Integration of a website or an educational content management system into teaching practices.
What is Class Craft?
Class Craft is an online educational role-playing game that can be played in any classroom, by students and teachers. It is a great tool for classroom management. The game lasts throughout the whole year, and it does not change what the teacher would normally want to teach. In fact, how it works, is that every student has an avatar, and during every class, the players gain or lose points, according to what is going on in the classroom. The students are placed into teams, and they want to gain as many points as possible, as they have real-life consequences. The teacher can also use the Class Craft platform to put interactive classroom content, keep track of the behaviors in class, to add forums for student/teacher discussions, online quizzes, and much more. There even is a function where the teacher can find out how many times each student logged in.
Students are paired into teams of 5 or 6. Each student in the team has to choose a category of character, according to what type of students they are. Each team must have a balanced number of character types, and they have to cooperate to succeed. There are 3 types of characters and each type has specific powers. Every power requires a certain amount of points in order for the students to use them.
The Healers have the special ability to Heal teammates, by giving them 10 HP points. They also have the Revive Power, which is when a teammate falls to 0 HP points, this student can avoid penalties and come back to life with 1 HP. Other powers are also available to Healers, depending on how many points they have: Ardent faith: Ask the teacher if his answer to one question is correct during an exam, Favor of the Gods: listen to his/her iPod during class, etc.
The Mage can use the Transfer of mana, so all his team members gain 7 AP, except the other Mages. The Mage can also Teleport, to trade place with a classmate, in order to save or help him. The Mage can also use the Time Warp (to have extra minutes to complete an exam), or the Clairvoyance (All team members get a hint on an exam question).
The Warrior has the power to Protect a teammate by taking 80%, 50%, or else of his damage. He can also use special abilities like the Ambush, which is to hand in an assignment 1 day later, eat in class, or use the Secret Weapon, use a cheat sheet provided by the teacher during an exam.
THE GAME MASTER
The teacher is called the Game Master, he is the manager of the game. He manages the platform by giving and taking out the points.
Students gain points by having good academic results, by helping teammates with homework, by having a good attitude in class, or any other positive behaviour or acts that the Game Master (teacher) has set in advance. The points add up all along the weeks, and they lead to different powers. For example, with a number of points, a student could earn the right to bring a “cheat sheet” to an exam, have a homework-free pass, bonus points on an exam, the right to eat in class, purchase new costumes or pets for their Avatar, or any other special power chosen by the teacher.
On the other hand, the students loose points if they arrive late in class, if they do not hand in an assignment, if they cause classroom disruptions or else. Loosing too much points lead to “falling in battle” which has different consequences, such as detention, copy, or else.
The teacher can customize his own rules, his own rewards and his own consequences. He is the Game Master, he is in charge of everything, from what content he wants to put on the platform, to how long he wants to spend on the game during the class.
XP (Experience points)
Experience points are gained by having a positive behavior in class. They enable the students to unlock the different powers. Here are a few examples of how students can earn those points: Finding a mistake in the class notes, correctly answering a question in class, helping a fellow student, being positive and hard-working, etc.
AP (Action points)
The AP enables the students to use the different powers that are available (unlocked by XP points) to their characters.
HP (Health points)
Students start the year with a maximum number of 50 HP. Players loose those HP points whenever they have negative behaviors in class. For example, disturbing the class, arriving late to class, incomplete homework, etc. When a student loses all of his HP, he falls in battle. This means that he will have consequences in real life. (detention, copy, etc.)
GP (Gold pieces)
Gained when students have exceptional behaviors, these points can be used to purchase new costumes for the avatars, or train their pets. However, the GP are only available with the premium version of Class craft, not with the free one.
The Creator of the Game
Class craft was created in 2013 by Shawn Young, a secondary five Physics teacher from Sherbrooke. With the help from his brother’s and his father’s own expertise, they developed the game who is now used by around 7000 teachers over 50 different countries. The main goals who led Young to create this dynamic learning environment were to motivate his students towards school in general, to promote teamwork and to encourage the students to have a good behaviour in class. The game is constantly evolving and is starting to get famous all around the world. Class Craft is now available in 7 languages!
Class Craft for ESL teachers
Class Craft was created in a way that it is not specific to one particular school subject. In this regard, it can be a very useful tool for English as a second language teachers. In fact, Alex Collard from Laval (Canada) and Jeroen Heremans from Belgium are two English as a second language teachers at high school level. They have both been using Class Craft for a while now, and they really appreciate how their classroom have positively changed since the implementation.
“It’s now a huge part of my planning, and I couldn’t teach without it,” states Alex Collard. In his testimony, he mentions how easy the game is to integrate. Jeroen Heremans says that it is a really big source of motivation for the students, because it actually rewards the students when they work hard. He also talks about how it is wonderful to see a silent student work up the courage to go and speak in front of the class, in order to get more XP. The rewards will certainly help to maximize the use of the second language inside of the classroom.
My personal opinion about Class Craft
In order to learn more about how Class Craft works, I have myself created an account. What is wonderful about this game, is that it is completely free! Of course there is also a premium version which is not free, but it does not have many more indispensable features. The principal advantage of the premium version, according to me, is that you can use the iOS app or Android app. The application is designed for mobile devices like tablets, phones or iPods, so the student can play directly inside of the classroom. They can keep track of their points, use their powers and even consult content put on by the teacher during the class. Of course, this depends if your school is equipped with such materials as tablets, or if you allow students to use their own iPods or phones in the classroom.
After I experienced a little on my new account, I had a few questions about the game, so I wrote an e-mail directly from the messaging box on the website. I was surprised to see that someone had written me back no later than the next day. I believe that their accessibility is very important and valuable, since it is a web game, multiple problems and questions can come up. It is always nice to know that you can count on the creator team to be there to help you in times of need.
Class Craft is very user-friendly. At first, you can experiment your role as the Game Master (teacher), by using a Demo Class. There is a section which is all tutorial videos that demonstrate every aspect of the game. The videos are very useful and complete.
I believe it is important to integrate technologies into nowadays teaching, since technology occupies a great deal of our everyday life. Class Craft is a solution that I would be very interested in, depending of what level I end up teaching. I believe it would be an effective way to deal with classroom management. Because there is a real possibility of reward, the students tend to behave as required, not to lose too much points. Also, I would certainly customize a section with rewards/consequences to deal with minimizing the use of the L1.
The two features that stroke me the most were the random events and the content section. First, the random event: At the beginning of every class, the teacher starts the class by generating a random event. The events can be positive or unfortunate. For example, “A student falls in battle”, “The player with the most AP loses 15 points”, “All Healers gain 200 XP”, “No one can fall in battle today”, “The player with the least HP must tell a joke”, “The player with the least XP chooses a song that the Game Master must sing”, etc. These events, either generated by the web designers, or customized by the teacher, are fun and they keep the students interested in the game. There is also the tool “Wheel of destiny” that randomly chooses a student, or a team, depending on what you want.
The second feature that I found interesting, is the content section. In the content section, the teacher can post whatever he wants the students to read. It could be a reading assignment, an interesting article related to what was covered in class that day, or anything else. What is very interesting, is that the website can automatically assign points to those who consulted and read the posted content up until the end. That way, you can make sure that the students are up to date with their readings.
I did not think of any bad commentary about the game, except that the teacher has to plan a little amount of time during the period to manage the game.