Tag Archives: Leaderboard

Advanced XP Calculator

This version of the XP calculator is designed for larger numbers of students across multiple classes and teams. Version 3.0 currently accommodates up to 500 students. It also can work for smaller numbers of students but I might recommend the Basic XP Calculator if you only have one class to deal with.

Here is how to set up the Advanced XP Calculator…

Create a Google Form for XP input. There are only two questions on this form. The first question is “Name” or “Student”. I suggest a multiple choice or drop down question. Enter the students’ names as choices for this question. *NOTE- It is essential for these name choices to be exactly the same as the names in the ORANGE roster section of the calculator sheet for this system to work! The second question is “points” or “XP”. This is  just a short text input for the number of points you are awarding to the chosen student.

*Pro Tip- Bookmark your XP input form link on your mobile device so you can quickly access it and input XP on the go!

Setup the XP Calculator Sheet. First, Create the response spreadsheet associated with your Input Form.

Then, copy this Advanced XP Calculator sheet into your Response Spreadsheet. The easiest way is to just to use the tab dropdown menu and choose “copy to” and then select your Form Responses spreadsheet as the destination.

 

Manually add your roster information to the ORANGE roster area. The only necessary columns are the Name (which should be EXACTLY like the options for the Name on the form… In fact you might want to fill this out first and then copy and paste this roster into your Form as options) and the Avatar which will show up on the leaderboard (this can be exactly the same as the name if you want but it needs to be filled out if it is going to show up on the leaderboard.) The email column is experimental at this point, so skip it for now.

*Note- If you add a student to your class they will need to manually be added to both your google form AND the orange roster section on the calculator sheet. 

Publish the Results on a Website.  On your Form Responses Sheet, adjust your “sharing” settings so that this sheet is viewable “PUBLICLY ON THE WEB” If you do this correctly you will see a little globe icon in the blue share button“ If you do not share your sheet, your charts will not show on your website.

Set up a website. I like Google Sites for this because you can insert a chart from any Google Sheet with a few clicks. At the bottom of the insert sidebar, simply select “Chart” and choose your Response Sheet. It will display all available charts. If mine are not enough feel free to make your own charts from the data or just edit mine to suit your needs.  When you have inserted all of your charts make sure to “PUBLISH” your site and put a link to it somewhere easy for your students to access. Don’t forget to make sure it is available to everyone on the web so that there are no privacy barriers in place. If you do it right, your site should look like this.

And you are done! Now, every time you submit a form, it your website will update. Students may have to refresh the page to see the newest data, but that’s it! Here is a video tutorial if you need a bit more guidance.

I am constantly trying to improve this system, I welcome your thoughts and comments. If this works well for you please let me know on Twitter @ChrisHesselbein or by email at chris@insertcoin.org

Be careful! Leaderboards can be a tricky balance of fame and shame so you might want to read my article on 6 Tricks for Shameless Leaderboards. Remember that effective gamification is not about the points and leaderboards, it is about diversified learning.  Slapping some XP on a project does not effectively gamify a classroom.  However, points and levels can be powerful feedback tool in a properly gamified system. For more on how to gamify a classroom read my Insert Coin Series.

 

XP Calculator and Leaderboard Solutions

One of the key components of gamification is feedback. Games give players timely, if not instantaneous, feedback. The quicker the feedback cycle, the more effectively the player can adjust their strategy. To effectively gamify a classroom, it is crucial that teachers give feedback to every student in their classroom as quickly as possible. In other words, we need methods of collecting, processing and communicating large quantities of data, usually in the form of experience points (XP). This is where technology can give teachers an advantage.

A spreadsheet can quickly process data. But what about collecting and reporting? It is often time consuming and tedious to enter data directly into a spreadsheet and a teacher rarely has access to the sheet while they are circulating in the classroom. To remedy this, I have created several systems that will allow teachers to process data entered from a Google Form! Furthermore, those results can be published to a Google Site so that your students can stay up to date on their progress. Currently there are two versions which deliver the similar leaderboards yet offer different functionality and features.

