badges worth achieving?

The gamification piece has definitely been a huge psychological struggle, as detailed in other blog posts. Part of being a good teacher is not only doing what is best for one’s students, but also doing what is in the best interest of said teacher. Even if giving out badges based on marks was good for my students (and that’s a big IF), it’s never going to work if I’m not comfortable with it.

In my last post about gamification, I briefly explained that achievements would be earned via students becoming experts using certain apps. I’ve now got it all organized and ready to introduce to the students, so let me show you what we’ve come up with. (If you’d like to see the students’ blogging area, and where the badges are given, it’s here.)

Before I do that, let me say a few words about Fiero.


No, I don’t mean the cheesy sports car from the 80s. Fiero, according to Jane McGonigal, is an Italian word that doesn’t have an English counterpart. But the feeling and physical reaction is clear: it’s intense pride and satisfaction and usually looks like jumping up with hands over head. Hopefully you’ve felt it: it may be crossing the finish line, it might be getting the job you’ve wanted, it could be your Leaf team winning the Stanley Cup (a girl can dream, can’t she?). It’s a feeling like no other. It’s a feeling I want students to experience in my classroom. That’s what this whole badging/quest thing is about for me. Fiero is not like a certificate where someone else is giving you praise–extrinsic. Fiero is a motivator, because everyone wants to experience it. That’s why I continue to believe that true gamification is intrinsic.

Okay, now onto what I did today. I chose 5 apps/websites that we have showed the students (some of them have used them to create a presentation already). They are all creation/collaboration apps that students could use frequently.

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 7.22.42 PM


They can choose to become Masters in whatever app they want. They can also choose to become a Master of nothing. It’s up to them.

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 7.51.16 PM

If they do choose one, they will enter into a quest, which is basically a number of tasks that, when complete, will have them earn a Master badge. Earn a Master badge and receive a special power:

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 7.55.12 PM


Students love to be in charge! They earn the power to be the teacher! Another motivator perhaps? I’ve chatted with other teachers and they would love to have some student “experts” help mentor others in using these apps.

Will this work with all students. Probably not. But does any teaching strategy? I do think it will be positive for some of our IEP students who are rarely “the best” at anything. How proud will they be!

Any thoughts?


P.S. The only other person at HWDSB that knows about gamification (that I know anyway) is Jared Bennett. He’s been a splendid resource and I know without him, I would have stopped pursuing it long ago. Thanks @mrjarbenne!



  1. This is too cool. We do gamification a different way in my class (, but your idea definitely builds food for thought. I love the badges!

  2. Adele, I’m struggling with this one. I love that these are all creation apps, and they’re all wonderful apps. I love that the students can become experts and teach others how to use these apps. I think that you’ve also found a way to help build intrinsic motivation with the use of badges. This is AWESOME!

    My problem is that the focus seems to be on the app itself. I know that students are using these apps to share their learning in different ways, but by earning badges based on the apps, are we focusing on the apps instead of on the learning? Does this make sense? It’s a fine line here, and as I write this comment, I’m really not sure, but I’d be curious to hear what you (and others) think.


    • Aviva, I appreciate your comment. I’ve struggled up til now, but I’m not struggling now as you may be. I do think that focussing on apps is okay for a certain amount of our day because they are learning. They are learning how to independently navigate apps, how to find special features, how to collaborate using technology. I know this is an important part of my learning about technology, and I believe it is for the students too. It’s not part of the curriculum; I’m wondering if that’s your concern. We do plenty of learning outside of the curriculum on any given day (community-building, learning skills, character-building), this is just another one of those things. And, I hope it makes some students feel good about having some expertise. Does this help clarify?

  3. This looks so good. It’s great to see this culminating into some real first steps. With the numerous conversations we’ve had regarding reward vs recognition, the hopes to build intrinsic motivation in students, and the continued emergence of Open Badges as a means to chart learning, it will be awesome to see students beginning to explore this new space.

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