Mike Skocko

Game On | Gamified CDS 3.0 | Part II

Technical Tutorial Published 9/30/13 Last updated on 7/11/18

On July 30, Game On, a new WordPress plugin from the Mac Lab, made its debut at the 2013 Adobe Education Leader Institute at Adobe's Corporate Headquarters in San Jose, CA.

WordPress + Game On = our newest Gamified Curriculum Delivery System.

GameOn has been completely rewritten from the ground up to be a lean, clean gamification engine with less reliance on third party plugins.

Anyone using the CubeGold plugin first developed in Gamified Curriculum Delivery System and further modified in FTW! Turnkey Online Gamification System might consider moving to our new system. (CubeGold will continue to function, it just won't be updated with new features.)

From installation and configuration to implementation and data collection, Game On is a far simpler, more powerful, and more efficient gamification option than CubeGold.

In 2011/12, we first gamified the classroom using Google Forms. In 2012/13, we won an Inspire Award from the Classroom of the Future Foundation for our work with CubeGold. In 2013/14, the game gets serious.

Game On!

Plugin on Github | Direct Download | NEW: Video Instructions | Wish List (more to follow)

NOTE: With over 1,000 comments, the original resource grew too sluggish to endure any longer. Hence the need for a second resource.

  • Dreamweaver

    Design and develop modern, responsive websites.

  • Photoshop

    Editing and compositing for photos, web and mobile app designs, 3D artwork, videos, and more.

  • Illustrator

    Create beautiful vector art and illustrations.

Communication and Collaboration, Research and Information Fluency, Digital Citizenship, Creativity and Innovation, Technology Operations and Concepts, Critical Thinking Problem Solving and Decision Making

Web hosting, imagination, and a sense of adventure.

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Mike Skocko

Posted on 3/13/14 11:07:18 PM Permalink

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 2/14/14 9:27:37 PM Permalink

Hey guys... THIS.

game on discussion groups wouldn't take new comments today. I'll post there when It's not broken. (2018?)

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 2/4/14 5:44:20 PM Permalink

Great infographic on gamification here.

Another article here.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 2/4/14 8:51:53 PM Permalink

Good find. Post 'em here too.

Steve Miguel

Posted on 1/31/14 12:26:46 PM Permalink

I have one student that is taking two of my classes with different curriculum, how can I adjust his quests for each class? Is that possible?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 2/4/14 8:50:32 PM Permalink

You'll have to decide whether he needs two separate accounts or one with access to both.

Steve Miguel

Posted on 1/27/14 2:44:38 AM Permalink

Okay, I think I'm going to make the jump and give this a try, but am I crazy to try and get this setup in less than a week before second semester? Or do I need more time?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 1/28/14 5:09:39 PM Permalink

LOL! What's wrong with crazy?

Just tell the kids that you'll all be learning about implementing and utilizing gamification together. Great opportunity to demonstrate the risk/reward equation in real time.

Please let us know how it goes (and how we can help if the need arises).

Good luck, Steve!

Steve Miguel

Posted on 1/28/14 6:37:52 PM Permalink

Thanks Mike,

I was wondering, in my class I demonstrate and teach students how to use DSLRs for some of their projects, do you do demonstration days? I was thinking maybe to have students setup an appointment with me to have 1-on-1 training, once they get to a certain level or gain enough experience. Is ther a feature for this? Any Suggestions?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 1/28/14 7:49:27 PM Permalink

This is my favorite way to introduce kids to our DSLRs. (The kid who made the videos is now a third year Computer Science major at UC Berkeley.)

Sure I still interrupt the kids to do demos, give pep talks, and/or play short videos (as we just did with this Sir Ken's RSA talk).

Or... For your one-on-one idea you could set a Required Rank in the Add New Quest page to limit access to the DSLR demo until a student reaches Level X. (It's near the top of the settings.)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 1/28/14 7:52:14 PM Permalink

Steve, this conversation might be of value to others in the Game On Group. And others over there probably have better ideas than me.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 1/28/14 7:40:07 PM Permalink

Here's an idea...

What about making a ticket that's printable in mastery stage. Then it can't be accessed without being logged in, and also password protected.

Then you can make it a reward for finishing the "online" tutorials on DSLR (which you should share with ME when you're done with them!LOL!). When they complete they get the mastery 1-1 time with you.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 1/17/14 3:43:43 PM Permalink

Mike Skocko

Posted on 1/17/14 4:08:46 PM Permalink

Our district recently purchased a 3-year license for all students and staff. An epic win for CTE and new media teachers. Most of my students have completed both of McWade's resources. He rocks.

Great find, Rob. Didn't know about the freebie. Go ahead and make an announcement on our Game On Group, too.

Heck, and throw it up as a resource for the general AEE population. Too good not to share. :)

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 1/17/14 4:48:17 PM Permalink

Do you happen to know how much that license costs? I can't imagine our district paying for one but I'd love to be able to pitch it.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 1/17/14 6:26:32 PM Permalink

Think it's like $300 a year just for our one license, and we don't even get the materials... that's just the video access.

One license lets only one user access at a time. If another teacher logs in while I'm in... it bumps me off.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 1/17/14 7:03:10 PM Permalink

Yes I do, but since the price was negotiated, I'm not sure I'm free to share it. Contact a sales rep and ask for a quote. You might want to drop Grossmont Union High School District into the conversation. Or not. Your call.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 1/17/14 6:30:40 PM Permalink


Problem is that it's only good till next friday:(

Otherwise I'd plaster it everywhere educators might look!!!

Chris Aviles

Posted on 1/10/14 4:14:09 PM Permalink

I'm thrilled to hear the leaderboards were updated as they are my favorite part of a gamified classroom. I must admit, Mike, I can't find the leaderboard when I log into your class site. Can someone link me to, or explain how to find, an example of these leaderboards in action?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 1/10/14 5:04:18 PM Permalink


  1. Login in
  2. Click on Stats
  3. Click on Leaderboard
  4. Select one or more periods
  5. Select sort method
  6. Viola!

Last 7 and Last 30-day Leaderboards coming soon.

Chris Aviles

Posted on 1/10/14 6:50:53 PM Permalink

Ah, I never noticed stats all the way on the top. I've been looking on the menu bar all this time. If I wanted to put all my classes on one leaderboard, that wouldn't be a problem, right? Ah, that's very cool. By clicking on a period, I can add that period to the leaderboard.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 1/8/14 3:18:48 PM Permalink

Game On v1.1.7

Links in leaderboards and the blog page now open in a new window or tab (as they should have from the beginning).

Direct Download

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 1/8/14 7:39:57 PM Permalink

There a way to name the zips according to the revision instead of having them all called master? Or is that just a git thing?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 1/8/14 8:24:00 PM Permalink

It might be a GitHub default but even if we could change it, there are about a bazillion links to the master scattered from here to the moon. I'd hate to leave that many false trails hanging.

Still, it's worth thinking about. I'll ask the guys.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 1/9/14 6:48:37 PM Permalink

Current problem (for my ADD mind) is that I click on a link for 1.5 if I want/need to roll back, and I always get the newest. In the same way, if we have another weird one slip out, we can roll back and know what version it is when we download.

Right now I have a bunch of downloads that are all called master. Can't tell which one is which version.

Maybe on official releases we add them with a version to the site, and rename with version numbers? The GIT release should always be like the nightly releases... not totally tested wide, but most recent, UAYO release?

Nevermind... found 'em.

Just confusing that all the separate posts had version numbers in them, but all linked to the same file.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 1/9/14 6:57:32 PM Permalink


Just found out that if you go to the archive page, and then download a version revision... it already adds the revision to the title and gives it a proper name!!!


EDIT- Might be a good idea to link to the releases on that page, because it will call it "" instead of all of them being called master in our downloads folder.

I now officially no longer hate github. :)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 1/9/14 9:04:59 PM Permalink


Good suggestion on linking to the version on the releases page. That's how I'll do it from this point forward.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 1/7/14 3:24:57 AM Permalink

Game On v1.1.6

Leaderboard update (Courtesy of Ezio.)

  • Standings are numbered so players can tell at a glance if they're moving up or down the ladder.
  • Names now link to players' blogs. Yes! But the link doesn't open in a new window. No! (Will be fixed in next update.)

Seven-day and 30-day leaderboards are also in the works.

Direct Download

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 1/9/14 6:52:55 PM Permalink

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 1/6/14 4:26:14 PM Permalink

BTW, what happens with infractions again?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 1/7/14 3:24:06 AM Permalink

Right now they're just tracked and the Infraction count and color changes. There's no nerf triggered by the infraction. (Coming soon.)

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 1/6/14 4:20:48 PM Permalink

Just updated to 1.1.5 and when I hit Fix Ranks after Reset Ranks I'm getting a timout error:

Fatal error: Maximum execution time of 30 seconds exceeded in .../wp-content/plugins/game-on-master/go_ranks.php on line 56

EDIT: I just put in new ranks and hit Fix Ranks and it worked.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 1/7/14 3:24:45 AM Permalink

Glad to hear that. You had me worried.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 1/5/14 11:28:00 PM Permalink

Game On v1.1.5

Forest stepped up to solve the mystery of the Encounter Stage/Progress Bar glitch. Now the points are collected live rather than via the Accept Stage.

It's the little things that count!

Next up... Something you'll really like. :)

Direct Download

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 1/9/14 6:53:58 PM Permalink

Donald Peters

Posted on 1/5/14 10:23:03 PM Permalink

ok so where has most of the conversation moved to? I'm gearing up for a new semester and want to make a lot of changes...

Mike Skocko

Posted on 1/5/14 11:19:39 PM Permalink

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/31/13 4:32:25 AM Permalink

Dang! The updates in the group discussion aren't visible to those not logged in to the AEE so I'll keep posting here until the folks at Adobe sort that out.

Game On v1.1.4

Shortcode securely added to New Store Items. (You can highlight and copy but you cannot delete it.)

Inline shortcodes for store items in quests fully functional. See v1.1.3 (below) for more details.

Direct Download

Game On is an Open Group. Please feel free to join us.

Game On Group | Game On Discussions | Game On Updates | Game On Feature Requests

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/20/13 9:25:39 AM Permalink

Game On v1.1.3 (again) Fragnog! They'll fix it in the morning. You may want to wait for v1.1.4 unless you're an update junkie like me.

Inline shortcodes! Just tested it with a store item in a quest and it works!


  • Though the quests have the shortcode in a text field ready to copy, the store items do not. That (hopefully) will be added in v1.1.4
  • Don't use an existing store item if you want to award a single bonus. Create a new store item, do NOT add it to a category (or create a One-Time-Only category and don't add the new category to your Store), and set the repeat to 1. Tying the store item name to the quest's name might be a good strategy to avoid duplicate names. Your call.
  • Look at the the New Store Item URL and find the post=11620 info (your number will differ). The shortcode for this store item is: [go_store id="11620"] (substitute your store item's post ID for the 11620).

Like I said, the shortcode will appear in a text field ASAP.

Note: All future updates will be posted to our Group—specifically right here—rather than this resource.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/19/13 12:11:36 PM Permalink

Fork in the Road

And our fork has three tines:

  1. Move to Game On Part III
  2. Move to our own AEE Group (bare bones at present)
  3. Move to our own sitewith forum (both bare bones at present)

1. Business as usual:

  • It's familiar—we know it by heart
  • We get exposure by being on the front page as a Trending Resource
  • It can be hard to follow conversations
  • It can be hard to find new comments
  • It's sprawling—over 2,000 fairly unorganized comments
  • It can be confusing—reverse chronological order

2. Business Plus: New digs on the AEE:

  • It's familiar—with new perks
  • It's organized—discussions by topic
  • It's sheltered—just us teachers here
  • We know the management (literally)—Adobe is a nice partner to have
  • We'd remain with a large, established community
  • Our lurkers would know where to find us

3. Leave the AEE and carve out our own territory

  • It's different, but still familiar
  • Site/blog/forum/wiki combo is industry-standard
  • Huge potential for growth
  • Search engine friendly

That's hardly a comprehensive list of pros and cons but enough to get the conversation started.

Here are my thoughts:

  • Game On is in a state of constant development and will be for the foreseeable future
  • A smaller community of users is actually an advantage at this point
  • Adobe is a very good friend to have
  • Adobe opened the Group feature just for us

For those and other reasons, I'd like to test drive the group features, using it to focus our discussions by topic. Eventually, we'll need to move to a dedicated website but I feel it might be premature and potentially counter-productive at this point.


We're all co-conspirators, working to change education from the inside out. If everyone thinks we'd be better served to move to we'll move.


Edit: The problem with posting an idea before getting in the shower is that the best ideas seem to happen in the shower (one of creativity's three B's: Bed, Bath, and Bus).

Innovators often use product in ways the manufacturer never intended. In that vein, what if we used the discussion topics to create an AEE within the AEE? In addition to a discussion prompt, the discussion field could also be used to create things like installation and user guides (and so much more).

I love the AEE but it's so fragmented. Let's give it focus in our group (if we choose to use it). Think about it. We've discussed research, philosophy, tactics, what-ifs, and a whole collection of other inspirational and useful concepts. Why not resurrect some of our best discussions in topics of their own. Heck, we could even create a table of contents to organize the raft of epic ideas sure to emerge.

We could create a vibrant PD group within Game On. We've got so much gold scattered throughout the past 2,000 comments. Think of how few people will ever find it. Game On might become our PD rallying cry rather than just a plugin's name. This could be friggin' fantastic!

Note: Did you notice how that idea evolved as I wrote? It took on a life of it's own. That's the kind of idea I've learned not to turn my back on.


Your thoughts?

Matthew Miller

Posted on 12/19/13 4:25:54 PM Permalink

Mike... [ pause while adjusting to mind-expanding moment occurs ]...I love these experiences where I read a post here and have to take a moment while new horizons unfold in front of me. Never thought of deliberately using a manufacturer's site beyond their intentions before! COOL! For no other reason (although I have several) I would like to try the AEE Group and see what we can create there.

I agree, there is a gold-mine of PD scattered throughout the posts here. It's amazing. But difficult to grasp, especially at first. It took me weeks of reading through posts before I realized how much gold is buried in the comments (and then it took days before anyone could get me to do anything except troll through all the old comments to get caught up and to bookmark all the great comments I want to return to for various reasons).

I'm in, dude! (Oh, and IMO "GameOn!" is already a rallying cry, based on Rob's comment earlier regarding Gamification being a mindset (another mind-expanding moment. I've rallied around that and will continue to do so; it's going on the wall of my classroom).

Edit: Just went to add a resource (Kelly's manual) to the AEE Group (Ok, jumping the gun a bit, I admit, but I'll add it to the website, too, if we go that way) and found that I can add a discussion topic, but not a resource...

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/19/13 4:47:19 PM Permalink

Setting changed. You may now add a resource. :)

Donald Peters

Posted on 12/19/13 4:58:47 AM Permalink

not 100% appropriate, but still really funny and shows the 'Christmas Cheer' of Photoshop. If you liked the South Park episode, you might like this. If not, then definitely don't click the link.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/19/13 3:17:28 PM Permalink

As described here, the Hobbit episode really affected me. The kids and I have talked about it the past two days and today we're watching it in class.

Yeah, I know, way over the line and a highly questionable decision. I considered editing it but I don't want to take things out of context. We've discussed the crude and offensive nature of the episode and I've set up library passes in advance for the kids who don't want to watch it.

Am looking forward to the discussions that follow our viewing.

(No, we're not watching the uncensored version.)

Note: If I get in trouble, I'm blaming Donald. ;)

Donald Peters

Posted on 12/19/13 4:05:40 PM Permalink

where is the like button? Do we get a like button in our new AEE group?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/19/13 5:24:09 PM Permalink

Period 1/2 class is all freshmen. What a epic discussion. Started slowly then quickly built to a fever pitch. From no hands at first to six at a time. Most of the girls were articulate and insightful. Most of the guys were... how do I put this? I guess completely clueless would be close.

The primary point the guys made (over and over) was that girls are just naturally jealous. After yet another calm, impassioned response from a girl, one guy's hand shot up before the others. I pointed and he said, "That was beautiful." The guys around him rolled their eyes but he scored big cred points with the girls (and with me).

Per 3 begins...

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/19/13 1:27:22 AM Permalink

News Flash

Forest has inline shortcodes working—even within quests! He's working on an odd glitch though: When a Store item is claimed within the quest, it triggers the stage points and currency growl message—but no points and currency are actually awarded until the Completion or Mastery button is clicked.

Good News Bad News

The bad? There won't be a Part III of this resource.

The good? Will be revealed tomorrow.

Donald Peters

Posted on 12/19/13 5:00:14 AM Permalink

Mike, I hate it when you make us wait for announcements. I am one that always shakes my presents.

Donald Peters

Posted on 12/18/13 5:52:40 PM Permalink

a new 'pick up' group of D&D is starting one day a week afterschool at the high school after xmas break, even though it will be mostly students, I know most of them and they have said I can play. I have created my character (gnome barbarian) and hope to be able to play. As I have never played a role playing game, I hope it will be a good learning experience.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/18/13 5:10:06 PM Permalink

Hey guys...

Restructuring the site, the game, the class, and my mindset. Returning to a lot of what I used to do.

Feedback on this project/mission format? I want to create a single document that includes everything a teacher in another school, an administrator at my school, parents, and Most importantly students might need to completely understand exactly what I'm teaching them, what they're learning, and how they can assess themselves and get the most out of the project.

Want to write it so that they know EXACTLY what goodies there are to grasp in the project.

PLEASE PUSH BACK AND CRITIQUE! :) With a good format, I can unify everything and make sure that it's all transparent to the players exactly what the gameplay and scoring rules are.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/18/13 5:59:20 PM Permalink

Create a new, original robot guy using the tools you’ve learned- It’s gotta be different from the one in the tutorials.

Reading through, trying to see it as a kid would, my first suggestion would be to provide a link to examples of what constitutes "original" as opposed to slight modifications to the robot in the tutorial.*

I need to do this more often as well to escape the "tweaking" some kids consider equivalent of creating "original" art.

In the Mac Lab, this is know as "painting a stolen car." I make a big production out of protesting aloud, "But officer, it can't be stolen. I repainted it. It's mine now."

*I imagine this info is in the video. Didn't watch it.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/18/13 6:57:51 PM Permalink

I need to do this more often as well to escape the "tweaking" some kids consider equivalent of creating "original" art.


A gallery for each. Making it into the gallery (limit to 10 per project) means huge gold bonus. Awesome input as always, MIke!

Matthew Miller

Posted on 12/19/13 8:01:58 AM Permalink

Hmm, I like this idea. Maybe I'll reserve a spot or two in the gallery for examples of submitted projects that didn't meet the standard of originality, with an equivalent nerf applied if you 'fall' into the gallery for this reason? But I'll be sure to provide other examples of un-original, too, in case these never get filled; I hope they don't, in fact.

Matthew Miller

Posted on 12/18/13 9:45:52 PM Permalink

Try to understand the tools- don’t just follow along. The goal here is to LEARN, not to copy me. You’re going to need to do something original, so think about it. Don’t fall into monkey-see, monkey-do mode. Problem Solving, remember?

I try to make instructions explain the direction to go, rather than the one to avoid. So I would rewrite the third and fourth sentences to something like: You're going to use this to create an original image, so stop the video and try things out, replay, experiment and otherwise use this to LEARN. Then use what you just learned to create something all your own.

Any time I reference a rubric, I try to link to it and the exemplars for later convenience. (you DO have exemplars for your rubrics, right? - )

If the "documentation or journaling" is a super-standard thing in your class, you might want to link to the standard description of it for educators & parents reading this; if not, it may need more elaboration.

One possible way to get completely new drawings while still providing room for creativity would be to ask for a genre: "Make a drawing of something from a farm," perhaps, or "Create a drawing of a robot animal (non-humanoid).“

Annette Whitby

Posted on 12/20/13 1:38:31 AM Permalink

Re: State Standards appearing at the bottom of your site

Hey, Rob, do you have the Web link for the state standards? (not a link for each individual standard but a Web link containing all of the standards)


Matthew Miller

Posted on 12/18/13 1:51:09 PM Permalink

911 comments on this resource. Time to open a new resource? (again!?! ;-)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/18/13 3:29:34 PM Permalink

Love the 911 connection. I'll get Part III rolling sometime today.

Just checked and am amazed that our group has generated almost 2,000 comments and over 30,000 views in the five months since Part I first appeared.

Like Kelly said, this is killer PD. Love getting my daily dose.

Thanks, everyone! You make me a better teacher.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/17/13 3:57:18 PM Permalink

News From the Trenches

Forest: Alright, I finally figured out a way to return the posts instead of echoing them.

Translation: We may have a way to place shortcodes inline. w00t!


Had a random ah-ha while drifting off to sleep after playing Portal 2 last night. Reached over and wrote: Add interactive elements to stages. No idea how that'd work but it felt right. This morning, in the shower after another half-hour of Portal, it came together.

Now this is just preliminary and certainly not the only way interactive elements could be introduced, but what about checks for understanding as our first baby step into this idea?


Since we now have the ability to lock quests and open them via a password, why not offer the option of putting the control into the student's hands as well? As much as I loathe quizzes and tests, I know I'm in the minority.

There was something engaging about solving the puzzle in Portal to unlock the gateway to the next quest. To solve the puzzle, I had to learn—and prove I'd learned by doing it. That's a method I can get behind! As we get more savvy with code maybe we can move in this direction but we certainly can introduce checkboxes and radio buttons as a first step.

When I shared the idea with Spencer (another coder), he said that kids would just click until they got the right answer(s) to unlock the portal (the button). I countered by saying we could use the multiplier to nerf the loot for each wrong attempt. BAM! Hadn't even considered that until I said it.

