mac only)- $89.90 (with ed discount)- My fave for a full-featured solution on Mac. Full editing and export. Some special features not available elsewhere. Best bang for buck on Mac. Almost all the features of Camtasia Studio Windows below except for swf video player export.

Camtasia Studio - $175 (with ed discount)- The grand-daddy of them all... what I use most of the time for my professional videos for sale or for other publishers (recommended to me by the folks at

I also have heard good things from other teachers in workshops, (but have never used) Screenr, CamStudio, AviScreen, Screencast-o-Matic, and Copernicus (Copernicus is for mac). Think most of them are free, and probably a lot like Snagit... but I personally LOVE snagit and it's features. Only recently did it also do video. Great quality, small files, cheaper than a nice dinner, and easy to use.

IF that didn't answer your question... I don't know what will! LOL.

I tend to overdo it when researching. ;)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/31/12 1:32:06 PM Permalink

Donald Peters

Posted on 10/31/12 11:47:57 AM Permalink

Ok, I know I've been told this information already, but...

Mike: what screencasting software do you use? AND where are you presenting this weekend?

Rob: what screencasting software do you use?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/29/12 9:28:50 PM Permalink

[sob] Not an acronym. Verb [/sob]

(Didn't even consider the alternative. But got a good laugh out of it after the fact!)

Put a link to your video in the main post. Thanks!

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/29/12 7:07:12 PM Permalink

Here's Semar's video. (You now have to add a closing tag for each event like the [sob] example [/sob]

LOL mike... not sure if you're crying or calling me names. ;)

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/29/12 7:05:27 PM Permalink

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/29/12 5:14:43 PM Permalink

Have included new info in the original post (at the top of each page).

Will continue to try to anchor links to important details there.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/29/12 4:57:09 PM Permalink

Semar came in during break. Besides timestamps, Not Encountered doesn't work on the Stats page and admin users don't get the Level X popup when crossing the level threshold.

Here's Semar's video. (You now have to add a closing tag for each event like the [sob] example [/sob]

Rob, do you know all of the built-in shortcodes to choose from? The bell rang before I could ask.

I'll have to get access to his test server so I can make some new videos for anyone other than Adam who wants to give it a spin. Unless Rob wants to do that. :)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/29/12 4:24:07 PM Permalink

Lite Plugins (same activation sequence).

Will have to ask Semar about any other functionality changes. Many of my videos are applicable but there are none of the template pages that I'm [sob] currently using and will have to manually transfer [/sob].

Will look for Semar's shortcode video.

Rob, it's now open and close like my [sob] example [/sob], right?

Adam Coulson

Posted on 10/29/12 4:10:30 PM Permalink

So with the lite version I just lose the timestamps, correct? If it could save work later i am willing to go with the lite version instead. Do you have the link for that download too. I think I saw it somewhere in the post pages but can't seems to find it at the moment. Do all of your great videos and screens shots still apply to the lite version the same? Those are an awesome resource. Did Rob have a tutorial on installing the lite version. I recall him mentioning that at somepoint?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/29/12 4:00:48 PM Permalink

And as for client's "poking" to see what happens... I know that's a pain, but you gotta love 'em for being curious.

This week's Mac Lab post features a quote* from Seth Godin... from one of his books...

Poke the Box. :P

*Featuring an odd take on the "quote" concept.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/29/12 3:40:42 PM Permalink

Paid Content is the bomb. Just put the price in the Gold field. It ignores the XP settings.

As for my fix, I already know what it's going to be. A full day of manually moving HTML out of the custom template pages.

I don't like patching holes. Would rather do it right. Short-term pain for long-term gain works for me.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/29/12 3:21:13 PM Permalink

Rob, I can't imagine handing off any WP project to a client unless the theme was ultra-simple.

yeah... me either.. But I've found that my version of ultra-simple and the client's version of ultra simple is often quite different. :/
I think the problem with it was that they saw all those options and thought they HAD to understand and use them, where in most themes, there's simply less to choose from when it comes to content posting. Pages, Posts, Media and Links they get... Start adding in forms, features, boxes, events, and whatever else, and they feel the need to "poke" everything to see if it's awake. Ugh.
And as for the shortcode and PL stuff... I wonder if Semar could keep it working for you by just adding the shortcode to the theme template parts?
What CG related template areas do you need? do you have more than just stats and Questpage?
How does paid content work? I haven't had a chance to try that yet... Don't see how to put pricing in.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/29/12 2:58:59 PM Permalink

Adam, Semar just walked up and said, "Not poster related... the new version of the plugin will be 100% shortcode so it works on any theme, right?

My mind played out the consequences...

You may want to use the lite version to begin. I may be the only user to be SOL at some point in the future. The benefits of freeing the plugin from browser lock is worth the pain I'll face in the near future.

What irony.

Though Semar just said, "I'll find a way to make it work."

Gotta love that can-do attitude. Even if it's probably misplaced in this case. (Hope I'm wrong.)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/29/12 2:49:48 PM Permalink

Rob, I can't imagine handing off any WP project to a client unless the theme was ultra-simple.

As for PageLines, I bought this theme* first and found all the shortcode-driven functionality too complicated for my tiny brain. PageLines' drag and drop simplicity slid right into my brains' WYSIWYG sweet spot.

Images rather than [words] works for me. But we're all different and we all learn differently.

After two months behind the wheel, I feel I could handle either now.

*We're using it for the Student Creative. Come join the MyThology global collaborative fun!


Semar is working on a poster for Theatre right now. Can't interrupt. Due today. (The Theatre teacher came in Thursday to ask for the poster design. Gotta love the lead time.)

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/29/12 2:24:28 PM Permalink


A couple of questions: Since this is internet based I'm assuming it would run on both mac and pc platforms?

Yup- doesn't matter... IE is ugly though with the add bar. Works, but ugly.

what level of tech guru do I honestly need to be to get this up and running?

What do you mean by get it running? Server Config is heavy duty, running wordpress is pretty easy.

would you call this an 'immersive environment' or a 'virtual world'?

Neither. It's just an interactive blog.

can you tell I've been arguing with the IT department? cheeky

Yup. Same deal here. Just tell them you want a wordpress install. Here's the minreq.

Help them out... don't make it bigger than it needs to be. WP is actually a relatively low-tech piece of netware.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/29/12 2:19:16 PM Permalink

UPDATE: Semar asked if it would be okay if he skipped incremental improvements and could instead focus on building a new plugin combining CubeGold and Clipboard -- full and lite versions.

I think that's the best plan.. Unify first so he doesn't have to double code it all. Then just make "Timecode tracking for quests" a checkbox in the admin to go to full... that seems to be the only difference.


Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/29/12 2:16:38 PM Permalink

On Pagelines, I'm finding it hard to work with... I've used a lot of themes, and it's just so different that it seems to take much longer for me to get things done in it than in other themes... I know it's powerful, but don't feel like you need that theme to get going... It's working great with any theme. I'm using a cheaper ($50) theme called "lush" that's very easy to work with... And even with freebie themes, there's some cool plugs that give you all the premium features (that are harder to work with anyway).

If you're new, I might suggest a more straightforward theme. It will make the learning curve lots shorter for you. I do some web design on the side, and just had my first client on Pagelines... and they were confused by the multiple options. Just a thought... Pagelines is itself, a whole extra layer of learning curve if you're new to wordpress. Like troubleshooting your computer, disable extensions first to check for conflicts kind of thinking. Get WP running with a lighter theme and then move to all the extras after you understand how the system itself should work.

Just my .02 from working with clients who are new to WP, they find the backend confusing enough when they're new to it. If you're not a huge tinkerer already, might just make the whole thing more work than it needs to be and you won't be using those advanced features at the beginning anyway.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/26/12 2:07:01 PM Permalink

Donald, the lite version is the smart bet at present. No worries. I'll provide videos for that too (Rob has some too) but some of what I posted is relevant to the lite version too. WordPress works in a similar manner with any theme.

WordPress is platform agnostic but Explorer is NOT the recommended browser. Use Chrome, Firefox, or Safari.

IT needs to ensure you have a current version of MySQL. They also install and configure WordPress for you. Not rocket science. (Info at the end of that link.)

Definitely immersive. The virtual is on the long-term wish list (years from now).

You're probably doing this, but phrase everything in terms of the students. This drives student engagement and achievement. :)

Donald Peters

Posted on 10/26/12 1:43:45 PM Permalink


I am still planning on starting up the Lite version some time next month so I can learn the ins and outs and produce most of my videos before class actually starts in January. Truthfully it's a money issue, but I'll say that I was waiting for you to get all the bugs worked out. wink

A couple of questions: Since this is internet based I'm assuming it would run on both mac and pc platforms?

what level of tech guru do I honestly need to be to get this up and running?

would you call this an 'immersive environment' or a 'virtual world'?

can you tell I've been arguing with the IT department? cheeky

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/26/12 12:34:20 PM Permalink

PageLines Videos

With a little backstory thrown in for fun.


*If the video's a different size, use [embedwidth width="100" height="100" src="Insert Video Link Here"]

**Caps and Crops Quest is here if you're interested.


Hope those help. :)

Forgot to mention that Embed-Width works for Flash too. My First Flash Animation | Final 10%

Hmmm... Maybe I should post that as a resource...

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/26/12 2:43:54 AM Permalink

The cool part when you're beginning is, if it breaks, just sweep the pieces away and start again.

Be fearless! (Because there's nothing to fear at this point.)*

*Or at any point for that matter.

Can't wait to hear how it goes!

Adam Coulson

Posted on 10/25/12 10:29:22 PM Permalink

Awesome. Daunting but Awesome! I will still use embed width for videos. Hopefully whenever Post on here again I will at least have the framework up. Not sure how long that will take but I suppose I will have questions along the way. Thanks again.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/25/12 8:03:13 PM Permalink

UPDATE: Semar asked if it would be okay if he skipped incremental improvements and could instead focus on building a new plugin combining CubeGold and Clipboard -- full and lite versions.

That's one of the reasons I created the Gamification CDS Wish List spreadsheet (that I've yet to add anything to). He'll refer to that for new features and improvements.

His focus is to create an admin panel to allow us to customize settings -- everything from specifying the designation for assignments (Quests, Missions, etc.) to choosing between full and lite versions. We'll have fewer page refreshes and more AJAX-like interactions.

Now is the time to step up with your wishes before Semar gets rolling. :)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/25/12 7:36:12 PM Permalink

You MUST activate modules and configure CubePoints before activatingSemar's CubeGold and Clipboard plugins (in that order). Take some time and explore the settings (not shown above). The rest are season to taste.

I discovered kids spamming the comments and spamming for friends to gain cheap XP so I made both worth only 1 XP (and -5 for removing a comment). Has helped immensely.

The reasoning behind the ranks is briefly explained in this comment. Here's a spreadsheet with all 99 levels.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/25/12 7:27:12 PM Permalink

CubePoints Ranks:

CubePoints Ranks JPG

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/25/12 7:25:00 PM Permalink

Here are the CubePoints Modules we've activated:

CubePoints Modules JPG

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/25/12 6:00:53 PM Permalink

Adam, you don't need these plugins:

Database Browser (useful for examining the back end code)

Embed-Width (I use it to embed videos, audio files, and Flash)

LazyLoader (not using yet)

Polldaddy (other free options available)

Theme Updater (fail for us)

ThreeWP Activity Monitor (Semar wrote this functionality into CubeGold)

Sorry for any confusion. Settings will follow...

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/25/12 5:36:25 PM Permalink

Adam, email PageLines and they'll give you a 20% education discount. No apologies necessary. If I were in your shoes, I'd pick the same route.

1. Install and activate PagePines. (Then read the rest before moving on)

2. BuddyPress, and bbPress will require bbPress for PageLines, BuddyPress for PageLines, and BuddyPress Template Pack to activate successfully.

3. The installation and activation process is daunting (for me at least) but is full of prompts.

Get these up and running and then hunt down the rest of the plugins (see image below -- click for larger view).

There's an activation order and I'll supply that next. Rob also has a few other plugins seen in these two comments.

Plugins list JPG

Adam Coulson

Posted on 10/25/12 4:15:17 PM Permalink

Because I am not familiar enought with wordpress and the differences in themes, compatibility with Buddypress, and responsivness, I am going to try to go with Pagelines for now. My apologies for not attemoting a test run on a new theme. I am searching back through the posts to find the section of the discussion on which version of Pagelines was suggested and if anyone ever found a discount on the theme or not.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/25/12 2:43:55 PM Permalink

Gamified CDS Wish List

Please continue to comment, critique, question, and/or suggest new ideas and feature requests in this thread.

I'm going to go back through the comments and collect unrealized and forgotten suggestions you've all made. Something's up with my Acrobat account so the Master List will be on a Google Spreadsheet for now.


Gamified CDS Wish List (anyone with link can edit)


Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/25/12 2:28:06 PM Permalink

Rob, your suggestion to allow the admin to customize names (Quests to Missions, Gold to Credits, etc.) was another of those D'oh! moments.

Yes, it's possible but Semar is engaged in a national competition, and various school projects, and applying to colleges right now (Bio Technology with minor in programming). The genie put a do not disturb sign on the lamp. He's not even coming to our Saturday school this weekend (and he always comes).

The Quest/Mission progress bar is worthwhile too.

How many other ideas have been suggested, celebrated, and forgotten?

PageLines videos will follow. Be right back...

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/25/12 1:13:01 PM Permalink

No problem on summary shortcode... I just thought I saw it working on your site and when I tried it- didn't work.

Would love a pagelines Skockified video.

YIKES!! $200 a year? What magic are you doing with Polldaddy? What are you using the data for?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/25/12 12:40:14 PM Permalink

(Rob's Qs in italics)

Can you use [get_displayname} in the full version in the summary teaser they see before acceptance of the quest? Doesn't work in mine. Thought I saw it working on your site on one of the quests I played with.

I've asked about that too as it would be a more personalized way to introduce the quest. Semar says that the teaser is being pulled from a cell in the database so the shortcode won't work. But he's gone from no to maybe (with a workaround).

Also, how about a rundown of how your pagelines is set up? Forward and back links... Manually creating them? Main menu features and the boxes below... Manual or a PL feature?

Forward and back links are manual. Features at the top of the page, boxes below, and carousel at the bottom are all PageLines. Can make a video about setting each up if you want.

And what voting plug you using?

Polldaddy (but paying for the Pro version to collect data). Polldaddy's lite option didn't serve our needs. There are lots of free options in the Plugin directory at WordPress.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/25/12 12:22:47 PM Permalink

Adam, hope all's well on the new family member front.

Apologies again for the delayed response. Stuff happened.

Good News: Samar finished the shortcode version that will work with any theme.

Bad News: We have no idea if it will actually work.

If you want to be a test case, the hard link for the shortcode plugins will be at and we'll load each update to the same place.

I'll gather all the screenshots and post them from school this morn.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/24/12 6:51:54 PM Permalink


Our chat about changing groups to guilds has me thinking... Is there an easy way for Semar to let the admin set the button text in the dashboard???

For example, since I'm a sci-fi/Military kind of theme, I'd prefer it be "missions" inistead of quests... So if I could choose the text for the three buttons (Accept, complete, Master) That would be incredibly sexy.

I'd like it to be, for example, "Accept Mission" "Mission Accomplished" and "Go Elite". I can hack the back end, but then I have to redo it with every update. Other option- have a separate config file that just has nomenclature for CG... I'd love to change "gold" to "credits", for example.

Would be great as a back end option, but a separate config file would be a good intermediate step.

Also still like the idea of a growing progress bar at the bottom of the quest/mission pages instead of the single button. Just change it to keep all buttons visible? Like in my ugly mockup?

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/24/12 6:22:03 PM Permalink

Hey Mike...

Can you use [get_displayname} in the full version in the summary teaser they see before acceptance of the quest? Doesn't work in mine. Thought I saw it working on your site on one of the quests I played with.

Also, how about a rundown of how your pagelines is set up? Forward and back links... Manually creating them? Main menu features and the boxes below... Manual or a PL feature?

And what voting plug you using?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/22/12 3:09:56 PM Permalink

Judy, don't make it complicated. It's just a framework to deliver your curriculum disguised as your favorite gaming metaphor.

Disguised is the key word. The system just helps to make the learning more fun and engaging.

But, shhhh! That's the secret. :)

The Secret JPG

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/22/12 3:03:29 PM Permalink

Adam, what an exciting day! A humanoid baby delivery system and a gamified curriculum delivery system! (Though the former is quite a bit more exciting.) Gratz to all! Info on the latter to follow ASAP.