First is the Basic XP Calculator(v2.1) which was originally designed for elementary classrooms with fewer students. The advantage of this simpler system is that it is slightly easier to set up and a teacher can also enter points for multiple students with each form submission. The disadvantage is that it can only accommodate up to 75 students. While it does include support for guilds or teams, it does not have as many features as the advanced version. I highly recommend this version if you have smaller class sizes. To learn how to set this one up please check out the Basic XP Calculator Tutorial

Next is the Advanced XP Calculator(v3.0) which is designed with upper grades and multiple classes in mind. This solution take a bit more setup and management but it currently can accommodate up to 500 students from different classes and or guilds/teams. If you don’t mind doing a bit of roster management, this solution might be right for you. If you are a high school teacher with multiple classes you might want to try this one out instead. Click here for the Advanced XP Calculator Tutorial.

I am constantly trying to improve this system, I welcome your thoughts and comments. If this works well for you please let me know on Twitter @ChrisHesselbein or contact me by email at chris@insertcoin.org

Although I am streamlining the leaderboard process, be careful! Leaderboards can be a tricky balance of fame and shame so you might want to read my article on 6 Tricks for Shameless Leaderboards. Remember that effective gamification is not about the points and leaderboards, it is about diversified learning.  Slapping some XP on a project does not effectively gamify a classroom.  However, points and levels can be powerful feedback tool in a properly gamified system. For more on how to gamify a classroom read my Insert Coin Series.

 

Top 10 Gamification Fails

Gamification is intended to increase learner motivation in the classroom. However, I see many practices which actually decrease the effectiveness of a gamified setting. Here is a top 10 list of gamification fails I have encountered. How does your classroom stack up?

#10 -Playing Games in the Classroom- Playing more games in class might be a strategy for Game Based Learning, but it is NOT Gamification. Gamification is applying layers of game mechanics to your classroom that create a dynamic learning environment for your players. For a deeper explanation of the difference, see my post on Gamification vs Game Based Learning.

#9 -Inconsistent Rules- If there is one thing players hate, it is when the rules of a game change because the game designer is scrambling to fix an error they did not anticipate. If a team finds a loophole in the rules they deserve to capitalize on it. If others find the loophole they deserve it too. If there is another thing players hate, it is getting penalized for something when someone else gets away with it. Enforcing rules only some of the time creates a sense of unfairness and nobody wants to play a game that is unfair.

#8 -Neglecting Player Types- People play games for many reasons. Some play to win, others play to play, others play to make friends. There are many models, most stemming from the research of Bartles, about player types. Most gamified systems cater heavily to the competitive type. If your game ignores the cooperative or explorative types, they will disengage. Diversify your quests to consider all types of learners or players.

#7 -One Path to Victory- The best gamified classrooms rely on a foundation of diversified learning experiences. A non-diversified challenge structure is a sure fire way to kill player motivation for anyone who is not inherently motivated to finish all the tasks. It will turn any XP or badge earned into a checkmark. Checkmarks are not highly motivating! Learn more about diversified learning structures in Designing the Player Journey.

#6 -Trading Status for Stuff- According to Gabe Zichermann, the most powerful motivator of players in games is Status, e.g. experience points or levels. Some teachers create a classroom store where students can buy real world things like school supplies, bathroom passes, or even homework passes. Not only does this create a lot of work for the teacher to keep track of points spent and items bought, it greatly devalues the in-game XP earned. This practice trades intrinsic motivation for extrinsic motivation. Don’t do it. Read more about it in Status: The “Ticket” to Intrinsic Motivation

#5- Shameful Leaderboards- Leaderboards operate on two mechanics, fame and shame. While competitive types thrive on the leaderboard, it will surely alienate non-competitive players. The easiest ways to make leaderboards shameful is by making them mandatory and long term. Running a whole-class leaderboard for the duration of a semester will most likely be demotivating for most players. See my post on 6 Tricks for Shameless Leaderboards for ways to effectively integrate a leaderboard in your gamified classroom.

#4 -Grading on XP- If you already have an in-game feedback system like badges or XP, it is tempting to use it to determine the traditional grade on the report card. XP or badges should be a celebration of hard work, not a way to compare a student to a standard. A clever teacher will design diversified experiences aligned with the standards and use rubric-based grading on each performance task. Never just say get “x” number of points for an “A”. Also, this type of grading mechanic can actually cause players to stop playing when they have earned an “A” rather than keep playing for the sake of the game. For a more in-depth look, check out Why Grades and XP Don’t Mix.

