Hook or Carrot? Should VERSO be gamified?

Do you know about the Verso app ? Using Verso, your class can have anonymous peer-to-peer commentaries that require students to reflect on and create connections between ideas and diverse viewpoints. Imagine a true intellectual community formulated upon the basis of principles, not personalities!

Verso question

Sample question using Verso app

I’m going to use Verso to implement the “powerful questions” described by Dr. Carol Ann Tomlinson of the University of Virginia:

“Powerful questions move beyond the veneer of a subject to its potency, elegance, and meaning. They move from memory to mind. They help the learner make connections, see patterns, build structures of significance. They help the learner understand the world through the content. They help the learner define and trust him or herself. Powerful questions help students think about their thinking – and about the thinking of others. They move beyond face value to value.”
-“The Teacher as a Tour Guide of the Mind”, published by California Association of the Gifted

Teachers and students can pose powerful questions on Verso. Students’ comments are fully anonymous to their peers, but are not anonymous to teacher so they are held accountable. Students can upvote or flag their peer’s ideas in discussion threads using criteria of critical thinking, responding to thematic, philosophical, ethical, and essential questions rather than simple content recall as in lower level Bloom’s.

Being a teacher of 8th graders, I see that sometimes intrinsic motivations come with time, after extrinsic motivations have led students forward to readiness.

One fun way to move students forward through the science curriculum into the deeper connections might be to integrate the use of the Verso app with a class gamification system.

In the gradebook software leaderboard and points system, students can receive rewards based on the quantity and quality of their participation in Verso. Our school district currently uses NEO for a learning management system, and we can do completion tracking of activities and set points and badges connected to a leaderboard -PBL- with this software. If necessary a teacher could equally gamify with a physical PBL system in the classroom – if you have a parent volunteer helper!!!


Sample Question using Verso

I will be curious to see if this backfires somehow. Could gamifying a thoughtful discussion turn off the higher motivations for engaging in critical discourse? Leads me to the distasteful question – Must I really gamify everything?! Do I get a point for thoughtfulness or doing an act of charity?

I’m especially excited to see if I can somehow integrate Verso’s capacities for developing an intellectual community with Moodle’s capacity as a curriculum source. If Verso’s anonymous forums could be a subset of Moodle, that would be totally awesome! Anyone have any idea how to do that??

Colorado PhET’s Build An Atom – Enhanced by Articulate Storyline

Fun Interactive Quiz with Tutorial videos to partner with Colorado PhET's "Build An Atom" Fun Interactive Quiz with Tutorial videos to partner with Colorado PhET’s “Build An Atom”[/caption]

Today I finally finished a months-long project of learning Articulate Storyline sufficiently well to create an html5 product for the web. Yay! Seems like it took forever to learn Storyline. Storyline is like Microsoft Powerpoint with another layer of complexity that allows you to insert quiz questions and dynamic instructional responses based on the student’s input. I can also save this information to my Learning Management System (my school uses EDU 2.0, but I also use Moodle and I know my files work on both LMS’s).

Students first should play with the simulation “Build an Atom” at Colorado PhET’s excellent website (click the yellow image):


The cool thing about the little quiz I made is that if students get something incorrect, they get hints, and, if a teacher wants to get the SCORM version from me, they can link it to their LMS and track student results. My students’ scores go directly into my gradebook! How cool is that! 🙂

Here is a link to the quiz:

SCORM – The Breakthrough for the Flipped Classroom

Online learning can be challenging if it’s presented as a long series of videos. Students tend to tune out the mental focus and treat my last-minute cobbled together carefully crafted video lessons as if they were TV commercials, or some sort of spectator sport. Science class is not a spectator sport!
So I’ve been experimenting with using interactive quizzing immediately after each short instructional video. This forces the student to ‘digest’ what was just presented. Often the questions are simple comprehension, lower-level Bloom’s taxonomy. However, I’m sure that with more attention to this, I could create some more creative and higher-level thinking questions in the SCORM lessons. (I’m just a beginner!) The video and quiz lessons were created using Articulate Storyline and are packaged as SCORM, which can be uploaded onto a variety of Learning Management Systems. I’ve successfully uploaded them to EDU 2.0 and Moodle 2.6.
The great thing about SCORM is that each student’s responses go directly into my grade book to be scored as I choose – either a successful pass/no pass or graded assignment. Once all the hard work is done by me up front, I’ve successfully multiplied myself as a one-on-one instructor for all my students, and I won’t have to grade their work. This creates time in the school day for me to spend one-on-one face time with students as needed.