Judy Durkin

Posted on 10/21/12 11:08:17 PM Permalink

I have been trying to keep up, and I got on the site and fiddled around, but got lost almost immediately. This seems to be way over my head. I will keep trying. Hoping you put out something called: "Skocko's Gamification for Idiots". I think I need to stop reading all of the update comments - I only get more confused. This is ground-breaking stuff, Mike.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 10/21/12 3:55:08 PM Permalink

No hurry. I know you have a lot going on. Thanks for the assistance. I will try to get the installs finished up this afternoon. but my baby will probably be born tomorrow. I'm just bored hanging out in the hospital so why not be productive!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/21/12 2:54:41 AM Permalink

Adam, looks like there's relevant info on about a dozen pages. I'm just going to have to make a few videos and assemble a bunch of new screenshots. Will do that tomorrow.

Apologies for the delay.

P.S. Rob made some videos on the UberLite post.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/21/12 2:45:26 AM Permalink

Oh, and sell the gaming students on the fact that their contributions to the project will look nice on a college or job application. Nothing like helping to change the edu-world while you're still in high school.

Some serious cred for the kids who streamline or add functionality to the model. :)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/21/12 2:39:20 AM Permalink

The setup will vary slightly depending on which route you choose. Semar will say it doesn't matter. Choose what works for you.

I went PageLines for the drag and drop ease of use and power (that I haven't even begun to tap) but there are lots of great responsive themes out there.

Critical: Whatever theme you choose must be BuddyPress and bbPress compatable (and should be responsive). Install the theme and those two components first. The settings screenshots are somewhere in this thread. I'll look and see what's missing.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 10/20/12 10:28:27 PM Permalink

I confirmed with my IT dept. that I can install MySQL so no worries anymore about PostgreSQL anymore. Thats one relief.

That is awesome if pagelines isnt required anymore but I am open to whatever Semar suggests. If you would have plugins and screenshots specifically for Pagelines I am totally open to working through that as it would be a known commadity. I am on a search for my own "Semar" as I have found a couple coders at my high school. Unfortunately we have an actual gaming class and curriculum that occupies many of those students. They aren't as interested in the design side. The gaming teacher is actually our IT technician as well which is why he is so onboard for helping me implement this.


Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/20/12 5:12:41 PM Permalink

Adam, I'm down at school and Semar just walked in (he's helping to film a mock election for a Governement class). He said he can have the full version of the shortcode by Tuesday.

That means you don't have to buy PageLines. You can use any BuddyPress compatable theme. (Would also recommend you go with a responsive version as well.)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/20/12 2:11:59 PM Permalink

Adam, I'm fairly clueless about the back end as we have a guru at the district who handles that part. This plugin will allow WordPress to run on PostgreSQL but I have no idea if any of Semar's code will work. Probably best to avoid introducing another variable right off the bat.

Were you planning on using PageLines? At present, that's the only way to run the full version. We're still a ways from releasing the full version that'll gracefully work with any theme.

If you're up for MySQL and PageLines, I'll provide all the plugins, screenshots, etc. Once it's set up, the rest is just inserting your curriculum. Best to decide on a gaming metaphor to use. (Rob uses Star Wars. Kevin (another AEL) uses martial arts (without our system). And you know I use World of Warcraft. Pick something you enjoy.

Warning: There's a huge time investment. Of course there's also an epic upside as well.

Let me know. :)

P.S. Semar is jazzed about employing AJAX for many of the current features in the next iteration.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 10/19/12 11:07:35 PM Permalink

I am ready to attempt implementation of the system on OS X Server. I might run into some problems for sure as I think I have to individually install MySQL because mac uses PostgreSQL instead for some reason.


How would it work best to get the programming from you. I have some time on my hands as I am off from school for a week or two on paternity leave. I am pumped to try this but know I will be lost ALOT before I can get to using it!!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/18/12 6:02:15 PM Permalink

Resource: I shared a short research paper with Rob to help him fight the Web 2.0 good fight with the district folks. If any of you are encountering some push-back, you might check this post, read the paper, or download the PDF.


Aside to Jen: Can you believe it? An actual use for the Lit Review!

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/18/12 5:10:31 PM Permalink

Duh is on me... I get it now.

"..but IT wants to work wit me on just getting it to be approved for the whole district to be able to implement..

"wit me" = typo. No gangsta. :)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/18/12 3:36:26 PM Permalink

w00t! Spread this far and wide. Get students (and teachers) reenergized!

That's such cool news, Rob!


No new functionality. Steps 4-6 are just:

4. Open your Stats page (while logged into your admin account)

5. Click on Edit Page (in the WordPress admin bar at the top of the page)

6. Click the Update button (in the Publish module in the right sidebar)

7. Slap forehead and say, D'oh! :P


Semar will be so happy to hear the news. :)

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/18/12 3:01:00 PM Permalink

Yup. That did it. The last download still had an old version. This one I noticed it's all lowercase, and images and everythign work... INCLUDING the links!!!

Didn't really do steps 4-6, not sure how to edit the stats page. But I did a "collect Data" on the clipboard dashboard and that did it.

Is there some functionality of the stats page I don't know about? What magic lurketh underneath the stats page, pray tell?

THIS IS SO DANG COOL. Presenting to Superintendent's Technology Clearing Committee in 2 weeks to get blogs and WP sites in my lab, but IT wants to work wit me on just getting it to be approved for the whole district to be able to implement...

How you guys feel about a larger test bed in core classes? :)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/17/12 7:05:48 PM Permalink


Semar asks that you try this, in this order:

1. Deactivate clipboardlite (cbl).

2. Replace it with the current version of cbl.

3. Activate cbl.

4. Open your Stats page.

5. Edit your Stats page.

6. Don't change anything, just update the page.

7. Everything will work.

(Hey, I'm just the messenger. But I am curious to see if Semar's right. :)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/17/12 6:56:16 PM Permalink

Hey, Jen! Long time since our FSO days. Who'd'a thunk such a cool project would emerge?

Do you want to try it now or later? If now, the Lite version or the server-savaging full-bore version?

Jennifer Geiger

Posted on 10/17/12 6:32:20 PM Permalink

I'd love to try this out! Thanks, Mike! can't wait to see how it works!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/17/12 1:49:21 PM Permalink

Dang! But great suggestions. I'll pass 'em on.

Semar just walked in but said he has English homework. (Don't those other teachers know he has code to write?! ;)

He'll fix it 5th period. (Around noon PST.)

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/17/12 1:33:38 PM Permalink

Oh, and BTW- Stats page works perfect.. It's just the clipboard page doesn't go to stats page of user when clicked.

Seems to be working still... but the clipboard image is not showing in admin. I'll bet 100 gold and XP that it's looking for it in the clipboard, not clipboardlite directory- which I don't have since I only use lite.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/17/12 1:31:33 PM Permalink

nope... and have him go through and check paths again... all my fixes are broken butI have my backup at home.

Think I sent you a copy... All I did was Change all directories to clipboardlite (some were "clipboard") and also change cAsE to all lowercase in the actual code and directory structure... Some hosts will fail if case is different. Best practice to keep everything in the actual files and programming all lowercase. So change all ClipBoardLite to clipboardlite.

Oh- and using revision numbers that are different on different versions of the code will help keep them organized. :)


Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/17/12 11:05:20 AM Permalink

Remember to refresh or update the Stats page (might as well do both) then test the Clipboard again.

Working now?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/17/12 10:56:40 AM Permalink

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/17/12 3:19:26 AM Permalink

Adam, there's only one way to know for sure (as I'm not a super techie).

Install... Deploy... Test...

And crash... Or fly.

Either way, it's going to be exciting! :)

P.S. Our second server is for the database. They said it wasn't critical, just a precaution.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/17/12 3:13:41 AM Permalink

Rob, looks like a glitch on our end. Will follow up on tomorrow morn. Sorry about the problems. :/

Adam Coulson

Posted on 10/17/12 3:05:37 AM Permalink

So Mike, My IT guy said he can get me a OSX server with 8GB RAM quad core intel processor. Do you think this could run your NON-light version that you use in class? You said distrct uses two that highly important in avoiding the pegging. My IT person suggested a Mac Xserver because I am very versed in mac software but would this be a potential major issue since you are running on Linux. I am concerned learning Linux on top of everything else is just over load. Any Opinions or suggestions.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/16/12 3:34:46 PM Permalink

Stats page works, but from MY dashboard clipboard page, I'm getting the attached... Check out the address it wants to go to in the status bar at bottom...

Brings me to a blank page.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/16/12 2:19:16 PM Permalink

UPDATE: New version of CubeGoldLite to fix link to students' Stats page (via the Clipboard).

CubeGoldLite and ClipboardLite ( Only CGL is updated but I'm keeping them together in case someone else wants to try them out.)

EDIT: ClipboardLite was the one tht was updated this time. Sorry about that!

Rob, Semar said you need to refresh or update the Stats page for this to work.

Let us know if this fixes the problem. :)

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/15/12 5:52:34 PM Permalink

for those following along.... it;s a full shortcode tag and closing tag


your content with other [shortcodes].


Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/15/12 3:54:17 PM Permalink

Great news! And cool to work on one coast and have the work verified from the other.

Thanks to the Florida classroom from the kids in California!

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/15/12 3:40:00 PM Permalink



Screenshot of happy quest pages attached.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/13/12 2:11:15 PM Permalink

Luckily, we're having a Mac Lab Saturday School and Semar is here. You've got your fix, Rob. (Or at least I think you do.)

CubeGoldLite and ClipboardLite (Only CGL is updated but I'm keeping them together in case someone else wants to try them out.)

Let us know if this fixes the problem, Rob.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/13/12 1:23:59 PM Permalink

Rob, finally got the time to watch the videos. Sorry for your "grumpy" shortcodes but so thankful for your discovery and proposed solution. Will pass this on to Semar next.

But the real eye-opener was the auto-generated pages. I'm not sure I understand the whole process (will have to download the plugin and follow your demo to try it) but that's potentially a huge timesaver (when you consider how many pages a full-on gamified course will eventually contain).

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/13/12 1:08:41 PM Permalink

Donald, some epic links! Hadn't encountered most of those. Thanks!

Since I was the arbitor during Bounty Hunting, I couldn't make the webinar. Looking forward to the watching the archived version. (That's the one about the Boise State project, right?)

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/12/12 6:00:22 PM Permalink

Found a conflict with the CGlite and any other shortcode (like shortcode buddy.) Here's What's Happening.

Also think I have a fix, though I don't know how to code it. I suggest moving all the shortcodes to the opening/closing tag method as well. Here's why.

Donald Peters

Posted on 10/11/12 9:26:25 PM Permalink

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/11/12 7:58:39 PM Permalink

Cool idea, Donald (and love the Han reference), but don't think that many bounty hunters feel any remorse at all. Only a few have that level of empathy. Conversely, only a few of the hunted take it personally. For the most part, it's laughter and good-natured trash talk. Today has been a blast, and a very productive one at that.

But back to your idea...

I'm not sure I'd want some players to be able to rely on healers at the last minute every time -- and a few surely would -- but maybe we could scatter a few unannounced healing days between the hunts. That might work very well and foster more peer-to-peer learning.

Thanks for another buff to the game!

Donald Peters

Posted on 10/11/12 6:44:40 PM Permalink

Mike, as another suggestion... after seeing many many many posts in MMORPG's 'group looking for a healer'... how about offering the 'healer' option several days before the 'bounty hunting.'

'Players' could ask for a 'healer' to look at their work for a small fee or free if they can find a volunteer. Then when it is time for 'bounty hunting' those that have not 'healed' have no excuse. and the bounty hunters don't have to feel remorse as the victims brought it on themselves. devil (kinda like Han never quite making it to Jabba to pay him off.... in the end it was his fault he ended up in Carbonite)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/11/12 5:44:58 PM Permalink


Just realized that the next time we do this it'll be called Hunters and Healers (or something along those lines).

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/11/12 5:37:54 PM Permalink

UPDATE: Wonderfully ironic Bounty Hunting twist.

A player named Muhammad came up to me a this morning and said he felt bad about bounty hunting, that he wanted to help without it costing others their gold. He asked, "Can't we include digital first aid as an option again?"

1. I'd completely forgotten about Digital First Aid. (The helper gets the gold reward but the offender doesn't have to lose any.)

2. I'd completely forgotten that it was Muhammad who first suggested the bounty system last year.

3. I'd also completely forgotten that Muhammad felt so bad when he saw the fevered hunting in the room that it was he who suggested the more benign option (that few others chose and I named DFA).

Last period, Mohammad was the only player helping rather than hunting. And I was laughing at yet another "blind spot right in front of my face."

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/11/12 4:51:43 PM Permalink

Just pulled Lee's book up on the iPad and am looking at all the passages I highlighted. Lots like this:

Calling the team guilds here was, like XP, an easy way to map game terminology onto existing class elements.

I love the terminology "mapping" concept and have been trying to do that from the start, but as BlindEye said on the last page, I oftem miss incredibly obvious solutions -- even (or especially) when they're right in front of me.

It took Donald's question to bump my tiny brain into connecting all those other dots.

Go figure.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/11/12 4:05:30 PM Permalink

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/11/12 3:46:58 PM Permalink

Hey, wait a minute. YOU wrote the book! Just finished that two nights ago!

...unblocking Facebook...

Lee Sheldon

Posted on 10/11/12 3:42:37 PM Permalink

I'd like to invite everybody interested in this method of teaching to join the Multiplayer Classroom Facebook page. We have over 500 members from 45 countries. I'll post a link to this conversation there as well.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/11/12 2:46:46 PM Permalink


It was as obvious as the blind spot in front of my face!

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/11/12 2:36:50 PM Permalink

Mike- easy to do. Groups are called guilds on my site. Change the menu name, and you can also create a page called guilds and then change it in the budypress setup.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/11/12 2:14:56 PM Permalink

Now you have me looking around the room and at the website wondering what other changes would help to improve the system.

Amazing how a simple question can spark so many new ideas.


Trust is time to ask yourself, to find the strength to ask
Questions free the answering, unbinding them our task
Faith is time spent wondering, what we’re meant to find
Imagine it’s your purpose, adventure by design
Belief is time to listen, but who has time for that?
Especially when the answers, knock expectations flat

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/11/12 2:08:49 PM Permalink

Ooh, and change Friends to Allies.

I bet there's an endless list of changes this will spark. THANK YOU!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/11/12 2:04:50 PM Permalink

Classes and Professions are up front in the discussions. One thing your comment triggered was the realization that I should have looked into changing the name of BuddyPress Groups into Guilds or Clans to keep the nomenclature gamified.

Will definitely look into that one. Thanks!

Donald Peters

Posted on 10/10/12 9:27:06 PM Permalink

Axis of Evil now recruiting. We have a clan hall in North Carolina and are not very active at all. Recruiting Tanks, buffers and healers lvl 25 and up. cheeky

have your students discussed the possibility of 'clans'? just curious if its come up yet.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/10/12 8:28:59 PM Permalink

You're set up, Lukas. Info's in the mail.


Now we have players from Sweden, China, and the States.

Okay, lurkers, time to step up and join in the constructive fun!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/10/12 6:33:49 PM Permalink

By the most sophisticated code ever disclosed via a secret prize in a Cracker Bax Jocks (to quote Firesign Theatre in Nick Danger).

D is the 4th letter
A is the 1st
T is the 20th
A has been covered
2 is, well, 2

412012 :P

I used the same for Nicole (NICO) and David (DAVID) but when I tried to do SCHWARTZ, my ring blew up!

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/10/12 6:18:30 PM Permalink

OMG it's killing me... How does 412012 spell out DATA2?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/10/12 3:21:28 PM Permalink

UPDATE: The Hunters are Coming!

About this time last year (just before the first progress reports), I was pleading with the kids to fix their blogs. I'd given them clear (well, somewhat clear), explicit instructions of the requirements via step-by-step videos. So easy a teacher could do it! (I use that line a lot. The kids love it.) But there were scores of non-conforming and/or incomplete blogs.

While telling the kids for the umpteenth time that I wanted each of them to earn an A but they had to fix their blogs to do so, one of the kids who always follows instructions said something like this:

Why don't you just let us earn XP by finding problems with each others' sites? We could earn bounties for each mistake we found.

This was during fourth period. I remember standing there with my mouth open for a few seconds... playing the scenario out in my mind... Genius! 50 XP! We start right now!

Bounty Hunting was born. Oh, did some kids hate it. Others loved it. But within 48 hours, there wasn't a bounty left to claim. All blogs were in compliance.

Nothing -- NOTHING -- had ever produced such a flurry of frantic productivity. Lots of XP changed hands that day. Tomorrow it will be Gold. And a valuable lesson will be learned.

The Hunters are Coming! (10 minute video -- not required viewing)

Prior Quests: Bounty Hunting Preview and Bounty Hunter Primer (I wanted to leave no one claiming it was unfair to unleash the hunters without warning this year.) Also wrote about it last week.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/10/12 2:55:44 PM Permalink

David, you're good to go too. Info's in the email.