#3 -Feedback Lag- Gamification speeds up the classroom feedback process by breaking larger tasks into smaller, concrete quests and then letting the player know very quickly if they have succeeded.  The easiest ways to slow down this feedback loop are to have large tasks with subjective terms of success. Nobody wants to play a game where they hit the “jump” button and then have to wait a week to know if Mario made it cross the gap!  Technology can sometimes help speed up  this process, but don’t let it get in the way.

#2 -Breaking Character- Your students are trying on new identities as they play your game. You should get in there and play too. Avatars can be very helpful in this endeavor. Nothing makes people feel more self conscious about really getting into a game when one person, especially someone in power, refuses to “geek out” with the rest of the gang. If your theme is Space Pirates you better be ready to put on a space helmet AND an eye patch!

3729453412_b8ed13fda2#1 -Not Celebrating Failure- Games celebrate success, but they also celebrate failure. If you are not celebrating failure, you are not celebrating learning. By only celebrating success, you put a value judgement on perfection rather than growth and persistence. Do you have badges for “Sticking With It,” “Big Improvement,” or “Asking for Help”?  

How do you celebrate failure in your classroom?

Want to read more about Gamification? Check out the Insert Coin Series which details best practice for educational gamification.

Basic XP Calculator

This is a tutorial on how to setup the Basic XP Calculator and Leaderboard. The idea is that a teacher can input student XP into a Google Form and automatically update a leaderboard on a Google Site. This basic version (v2.1) can currently handle up to 75 students and is best suited for elementary classrooms or smaller class sizes.  If you have a large number of students, you may want to try the Advanced XP Calculator system instead.

Here is how you set up the basic version, step by step…

Create a Google Form for the Input of Student XP

  1. Make a form where each question is the name of a student in your class. The question should be a simple text input. The question title should be whatever name you wish to appear on the leaderboard.
  1. For anonymity, you may wish to enter an avatar or ID number in the question title so that the real name does not show up in the public leaderboard. If you do this, you may want to enter the student’s real name in the description so you can easily reference them. Enable the description text on a question by using the three dots in the lower right hand corner of each question.
    This is an example of what your input form might look like
    .
  1. Finally, Click on the Responses tab and create a Form Responses Spreadsheet where all of your data will be stored. Then you are ready to set up the calculator.

*Pro Tip- Bookmark your XP input form link on your mobile device so you can quickly access it and input XP on the go!

Set up the XP Calculator and Leaderboard Sheet

  1. First, Click here for the XP Calculator and Leaderboard Spreadsheet v2.1. Look down at the tabs on the bottom. From the “XP Calculator” tab dropdown menu, select “copy to” and choose the Form Responses sheet created from your Google Form. The XP Calculator sheet will automatically pull the names and data (for up to 75 students) from your “Form Responses 1” tab. When data is entered, It will sum the XP of students, look up their level, rank them by XP, and even report on the status of their guild or team if you set it up to do so.
  1. To customize this sheet to your game, first edit the YELLOW section. This is where you determine the XP thresholds and given titles for each level. This section can be modified for whatever fits with your game. In the ORANGE section you may assign a guild or team to each student who shows up in the blue section. If a team is added, the calculator will give team scores as well as individual scores. If you do not want to use this feature, just leave it blank. Everything else is automated, so don’t mess with it! Your final sheet will probably look something like this.

Publish the Results on a Website.

  1. On your Form Responses Sheet, adjust your “sharing” settings so that this sheet is viewable “PUBLICLY ON THE WEB” If you do this correctly you will see a little globe icon in the blue share button“ If you do not share your sheet, your charts will not show on your website.
  1. Set up a website. I like Google Sites for this because you can insert a chart from any Google Sheet with a few clicks. At the bottom of the insert sidebar, simply select “Chart” and choose your Response Sheet. It will display all available charts. If mine are not enough feel free to make your own charts from the data or just edit mine to suit your needs.  When you have inserted all of your charts make sure to “PUBLISH” your site and put a link to it somewhere easy for your students to access. Don’t forget to make sure it is available to everyone on the web so that there are no privacy barriers in place. If you do it right, your site should look like this.

And you are done! Now, every time you submit a form, it your website will update. Students may have to refresh the page to see the newest data, but that’s it! If you need a run through here is a video tutorial.

