To change the school system

Ok, so how are we going to do this? It’s a known fact (here and here). Education as we were taught needs to die soon. And, who will be in charge of the slaughter?

The students.

It’s very simple. We can find a lot of evidence on how schools have less interest now than ever before and at the same time schooled systems are as obsoletes as a BETA tape. Our students right now have more access to information than ever before in the whole history of mankind COMBINED.

What’s the need for schools then?

jack-andrakaIf you are a 15 year old kid who suffered a trauma and can start reading and learning how to fix that problem (a good example here) you do not need a school telling you which way your education should go. Schools should be a place to help students find inspiration and motivation and passion and love and many many things. They need to stop killing creativity as they are.

But, where to start?

In my experience the system has a fatal flaw that must be exploited. Teachers are actually willing to help the change. This change has to come from the bottom. Schools DO NOT CARE what system they use or how engaged their students are. Schools are businesses. They will be happy as long as the students pay and the teachers “teach” and every year they get to graduate any number of students. But schools don’t really care about how happy or how much the students learn. They brag about having some students getting in the best universities but that’s just less than 10% of even the best highschools.

The core problem is that more often those students are realising that school SUCKS big time and they DO NOT NEED IT for them to be successful. So why would students want to be in school? Imagine things going on like this for 10 more years and your 15 year old kid goes to school, paying for tuition he doesn’t need because his online business on baseball facts has grown 20% in the last three months and he wants to take an advanced course in online marketing in an online school that will give it for free or maybe 10 bucks.

So, the place to start is the teachers. Teachers have to change the strategy. WE have to change the strategy. School can’t stay like this forever. If there is anyone out there who owns a school and thinks it’s great business to change it into the future of learning that’s awesome, but the millions of students who won’t have access to that need to get help from teachers who can adapt their own curriculum to a modern model and have the curiosity of the kids grow and thrive.

theoceancleanupIf we ignite that light within our students, the limits are absolutely gone forever! They will not only think about great solutions for the planet, they will EXECUTE them.

Teachers need to stop thinking that their job is just a consequence of unemployment or the one thing they can do easily for a paycheck. Teacher transform lives forever. Either for good or bad, but they do.

All teachers need is to stop limiting students and show them they can do whatever they wish. All schools need to do is let them.

Really. The sky is the limit.


Our education as a purpose

I am the proud father of a 12-year old son who has begun his first year in secondary education ( Junior High ). Since he was a little kid studying in kindergarten, I’ve seen that teachers, parents and students have deviate from the real purpose of education.

Back in the days where I was a 12-year old student, my parents and my teachers had a very specific purpose for me, to study, learn, and get good grades so I could fully understand the responsibilities the school had in me.

If I didn’t do a homework, then the teacher would send a note to my parents mentioning that this kind of behavior had to change and that I needed to bring every single one of my homework done to the class.

If I misbehave, then the Principal would call my parents to see what was going on. My parents, the teachers and the Principal would talk about me in a peaceful way and would agree on a change of direction for me.

Today, sadly I see the opposite. The moment the teacher sends a note to any parent, the parents mostly would deny their children behavior and would say that it has to be the teacher’s fault. Then they would go directly to the Principal’s office and demand that the teacher has to change its behavior rather than the student itself.

I believe this nonsense is going on, mainly because most of the parents, teachers and students have lost the true meaning of the education as a purpose.

Purpose is a strong word that changes many lives instantly, It brings joy and defines the path of any person for good.

Purpose = That which you love ( Mission ) + That which the world needs ( Vocation ) + That which you can be paid for ( Profession ) + That which you are good at ( Passion ).

If we as parents accept that these new generations of students had the same responsibilities as we did back then when we were students, then we have found our true purpose and it would reflect on being achievable of our children’s education.

The 3 ingredients for a gamified classroom

When you build a gamified classroom you need to develop two sides of the same coin. The problem with it is that it requires two almost opposite ways of thinking.

On one side you need to think as an educator and on the other as a gamification designer.

We will not address the curriculum design on this article, but we will address the gamification design. If I try to write down all the concepts of gamification here it would require one thousand posts and it’s not worthy.

However, in my experience there are three things you need to consider when gamifying your classroom.

  1. The system
  2. The feedback
  3. The story

The System

The rules. Nothing more. However, you must make them clear and balanced.

Here is a sample system.

You will give coins for every homework in turned in. The coins will be used for getting additional points in class (one to 10 scale). One point = 1000 coins. You decide to assign 100 coins to every homework turned in on time. So every time a player turns in 10 homeworks on time they will get an additional point in their final grade.

What’s the problem with this system? It’s most likely that you will assign more than 10 homeworks in a school year and at the same time if you assign 100 homeworks they already have 10 points meaning they won’t need to do any additional work, right?

Maybe you won’t assign 100 homeworks, but buying your grade for that conversion rate is a little too easy for the players to get the best possible grade.

When you build the system you need to try it and test-run it as if your players are using it. You need to play the game once you made the rules to see if it works. Just remember not to make it either too complex or too simple, the point is to make it fun.

The Feedback

Wether you choose a complex online platform to keep track or a simple spreadsheet in google apps, it really doesn’t matter as long as you make sure to give feedback to the players as fast as possible.

One of the most stressing things for the players is not to know where they stand. If you assign coins to the players, let them know IMMEDIATELY how many they have and make sure they have access to that information.

Grades can wait. They are part of the educational system of the world, but when the player receives the coins, it gives them a fair sense of PROGRESS in the class and they know they have more resources to power up their grades, you take the stress away from them and they will focus on earning an infinite amount of coins rather than the limited grade.

The Story

Hello, welcome to Multimedia Design. As of now, you are no longer students. We don’t have space in our ranks for that. You are now Creative Professional Freelancers working for the PublishUs agency and we need all your skills to help the world get better.

This is the story I tell my players the first day of school. They don’t feel they are studying. They feel they are working towards a goal. Learning happens because otherwise, they are unable to meet the goal, not because they will be punished forever with a bad grade.

Think about it.

What makes people choose between books, movies or games? What made you wait in line for 3 hours before they released the last book of Harry Potter?

This is the most important element of your gamified classroom. People need to feel emotionally attracted to your class and the best way to do it is with a story.