What do you guys think? Sure seems like we could set this up to further engage students in the learning.

Note: I've only played Portal for a couple of hours. It's absolutely brilliant! Will be diving deeper over winter break. Ahem, as research for Game On, of course. :P

Ryan Hayes

Posted on 12/17/13 4:22:48 PM Permalink

Speaking of Portal . . . Teaching With Portal. Unfortunately, I signed up and never heard back. :(

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/17/13 4:54:16 PM Permalink

"Thank you for your interest in the Portal 2 Puzzle Maker. We will contact you soon!"

I think I got that way back when I first signed up. Maybe the second time will be a charm. Thanks for the reminder, Ryan!

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/17/13 7:17:08 PM Permalink

Forest: Alright, I finally figured out a way to return the posts instead of echoing them.

Translation: We may have a way to place shortcodes inline. w00t!

WOOT!!!! I think there's a whole ton of things that can open up with this happening- I have to try implementing some of my old ideas when I can find my list!!!

First major goodie... Store items in the mastery message! Imagine!!!! Easy way to add bonuses and special items for completing certain quests- even adding bonus XP or Gold!!

Matthew Miller

Posted on 12/18/13 7:53:01 AM Permalink

Re inline shortcodes: Woot! That will be useful in all kinds of scenarios.

Re unlocks, that sounds like a great step. Full unlocks will be excellent and any step in this direction is good.

I hate grades & tests, too. Here's a great article summarizing why, supported with research, and proposing solutions. Great tool for anyone on a journey toward a better system.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/18/13 8:59:29 AM Permalink

Kohn's Article: I began copying lines I wanted to cite in reply but the dang thing is too rich in information, innovation, and inspiration. I second Matthew's suggestion; it's a long read, but worth every minute.

Locking and Cheating: Since this excerpt is especially relevant to the conversations (below) that led to the password-protected lock and to the check for understanding lock (above), I'll paste this one snippet as food for thought:

7. Grades encourage cheating. Again, we can continue to blame and punish all the students who cheat -- or we can look for the structural reasons this keeps happening. Researchers have found that the more students are led to focus on getting good grades, the more likely they are to cheat, even if they themselves regard cheating as wrong (Anderman et al., 1998; Milton et al., 1986; also see "Who's Cheating Whom?").

If you feel your teacher reflex kicking in to disagree, read the article to put the point in context.


Thanks for the jolt of positive energy, Matthew.

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 12/18/13 2:31:56 PM Permalink

In our case, it isn't the grades that are causing cheating since the money they get from clicking all the buttons they see don't result in a bigger or better grade. It's the items in the store that result in the cheating.

And, how come no one spoke against making the Add bar optional? If you're not worried about students abusing that because of your class culture, then why wouldn't you just keep it there? For the record, I kept mine for the whole semester and I've decided that it just caused more trouble and confusion (trying to remember everything is so hard) so I am getting rid of it (especially since we got the controls in the Clipboard).

I am not trying to be confrontational here - this is just the nature of words. Sorry if it sounds that way!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/18/13 4:18:16 PM Permalink

From August 26: I've just begun exploring the latest version of Game On. The ability to toggle the Add Bar on or off is wonderful! (I've turned mine off.)

I don't expect anyone else to remember that. Mine's off and has been since that day (before school started).

Consequences: In the real world, lying, cheating, and stealing are frowned upon. If caught, there's usually a price to pay.

If some of your students are leading a life of crime in your classroom, it's up to you to decide how to handle it.

I tell students up front that cheaters will pay a stiff price because unchecked, they'll ruin the culture of the classroom. If you steal loot, you'll lose privileges, whatever you purchased, and at a minimum, double the loot.

I don't like being a policeman so I make crime extremely undesirable by inflicting severe penalties.

In your classroom, it's your call.

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 12/18/13 4:39:38 PM Permalink

I'm with you and I do the same. But, I also believe in crime prevention programs.


Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/19/13 7:12:51 PM Permalink

Yup. Love that there's cops to call, but I still lock my car.

And in spite of cops and locks (and alarms and jail)... some still choose to steal.

Matt Hensler

Posted on 12/17/13 2:26:14 PM Permalink

Sorry for the simplistic (and assuming already covered) question, but is there an advantage/disadvantage to having the students host their own blogs (they set them up and control them through rather than having them set up and hosted on your own server?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/17/13 2:53:02 PM Permalink

Not simplistic at all, Matt. So long as you admin and parents are cool with it, would work fine.

The primary drawback would be you'd not have admin rights to student blogs. Not a deal killer but sometimes important when a student crosses a line. has some very nice features.

Now you've got me thinking about it for next year.

What does everyone else think?


Edit: Ads. has ads. Hmmm...

Terrence Banks

Posted on 12/17/13 8:20:41 PM Permalink

Hmm...this would prevent freeze ups on our end as well. We won't have to worry about setting up a multi sites either....don't like the ideal of not having admin rights nor being able to use certain plugins or customizations...This might be something to look into though!

Ryan Hayes

Posted on 12/17/13 6:12:43 PM Permalink

This might be an alternative: Weebly Education. I haven't used it, yet. Looks interesting.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/17/13 7:21:44 PM Permalink

Biggest problem is the limitations on files/filesizes/plugins/etc.

For me personally, I want the blog to be it's own valuable investment for the kids. I gave them a good affordable theme, good selection of (what I think are) excellent plugins to start them off in designing functional and beautiful sites for users.

But if you're using it more as a way to just turn in and display work, rather than making it part of the curriculum (marketing and advertising for a designer), any blog should do!!!

EDIT: Edublogs is the world's largest WP install. ;)

Matt Hensler

Posted on 12/18/13 12:44:28 PM Permalink

The plugin issue is my major limitation definitely.
The 3GB limit isn't an issue for web-optimized files for us (they don't come near that limitation during the course of the year).
I also have my students register on my site as users with their Wordpress accounts and then they have full interaction within the site . However, I'm guessing that once the gamification plugin is rolled out, they will already be registered via that method, correct?

Rob, I've followed your site for a while, but I couldn't find much mention of what/how your students are using their blogs. Care to share what you are doing with them and how the implementation of the full version of WordPress is being utilized?

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/18/13 7:08:18 PM Permalink

Here they are.

This is the best part. Loving the blogs. Will never go back to anything else.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/16/13 8:36:55 PM Permalink

GAME ON v1.1.3

Call this one the bug exterminator.

Ezio eliminated a small collection of nagging issues, many which were only affecting new users. Attribute the Clipboard glitch to WordPress' extra 10 pixels of padding in the 3.8 update. If you're not on 3.8, all text fields will be 10 pixels larger than you're used to. If you get a 404 on a quest, just change Settings > Permalink to something different, save, and change back. (You won't hurt anything.)

Seems solid. Successfully tested on three different sites.

Download | Releases

Terrence Banks

Posted on 12/16/13 9:32:28 PM Permalink

My front end stats drop down with the green bar looks fine in the back end but on my front end its all smushed like the CSS is off a few pixels. I switched themes and still the same.

anybody else seeing this? Its after I updated to 3.8 as well.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/16/13 10:05:18 PM Permalink

I'm seeing small but definite differences between pre- and post-3.8 progress bar pulldowns too. The only solution would seem to be to back up everything and move forward, severing ties with older versions of WP.

Really strange that the WP folks have chosen to tweak formatting like this.

I predict we'll fix it just in time for the 3.8.1 update which will undoubtably roll back the formatting changes, rendering our fixes problematic. :)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/17/13 10:15:05 AM Permalink

Terrence, would you (or anyone else for that matter) please post a link to an image displaying this and/or any other glitches you discover?

That would help us in crafting a fix. Thanks!

Terrence Banks

Posted on 12/17/13 5:02:59 PM Permalink

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/17/13 6:01:43 PM Permalink

That's worse than I'm seeing on my test sites. Thanks!

Your progress bar and Infractions (Tardies) aren't green. Has that been missing all along or just with the move to 3.8? (That's potentially more troubling than fixing the padding.)

Terrence Banks

Posted on 12/17/13 8:12:38 PM Permalink

My back end is fine ..see image below.


Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/18/13 7:09:27 PM Permalink

"My back end is fine"

Well, aren't we confident! And an image, too!


Terrence Banks

Posted on 1/20/14 9:05:52 AM Permalink


Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/16/13 12:38:04 PM Permalink

Compatibility Issue with WordPress 3.8

Something about WP 3.8 renders quests 404. Looking into it.

Update: I've verified on two sites that the glitch affects both 1.1.1 and 1.1.2 so I don't think the problem is on our end. Will keep searching.

••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• •••••

Others are experiencing similar problems with different plugins and links. Whew!

UPDATED SOLUTION: Change Permalinks, save, then change back if you want. Confirmed on two sites. Definitely a WordPress issue.*

*Well, probably on their end. Can't say for sure.

••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• •••••

Solution worked. End of panic attack.

Ryan Hayes

Posted on 12/16/13 6:04:13 PM Permalink

I also noticed that it made the Clipboard screwy. At least in Chrome. I can't add/deduct points/minutes/etc. The input boxes are super thin and you can't type in them.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/16/13 6:10:27 PM Permalink

Good catch. We'll fix that ASAP.

Confirmed in Safari with WP 3.8 but text fields are normal in prior versions (I haven't updated the Mac Lab or some other test sites). Again, this sure seems like a WP 3.8 issue.

Ezio and Forest are looking into this, the 404/Permalink glitch, and other weirdness.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/16/13 9:03:48 PM Permalink

It was a 10 pixel addition padding gift via WP 3.8

Fixed via 1.1.3

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/15/13 8:07:33 AM Permalink


We have optional password protection for the Completion and/or Mastery stages. Forest and Ezio really delivered on this one. When locked, the Completion and/or Mastery button is disabled until the password is entered. Once entered, the button automatically becomes functional again. Settings via the New or Edit Quest page.

If that doesn't make sense, create a sample quest. Once you see it, you'll understand.

To quote Forest: What next?

Download | Releases

For the technically inclined, Forest was kind enough to describe a "security hole."

The "Completion" and "Mastery" stages of tasks can be optionally locked with a password (one for each). If the stages are locked, students must provide the correct password in order to continue the quest. When the student enters text into the password field, Javascript is called to check if the entered text is equal to the password for the locked stage. Since we are using AJAX to communicate between Javascript and PHP, we send the text entered into the password field as POST data to the browser, which we can then utilize in our PHP code. Some browsers, like Chrome, have a web developer console built-in which allows users to view POST data being sent or received by the browser. This means that if a student were to open the developer console, they could locate the password being sent. Although we have used the SHA1 method for hashing (obfuscating) the passwords, the hashes are still viewable, which means that students could go to a hash cracking web site, to find out the original password.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/14/13 6:15:57 PM Permalink

AMP (Autonomy Mastery Purpose) in response to Nathan's request

The idea comes straight from Dan Pink who in turn got it (in part) from Deci and Ryan's research that led to their Self-Determination Theory. I was first exposed to the concepts in this video then in Pink's book, Drive.

I read Drive over winter break in 2011 and decided I'd mimic the Atlassian 24 hour "FedEx" day (see Motivation on this page) in the (approx) 24 days we had until the end of the semester (one hour per class per day). Since research demonstrates that paying people enough to take the issue of money off the table is key to getting optimal results, I did just that.

On the first day back, I pitched the kids. I explained the research and the concept. After a short discussion we agreed that grades were the equivalent of money in school so I promised to give everyone an A for the semester's grade if they gave AMP their all and documented the experience.


Students were given the option of working on any project and/or skill-building exercises they wanted so long as it was even remotely related to what we do in the Mac Lab. Those who didn't know what to do were free to use any of my tutorials and/or continue working on the same projects as before. The only additional requirement was they had to document the experience before, during, and after the 24 days to provide anecdotal evidence of the experiment's success (or lack thereof).


The theory holds that when individuals are given autonomy in deciding how to do their jobs, the tendency toward mastery is a natural consequence. Recognition and status replace extrinsic rewards as prime secondary motivators.


(Perhaps the most misunderstood part of the AMP equation.) Our purpose, as I continually tell the students, is to change the course of education in this county. With this experiment, our specific purpose was to prove that students could self-select and self-direct their learning over the course of a month. I promised, as always, to share the results far and wide and I offered to extend the experiment if enough students proved they could handle the challenge.

Remember: The purpose has to be bigger than oneself. If the purpose is simply to make oneself better, it's not AMP. Being part of something larger is the real lever. I can't stress that enough.

Some of the results were shared in this comment. The students that tried and floundered still succeeded in my eyes. They discovered what didn't work. The students who stopped trying (there always seems to be a few despite my best attempts to prod and encourage) did not receive an A. Not one disagreed with me. I saw that as another win.


Discovering that some students didn't like self-direction was enlightening. Discovering that many students deeply resented the slackers surprised me. As I write, however, I'm wondering if it was because we were in fact a team, trying to prove something to the world and the fact that some teammates weren't pulling their weight really bothered some students. I hadn't even considered that angle until right now. I guess they really may have felt part of something bigger than themselves. That's a big takeaway.

The kids who started seeing their world a little differently because of AMP? Epic Win.


Edit: "Since research demonstrates that paying people enough to take the issue of money off the table is key to getting optimal results, I did just that."

That would seem to lend credence to the value of The World's Simplest Rubric. In essence, it takes the issue of money off the table as well. (Just thinking out loud.)

Terrence Banks

Posted on 12/15/13 3:03:54 AM Permalink


Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/15/13 5:13:23 PM Permalink

Just in case the original isn't clear, I copied the following from Drive [and added my own comments in brackets]:

Your best approach is to have already established the conditions of a genuinely motivating environment [classroom culture]. The baseline rewards must be sufficient. That is, the team’s basic compensation must be adequate and fair—particularly compared with people doing similar work for similar organization [take money (grades) off the table]. …And the people on your team must have autonomy [A], they must have ample opportunity to pursue mastery [M], and their daily duties must relate to a larger purpose [P]. If these elements [AMP] are in place, the best strategy is to provide a sense of urgency and significance [e.g., The Western education model is in desperate need of repair, let's show the world a new way it can work.]—and then get out of the talent’s way [be a guide on the side].

Pink, Daniel H. (2011-04-05). Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us (p. 66). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.

Cool! Copying and pasting from the Kindle app on my laptop automatically cites the source. Didn't know that.

Chad Kimmel

Posted on 12/14/13 4:08:26 PM Permalink

Hi Mike, I stumbled across this resource a few months ago and have been following it since. I am impressed with the sites that have been created with the Game On plugin. I am working on my game on site with a local server only our students can access. (My district does not allow us to use any non district server and does not support PHP!) Would it be possible to get temporary access to your site as a student for Ideas? If it is okay with you, I would also like to use a few of your character names (I plan on using Voki to animate and have the characters talk, but love some of the name you came up with).

I have a few questions for all of you as I begin my planning process.
I understand many of you created blogs for your students. How did you set up the student Blog Sites?
How do you enter and keep track of the minutes feature?
Do you have any suggestions about beginning this process?
My school is purchasing for every student to use. Does anyone have any other resources they use to teach digital media (Adobe programs, Digital Design, Photography, Web Development, Apps and Game Design)?

My hope is the district will see how effective this can be and allow me to upload so students have access outside of class. Thank you all for the great ideas and examples you have posted.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/14/13 6:43:59 PM Permalink

Hey Chad,

Welcome to the team! Answers:

Account: Send me an email and I'll set you up with an account.

Blogs: The others are experts at that. Our district IT guru set our student blogs up for me.

Minutes: I put the controls for the students in our Store. Honor system and oversight required.

Beginning: Dive in. We're all learning as we go. Share wins and fails and everyone here will learn and/or help.

Resources: rocks! We just got it too. Rob has videos and so do I (that's my old site). But hey, the AEE is full of great stuff.

Let us know what's working and what's not. Cheers!

Edit: Forgot to say, anything and everything on my site is yours to use.

Matthew Miller

Posted on 12/18/13 1:39:45 PM Permalink


Re minutes: this thread from earlier in the year may help clarify how some use the minutes, followed by this thread about how minutes relate to grades in various classes using this system. I'm still trying to figure out whether I want to track minutes and if so, how. My understanding was improved by those conversations but I wouldn't say no to a more detailed explanation of how and why they're used from the more experienced here (hint, hint, wink ;-).

Suggestion 1: jump in, as Mike said. It has felt a bit like the deep end and drowning as I've started, but has been the best PD I've had for years.

Suggestion 2: Kelly has created a new GameOn manual (open source) in case you missed that post (just prior to yours). I'm planning to review it in detail and help flesh it out as I see any areas I can help expand as I go through the process.

Suggestion 3: start with the bits you feel will most help your class and implement others later as they make sense. (ie: iterate, the way you would with any programming/art/design/etc project)

Suggestion 4: tell your students what you're doing, why, and engage them in the process. Let them know Adobe and other big corps and orgs are watching what is going on here and are very interested in us all.

Suggestion 5: read this comment, followed by this one, and this one, to help spark your thinking about gamification in general. This is the best philosophy lesson I've had since I don't know when. Amazing people on this list!

Suggestion 6: talk here a lot! Share what's going on and what you see in your class. Ask questions. These guys are amazing (oh, I said that already) and as Mike has said elsewhere, you get back more than you give, every time. Your contributions to the conversation will help the whole community.

Ok, off the lecture box, Mr. Miller. Time to go grade papers for a while. ;-)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/18/13 4:42:35 PM Permalink


Great suggestions!

Kelly Kermode

Posted on 12/13/13 3:12:20 PM Permalink

Okay, so here's the rough draft... rough rough draft of a user's guide for GameOn... It is openly public, as I wanted everyone to have access to editing the doc.


:) Happy Friday!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/18/13 4:46:02 PM Permalink

Thanks for getting this rolling, Kelly.

Now that we've gotten a number of glitches covered, I'll jump back on the video end.

Matthew Miller

Posted on 12/19/13 10:55:44 AM Permalink

I started editing at the beginning. Would you look at the intro/history/reqs I wrote and let me know about it?

Mike, especially the history. I think we can flesh it out a bit better, but since I wasn't here at the beginning this is gleaned from what I've found reading through old posts. I'm sure I've missed stuff, especially in the middle where I probably skimmed too much. If there are links we can add to posts, that'd be good, too.

Thanks for the kickstart, Kelly!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/19/13 1:23:36 PM Permalink

Have to get to school. Will check it there.

Thanks for pitching in, Matthew.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 12/13/13 3:11:01 PM Permalink

Does anyone in here have plans to award, honor, or recognize end of semester or year leaders or "winners" of categories in your classes. I am just finishing out the semester and was realizing I need to recognize these students as a culmination to their high levels of dedication.

Any Ideas?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/14/13 3:41:16 PM Permalink

That's soooo obvious, Adam.

How come none of us have thought of that?!


Terrence Banks

Posted on 12/15/13 3:03:16 AM Permalink

I know!!! I'm going to be giving out awards, I am making them right now!

So far I have: Employee of the Semester, Top Dog, Most Improved, Most Creative, Teamwork..I'm thinking of some other ones..based on my game/company.

Kelly Kermode

Posted on 12/12/13 6:38:11 PM Permalink

I have not kept up with this thread in a couple of weeks... and upon returning to these discussions (and after sitting through a half dozen PD sessions in the past few weeks), I have come to truly appreciate this ongoing conversation as the best PD I have experienced this year, maybe longer. I will be enjoying reading up on this thread this evening with a warm cup of coffee... while Michigan remains around 12ºF. Eeek!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/12/13 10:43:54 PM Permalink

Strange but True: The freezer in our garage is warmer than Kelly's front yard.

For me, the Summer Institute is the only PD that compares to the AEE. But the SI is just a week while this place is available 24/7. You guys challenge and push and inspire. Thanks!

Donald Peters

Posted on 12/12/13 6:30:06 PM Permalink

Kelly Kermode

Posted on 12/12/13 6:17:16 PM Permalink

Did not know if you guys saw this post or not, but there are some cool gamification topics demonstrated.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/12/13 4:38:55 PM Permalink

Rob has been pretty ramped up about teaching kids to gamify their lives. I, fulfilling my role as the tunnel-visioned, socially inept sod in the room, initially misinterpreted his aim. Now that I fully understand and embrace his idea, was reminded of an email exchange Dan Pink and I had last year about the importance of AMP (Autonomy, Mastery, and Purpose).

After seeing this video and reading Drive over winter break in 2011 I set up a 24 day experiment to test AMP in the classroom and let Dan know about it in advance. He asked to be kept in the loop.

To take the issue of money off the table (key to the research), I offered the kids an A for the semester's grade (which closed at the end of the month) if they chose to embrace AMP with a will.

Here's a part of the report on results:

Quick update on our AMP (Autonomy Mastery Purpose) experiment in the Mac Lab (our classroom).

January had its share of highs and lows. Some kids embraced self-direction and some floundered. I offered suggestions (on our blog) as to how the lost souls might self-direct but allowed kids to miss the target with no penalty (I'm a long-time believer in the positive power of failure). During finals I spoke with each kid (14 to 18 year olds) individually and asked for their take on the experiment.The vast majority of kids didn't hesitate and said they loved it. (Dissenters either wanted more structure and/or were bothered by the kids who floundered.) Each was also asked if we should continue with AMP (with why or why not).

The most consistently surprising answer to both questions was something along the lines of, "Because I'm finally learning how to use (insert app's name)." It was surprising because I'd already taught (or thought I did) them how to use those apps. In hindsight, this time it was their choice to learn app X and therefore they did. D'oh! However, the really surprising answer a few kids gave was that AMP had changed the way they viewed school and was helping them succeed in other classes too. (Didn't see that coming.)

