App Review: 1 Teacher + 37 Students + ClassCraft = ?

ClassCraft BlogEveryday, each classroom teacher is expected to manage his or her  class and to follow up on students’ behavior and academic performance. The teacher aims to put order into the class and makes sure that everyone is engaged with the various learning tasks at hand. Moreover, the teacher is also expected to encourage and motivate the kids to do better in class, participate in discussion or activities, and to perform well during assessments. Together with these is the need to communicate and work with parents for the sake of the students.

 

With all these expectations, how can technology support or assist the teacher to maintain an orderly class, motivate students, and give feedback to them and eventually, communicate these to their parents?

There are numerous apps that would promise answers to these expectations. The EdTech world is full of various learning management systems (LMS), classroom management apps, or apps with features that give feedback to parents or students. However, I was not just looking for apps that can help manage the class. I was also looking for apps that would help me motivate and engage the students with our learning activities. Something fun. Something that would excite my students.

The answer to this was ClassCraft.

ClassCraft transforms the class into a role-playing adventure. Taking on game elements and applying these in the classroom setting, ClassCraft offers a great experience for the teacher to use gamification in class. In ClassCraft, students take up characters that can wield powers, suffer from losing points, or level up with experience points. They can participate in random events or quests that the teacher can initiate for the class.

However, more than having these cool features and awesome graphics, how does ClassCraft help make learning for students engaging, meaningful, or collaborative?

 

1. ClassCraft makes learning a personal adventure for students.

As students step into their characters, they are challenged to behave well and perform well in class because they know that their teacher can reward them with points or deduct them with their HP or health points. In short, they have to learn how to manage themselves so that their character can progress in the adventure. In a way, the character reflects their performance in class.

2. ClassCraft help foster collaboration among students.

Because the game works on rewards system, students become mindful that their actions or performance in class can affect their team or guild’s overall performance. As they individually progress in class and in ClassCraft, they also think about how they can help protect or heal their teammates. They need to collaborate, plan, and work together to gain points. For example, during a group work, the teacher can put up rewards for those who finish the work well or for those who have shown great collaborative skills during the said learning activity.

3. ClassCraft engages and motivates students.

Rewards, ability to use “educational” powers or class incentives, awesome equipment, and fearsome or cute pets, who does not get motivated to work for these? Teachers can use ClassCraft as an academic motivator. I have parents telling me that their children were exerting more effort and setting more review time for a coming test so that they can receive Gold Pieces or more XP.  Another way ClassCraft makes learning engaging is through its Boss Battle, which turns reviewing, a formative activity, fun and exciting. Recently, the Boss Battle was added for the students to answer review questions, defeat a Boss, and eventually gain rewards.

4. ClassCraft teaches students to take risks and be mindful of the consequences of their decisions or actions.

While the game is all about rewards, another aspect that ClassCraft manages to subtly teach students is about taking risks and being mindful of the consequences of their actions in class. When they decide to battle a boss, they are become mindful that they can fall from the game if they fail to answer the review questions well. This possible outcome pushes them to prepare well for the Boss Battle. Helping others or protecting their teammates can also give the team great results.

FullSizeRender 6There are other helpful features that can be used when the ClassCraft account is upgraded. Features such as grade book, analytic, or additional rewards are made available to further deepen the feedback mechanism in class and intensify the role-playing adventure. ClassCraft also has a parent feature where parents can have an access and clear view of how their children are doing in class. However, whether your account is free or premium, the main essence of ClassCraft remains. It still engages and motivates students to behave or perform well, whether individually or as a team.

So, in the end, 1 Teacher + 37 Students + ClassCraft = a motivated class, taking an adventure of a lifetime. Yes! That was my experience in my own classroom in the Philippines. ClassCraft successfully helped me to manage and make learning exciting and fun for 37 young and energetic boys.

 

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Leveraging Social Media to Create a Connected Learning Community

Leveraging Social Media to Create a Connected Learning CommunityOne big reality today: teachers, school leaders, students, and parents are using various social media platform. Well, a few maybe are not yet using any social media platform, but in the near future, everyone will be creating accounts to post photos, write their thoughts, or just randomly search for information about their favourite topic. While some educators are still not comfortable with the use of social media in the field of education, a great number of teachers, school leaders, and students have embraced and used social media to promote learning and to connect with other educators around the world.

 

Creating a Connected Learning Community

Using social media can create a connected learning community, especially when the values of trust, commitment to improvement of learning and teaching, and building and sharing of knowledge propel the use.

1. A professional relationship among parents, teachers, school leaders, and students that is founded mainly on the values of trust and respect can take advantage of social media. Using social media to communicate and showcase the school’s progress is a way to build trust and transparency to parents. Providing parents an opportunity to be updated with the school activities or events using social media can further cement an efficient and quick channel of communication. For example, school posts’ containing updates about school activities or accomplishments can be shared by parents who feel proud of the work of their children and of the school.

2. Educators have long tapped the power of social media to connect and learn with fellow educators around the world. Most notable of these platforms is Twitter. Numerous educational chats in Twitter have pushed the meaning and relevance of formal professional development conferences or workshops simply because educators have taken professional sharing and conversation into a free and engaging platform. Access to professional sharing has been, in fact, levelled off by an online access to Twitter. Teachers from various places around the world can now learn from other teachers, who without social media, can’t be reached by ordinary means. Not enough time or fund to join education conferences abroad? Follow the conference’s official hashtags and get free access to ideas flowing from the event itself.

3. Showcasing students’ learning artefacts has found a wider audience. Teachers and students are not anymore passive consumers of tech tools. In fact, those who share their learnings in social media are moving beyond becoming active creators of knowledge. They are actually taking part in a culture that actively chooses what should be seen online. They have chosen to show contents that promote learning and provide information that could improve a student’s learning, a teacher’s instruction, a school administrator’s leadership approach, or a parents’ support system at home.

Caveat: The Other Side of the Coin

The school community should also be aware of the challenges or issues that social media may cause in the learning community. These should not be overlooked or ignored. The use of social media has brought problems or issues among its users, whether young or old. Among these are the “addiction” of users and the fear of being left behind from what is trending online. Yes, we want to be connected with others, but a few have taken this to an imaginable height which caused “addiction” or irrational fear or dependence on social media. Sometimes, “unplugging” one’s self from the internet can give greater advantages also.

A few educators voiced out to let social media be used for “socialization.” Some students or teachers may just want to use their social media accounts for non-education related things in their life. Invading the social media realm in the name of education may remove the needed “break” of teachers and students from their usual routine in class.

Unnecessary or sensitive information about a member of the learning community might be divulge through social media. Sometimes, exchange of ideas or opinions might lead to heated arguments. In short, more than connecting members of the community, social media can cause division or gap among its users.

Yes or No?

As learning communities constantly decide on how they can leverage the use of social media, a basic aspect of education technology integration should always be taken into consideration: a proper, meaningful, and relevant digital citizenship program among members of the community. All members of the school community should still go back to why they are using social media and to commit themselves solely to these reasons.