Feel free to extend the offer to your peers in China. :)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/10/12 2:19:07 PM Permalink

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/10/12 2:17:30 PM Permalink

LOL! +10 XP! Didn't even notice that.

The numbers also spell out DATA2.

Matt Cauthron

Posted on 10/10/12 2:03:28 PM Permalink

412012? April Fools was your launch date???

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/10/12 1:55:06 PM Permalink

Very cool, Donald, but give all the props to Vincent and Semar (you can use that pic if you want. :)

Synchronicity: I'll be presenting at Cal State San Marcos that day. Will be fun to mention the NC State connection.

Donald Peters

Posted on 10/10/12 1:21:35 PM Permalink

Mike - fyi, I'm copresenting a workshop on 'Flipping the art room' at the NC state art convention on Nov 3rd and I plan on showing off your system as part of my half of the presentation. Full props to you of course. laugh

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/10/12 7:18:28 AM Permalink

Rob, IE's not going away but its market share ain't what it used to be. Google: browser market share

As for bugs and glitches and random odd behavior, think of them just a part of our growing pains. So long as funtionality is alive and well, I consider that a good trade. For now. But still want to smooth the rough patches ASAP.

I'm going to have to grit my teeth and learn some PHP though. Having a genie like Semar is wonderful but it'd be fun to be able to build some of this myself.

Will continue to pass along and think on your endless great suggestions. Keep 'em coming, buddy!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/10/12 7:05:41 AM Permalink

Not witchcraft, Matt, warcraft! :)

This thing's filling my dreams too. Woke up to new ideas for down the road. Lots of cross-curricular quests.

Grab a test account and get infected inspired! :)

You're ID number is 412012. (Anyone know why?) Password's on the way.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/10/12 6:48:47 AM Permalink

Adam, CubePoints > Configure allows you to set a time interval for awarding points (in seconds). I've currently got it set to 10 XP* for every 7200 seconds (two hours). The idea is to encourage periodic visits. I've not told the players about this but I know that some of them have discovered it and they've shown a willingness to check the site from home. Adding hidden treasure (in both XP and Quests) is also part of that same plan.

*You can add any prefix or suffix to your points as well. I chose XP because WoW is my model.

Right now we don't have a method for measuring the duration of the visit or the player's activity. That's definitely on the wish list.

As the site develops, there will be more and more to explore. My old site was virtually endless (if you follow all the links). In my mind, this game should be vast and offer lots of surprises. I need to figure more ways to creatively sprinkle loot around the site to encourage voluntary exploration.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 10/10/12 1:49:45 AM Permalink

I'm not sure if its a bug or not but over the last two days when I casually checked out your blog mike, it awarded me daily points three times today. I'm not sure if it is because I am at different IP addresses or not but is this normal and planned?

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/10/12 12:23:35 AM Permalink

Matt- Better than all those ads for mortgages and generic pills from overseas. :)

We need to get you on Buddypress and join the fun!!! All your multiple sites can run on one! It's fun over here!

Matt Cauthron

Posted on 10/9/12 11:56:18 PM Permalink

Dang. You're excitement is filling my inbox. What is this witchcraft?

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/9/12 11:26:07 PM Permalink

Ugh. Found the thread on the pop up and it's even uglier after the mod.

Edit: It's my theme. Can't find the conflict, must be another notify class somewhere. Grrr.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/9/12 10:51:00 PM Permalink

What about AJAX? Can that be done in the admin bar?

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/9/12 10:47:05 PM Permalink

I don't think that it has to be inelegant... It could be a cool lightbox popup with a groovy interface, kind of like when you go into your skills and weapons chooser in a game....

Didn't change the color of the growl. Been like that since I installed CP. Think they had an older version that had a sweet gray one, but then they accidentally put the ugly one back in. Found a thread on stylizing it on the CP site forums, but can't find it again. :(

IE is just totally bonked. I hate it anyway, but can't uninstall in my district and certiport requires it for ACA... and when we do web design I make sure they check it. They can't ignore 80% of their audience, no matter how little they like that funky browser. :/

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/9/12 7:34:28 PM Permalink

Are you suggesting the manual input be contained in a pop-up window? If so, it might solve the refresh bug but it's... inelegant. There has to be a better solution.

When XP is manually added or subtracted, the Growl-like notification remains on the screen for both in here. Another known bug but none of the edge to edge weirdness. That's odd. Semar is looking into solutions.

Looking at your screenshots... did you change the color of the growl-notification? And the gaps in the add menu in IE are bizarre. It is popular but I wish it would just go away. Bane, indeed! We'll have to load Windows on a Mac in here and dual boot if we decide to work on that. But honestly, pretty far down the to do list

Thanks for the feedback (and the frightening screenshots). ;)

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/9/12 7:16:19 PM Permalink

Refresh bug is small... Only thing I can think is redirect to stats page? Otherwise, whaat about a pop-up instead of a menu? That make a difference? I bet it would, because the pop up would be a separate page. 100 XP says it works. :)

Also on Growlike popup, negative points stretches across the whole page and doesn't go away. That also happening on yours?

Actually, as I went to get a screenshot... It's an IE display. Popular browser but the bane of every designer's existence. Growl is fat and never goes away on IE and add menu is a ghostly thing. :)

Attached zip has pics

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/9/12 6:27:12 PM Permalink

The refresh is a known bug. The solution, for now, is as you guessed: Don't refresh!

The problem is that the PHP doesn't see the change until we hit the next page. The manual input resides in the netherworld between the current page and the next. It's a quantum hypertext tunnel through spacetime and the refesh actually spins off a collection of subatomic particles that help to replenish the Ozone Layer and reduce our carbon footprint.

So the trade-off is a bitch. Do we fix the bug or save the world? ;)

P.S. Great to hear that everything else is working. This bodes well for others. (And we'll work on the refresh bug.)

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/9/12 5:52:29 PM Permalink

OH- Problem solved on the student profiles... It was in the wordpress profiles to add the user info about computer and class. It didn't show in the first version of the plug I was using. Update that fixed clipboard also fixed that.

They are under dash- users-profile.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/9/12 5:50:40 PM Permalink

Yeah- numbering would be cool. As long as it's not a database call it shouldn't affect hosting, and they'd be able to code for both versions at once. ... and I think that can be done with just a naming convention and a display script on stats. Not sure it will let you do a variable, but probably can do HQ001- and then keep numbering up. I know that PHP can split the one string and then pull out variables. Had a kid do it in the past (wish I could find him! Can't remember his last name- he was an incredible )

Other interesting feature I found today is that when kids add points in the admin bar, and then refresh the page to see it change their XP, it adds the points again. Not sure how to suggest fixing. what's your fix? (I think i hear you saying "tell them not to refresh")

Send Kudos to the kiddos, it's working like a CHARM and not slowing down or crashing at all! WORKING FLAWLESSLY!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/9/12 5:21:51 PM Permalink

I think I understand. We could number the HQs too so kids could have an idea of how many they've missed. Might encourage <gasp> reviewing the material. Motivation gone mad!

We'll have to paraphrase Borghese's it is necessary; therefore, it is possible with:

It would be cool, therefore, make it so.
— Rob "Jean Luc" Schwartz

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/9/12 4:20:27 PM Permalink

Got an idea for the plug:

I'm still on hidden quests- Can Semar make a checkbox that makes a quest hidden? what it would do is, when it shows up in their quest page (that's visible to all) it will not have the name of the quest and the link back to it. It just shows "Hidden Quest!" in place of the name of the page and the URL.

Not sure it's possible... but would be cool! Or- another way, is just require that all hidden quests start with a special character or string? Like "HQ-" ? then when the stats page sees a page name with that string it doesn't make the URL Link?

Something like

if $pagename = "HQ-*", then display "Hidden quest"

else display <a href=$pageurl> $pagename </a>

Of course, that's not legit code, but I think Semar will get the drift...

Using a prefix would make the database load lighter and probably be better if it's possible.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/9/12 2:45:14 PM Permalink

UPDATE: Along the lines of keeping ahead of the players and providing (many) more quests than any player could possibly master (that's a good thing, btw), how about Gallery Quests? (Needs a better name but GQ is a cool acronym for art that look great ;)

The idea is to provide a wide variety of choices from which students may choose. The quests are repeatable but heavily wieghted toward mastery. Mastery is only achieved when the Game Master (you) selects a submission for the gallery.

Completion is tied to successfully submitting an original work that conforms to standardized naming conventions, resolution and/or image size requirements, and specific file type.

Getting players to follow the submission requirements would be an epic win. How many of your students follow those instructions with any regularity? The game will promote attention to detail (teaching valuable skills) especially if there's a nerf involved in failure to comply.

Weighting mastery will entice students to take their projects the extra 10% (iterations!) and you get examples of great work to pack your galleries and motivate students for years to come.

The bottom rung of the Gallery Quest ladder could be avatar design. Creating a 500 px by 500 px (or 1000 x 1000) design that looks good full size as well as at 60 x 60 px is a great introduction to scalability of design and a fairly easy nut to crack for newbies. Making it repeatable (only after achieving mastery) builds confidence. Weighting more complex GQs with more loot should create motivation for players to choose to move on.

If someone sits on a GQ, attempting to farm it endlessly, the GM (you) can always keep raising the bar in successive encounters. Add color theory and/or various of the elements and principles of design to the requirements.

Logos, letterheads, business cards, posters, t-shirts, CDs or album covers, deck designs, illustration, animation, photo manipulation, compositing... The list is endless!

Make the game endless. You're never finished in the [your classroom name here].


Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/9/12 1:06:59 PM Permalink

I can only guess at the nickname you'll choose to accompany that scary ID number. ;)

So sorry to inform you that you were assigned to seat number 7. Someone from the UCSD Supercomputer center beat you to 6.

Password is in the mail.

Donald Peters

Posted on 10/9/12 12:01:59 PM Permalink

Wow! see what happens when I forget to take my charger home and my daughter decides she needs to play nickjr?


thanks Mike!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/9/12 10:19:29 AM Permalink

Adam mentioned the challenge of staying ahead of the wiz kids in this comment.

One way is to steal my motto: You're never finished in the Mac Lab (just insert your class name instead of mine) and introduce the practice of iterations. Let's face it, most high school students turn in less than stellar projects the first time around. Act like an art director sending an artist back to improve the client's work. Even with good (or great) students, it can work wonders.

An iterative example:

Africa Iteration Small JPG

From the post:
You’re never finished in the Mac Lab! The motto I invented to rid the room of idlers (or at least that was the idea at the time) and a truism in the artist’s world. Oh, many will disagree, but I’ll tell you what defines done in the so-called real world: DEADLINES.
It’s an uphill battle trying to convince students that good enough is a vulgarity rather than a standard. Push your work! Make it better! The year’s almost over! (Yes! some students exclaim.) And here we are facing another deadline: THE DISTRICT ART SHOW.

More of that story may be found here.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/9/12 3:02:10 AM Permalink

Rich, you're good to go. See your required quests last page.


Adam, the block threw everything off but made me work twice as hard.

IMPORTANT: I don't have deadlines (except for commercial or real-worl clients). Everyone works at his/her own pace. Kinda explained here and all over the site and in quests.


Hey, the WYSIWYG editor just changed. Matt! Your new interface dropped the video! Again.


Where were we? Oh, the block...

Yeah, that was a curve ball but good for challenging me to stay way ahead of them. Same curriculum for everyone but everyone is at a different place in the game. As it should be. Self paced environment sets up some cool intrinsic motivational moments for some kids.

Creative chaos but really does work well.


Cats freaking. Videos disappearing. Emails stacking up. Will try to make more sense later.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 10/9/12 2:49:23 AM Permalink

AMAZING! I can see you the kids get hooked fully.

One question to you do enough quests that the block period students are truly do twice as many quests? Thus you are just trying to stay ahead of them or do they have different additional work. That is a big difference in the amount of time they have to spend on completing the same quests!

Rich Bateman

Posted on 10/9/12 2:44:03 AM Permalink


ID# 246810


Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/9/12 2:43:29 AM Permalink

Adam is atop the leaderboard for Period 7 already. (Gotta love those admin tools!)


Hey, did the video disappear from this post for any of you too?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/9/12 2:39:43 AM Permalink

You're good to go, Cindy. Password's in the mail.

First Quests are:

Copied and pasted that. Hope it works.

Cindy Schultz

Posted on 10/9/12 2:29:22 AM Permalink

Okay, Mike, set me up. I have been following all of these posts. I am working on finding a couple of kids to help me get this up and running.

ID# 056789

Thanks, Mike!


Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/9/12 2:13:59 AM Permalink

Adam, I'm considering letting repeaters keep their XP and Gold. Only seems fair, no matter how much trouble it gives me.

Gotta play fair, right? (Plus great ideas require such a challenge.)


Rich, you're covered. Just choose an ID, provide an email, and I'll set it up.

As for what to look out for... the stuff I've never considered, of course. ;)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/9/12 2:08:27 AM Permalink

Adam, same assignment as Judy (above). I've emailed the password.


Nicole, Email or comment with your ID and email so I can set up the account (I have your email, just repeating for others :)

Rich Bateman

Posted on 10/9/12 2:01:12 AM Permalink


As strange as it may sound, I earned 3 ADOBE badges this past ISTE Convention for that same amount = $19,995,995.95 per month plus shipping and handling (just my greatful shout-out to Adobe for hosting our gamification discussion). Can I trade those three badges in for a test-drive as a student account? Is there anything you would like me to look for as I help out.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 10/9/12 1:59:29 AM Permalink

Skocko, I know its too early to think about it but... have you thought at all what you will do with students taking your course next year? unfortunately all my classes are only 1 semester each and advance through levels 1-4 with many periods being combo. I am going to focus the gaming on level 1 but was curious how you might work that in.

Students start fresh...or carry over points...or are they on a seperate set of quests all together.

I don't think I can maintain this with multiple sections at the same time with the commitment it looks like it will take. Like you said I will have to stay ahead of the wiz kids which will be my major challenge.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/9/12 1:58:05 AM Permalink

Adam Coulson

Posted on 10/9/12 1:53:33 AM Permalink

I would love an account! How about ID# 098765


I am still a bit lost with how you created all of your student blogs but hopefully I can resolve that at a later time when I try to implement. I have my server on order so I will let you know when I can attempt to install you system. You dedication of time still perplexes me...125 videos in 5 weeks? That is unreal. Wish i didn't require sleep like you evidentally don't need.

Nicole Dalesio

Posted on 10/9/12 1:49:05 AM Permalink

Yes, I want to be one of MIke's students too! That would be FUN!

Judy Durkin

Posted on 10/9/12 1:40:47 AM Permalink

I have been reading the comments and am a little mystified about this crazy thing you have built. Can't wait to try it.

I would LOVE to be in your class as one of your students.

Tongue out

Nicole Dalesio

Posted on 10/9/12 1:29:08 AM Permalink


I've fallen behind in this discussion, but I can't wait to catch up soon. Meanwhile, I think you should get in touch with my friend James Sanders. He and you have some really great things in common. Besides being great flipped teachers, he's doing some really cool stuff with gamifying the curriculum with badges. That is his current pet project. I'm sure you will see him at Spring CUE, but in the meantime, here's some info. to soak up. Hopefully you will find it helpful.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/9/12 1:09:21 AM Permalink

Just like I mentioned a few comments back, all I need is your ID number (a six-digit number not starting with a 2 -- those are for students -- already taken: 111111, 111222, 112233, 123456, 654321, and 999999) and a valid email address.

So many of you don't seem to like to post but choose to email me directly. Don't be shy. Post your interest (below) and email me the details if you're not comfortable leaving them in a semi-public place.

But collaboration is fun. C'mon and join the party! :)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/9/12 12:51:34 AM Permalink


Special Offer


Does anyone want to test-drive a student account to see how the gamification system works from the kids' POV? I can set you up with a student account so you can go through some of the same steps the kids do. All teachers will be placed in the 7th period class (my prep) so we don't co-mingle with the kids but we still show up in the stats and other pages.

Don't crash the leaderboards though, or I'll nerf your account! :P

You can't break anything so don't worry about exploring and clicking around. Don't think I'm doing this because I'm a nice guy. Chances are, you'll come up with some great ideas to improve the game. I want those ideas!

To sweeten the pot, I'll even throw in your own student blog at no charge so you can test that out too!

Only three easy payments of $19,995,995.95 per month plus shipping and handling. (Or free, whichever is less.) Apply below!


Special Offer


Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/9/12 12:12:09 AM Permalink

w00t! Semar strikes again!

[gamerlist] = All students sorted by period with links to their Stats page and their webpage.

Still needs polishing but, dang! That kid's good!


Note: Just in case it's not clear, [gamerlist] is a shortcode that triggers the content. Other than the instruction to pick a period, all that's on that page is: [gamerlist]

Rob deserves all the credit for pointing us toward shortcodes rather than the templates we began with and are still using. There are still some distinct benefits to templates but shortcodes work everywhere. The shortcode functionality is tied to CubeGold.