After finals we had class-wide discussions and the kids unanimously agreed that AMP with optional structure was the way to go the second semester. The level of motivation and engagement is significantly higher than normal right now and this is already a pretty well-know classroom for high levels of student achievement....

Dan's reply:

Thanks for the great update. The reaction to the apps surprised me, too, but after thinking about it, I had at the same forehead-slapping realization that you did.

The notion that AMP changed the way they looked at school, though, evoked a different reaction: It made my day. Thanks for that.

More important, thanks for what you're doing. It's huge.


We all want to guide our students toward success in their lives. Remember to include opportunities for students to enter The Zone of Intrinsic Motivation too (conceived prior to reading Pink).

As we gamify our classrooms, we might be well-served to offer students a helping of AMP while we ponder the implications of ZIM. Additionally, helping them gamify their lives will most definitely lead to changing the way some students view their place in the world.

To quote Rob: Gamify your class, engage them for a period. Teach them to gamify, engage them for their lifetimes.

Note: Evidence of my ineptness may be found in this exchange.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/12/13 5:43:44 PM Permalink

AMP had changed the way they viewed school and was helping them succeed in other classes too. (Didn't see that coming.)

That's the part that I'm missing, and desperately want to follow- for the benefit of the kiddos.

I'm happy to be one of Mike's first followers with the rest of you guys.

Let's help turn this lone nut into the leader of a new revolution. I know this guy- we can trust him, and he's worth following.

And I think the hard awkward part is over. C'mon in, edu-world...the water's fine!!! :)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/12/13 7:04:06 PM Permalink

Hey, we're all co-creators and collaborators not part of a hierarchical organization. :)

Adam Coulson

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

Yeah, but having a leader you trust, value, and believe in is cool too :)

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 12/13/13 1:49:34 AM Permalink

I've been trying to figure out what this AMP thing is for so long - ever since I first saw your blog. I could never find any good descriptions that weren't abstract thoughts, probably fully explained in your class. I think I have a handle on what it is but can you go into details about what the 24-day experiment was so I can get a better idea?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/13/13 1:07:03 PM Permalink

Sorry. Missed this. Will do later today, Nathan.

Answer up there.

Ryan Hayes

Posted on 12/12/13 4:08:19 PM Permalink

Some of my more adventurous students tackled the Epic Mission of learning the gradient mesh tool. Morgan kicked butt with it on his Self Portrait.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/12/13 4:41:00 PM Permalink


Gradient mesh portraits are especially challenging.

Donald Peters

Posted on 12/12/13 4:06:03 AM Permalink

Ok, no matter your opinion on South Park, you need to watch the newest episode called 'The Hobbit.' All about Photoshop and how it affects our view of women.

Clips from this episode will be shown in my classroom for years to come.

I know my students and I will have a great conversation about it tomorrow during class.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/12/13 4:44:12 PM Permalink

I'm a South Park virgin and want my first time to be very special.

Donald, you scoundrel, you may have tempted me beyond my ability to resist.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/12/13 5:56:59 PM Permalink

I'm a South Park virgin and want my first time to be very special.

I just snorted my iced tea all over my fancy new keyboard. Now I have the giggles and the kids are looking at me like I'm nuts. (more so than usual.)

Well played, sir... Well played.

Kelly Kermode

Posted on 12/12/13 6:18:56 PM Permalink

I just had a similar reaction to Rob. LMAO!!!

Too funny. Too funny.

I, myself, will be searching for "The Hobbit" episode after I post this comment. ;)

Kelly Kermode

Posted on 12/12/13 6:23:18 PM Permalink

Okay... so it is not on YouTube... yet...

My students informed me that all episodes can be found on And that is blocked at school.

So, it'll have to wait until tonight.


Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/12/13 8:46:06 PM Permalink

DONALD! That was inappropriate, crass, offensive, and... hilarious.

No matter how low I turned the volume, kids in the far corners of the room were still keyed in to every word. I final gave up and just played it out loud. The ending was remarkably poignant.

Am going to watch it again at home and try to figure how to edit for students. Is the show always that clever?

Am basking in post-vidoital bliss.

Mission accomplished, big guy.

Donald Peters

Posted on 12/13/13 3:16:18 AM Permalink

Unfortunately it is not always that clever. That episode was pretty much the only one that was watchable from this season.

My wife and I have been fans from the beginning and own 15 of the 17 seasons on DVD. My wife can name 30+ characters first AND last names (as some of them are only said once in one episode over 17 seasons...)

Every one has different favorites but probably their best work is the 'Imaginationland' trilogy.. but if you thought 'The Hobbit' was offensive, then you should probably just leave it at that one episode. =P

I came to a sobering thought yesterday. My high school students live in a world where South Park has always existed.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/15/13 5:03:56 AM Permalink

I've never been so saddened by Photoshopped images. Looks like the South Park writers were right on.

Also had some girls touching up each other's pics on Friday and my reaction was pure and simple revulsion (though I didn't show it outwardly). Man, I've got some serious thinking to do about how to approach this topic.

Pretty damn impactful episode, Donald. Thanks for the push.

Donald Peters

Posted on 12/11/13 2:24:39 PM Permalink

As I look ahead to using this in my Art 2 class (and hopefully Art 1 as well) next semester, I'm looking at whole new angles to this...

One of the things I am leaning toward heavily is having certain 'quests' only available as an in store 'purchase.'

Example: Comic books now often come with a 'blank cover variant' with only the title. (example)

I'm thinking some of my students would LOVE to draw their own cover on an actual comic, BUT as I would have to go and actually BUY these for my students to have (at an average of $3 each), and I have 30 students scheduled to be in Art 2, that would be $90 and I know from experience that not all of my students would WANT to do this assignment, better to buy 10 and have it as a buyable 'quest'.

Is there a way to set that up? Maybe have it on a separate hidden post and the only link to it is in the store?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/11/13 6:56:52 PM Permalink

If you're selling the blank cover comics to individual students for virtual currency via the store, you'd have a receipt in the store item (via the student's account) and in the student's Stats (via the Clipboard).

If you want to plant a URL to a hidden quest, you can do that via a text field in the New Store Item page.

Would that work?

Donald Peters

Posted on 12/12/13 4:07:00 AM Permalink

The URL is definitely what I want as I want them to have a whole PBL that they can only access through purchasing it.

I want to do one on Comic books and one on altering dollar store 'barbies' and both of those will cost extra funds on my end to the point that I don't want it to be a 'freely available' quest.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/9/13 3:05:52 PM Permalink

Gamification article focused on "user types." Worth a look.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 12/9/13 8:10:49 PM Permalink

Has anybody ever tried to address these "user types" in their classroom setting? I love the concept and see the user types in every class. Finding application sounds REALLY tough but applicable.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/9/13 11:46:44 PM Permalink

Matthew Miller

Posted on 12/18/13 1:03:33 PM Permalink

I'm currently building my GameOn classes for next year - working on putting these types into my planning so I address all 4 (6? :-) in the structure of the class. Having a multi-path structure addresses the Free Spirit part. Game On itself addresses the player modality, and the Achiever. I'm currently thinking the Socializer needs to be built into the classroom interaction rather than on the site, both because it's easier to build there and because I want the interactions in class, in the face-to-face environment, where there is so much more communication bandwidth. Finally, the new conversations over the past couple weeks here about adding locking levels & allowing students the achievement of being advanced enough or powerful enough to unlock/approve/etc builds in the Philanthropist. The disruptor modality needs to be dealt with individually, for reasons well outlined in that article (love that, Mike, thanks so much!)

[I literally quivered with delight when I read the initial comments about unlocking/approving etc because I saw this, faintly. So exciting!]

I'd welcome further conversation about this; this is an aspect I really want to build in from the beginning.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/9/13 10:01:59 AM Permalink


The Undo Button was far more complicated than we ever imagined but Forest and Ezio managed to solve the myriad unforeseen problems that arose. We've tested it on multiple installs and it seems solid. It even works on old quests.

The only glitch I can find is in the multiplier. With the buff active, undoing the stages and then clicking through Accept, Complete, and Mastery again results in one extra XP and one extra Gold credited to the account. (It's missed during the subtraction phase.) Not really a big deal but worth resolving in a future update.

For now, it's been tested on four different sites with no adverse effects.


We've also started a release archive. Thanks to Rob for pointing us to it.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/8/13 7:15:14 PM Permalink

In a video game, a player receives immediate feedback on every shot, gesture, or movement. He constantly learns from his mistakes or he does't get to the next level.

The pinball machine in my head started dinging and flashing as ideas bounced back and forth after reading that in Play at Work. The chapter began with one physician's story of how she began building simulations for physicians before moving to another character, the chief surgeon of Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, who spoke about continuing training and correcting mistakes:

If you play the game the same way every time, without ever criticizing how you play the game, you're never going to reach the highest level.

I grabbed the pad next to the bed and scribbled notes.

Previously Planned: We've been working on implementing a marketplace for student to student transactions. One idea is to create a Store item with three text fields: Amount (gold), Player (displayname), and Reason (for Stats tracking). The displayname actually calls the player ID so it doesn't matter if the player changes the displayname later.

The goal is to create an economy in the lab within which students could buy and sell services and/or resources from one another. Implemented correctly, this could evolve into something special.

Background: I've been lamenting all of the things I could have done better from the start—and planning how to fix problems next year. When I read those lines (at the top of this comment) a new idea emerged (probably also due to recent interactions with @mrmatera and @alicekeeler). I still believe in the value of self-assessment but we need another layer of built-in accountability.

Idea: What if there was an optional setting for quests—one that required confirmation and tracked who confirmed it and when—in order to complete and/or master quests?

Right now I have quite a few quests that require the Boss' approval to move on but it's just written into the quest. In the frenetic self-paced learning environments we're building, oversight becomes hyper-challenging. We could use an additional accountability tool.

The real exciting part of the idea is to provide our best and brightest an opportunity to earn an achievement that would enable them to approve completion on specific types of quests. We'd need a text field for the approver's displayname (leveraging the same mechanism as in the student marketplace) and code to check for the achievement but both of those are doable. Status and recognition for the achievement would tap known intrinsic motivational triggers and loot-buffs and/or nerfs would provide a little extra incentive.

The idea should strengthen student-centered learning and accountability, create more opportunities for peer mentoring, and place a stronger emphasis on authentic self-assessment.

Yes? No?

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 12/9/13 12:19:15 PM Permalink

The thing about real video games is that there is a really effective accountability measure that makes it almost impossible to get a reward you haven't done the work to achieve and that's the code. It's impossible without a hack or a cheat to get all the stars in Super Mario 3D World unless you go to each level and actually do the hard work to collect them. You don't have run it by anyone once you collect them, the code recognizes your work and gives it to you immediately.

The difference in our game is that the work the players do has no code check on it. Our code can't really check for achievement because the "game master" is looking for something way deeper than killing an enemy or collecting an item.. But, we can add a stand in for code that COULD check it which would be US (or a designated person like another student - which, again, scares me but I understand the point behind the idea)! I've always thought an accountability measure would make Game On even better than the best thing ever because with the amount of students we have in each of our classes it is IMPOSSIBLE to remember what each and every student is doing. I've had a number of students just hit the buttons to get a bunch of money and then purchase restroom passes or whatever. I can't tell what's going on because if I look at their amounts and purchases it all adds up but to be SURE I would have to match up everything they've done to the work they've posted (or in my case, sent to me). So basically they used a cheat device (or a hack) to get the rewards in my game.

This is why we need this feature. At the least, we need to be able to let the teacher approve the reward system because, like I said, unless a player has a cheat or a hack, it's impossible for them to get a reward that they didn't earn. Our game practically encourages it! Let's change that!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/9/13 2:32:48 PM Permalink

Y'know, Nathan, the best method for cheat-proofing the system is two-fold:

  1. Instill a Code of Honor (and make it part of the classroom culture)
  2. Enforce the Rules Fairly and Consistently (and make cheating hurt)

Even with the approval system, there's really nothing else to prevent a student from "forging" approval. Well, unless the approval moved to the back-end of Game On and that would void the potential for using this in creative ways.

For instance, in the shower this morning the idea played out in a flash. What about a thumbs up or down approval system that would allow for nerfs or buffs during checks for understanding? Students would quickly come to understand that asking for approval of sub-standard work simply siphons gold from their account.

Imagine kids asking one another if their work was up to classroom standards. Good self-assessment and peer-assessment practice.

Of course this will be tricky to implement but potentially a fun and useful addition to Game On.

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 12/9/13 3:14:15 PM Permalink

I disagree. The best method for cheat-proofing is to take away the option for cheating! I think those two things you mentioned will help to curb cheating and bring the rate down but it doesn't cheat-proof it. Adding an approval system helps teachers be able to manage the large amount of students we have. And, I think it's a good idea to put in a system that lets us "regulate" our economy! :)

I mean, if we're talking in terms of true gaming and making this like a game, it doesn't take anything away from it by putting in a measure to stop people from cheating. Heck, World of Warcraft does this kind of thing all the time with their Auction House and with Gold Farmers.

And, since I know you love making everything as customizable as possible you could probably put in an option to make approval optional, right?

I know that we all value self-assessment and peer-assessment but putting an approval system in place doesn't stop that. It just stops the students from thieving. The students will still write their blog entries and make their case for understanding but there isn't a game out there that just rewards you because you think you killed the enemy (or because you were lazy and just said you did). You still have to kill the enemy!!

Retail stores will often have a policeman at the front entrance to stop people from stealing. It doesn't stop everyone from stealing but it does put a damper on the temptation for some people. The store can try to build a culture of being honest and not stealing but for some people it's impossible - the temptation is just too high. I would prefer to stop those students from acting on the temptation so that I can focus on other parts of their character. I just don't see the harm in having a feature that adds some automatic accountability. We added an Undo button for mistakes so why not have something for intentional mistakes?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/9/13 3:43:08 PM Permalink

If you want it cheat-proof, it has to be on the admin side. Will try to figure out how to manage this—possibly via the Stats page.

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 12/9/13 6:59:31 PM Permalink

Could it work the way the Comment approval system works? It sends me an email saying a comment needs to be approved (or a mastery).

Adam Coulson

Posted on 12/9/13 8:08:38 PM Permalink

I like the idea of utilizing the comment type approval. Would there be anyway to require a "password" for approval. The teacher and certain high ranking students could have the password that allows for mastery to be clicked...or you could allow the entire class to have the password...or just higher level classes to have the password. We could still require the name of the approver aside from the teacher to still push student for peer reflection and evaluation.

I am on board with having the option/ability to have greater or complete control over at least some quests. I haven't had a problem yet but I think this would take one thing to be concerned with off our plate.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/9/13 7:53:50 PM Permalink

Since we wanted to build a notification system into Game On, this will be a good first step. The emails could serve as a paper trail for accountability but would like to store the data in Stats too.

Spencer, our newest coder, just got his first assignment.

Ezio is working on the locking/approval mechanism. We discussed it at length earlier.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/9/13 10:47:14 PM Permalink

Adam, Ezio and I talked about strategies for both front and back-end approval. He's going to discuss strategies with Forest (Semar is focused on acing his finals right now).

KEY: If it's on the front end, an automated email could solve the cheating angle as we'd have date and time stamps on the approval—as well as the approver's ID. Hard to beat that evidence.

Nathan, would that satisfy your requirements?

Adam Coulson

Posted on 12/9/13 11:04:28 PM Permalink

Wouldn't this make for thousands of emails that would have to be individually managed? It would definitely be sound evidence when cheating occured but would it prevent cheating or simply be a way of fear of the teacher having info if they wanted to research and use it.

The data in stats page would be essential for me to use because of ease of access and reference. I would still love an optional lock on mastery someday. I view Completion as the possible self-assessment stage but I want to strictly enforce the level of expectation for mastery. I feel I have lost some of my high expectations as I have implemented the game.

Autonomy and individual high expectation enforcement don't seem to dance well for me yet.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/9/13 11:21:12 PM Permalink

It would if you required approval for every single quest.

Any teacher who wants to micromanage the classroom to that degree deserves the spam (IMO).

It might be better to find a happy medium that promotes student autonomy while requiring a reasonable level of accountability.

Or, we could have a toggle to ditch the email for certain quests and leave the info embedded in the Stats.

Just Thinking Out Loud.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 12/10/13 4:31:36 AM Permalink

Certainly wouldn't want to require approval for everything. That would be suicide. If its an option for quests I suppose that wouldn't be that over-whelming and much easier to track.

The Toggle idea sounds Ideal.

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 12/10/13 12:13:45 PM Permalink

I would only want the email sent for Mastery. If they want to hit the Complete button because they have, in fact, completed the task that's fine. But, to show mastery I would prefer that there is an approval of some sort there. I already have the students email me for mastery anyways (as opposed to writing it on a blog) so I get those emails. It's really easy to manage an email inbox this way.

Matthew Miller

Posted on 12/18/13 11:47:53 AM Permalink

I disagree. Trying to make it cheatproof is a red herring to a rabbit hole of endless one-upmanship. History shows repeatedly that prohibition doesn't only looks like it does...for a while. No matter that the prohibition is supported by _will_ be broken at some point.

Far better, IMO, though admittedly substantially harder, to build a _culture_ of honesty. The culture will follow the students out of your classroom, will become part of them. The tech never can.

[Note: this is an argument against what I perceived as the mindset in the initial statement, NOT an argument against implementing the system described. ]

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 12/18/13 12:51:24 PM Permalink

I've been playing video games since Carnival and Combat on the Atari 2600. Back then, there were no cheat codes or hacks - you just had to play the game straight up. When the Nintendo came around and things like the Konami code became reality it started to change how I played video games. I started to play them as well as I could and if there was something I couldn't do, I would scour the pages of Nintendo Power looking for cheat codes to give me that advantage. Eventually came the Game Genie and all bets were off. You didn't need to be good at games anymore. You could just get a Game Genie code and beef up your character or have all the items right from the start. That completely changed my gaming habits from someone who really valued a challenge to someone who was just trying to get to the end. To this day, if I know there is an easy way to level up a character or a bug that lets you get a million gold right away I will exploit that to the fullest. But, if there isn't a way to do it, and I like the game, I will play it until I don't need a cheat code!

What does that say about my honesty? Nothing because a game is a game. I don't go around in life trying to find cheat codes in my pay scale or in my marriage.

The point is, just because we have a way to block a cheater in our game doesn't mean we take away the opportunities to build a culture of honesty. The students still have to do the work! But, we can get them to be honest about all kinds of other things in life and in our classroom.

As far as I'm concerned, Game On! is just the tool to get them even a little bit interested about something they were forced to take (my classes aren't so much electives as they are dumping grounds). The real stuff is what happens outside of the computer. I'd just like to take away the opportunity to make those bad choices.

To sum it all up: take away the Konami code and you have a nation of WAY better Contra players.*

*To those who have no idea what I'm talking about - Contra was a game released by Konami for the original Nintendo that was pretty hard to beat. I can't remember exactly how many lives you were given but it seemed tiny due to the challenge of the game. At some point, someone figured out that there was a series up controller inputs you could, well, input at the beginning of the game that gave you 30 extra lives. All of the sudden everyone is beating Contra left and right (or at the least, getting to that last level). The funny thing is, the last level is hard enough that by the time you get to the last boss you aren't really all that good because you didn't take the time to learn the techniques of saving lives from the beginning of the game (having 30 guys actually makes you think less about losing them all together)!

Amusingly, I've since played the game as an adult on occasion and I've been able get to the last boss without dying so what was I worried about anyways? I wonder how quick I would have gotten to that point as a child if I didn't know about the cheat code? I just assumed you needed it and always used it.

Annette Whitby

Posted on 12/11/13 12:43:33 AM Permalink

Reply back to Mike, Nathan, and Adam

Great discussion here. I have a question regarding the brainstorming of an "approval" method for some of the Mastery items. Are your students accessing the game only during class time (the particular time frame your course is scheduled M-F)?

I'm online so the students' "class time" can occur 24/7 Monday - Sunday for each unit. Just thinking aloud about what this would look like in an online scenario . . .


Nathan Scherer

Posted on 12/11/13 2:49:16 AM Permalink

My students don't have the Adobe software at home because, of course, it's way too expensive. So, they can't really do any of the work at home.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/11/13 5:32:27 AM Permalink

Since some of my quests don't require Adobe software, students can and do access the site at all hours of the day. I can envision Mastery approval requests occurring around the clock.

It would seem important to anticipate this and always have other quests in the queue so students aren't frozen, waiting for approval in order to move on (a real danger if all of your quests are presented in a linear fashion).

Does that make sense, Annette?

Annette Whitby

Posted on 12/11/13 6:28:16 PM Permalink

Ahhhh, yes, that makes sense, Mike. Reading this week's discussion has alerted me to potential problem areas - I have a tendency to be linear. : 0 )

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/11/13 7:51:01 PM Permalink

Don't we all? :)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/9/13 10:56:02 PM Permalink

Ezio and I also discussed inserting an admin override for individual quests.

Potential Method: Admin accesses student's Stats via Clipboard and a mechanism (checkbox?) would allow Admin to delete quest(s) in question.

This could easily trigger an automated email to the student. More ideally, it would trigger an in-game message. (Haven't worked that one out yet.)

In-game messages would really seem to be useful. Have to work on those...

Adam Coulson

Posted on 12/10/13 4:31:32 AM Permalink

YES! I don't know that I would use it much but it would be both a great tool for management and penalty.

I think the in-game messaging could take our game to a new level. That would be a huge step someday??

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 12/10/13 12:14:46 PM Permalink

That's a great idea!

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/10/13 8:43:55 PM Permalink

The built in password protection doesn't work on missions. Dunno why, but assume that the missions themselves may be appearing above the wordpress loop. (same thing that bumps store to the top of the page).

