GoGo Labs, a learning technology spin-out from Boise State University, is betting that game mechanics provide a vehicle for the next generation of learning. And their bet is starting to pay off. Using their core platform, 3D GameLab, teachers and instructional designers in over 10 countries have participated in online teacher camps to play educational quests, earn experience points, rewards and badges, and “level up” through professional development. By choosing among a variety of quests they are able to create personalized learning pathways. Teachers gather in the “guild site” to share their insights, ask questions, and participate in synchronous events in environments such as Minecraft, World of Warcraft, and Second Life.
Armed with their gamification training and the tool, teachers then design quests for their students, turning class into a literal game. Quests can be aligned to Common Core Standards, ensuring that students are meeting requirements, but providing a personalized front-end experience focused on fun and meaningfulness that is customized to each student.
Early comparative studies showed that students learning in 3D GameLab completed more work on average, 92% of students earned “A’s,” and 65% will continue to quest in the same course after they’ve already earned their grade. “As my students say, ‘3D Game Lab rocks!’” said Tracie Hightower, who teaches Enrichment to fourth- and fifth-graders at the Roeper School in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. “It’s been a great source of inspiration of what ‘engagement’ really is for students. The environment has delivered on everything I promised to the students, parents and administration. Teachers passing by our classroom were amazed at how focused the students were during our time together.”
Earlier this year, GoGo Labs partnered with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to design Planet Stewards, science career pathway badges for high school students. Designed as an enhancement or replacement to a traditional science curriculum, students engaged in Planet Stewards can earn badges such as Marine Biologist, Severe Weather Forecaster, or Cartographer. Using Mozilla OBI coding, badges earned in 3D GameLab can be “pushed” to the Mozilla backpack and shared across the internet for employment or college recruitment purposes.
Dr. Lisa Dawley, CEO and Founder of GoGo Labs, says, “Early on, we had some teachers report they were “addicted” to questing, and their students were asking if quests could be played at home at night, on the weekends and over the summer. That’s when we knew we were on to something very special.”
3D GameLab re-launches in open beta teacher camps on May 1. A teen-only version focusing on game design, Teen GameLab, launches in August.