FTW, Schwartz! Semar will code this into CubeGoldLite next.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/8/12 10:36:28 PM Permalink

Taking down Deathwing was a 25 man raid. Took an hour or so (I think). I got 5 drops on one trip through. Every piece better than the gear I was equipped with. One in a thousand (or way, way more) chance of that ever happening.

200 to 1,000 players?! 7 to 8 hours??! Man, that's crazy. Bet it was fun, though. :)

Donald Peters

Posted on 10/8/12 10:08:57 PM Permalink

completely off topic... how many players does it take to kill endboss characters in WoW? When I played Lineage 2, there were two bosses (epic dragons Antharas and Valakas) that took 200-1000 players to kill them. And even then it would take 7-8 hours. I never played WoW long enough to even guess at end content.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/8/12 9:27:13 PM Permalink

Back to the point about branching curriculum and designing quests like a game...

Once upon a time I was a perfectionist. As a designer, I demanded form and function.

Teaching cured me of that. I want function. Give me something that works. If I get form in the bargain, so much the better.

There's a lot to celebrate about this gamification system but there's also so much missing. From a storyline to quest givers to achievements and badges. From realms and maps to equipping the players with buffs. The list goes on and on and on.

Professions, Guilds, Raids, PvP, PvE. etc.

Right now, my strategy is to keep searching for missing pieces that we can plug into the mix while leaving the wish lists to pages like this. We all have curriculum that's delivered in a somewhat orderly fashion, right? Why mess with that too much right now?

The new Mac Lab site wasn't functional until the Friday before school started. Talk about a late start! Since then i've created 69 quests, 395 pages, and 167 videos. (To be honest, some of the videos are from last year. So, maybe 125 or so.)

The most important thing is to get out ahead of the kids and create an ever-expanding world for them to explore. Believe me, that takes an incredible time investment. But it's a labor of love.

Would I like this to be far more game-like? You bet! But this year's boat has already sailed. If you guys have ideas for buffing the game-goodness without nerfing the pace of quest creation, I'm all ears!

My advice though, is that you have to stay out in front of the fastest kids or you're look at a wipe of epic proportions.

Never leave a player with nothing to do!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/8/12 8:41:58 PM Permalink

Donald, it would work the same. I number my computers, you'd number your students' computers. Alpha, seating order, whatever. Just make sure the kids know what number they are when they fill in the fields.

Or, you could skip the hassle and just enter the numbers yourself in the User Profile.

Make sense?

Donald Peters

Posted on 10/8/12 8:24:53 PM Permalink

how would this work if they each have their own computer are are not in a computer lab? We are a 1:1 school...

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/8/12 8:23:45 PM Permalink

Hey, the avatar glitch you mentioned? We don't use the BuddyPress method. Everyone in here is required to use Gravatar.

Works perfectly every time and something all the kids should know about. Quick, easy, valuable quest.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/8/12 8:20:43 PM Permalink

And because someone will ask, we have two blocks (two-period classes) and two one-period classes. Check out the time bars on the repective Stats pages:

Stats Page JPG

Semar is a genius!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/8/12 8:08:18 PM Permalink

Oops. You're right. Down the profile page are these custom fields:

Custom Fields JPG

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/8/12 7:56:21 PM Permalink

Something is missing... Where do you enter their class period and computer? It's not in the profile for WP, it has to be somewhere else. Extended profile???

Can you show me what your users>profile fields page looks like?

Or let Semar look at the code and find out what fields need to be there with which specific names? It's a database call, so I know the field names need to be exact or it won't find them. (123 Elm Street and 123 Elm St. are different addresses to a computer).

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/8/12 7:42:11 PM Permalink

Some of the seemingly low-achievers on the Clipboard are on the coding team. Got to get them some XP love!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/8/12 7:39:42 PM Permalink

Here's a look at the Clipboard. Every column sorts instantly after the page loads. One great feature is that it doesn't collect data until that Collect Data button is clicked. (See, we are trying to watch our server calls. :)

This is priceless. The ID numbers link to each student's Stats page. We could put the websites on this page too but they're on already on the Stats page. The one thing that's missing is Levels. I thought the XP would be enough but it would be really helpful to be able to see where everyone is at a glance. That's coming in the next rev.

Click image for larger view.

Clipboard JPG

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/8/12 7:00:01 PM Permalink

Student Info for Rob.

I actually set up student accounts one-by-one. We use gmail in the district and Google requires authentication so WordPress doesn't play nice with gmail via our servers. There's probably a dozen better ways but brute force works and has several benefits so I keep using it. Process:

1. Each student sends me an email with Mac Lab as the subject and their ID number as the message. I whitelist any that wind up in spam and dump all emails into a 1213 Student folder.

2. Create New User in WP. Copy and paste ID number into Username field and email into email. While I'm here, I also set their blog location so it's correct (the info is pulled from the database to auto-generate links and I want that right.) Our student blogs are at (ID number).

3. Lastly, I set every password to something dirt simple, write it on the board, and instruct them to change it during one of the first quests.

4. Student logs in with ID username and dirt simple password then clicks on the name of our site to edit their profile (they are instructed NOT to do this in the BuddyPress Edit Profile but some corner cutters try it anyway, fail, and reveal themselves).

They click here (in red) to edit their profile:

Edit Profile JPG

5. They add First and Last names, a Nickname, change their Display name to their nickname, then change their password.

CRITICAL: As Rob mentioned, we use User Role Editor to create a Student Role. We clone the Subscriber settings when creating it.

Student Info

Semar's code taps all of this info. The ID number as username is key because every one is unique and every kid knows his/her number.

Does that answer the question?

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/8/12 5:32:59 PM Permalink

I'm trying to figure out the branching stuff too... to guide them down the way I want them to go like a good game designer.

I'm noticing that they're a little distracted with the little XP right now. But I imagine that when I get the big projects up with good XP values, then they'll realize where the big money is. :)


Donald Peters

Posted on 10/8/12 4:55:28 PM Permalink

Still not understanding everything 100% (which is why I need to run this a couple of months on my own before implementing it...

I'm thinking next semester implement it in my ceramics class only:

one class tree opens technique: pinch pot-coil-soft slab-hard slab-thrown

another one opens glazes-history-ancient-egyptian-greek-roman-etc...

a third opens tools-how ceramics works-types of clay-firing techniques-temperatures-stages of clay-etc...

this way they HAVE to master the stuff they never want to learn (history, how ceramics works) to open the cool glazes and tools.

need to sit down and write it all out by hand..

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/8/12 3:56:34 PM Permalink

Today's notes:

Everything seems to be working GREAT on shared hosting. To get leaderboards to work, you need to get a plug called "user role editor" and make a new role called student. Then leaderboards on stats page work, but clipboard doesn't. Mike, I'm almosst positive from looking at the code that we need instructions on how to set up that student info. I'm assuming it's done by an extended profile in BP... but I'm not sure.

Will be interesting to see how that works after we add the proper info on the extended profiles.(if that's where it is).

But even without clipbpoard- it's AWESOME! Kids love it. There has been tinkering with the "add" section of the admin bar, kids hoping to get a rule named after them (I name rules after the kids that made me have to create the rule. :))

Would love to see the setup of the student profiles in your backend... that should answer all the questions and get it all working right!

Notes for the guys- negative points when added... the growl-like popup gets stuck and goes full screen width.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/8/12 2:48:23 AM Permalink

I'll pass that info on to the kids. Thanks, Rob!

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/8/12 2:40:36 AM Permalink

The last update that mike posted works perfectly!!! a couple glitches over the weekend that Semar and Vincent worked on hammered out, and you can visit to check out the stats page working and I may record a video just showing it working.

Really stoked. This is FUN stuff.

Mike- notes to Semar and Vincent to pass on:

I'm pretty sure there should be a way to make this one module instead of two versions to keep up. Check out how cubepoints has modules that you can add. It might be possible to make "timestamps" just a module- as well as making clipboard a module for it as well. This will allow you to manage just one version of the plugin and add features, without having to manage two versions of the plug. Just a suggestion for you guys- I know it will be a pain to convert to modules, but once you do- you won't have to edit two sets of code each time you make changes. This might be one of those times where a little extra work now will save a LOT later.
One tiny thing for vincent- the stats page goes weird with some avatars iin place on my theme... I think it's that the actual tabs for the different sections of the stats page isn't set to clear the previous section so it covers up munites and gold and half the time bar. Have that whole tabbed section totally clear the whole top section. Maybe make two nested divs with character stats and quest stats to avoid them overlapping?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/7/12 11:42:08 PM Permalink

In the spirit of the quote at the top of this page, I'll get the ball rolling with competencies. I teach CTE classes and everything revolves around competencies.

I haven't asked Samir about this yet but I'd like to see a page with all the core competencies listed with links to specific quests whose mastery would satisfy the CTE requirement for each specific competency (this is, in all likelihood, a manual task). There would need to be a level of oversight but the kids would be in charge of selecting the competencies they'd like to be certified to have mastered.

That could probably have been said much more clearly but the part I'd like to see automated would be the list of individual competencies completed so filling out the forms at the end of the year would be less guesswork (or busywork). If I keep on top of supervision, I'd have an individualized list to transfer to the official forms at years' end.

Bring on your own "if I had a wish" lists!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/7/12 10:04:33 PM Permalink

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/7/12 9:22:58 PM Permalink

The motto we should use when ideating about functionality and features:

It is necessary; therefore, it is possible.
— G. A. Borghese

Game on!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/7/12 9:18:34 PM Permalink

When my district-level IT guardian angel set it up (and we're still using it today), he installed WordPressMU in a sub-directory called blogs. But if you follow the WPMU link, you'll see that MU is now MS and this MS (Mike Skocko) is Sgt. Schultz when it comes to the new system.

I'm certain the implementation would be fairly straight forward as WordPress is very user-friendly.

In the end, each player is the administrator of his/her own blog located at and that's where they document their mastery. Semar is working on a new feature which will list each class' blogs automatically. (I used to set up the links manually but since all the info is in the database...)

We're unleashing the Bounty Hunters this Thursday and Friday so we'll have it in the next few days... because we need it... and because Semar grants every wish. :D

Vincent hasn't been getting much love lately so I'll mention his new plugin is almost ready for prime time. When finished, we'll be able to pop a widget -- any widget -- into any place on any page with shortcode.

There's more on the way but what we really need is for one of you guys to come up with a killer feature we haven't even considered.

Back to the salt mines... :)

Adam Coulson

Posted on 10/7/12 8:56:24 PM Permalink

Awesome! I am pretty interested in the full version because I really like the time and date stamps and would love to be utilizing the version you use as I follow your classes diligently. One question I do have is about how each student utilizes wordpress site of their own. Is that simply done through the multisite abilities in wordpress or are you doing a different piece to install a site for each student. I am learning wordpress for the first time over the last few weeks but it seems to be pretty intuitive so long as I can find answers when stumped. I'm definitely a newb still though.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/7/12 8:34:21 PM Permalink

Adam, I have to head out for weekend chores in a few minutes but let me just say that your enthusiastic response just made my day!

Everything we've developed is yours if you want it. The full system still taxes our server but we haven't crashed it since early in the experiment. Semar's new Lite versions might be a better bet right now -- especially as they will work on any theme -- but like I said, everything is yours if you want it. (PageLines must be purchased if you want the full set-up at present. We're working on porting it as well so it'll work with any template.)

If you or others want to try this, we'll set up a system for easy updates. Right now we're avoiding the Codex because we don't want to crash unsuspecting users' sites. Later, when everything is stable and efficient, we'll step into the light.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 10/7/12 7:57:09 PM Permalink

I just finished reading 14 pages of this thread so now I REALLY want in on this...

I have been working with my school tech dept. (i am also his assistant coach) and he have agreed to let me purchase a server fast enough to host my own gamified site. I am overly exited to try and work this out but am still in way over my head with the hosting, programming, and publishing learning curve. Mike, are you at a point that you are willing to share the programming material you and your students have produced? I keep meaning to ask you about that, but you are improving upon it at such a fast rate that I am curious as to when it would be a good time to talk to you about attempting your gamification delivery system in my classroom. I have just recently published a Wordpress blog on my school server and am becoming familiar with cpanel and MySQL but certainly have a long ways to go. I don't need the files now as I don't have the server yet but would be interested in implementing it before the end of the semester so I can go full bore 2nd semester. If I installed you FULL delivery system is the any easy way to update the coding that Semar seems to add or correct daily? You are blowing my mind as well as my admistrator that I have been keeping informed of your "innovative teaching". I feel like this could be not only evolutionary teaching practices but also can renergize my own motivation in a school district that is seemingly trying to crush teacher motivation.

Again thanks to everyone for this mindblowing work you are putting together!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/6/12 10:15:53 PM Permalink

Now I learn that Rob tweaked ClipboardLite and am waiting for him to forward the fully functioning plugin. Removing links next.

Stay tuned. Glitches are a big part of the battle. Tech happens. :)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/6/12 7:27:13 PM Permalink

Just to alert anyone who downloaded CubeGoldLite and ClipboardLite yesterday, there's a new version that Rob has verified: It works!

CubeGoldLite and ClipboardLite! <<< UPDATED 12:09 pm on October 6. Snag the new copy. Fix on the way ASAP.

CRITICAL: Activate CubeGoldLite before ClipboardLite.

BONUS: I spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to create Levels that were progressively more difficult to reach (just like in real games). Finally settled on a ridiculously simple solution that is working very well for us. If you're interested...

  1. 0
  2. 100
  3. 210
  4. 330
  5. 460
  6. 600
  7. 750
  8. 910
  9. 1080
  10. 1260
  11. 1450
  12. 1650
  13. 1860
  14. 2080
  15. 2310
  16. 2550
  17. 2800
  18. 3060
  19. 3330
  20. 3610

Here's a spreadsheet with all 99 levels. (Wish I'd have thought of Excel before I originally worked it all out on paper. Live and learn.)

Note: Rob named his level names after Star Wars characters. A Level 1 player in Rob's game is Jar Jar. Perfect!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/5/12 11:58:48 PM Permalink

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/5/12 11:46:45 PM Permalink

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/5/12 9:01:37 PM Permalink

Rob, the last PageLines update hosed both our BuddyPress pages. Semar and I were just going through all the variables and we found it.

Go to Settings > BuddyPress and run through the compatibility settings again. D'oh!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/5/12 8:41:10 PM Permalink

Rob Schwartz: Epic Coder! Gratz on the hack, oh 1337 one! It's Friday and you've earned a cold one. :)

Now... drumroll please... CubeGoldLite and ClipboardLite! <<< UPDATED 12:09 pm on October 6. Snag the new copy. Fix on the way ASAP.

CRITICAL: Activate CubeGoldLite before ClipboardLite.

Semar said the shortcode is tricky and that he'll make a video right after school to explain it and send it to me. I'll relay it ASAP.

Can't wait to hear if how this works.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/5/12 6:24:53 PM Permalink

Figured out negative points! My second wordpress hack!

Let him know I'll have a full backup and will test on a backup site. He needn't worry! I'll be safe.

Yeah, states page doesn't suprose me- too much data for a phone. Should probably be pretty cool on a tablet though!!! And yeah, your suggestion of percentages should always be followed these days with responsiveness as a goal.

I'm learning to read the PHP, but still can't speak it well.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/5/12 2:59:42 PM Permalink

Won't see Semar until 5th period but yesterday he said he was close.

He also said he was nervous about crashing your site. (Roll it out on your alt server first, buddy.)

He also said the formatting on the Stats page will glitch on phones if you're using a responsive theme. He pointed to the variable-width nature of some themes -- they're not all 960 -- ours is 1100. (By the time I suggested using percentages rather than fixed widths, the day ended and he had to run.)

Will let you know when he comes in.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/5/12 2:49:36 PM Permalink


Thniking about how CG-lite will roll out. Does semir think that it will roll out on top of CP or will I need to call an apocolypse? Trying to figure out if I should keep holding off on changing the assignments to quests or just start setting them up now in uber-lite mode.

What's it looking like for an ETA of lite?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/4/12 4:39:22 PM Permalink

Michael, The Multiplayer Classroom (a homework assignment from David Conover -- I'm on Level 9, Dave) features a case study from a Biology teacher in Arkansas who uses gamification with great success. Her students, 80% of of whom fall below the poverty line, have made remarkable strides. There's a lot of data but the kids show dramatic improvement across the board. Examples:

2009: 31% Proficient or Advanced
2010: 81% Proficient or Advanced

2009: 3% Advanced
2010: 55% Advanced

It's just one case study but it makes sense to me. When the learning environment becomes fun and engaging, good amazing things happen!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/4/12 4:07:58 PM Permalink

Donald and anyone else interested in trying this, I'll record some videos explaining the steps I'm taking when adding Quests and Paid Content. It's fairly laborious but easy to replicate. Anyone could use the framework and plug in their own curriculum to gamify a course. (And I'm hoping someone says, "It'd be a lot easier if you just..." No way I've streamlined the process prefectly.)