That sure would be a neat bug to squish- especially if connected. Wonder if that will enable passwords on pages (when editing, on right above publish in the "visibility" section.)

Could that be a way kids need teacher approval for moving on?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/10/13 9:03:53 PM Permalink

Not sure I'm understanding.

We made all quests visible when logged out (you were one of those who requested that feature). Is that what you mean?

If I'm not understanding, please explain again.


Edit: Hey, Mastery is showing. That was supposed to be hidden.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/11/13 2:23:05 PM Permalink

Thinking about how to add the accountability piece. Might already be in WP if we can get passwords to work.

Don't need the accountability piece if there's an access piece. I can ensure accountability by RECORDING actions or by RESTRICTING actions. (restricting is Nathan's piece of taking away the option to cheat).

If the goal is to hold the kids accountable and see that they have, in fact, mastered a project before claiming mastery- you could simply require a password for mastery. They can't access the mastery button without the mastery password.

This password could be universal if the teacher wants to manage it all by hand- or individual for each project if they want to share the burden of accountability with the kids.

I like this idea- because it forces me to be more involved. I need to have them check with me before moving forward. Not for me to micromanage, but for me to have built in "progress checks" and encouragement. With many of the successful kids who never have questions, I hardly ever see them. This would force me to engage more at specified levels.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/11/13 2:49:12 PM Permalink

Oh, now I see what you're saying. Good idea.

I'll pass this along to Ezio when he comes in. Or... this might be a good challenge for Spencer (new coder helping two girls boost their skills).

Yeah, the latter is more fun. I'll make it an epic quest for the three of them. Thanks!

And if an admin wants to maintain full control, he/she can type the password across the network using whatever classroom management software he/she's using (so no one can see the keystrokes).

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 12/11/13 3:19:31 PM Permalink

The only way this absolutely restricts cheating is if I type in the password myself like Mike said. But, the other way - where the teacher clicks on Approve (like you do with comment approval) would have the same effect.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/11/13 8:04:44 PM Permalink

Ezio's working on a slick solution:

  • Locking option (checkbox) for Completion and/or Mastery
  • Password field for locked stage(s)
  • Locking disables the button (and fades its appearance)
  • Password field to right of buttons (Boss approval required.)*
  • Upon typing correct password, the button automatically activates (appearance changes and password field clears)**

*Dynamically pulls admin displayname for informational text.
**Or better yet, disappears.
We'll work on the notification system later. For now the kid just raises hand or yells at you. ;)

Adam Coulson

Posted on 12/11/13 10:34:26 PM Permalink

Oooo, I think that sounds sweet. I could just give the code to trusted students or give the code to authorized high ranking students. Of course I could withhold myself as well when needed. I like the option though as you said mike, I would need to use it carefully, not in a micromanagement style. With beginners though I can more intently establish my high expectations!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/7/13 12:02:36 PM Permalink

What do kids do on a Friday night?

We may have an update later today but I just wanted to share this first as it's the kind of spirit I had hoped to engender in our coding team.

Forest wrote:

Hey Skocko, Ezio and I just fixed the undo button problem. The undo button now properly removes points, repeat counts, and the page status. It is working just like we wanted it to with the repeat cycle. A player can hit the repeat button 3 times, for example, and then undo it 3 times and then status will change when all 3 sets of points have been removed.

I noticed that I was getting an error where one of the javascript functions were not being recognized, and one of the php statements were not echoing information properly; however, all the other php code and js scripts were working. I have no idea why it happened, but it only happened when I first encountered a task. It didn't seem like Ezio was having the same problem, so it is possible that it was because of how I have been manually removing rows from my local database.

Anyway, I made the commit to my repo, but I haven't made a pull request yet. I was going to try and find an answer to the php error first. It will be one of the things that I can work on in the Mac Lab.

Have a nice night Skocko, I’ll see you tomorrow.

Edit: "Tomorrow" refers to Mac Lab Saturday School. I open the lab from 6:00 to noon twice a month. It's 5:49 right now and I'm surprised the phone hasn't rang yet as there's almost always an early bird or two. Edit 2: The first two showed up at 6:02.

Forest is a Mac Lab veteran currently in his first year at a local community college. He continued following our progress after he left and earlier this year told me he wanted to contribute. The spiffy animations added recently to the quest stages are Forest's work. The undo feature will animate backwards.

Ezio is a Junior attending a local middle college (do they have these in your area too?). He came to the Mac Lab last year when he needed a professional internship as a sophomore at a local Big Picture school and decided he wanted to add two hours a day in the Mac Lab into his coursework this year.

Issac, a freshman, isn't currently enrolled in any Mac Lab classes. He dropped in when her heard about what we were doing and asked to be a part of the Game On team. In his spare time he coded the Infraction system and is looking for a new challenge.

Semar, whom many of you already know about, is also in his first year of college. Once finals end (in two weeks) he's got six weeks off and has his own plans for taking the plugin where no plugin has gone before. He's got a district ID card and is an official adult volunteer in the Mac Lab. When I thank him he often reminds me, and rightly so, "Hey, this is my baby too."

The kids in my classes? There's a growing number of students—many of them freshmen and sophomores—working toward joining the coding team. A dozen or so give every indication that they're serious and work diligently each day learning from Codecademy and Semar has given several of the more advanced students challenges to test their abilities before giving me the thumbs up.

Why am I telling you this?

Because you are also part of the team. If you're using Game On in the classroom, you and your students are helping in very real ways. Your feedback, critiques, suggestions, enthusiasm, and yes, even your pain—especially your pain—help me stay focused and driven. (Sorry for causing the pain part.)

I hope you share the importance of what you're doing with your students. Let them know they're part of something that's literally never been done before. We—you, me, and all of our students—are inventing a tool to help teachers make learning fun again. And as some of you have attested, to make teaching fun again too.

It's a team effort. Sometimes we soar. Sometimes we crash. Failure, as you well know, is part of the learning process. A part we often neglect to honor in the classroom.

Matthew Miller, new to the Game On party, shared this with me. Read it. It's short and it's about you. Share it with your students. It can be about them too.

Thanks for being an important part of the team. Keep dancing on the beach.


And to you lurkers out there. What are you waiting for?

Annette Whitby

Posted on 12/7/13 6:00:31 PM Permalink

Semar, whom many of you already know about, is also in his first year of college. Once finals end (in two weeks) he's got six weeks off and has his own plans for taking the plugin where no plugin has gone before. ~Mike

haha Mike, I almost jumped out of my seat with excitement! For real! haha

I am so looking forward to the upcoming break which means more time to explore the newest features of the plugin. It's awesome to see the students (current and former) so engaged! You all are a big help to us "coding challenged" instructors!



Terrence Banks

Posted on 12/7/13 6:12:44 PM Permalink

Man, I really have a strong respect and appreciation for what you and the guys are doing for the world of education. I am tremendously grateful for your guys dedication and inventiveness! The pain part is what makes us stronger, I never look at the set backs as something to gripe about.

A huge part of my teaching is based off what you guys have done and continue to do.

Thanks you guys!!!!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/6/13 9:53:52 PM Permalink

So, a teacher writes, How can we make sure that the kids see that the game is just gamifying real, standard learning? and my first impulse is to say something like Why in the world does that matter? all the while thinking, Is there a more effective way to take the fun out of the game?

But I respect this teacher so I decided to think about it instead of writing back immediately. Before moving on, I'm wondering, What's your gut reaction?

Yeah, you. What do you think?


My iPad is filling up with a lot of books on gamification. I'm reading Play at Work right now (by the guy in this article). The current chapter is about a growing number of physical therapists using the Wii as a therapeutic device. One of the therapists explained it something like, If I ask a patient to balance on one foot for 30 seconds, it's boring. If they have to do it to progress to the next stage of the game on the Wii, it's fun.

The therapist doesn't just say, Here's a Wii. Play for 30 minutes. She chooses specific games that will best serve the patient's needs. The reason therapists are turning to the Wii is that patients follow through in greater numbers than with traditional methods.

The same is true for all successfully implemented gamification systems. If the outcomes were not overwhelmingly positive, the movement would have died on the vine instead of flourishing.

We need to continue to research best practices in gamification and implement them in delivering our own authentic, standards-based curriculum via Game On's mechanics—our own version of the therapists' Wii.

But the question remains, Is it important for the kids to see the man behind the curtain?


EDIT: Since this conversation seems to be taking place via email at present, I should add publicly that after the initial six weeks of school, we discussed the game mechanics in class and I asked (and continue to ask) the students for help in refining the system. They know how games work but they don't necessarily know why they work. That's all part of the ongoing discussion.

I was just looking to provoke discussion by revealing my own gut reaction. Didn't mean to offend.

Just to be clear, I think the revealing the secrets of the game are essential to its development. I just don't think they should be revealed at the onset.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/10/13 2:23:32 PM Permalink

For me, Having the kids KNOW that gamification is just gamifying real learning is the ONLY thing that matters. It's the secret to the whole thing. I fear that we could be doing a major disservice otherwise.

For me, I read McGonigal, Pink, etc, and it's about changing MINDSET, not reality. If we present things as games to kids.. how will they be able to learn to enjoy their english 101 class more in college where the teacher DOESN'T gamify?

For me, gamification is not at all about making my class more fun. It's about showing the kids that when something is hard, it should be seen as fun! Hard does NOT equal bad. And easy does NOT equal good. It's the very opposite. You can make anything fun- it doesn't have to be a game. Gamification is a mindset, IMO.

For me, the whole point if gamifying is teaching the kids that shifting your mindset can turn a "boring class" into a fun one. The TEACHER doesn't have to make it fun by adding a digital interface to it. That's just lipstick on a pig. Adding XP and gold and all that will backfire if it's not about RAMP (loved the link Mike gave elsewhere I'm too lazy to find. Relationships are critical.)

The biggest thing I'm struggling with when it comes to gamification is the same thing I struggle with in ALL my teaching: If I give it to them- if they have no ownership and I just do the work for them, they won't value it.

I wrote about this over 10 years ago and brainbuffet gets it's name from this reflection... I fear I might have lost my way. I reflect and think I was a much better teacher then than now. I feel I tried to make it too easy on myself, so I'm not having any fun and I'm not motivated. What makes a game fun is that it's hard.

One major part in gamification I'm missing is ownership. Ownership of GAMIFICATION as well.

McGonigal in a recent interview said this:

But I think the biggest thing is really just awakening people to the possibility that they have a part to play in making the future, and that they can use whatever talents, and skills, and abilities they have to solve the world’s toughest problems. That is something they can do. They don’t just have to save the world in video games, they can save the real world.

That's what I'm going for... Who gives a rip if I gamify my class and the kids have a blast, but they can't translate that into their chores, their other classes, their own personal goals for developing themselves in the ways they choose??

My goal for gamifying the class isn't making them like my class more... it's about teaching them about gamification and teaching them to use that attitude to enjoy their lives more.

I want it to go beyond my class period- beyond the 4 walls of my classroom.

McGonigal says in the same interview:

"We don’t play games for fun. I mean if there’s something I really, really can’t stand it’s the idea that the greatest gift of games is fun, which it doesn’t seem to me to be true at all. I mean we can have fun doing anything but the great gift of games it’s to stop suffering. And that’s a lot of what my book is about..."

It's not about fun, it's about MEANING. Making learning more fun can tilt the psyche of our students into even more believing that the world should entertain them.

I don't want them to think that for Urgent Optimism, Social Fabric, Blissful Productivity, or Epic Meaning they need to enter a game. I want them to know they just need to enter a mindset.

How do I teach them to be happier, purposed, more engaged PEOPLE, rather than just happier, purposed, more engaged students while in my class?

Bottom Line (Why do I always sum things up this way? I think it's because I ramble. So sorry about that...):

I want my class to teach them to be better, happier, more productive HUMANS with a joy for life. If they never touch an artistic tool or digital design app for the rest of their lives, I don't care. I want to teach them joy, not photoshop.

By the way, the research that most of gamification is built on is Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's research on FLOW. It's the psychology behind gamification- which is what, ultimately, I really care about.

It's all about teaching the kids to be more happy. Making their life more meaningful and a joy to live.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/10/13 2:52:18 PM Permalink

Wow. Well said, Rob. Lots to ponder.

You nailed it with the mindset.

And on that note, if the classroom culture is firmly established, fun and Flow, entertainment and engagement, packaging and performance, method and meaning, and all the rest of the seemingly paired opposites in your premise can be complimentary rather than mutually exclusive terms.

The mindset is the key.

Inspire. Engage. Empower.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/10/13 3:05:36 PM Permalink

"And on that note, if the classroom culture is firmly established, fun and Flow, entertainment and engagement, packaging and performance, method and meaning, and all the rest of the seemingly paired opposites in your premise can be complimentary rather than mutually exclusive terms."

That's definitely where I didn't do a good job. Tried to rush it without established goals/parameters/ideas. Got lost in the mechanics and as a result, lost the heart.

As a result, I have the tyranny of the "or" rather than the beauty of the "and."

Dang it! I turned myself into Tin Man! :)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/10/13 3:31:17 PM Permalink

Hey, I'm certain all of us—myself included—have failed to some degree in implementing our gamified curriculum.

Kinda hard when we're learning how to build the airplane at the same time we're learning to fly it.

Matthew Miller

Posted on 12/18/13 11:32:32 AM Permalink

May I second that "we'll said?" Great fodder for this holiday. This is going to greatly enhance my upcoming presentation on creating course-long games at ASB Unplugged. Thanks, Rob!

Edit: just re-read this while linking for another post up above and wanted to add: PLEASE don't stop rambling! Your rambles have some of the valuable gold in these comments. Keep throwing it out there so we can all benefit from your thoughts; they're worth it!

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/10/13 2:41:27 PM Permalink

Found more gold- Dan Pink has a playlist. Good watching.

The psychology behind gamification is the real secret. Gamification has no value in and of itself. We gotta be sure as educators, "Mind Mentors", we dont' lose sight of the mind.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/10/13 3:21:03 PM Permalink

Haven't seen #4.

100% agreement on helping teachers (including myself) use the tool (Game On) more effectively. But the tool is incomplete.

If you had a magic wand, what functionality would you add* so we could be better mind mentors?

*And how would you use it?

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/10/13 4:28:02 PM Permalink

I think the tool is inconsequential. The most important thing we can give is knowledge.

You've done a ton of research, Mike. I have read a fair amount, too... but less on gamification specifically and more on positive psychology and flow- which seems to be behind gamification.

I think some great videos we could do that shows the WHY we do what we do. The psych behind it. Let it point to the tool (game on) but if they don't have access to the tool in their classrooms, how do we make the classroom gamified in spirit?

They're pressure cleaning our courtyard. One of the workers works from the outside in of each section to create these. This guy understands gamification! He gamified pressure washing a 5 acre courtyard. Can't see them unless you're upstairs. What a treat for him AND for us! All washed away 15 minutes after creation.

Simply the joy of creating. THAT is a gift to give a kid. What if we all learned to do that in all our classes- internet& plugin or not?

Once we have the mindset, the tool will be more valuable and worth the effort to many more who can understand it. It's essentially just a chalkboard that tracks completion... What makes it magical is how we use it. (which I haven't done so well).

EDIT- IMHO, the game on plug is essentially just one of these. Which doesn't diminish it at all.. but if we focus too much on the scoring and presentation mechanics (which is really all the plug does), we lose the best part of gameplay- this. They didn't have a ball, so they bound up some old rags and had a blast!

THOSE kids are my heroes. They know how to gamify!! :) In america, we cry when our soccer ball isn't shiny anymore. That's the catch-22 psychologically with a deeply designed game. It can HIDE that they're learning on a website. If we show it., maybe they can translate it to learning on educational websites without a progress bar?

I dunno. Thinking out loud again. There's a truth paradox here. And if I focus on half the truth, that's all I'll have- a half truth. Trying to wrap my head around it and see the whole thing.

Can't yet.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/10/13 8:57:31 PM Permalink

Once we have the mindset, the tool will be more valuable...

100% agree. We'll keep grinding code and pondering how to define/communicate the mindset.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/10/13 8:43:35 PM Permalink

[Kicking this back out so we have more room.]

Online Gamification = Big Data + Positive Psychology

Rob, there are two pieces to the puzzle. Your focus on positive psychology is admirable and necessary; however, your growing disdain for the other piece of the puzzle is, well, puzzling.

As you state, Game On is a thing. It's simply a mechanism that collects, sorts, and displays data. I absolutely, positively agree that how we make use of the thing is absolutely, positively critical to student success.

McGonigal states, all games share four defining traits: a goal, rules, a feedback system, and voluntary participation.

Game On is our feedback system. We're focused on making this particular feedback system as efficient and effective as possible. We're trying to leverage game mechanics that McGonigal (among others) recommends. We're trying to harvest and display data to better inform all stakeholders—students, teachers, and administrators.

And yes, we're absolutely, positively going to improve the interface along with the features because as you well know, UI design matters. One day Game On will shine, literally and figuratively.

A well-designed feedback system in the hands of an effective, informed educator will be a force multiplier. To stop development because none of us have implemented the current tool using the full gamut of positive psychological strategies is not an option.

We make mistakes. We learn. We fall down. We get up. We crash and burn. We lick our wounds and try again.

Just because we discuss game mechanics and additional features does not mean we reject the underlying psychology behind gamification.

We need both, not one or the other.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/11/13 3:01:27 PM Permalink

"...your growing disdain for the other piece of the puzzle is, well, puzzling"

If I communicated in ANY WAY at all that I felt contempt, suggested that you "stop development," or that you were "reject(ing) the underlying psychology behind gamification"- I completely and utterly failed at communicating my own concerns and my own personal failures (not the game-on plug).

I apologize if it came across that way.

I feel HORRIBLE that my questions about how to expand gamification principles BEYOND my classroom and into the lives of my students came across as rejecting- and even worse the idea to "stop development"- of something that has enriched my own classroom experience for me and my students.

I meant no offense to you or your team, Mike. Please pass on apologies to the team as well if they felt I was expressing disdain also.

I guess I can sum up all of my thoughts by paraphrasing a familiar phrase:

"Gamify your class, engage them for a period. Teach them to gamify, engage them for their lifetimes."

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/11/13 3:10:14 PM Permalink

Ah, 100% my fault for misunderstanding then.

Don't sweat it. Chalk it up to the swirling vagaries of text-based communication compounded by sleep deprivation.

Apologies in return.


These aren't the droids we're looking for.

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 12/6/13 3:40:21 PM Permalink

Has it been said yet that we should have a date recorded for - at the least - purchases from the store? Right now it just lumps them all together so I can do the math to see how much something has been purchased but if I don't keep my own separate log or remember every purchase from every student then I just can't tell if someone is being honest or not.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/6/13 4:21:49 PM Permalink

Semar and I have been talking about an inventory system for the Store akin to the Clipboard. Harvesting the info is rather straight forward but organizing and displaying it in a useful manner is quite another challenge.

Definitely on the radar. Hard to run a Store without a way to track inventory. Just as important is the tracking of individual purchases. We have to know our customers! This data my prove to be very useful for next year's game mechanics.

Bottom Line: Game On records and displays data. The latter is our biggest challenge—far larger than I ever imagined. We're already talking about the next iteration. There may be far more effective ways to leverage the game to collect and display data in ways that simply aren't possible with the current system.

Short Term: We'll discuss how to best display time/date stamps and how quickly we can do that but right now the Undo Button is the fire-breathing dragon in the lab.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/5/13 7:58:12 PM Permalink

looks like 1.1.0 isn't the original 1.1.0. Problem in the new damage system.

We should post TRUE stable versions on the other site in an archive... dunno if github has a way to save snapshots... but all the links of old working versions just download the same current broken one. Anyone have a good copy from a week or so ago? rob at brainbuffet dot com would appreciate if you could send it over! :)

UPDATE: The newest release of Jetpack (2.6.1) has a problem with the plug sometimes. Can't figure out the trigger. but if you're getting multiple instances of the quests in your header and have jetpack installed, try disabling that first and see if that solves the problem.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/5/13 9:25:40 PM Permalink

Try this one.* I didn't trust the million zips I had so I got smart and just downloaded the version off my site. Since I never moved to 1.1.1 (more negligence!) it's clean.

*Changed the link. See below.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/5/13 10:04:37 PM Permalink

That last link was going to put us back in the GitHub syndrome—where all links lead to the most current file. is where it's archived now.

I'll follow that naming convention from this point forward with the archives.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/6/13 3:15:30 PM Permalink

Thanks Mike!!! That did it!

I'm saving this one- and I'll also post it to the site as a backup. Don't know how to grab an older version in github... seems to always download the version being tinkered with.

Is there an archive function in github? I'll post this good copy with the naming convention "" - because otherwise all downloads will still all be called and users won't be able to tell the files apart once downloaded.

I'll also stick in readme.txt files that explain the version number, and link to the resources we have in case someone gets the DL file from one of us or it starts getting shared.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/6/13 5:03:15 PM Permalink

Glad you've escaped Errorland, Rob. Believe me, I felt your pain because it was my fault for not verifying the last update myself.

Mea culpa. Live and learn. Try, try again.

I got on the guys about the readme and they included 1.1.1 details in that bugged update. It's part of the workflow from this point forward and we'll backfill version details and other info later.

No idea if GitHub will allow for version-specific names for the ZIPs. Will look into it.

We've all looked into snagging older versions and have come up empty. Maybe it's right in front of us. Seems like a natural (and necessary) feature to have.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/6/13 5:09:11 PM Permalink

Maybe this does it? Dunno Github much, but seems that it's kind of built in and will even handle tracking revisions?

Sorry if I'm pointing to something obviously not what we're talking about.

