Connecting dots for digital learning and teaching

Game Over – Try Again – Level Up (#GBL)

Creating effective classroom experiences through game-based mechanics and community, it works for children as well as adults.

How I turned my classroom into a ‘living video game’—and saw achievement soar

Teacher : Joli Barker

Students : second graders

School : Earl H. Slaughter Elementary School in McKinney, Texas

I began the transformation of my classroom by looking at the curriculum and writing storylines that would challenge students to solve science, technology, engineering, and math-related scenarios. For example, one such storyline under the reading content area is, “Explain how two given scientific conclusions are similar, and identify which of the scientists we’ve studied might have written these conclusions based on textual evidence.”  A math example storyline is, “How are fractions connected to the concept of multiplication?”

I use QR codes and augmented reality codes to help students move independently from one activity to the next. Kids use cell phones or tablets to scan the barcodes, which take them to websites or instruction pages with directions for the next activity, or to “cheat codes,” with strategies to help them solve the “boss-level problem.” I even decided to forgo the usual grading system in my classroom, so that as far as the students knew, they were either “Leveling Up!” (proficient) or they needed more practice with “Game Over: Try Again.” They stopped defining themselves by grades and saw “try again” as an opportunity to do just that.

The results of this innovative approach to learning have far surpassed my expectations. After only three months of the gaming concept, student scores on the Northwest Evaluation Association’s Measures of Academic Progress test showed a 71 percent improvement in reading fluency, 58 percent improvement in reading comprehension, and 76 percent overall improvement in math, particularly in problem solving.

game based learning

Understanding Quest-Based Learning from Boise State University

QBL-Whitepaper_Haskell-final (pdf file)

Teacher : Chris Haskell, ED.D.

Students : Pre-­‐service teachers

School : Boise State University

Teachers in a quest-based approach do not assign letter grades to completed quests. Dismissing the industrial paradigm approach in favor of a digital age sensibility, teachers either approve a quest because it meets all expectations or return the quest to the student for revisions and resubmission. Just like video games, quest-based learning supports multiple attempts without punishment to promote learning from mistakes.

Successfully completed quests earn experience points (XP). Like videogames, XP contributes to progression through levels and ranks, as a prerequisite for other curriculum, demonstrates progress across standards and competencies, and accumulates toward course completion or “winning condition.”

Key Insights:

  • Quest-based learning incorporates game mechanics, and gamer-like learning communities.
  • Game-based feedback tools like experience points, progress bars, badges, and achievements are motivating and meaningful to students.
  • Students in a quest-based course received higher grades overall when compared to traditional course.
  • Students do more work on average using quest-based learning.
  • On average, students complete quest-based learning design courses in less time than traditional courses.
  • Over 65% of students remain persistent in quest-based learning, continuing to quest beyond the minimum required to receive a “A.”

photo credit: Dunechaser via photopin cc


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2 Responses »


  1. Game over – try again – level up (an item re: game-based learning from
  2. GBL | Pearltrees

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“Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, involve me and I will understand.” -------- Chinese Wisdom "Games are the most elevated form of investigation." -------- Albert Einstein
"I'm calling for investments in educational technology that will help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, educational software as compelling as the best video game," President Barack Obama said while touring a tech-focused Boston school (year 2011).
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