The real challenge is finding balance between all the game elements. And the only way to do that is to dive in and experiment. The mistakes are always instructive.

I've always loved this job but I'm having as much fun as the kids this year. I used to love text-based adventure games (Infocom's too) and I often feel like I'm in a maze of twisty little passages, all alike, before popping out into another wondrous cavern. The feeling of adventure and discovery is rich.

What a ride!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/4/12 3:43:32 PM Permalink

Rich, most of the details are fleshed-out in the lengthy comments in this post but feel free to ask about specifics. Rob has posted some helpful videos in his UberLite Post.

Synchronicity: As for taking this on the road, yesterday... well, it's a long story. The punch line is I'm going to be co-presenting (with Adobe's World Wide Education Program Manager) at the Educating for Careers Conference in Sacramento right before CUE. Didn't even have to fill out a form. (Someone from the CDE set it up.) Pretty cool. Still going to submit to CUE today and hope to make that gamification birds of a feather meetup. :)


In the two hours it took to write those lines (teaching, y'know), it looks like I've missed a few new comments. Will return.

Michael Langdon

Posted on 10/4/12 2:58:25 PM Permalink

It would be nice to see how this works with lower socio-economic students who maybe haven't had the exposure to games that middle-class kids have.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/4/12 2:39:39 PM Permalink

Don- One suggestion to add:

Oct/November- Think about how to break up class into quests, necessary trees, value of assignments, layout of site, etc... That's proving hardest for me.

Donald Peters

Posted on 10/4/12 12:22:54 PM Permalink

This is my thinking at this point in the game: next month (money REALLY tight this month) sign up for the hosting service and start setting up the Lite version.

November/December work on setting everything up and playing with it to make sure I understand it

End of January: Implement Lite version next semester with my Ceramics class only (think that class is most game friendly - can easily be setup to be completely self-paced)

June - reflect - show to big wigs to prove why I need wordpress installed on our servers

July/August work on figuring out if it is worth implementing in other classes...and whether or not I want to try the full version

Rich Bateman

Posted on 10/4/12 12:14:13 AM Permalink

Thanks for the offer to participate in the fun times Mike. I just installed Wordpress to my GoDaddy hosting account. I'll start getting the plugins and having some fun. BTW...I saw Sir Ken at ISTE this past summer and I believe he is better as a single presenter, not as a pannel moderator. I still laughed at the jokes about his family's Los Angeles living experiences. I hope you can get to CUE so we can have a gamification birds of a feather meetup. I'm planning on paying my own way and using two sub days since my district frooze all funding until after November's ballot.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/3/12 10:13:41 PM Permalink

Comments keep crossing in the mists...

High praise, Rich. Thank you. The plan is to share this far and wide. You're welcome to all the pieces right now if you want them. Rob Schwartz is experimenting with a slimmed-down version and Semar (one of my students) is working on commenting out lots of code to lighten the server load for the lite version of his CubeGold plugin (that makes all the magic happen). See Rob's post if you're interested in more details.

Two more days to submit for CUE. Thanks for the push. Since I'd really like to hear Ken Robinson in person, and presenting is the only way I'll get to go, I better get cracking. Thanks for the push!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/3/12 10:01:17 PM Permalink

Thanks for the kind words, Michael, and no, I hadn't seen the Scientific Amaerican article.

I have to confess, though, that I was certain the Flynn Effect would have been named for Kevin Flynn (of Tron fame) rather than a scientist who made the discovery 28 years ago.

Guess I have games on the brain. :)

Rich Bateman

Posted on 10/3/12 9:56:32 PM Permalink


You are on the verge of something special. Those of us who have been inspired by McGonigal, taken the Coursera Gamification class from Werbach, and have studied gaming techniques from Schell really need your system to show Principals, Superindendants, and District Board members. Harness your great work and take this delivery system on the road just like the two gentleman that championed "flipping the classroom." I encourage you to submit an application for a poster session or CUE Tips session during the Annual CUE Convention in Palm Springs, in March 2013. Rock on Mike!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/3/12 9:45:44 PM Permalink

UPDATE: What if a player couldn't access certain items or quests without having attained a certain level? That would be cool, right?

Want to offer rewards for players who reach Level X? Done.

Want to prevent students from accessing certain quests before they reach Level X? Done.

Thanks to Semar, the wish-granting student, all of this is possible because of one litte box (and the code behind it).

Just put Level X (10, 20, whatever) in the text field (below, in red). If the student isn't at a high enough level, all they see is: You need to be Level X

NOTE: Students do see the short description and the button to accept quest or purchase content if they are at Level X (or higher).

Click image for larger version.Level Locking JPG

Michael Langdon

Posted on 10/3/12 9:42:00 PM Permalink

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/3/12 9:12:44 PM Permalink

Donald, one of the reasons it's featured is the wonderful conversation we've all been having. Thanks for being so willing to dig for details and suggest improvements!

Thomas, Thanks for the kind words but I can't stress how much the kids have helped -- a few by helping to build this beauty (and continuing to refine and expand its capabilities) and the rest by embracing the new model with such enthusiasm.

Rob, killer find! Kids could email the evidence of Mastery (rather than posting to their blogs) and then there's no trail whatsoever. Beautiful!

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/3/12 7:56:45 PM Permalink

Thomas Giannattasio

Posted on 10/3/12 7:30:15 PM Permalink

Mike, This is coming along really well! Love seeing how much progress you've made. Keep it up!

Donald Peters

Posted on 10/3/12 7:07:30 PM Permalink

Mike, congrats on having this thread featured for the month of October. Sealed

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/3/12 2:07:18 PM Permalink

Donald: Very kind of you to suggest that. Submitting a three minute video is fairly painless. I'll give it a whirl. :)

Rob: No, he didn't. (Had him check the spam filter too.)

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/3/12 1:32:50 PM Permalink

Code cleanup makes perfect sense and I think that's going to make it light enough.

Did he ever get a login email from my cpanel for his site? (

Donald Peters

Posted on 10/3/12 12:47:01 PM Permalink

Mike you should enter your gamification into this:

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/2/12 10:18:06 PM Permalink

Forgot to mention...

In the 30 days since school started we've had over 150,000 pageviews. Cool beans!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/2/12 10:14:10 PM Permalink

Man, the kids have outdone themselves with new ideas for the game. Check out the comments on this page now. Great stuff!

Have the novice coders working on adding Levels to the Gravatar/Sigs in the comments. When it works, it would say:

Level 20

Obvious, but overlooked until a kid suggested it. Should add more spice to the community. Lots of other killer suggestions too.

(Plus it will give the newbies a real confidence boost... unless it crashes the server. :)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/2/12 10:03:42 PM Permalink

Donald, there's one in both the Week 4 and Week 5 posts. In the former, the link is in the hyphen in self-reliant, in the latter, it's the period at the end of the Emerson quote.

The kids get so excited about finding these. Later, I'll hide one in a paragraph full of links, in a Tweet (@themaclab), at the very end of a long video, and in white text on a white background. It's fun to think of new ways to hide them.

They find them by being more cunning and inventive than me.

Donald Peters

Posted on 10/2/12 9:51:15 PM Permalink

Mike, can you give an example of a 'hidden quest' and how kids would 'discover' it?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/2/12 7:26:20 PM Permalink

O- On code cleanup...

I had Semar email the answer because there was no way I could transcribe his verbal response:

For the LITE version, I have deleted the quest timestamp table (wp_class_cur_log) and any code that would write things in that table. I also deleted login tracker (wp_class_cur_logintracker) and code that relates to it. But I kept the timestamps for gold and minutes. I'm determining progress (encountered, accepted,..) by the status column in wp_cp. Changing field types to timestamp would not allow me to control the format and would add extra code when displaying the time.

Make sense?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/2/12 6:22:24 PM Permalink

O- Hmmm. just noticed on mine and on yours that there are links back to any comments and any pages that give XP/gold... so you can easily see someone else's points and prospect for gold by checking other's points pages...

I think you mean, prospect for fool's gold... Yes, kids can cheat but if the Quests are predominately about skills and strategies, the cheaters give themselves away in that they can't do things they've claimed to have mastered. Kids will always find a way to cheat. Our job is to find a way to make it interesting enough that they choose to learn.

Will get back on the code once Semar's in here.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/2/12 4:41:21 PM Permalink

Q- how are you assigning points in terms of the scope of a quest?

A- I'm making it up as I go along. I've never done this either! Most initial Quests have been 10/10/10/10+10g. A few have been 10/10/10/25+25g and the latest Epic and Hidden Quests are 10/10/10/50+50g.

Last Entry Translated: Encountered = 10 XP, Accepted = 10 XP, Completed = 10XP, Mastered = 50 XP + 50 Gold.

Need to boost the completion bonus as it makes no sense as it is. Thanks for the head-slap. :) Varying the XP and Gold might be a good idea too. Have to think on that. Finding balance is HARD but the kids are just eating this up as is.

The plan is to ramp up points for Epic Quests like mastering the Pen Tool and Self Portraits. The latter might be as high as 10/10/250/500+250. Still thinking...

Q- How have you determined the levels that get AMP time and when in the year the'll hit them?

I stalled until I had an idea of how fast the kids were leveling. The system I set up will allow kids to earn focused creative freedom in four stages. I've added when I think Fast/Slow kids will earn it:

Friday: Level 25 (5160 XP) November/January
Thursday: Level 35 (9010 XP) January/March
Wednesday: Level 45 (13860 XP) March/May
Tuesday: Level 55 (19710 XP) May/May Not Happen

But only time will tell if I'm right. I expect a few mutant talents to leap ahead and earn it earlier. Am actually rooting for that.

Gotta do the teacher thang now. Will be back...

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/2/12 3:07:30 PM Permalink

Today's set of questions and observations:

Q- how are you assigning points in terms of the scope of a quest? What's an easy one worth (E10,A10,C10,M20,G10)? Hard (E10,A10,C25,M50,G20)? Really hard(E10,A20,C50,M100,G30)? Major(E10,A20,C100,M250,G50)? What's your point breakdown? How have you determined the levels that get AMP time and when in the year the'll hit them?

O- Hmmm. just noticed on mine and on yours that there are links back to any comments and any pages that give XP/gold... so you can easily see someone else's points and prospect for gold by checking other's points pages. A way to make them invisible to other users? (points for answer solves this, just discovered... :))

O- On code cleanup:

Minutes will be averaging around 300 items probably in a year for each student. I think leave it in there for accountability. (Not positive about this, but think it will help to Change field type to datetime?)

GOLD- again, should be less than 500 entries a year, not too heavy, Prob good to leave it in. (Not positive about this, but think it will help to Change field type to datetime?)

XP- Cubepoints already timestamps the actual XP earnings and prob don't want to modify that plug... I think he just needs to comment out the timestamps and the database tables for timestamps in quests to lighten it up enough for general population. (then try to implement slowly to implement with Changing field type to datetime?) That should take quests down from 7 or 8 to possibly 3 fields? (uid, questid, level). Can you ask Semar what the different fields currently do and post for us?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/2/12 1:37:57 PM Permalink

Donald, congrats on the inservice gig. I know all about non-relevant, required inservices and am sure you'll deliver value for your edu-customers' time.

Am looking forward to the upcoming gamifying the traditional art classroom report. :)

Donald Peters

Posted on 10/2/12 1:14:39 PM Permalink

loved the Hunger Games books. Movie was not near as good even though it was filmed very nearby.

sidenote: I've been derailed by being put in charge of designing, implementing and teaching 10 hours of art inservice this year to our art department (k-12) - doing 'Reading and Implementing the Caldecott Medal winners into the art curriculum' - covers both literacy and vertical teaming (title needs work though) Can't complain to much as I am the one that is pushing for the specialists to be able to meet and design their own inservices to make it more relevant to what we teach. Been sitting in inservice meetings for 20 years that have nothing to do with art and no way or suggestions on how to implement what they are teaching. Tired of it.

Still reading 'Reality is Broken' for the second time and still following what you are doing. Hoping to work it so I can be your guinea pig on implementing some of this in a non-graphic arts classroom - working it into the hands on art classroom. Lots of ideas churning in my head.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/2/12 11:52:56 AM Permalink

Conover, Finally finished the Hunger Games trilogy (a homework assignment from my daughter) and have begun The Multiplayer Classroom (your homework assignment).

I'm just on Level 2 but the author had me with this line:

...the entire class had been designed as a multiplayer role-playing game in the vein of World of Warcraft...

Kinda sounds familiar. :)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/2/12 11:33:09 AM Permalink

Since we've been talking about accountability, one of the many benefits of using WordPress is the ability to see time and date stamps on student comments and links. Since I've not approved any automatically generated trackbacks from student blogs, each one is held for moderation. I typically scan then delete these comments when I get up (and throughout the day).

A few minutes ago I noticed two new comments. Odd, I thought, must be spam that slipped through Akismet. But in checking I discovered that I'm not the only early bird. Remember, I don't assign homework. Simply amazing!

I've cropped the student data from the image.

Blog post data JPG

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/1/12 11:24:21 PM Permalink

Perfect timing. One of the kids in here just cussed. In a voice that everyone could hear, I asked if he swore in the Mac Lab. He said no. I asked if he was lying in the Mac Lab. He said no.

Now, you have to be 100% sure to take the next step (or be a really good bluffer).

I gave him one last chance to come clean. I didn't have to say what was coming next. (The Judge.)

He admitted to cussing and I gave him 120 minutes for lying. (Cussing is only 60 minutes.)

Great lesson for everyone in the room.

Note: The Judge would have given him 180 minutes for both offenses, and everyone, including the defendant, knew it.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/1/12 11:07:39 PM Permalink

Good questions. But before I get to those... Killer idea with minutes presented visually via a calendar-like module. That would be Epic! The sorting idea as well. Just today I asked Semar for a search to determine Mastery via specific Quests. Like Mastery claimed for the TAG Time Quest.

More teacher tools to come. Just keep those "if I had a wish" ideas coming! Semar is good at granting wishes. :)

Accountability in three easy steps. (Okay, maybe not easy but effective.) Note: Keep the tone firm but fun. Get them to agree that a game without rules isn't a game at all.

  1. Classroom Culture. Craft a learning environment far different than anything the kids have ever experienced. Stress the long-term value of honesty and integrity. Enforce rules and consequences fairly and consistently. Don't bend. Even when it hurts (us more than them).
  2. Random Mastery checks. Let the kids know you're paying attention and make an example of corner cutters. I make a big deal about initiating new members of the FGPA (Fool's Gold Prospector Association). The kids love it. Cheaters forfeit the Gold and XP (with no chance to re-earn their ill-gotten gains).
  3. Use the kids. We're going to have a Bounty Hunter Day or two each month starting this month. The kids will check each others' blogs for felonious fakery (or some phrase I haven't yet thought of). Believe me, nothing -- NOTHING -- is as thorough as a roomful of kids out for bounties. They'll find everything in the search for bounties.
Does that make sense? If you do numbers 1 and 2 right, the rest really does almost take care of itself. The real key is not tying grades to the game. That way, mock public trials are aren't high-stakes. My trials last about 30 seconds and I don't hold them unless I'm certain of the player's guilt. I let them plead their case before the verdict. Every once in a while I get surprised but in most cases... GUILTY! Then everyone laughs. Even the defendant in most cases.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/1/12 10:18:32 PM Permalink

jsut realized it might already be in there if you can sort XP by type (addpoints). Gold kind of does it because it's not a link if it's not earned on a quest, and minutes might be OK by date... but after 160 days it's going to be hard to spot on date page for sure.

I guess my attendance (yikes) is the accountability system for mintues? Bad news for me, LOL.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/1/12 10:12:56 PM Permalink

It's hard to think about accontability without feeling like you're resorting to carrot/stick strategies, which I know don't work. but I also know that my trustworthiness can backfire on me. This is a hard spot for me.

My initial response was that the repeatable mastery pages would need a password to get the points and I'd have to enter that. Would force me out of my desk and keep the system from being mismanaged for sure... That has it's advantages also.

Last thing- this is an easy fix for now... you must always put the reason text in in ALL CAPS on self-reported items... that will help them stand out. All caps or lose 'em.

I just want to have a quick visual so that when I don't feel like the points on screen match what I tend to see in the chair, I can see if there's any mistakes in the point/minute/gold que easily. color would be best.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/1/12 9:56:25 PM Permalink

So I'm thinking of use as a teacher... and I have a question-

The minutes, XP, and Gold are all honor system, right? They can add or delete XP from the admin bar? And with Mastery on Epic quests, it's also honor system.