Still don't get git. ;)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/6/13 5:27:15 PM Permalink

LOL, Rob. Looks like a winner!

How in the world did we miss that?!

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/6/13 5:05:04 PM Permalink

OOps. Spoke too soon. Problem still exists with the download you posted here and the one you sent personally.

No huge rush, may just disable it. Seems I keep messing something up since it's working on everyone else's install. Feel dumb to be the one out of 100 that keeps having problems. But don't know what I could be doing wrong. :/

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/6/13 5:29:52 PM Permalink

That just looks like a CSS file filed to load. Is that an isolated problem or site-wide? Are the other Game On features working?


Hey, it's working now! What'd you do?

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/6/13 6:23:36 PM Permalink


Game On and Jetpack can't play in the same sandbox together. If you're using one, don't use the other without checking around the site on old missions.

The error didn't even have anything to do with shortcodes (or shortcodes ultimate- which I suspected first).

I've used jetpack for a year with no problems, but I think I accidentally updated it before trying on my test server. (note to self- be careful when updating multiple plugs that you click the right boxes).

So both plugs work fine, but don't play well together- at least on my server.

YMMV. :)

Thanks Mike for your effort to help me solve the problem!

THIS helped, too. :)

Adam Coulson

Posted on 12/6/13 7:38:48 PM Permalink

I haven't updated in a while, I'm still at 1.0.3. So if or when I update should I make sure to turn off the Jetpack plugin?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/6/13 8:10:00 PM Permalink

Just checked and I've got Jetpack off. Never occurred to me to check that.

Adam, the answer would seem to be, yes. If memory serves, we discovered a conflict last year some time with Cube Gold. Forgot all about that.

That conflict, if I remember right, dealt with Publicize and maybe one other feature within the Jetpack bundle. Turning those off fixed it. I can test over the weekend.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/8/13 3:29:23 PM Permalink

I meant to try this on a test server but attempting multitasking and failing as usual.

Activated Jetpack on Mac Lab and... no problems whatsoever. Did you have any of the optional modules on, Rob?

Will test one by one next.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/10/13 5:25:48 PM Permalink

Mike. What version of Jetpack are you using? It only became a problem with the update to 2.6.1 for me.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/10/13 5:35:06 PM Permalink


Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/8/13 3:55:39 PM Permalink


No problems or visual glitches found with both on and I activated every JP feature, even the annoying HoverCards.

Is anyone else using GO + JP without problems?

Adam Coulson

Posted on 12/8/13 4:49:25 PM Permalink

I have always had Jetpack running but haven't updated GO in a while. I will update to newest version from github and keep you posted.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/8/13 6:03:24 PM Permalink

Adam, if anything goes wrong try switching to this version.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/10/13 8:13:19 PM Permalink

Weird. Just reactivated and the problems came back. has them

Weird that it's inconsistent (not every mission) and weird that it's not happening to other peeps.

I'll start playing with components and see what triggers it.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/10/13 8:30:44 PM Permalink

Turned off everything I could in jetpack and it's still there. Deactivate jetpack and it works again.

No ideas left. Bye, jetpack!

I wasn't using it too much anyway- mainly for stats.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/5/13 7:47:06 PM Permalink

I'm having major problems. first a display error showing multiple instances of the mission in the header (can't remember version number). Then rolled back to version listed here and it's giving errors in the plug. These errors.

tips? I'm on 1.1.0 now and it's giving the errors.

UPDATE: The newest release of Jetpack (2.6.1) has a problem with the plug sometimes. Can't figure out the trigger. but if you're getting multiple instances of the quests in your header and have jetpack installed, try disabling that first and see if that solves the problem.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/5/13 7:57:22 PM Permalink

Odd. Those are 1.1.1 errors.

Do the deactivate dance* and download a fresh version just to be certain. That should resolve the issue.


*To any lurkers/newbies who may be wondering, that's Plugins > Deactivate, Delete, Yes, I'm sure, Download, Upload, Activate.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/5/13 8:32:50 PM Permalink

Yeah. Just got the newest download from github. Download grabs one with that error.

I dunno how github works, but might be good idea to upload working copies to the gamifymyclass website (or anywhere that seems appropriate) and give them different names based on the version number?? Since they're always, it's hard to tell what download is what.


This way, we can always roll back to a specific installer file itself, rather than the github version (which I think can be saved over). and we'll have a repository of the changes/evolution of the plug. might be cool for kids to study when they're coming up the ranks as programmers.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/5/13 8:53:08 PM Permalink

I don't doubt the possibility that the current 1.1.0 somehow differs but I just did the dance on a test site with no error and we have a brand new user who's using this version too.

She had 1.1.1 and its errors, did the deactivate dance and the problems were resolved—just as they were on two different test servers in here.

I'll search my laptop next for an original 1.1.0 zip.

Archiving versions is not only necessary but my failure to do so verges on negligence. Great idea.


Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/6/13 3:28:55 PM Permalink

She had 1.1.1 and its errors, did the deactivate dance and the problems were resolved—just as they were on two different test servers in here.

I have no idea what I did wrong then. My habit has been to download to my desktop, install, and delete from desktop. Yesterday I did that twice, and then into a new folder called "DANGIT" to be sure I was uploading a new version, and it still was showing the error.

I wonder if the district is doing some kind of caching going on? Maybe I was downloading a cached version or the site was being cached... I dunno.

Seems I often am having probs nobody else does. I must be especially dense. :/

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/6/13 4:35:44 PM Permalink

Hey, if there's one immutable fact we've learned through this 2.5 year journey it's that Tech Happens—and it happens in inexplicably mysterious ways.

It's 100% believable that you followed the exact same steps and wound up with a different result.

Dense?! No way, Schwartz! :)

Adam Coulson

Posted on 12/6/13 8:11:33 PM Permalink

If Rob is "dense" I'm scared to think what I might be!!?

Donald Peters

Posted on 12/5/13 1:46:35 PM Permalink

I've decided that when I 'attempt' to implement this into a basic Art 1 and an Art 2 class next semester that I am adding a 'weekly progress' grade point.

My slackers this semester are just really frustrating me. By making them accountable to show what they have (or have not) accomplished each week I hope to 1) give them extra motivation to actually work and 2) give me extra ammunition when determining grades.

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 12/5/13 2:46:37 PM Permalink

I had so much trouble with this (probably due to my own deficiencies) that I have the students write me a daily progress email. They have to send me an email every day describing what they did for the day (I always remember my project managers back in the business world having to account for their daily time) and it's worth ten points. It's easier for me to remember on a day-to-day basis who is working and who's fartin' around. I was doing the weekly grade but I just couldn't remember who was doing what during the week.

Since I am a new teacher I am just building the program right now. My classes aren't in high demand from those who actually choose their electives and so I am filled up with students who are required to take me to graduate. This creates a slacker atmosphere that is completely contagious and hard to manage at times. Luckily, this daily grade has actually whipped people into shape because they can see their progress on a daily basis.

I know that Mike is reading this and seething due to his hatred of grades and I feel him on that. I don't like grades either. But, until I can build my program up to the point where there is a waiting list to get in and I can actually boot students who don't "conform" to the standards I'm stuck with this kind of "motivation."

I am learning so much about how my students respond to all the bells and whistles of the game and where I need to tweak it. I'm convinced that I'll eventually be able to build a culture where the students don't need grades to be motivated but I'm in the middle phase of this whole thing. And, I don't know that there is an endgame because it's always changing but I know there is a place I want to be and I'm still trying to get there!

Donald Peters

Posted on 12/5/13 6:34:39 PM Permalink

Yeah I know Mike is going to be against this, but I have such special circumstances that I can't see any way around this. I can't keep students after class, I can't require students to come in before school or after school or on Saturdays to make up 'minutes.' I can't even have them come during lunch.

Because students know all of the above, some of them take advantage of it.

All I can do is hold them accountable for the time they are actually in my classroom.

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 12/5/13 7:09:50 PM Permalink

I can have them come for my lunch but my dean specifically said to have everything be during school hours. I feel your pain.

Not to mention, if I tried to have a Saturday lab the A/C would be off (we have to put in order to turn it on in the off hours) and in Florida, that would be horrible.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 12/6/13 4:14:12 AM Permalink

Why aren't you guys allowed to have students work before or after school? I had never heard of that before.

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 12/6/13 12:01:01 PM Permalink

If a student can work before or after it's okay but to force a student to do it is where I think the Dean has a problem. I'm not exactly sure why but it might have to do with the fact that we live in a pretty high low income community and it would be hard to coordinate that with working parents?

That's my guess at least. My students HATE having to skip their lunch to make up time so it's just as much of an incentive as having to stay afterwards but it does limit us a little bit.

Donald Peters

Posted on 12/6/13 12:31:37 PM Permalink

I am on a seperate campus from the high school. (CTE and art classes) Students are bussed back and forth to us which takes a 25 minute round trip.

Unless students drive they have no way to get to us before school or after school. We have no cafeteria on our campus so they have to go back to the main campus for lunch.

The + side of this is not only do I have an 85 minute planning every day, but I also have a 25 minute break between each class and a 45 minute student free lunch.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 12/6/13 2:17:16 PM Permalink

Wow those things would make some of my ways of teaching really difficult. Amazing how different every school and situation is. I have only been at one school my whole career and while the district has it problems I have actually had it pretty cushy here. Props to you guys for finding ways to work with what your have and still being pursuing bigger and better!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/5/13 8:05:27 PM Permalink

You guys, I'm not "against" any policy you choose to or have to follow. I understand we all have to play the hands we're dealt. (I can't believe that I seem to have been dealt a straight flush. Sorry!)

Your policy doesn't need to conform to mine. You do the things that work best for you and your students and I'll applaud and support you in any way I can from out here on the west coast.

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 12/5/13 8:28:45 PM Permalink



Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/5/13 10:34:12 PM Permalink


The only other time I was dealt a straight flush was back in college. I showed my hand there too.

Poker's definitely not my game.

Terrence Banks

Posted on 12/6/13 3:47:35 AM Permalink

From the beginning I have incorporated a weekly employe evaluation grade. Its pretty much a check of their blogs to see if they are updated and if mastery is displayed there. I love the tools Game-on brings so I use them but not in the spirit of the game. I use the tools in a quasi mosh posh. Students clock in which I use as a grade weekly. If I the Boss am paying them by the hour, in order to get that money they have to show up to work. So right now the grades are based on weekly blogging which shows evidence of their work and how many minutes that they show up to work. So far its worked fine I have not had any complaints "yet".

I really like the atmosphere of the class, its all business but students have plenty of freedom. The store is still a hit. The weekly "what are you working on blog post" help me a lot. It helps focus the students, providing them with a goal each week.

We actually do a lot of work in the class, but the students don't seem to mind. The students are always busy, and I am always up walking around helping them out. So far so good!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/6/13 12:56:33 PM Permalink

I'd like to be a fly on the wall in your lab, Terrance. From the start it's sounded like a well-oiled machine.

Terrence Banks

Posted on 12/6/13 4:49:54 PM Permalink

lol..far from well oiled but...I think that what I have is working with the students. I could also be I see that they have bought into it. I think one of the things that helped my students switch to autonomous mode is all the help I gave them and if they need it, continue to give them. One would think that to give students autonomy leaving them to their own would force them to think for themselves (I agree, but it wasn't working like i wanted it too), but it turned out to be the opposite for me. The more I helped them, the more autonomy they displayed.

I talked to them and many felt a little overwhelmed with the class, or where confused (My fault) but when I worked on making things clearer for them they seemed to take off with it. Kids would rather work than watch a movie. They are not to the point were they want to come in after school or on a Saturday..That would be awesome though. But i'm cool with that at this know.

I tell them the more questions you ask now, the less you will ask later...and it makes me sad when they don't ask questions..yeah I know it sounds mushy but in the beginning they asked tons of I'm lucky if I get 10 each class period. They know what they have to do, and they do it (Proximity helps with this, or sending messages to their screens when they are off track). The main thing They know I'm not throwing them to the

I know next semester will be so much cooler!!

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/6/13 4:47:39 PM Permalink


So in the official "gradebook" for your class- there's just simply the 9 weekly grades?

Can you send your site link again? I used to do TONS of this kind of thing, and have lost it along the way. Want to get back to it. Simulate real life working environment to prepare them for it. Want game elements, but in a McGonigal sense of gamifying real life, not trying to push real life into a game.

Wondering if I've been doing it back-assward for the whole time I've been thinking about it.

Looking at my old app for the Florida ITEA Program of the Year, and it definitely describes your class more than mine at present. I've definitely lost something along the way.

Realizing I've done the opposite of gamification... Tried to make it easier on myself rather than more challenging... and lost the passion in the process.

Terrence Banks

Posted on 12/6/13 6:20:19 PM Permalink

my site link is

Here is a screen shot of my grade book.

Grade Book

I have 9 weekly grades and 9 weekly minute grades. On a 5 point scale.

I also do mastery assessments every 2 weeks for my Digital Photo 1 Class (I let them know ahead of time that I want to know if they actually mastered something..they all did a 3D pop out image during Photoshop training. So I gave them an image and told them they have to make that image a 3D pop out and I give them the entire period to do it. They cannot use the internet nor any tutorials but they can help each other out.)

My Digital Photo 2 class does Mastery Presentations. Same thing skills USA does with the students presenting a skill they learned. These range from studio or outdoor demo's of photography techniques to demo's on Photoshop.

So as of now my students grades are based off of their employee evaluation weekly grade, weekly minutes grade, and mastery assessments.Those 3 things are pretty easy to handle. The minutes are not subjective at all, the other two require me to look at everyone's blog each week, which does not take as long as I thought it would. I have a rubric set up for the employee evaluation that's based off Mikes "World's Simplest Rubric" to help me stay consistent with the grading.

The hard part for me is, I have so many students. They all turn in tons of images weekly, I give them feedback daily but it might not be enough. This is something i'm working on improving next semester. I'm thinking better feedback will produce a better product. It's just that I have soooo many students.

One cool thing I did add recently is the ability for students to sell me their images. This gives them a real world feel on setting prices and producing work worthy to sell.

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 12/6/13 7:40:40 PM Permalink

I love that last bit. I might steal that!

Annette Whitby

Posted on 12/6/13 8:02:47 PM Permalink

Thanks for sharing, Terrence. I can't wait for the Christmas break so that I can have uninterrupted time to experiment with Game On!

Annette Whitby

Posted on 12/6/13 7:58:35 PM Permalink

Rob: I'm curious about the "app" for the Florida ITEA Program of the Year. Is there a Web link for this?


Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/11/13 3:07:34 PM Permalink


I keep missing and losing posts. Never saw this one. Can you please email me and ask for it? Don't have it here and I'll forget by the time I'm home.

rob @ brainbuffet

Annette Whitby

Posted on 12/11/13 6:40:54 PM Permalink

haha Our discussion thread is getting bigger - We're gonna need to start a new one again. Will email ya right now.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/6/13 1:01:15 PM Permalink

Making Up Time: If before/after/Sat school doesn't work and you'd still like to employ some strategy to hold students accountable, what about homework?

If tech access is an issue, paper and pencil shouldn't be. Thumbnails, storyboards, ideating, etc.

Just an idea.

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 12/5/13 2:47:39 PM Permalink

Oh, and if a student is absent for their daily email they have to come during their lunch to make it up or they still get a zero!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/4/13 4:34:49 PM Permalink

David Gran makes some great observations about the value of gamification in an article on page 22 of the latest issue of School Arts Magazine.*

*Kind of self-serving as he writes about the Mac Lab but that shouldn't make the observations any less relevant to you.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 12/4/13 2:22:25 PM Permalink

MINUTES question

I know that not everyone uses the minutes feature in their classroom but for those of you that do, what factors to you use to ensure students make up missed/lost time. Is there any penalty for the students that don't make up the missing time by the end of the semester? Do you make it a requirement to pass the class? Is it a singular grade separate from the game? Right now I have a single fluctuating grade attached to minutes. Nothing else in the game is directly tied to a grade but I haven't found different form of motivation to make up the minutes yet other than the newly introduced penalties on points/loot.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/4/13 4:25:29 PM Permalink

You cannot earn an A if you owe minutes.
— Mac Lab Policy

In the Mac Lab, that's an incredible motivator for some students. Others get bummed by the negative time nerfs and make it up to escape loot erosion. Still others pump up their extra time to take advantage of the loot buffs or simply to climb the leaderboard. And some... well some just don't seem to care.

But that latter group is shrinking this year.

Yes, time is tracked within the game but I don't really consider it as part of the game because quests never deal in time.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 12/4/13 9:28:27 PM Permalink

That seems like a simple enough policy. It kind of focuses more on positive reinforcement than negative. Minutes allow for an A but don't directly impact a semester grade. I think I will try to work that in for next semester.

Do you have to do much reminding in your classes for deducting after absences? No that we aren't adding minutes and instead subtracting them I tend to have a lot of students "forget" to deduct minutes for absences.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/4/13 10:03:00 PM Permalink

Yes on the reminding. Lots of "forgetting."

This is yet another reason I feel we need a notification system.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/5/13 2:06:12 PM Permalink

And just to be clear, positive minutes simply open the door to an A if the student has earned the grade.

If a student owes time and chooses not to make it up, she's chosen to eliminate any chance of earning an A.

Finally, time—positive or negative—is the deciding factor for inbetweeners. The World's Simplest Rubric is based on effort and making up time (or not) is a concrete effort indicator.

Note: Extenuating circumstances may mitigate these policies.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 12/5/13 4:01:11 PM Permalink

Do you use an online grading system that you have to keep updated for parents? How do you equate your logical grading system to points and "assignments" that the old school people "need to see". Do you update it and does it reflect things like your minutes. I am told by my admin that I can't change a grade at the end of the semester unless it was shown on the gradesheet throughout the semester. Thus changing an A to a B for lack of minutes would not be acceptable.

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 12/5/13 4:21:40 PM Permalink

If I remember correctly, Mike does a grading system where he only has about 2 or three grades in the semester I think. He asks them what grade they deserve and his experience is that they they are pretty honest about it. I would assume that those students with negative minutes just automatically know they can't get an A and so probably would say they deserve a B or something else.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/5/13 5:04:00 PM Permalink

Adam, if time is written in your policies and expectations, then factoring in the variable would seem perfectly defensible.

Heck, I'm probably the last guy to turn to for advice on dealing with "old school" administrators. Our Superintendent dropped by yesterday and we talked about shaking up the system even more.

I've got to be the luckiest teacher alive and I feel pain when I hear about good teachers being shackled by dinosaur admins.

(Different angle on an answer written below too.)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/5/13 5:04:32 PM Permalink

Dang double-post.

Ryan Hayes

Posted on 12/6/13 3:33:56 PM Permalink

I have a column in the gradebook: Participation (time). I use a scale Mike used to use several years ago:

Positive = A

-60 to -170 = B

-180 to -290 = C

-300 to -440 = D

I update every couple of weeks. That way their is running track record of time. I have it at 50% of the grade, but I am flexible at the end of the semester based on effort.

Thinking of simplifying it though.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/5/13 4:48:39 PM Permalink

(Kicked back out to give us more room.)

Copied and pasted from this week's updates:

MLSS: December 7 and 14 are your final two chances to join the fun in 2013. If you’re even thinking of coming either MLSS, please fill out the Weekend Warrior form with your parental unit. Remember: You cannot earn an A if you owe time.

Nathan's correct in that grades are assigned three times per semester and that the students are put on the spot, "So, what's your grade?" (Details)

I really want to go with online grades but it would kill this student accountability experience.

Bottom Line: All students start with an A and can maintain it via consistent effort and honoring all policies and expectations.

No, that's not the tried and true method. But the only thing tried and true about that method is, well, I'll let Sugata Mitra say it for me 'cause he says it much better than I ever could:

The Victorians were great engineers. They engineered a [schooling] system that was so robust that it’s still with us today, continuously producing identical people for a machine that no longer exists.

To quote Stan Lee, 'Nuff said.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 12/5/13 7:32:18 PM Permalink

I have done the individual evaluations this semester and for the most part that has worked pretty well. I currently have a single minutes grade in addition to three evaluation grades. The minutes grade is 100pts that students lose 10 for every 100 minutes they are missing. So far so good. My admin actually supports my grading so far but I am guessing when i have an upset parent that says his kid was in class everyday "how can he fail" the "support" will be more difficult to come by. He have emphatically established that I DO NOT want grades to be the motivating factor and My principal is familiar with Dan Pink so he gets it but isn't ready to encourage it because student evaluation is THE hot button topic this year and we don't fit the district model.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/5/13 10:46:11 PM Permalink

But if a kid shows up every day, how can he fail?

If a kid says, "You can't make me work," I show them the contract we all signed. It says that everyone agrees to abide by the policies and expectations—and the expectations include work.

If a kid still refuses to work—which is very rare in here but happens every year or two—I call home and let the folks know their precious progeny chose to receive a referral for defiance. "Would you like to speak with him?"

One referral is usually enough. About three years ago I had to do the three strikes and you're out with a kid I just couldn't reach.

Dang! Hate it when that happens.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 12/6/13 4:19:50 AM Permalink

Sounds about right. Its very rare to come every day and do nothing. I guess the students doesn't do nothing but refuses to use the Blog AT ALL and has completed any project thus has nothing to "show" for the semester even though I know he has learned some...

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/6/13 2:33:28 PM Permalink

I've got that same kid... x3. Each "earned" a D- on the last progress report and a directive from the Boss to work on documentation.

At this point, failure to comply = defiance and defiance = referral + phone call home.

I have yet to encounter a parent who challenges this policy—once they understand my rubric. "All he has to do is try?! Put him on the phone!"

There's a reason there's only one way to "earn" an F in the Mac Lab; I will not allow a student to do nothing.

