I asked Derek Guenther to help me brainstorm ideas for the Gamification of Lincoln Lutheran’s Programming I class, and we met for Lunch at Applebee’s. It was productive, and Derek thought that his buddy Chris Johnson might be interested in the idea as well.
Fast forward a week and the three of us met for coffee (which was the first and, to date, only “meet for coffee” I’ve ever been a party to). Our discussion covered a variety of how to teach programming topics, but we also came up with some more definite ideas about what sorts of things should get badges and be leaderboarded.
Notes as evidence:
I wanted to do some experimenting with Gamification in the classroom, and Programming I seemed like a good class to try it with. I’d like to have leaderboards for some activities and award badges for others. The idea is that this will provide a little extrinsic motivation for students who are not intrinsically motivated and that maybe it will be fun.
We use Moodle for out Learning Management System at Lincoln Lutheran, but I couldn’t find a nice way to do badges and leaderboards in Moodle. None of the Gamification systems that I found did what I was after (as far as I could tell). This was a little disappointing, because I was sure that I found a site that would have been just perfect for this last semester. this semester, I couldn’t find it. Maybe it no longer exists.
I eventually stumbled on BadgeOS and their WordPress integration plugin. With badges covered, I looked for a way to do leaderboards. The website Leaderboarded came closest to what I wanted to do, but their thing is having multiple metrics that all feed into one main leaderboard. I was more interested in having several different leaderboards, so that students would have more of an opportunity to climb different boards.
I did eventually find a WordPress plugin that would convert a CSV file into an HTML table, and I figured coming up with CSV files couldn’t be too hard. Former Lincoln Lutheran student Ken Lahm, who graduated with at Computer Science degree from UNL last fall, wrote a Python program that would give me the CSV files I needed.
It’s a nice little program. It logs into Google Drive and retrieves a spreadsheet where I keep data on the various things that I’ve decided to track. Then it sorts and totals the data for each leaderboard (category) and each student. Finally it spits out CSV files for each of those an uses FTP to upload them to this website.
The whole thing is controlled with a configuration file and seems to be working well. Thanks Ken.