How do you keep all that accountable? I see kids with 46 mastered quests. That's over 180 entries on the XP stats plus the daily logins must be over 350 entries on XP page. It would be nice to have the addpoints items hilighted, and maybe that's how epic quests should be hilighted to make sure that the "accidental" double click on that button is obvious to the user so they can adjust accordingly...

Might also be great to have the addpoints items all be able to be called up in the admin page. Anything that allows to just give yourself points might want to be culled out of the pile so it's easier to find. I can't imagine at the end of the year what it's going to look like trying to find "mistakes" in any single users' self-adjusted points.

Also on minutes page, and also hilighting automatically if two items appear on the same day. This will help solve anyone's temptation to enter their minutes from last class where they were missing on today's entry. Of course, sometimes it will be legit, so we're hilighting for review/praise that they stayed after school or whatever... but if the student seems good on minutes but never stays and is sometimes missing, would be easier to find.

I'm basically asking for accountability hints in any of the self-reported items.

Update- Think this might be easier than it sounds... but what about on minutes, dropping the points into a calendar view that shows what day the points were earned in? and on any day, earning more than a class period would show up a different color to indicate staying after or a mistaken entry? think there may be calendar code that will make it kind of easy especially if the field type for minutes is a date.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/1/12 8:07:56 PM Permalink

UPDATE: Posted the first Epic (repeatable) Quest this morning in conjunction with the Unlocking AMP (creative freedom) Quest. Among the ideas that have rolled in is one that I almost dismissed out of hand:

We should have skill trees and when we level up we can choose to unlock a certain tool for a certain program.

Next year, when introducing Illustrator, a variation on that theme will be part of the plan.

Other interesting ideas are falling into the comments at the end of this page and I'll be consolidating the best on another (yet-to-be-created) page.

As always, your ideas are always welcomed. Hint, hint. :)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/1/12 7:34:19 PM Permalink

D'oh! Am looking at this right now and wondering what we were thinking. We're looking at what to cut from CubeGold now. CubeGoldLite (CGL) won't have any time tracking.

The original idea was to track duration and activity too but we got sidetracked with other functionality and haven't gotten back to it yet. Will look hard what to cut or modify.

Semar will probably just power through with CGL so you have something to test. The dual (or multi) functional plugin will come later.

Great suggestions/observations (as usual).

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/1/12 5:52:22 PM Permalink

If the minutes page displayed the date first, it would be the same as the login tracker except also including mintues earned each day?

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/1/12 5:49:12 PM Permalink

Hey... other fat trimming ideas:

After he has that done, and moves the required stuff from template pages to shortcode, it should run on any theme. He could probably also just make a checkbox in administration page that allows the lite plug to just call the extra code (like with an include) and have one plug that is in fact, both. Just a switch in admin to toggle the extra features with the timestamping. :) Then only one to keep up and modify.

Outside of the timestamping stuff, there shouldn't be anything too heavy.

Also just logged in and thought of something. Seems to be traking logins at the login page, the points page, and the minutes page... Is there a reason? Seems like if they enter minutes at the end of class for the day, then the login tracker is unnecessary, as it includes timestamps on the minutes page.

Is there something I'm missing on the intention for the login tab on stats page?

Cubepoints itself already tracks and gives points for logins on teh points tab, too.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/1/12 5:04:07 PM Permalink

Separate threads is a good idea, Rob. Can't wait to hear what you come up with for accountability w/uberlite.

UPDATE: Have been fretting over how/when to lock/unlock specific Quests and to open AMP in stages. Success on both fronts!

Semar's added a Level Lock to Quests. Now you can set XP, Gold, and a minimum Level for each Quest. If a student hits a Quest he or she's not earned the right to access, they get a message saying: You must be Level X to encounter this Quest. Perfect!

For AMP (focused creative freedom), I needed to know how quickly the students would level before setting triggers. I may have this too high (or too low) but I just posted the details.

In a nutshell, students have the opportunity to unlock creative freedom one day/week at a time as they level:

Friday: Level 25 (5160 XP)
Thursday: Level 35 (9010 XP)
Wednesday: Level 45 (13860 XP)
Tuesday: Level 55 (19710 XP)

I figure hard-working kids will hit Level 25 around November. After that, it should take somewhere between a month to a month and a half to hit Level 35. At that point, these kids will have earned the right to work on projects of their own choosing for two days a week. If they want more freedom, they have to work harder mastering Quests (learning more).

In theory, this should be a wonderfully self-sustaining feedback loop. More details here.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/1/12 2:41:32 PM Permalink

I'd like to keep the threads separate because some people are having a hard time even following just this one. Also, if it's mixed up, we'll have to clarify in every post if we mean mike's system or the uberlite. Anyone with Q's on the other post can drop 'em in there. I'll be making a new video and posting since I've thought about it more and discussed with the kids, think i have a better way to track the accountability stuff. We're experimenting today.

It's a blast so far!

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 10/1/12 2:36:08 PM Permalink

I'd like to keep the threads separate because some people are having a hard time even following just this one. Also, if it's mixed up, we'll have to clarify in every post if we mean mike's system or the uberlite. Anyone with Q's on the other post can drop 'em in there. I'll be making a new video and posting since I've thought about it more and discussed with the kids, think i have a better way to track the accountability stuff. We're experimenting today.

Donald Peters

Posted on 9/30/12 9:53:01 PM Permalink

Rob, some questions on the 'lite' version:

1) running on wordpress - does it still need the commercial theme?

2) cubegold? = cubepoints plugin?

3) who do you use as your 'site provider'? - in case I can't convince my IT to install wordpress on our servers

4) love the 'iceprince' = cold hearted and mean - sounds a lot like me. Tongue out

5) no images? no blogs? how do they prove mastery or prove they've completed an assignment? Do they have to turn in images elsewhere? doesn't that defeat the purpose?

6) your vodcast is a twitchy little girl... have to keep restarting it and it keeps stuttering as it plays. and it crashed on me twice. just an fyi.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 9/28/12 10:54:26 PM Permalink

Thanks for that catch... didn't even see it. I emptied the field when I saw it didn't work, but I guess it didn't like that.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/28/12 8:33:24 PM Permalink

Understood, but some people may see the: Video: Invalid FLV/MP4/F4V Link and think: Broken video link. (Even though the link is right below.)

Some teachers, like some students, don't always read the fine print -- even when it's in bold text. Just sayin'. :)

*Disregard if you're going to upload and/or hotlink the video from home.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 9/28/12 8:16:19 PM Permalink

Yeah mike, you gotta click the link. The way my district lets us upload I can't link to the video direct. Sorry!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/28/12 7:58:59 PM Permalink

Rob, the video's not appearing in the other thread.

And thanks for providing a solution for others. HERO!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/28/12 7:52:43 PM Permalink

Rob, you should have Semar's face light up when I relayed your offer: "Really?!" (I think that's a YES.)

Donald, for the first time in 11 years of teaching I have just one prep: Digital Arts. (My definition of Digital Arts, however, is anything and everything so 3D and Multimedia fall under the umbrella too.)

And eat yer limes ya scurvy dog!

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 9/28/12 7:51:17 PM Permalink

Here's a link to a post I just created about how to use the existing plugins that works on shared (cheap) hosting. And I screwed up in the beginning saying it runs cube-gold, but it's just running cubepoints.

Uses cubepoints & Buddypress- running fine on shared hosting, but not at all as sexy as Mike's site. Good start and better than nothing, even if only marginally so after seeing Mike's. :)

UGH. It's quick and dirty. ESPECIALLY DIRTY. sloppy and I didn't want to re-record. I'll re-record if there's interest and questions pop up. Don't want to hijack this thread, so questions on the uber-lite version over there... and let's keep this thread on Mike's. I'll only check the other one when there's a post on it. This is where I'm hanging as I try to get Mike's stuff working on my hosting.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 9/28/12 6:27:27 PM Permalink

3 college level AICE design programs (in conjunction with Cambridge University) (Focus on portfolio Development)

3 Academy of Digital Art & Media classes- the prerequisite to the AICE classes. (focus on ACA Certifications)

Donald Peters

Posted on 9/28/12 5:47:19 PM Permalink

Just out of curiousity (yeah it kills cats) what does everyones schedules actually look like?

I'm teaching Graphic Arts (Illustrator and Photoshop), Art 2 and Art 1 this semester and 2 sections of Art 1 and Ceramics next semester.

I'm assuming ya'll teach graphic design more full time than me.

and Mike I haven't seen the shore for so long I'm beginning to get scurvy. (love the quote though)

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 9/28/12 5:32:14 PM Permalink

Actually, I take that back. I donate 250 to semir& Vincent to use on the playlist. :)

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 9/28/12 5:20:50 PM Permalink

Sure. Indie Rock. :)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/28/12 4:48:26 PM Permalink

Epic Generosity! 250 Gold for Schwartz!

Want to control Skocko's playlist a day? :)

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 9/28/12 4:26:56 PM Permalink

Please do... I have a domain that I forgot about on a host I forgot about and just paid for a year. Might as well let it be a thrashing floor for the code. if he's interested, e-me and I'll send login details. Should be good for at least another 11 months. after that I can also set him up on the new host and use one of my test domains.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/28/12 4:22:43 PM Permalink

There's nothing a mad scientist like more than a willing guinea pig! <evil laughter>

Hope you're right about the shortcodes. Semar's woking on it. Do you want me to extend you account offer? Details?

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 9/28/12 4:11:23 PM Permalink

Oh- just re-read my earlier post... yeah, I meant CG-lite for the codex when done with shortcodes and less heavy. But I'm willing to bet that once it's figured out with shortcode- NONE of the activation order issues will exist! I'll be the guinea pig when it's ready.

I knew vincent had sites... I was wondering about Semar. I'm asking because I'm willing to give him an account to play with on typical shared hosting to play with.


Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/28/12 3:52:44 PM Permalink

Currently Playing: Life is a Highway by Tom Cochrane. (Iron Man then Cars. Nice theme!)

Rob, the lite version is now part of the plan. Fan-friggin-tastic idea, buddy!

We pulled it from the Codex due to the complex order of activation. We didn't want to break others' sites. Once simplified and streamlined, it'll be back.

Vincent has several domains hosted by MediaTemple. is his primary site. (Check it out.) The kid's just beginning his junior year. I get him for another year! :)

Last night was Parents Night. Turns out two of them work as full-time coders. Neither is a PHP expert but both had suggestions on how to check for what's causing the server drag. Am hopeful this will help.

Currently Playing: Electric Funeral by Black Sabbath. (Liking this playlist far more than the rap one. :)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/28/12 3:42:04 PM Permalink

Currently Playing: Shoot to Thrill by AC/DC. Control Skocko's Playlist purchase number two. (250 Gold). Too cool!

Donald, about getting lost...


One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.
— André Gide


Getting lost is part of the plan!

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 9/27/12 10:19:47 PM Permalink

Mike.. Totally hear you on accountability, but I'm pretty sure that's where all the fat is. The lite version Is a great way to just get all the gamification going, and assessment will have to take place like it always has if people don't have the server power. But at least people with light servers can gain all the benefits of AMP, TAG, and any other TLA's I'm missing. :)

You can probably release cubegold in the WP codex for more exposure, since it will all be done with shortcode anyway and won't have the template and server limitations! Easy to install and roll with it, so you'll get a lot more people looking at it- might get more people using it and giving feedback. :)

Does Semar have his own domain/site?

Donald Peters

Posted on 9/27/12 9:56:28 PM Permalink

wow. I get more and more lost the more I read these posts. lol. Probably because I'm only a part time Adobe teacher (one class of one semester) and a complete non-coding teacher. I teach lots of tech (being in a 1:1 school it's pretty much mandatory) but let the software do the work for me.

Mike you should also consider presenting this at NAEA. I know I would be there for it.

btw, I already had 'the multiplayer classroom' on my 'to read' list. I'm ahead (for once)!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/27/12 9:26:12 PM Permalink


I'll forward that to Semar to get his take on it with the sincere hope you're on to something. The one thing I'm unwilling to give up (on the full version) is the date and time stamp.

Accountability was one of the big selling points to admin and the district when I pitched this idea. Plus, I like it too. One day I'd like to see this data visualized. Now there's an exciting project for another enterprising student to tackle!

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 9/27/12 8:43:45 PM Permalink

Yeah, has to be in the database, but right now, Here's what you are tracking; (i'm guessing at what it's for... looking forward to notation:)):

Unique Identifier- UID (int)- think this is to make sure that every quest has a unique identifier?

Quest visited [quest (varchar)(200)]- guessing quest varchar is the name of the quest?

quest encountered Time [enc text(30)]- obvious

Quest accepted time [acc text(30)]-obvious

Quest completed time [com text(30)]-obvious

Quest Mastered time [mas text(30)]-obvious

Unique Key Unique Key (id)- Not sure what this is for...

I'm NOT a coder, but I get the gist of most of it... I Think you can really shrink all that down. Using much larger than necesary variables can slow things down depending on how the memory is being shuffled around (here), and I'm quite sure that entering numbers as text slows it down because it has to "read" the numbers instead of just getting the values (255 characters vs 10 in text vs values)

Also, I'm pretty sure that the DB reads certain types of info faster, so the times could all be DATETIME and if you used the Page ID instead of the Quest visited text as the identifier, you could also make that an integer rather than text field. That might clean it up some...

But I think you can make the lite version only call for this:

Unique Identifier- UID (int)(Think this might be necessary to keep quest instances all separate.)

PageID [quest (MEDIUMINT)(7)] (gives you up to 16 million quests -use UNSIGNED attribute.)

quest level [lvl TINYINT(1)] (just 1-4 for progress of quest)


This would allow you to just keep track of where they're at (level) in that particular quest (pageID). (1=encountered, 2=accepted,3-completed, 4- mastered) Not only is it much less data per cell (single digit vs 4 date/timestamps), but it's only one cell versus 4. You could also use that info to easily build the buttons and the statsbar for both quest shortcode and stats page. (using the same CSS tricks they're using on the XP bar, make value of questlevel *25 and fill css bar that far) When you call the shortcode it will determine what each step in the value is worth... so all you need is quest level so that they don't re-call a level they've already passed. The shortcode on the page should give the points as they enter the values. All integers (reads faster in DB) and much smaller values. Page ID is stored to link back to original page. You should be able to call the page name from the page ID. If not, just shorten quest names to 64 characters and make varchar(64). This can also help not bonk tables with weird wrapping... and people need to keep quest names less than a paragraph, anyhow. ;)

Anyway, Like I said, I understand the concepts and some code, but I'm NOT a coder. So this may be a hilarious post to someone who understands the code much more than I and sees that what I'm suggesting is totally not going to work at all. I'm just suggesting after talking it over with my (also very inexperienced) coders as we poke through the code.

Sorry if this whole post is a bunch of garbage rambling and makes no programming sense at all. I am sure, however, that you can remove the time and date stamps on your current code and just give it a level of completion and that will DEFINITELY speed it up, but remove the "accountability" system you have in place now.

David Conover

Posted on 9/27/12 8:14:27 PM Permalink

We have the capability to create any and every kind of learning experience. I have my game design students wanting to desgn instructions with it. Imagine...

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/27/12 7:24:17 PM Permalink

David, at the risk of offending Adobephiles everywhere, I'm, um, allergic to Captivate. I worship at the temple of the almighty video tutorial.

Clarification: Captivate may not work for me but it certainly works for lots of other people. There's nothing preventing anyone from incorporating it into their own version of the Gamified Learning Environment (GLE).

Yea! Another 3-letter acronym!

True Confessions: I'm an Adobephile too.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/27/12 7:16:30 PM Permalink

Rob, the Gamified Lite version is one I hadn't considered. Again, a killer idea worth bringing to life.

What I don't get is how info can be tracked and stored if it's not in the database. We're not talking cookies, are we? I'm probably just missing something really obvious.

To misquote BlindEye: Right now it's a clear as the blind spot in front of my face. ;)

David Conover

Posted on 9/27/12 7:10:09 PM Permalink

Excellent (said in a Monty Burns fashion)

One of the next considerations is creating a series of interactive game-based learning activites designed with Captivate. These learning activites reflect teaching points, quizzes and assessments. This helps Level this environment up.

Rob, I am not a PhP God, just an agent of change;-)

If we build it, they will come.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/27/12 7:03:11 PM Permalink

The Multiplayer Classroom is not available for the Kindle but it is for the iPad. Purchased, downloaded, and moved to the front of the queue. Will begin my assignment ASAP, Mr. Conover. :)

David Conover

Posted on 9/27/12 6:39:08 PM Permalink

When you both have the time, please read The Multiplayer Classroom by Lee Sheldon. This is a homework assignment that will give insight and ideas to this collaborative-effort.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 9/27/12 6:31:35 PM Permalink

Mike, CP running fine. I think that the CG plug is heavy because it's collectiing so much more data. CP will often just assign points to an action and connect it to the page, so it's one digit (1 if they visited and got the point) versus CG which is logging each step in the progress (EACM) as well as the time that this happened.. I'm pretty sure that's what's beefing it.

