Gamifying Class Discussion

Gamifying Class Discussion May 22, 2021

This summer I had been planning to try to accomplish something I have long wanted to: creating an app-based version of Canon: The Card Game. I always thought it would be a nice and indeed a natural next step with the game. The pandemic made me sense the lack of a digital version painfully, as the pandemic meant it was impossible to use the game in class multiple players touching the same cards would undermine social distancing). I had a couple of interested computer science students lined up eager to work on it. But as I have thought about the logistics inherent in making the game work the way I would want it to, for instance being capable of  multiplayer play rather than just individuals playing against an AI, the need for a server and other facets presented themselves. I still want to and plan to pursue development of the game in app form. It just seems like a project that is bigger than one summer for programmers without extensive experience in game programming for iOS.

That doesn’t mean that I’m abandoning the plan to work with computer science students, however. I have been toying around with a new deck of cards in my mind, one that students could be given at the start of the semester. The cards would be played each time a student was called on to contribute to class discussion. The deck would have a few cards that allow them to simply say about the reading “I liked/disliked it.” Most would prompt them to being a certain way, such as “I found this aspect of the reading for today helpful because…” and “Here is a connection I see with a reading/topic earlier in the semester.” There should also be fun ones like “Pass the need to answer to the person on your left/right.”

In addition to being more straightforward to turn into an app, this also seems like it would be of more widespread interest and use among educators, far more than Canon which is very specific to my content area.

My questions for blog readers are, first, what do you think of the concept, and second, what ideas do you have for cards? Serious as well as frivolous suggestions are welcome.

It is my hope that there would be a way to use the deck with different mechanics, so that one course might allow students to search through their deck and use a card of their choice (which is then discarded after use for the duration of the course), while another might give them a card at random when they draw from the deck, and another might balance those two approaches by letting students draw five cards and then pick which of those to play.

Other possibilities such as LMS integration are also worth considering. Having a standalone app communicate with Canvase, Moodle, or Blackboard is unlikely to be acceptable to a school’s IT department. A plug-in for the LMS might be better. Personally, however, I think that an LMS plug-in will be perceived as less fun. Perhaps the app can generate messages that get sent to an instructor, allowing them to have confirmation as to what cards have been played.

What do you think? What questions should the deck include? What action/fun cards should be in it? Would you enjoy class discussion that utilized something like this? Your suggestions and feedback are very much needed!

To make it fun, why not begin your comment with something that you think should appear on cards in the deck!

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