Blowing up the grade book: What games have taught us about how to save our schools


For decades, schools have followed the law of diminishing returns. While clearly a successful system for some, an increasing number of young people are becoming disenfranchised by the very public education system employed to prepare them for their future. Schools are failing despite the money and talent we throw at them.

The problem does not lie solely in the teachers, students, parents, or politicians. The real enemy to successful schools is in the industrial-age systems and thinking we have used to “manufacture” citizens. It is filled with arbitrary rules, systems, and punishments.

Using game-based dynamics, classes can be converted from industrial-age sorting machines to hot-beds of success and progress. In the past 18 months, I have been using a game-based approach to classroom teaching with no due dates, mandatory homework, tests, or quizzes. 93% of all students earn the highest grade possible, an A, while meeting some of the toughest standards.

I’ll share the simple approach to re-framing the way we organize learning inspired by video games and modern digital culture.

Chris Haskell

Affiliation Boise State University

A Portland native, Dr. Chris Haskell now teaches in the Department of Educational Technology at Boise State University since 2007. In his classroom lab, he pilots a ground breaking new approach to education called Quest-based Learning. In addition to teaching, he is an active presenter at conferences throughout the West sharing his knowledge and interest in online learning and education through gaming, social networks, and virtual worlds.