Saturday, May 5, 2012

"ClassRealm" Levels Up Students' Educational Enthusiasm

Meet Ben Bertoli. He's a teacher, but his passion for vidya games is about to make him a very rich man. That's because Bertoli's pet project could revolutionize classrooms everywhere. 

Bertoli's sixth-grade students in Indiana - they're zombies and wizards and mermaids, you see. And each Friday, they do battle for Bertoli's favor - and some XP.

It's called ClassRealm - a "gamification" system that turns learning  and classroom participation into a gaming experience. Since Bertoli implemented it, his "players" can't get enough.

Ben Bertoli - 6th grade teacher, dungeon master

Bertoli took a veteran career in gaming and mashed it up with his teaching degree. The end result was an RPG-esque award system that involves students on dozens of different levels.

They start by creating their own fantasy persona - with combinations like ninja werewolf and samurai yeti - then dive into the level progression and achievement systems that chart their progress through the school year. 

Experience points are awarded for several deeds: answering a question during class, lending supplies to classmates, turning in extra essays, etc. 

Bertoli brought his idea to Kotaku and now he is blowing up. 

Student productivity is through the roof, quiet students are raising hands and teachers, parents and game devs all want a piece of the action.
"The "Newberry" achievement, based on the Newberry Medal, can be earned by writing unassigned five paragraph essays. It is by far the most popular achievement. I had 20 essays turned in to me in the first week. Twenty unassigned essays written during my students' free time. Twenty. I could hardly get my students to free write when it was mandatory and now they are churning out paragraphs like their lives depend on it. It's unbelievable."
Bertoli's begun ramping up a Kickstarter campaign to help his small, crack team of an artist, a programmer and a web designer turn ClassRealm into a real game, with all the bells and whistles.

This is a great example of vidya in the classroom - a concept OMNIpixel loves. We highly urge you to go read Kotaku's coverage of Ben Bertoli and ClassRealm. If anything, you'll be upset Bertoli wasn't your sixth-grade teacher.

Here's a rundown of the basic rules of ClassRealm:
1. ClassRealm is completely voluntary - if you don't want to participate you don't have to.
2. XP is the backbone of ClassRealm - every 10 XP you earn pushes you to the next level. Every one starts at level 1.
3. XP can be obtained by doing simple things such as:
   • Answering questions
   • Joining in class discussion
   • Working hard on an assignment
   • Helping others
   • Participation in general
   • Random Encounter Friday (explained below)
   • Gaining achievements (explained below)
4. Achievements are gained by completing specific tasks. For example: a student can obtain the "Bookworm" achievement by reading two unassigned chapter books and explaining the plot and characters to me.
5. Each achievement has four levels - bronze, silver, gold, and master. Each level is harder to reach than the one below it.
6. Boys are pitted against girls. The gender that can acquire the most achievements by the end of the year will win extra recess and an ice cream party during lunch.
7. Each Friday will be Random Encounter Friday. Every one who wants to battle will put their name in a hat. I will draw out two names and they will battle. Students will be asked a question. I will repeat the question twice and then start battle music. The first to write the correct answer on the board and put their hands up will win XP. You can only answer once. Question subjects are chosen at random.
8. Students may join in alliances of up to six ClassRealm citizens. The alliance with the highest combined level at the end of the year wins a pizza party.
9. All info, except for the current amount of XP each student has, will be listed online and in the classroom for students and parents to see. 

SOURCE: Kotaku 1 | 2 | Kickstarter [ClassRealm] |


  1. Thanks for covering ClassRealm, Justin! We love any publicity we can get. Keep spreading the word!

    - Ben

  2. This is very cool! Very creative! Very current!

  3. This is exactly what I have been making/searching for. Keep it up! This is awesome.