Rubric: F = Who are you?*

*That means they chose to stop attending class.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/6/13 3:39:35 PM Permalink

But if a kid shows up every day, how can he fail?

By not working. Attendance is one thing. Grades (evaluation/payment in the real world) is something else.

I never tell kids they failed- removes that discussion of semantics. I tell them that they got "fired" for being a terrible worker- and "Fired starts with F". ;)

Thinking of returning to a workplace model. Struggling a lot with the game lately and I think maybe I just don't really "get it." My ultimate goal is to prepare them for a solid job and to think about real-world skills and attitudes. Wondering if the "gamification" is catering more to the typical "world revolves around me having fun" way of thinking than teaching them to have fun in the real world.

No decisions yet... thinking out loud. Would love pushback.

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 12/6/13 4:03:43 PM Permalink

For me, the hardest part about this is sticking to the "story." My students haven't really cared about leveling or any of the RPG aspects. They only care about the money and the store.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 12/6/13 4:19:38 PM Permalink

I cherish the goal of complete intrinsic motivation and still think the game is the way of creating that. I think just as gamification is used in fortune 500 companies it can be used in our class not to make it "world revolves around me" but more about simply making learning fun. And hopefully the realization that they have control over their learning. While I like the business model I don't want to act like this is a profession only. I want them to buy into their education and be able to have the game be an opportunity (not requirement) to make it fun. I think the way you are using your website looks effective. The game is part of the class, never a replacement. I do see the importance for balance there as well.

PS I am taking your idea of breaking up my learning sections into: Design, Tech, and Grow for next semester with a requirement of minimum completion and documentation for credit.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/6/13 5:49:35 PM Permalink

But if a kid shows up every day, how can he fail?

By not working. Attendance is one thing. Grades (evaluation/payment in the real world) is something else.


C'mon, Rob, if you're going to quote, don't take it out of context. :)

If a kid shows up and won't work—and the teacher lets him get away with it, then—IMHO—it's the teacher's fault.

I explained my policy.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/3/13 11:46:21 AM Permalink

LATEST UPDATE v1.1.1 1.1.0

Infraction System: Default is currently 3 (on Options page). We'll be changing that to 4 (probably today) so it conforms to the colors relating to time in the progress bar—green 0, yellow 1, orange 2, red 3, and lifeless gray 4). This is a work in progress. We really need an automated notification system to accompany this. Students see Infractions (you can change the name on the Options page) in progress bar drop down. You add or subtract Infractions from the Clipboard. We may add an on/off switch for those who don't want to use it.

Note: I had to refresh the Clipboard page to resolve a visual glitch caused by the browser failing to recognize the new CSS.

Undo Button: Added to quests in case a player accidentally clicks Accept or Complete. Removes points and/or currency and is immune to page refreshes and back button problems. Will be working on Undos for Mastery and the Repeat stages next.

The Undo Button is the first step toward giving the admin the ability to Undo quests that the player hadn't actually completed or mastered. Again, will be far more effective once an automated notification system is in place.

Note: Had to roll back to 1.1.0 due to unforeseen glitch. Working on fixing the undo buttons.


Nathan Scherer

Posted on 12/3/13 1:44:44 PM Permalink

Can't wait for this the ability to undo!!! That will add so much power to the accountability system.

Ryan Hayes

Posted on 12/3/13 7:40:23 PM Permalink

What is the purpose of the infractions? Infractions for what? I assume different than deducting minutes, XP, gold?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/3/13 9:22:58 PM Permalink

In many MMOs, health and/or gear need to be maintained. Think of Infractions as a damage meter—another gaming metric we can leverage.

You can use this (or not) as you see fit but my original plan was to use a 4 strikes and you're out system—using Reaper as the heavy to keep the worst of the slackers in line. This will be much more effective when implemented at the very beginning of next year when it's fully functional, with nerfs (like we currently have for time owed) and notifications in place from the start. We're hot-testing right now. We'll also need a means (tbd) for players to clear an infraction within the gamified learning environment.

As Infractions accumulate the visual indicator shifts from green to yellow to orange to red (with progressively harsher nerfs). When the fourth Infraction occurs, the indicator goes grey, and ideally, the game should become inoperable. All I can think of right now is to zero-out all potential quest loot via the multiplier method and automatically delete the player's personal loot—but maybe my genius coders will think of something better.

At that point, the player has to start over. Parents need to sign the forms again, the student is issued a new ID card (login credentials) and a new blog. Quite honestly I don't ever expect it to get that far but a game's got to have boundaries.

Make sense?

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/5/13 3:13:18 PM Permalink

Undo button is HUGE. Can't wait for it.

visual indicators in the missions themselves is also a huge bonus that I don't know if you guys are working on. Even make it toggle if ya want- but our survey to students NOT in my classes (kids in our classes too close to give good feedback) say that it would make a big difference if they could see the stages and what was revealed when- Even if just as mile markers- but hopefully also as an "In mission" progress bar and to give structure to the missions.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/5/13 5:22:05 PM Permalink

Rob, visual indicators are in our plans for the new template. We're not going to force anyone to use the template but we hope to make it too engaging to resist.

Game On needs to look and feel like a game rather than an extension of our current WordPress sites. This is a HUGE missing link in the system.

When we're done, the WordPress world will be forever changed. We're going to do things to a template no one's ever tried before. Well, no one I know of.

The point is, it won't be a multi-purpose template that tries to accommodate many needs. It's simply a template designed exclusively for Game On and its features.

I'm starting to wrap my head around this and the upside is virtually immeasurable.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 12/5/13 7:22:46 PM Permalink

I hear ya... but I don't get it...

The "game" to be truly immersive shouldn't feel like a game, should it? To be more immersive, the game should be OUT of the way instead of front and center, no?

Do you have any mockups or notes yet?

What's happening (in my class, at least), is that the game is not on the site- it's in the classroom. The site looks like a normal blog because it represents a workplace. There's email, missions, etc... but the STORY is what carries it into game-ness. And since we operate in a design lab, it's a design lab story.

We have goofy fun with it sometimes (like in the graduation ceremony), but the daily part is about seeing photoshop, illustrator, GROW missions, TECH missions, etc as the game, not the site.

The site is just the HUD for the game in my class... that make sense? I want the kids off the site and into the PROJECTS themselves, where they're learning to design and working with the real world tools we experiment with and explore in the class.

I think maybe I took too much from chore wars. I see the site as the HUD, and I want them immersed into the design aspects of the course, not the game aspects. The game is there to just take the "schoolness" out, and put the "coolness" into learning real-world skills with real world tools.

I think I might be getting worried that (for my program at least), having more game and less real world tools (wordpress, internet, Adobe CS, etc) would be less beneficial for my students in the long run.

I probably just can't quite wrap my head around your idea. Wouldn't be the first time! :)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/5/13 8:39:18 PM Permalink

Like I said, the template will be optional.

"The site is just the HUD for the game in my class"

Exactly. And my optional choice will be to change the HUD. No one else need change a thing.

Believe me, Rob, I want the kids working in PS, AI, and the rest of the cool Adobe tools. I just want a snazzier, snappier, not-just-another-WordPress-template. I'm bored with the lot of 'em.

My choice. Optional for everyone else.

Terrence Banks

Posted on 12/6/13 3:53:48 AM Permalink

The Undo button...genius!!!!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/10/13 10:46:46 PM Permalink

Rob, we can work on this ("visual indicators in the missions themselves") now if you want.

Do you want the progress bar at the top of the mission or the bottom of the current stage? I can search for your prior mockup if you give me just a little more info on what you want.

Could you elaborate a bit on how this helps so I can see it in my tiny brain? :)

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 12/1/13 8:17:18 PM Permalink

I think I'm going to add a "Swear Jar" to the store so I can get my kids to stop calling everything "gay" and "retarded."

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/2/13 4:09:03 PM Permalink

Killer idea, Nathan! Just added mine to the store.

30 Gold, 30 XP, and 30 minutes.

That should get their attention!

Matthew Miller

Posted on 12/2/13 7:30:54 PM Permalink

And what about an inverse of that? A swear badge, or something similar, that rewards for creative, non-vulgar and non-profane cursing? I'm thinking of something along the lines of Captain Haddock's rather colorful, but harmless language in the Tintin books: "Licorice-Livered Lubberly Scum in Thousands of Thundering Typhoons!"

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/2/13 7:40:48 PM Permalink


Love it! Will be stealing that one too, Matthew. :)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 12/3/13 2:51:46 PM Permalink

Finally found this buried in a June 11, 2012 blog post on my old site...

You’re a Wizard, Harry. Remember when Hagrid said that in the first Harry Potter movie? Well, yesterday afternoon as I was helping my wife rehang some curtains, she spat out four words when she realized she’d put the rod in backwards. Remember, I’ve known and loved this amazing woman since 1976 and in all that time I’ve never heard her say anything remotely like that. I looked at her kinda funny and all I could think of was Hagrid’s line to Harry. She looked me right in the eye, as if she knew what I was thinking, and said: That better not go on the blog!

I’m not sure, but I think the curtain rod spun around by itself when she uttered the incantation:

Fiddly farthead fuming frogs!

I hope she doesn’t read the blog today or I might look a little different tomorrow.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/21/13 4:03:08 PM Permalink

Hunter & Healers

I altered the rules and this looks to be an epic 2-day win. (Grades close Friday and blogs will be sooooo much better by the end of this.)

Annette Whitby

Posted on 11/21/13 7:44:22 PM Permalink

So cool, Mike. Love the Reaper character - As soon as I saw the post was made by him, it made me want to sit down and read the message very carefully! Looks like your class is going to have some interesting sessions coming up!

Matthew Miller

Posted on 12/18/13 10:49:13 AM Permalink

Mike, is there more information on Hunters and Healers anywhere? I'd like to incorporate the idea next semester.

Kelly Kermode

Posted on 11/21/13 3:33:07 PM Permalink

Annette Whitby

Posted on 11/21/13 7:39:57 PM Permalink

Kelly, is there a page with examples of quest cards?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/19/13 8:52:42 PM Permalink


  • Store: Changing quantity changes the price
  • Quests: Sweet new Repeat Quest functionality (Try it to see for yourself.)

Matt Hensler

Posted on 11/19/13 5:00:45 PM Permalink

Ok, I've been watching this unfold since day 1 (stumbled onto Mike and Rob's sites a little over two and half years ago).
I've put off implementing a gaming style environment in my classes for quite sometime. I'll be honest, and no offense to everyone here, especially those two gentlemen), but I wasn't sold on it. I just didn't see a self driven/paced class working. It reminded me too much of the modular labs of the 90s Tech Ed "canned" curriculum fad. I love teaching. I like instructions, demonstrations, practice examples, etc., I started video tutorials two years ago, and had SOME success, but last year, most of the students just weren't interested in watching. So I switched more heavily back toward instruction and demonstrations, mini-projects, with cumulative projects at the end of each major unit. It has worked well.
However, the self-motivation this gaming format brings to the table has me wondering if it isn't worth a shot.
My question is this. How do all of you balance instruction with the task lists that students must complete? I've found that I'm coming back to the major design fundamentals more and more in the beginning (design process, elements of design, principles, styles of design, etc.,), and to me, THAT lends itself well to instruction rather than a video and a list of resources one must complete to move on.
However, a hybrid format might work well where the instruction and gamification is balanced.
Mike, Rob, and everyone else, how much actual instruction/discussion takes place in your classes with this system implemented? How do you balance? Is balance needed? Am I simply not thinking outside of the box enough (i.e. still stuck on the traditional classroom model)?

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/19/13 8:22:07 PM Permalink

Hmmm... Here's some serious questions that I'd be interested in hearing what the kids' responses are in your classroom... Curious because I have opposite reactions in my classes, and maybe I'm missing something you've got going on in your lab that I don't.

If the kids aren't interested in listening to your videos- are they interested in the discussions? Why is it better as a live chalk&talk format to them? What do the KIDS say they like more?

When you create your videos... how do you differ the instruction from what you would say to the group? When I record, it's the same way I talk if I'm doing it live... so it's the same instruction. There is no difference, except if a kid's out (or can't pay attention because their boyfriend just broke up with them or their doggie died), they can get the info at home/next class/next week and they can ask me to repeat myself a million times and I never get frustrated repeating myself. :)

What we're doing is essentially like the flipped classroom stuff... but they often watch the content in school as well because of the expense of our applications.

Just thinking out loud to make MY classroom better... Ya gotta do what works for you! I know what I love about this method of teaching (the game is just part of it all). But if there are advantages that can happen with stand and deliver, I want to use that when it's available!

I've noticed that many of my kids liked it when it was stand and deliver style because the pace was slower... I had to go as slow as the slowest kid... As it is now, they are all at their own pace, and can see each other's blogs.. so the general speed is obvious, and there is a lot more competition to be on the leaderboards.. ;)

Matt Hensler

Posted on 11/21/13 1:06:32 PM Permalink

Will definitely be giving this a shot. I was posting more in reference to my concerns heading into it. I just have to find time to roll it out. I don't think my current Wordpress theme will play well with this format and their respective plugins, so I'm still brainstorming some ideas.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/19/13 8:46:45 PM Permalink

Hey Matt,

It's like Rob said, do what works for you and the kids. However, the game mechanics do add a whole new level of engagement to the online material.

Only one way to really find out though. Come on in. The water's fine!

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/19/13 10:43:17 PM Permalink

I do understand a bit where you are coming from, Matt. Because I have always done direct instruction and demo it is what students expect and are used to. Some of them don't like not having the same interactions with me directly. This is most common though among my advanced students that I had before gamification. By beginning students have taken to it very well and have been highly motivated.

I have seen value to doing occasional demo's but rarely. I also found that I do not have a matching level of energy very often in my videos. I do too many of them late at night or simply am more concerned with content than the energy I have in delivery that comes natural when speaking. I am thinking its just part of the process in learning how to teach with instructional tutorials. As long as I self-reflect enough I will get better...I hope!

If the game is good enough I am confident the students will continue to be highly motivated and desire to go further.

P.S. I have a 95% rate of the new students in the gamified class that are signing up for the next level of graphic design 2. Looks like I better get the game going there too!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/20/13 12:56:36 AM Permalink

"...its just part of the process in learning how to teach with instructional tutorials"

Once you dial it in, the class takes off.

"I have a 95% rate of the new students in the gamified class that are signing up for the next level of graphic design 2."

That's brand new, right? Way to go, Adam!

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 11/20/13 12:47:55 AM Permalink

Whenever I do lecture and demo I would say that 75% of my class completely tunes out and waits for me to finish so they can catch me when I'm walking around. With the videos, I don't have that anymore. They watch them on the first time (since that is the only way they'll get it now) and then ask follow up questions instead of just, "Can you repeat that? I wasn't listening."

Here are the advantages to this (for me):

1. Students at every level can follow along without me having to repeat myself over and over again, slowing down the advanced students.

2. The lower level students can rewind and watch the videos over and over to get the concepts they missed.

3. When a student is absent (which is all the time in my classes), I don't have to repeat an entire lecture over their shoulder.

4. The students no longer have to use me as a crutch instead of a helper. Whenever they ask me a question that I directly address in a video, I tell them to watch it again. Eventually they don't ask me those types of questions anymore (which is them being lazy). It teaches them to pay more attention.

5. The students who venture out on their own have no problems following outside tutorials at other sites since they have learned how to do it with mine. This is invaluable because when they eventually go home and do this without me there they can still figure out what they want to do.

At this point, I can't imagine ever doing a lecture and demo again. It makes my stomach hurt to even think about it. My students have benefited so much from this way of learning.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/20/13 12:54:16 AM Permalink


Heck, +100

Couldn't agree more, Nathan!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/18/13 2:16:51 AM Permalink

After scores of discarded attempts over the past several weeks, I've finally published the beginnings of a Game On User's Guide.

Finding a balance between brevity and clarity is virtually impossible. (Or at least it is for me.) I decided that enduring a little embarrassment is preferable to the guilt of neglecting this pressing need another day.

Many more (embarrassing) videos to come. :)

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/19/13 8:43:19 PM Permalink

Can also be found echoed here. Feel free to jump in and edit/clarify/add to it!!! :)

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 11/18/13 1:30:19 AM Permalink

Have we talked about putting a date on the purchases and quests mastered? I'd love to be able to see when a student has purchased something or mastered a task. It would really help to keep them accountable!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/18/13 2:11:38 AM Permalink

We had date and time stamps in our old plugin and it should be easy to implement.

As for the store, we need a complete inventory system. Probably a third tab on the Clipboard.

Great suggestions, Nathan!

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/19/13 8:52:33 PM Permalink

Date of quest mastery is on their blogs in my classroom... They haven't mastered it until they've documented and posted that puppy.

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 11/20/13 12:49:49 AM Permalink

I don't do blogs (just yet) but I'm more interested in the dates for purchases and stuff put in from the Add bar. I just caught a couple of students stealing from me and it's a little hard to see it all when it gets lumped in together.

Ryan Hayes

Posted on 11/17/13 6:27:39 AM Permalink

While researching Masters programs (possibly EdTech), I came across this WebQuest (I know, I know. Who actually still uses Webquests and why is a modern EdTech program teaching them?):

Anyhow, I do like the Ajax functionality. What if . . . in the new theme design this something like this was implemented for the stages of a mission?
Cool looking stats page:

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/17/13 5:34:43 PM Permalink

Mind reader! Forest, our newest coder (actually a grad from last year who came to the last two Mac Lab Saturday Schools asking how he could contribute) has added Ajax functionality back into Game On (it was in CubeGold—our old plugin) and he's almost finished with a new and improved Repeat cycle that animates in both directions and has clearly named buttons for the repeat message and loot collection. May roll out later today.

We'll have to think about hiding all stages but the active one (usability?)

Keep the Stats page ideas rolling. We need to collect those links somewhere... Maybe here? :)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/16/13 10:19:33 PM Permalink


Oh my! The Analysis tab on the Clipboard just took a giant leap toward the big leagues.

Still a whole lot of work to do to but pretty soon this will be the killer app inside the killer app.

Semar rocks!

Direct Download

Ryan Hayes

Posted on 11/15/13 6:09:44 PM Permalink

Do you have Wacom Tablets? Trying to find a way for your students to master Digital Painting? CTRLPaint to the rescue.

I am just trying to figure out how to break the series up into missions for my students. Amazing resource though. I am not a Digital Painter and I suck with the Wacom, so this is great for my students that are interested. A student found it it last year. Thought I'd share.

Annette Whitby

Posted on 11/16/13 7:18:51 PM Permalink

Thanks for sharing the link. I've been practising with my Wacom Tablet this week, and things are moving along slowly. Hoping to get better at it with time and practice. :0 )

~Annette "the student"

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/15/13 4:12:41 AM Permalink

LATEST UPDATE v1.0.1 (Ezio forgot to change the version number. Sorry)

  • Option to restrict quests by time (new field, enter minimum minutes to proceed)*
  • Option to restrict store items by time (new field, enter minimum minutes to purchase)**
  • Option to restrict store items to X purchases (new field, enter maximum purchases)***

*Glitch: The encounter message appears but no Accept button. It works but should say, "You need X minutes to encounter this quest."
**Miscommunication: If you don't have the required time it says, "You require more time to view this item." It will specify the exact number, as in, "You need X minutes to purchase this item." My fault for not making this clear to Ezio today.
***When opening the store item with a purchase limit, a message in the Lightbox says, "Limit X" Trying to purchase after purchasing the item X times results in, " You've reached the maximum purchase limit."
Little things, but hopefully useful. Enjoy!

Ryan Hayes

Posted on 11/15/13 2:15:15 AM Permalink

I had my formal observation today where I had to role-play as a sage on the stage with lecture to satisfy the admin. Two of my students, literally, fell asleep. Block schedule, I did have to stretch it out a bit.

They failed at role-playing.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/15/13 3:13:22 AM Permalink

I'd say they succeeded. Direct instruction that exceeds 20 minutes is known to fail on multiple levels for numerous reasons.

That's why TED Talks are limited to 20 minutes.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/12/13 11:27:45 PM Permalink


Did you miss the jump to v1.0? We've already had two updates (but only counted them as one ;)

  • Checkboxes in Leaderboard (no more drag and drop confusion)
  • Admin Add Bar refreshes after clicking Add button (no more wondering if it worked)
  • Sweet animation for Accept, Complete, and Mastery Stage (the little glitch will be fixed)
  • And... Drumroll, please...
  • Analysis 0.0.1 (Oh, what this will become!)

The Analysis tab is on the Clipboard page. It does not collect data retroactively. It will function from this point forward. It will also be in development from this point forward. The goal is to have something like the chart at the 13:36 mark of this Kahn TEDTalk. (Here's a low-res JPG if you don't want to hunt for that mark.)

This is a long-term project and is Semar's killer idea. Resizing elements and separating users by periods is up next.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/14/13 3:40:48 AM Permalink

After you check the boxes on the leaderboard, how do you get the leaderboard to actually show. Nothing happened for me after checking the box.

Nevermind. It works now. Not sure what was wrong originally

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/15/13 3:20:32 AM Permalink

Odd. I checked before updating to the latest version and it worked. Then I updated and it still worked.

Is anyone else having this issue?

Adam, you might try deleting and reinstalling just in case something went awry during the install.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/15/13 10:40:48 AM Permalink

Tech happens. Glad to hear it's working now.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/19/13 8:33:04 PM Permalink

Mine doesn't work... Any idea on what fixed it for ya, adam?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/19/13 9:21:17 PM Permalink


Yours was a different problem. Two line breaks at the end of the code caused your issue. The latest hotfix solved the problem. (I know you got it already and are back up and running.)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/8/13 5:34:30 PM Permalink

Thanks to the MIGHTY Rob Schwartz, we have a website, a forum, and a wiki.

