The Game of Education

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Donald Clark is a reliably controversial blogger but a post last month took the biscuit. Based on some recently-published research that cast doubt on the claims of “brain training” software to produce learning that will generalise to other contexts, he concludes that “Gamification does NOT work!” in education. This is like finding a broken-down rickshaw and concluding that Continue reading

Our first-ever 8th Dan student

8th DanMeet Beatrice Wongsanguan, Y11 student at Patana School in Bangkok. Beatrice is the first student ever to achieve the 8th Dan belt in Yacapaca.

In case you do not know, we copied the Judo belt scheme to describe our levels. Students earn White Belt almost immediately, the work up through the colours to Black Belt. After that, they get into the Dan grades, and progress becomes much harder. Achieving each grade is 60% more work than achieving the previous grade was. 60% may not sound like a lot, but it compounds up very fast.

Belt grades are earned primarily through diligence. Regular practice, regular revision and participation in the voluntary extension activities such as peer assessment are key. Beatrice has been using Yacapaca since Y7 (I looked up her records) and is clearly a top performer even in a school renowned for its work ethos.

Congratulations Beatrice! Read the full story in the Patana magazine.

Timed questions help students get in ‘flow’

It all started one warm Friday afternoon about 12 years ago. I was observing a Y10 class in a fairly typical mainstream secondary school. They were taking a test using Paperless School, a now-defunct system that I had designed.

One pair of boys particularly caught my attention. They were lolling back in their chairs, chatting about snooker and doing their absolute adolescent damnedest to project a “too cool for school” attitude. Once in a while they would click on an answer on the screen so they could lay some vague claim to still being working.

Engaged with the task they were not.

Realisation slowly dawned that, as system designer, this was my fault. I had to take responsibility for Continue reading

A very short primer on gamification

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Yacapaca is a gamified formative assessment system. I want to discuss briefly what that means, and how we interpret it in software.

Gamification is the art of making things you want to do anyway more fun, and more motivating. To understand why this is so powerful, I recommend this 12-minute TED talk by Seth Priebatsch because it is a lot more fun and motivating than the Continue reading

This is the power of a little tin badge

100%I got this email yesterday from Dr. Mandy Heddle, who teaches in a high-achieving British International School. I have permission to share the story, but I’ll not name the school so as to stay out of their Google searches.

I wanted to share with you that I have a student I have mentored since she was 11 and she is now 17. She is off the charts smart, even for our school, and I can’t wait to see what she does with her life. Very quirky and gothic with a very dark sense of humour. She has won countless awards and accolades, from poetry to mathematics and she could not care less. She slouches up to the stage each assembly and mumbles her thanks. However, I have never seen her utter amazement and joy when her Yacapaca badge arrived in the mail. She was stunned that it actually came and she couldn’t be more proud. It made her week. So thank you so much for such a great programme that makes my students so happy.

Of course I was grinning from ear to ear after reading this. Stories like this are absolutely what make it all worthwhile.