01. Introduction & Pedagogy

Introduction

Classroom Heroes is an Alternate Reality Game (ARG) designed to be incorporated into classroom learning activities as a way of engaging students and enhancing learning activities.

Classroom Heroes is derived from the genre of Role-playing Games (RPGs) , in which students create and play a character who can be improved and developed over time through the earning of Experience Points (XP), which the student earns by completing lesson activities and adhering to behavioural expectations. The XP earned allows a student to develop their character, so that they are better able to tackle Encounters within the fictional world of the game.

Together, these elements provide a system of rewards for individual growth and improvement that are given significance within a larger narrative framework, and provide students with additional feedback and signification of their achievements through the development of their character.

What you will find on this site are the rules and guidelines for using Classroom Heroes with your students, including suggestions for modifying rules for greater or lesser complexity, as well as resources to make it easier to implement the game in the classroom. The resources on this site are free to use and modify to suit your needs, and all material s distributed under a Creative Commons, attribution, share-alike, non-commercial license. If you enjoy using Classroom Heroes, please consider joining this WIKI and sharing your resources, lessons and experiences with the Classroom Heroes community.

For further information, you can contact the creator of this site by emailing Cameron@classroomheroes.com.au.

Alternate Reality Games

Jane McGonigal describes Alternate Reality Games as "antiescapist games... In other words, ARGs are games you play to get more out of your real life, as opposed to games you play to escape it." p.125 [1] Classroom Heroes' primary purpose is to enhance students' real educational outcomes through narrative game play. Most of the time that students spend playing Classroom Heroes will be spent engaging in curriculum based learning activities that use the games XP award system to encourage students to tackle increasingly complex tasks, or to revise and improve existing work to gain additional bonus points. The improvement of each students character over time reflects their own improvements and encourages students to set higher goals and expectations for themselves in order to see their character develop further.

The importance of Narrative

The New South Wales Quality teaching Model [2] identifies Narrative as a key element in increasing the significance of work for students.

"Significance refers to pedagogy that helps make learning more meaningful and important to students. Such pedagogy draws clear connections with students’ prior knowledge and identities, with contexts outside of the classroom, and with multiple ways of knowing or cultural perspectives." p. 11 [3]

The 6 elements of Significance contained within the model are: Background Knowledge, Cultural Knowledge, Knowledge Integration, Inclusivity, Conectedness, and Narrative. The effect and use of Narrative in learning and assessment tasks is described as:

"Use of narrative is high in a task when the stories which the students are required to read, listen to, view, write or tell help to illustrate or bring to life the knowledge they are addressing... Narratives may include personal stories, biographies, historical accounts, case studies, literary and cultural texts and performances...

Use of narrative is low in a task when students are not required to read, listen to, view, write or tell stories, or when the stories used are disconnected from the substance of the task. Narrative will also be low if stories are used in ways that detract from the requirements of the task and do not assist students to demonstrate their learning." p.44 [4]

There is a balance to be struck between the use of Narrative to enhance learning, and the risk of it being a distraction. In Classroom Heroes, the narrative framework is intended to give daily lessons a greater significance and connectedness beyond the classroom, while the narrative game play of encounters are intended to develop problem solving, creative thinking and literacy skills. For more information, see the section on Encounters.

The narrative element of Classroom Heroes also engages the technique of 'Framing', perceiving events and activities through the filter of the games narrative to partially separate the students and their learning activities. No longer is the student succeeding or failing at their lessons, but they are assisting their character. There is no failure at a lesson, only the degree to which they are helping their character to become a more significant hero within the world of the game.

In Encounters in which 'failure' is a possibility, it is no longer the student who is 'failing', but the Hero who has failed to meet a goal within the narrative, and providing the student with a way to set goals for future improvement of their character.


In this way the narrative provides an emotional safety net intended to encourage students to take greater risks in their learning activities, and set higher goals and expectations of themselves as they guide their character through the pitfalls of each Encounter, toward the goal of becoming the best Hero they can be.
  1. ^


    McGonigal, J. (2011). Reality is Broken: Why games make us better and how they can change the world. London: The Penguin Press.
  2. ^


    https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/proflearn/areas/qt/index.htm
  3. ^


    NSW Department of Education and training. (2006). Quality Teaching in NSW Public Schools: An assessment practice guide. 2nd. ed. RYDE, NSW: NSW DET.
  4. ^


    NSW Department of Education and training. (2006). Quality Teaching in NSW Public Schools: An assessment practice guide. 2nd. ed. RYDE, NSW: NSW DET.