I am constantly trying to improve this system, I welcome your thoughts and comments. If this works well for you please let me know on Twitter @ChrisHesselbein or by email at chris@insertcoin.org

Be careful! Leaderboards can be a tricky balance of fame and shame so you might want to read my article on 6 Tricks for Shameless Leaderboards. Remember that effective gamification is not about the points and leaderboards, it is about diversified learning.  Slapping some XP on a project does not effectively gamify a classroom.  However, points and levels can be powerful feedback tool in a properly gamified system. For more on how to gamify a classroom read my Insert Coin Series.

 

6 Tricks for Shameless Leaderboards

Leaderboards are a common fixture in a gamified learning environment. The argument for using leaderboards in a classroom is that they are a motivating way to give feedback to our learners.  Leaderboards motivate people by tapping into two primal constructs, fame and shame.funny-dog-picture-toilet-paper-shame The hope is that, when scores are publicly visible, learners will be motivated to climb to the top. For competitive, fame-seeking, achievement-oriented students, this is indeed what happens. However, the students on the bottom of the leaderboard are more likely to be discouraged by the public display of their ranking.  In rare situations, those students may be motivated to get out of the bottom ranks, but that motivator is shame. Shame is never the best way to encourage learning. So, are there ways to create less shameful leaderboards that still motivate learners? Here are a few suggestions.

Make them Optional- Mandatory participation in leaderboards is a sure fire way to create a shame dynamic. If you allow learners to opt into the leaderboard, they will be more likely to be motivated by their status, even if they are toward the bottom.  For those who opt out, the activity can still be mandatory even if the leaderboard participation is optional. Those not listed on the leaderboard can still check in on where they would fall if they were participating in the leaderboard.

Use Avatars- Using avatars instead of real names gives students a slight emotional separation that can lessen the sting of the leaderboard. An avatar can be as simple as a random identification number or as complex as an alter ego. The important thing is that an avatar grants a certain amount of anonymity to a possibly shaming situation. For more on avatars, see my previous post – 3 Dimensions of Educational Avatars.

Screen Shot 2014-04-12 at 12.42.48 PMMake them Cooperative- Instead of listing individual rankings, list the rankings of groups in the learning environment. This encourages everyone in the group to pull their weight without singling out any one participant. Also, create a collaborative goal for the class. This can help make the leaderboard less about individual achievement and more about top contribution to the group goal. It is a subtle difference but, if spun properly, this concept can be effective.

Display the Top Ten- This is nothing earth shattering, but displaying only the top of the group will give those competitive types the recognition they are fighting for while not publicly shaming those who are not on it. Of course, it doesn’t have to be the top ten. Maybe yours can go to eleven!4024541219_6c81dfe660_o

Display Growth- Even if you are only displaying the top ten, if those ranks are based on cumulative totals, there is a good chance that they will not change very often. Even students who are working very hard might not ever get listed on the top ten. Instead of displaying a cumulative score, why not display a growth score?  How about displaying points earned for the week or the weekly percentage increase? This gives credit to the students giving the most to their own learning even if they are not the top scorer in the class. Tap into fame for as many learners as often as you can.

Personalize- This is a very tricky proposal, but with the right technology we can get it done. Instead of showing everyone’s score in relation to the whole, how about displaying only the five directly above and below the student in question.  This would give them smaller goals for overtaking the person directly ahead of them. When you are in 13th place, all you care about is being in 12th.  Anyone want to try to get a system like this working? Let me know and let’s get a project going!

Make them Short Term- Leaderboards that persist over a long period of time have a tendency to stall out because those on top tend to stay at the top. The most exciting time for leaderboards is at the front end when everyone is very closely matched right out of the gate.  Making leaderboards have a shorter life span is more encouraging to all because everyone has a chance to start over from zero on a regular basis.

Which one is best for your classroom? Good news, Everyone! You do not need to choose any one particular trick. In fact, combining multiple strategies makes for an even better scenario.  How about an optional top ten leaderboard that displays team names?

Looking for an simple automated solution for a leaderboard using Google Forms and Sites? Check out this post on how to use my XP Calculator and Leaderboard.

Want to read more about Gamification? Check out the Insert Coin Series which details best practice for educational gamification.