Even on my answers hack, it checks the page, and has a limit on how many answers they can have for each page, but that's it. The shortcode gives the points, it's not in the Database. And it doesn't clock WHEN, just IF.

Think that's the big difference. Not sure how to slim your code without losing the accountability part. But you might want to release a "lightweight" version that does it more like the answers module... I'm pretty sure that gold, minutes (which are manual entries, right?), and just progress would be light- have just a "progress" field in the table(1-4) and that can be used to populate both the stats and quest pages progress bar. That should run without much problem on any shared hosting. Literally should be 1/10th the data/calls this way.

And those that want the full package could get the proper server and roll it in.

Ya know, thinking about this, though I don't know code I get the concepts... I think that this could be a quick and easy module with all he's written. Especially if you're reusing the progress display, it's just a shortcode in any page or post to make it a quest, and then the shortcode to display the stats page and just change all the links (which would normally submit points in a quest page) to links to the quest.

Might be easiest to just make a module for cubepoints. One module could load gold, minutes, and the simple questing shortcodes. This will also get a lot more use since all shortcode users could start using it and get good traction.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/27/12 6:00:47 PM Permalink

As silly as it sounds, World of Warcraft has been the biggest influence in designing this gamified learning environment. Any peek behind the scenes at the thought processes driving their decisions to improve their users' experience is golden to me. The following speaks to simplifying whenever possible. More is not always better. (A good graphic design lesson too.)
The following is from this article (worth a read for the game design strategy angle):
While choosing a spec at level 10 felt great, we weren’t very happy with the rest of the talent tree overhaul. We definitely pruned some dead wood from the trees and got rid of some talents that weren’t a lot of fun, but players felt like they weren’t getting anything out of the bargain. Having simpler trees is a good goal, but it would have felt better if players felt like they got something cool in return for losing some boring fluff. Unfortunately, as is the case with many compromises, this one didn’t fully solve the original problems it was intended to solve, while it created new ones.
Fundamentally, taking into account what we’ve learned about talent trees over the years, we’ve come to the conclusion that the talent tree model where you pick up tiny performance increases here and there (and where there’s, mathematically, nearly always a ‘right’ answer and a ‘wrong’ answer) is not a great model. The Mists talent design is a major revamp that should fix this problem once and for all. Talents should be meaningful game-changers. At absolute worst a given talent may be the right one only situationally, and at best, players will have a lot more customization to make their play-style stand out. Furthermore, the fact that you’ll have more flexibility to change your talents should help keep gameplay fresh, even with that character that you play most often.
Good advice for us too.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/27/12 3:52:28 PM Permalink

Had to look up SXSWedu, David. I love Austin. The Berkeley (or Santa Cruz) of Texas. My kind of crazy!

Aside: Got to teach two summers at UT for Digital Media Academy. Great University in a great town with great people.

Thanks for the kind words. Am refining the preso. After Adobe, my principal asked me to present to the faculty on our first morning back. (It went far better than I could have hoped for -- way better than at Adobe. Practice makes perfect.) Next up is SDCUE. Still have to submit to CUE and ISTE (never been to San Antonio).

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/27/12 3:28:09 PM Permalink

David, I echo Rob's question. Are you a PHP god?

Rob, we can't hack the CubePoints or BuddyPress code or we'll get hosed every time those plugins are updated by the developers. But, as you suggest, we can peek under the hood and Semar can incorporate the functionality into his Cube-Gold plugin.

Either way, David is right, Badges and/or Achievements are a must. We've been trying to figure out how to incorporate this for a while now. Rough ideas to build on:

  • Consecutive Logins (including Sat and Sun?)
  • Total XP-Generating Logins (only once every 4 hours to keep the corner-cutters from abusing the system)
  • X Quests Mastered (At increments of 25?)
  • X Minutes Logged (Long story, cool system)
  • Leveling and/or XP Recognition
  • App Specific Awards
  • Epic Quests
  • Work Featured on the Site
  • Jobs for Real-World Clients
  • Student Mentoring (a la Mac Lab Mentors)
Lots of other possibilities. Your suggestions?

David Conover

Posted on 9/27/12 3:25:46 PM Permalink

I am thinking along the lines of a badge-award system, but it sounds as though it has already been set up. This is an increadible project. Game On. I wish you could present this at this years SXSWedu. You might want to think about this for next year.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/27/12 2:51:37 PM Permalink

Get this, yesterday Semar said he'd have the shortcodes finished, "in about two weeks." I looked at his and said, "Nah. You'll be done by the end of Saturday school." (I open the lab two Saturdays a month.) He just looked at me like I was crazy.

Today he tells me he's almost got the shortcodes finished. Man, this kid is going to rock the world when he gets out there.

Next up, he's going to look at CubePoints and its BuddyPress Integration plugins to see if he can write a new plugin to focus on our specific wants and needs.

We're starting to suspect it's not his code but possibly CubePoints that might be pegging the servers. Schwartz: you had a problem without any of Semar's code, right?

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 9/27/12 1:44:48 PM Permalink

Dave... when you say "I'd like to integrate..." do you mean you or Semir? If you're a coder, I think he'd love to talk to an experienced programmer for ideas and feedback!

And Skocko, there's already a badges system in the buddypress integration module. Semir would just need to peek at how that page is set up and badges will be active.

Right now you can do it by how many friends, how many posts... etc.. I'm sure he could peek at the code and have it look at how many logins, how many minutes, etc...


David Conover

Posted on 9/26/12 10:23:28 PM Permalink

I'd like to integrate a badge system that is more than Gold. Let's level this up.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/26/12 8:59:29 PM Permalink

Here's what Semar has whipped up experimenting with shortcodes today. He thinks he's got a way to handle the hidden content on the Quest and Paid Content pages.

Shortcode proof of concept JPG

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/26/12 8:50:50 PM Permalink

Add your ideas, David. I know you have some bubling around that hyper-active brain of yours! Donald has helped to clarify the project with his queries and ideas. And Schwartz has really shaken things up with some killer suggestions and ideas. (Though my eyes are still burning from the colors in his mockups.) :P

Unfair color critiques aside (Rob was just providing a quick proof of concept), using visual feedback in place of the repeating text on the Stats page or the four individual buttons on the Quest pages is brilliant. It's not just eye-candy, it's valuable information for players students.

You guys are driving the project in the right direction!

Rob also had a secret word idea to entice the kids to pay closer attention to the video instruction. I can see a bunch of jumping off points to build on that idea. I'll let him explain that one.

Semar is busy looking to move things to shortcodes thanks to Schwartz. Those will work in any modern theme!

There's a lot to celebrate but there's even more to refine and add to the mix. All of your feedback is golden. Keep it coming.

Let's make the gamified curriculum delivery system so much fun that the kids don't want to stop learning!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/26/12 8:20:46 PM Permalink

I'll get back to the regularly scheduled program in a minute, but right now, a progress report.

A kid just spent 250 Gold to buy the right to control my playlist for the period. Half the class is rockin' the rap and half the class is plotting their own revenge purchases.

You gotta work hard to earn 250 Gold.

This is too cool!

David Conover

Posted on 9/25/12 9:32:01 PM Permalink

Let me know when you can scale this out. Great job guys!

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 9/25/12 9:20:59 PM Permalink


Also found this. until your system is working, I'm having them enter text in boxes to complete and master quests and get the XP:

This is running a vanilla install of Cubepoints, and tinkering with settings I could post if anyone's this close... check out how it looks on the test site:

The catch is that when you enter the first box, it shows an error on the bottom box, and vice versa when you enter the second box. Points work fine and everything, just ugly display. info on how to install and use on the thread linked to above.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 9/25/12 9:11:49 PM Permalink

Reverse Psychology. I get it. :)

So I was thinking about the way the quests are set up... And also looking at quest pages and stats page... And I think there's a way to make it more visually appealing and probably cut down on code a little because you could use the exact same display on both the stats and quest page. On stats page it links to the quest, and on quest page it's a button that you click like the current buttons.

To make the fancy glossy bar shouldn't even be hard, but I showed how it would look on stats page with just CSS background colors.

you could even have time displayed in the bar since you don't have text in the way... then it's even easier to see the times and it's more obvious when they're all the same because you can see them at once.

Drop these items into a shortcode and it will work with any theme, also!

mock ups below, click for full size:



Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/25/12 3:56:47 PM Permalink

Seriously Rob, don't do this unless you really, really want to.

Either way, the cold ones are on me next time.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 9/25/12 3:17:56 PM Permalink

That's not my experience... :)

But I can try for a couple months and it will cost less than $100... and if it works, money well spent. I'll find some way to get it paid for.

anyone have a rich uncle they'd like to donate? :)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/25/12 2:43:33 PM Permalink

Yeah, but from everything I've read recently, we teachers are an overpaid lot who only work five hours a day and get three months off to eat bon bons and take long, relaxing vacations.

We have to do something with all that money. :D

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 9/25/12 2:35:06 PM Permalink

Grrr... that's not the best news ever. This is an expensive experiment. LOL.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/25/12 1:16:22 PM Permalink

Seriously, Schwartz may try this with a beefy commercial account. If that works, I'll look for a provider willing to work with educators to make it more affordable to test in other classrooms.

Meanwhile, I need to find a PHP guru. The UCSD connection didn't lead to anything substantial other than the guy's amazement over what the kids had produced. I've sent out a feeler to another potential wizard.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/25/12 1:01:14 PM Permalink

We're working on it. For now, you just need one of these in the corner of your classroom to run it:

Really big computer :P

Donald Peters

Posted on 9/25/12 12:45:29 PM Permalink

yeah yeah. I hate you.Tongue out

you need to get this bug free so we can all run it.Sealed

I just found out that the librarian at the Intermediate school (grades 4-6) is doing some gamifying inside our Angel system (like moodle)

She also has a beta account for the Boise system.

I'm trying to find a day that I can go meet with her and see what she is doing.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/25/12 10:41:44 AM Permalink

Thanks to the amazing Semar, who codes my every wish, we have a Leaderboard -- three actually. One for XP, one for Time, and one for Mastery. The digital clipboard (with all student data) has been vastly improved too.

I better not wake up and discover this was all a dream!

Leaderboard JPG

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/23/12 4:31:57 PM Permalink

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/23/12 4:21:09 PM Permalink

All student blogs are running off a WordPress Multi-User install (WPMU). And when I set that link I read what anyone clicking the link read. Now I'm wondering what's going to jump up and surprise me next.

Like I said in my previous comment, development advances quickly.

Anyway, here's an example of a student's Week 1 Mastery. They'll be using imagery (rather than words alone) more and more to demonstrate Mastery as the year rolls on.

Donald Peters

Posted on 9/23/12 3:16:55 PM Permalink

I had a wordpress blog last year and am currently using edublogs which runs off of the wordpress code - so I am familiar with the framework, just a little scared of actually having to run off of an install on our servers. I am a complete noob when it comes to coding.

I will look to see if I can find the Boise site.

Mike, do you have a students blog that we can look at? I would like to see what this looks like from the student side of things and how they are showing 'mastery' through their blogs. I'm assuming all student blogs run off of the server wordpress install as well?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/23/12 2:17:13 PM Permalink

Someone pointed me at the Boise State gamification project a few moths back and I signed up for the beta but I've been too swamped to participate. With money and university resources -- and lots of vision -- they've built a remarkable framework. Kinda dwarfs what the kids and I have built. But ours has a few advantages and given time... :)

I'm on the EdWeb mailing list and reading every comment and watching every webinar would be a full-time job in itself. It's obvious there's incredible pent-up demand for gamified learning environments. We hope to fill one little niche.

WordPress is OpenSource. Download it free from You'll find a 1, 2, 3 install and activation explanation on that page.

As for books, development advances at a clip that paper is hard-pressed to keep up with. You might be better off learning via the Web.

A great way to test WordPress for free without installing anything is to sign up for a free account at (the commercial arm of the WordPress community). See how easy it is to use without paying a penny.

Donald Peters

Posted on 9/21/12 1:27:22 PM Permalink

Just an FYI in case you are interested. You may already know about this. has a 'gamified learning' group. I've been a part of it for about a year now. Most of it is more math class based, but they do have some interesting webinars. (wish i could get CEU's for all the webinars I watch. Wink)

another question on the 'install' process... (still trying to wrap my head around it) You have an actual wordpress software install on your schools hard drive with the addition of the custom template? Is their a cost to download and install the actual base wordpress software?

My local library has several books on Wordpress that will be some light bedtime reading for me once I finish 'Reality is Broken' and 'Drive'

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/20/12 9:54:08 PM Permalink

Crazy days. Sorry for the delayed response...

Donald, the karma concept is intriguing, and maybe something for next year, but probably too complicated to implement at present. Right now, minor violations result in lost time (that kids have to make up). That's worked well for years. Our new twist is for more serious offenses (or just when I want to drive home a point). It turns out that the kids hate losing gold more than time. You can make up lost time. Once a quest is complete, there's no way to re-earn the gold. It's just gone. Major motivator!

Our game has no direct connection to grades. It's just to make the learning fun. As for the kids who don't try as hard, I give you...

The World’s Simplest Rubric™

A = You gave it your all. You consistently tried to succeed.
B = Great but… You could have tried harder.
C = No second effort. You didn’t try very hard.
D = Are you kidding me? You are wasting your time.
F = Who are you? You stopped coming to class.

I can't begin to tell you how important that rubric is to the continued success of my lab. Fine print here (and via the links found on that page).

No toes were damaged. Your questions help to clarify the concepts for me too. Keep 'em coming! :)

Mastery involves documenting or demonstrating understanding. Kind of a show what you know process.

As for the install, everything begins compact -- probably around 10 to 15 MB. My site puts on weight every day via image, file, and video uploads.

We've got some more tweaks and improvements. Will explain when time permits.

Donald Peters

Posted on 9/18/12 10:34:10 PM Permalink

Rob, will this still need to be installed locally on the schools servers? Any ideas how much 'space/bandwidth/whatever else I don't understand' it will take?

Oh also, I started reading 'Reality is Broken' and realized I've already read it. lol. Probably back when Mike first mentioned it several years ago. I read so many books it's hard to keep track. Going to reread it to refresh my memory anyway.

I kinda feel like I'm taking over the conversation here, hope I'm not stepping on anyones toes.

Mike, I should've known just to dig through the daily posts. I was just wanting to see the difference between beginning and mastery for classroom procedures. I'm curious to on how it will work for actual photoshop/illustrator skills so I will keep digging.

Donald Peters

Posted on 9/18/12 10:28:59 PM Permalink

Mike, I was thinking about this on the drive home today:

The reason I like Lineage II over WoW was the concept of 'karma'

Lineage II (like WoW) is a PvP environment. Unlike WoW, you could kill anyone anytime (except in towns) - a PK (Player Killer)

If they fought back, it was no harm no foul no matter the winner. If they didn't, you incurred 'karma'

The first 5 'kills' did not institute a penalty... but that 6th.... Your character name went RED and you were given a set amount of 'karma' the bigger the lvl difference between you and the player you killed, the more the karma. and every player you killed after that gave you even MORE karma. When RED if another player killed you, you randomly dropped items in your inventory. Including your armor and your weapon. The only way to get rid of 'karma' was to A) work it off by hunting or by having someone else kill you. When you died you lost XP. While you were working off 'karma' you did not gain any XP.

This might be an interesting aspect to add to your system.

I was wondering what happened if a student did something wrong in the class or against the system in place.. this might address that. Minor violations=small karma, major violations=major karma.

Also, I wanted to ask you what happens to students who just don't work as hard as others? Is it set so (as an example) those that reach lvl 8(random number) by the first 9 weeks get an A, those at lvl 6 = B and so on or is there another 'grading' system in place? As I'm sure in this type of system where students are learning self paced, some will work quickly (and additionally at home) and some will drag their heels..... Thoughts?

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 9/18/12 8:31:22 PM Permalink


Edublogs is in fact the largest install of WP in the world next to itself. Runs on code from the folks.

It is that easy. :)

Oh- and less rambling version of my last post... I'm making videos on how to install a site that has lots of the functionality of Mike's site but without running on beta code if you wanna get started now and be relatively safe that it won't crash... Hopefully posted in the next day or two. Gotta hide the passwords in the videos so I don't get hacked. :)

But will have discussion groups and users and XP points and levels, but no gold, no stats page like mike's, no quest tracking.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/18/12 7:27:55 PM Permalink

Donald, good luck getting approval.

And WordPress is easy to use. Very shallow learning curve to get started. Fear not, intrepid edu-warrior!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/18/12 7:20:50 PM Permalink

UPDATE: While Semar works to optimize the code, he's given the rest of the team (six other students) the task of designing a free responsive theme for other teachers to use.