It's sparse and undeveloped but the forums are ready for structured dialog. Drop by the Game Room and introduce yourself then make yourself at home.

Thanks, Rob!

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 11/8/13 6:00:43 PM Permalink

How do we register?

Donald Peters

Posted on 11/8/13 6:35:33 PM Permalink


what is the answer?

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/8/13 6:44:35 PM Permalink

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/8/13 9:31:43 PM Permalink



I turned off the code to help you guys get in.

  1. Enter Username and email address
  2. Click Register
  3. Check email
  4. Return and login with crazy password
  5. Edit your profile
  6. Change your password to something you can remember
  7. Game On!



Donald Peters

Posted on 11/9/13 2:22:39 AM Permalink

not getting the email with password. =/

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/9/13 2:59:58 AM Permalink

Spam filter?

Annette Whitby

Posted on 11/9/13 3:14:20 AM Permalink

Ahhh, yes. My hotmail account was blocking it. I had to add to the safe sender list.


Donald Peters

Posted on 11/9/13 4:24:54 PM Permalink

Nope. Checked my spam as well.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/9/13 5:15:38 PM Permalink

You're in the User list. You registered. Go to the site and click Forgot Password to get a new one if you don't know the original.

Donald Peters

Posted on 11/9/13 8:54:29 PM Permalink

yep have done that several times. nada. Will try a different email address in a bit.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/9/13 11:50:35 PM Permalink

I went ahead and changed it for you and it emailed it to the address.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/8/13 6:47:12 PM Permalink

Sorry guys. Wrapping up graduation ceremonies from boot- hectic.

but FUN!!! :)

Annette Whitby

Posted on 11/8/13 8:30:26 PM Permalink

Hmmmm . . . I don't see a registration button at the site . . .

ps: What a GREAT way to wrap up the week!


Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/8/13 9:17:59 PM Permalink

Been trying to get in touch with Rob to shut off the protected login so you can just sign in with your WordPress credentials.

Sorry about dangling the carrot just out of reach. ;)

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/7/13 11:58:06 PM Permalink

Stealth graduation video taken by student cameraphone.

Sorry for the quality. And I forgot to turn on the magic lights in my hat. :(

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/8/13 2:01:50 AM Permalink

Epic! (Even without the magic lights.)

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/8/13 2:15:16 AM Permalink

Awesome! I had a feeling you were a little crazy like that! Kids gotta love it!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/7/13 8:10:20 PM Permalink


Store Fixes:

  • Just paste the entire URL in the link field (no more double http's)
  • If you paste a URL and the player clicks Purchase, Get Your Loot! appears (instead of Purchased) and becomes the link.
  • Penalty check box to allow players spend more than they have*

*Solves a 300 Club problem, allowing a player to "spend" gold he doesn't have to purchase the penalty resulting in a negative balance.

Up Tomorrow: Changing the Quantity will dynamically change the price to reflect the total cost.

Edit: Ezio out sick today. Looks like Tuesday.

Any other Store functionality requests? (Besides making it look nicer.)

Also Working On: Peer to Peer purchases. Baby steps toward a student marketplace.


Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/6/13 9:54:06 PM Permalink


There's a new text field in the New Store Item page.

Important: Do not add the http, colon, and/or slashes to the text field when adding the URL. It's already coded in. (I know, I know, but this is how it works right now.) FIXED!

What's it for? Now we can sell fonts, brushes, textures, or any other resources we can ZIP and upload.

Idea: We could sell gateways to hidden quest lines or simply set the Required Rank to the level we want the students to be at to get to the link. It could be a reward, out of reach until they reach the level. It's another reason for students to visit the store.

What Happens? Click Purchase and a link appears in the Lightbox.

Anyway, I'm pretty jazzed to have this functionality now. (Which puzzled Ezio. "It wasn't that hard.") We'll work on the usability end but for now it works. Create a new category and give it a spin.


Nathan Scherer

Posted on 11/6/13 7:42:58 PM Permalink

Just had a possibly cool idea although I have NO idea how it could work. One of my students had the idea to put buying a piece of candy with their money. I have a little stash of candy in my desk from some game stuff we had earlier in the year and now they all ask for it. I put it up on the store and everyone started buying it. One student who has a lot of money asked if they could buy a bunch of pieces (too many). I joked that it would break the economy of the game and I would have to adjust the prices (probably wrongly citing some economics I half remember from college). And that got me thinking...

What if there was a way to adjust for supply and demand? If a bunch of people are buying stuff, maybe the prices could go up or something? I don't know - this all sounds like it's leaving the scope of the game but it just sounded too fun to not mention!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/6/13 8:16:52 PM Permalink

I don't know about automatically adjusting prices but limiting total purchases would be doable (and potentially desirable).

Would that work?

I could bundle this request with limiting the number of times a quest could be repeated. The functions should be similar enough to go for a double.

Note: We had a bunch of mini tootsie pops left over from Halloween and I put them up on the store for 10g each but didn't tell anyone. Didn't take long for the first purchasers to walk up to claim their loot.

Donald Peters

Posted on 11/7/13 1:19:49 PM Permalink

I have water bottles, cans of soda, lolipops and candy all available in my store. The prices are all set really really high though so I've only had two students buy any of them so far.

Ryan Hayes

Posted on 11/6/13 4:57:10 PM Permalink

I have a new AP over my department and it is a formal evaluation year. My formal evaluation is next week. Sad news . . . I have to "fake" teach. He said, "I don't want to just see students working. I need to see you up in front of the class "teaching." When I came in before students weren't even on the same project. I'll need to see your lesson plan and make sure all students are doing the right lesson."

So, I told my students the situation and that next week we will be playing make be believe for about an hour. I told them it was roleplaying as part of Gamification. :)

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/6/13 6:07:37 PM Permalink


What he's asking for... Call it LAMEification. Ugh.

I think I just threw up in my mouth. As Homer Simpson once said..."The whole freaking system is out of order!"

Isn't it COMPLETELY telling that there is no way to evaluate anything new, innovative, or non-traditional in the classroom?

That's exactly what brainbuffet is named for. An answer to Brain Bulimia.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/7/13 10:30:45 AM Permalink

Just read the Brain Bulimia manifesto.


Isn't it COMPLETELY telling that there is no way to evaluate anything new, innovative, or non-traditional in the classroom?

I'd like to hear Terrence's take on this (he's got the MS in Admin). In formal reviews, were they trained to observe the behaviors we were taught in order to teach effectively? Y'know, the sage on the stage, stand and deliver stuff.

Is it a conditioned response?

When Ryan quoted the AP, I began to wonder just that. I mean that seriously:

"I don't want to just see students working. I need to see you up in front of the class ‘teaching.’ When I came in before students weren't even on the same project. I'll need to see your lesson plan and make sure all students are doing the right lesson."

If great teaching is an art, as we have come to understand, is it akin obscure poetry to someone who doesn't? (Like Ryan's AP)


Abstract finger painted words, to dance the metaphor
Makes the rhyming reason, for those who will explore
Twenty-six, pick-up sticks, word pictures do you see
Common sense, evidence, in conflict do they be
Look the question in the eye, extract what’s make believed
Prism bends the lighted path, like notions preconceived

Great teachers inspire, engage, and empower but some of your admins seem to require something to measure, weigh, and file away.

When creative thinking, problem solving, inspiration and innovation, motivation and engagement, collaboration and independent study take place simultaneously and spontaneously, does the Pavlovian Admin see nothing but chaos and wasted opportunities to "teach?"

Preconceived notions and/or common sense is the problem here.

Maybe all of us should perform a perceptual self-diagnostic in The Echo Chamber.

Go ahead, I'll wait. (And yes, I just performed my own perceptual self-diagnostic while waiting. Invigorating and refreshing, as always.)


Now, do you begin to see the problem more clearly?

Once upon a child’s mind, did flutter butterfly
Gift to share with one then all, who’ll open wings to try
Asked to ask and seek and knock, on wooded points of view
Goodness treats patient resolve, with echoes ringing true
Child’s play remembering, climb branches looking sees
Others just can’t find the time, and hunt on hands and knees

Inside every Pavlovian Admin is the curious child who's been conditioned to grow up, fit in, and forget the wonder of it all.

Keep fighting the good fight, everyone. So much is riding on this.


If you're interested, the stanzas are from Dream Yet Complete.

Ryan Hayes

Posted on 11/7/13 3:11:21 PM Permalink

The shame of it is that I had two really good APs in a row before this. They "got it".

The funny part is that we have been having all of these sessions on common core and encouraging more of the types of things that we do and less of the "sage on the stage".

I guess I can understand to a point. Evaluation models are old and based on "traditional" teaching. Administrators may not know how to evaluate a non-traditional model. There are probably certain things they were trained to look for which relied a lot on the teacher being up front and the engagement/responses from the students.

I'll have 10 minute stretches (or longer) in my class where students have no questions for me and I may not be giving direct input. So, how do you evaluate that based on what they were likely trained to look for?

It is like how I have to sign a waiver every year to teach my classes because the classes receive UC "F" credit for Art, but I don't have an Art credential. Yet, there is no Digital Art component of the Art credential. The credential hasn't caught up with the times, just like evaluation models.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/6/13 6:14:53 PM Permalink

Simultaneous post. Just saw Rob's comment upon returning. And now I'l laughing at LAMEification.

Seriously laughing out loud at the absurdity of the situation and the brilliance of your roleplaying solution. MMEdRPG!

I love it when the principal and/or district bigwigs come in when the classes are running themselves. Last time the Superintendent was in here we had to move far away from my desk to talk because some kid had bought the playlist and rap was blaring. When I explained that it was a perk in the store, he laughed and said, "I love it!"

How did I get so lucky to land in an open-minded district? I ache for the struggles some of you have to endure to help kids learn 21st century skills.

Check out this resource. Maybe it will give you ammo for your next battle.*

*Pun intended. You'll see when you get there.

Terrence Banks

Posted on 11/6/13 11:55:17 PM Permalink

LAMEification! Your right Rob that's exactly what it is..ha..

Hearing stories like this make me want to jump start my career in Administration. I have my masters in administration for this very reason..The problem is...I love what i'm doing right now!!!. It's unfortunate that they can't see learning, no matter how its being displayed as learning. I mean that's the whole point right?...I love my administration, they tell me if it will help my students it.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/7/13 10:55:50 AM Permalink

I love my administration, they tell me if it will help my students it.

What is it about our admins that they can break out of their conditioning? What's the common denominator?

I've got a meeting coming up with my principal and I'm going to ask.

Donald Peters

Posted on 11/7/13 2:59:42 AM Permalink

Sounds like my wife's principal. She started doing the flipped classroom last year and her principal actually told her she needed to stop and her teaching style had to be 'stand and deliver.'

Well she went over her head and is now still doing flipped classroom and her principal had to do additional training on what effective teaching looks like.

This year, her scores were through the roof (she teaches middle school math) and would be doing this with me if her school had the tech that my school has.

I have to teach my graphic arts class (where I am doing game on) in one of the business teachers computer labs (even though each of my students has a macbook air laptop - long story) and the teacher who is in the room is so impressed that my students are just working and don't really need me (except for minor issues) that she wants to learn more.

We will revolutionize teaching!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/7/13 10:52:19 AM Permalink

...her principal had to do additional training on what effective teaching looks like.

Oh my. That's priceless!

Kelly Kermode

Posted on 11/7/13 12:59:22 PM Permalink

+1 Agreed. Love it that she pursued beyond the first response and came out on top.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/7/13 3:40:08 AM Permalink

Insane evaluation systems are one of my major fears when looking for a new job. I'm gonna be interviewing them to see if they want innovation or not. I plan on marketing myself with GameOn as the key selling point though so if they don't want that then they probably won't want me. We have to get through to admin that will listen to get more people in on how better learning can be fun learning and not require lecture!

Good Luck with the role playing. I love that your student will openly be a part of playing "the game"

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/7/13 10:51:19 AM Permalink

I'm gonna be interviewing them to see if they want innovation or not.


Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/7/13 3:50:53 PM Permalink

You said it... That's been my approach for the last 3 schools. It works well.

Donald Peters

Posted on 11/7/13 12:26:07 PM Permalink

I would suggest looking for districts that have gone to a 1:1 initiative. Districts that are that invested in tech are usually open to innovation as well.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/6/13 3:11:39 PM Permalink

Good News: Our GameOn experience will expand to another school for next year.

Bad News: I will be at that new school because our election results last night basically created a place that innovation, and teacher motivation was killed. Looks like I will be looking for work in the midwest to get out of this district and state. On an intersting note I will get to "present" the GameOn experience to several schools/ interview committees :)

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/6/13 3:56:27 PM Permalink

Tragic how teachers have become the enemy in some people's eyes.

If you want or need any references, Adam, it's clear from here in Southern California that you're a dedicated, passionate, hard-working teacher with vision.

May you land in a far, far better place.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/6/13 4:57:11 PM Permalink

It means a lot coming from a teacher like you that you would say that. Its been a pretty depressing month and the school morale doesn't motivate anyone to teach in this environment. Hearing your and everyone elses success stories give me hope, which is hard to come by these days.

Keep pushing for bigger and better! Its what keeps me going even if its with less steam than before. I love hearing from people that value what we do even if it is from each other.

KEEP POSTING SUCCESS STORIES!!! no matter how large or small!

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 11/6/13 5:04:55 PM Permalink

What happened in your election?

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/6/13 6:16:36 PM Permalink

Our horribly extremist school board had all 4 open seats re-elected last night.

Our district has become the testing grounds for all extreme conservative education theories. I am conservative, so its not a party thing. We have a "market-based pay system" that says I, a HS Art teacher, am the most worthless, expendable resource in the district. Our pay for performance system is so flawed that it is impossible to qualify as anything higher than an effective teacher, meaning to raise for 8 years running. Meanwhile the demands of proving my students growth through tons of absurd measures adds piles of work onto my overwhelmed plate. The school board openly refuses to negotiate with a union at all so we literally have no contract. All board meetings are now behind closed doors and the newly re-elected board had their entire campaign funded nationally by big time conservative groups that usually only fund the really big elections.

Here is one of many national articles(wall street journal, national review) that point out whats going on.

Nathan Scherer

Posted on 11/6/13 8:43:21 PM Permalink

makes my stomach hurt reading that

Terrence Banks

Posted on 11/7/13 12:00:29 AM Permalink

"imposed a novel pay scale that values teachers by their subjects"

What in the world...

"Principals are encouraged to budget creatively so they can develop a marketable niche, a practice that has left some schools without art or music teachers as they build up science programs or bring in foreign-language classes."

I have no words for this foolishness...

Man sorry to hear about that, I will keep a ear open for positions, especially in my district here in Bakersfield, CA.

Rob Schwartz

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


If you know you're leaving... Don't have to worry about not being rehired. Innovate. Grow. Expand. Get outside the box.

I just reinvigorated myself as I quit trying to change the district and focusing on what is in my way and started to think how to work AROUND the system. They can't fire horrible teachers who break the rules...

So they can't fire AWESOME teachers who break the rules. :)

viva la revolucion!!!!

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/6/13 8:41:40 PM Permalink

YES! I'm gonna print that and hang it on my wall. Great Words!

Kelly Kermode

Posted on 11/7/13 1:04:50 PM Permalink

+1 Yes! I have basically resigned myself to staying in my room and bringing the change that I can to the one area I can control... my classroom.

A wise teacher once reminded me of the philosophy of Zoro... You can only effect things that are within the reach of your sword. Make change within that parameter. Stay sane. Be creative.

Another wise teacher/admin told me whenever a district was headed down a path he didn't want to go, he quit - and has never regretted it. The next job was always better.

Change can be daunting - much like life. Carpe Diem! Now is your time to forge your road ahead. Have fun with it!

Annette Whitby

Posted on 11/7/13 4:47:22 PM Permalink

A note for art, digital arts, design instructors:

Just wanted to say that your work is needed! Without this area of study, I would be sentenced to creating "words only" PowerPoint slides!

The knowledge of design is essential for creating engaging content.

A big THANKS to you all for what you do everyday!

Donald Peters

Posted on 11/7/13 3:02:09 AM Permalink

Don't come to NC. The STATE has not given teachers a raise for 7 years running and now this year has taken away our tenure and extra pay for having any degree higher than a bachelors. They are trying to institute 'merit pay' but only for the top 25% of teachers and guess who gets to decide who the 'top 25' are ? local principals. yeah there won't be any corruption there.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/7/13 3:51:07 PM Permalink

Sounds exactly like us. Principal decide who gets raises and the evaluation system is corrupt so I just have to ignore it. Only about 10% of teachers in my building got it last year. My master's is worthless here as well. The cherry on top is that we have maket value pay which says art teachers are also paid less than anyone else. Times are rough. I'm taking Rob and Kelly's advice...become a better teacher and move on!

Game On!!

Ryan Hayes

Posted on 11/6/13 2:35:39 PM Permalink

My presentation on Game On was packed. Unfortunately, things had backed up and the moderator cut my time really short. Twenty minutes. I introduced what Gamification is and the basic principles and by the time I got to showing off the actual setup they were already holding up the yellow card for 10 minutes left.

I was talking fast trying to show stuff off, but it was definitely rushed. They didn't give me a heads up before I started. After the fact they apologized, but that didn't do me much good.

Anyhow, there was a positive response even with the rush job. A tech coordinator for a district in LA wants to bring some teachers by to check out my class. She liked the Game On concept and the quality of my student projects.

Long story short, it could have gone a lot better. Luckily, I did show off enough that it sparked some follow interest.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/6/13 2:49:16 PM Permalink

If there's one constant when presenting it's: It could have gone a lot better. (Story of my life.)

The news about the TC from LA is a solid nod to what went right.

Can't wait to hear about the visit when it happens!

Annette Whitby

Posted on 11/6/13 4:34:04 AM Permalink

WordPress Plugins for Flash content

Are any of you all using a particular plugin to embed Flash content? I am looking at the Kimili Flash Embed plugin but not sure if it's what I would need.

(I'm experimenting with Raptivity software which has the publishing options of swf or HTML5.)

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/6/13 1:10:07 PM Permalink

Not using one...

But if you've got the option of flash or HTML5, I'd suggest the latter to keep the site tablet friendly. :)

Annette Whitby

Posted on 11/6/13 9:03:55 PM Permalink

Sound advice indeed --- A sad smile . . . Raptivity is only partially integrated with HTML5 interactions . . . I must exist in both worlds. haha

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/6/13 9:18:47 PM Permalink

Annette, if Flash does what you need it to, use it. Whatever works best for you and your students is the right answer! :)

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/7/13 3:55:21 PM Permalink

Agreed, I misunderstood- I thought it gave you either option. Do what works- but when you can choose either, HTML5 is preferred.

Annette Whitby

Posted on 11/7/13 4:37:48 PM Permalink

Thanks Rob and Mike. I wasn't clear in my original statement when I said that Raptivity publishes to flash and HTML5. I should have said that some of the interactivities can be published in HTML5.

( 0 :

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/6/13 2:49:45 PM Permalink

100% agree with Rob.

Edit: Annette's needs trump HTML5.

Ryan Hayes

Posted on 11/5/13 6:09:32 PM Permalink

Does anybody have an example of repeatable Independent Missions? I was thinking along the lines of follow a Tut from Abduzeedo, PSDTuts, etc. and create your own mission. However, trying to picture how to put the mission together. Ideas?

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/5/13 8:08:14 PM Permalink

Terrence Banks

Posted on 11/6/13 5:12:13 AM Permalink


Ryan Hayes

Posted on 11/6/13 5:20:50 PM Permalink

Awesome Rob. I, too, will be having to "steal" from you again.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/5/13 8:19:10 PM Permalink

Rob, those are too perfect. Consider them stolen!

P.S. We've got to fix the broken shortcodes when not logged in. (That's got to be a Game On issue.)

Donald Peters

Posted on 11/5/13 1:41:43 PM Permalink

ok frustrated... someone explain to me how I can tell from my computer which student has purchased what from the store??

I'm looking in the clipboard but only see the students stats.

Also I need to know how to set up the leaderboard (step by step for that one too) I'm just not getting it again and it's frustrating me and my students.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/5/13 1:52:54 PM Permalink

Student's purchases are recorded on their individual stats page. Look at the minutes, gold, XP page on stats and in gold window it will show how they earn or spend points. You have access to each students stat page from the clipboard.

For setting up the Leaderboard you first need to create a "period" classification at the bottom of the GameOn Options page. Then add all the period #'s to that classification. Now once saved each student needs to go into their profile page and at the bottem select the period that they are in the class. These periods will show up in the leaderboard stats page. drag and drop the period and the individual period leaderboards will show up. You can also do multiple classes at once.

hope that helps

Donald Peters

Posted on 11/5/13 3:23:07 PM Permalink

not understanding how to access their stats page from the clipboard. I click on their name and it just brings up another clipboard...

not understanding what I 'drag' and where I 'drop' it either. Do I do that from the dashboard somewhere?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/5/13 4:05:25 PM Permalink

Stats: Click on ID number in the Clipboard.

Website: Click on Name (students must enter URL in profile—if they don't, the link simply reloads the Clipboard in a new window).

Leaderboard: Open any Stats page, click on Leaderboard, drag period(s) from Options to Display to the Displaying drop zone, then select which stat to sort by from the Order by pull-down menu (students must select period in profile for this to work.

If you're still confused, approach any student, make sure she's logged in, ask her to click on Howdy, [Name] in the upper right corner of the browser, and make sure she's filled out her First and Last Name, picked a Nickname, changed the Display name publicly as to her Nickname, verified her E-mail, added a Website (if she has one), and selected a Period and Computer number.

