The following is a guest post from our friends at Youtopia. We were not compensated in any way for the post and just like what they’re doing over there. Figured the Edudemic readership would love to learn about them too!
The team at Youtopia has developed a dynamic management and engagement platform that gives teachers the tools to reach their goals, and have a good time doing it. Their secret sauce? Gamification. The system employs game mechanics to engage your students to go above and beyond and tracks everything for you while they do it.
The results are more than encouraging – teachers, parents, and principals are seeing an increase in positive behaviors, academics, and volunteering (and a decrease in management induced headaches).
Hmm, gamification…can we get a definition? Gamification [n]: the use of game design elements in non-game contexts. Youtopia’s teachers have been using such elements as points, badges, and leaderboards to challenge their students to bring their “A” game. As students complete activities, they earn points and try to stay on top of the leaderboards. As they achieve significant goals or clinch that top spot in a challenge, students are rewarded with a well deserved badge to show off your hard work.
Why are people (like Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Youtopia’s hometown mayor Rahm Emanuel) all abuzz about badges? Because badges get your students excited about learning, and demonstrate a more complete picture of a student’s knowledge and skill set. A year ago, the MacArthur Foundation and the Mozilla Foundation launched their OpenBadges initiative at the annual Digital Media and Learning conference. Grant money was awarded to promising badge system pioneers to spur growth in the field. As a winner, Youtopia has become one of just a couple commercial implementation systems that allows teachers to easily issue badges, one of the only complete plug-and-play gamification systems, and the only system that is free for classrooms.
Youtopia offers teachers an intuitive interface that’s easily customizable to fit an array of needs. Just plug in your curriculum, activities, and goals and let the magic of a little healthy competition do the rest. By tracking student activity as they submit activities, teachers save time checking boxes so they can focus on the more important things. At the end of the day you’ll have a comprehensive report of your progress to share with the world.
So, who’s using Youtopia? Everyone from kindergarten teachers, to entire high schools, to the largest service fraternity in the country. Whether you’re teaching in a formal or informal setting, extended or in the classroom, non-cognitive or Common Core State Standards mapped, Youtopia can help you issue credit bearing badges that integrate with your Learning Management System. Simply put, Youtopia is designed for anyone who needs to motivate a group of students to achieve (and surpass) their goals.