We should have the new FREE theme+code ready for testing in the next month or two.


Donald Peters

Posted on 9/18/12 6:42:38 PM Permalink

btw, I don't currently use Wordpress, but my students and I are using which must be run by the same company because the dashboard looks almost exactly the same.

Donald Peters

Posted on 9/18/12 5:35:11 PM Permalink

Tried WoW and didn't like it. Could be because I was playing Lineage II at the time (Korean MMORPG). The leveling in that game was horrendous. Play for 4 hours and maybe get 1% XP of a level.

I have sent a lot of thin info. of to one of our tech people. Maybe I can get one on my side to help me. Laughing

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/18/12 2:30:20 PM Permalink

Donald, here are the classroom policies from a couple of years ago. I've changed a lot since then. There's a way to pull up all the quests from this year but I don't want the kids to have it since I want them following daily updates. Will look for that short-code today and share it once it's found. All the quests may be found on the weekly posts though.

As for links leading to links, a district IT guy familiar with the site once told me the Old Blog was more of a Wiki than a blog. Took that as a compliment. :)

Enjoy Reality is Broken. Chapter 3 is all about WoW and contains a quote that I completely agree with:

Nick Yee, a leading researcher of MMOs and the first person to receive a PhD for studying WoW, has argued that MMOs are really massively multiplayer work environments disguised as games.

That's what I realized when I first started playing WoW in May of 2001 (when getting my Master's) and it's the reason I'm so driven to pull this off:

Make the work fun!

Donald Peters

Posted on 9/18/12 1:41:20 PM Permalink

Mike, I love your work, but it can be dauting to go through your links as each link leads to more back links. Relevant information all, thus the love, but I almost feel like I'll have read/watched 10 years worth of info by the time I get through each link. Tongue out

BTW, I love the new blog and have just started exploring it as well. Is there a way (and it might be that I just havent found it yet) to get to the page that shows all the quests for learning and mastering the classroom rules? I would love to see how you set this stuff up. The new illustrator/photoshop quests would be good too (maybe I can be a defacto long distance student Cool)

Rob, you're losing me again. Embarassed hopefully I'll understand more when I watch the videos you mentioned. I feel like I'm going to be able to teach rocket science when you two get done presenting all this.

Finally got 'Reality is Broken' loaded on my Kindle (tech difficulties last night) so I'll get started reading it while I sit at dance class tonight.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/18/12 12:28:07 PM Permalink

Schwartz: You're a HERO!

Donald: I'd never even heard of TAB (another three-letter acronym! :). Seriously cool concepts! Especially love the student-centered approach but my favorite is: Experimentation and mistakes are honored. I'll be diving deeper. Thanks!

And you ain't behind the times, buddy. We're all pushing the envelope in different places. The real trick is to combine all these different strategies. Love your NLS (Next Logical Step) ideas.

Everyone: I'm a novice at this too. Much of what I'm learning is through trial and error. I'm an artist/designer not a coder/developer (that's where the students come in). The trick is not to fear failure. It's part of the learning process. (Isn't that what we teach our kids?)

One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.
André Gide
Every start upon an untrodden path is a venture which only in unusual circumstances looks sensible and likely to be successful.
Albert Schweitzer

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 9/18/12 3:12:23 AM Permalink

Ok.. just an update. I recorded some videos this weekend. Super quick, down and dirty vids on how to install Wordpress from scratch after you get you hosting, and even quicker and dirtier videos on how to set up buddypress and integrate cubepoints. It's a way to get a lot of the functionality of the site Skocko has going with software that's a bit more vintage and doesn't seem to peg the server. Also, no need for a paid theme (but no where near as sexy a website when it's done.)

I intentionally only recorded a starting place... up to you guys to take it and run with your own programs!!! But if you have a wordpress install at the district and can add your own plugs, you can get it running!

And with a normal paid hosting account (around $60-$100 a year) you'll have unlimited bandwidth and a fancy domain that you can do whatever you want with! I'll post on brainbuffet and get you guys a link once i obfuscate the passwords, they're uploaded, and I have a page with all the info you need.

Low expectations here folks... it's all you need, but I didn't script them out, I just hit record and installed. I have very little experience with buddypress and cubepoints so far, so I just showed you what I know will get to a working site. And you'll be up and running within an hour. (I did the whole install and setup in less than 30 minutes).

I'll keep you posted! And when I install Mike's stuff, I'll record all that as well!

Donald Peters

Posted on 9/17/12 9:53:39 PM Permalink

Ok.... I have 'Reality is Broken' on loan and 'Drive' in process of being reserved (impressed local library had both)

In process of watching all the video links (hard to do when your 5 year old insists you sit with her while she plays play-doh)

This sounds a lot like Teaching for Artistic Behavior or TAB based learning.

I'm thinking I'll be able to bring my district around to this as we are a 1:1 school and have been featured Nationally quite often but....

Currently I teach Art 1, Art 2, Graphic Arts (Illustrator and Photoshop) and Ceramics and my co-teachers teaches Art 1, Art 2, Art 3-4 (mixed) and Sculpture. We have students who want to take classes like Graphic Arts and Ceramics and Sculpture more than once but with the current method that is not possible.

From my (limited) understanding of the Gamification is that not only would I be able to modify for second (or third or fourth) level students mixed in with the beginners, it would even be advantageous as they could motivate/help the beginning students. Therefore, we would be able to offer MORE higher level classes that probably wouldn't have enough students to justify a class on their own, but COULD be offered by mixing the students in with the beginning class.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am already experimenting with taking teaching to 'the next logical step' by attempting to flip my classroom and providing extrinsic critique/help situations (edmodo group with other schools) and now I'm figuring out that I am actually behind the times. Tongue out

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/17/12 4:04:10 PM Permalink

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 9/17/12 3:42:58 PM Permalink

Oh, even before all your reading, WATCH THIS. great summary.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 9/17/12 3:38:19 PM Permalink

For Dummies Version:Tongue out

  1. Read Reality is Broken and Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us for the philosophical kind of grounding for this approach to education. It's not just about fun(though fun is a great side-effect), its about motivation and self-awareness/self-development and helping kids see that life and productivity can be as fun as games if you look at it the right way.
    I'd also recommend reading Mike's blog posts on ZIM, AMP, and TAG. Mike loves TLA's (Three Letter Acronyms.) Wink
  2. Right now, the system shown in the video is kind of an experiment... in Beta test mode. Trying to get it running on cheap shared hosting plans will probbly cripple the server and get your site shut down. They're working on getting it to run leaner so that it will work on any vanilla hosting service. You're welcome to try... but it's kind of sketchy at the moment. Mike's servers with 6GB of ram are pegginig. Most shared hosts run at about 64MEGABYTES per account. The server calls are heavy right now.
  3. You can get the cheaper (professional) version of the theme- but you need to get the version with the monthly subscription to get some of the goodies working right. Only for a month, though. You can download them and then quit the monthly thing and you're still allowed to use them.
  4. This should work with any curriculum, even in our installs online, the showing mastery stuff is NOT done on the same site. It's seperate portfolios. Doesn't matter if that's paper based or on screen! The main thing to get is the "gist" behind why this all works on a more psychological and philosophical level. The site is just the grooviest way to make it happen right now, but I imagine elementary schools could simplify for math and have a big chart with stickers.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/17/12 1:49:37 PM Permalink

What exactly don't you understand at that point, Donald? I know I don't always express my thoughts clearly. :)

Donald Peters

Posted on 9/17/12 12:48:39 AM Permalink

Mike, I understand very little of your 9:45 comments. Hopefully when this gets ready you'll have a 'for dummies' version. Laughing

Still excited to give it a shot when it's ready for public consumption, but I'll definitely need to become smarter in the meantime it sounds like.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/16/12 1:37:49 PM Permalink


Rob already answered your questions but a couple of amplifications...

1) Take research and rationale to your admin and then, with admin's support, to the district IT department. Most comprehensive high schools are losing students to alternative options -- charter, magnet, private, online, etc. It's no secret; we need to make traditional public schools more competitive. Programs like this one excite kids and, if presented correctly, should excite admin and the district too.

Bottom Line: Innovate and adapt or die a slow death by attrition.

2) Like Rob said, either, but I'm going to be contacting PageLines on Monday to secure a better deal for other teachers. This has the potential to be a win-win for them and schools. I just have to help them see it that way. :)

BTW: I bought the less expensive one.

3) Rob said it: Infinite!

I have a BFA in Spatial Arts so I have a special place in my heart for traditional art classes. But honestly, I think this could be adapted for any subject.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/16/12 1:10:57 PM Permalink

Rob and I spoke at length on the phone yesterday. Here are short answers to his questions

Not too far into "reality is broken" (yes, collaboration with Skocko includes homework. :) j/k) , so I'm just curious about implementing... and honestly still nervous about the resource hungriness... I'd hate to have the site get going and then get shut down because of resources on the server, and moving up from shared hosting is pricey... whether it's $200 or $500 a year- thinking about other teachers in my position where money is tight. :/ I'm a teacher AND a single dad! lol.

Our number one priority right now is optimizing the code so it's not such a resource hog. This also has to be easier for teachers to implement. We're calling this Version 1.0 but it's really a Beta. In the next few months I expect we'll make real progress in both optimizing and simplifying.

We're also involved in a separate Computer Science pilot program funded by the National Science Foundation coordinated locally by UCSD -- specifically two profs, one from the Computer Science department and another from the Supercomputer Center. They're sending a third prof over to the Mac Lab on Wednesday to talk with the new team of kids working on the gamification project with Semar and Vincent. He'll provide the initial advice regarding strategies for optimization. After that, we'll probably be visited by graduate students with specific knowledge in PHP and MySQL.

Aside: Reality is Broken is a must-read for those thinking about gamifying. Here's Jane's TED Talk on the same subject.

I can see the huge benefit of the quest stuff... having the four buttons appear on the quest pages. And minutes I understand because of your classroom policy... What's the psychological impetus behind the gold? is it primarily to encourage the mastery level which they might otherwise avoid all year without it?

Like in many games, especially in MMORPGs, leveling enables players to unlock features and virtual currency allows them to purchase items. That's the model we're using. But...

We can either drive students towards mastery with carrots and sticks (extrinsic motivation) or empower and inspire them to choose to pursue mastery themselves (intrinsic motivation). Since gold (our virtual currency) can only be earned via mastery, and mastery is only occasionally required (for certain critical skills and concepts), the students are faced with a choice.

In the first two weeks two thing have become crystal clear: The students are overwhelmingly choosing to master most or all of the quests encountered to this point and they're choosing to work at mastery outside of the classroom. (I don't assign homework but mastery involves documenting or demonstrating understanding on their own WordPress blog, linking back to the respective quest. Every link shows up as a comment awaiting moderation on my site so I can see the time stamp and thus proof positive that they're working at home. Cool beans!)

Aside: Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us is another must-read for understanding recent research into motivation and engagement. Here's an RSA video about the subject.

Technical: What are your settings for videos when you're posting online? What size and compression settings? I get emails from some teachers saying the videos stretch off the screen, and not sure how I should be addressing that. (or if I should bother)

I record full-screen on my laptop (1440 x 900) at 6 fps but save at 60% actual size (864 x 540). The videos are high quality H.264 but the audio is mono (ACC). After the video is rendered as an MOV, I convert it to an M4V so it plays on all devices. I can take screenshots of exact settings but the software I use is Mac-only (SnapzProX) and many Mac users have chosen to use other apps with more bells and whistles. I'm under NDA (a beta tester) so I can't say why I'm excited about continuing to use Snapz.

Where are the videos held? They on your site or on youtube or something?

They're on my server at the district. I considered using YouTube for Education this year but the concern with district Web filters drove me to stick with what works... for now.

Do you know what the memory settings and such are for your school server running the site?

The district IT department is working with us to make this happen. Right now the site is running on two Linux servers. The Web server has two processors and 6 GB of RAM. They've recently externalized the database on a second server with two processors and 4 GB of RAM. These servers are 100% dedicated to serving our lab (and all the folks out in the real world who hit the site regularly). We're pegging the Web server but not the other. Right now no one knows why.

Why are the kids not using the wordpress codex? I thought that would automatically notify of updates and such once it's installed...

We did at first but it became clear that some of our custom plugins would just break other's sites because they were specifically created for this project. We didn't want to poison the WordPress Codex in that way. Vincent has set it up now so auto updates are driven through the WordPress admin panel but delivered via GitHub. GitHub offers many other advantes over the Codex too.

Does Semir have a copy of his code that's commented?

Great idea. He'll be working on that next week.

Can you guys write a short description of all the functions of the cubepoints-gold plug and keep a changelog? This will help with those of us along side of you keeping up... Might be cool for you to insert a parenthetical "Why" after the items for those of us following closely. :)

Another great idea. Will do.

In fairness to the kids, the reason we haven't done this yet is that they've been working for exactly one client. Now that others are expressing interest, it makes sense.

I see Semir is calling another implementation of javascript- what's that doing? Is there a reason not to use the already called Javascript instance? (Just a general comment is fine, I wouldn't get the details anyway)

I need to see a screenshot to even begin to understand what that question's about. :P


Whew. Long comment. Will post this to see if it makes sense.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/15/12 8:21:26 PM Permalink

Gee whiz! I spend the first part of the morning installing World of Warcraft on my classroom computers.

Note: Our anti-gaming school district installed a time-based hole in the firewall to enable my students to play WoW before and after school and Saturdays. Seriously, the hole in the firewall is only for the IP range in the Mac Lab -- no where else in the distict. Pretty cool, huh?

See, it pays to submit piles of research!

Then I took care of the Saturday honey-do list.

And now...

Pure joy that others are interested!

I'll check back in with answers as time permits. (The honey-do list is a Hydra. Do one and two more take its place. :)

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 9/15/12 7:51:32 PM Permalink

1- it will install on a third party hosting. It's built on wordpress... so the standard PHP/SQL (linux is best) install works great. contact me for what I've found on hosting so far... I'll be testing next week to see if it crashes my shared hosting site.

2. Commercial theme can be either. Email them first, I got a coupon code for 20% off. I got the commercial thinking I could learn it, build another site, and have it paid for. With commercial you can use it on as many sites as you want.

3. Infinite. :)

Donald Peters

Posted on 9/15/12 7:01:32 PM Permalink

I have been pushing for 'the next level' in teaching and here you are actually doing it. Very excited for this.

A couple of questions:

1) web hosting - do through the school or can we set it up through an independent pay for service site? (I don't see my tech department wanting to install anything on our server - maybe I'll be proven wrong)

2) the commercial theme - does it need to be the developer or the professional edition?

3) what are the possibilities of being able to adapt this for regular art type classes?

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 9/15/12 5:31:08 PM Permalink

Sent these to Mike and he wisely suggested that we talk out loud here. :)

Not too far into "reality is broken" (yes, collaboration with Skocko includes homework. :) j/k) , so I'm just curious about implementing... and honestly still nervous about the resource hungriness... I'd hate to have the site get going and then get shut down because of resources on the server, and moving up from shared hosting is pricey... whether it's $200 or $500 a year- thinking about other teachers in my position where money is tight. :/ I'm a teacher AND a single dad! lol.
I can see the huge benefit of the quest stuff... having the four buttons appear on the quest pages. And minutes I understand because of your classroom policy... What's the psychological impetus behind the gold? is it primarily to encourage the mastery level which they might otherwise avoid all year without it?
What are your settings for videos when you're posting online? What size and compression settings? I get emails from some teachers saying the videos stretch off the screen, and not sure how I should be addressing that. (or if I should bother)
Where are the videos held? They on your site or on youtube or something?
Do you know what the memory settings and such are for your school server running the site?
Why are the kids not using the wordpress codex? I thought that would automatically notify of updates and such once it's installed...
Does Semir have a copy of his code that's commented?
Can you guys write a short description of all the functions of the cubepoints-gold plug and keep a changelog? This will help with those of us along side of you keeping up... Might be cool for you to insert a parenthetical "Why" after the items for those of us following closely. :)
I see Semir is calling another implementation of javascript- what's that doing? Is there a reason not to use the already called Javascript instance? (Just a general comment is fine, I wouldn't get the details anyway)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 9/14/12 7:24:35 PM Permalink

LOL! The no life part is repayed with massive increases in student engagement and motivation.

Kudos: To Schwartz for being a willing guinea pig. His pain is your gain! :P

Newest Feature: A pop up marks new levels. In the future, something richer and more visually rewarding will replace it. (Still in proof of concept mode.)

Fresh Meat: Want to try this yourself? You'll need solid Web hosting, a WordPress install, and this commercial theme (I'm going to try to convince the company to offer a deep discount for the early adopters. Will keep you advised.) I need to set up install instructions. (But maybe Rob will beat me to it.)

Later the kids will create a free theme for those who don't want to shell out coin for the commercial one.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 9/14/12 5:30:24 PM Permalink