Once you've done that, everything will work, you'll have a seating chart, and unicorns will generate rainbows in your room.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/5/13 4:08:05 PM Permalink

oops simultaneous post

Their name on the clipboard should link to their website if they have one listed in their profile otherwise it goes back to the clipboard. Their ID "should" open their stats page.

Does your leaderboard in the stats page have the periods listed in it? You should have all of them listed there and then you drag a period to the box above that to show the leaderboard. My only guess is if your classification aren't being read correctly. Is one of your classifications titled "period" and all student then selected the period in their profile?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/5/13 4:26:10 PM Permalink

Simultaneous Happens. ;)

Donald Peters

Posted on 11/5/13 6:59:25 PM Permalink

got it figured out. Thanks all.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/4/13 10:40:42 PM Permalink


The theme will be optional. You will be free to continue using your own theme. But I agree with Semar that properly conceived and implemented, a new theme has the potential to significantly enhance the players' experience.

Here's a very rough and incomplete mock-up. It's 100% HTML and CSS and weighs in at around 100K. (That's not Illustrator or Photoshop. That's a screenshot of a webpage.)

Yes, there's vast room for improvement. No need to nit-pick small details. Semar created this to get the conversation started because many of you were having trouble understanding the concept (due to my feeble explanations). As you can see, the WordPress admin bar will be banished. Navigation and information will be drop-down or pop-up (or pop-out). Lots of very cool Ajax interactivity. Compact. Fluid. Responsive. Techie. Minimal.

Does it make more sense now?

Terrence Banks

Posted on 11/4/13 11:42:27 PM Permalink

I like the fact that everything is out in the open, and users won't have to click on anything to see their stats..I like the ideal so far!

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/5/13 3:30:33 AM Permalink

Great potential in the look. It looks like a cleaner version of that 3D game Lab. I did a mini presentation on GameOn for a CTE class this weekend and another teacher did a mini presi of 3D Game Lab. Interesting similarities but I like the ability to work all of our through Wordpress and the fact that we are customizing it to our dreams with student input of course!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/4/13 10:02:23 PM Permalink


  • Students who've taken care of their time receive normal loot.


  • Students who owe 1 to 300 minutes earn 90% of normal loot.
  • Students who owe 301 to 600 minutes earn 80% of normal loot.
  • Students who owe 601 to 900 minutes earn 70% of normal loot.
  • Students who owe more than 900 minutes earn 60% of normal loot.


  • Students with a balance of over 300 minutes of extra time earn 110% loot.
  • Students with a balance of over 600 minutes of extra time earn 120% loot.
  • Students with a balance of over 900 minutes of extra time earn 130% loot.
  • Students with a balance of over 1200 minutes of extra time earn 140% loot.
  • Students with a balance of over 1500 minutes of extra time earn 150% loot.

You, of course, have the ability to adjust (or turn off) the settings on the Options page.


  • Leaderboard: Negative time moves to the bottom of the list (as intended)
  • Student Blogs visible to all (not just admins)
  • Something else... (spacing right now)

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/4/13 8:31:54 PM Permalink

Hey Guys... (And prob mostly Mike...)

How are you guys using the damage meter... I just noticed that upon upgrading to the latest, it's gone red, but should be yellow- I have myself owing 140 minutes.

the color change IS the damage meter, right? Just use the color change to indicate damage and take off percentages of reward for missions for damage if chosen? Is this how you're determining who gets rebooted?

Or is time and "damage" for reboot handled differently?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/4/13 9:43:37 PM Permalink

Time: The color shift in the progress bar is tied to time. I just took a test user to -140 and the bar turned yellow (as intended—after a refresh, not as intended).

The color change isn't an indicator of misbehavior, simply a visual indication that time needs to be made up. The weighted loot went live a few hours ago and it is directly tied to time (see comment above).

But red at -140 minutes?! Is anyone else experiencing this?

Rob, those colors and thresholds are hard-coded. It shouldn't be possible for red to appear until you're at -600 minutes.

Weird. Please confirm with another user.

Damage: We're calling this Infractions* and will have a different visual method of indicating status at the bottom of the progress bar's drop-down menu. A solid color: green, yellow, orange, or red rectangle accompanied by text reading: Infractions: 0/4, 1/4... will deliver the news. Should be ready by next weekend.

*Options page will allow you to change the name to what suits you.

As of yet, we don't have an additional nerf set for Infractions.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/5/13 12:11:18 AM Permalink

did the reinstall dance with the newest plug version and it seems to be back to good. I'll double check at school tomorrow.

What is the function of the Time section in settings? and how do we enter the percentage multiplier info?

And Mike... what might be an infraction? I'm taking minutes for eating in class, tardy, off task, things like that. What might the infractions be? I assume they're like large offenses? Where are you thinking you might draw the lines?

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/5/13 3:22:28 AM Permalink

My guess is the 300 club infractions? Dishonesty, Copyright infringement, Multiple off task after warning?

Rob, do you do individual evaluations like Mike or do you evaluate finished projects as traditional classrooms. I am trying to find the best balance of assessment with our game that can still satisfy admin.

Mike, How many time to you do indiv. evaluations per semester?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/5/13 1:54:48 PM Permalink


There's a lot of one-on-one interaction with the kids on a daily basis but formal evals are every six weeks.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/5/13 1:52:26 PM Permalink

Time Settings

-10,-300,-1 is the formula for players owing between -1 and -300 minutes.

The first number is the percentage of loot, in this case a 10% reduction. Plus I wanted the hit felt across the board so I talked Semar into the Round Up/Round Down option settings. Negative time always rounds down and positive time always rounds up. The nerf (or buff) is felt at every stage. (Except for those who owe no time or have less than 301 extra minutes. They get normal loot.)

We're going to work on colorizing the Growl notifications so positive is green and negative is red.

I asked Semar to change the code so that the negative settings aligned more closely to the positive, like this:


Semar explained that that would require two more calculations. He's trying to make this lean and mean and I agree 100%.

This may not conform to my OCD:


But it makes the game run more smoothly. Make sense?

Infractions (Damage)

This is Reaper. It's a last resort. More of a case-by-case call than hard and set rules. And it has to hurt. Losing the right to play music while working will probably be the accompanying penalty. And only inflicted after multiple warnings, 300 Club hits, and one-on-one conversations.

Or a completely over-the-top offense. Still working this out.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/5/13 3:11:28 PM Permalink

I think I messed with the Time section in my site and that's what went wonky. Set at "-300,-200,-100,0" right now. If that's where we can change the places where colors change, then it may be working right.

Have a kid at 120 and his bar is orange in my first class today.

Maybe the guys already un-hardcoded the time splits! #StealthAwesome

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/5/13 4:53:26 PM Permalink

Semar must have. I thought those numbers were some strange example. Now I see that I was wrong and they're obviously customizable split settings.

Always good to provide users options.

But -120 and orange?! Man, you're tougher than me. :)

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/5/13 5:39:44 PM Permalink

But -120 and orange?! Man, you're tougher than me. :)

I wish... I'm just so slack at adding them in, I needed to decrease the values. By the time I mark a kid, he/she has been given 5 breaks because I'm a dang softie...

Hoping the structure of the game helps me provide more structure to discipline in class... Seems to kind of do so.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/5/13 5:02:20 PM Permalink

Just looked at the JPG. Did you want the weighted looting off?

If you want it on, here are the default settings:

  • -40,-9000,-901
  • -30,-900,-601
  • -20,-600,-301
  • -10,-300,-1
  • 10,301,600
  • 20,601,900
  • 30,901,1200
  • 40,1201,1500
  • 50,1501,90000 (I'll have a few kids blow through 150 hours in the second semester)

Feel free to season to taste. (As if I need to tell you that!)

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/5/13 5:41:14 PM Permalink

Didn't know how to set it up. Just installed yesterday and we're still having graduation ceremony... I know kids were taking pics- can't wait to share with the group...

Went a little crazy with the set/ceremony/garb. ;)

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/5/13 7:28:46 PM Permalink

Wow! I gotta see it. You guys are over the top with everything! and thats a great things. No such thing as to big but you much have never ending energy reserves!

Kelly Kermode

Posted on 11/4/13 6:11:19 PM Permalink

Hey Everybody,

Annette sent me her document of notes and details re: GameOn. I have uploaded it to Google docs and started a working "manual" of sorts... Since the details change often, I thought a "living" doc would be better (hence a google doc). Once I get the basics framed into order and linked to the table of contents, everyone here should be part of the document to be able to add and change as needed.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/4/13 6:56:14 PM Permalink

+1 Annette and Kelly.

Great (and much needed) idea!

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/5/13 5:42:21 PM Permalink

Gonna have a wiki on the new site. You guys will be admins on it!

I promise it's coming!!! Working behind the scenes at!!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/2/13 6:14:52 PM Permalink

Lucky I didn't know the presentation was also an audition or I might have been nervous...

This guy comes up when my 45 minutes ran out, introduced himself, told me he's heard about our gamification system, looked into our program at Valhalla, and asked a few questions about our plans.

Long Story Short: Then he asked if I'd be interested in delivering a 20–25 minute keynote (that's the word he used) during the San Diego County Superintendents' meeting at the new San Diego Central Library on January 30.

"Interested? I said, Count me in!"

Think about it... A coordinator from the County Office of Ed listened to me ramble about self-paced learning, self-assessment, the Code of Honor, the World's Simplest Rubric, AMP, ZIM, and the rest of my cock-eyed edu-notions... and still extended the invitation.


Terrence Banks

Posted on 11/3/13 3:27:35 AM Permalink

Man...that's pretty awesome..I am so glad I stumbled upon your web site a year ago..

Annette Whitby

Posted on 11/3/13 4:48:50 PM Permalink

Exactly, Terrence!

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/3/13 4:11:40 AM Permalink

Freakin' awesome. I would pay to have heard your presentation that can intrigue/impress admin that much. I am sure your passion comes through loud and clear.

Kelly Kermode

Posted on 11/4/13 3:18:07 AM Permalink

I am so so so so excited for you!

For those of us fighting the good fight across the country, any chance you might have your keynote recorded? ;)

Congratulations, Mike. We're all better because of you.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/4/13 6:01:28 PM Permalink

Thanks everyone!

Kelly, I've actually been thinking about asking permission to record it. Two alumni are all-stars in the SDSU Film Program and have pitched me on producing a documentary about what we're doing. Capturing the keynote would be an important piece.

I'm thinking of using this to advocate for far more than gamifying curriculum and am interested everyone's input. California is a local-control state and the room will be full of people in a position to affect change.

Lots of thinking, sifting research, and creating/collecting imagery to produce an impactful, persuasive preso. Anything you guys have to contribute will be welcomed.

I'm going to practice this one as if it were a TED Talk because it really is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/1/13 10:44:27 PM Permalink


Lots of little things...

  • Clipboard Updated (New look + sort glitch banished)
  • Student Blogs Shortcode: Add [go_list_URL] (jumps to top of page)
  • Stats Page just called Stats in header now (because it's really not a page)
  • More uniform default presets on Options page (+ page now actually named Options)
  • New Period/Computer Number presets (for seating chart on Clipboard)
  • Players' Level listed when they add comments (still working on changing appearance)
  • Purchased info moved back beneath Purchase button (where it belongs)

Semar is still perfecting the weighted looting system and we've agreed on those settings for the preset but, as usual, offer you the ability to change (or eliminate) the settings to suit your needs.

He's also working on a jazzy update to the Clipboard (stage one complete)


Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/4/13 5:00:43 AM Permalink

Is there s way for the minutes leaderboard to identify the difference between negative and positive? Its putting a student with -600 at the top of my list.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/4/13 6:04:54 PM Permalink

Semar fixed that in the latest update (which I haven't had time to post about yet).

Terrence Banks

Posted on 11/4/13 4:51:27 PM Permalink

Is the shortcode [go_list_URL] only for students can't see the blog list but I can?

Ryan Hayes

Posted on 11/4/13 5:35:59 PM Permalink

I noticed the same. :(

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/4/13 6:06:25 PM Permalink

Ezio didn't realize we wanted that visible to everyone. (My fault for not being clear.)

He's fixing that right now. Will advise when the hotfix is live.

Update: He's setting it up so you can designate who can see the blogs—admin, users, or everyone. Will be an Options page setting.

Update II: Ran out of time. For now it's visible to all (not just admins).

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/5/13 5:51:50 PM Permalink

Can we have another shortcode that's like [go_list_url class=2] That will just list that class? I'd like to have them all displayed on the page at once in columns.

Workaround for now- Display, then copy and paste the list. Then manually paste in your column layout.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/5/13 6:07:18 PM Permalink


Do you want the ability to display each class on it's own page or one page with all classes listed at once (in separate columns)?

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/5/13 8:24:28 PM Permalink

Yeah, instead of choosing, I would like to be able to list them in columns..

Like This.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/5/13 8:52:09 PM Permalink


We can do that but some of the long display names may be problematic (cramped columns).

I'll ask Ezio to create that shortcode tomorrow.

Rob Schwartz

Posted on 11/5/13 5:57:08 PM Permalink


I never posted the problem and my hacks last week, but in a couple classes there were kids I couldn't choose because of the size change dropping them off the page. Thanks so much for that update!!!! AMAZING!

Can I suggest gray in the future so that it works with all themes/school colors? :)

Donald Peters

Posted on 11/1/13 2:24:49 PM Permalink

I am now an official 'Adobe Education Trainer' thanks in large part to 'GameOn' and this little community. I built my final product staff development demonstration inside the 'GameOn' plugin and provided a login and password so that it would play correctly when I submitted it.

Just received notice that I passed and am now an officital AET. Thanks Mike. =D

Annette Whitby

Posted on 11/1/13 3:32:24 PM Permalink

Congrats and thanks for sharing the good news, Don! Keep on keepin' on!!

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/1/13 3:49:27 PM Permalink

Don't thank me, Donald. You did all the work. Way to go!

Donald Peters

Posted on 11/1/13 12:37:52 AM Permalink

go here and write a review of a website or app that you probably are already using and get a $15 amazon gift card. Just got mine. Just be sure to specify how it is changing your teaching THIS year.

BTW, after a couple days I will go back and delete this post so that it doesn't end up as part of 'cannon.' but I wanted you all to have this opportunity to essentially get some 'free' books to help with the gamification thought process if you so chose.

I ended up with a book of graphic design lessons, a 'mini book' on gamification, and a serialized book on 'fueling your creative career'. Not bad for a little over $15.

oh did I mention that I had a student give me 6 gig of D&D books? They are sitting on a flash drive waiting to be transferred to my Kindle. You would think with all this reading my 'game' would be better. But essentially it comes down to 'time.' =/

Kelly Kermode

Posted on 11/1/13 6:07:32 PM Permalink

Hey Donald,

Would you be interested in swapping out some resources? :)
Email me at kkermode [at] gmail dot com and we can discuss more.


Donald Peters

Posted on 11/1/13 11:10:08 PM Permalink

I"m intrigued... emailing.

Kelly Kermode

Posted on 11/4/13 4:12:42 AM Permalink

How long did you wait before receiving your gcard?

Donald Peters

Posted on 11/5/13 12:39:20 PM Permalink

It took about 24 hours after I posted to get feedback of what I needed to add, then another 24 hours after I fixed it to get the card. Be sure to put the link to your review into the link they ask for it.

Kelly Kermode

Posted on 10/31/13 3:14:24 PM Permalink

Major issue... NO leaderboard shows up.
See picture:
The buttons on the bottom right do not function. I have checked and I can see everyone and their stats in the clipboard. But they cannot see the leaderboard.

The students cannot peer check or hold each other accountable because they cannot see anything.
Did I miss a step?

They have been content with the quests up until a week or so ago, and now they want more to the game... and have clarified some concerns (in a wonderful, diplomatic conversation btw).


Adam Coulson

Posted on 10/31/13 3:57:31 PM Permalink

They are drag and drop. Drag them into the window above and the leaderboard will show up. You can do a single or multiple classes at a time. Same thing happened to me.

Kelly Kermode

Posted on 10/31/13 4:48:46 PM Permalink

I missed this small detail somehow. lol. I wonder how much else I have missed in this flurry of learning and exploration. :)
Thanks so much.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/31/13 10:19:16 PM Permalink

Yeah, our drag and drop isn't intuitive. Checkboxes are coming.

Sorry, Kelly (and Adam). Not your fault.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 10/31/13 2:23:46 PM Permalink

New thought: would it be possible to lock certain items in the store until a specified level is reached. Some of my students suggested there be different items that become available in the store when new levels are reached. I was thinking the price was enough but perhaps they aren't expensive things just unavailable until a level is reached?

Kelly Kermode

Posted on 10/31/13 4:49:43 PM Permalink

Seems like we could integrate a shortcode of sorts... Maybe by combining shortcode buddy with some level? Just throwing out ideas here...

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/31/13 10:26:10 PM Permalink

It's possible right now. Set Required Rank to Level X and you're good to go.

Adam Coulson

Posted on 11/1/13 3:05:05 AM Permalink


Annette Whitby

Posted on 11/1/13 3:34:17 PM Permalink

Just made a reminder note for these instructions. :0 )

Kelly Kermode

Posted on 11/4/13 3:21:20 AM Permalink


Would you be willing to share your notes as a shared Google doc, and then we could all edit with tips and tricks - and publish a live ebook of sorts to the GameOn site once it's live?

Let me know either way.


Annette Whitby

Posted on 11/4/13 5:22:39 PM Permalink

Hello, Kelly. I like your thinking.

My notes doc is more like a collection of random "instructions" chunked here and there. I'll email you the original (some of the earlier information at the end of the document is out-of-date due to the upgrades since this summer).

I'll try to delete out the extra/out-dated info, leaving only the updated info.


Donald Peters

Posted on 10/30/13 8:48:51 PM Permalink

Okay rambling post incoming...

we have a LOT of tech people come through my district as we are a supposed 'tech innovator.' Some teachers from each of the schools (not me) went to a presentation by iCurio... talking to the teachers from my campus that went, they were talking about a set up that showed a pie graph that showed all assignments - assignments not yet completed were in red, completed were yellow, and completed with commentary from the teacher (graded) were green - got me to thinking - wouldn't it be interesting to have something along those lines here?

which got me to thinking - all of my quests so far have been extremely linear, but if you play an mmorpg you know that the quests are not linear. you can have multiple quests active at one time and be working on them simultaneously. What if there were some type of 'quest log' that would show students the quests they had accepted, completed, mastered, etc?

which led me to thinking of mini quests introducing new skills/tools/etc that also tied to, but were not linear to, quests that applied those tools - there could be multiple quests that approached the same skill set from different directions to show students different ways of learning the same concepts..

then at the same time have 'epic quests' that tie together what is learned in the miniquests and the regular quests into a major project where they have to apply all skills learned so far,

BUT and this is the big BUT, they could be working on ALL of these quests at the same time and have a 'quest log' that kept track - they could work through them linearly for those that prefer, but for those students who are more creative outside the box thinkers, they could approach it piecemeal.

I don't know, maybe this is all possible now and I am just not understanding how to code it this way??

I've emailed my district and asked to go if the iCurio people come back AND I've covertly emailed the iCurio people directly and asked to learn more about their system and how it would compare/contrast to what we are doing here.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/31/13 12:02:16 PM Permalink

The stats page has some of what your asking for right now. Kids can see what stage of the quest they're on and access a direct link to the respective quests. The pie chart is there too, though in shades of orange rather than multi-hued.

All the non-linear, multiple quest stuff is in how you present the quests. That's doable right now.

I've got to work on these pages Clients | Training but that's how I'm setting up what I think you're talking about. I'm certain there are better ways to deliver the quests.

Does any of that make sense and/or answer your questions?

Adam Coulson

Posted on 10/31/13 3:22:57 PM Permalink

Mike I love how you are opening it up to give wide student choice with the projects/clients/training. Do you ever define a minimal expectation in terms of projects or training completion?

Do you have students that choose to only do the training all semester without ever producing finished work? I find it much more challenging to evaluate these students. I know they are working at a slower speed but still working. They don't get the required training done quickly and are then opting for more training rather than the projects. Do you deem this as a valid option for those students?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/31/13 10:37:34 PM Permalink

Short answer: NO!

Mac Lab Media (MLM) is our business. As the Boss, I require my employees to train, recruit clients (min 1 per semester), and produce real work for our clients. No one has the option of remaining in perpetual training.

Encourage students to play to their strengths and/or collaborate. No one is ever ready for all the projects but by now they're ready for something on the list.

Require a mix of training and work.


Donald Peters

Posted on 10/29/13 3:00:55 AM Permalink

I'm not fully understanding the clipboard. Mine only shows 9 of my 24 students and it seems to be a completely random 9. Not computers 1-9, Not the top 9...

can someone explain to me better how the clipboard works?

Ryan Hayes

Posted on 10/29/13 2:34:45 PM Permalink

Make sure all of your students have selected a Period Number under their profile.

Terrence Banks

Posted on 10/29/13 6:14:29 PM Permalink

Also, if you want quick access to their blogs have them put their blog address where its says website.

Mike Skocko

Posted on 11/1/13 1:49:59 AM Permalink

You get it now, right, Donald?

Donald Peters

Posted on 11/1/13 2:18:56 AM Permalink

not 100%.. I'm a visual learner and I haven't had time to go in and look at it. My daughter has been home sick all week.

++ the game I play has a Halloween event going on and I'm trying to collect all the new armor pieces before it is over. =P

Ryan Hayes

Posted on 10/29/13 2:22:30 AM Permalink

I have a presentation at the D.O. TechFest on Thursday about Game On and Gamification. If you were doing a presentation, what key things would you highlight, mention, etc.?

Mike Skocko

Posted on 10/29/13 2:52:51 PM