You would be hard pressed to find a teenager (particularly a teenage boy) who would rather go to school than play video games. For many years, edtech developers have tried to leverage that very simple choice between school and games in the shape of educational games that are broadly terrible (although there are some classic exceptions). Shawn Young, a Canadian high school teacher, however, has taken the idea of an educational game a step farther than anyone before: he has turned his classroom into a World ofWarcraft-style Role Playing Game, and it’s insanely awesome.
The “game” is called “World of Classcraft”, and its stated goal is to “transform the classroom into an adventure.” In groups of eight, students pick from one of three classes, each with their own strengths and abilities—warriors, for example, can use an ability to get a hint on an exam question, while priests have the power to open or close windows in the classroom. When students do well in class (such as correctly answering a question in class or helping another student), they earn Experience Points, which can be used to unlock more powerful abilities. Meanwhile, misbehavior (arriving late to class or being disruptive) results in damage to a student’s health points. If students lose all of their health points, they “die” and suffer a randomly chosen punishment ranging from detention to a shortened deadline for a paper. To keep track of all the various moving pieces, the game’s author designed a software platform that lets teachers manage the game with the help of a computer.
The game was posted to Reddit, so naturally hundreds of Redditors have identified all of the possible exploits to the system. Aside from that, though, it seems like a great way to engage kids obsessed with videogames to approach their own education with the same rigor. There’s no indication on whether the system is successful (although Mr. Young says that students, including girls, get very motivated), but the idea alone is pretty cool—I certainly would have paid attention a little more.