Sneak peek at what’s to come for 2021-22
This has been a big year, for everyone — for so many reasons. Like you, we’ve experienced the challenges of navigating the pandemic while working extra hard to continue to support educators and students as best as possible.
To support as many students and teachers as possible, we felt we needed to rethink and improve the user experience in Classcraft while not losing sight of our mission: motivating students through playful, collaborative, and sustainable learning experiences.
To do so, we first needed to acknowledge that we work with many different types of educators, and to reach as many students as possible — with the biggest impact possible — we would need to make Classcraft the most accessible and easy-to-use application for teachers.
And this is what has led us to some of the biggest upgrades to Classcraft since it was launched in 2013!
*Important disclaimer: The images you see in this article are not final and subject to change. We’ve included them to give you a general sense of what’s to come.
A research-backed journey toward an optimal experience for all
Those of you familiar with Classcraft know just how transformational it can be once it’s up and running in classrooms. That said, there are still some challenges in getting all educators on board and comfortable with using it.
So, in September 2020, we started working with our User Experience (UX) and Product team to really understand why some teachers struggle when they start out with Classcraft. In order to do this, we collaborated closely with multiple K-12 classrooms researching and creating simple prototypes. With time and help from these educators, we began to really discern how we could simplify Classcraft while maintaining the robust pedagogy and magic behind it all.
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A glimpse at our research
- PHASE 1: For one month, we conducted working sessions with teachers who signed up for a Classcraft account, but didn’t actually use it.
- GOAL: Uncover what wasn’t working in the current version.
- PHASE 2: For six weeks, we tested 17 different Classcraft prototypes in working sessions with teachers who had a variety of profiles and levels of comfort in technology.
- GOAL: Understand what a basic version of Classcraft could look like, and which features would help teachers easily understand the approach.
- PHASE 3: For six weeks, we tested a simpler prototype with teachers in real-life classrooms with students, and fine-tuned it along the way.
- GOAL: Test a first-time user experience that is seamless and easy to use with students, while also helping teachers move on to more advanced features within the application.
By working directly with teachers, we figured out how to create a version of Classcraft that is more intuitive, streamlined, and user-friendly for all teachers, regardless of their technological skill.
It’s important to mention that 100% of those teachers in Phase 3 of our research felt compelled to try the current version of Classcraft. By offering teachers who were once hesitant and intimidated a simpler user experience, we were able to show them the long-term value and transformative power of Classcraft.
Introducing the next chapter: learn as you go
Come July 2021, any educator using Classcraft will be able to progress at their own pace through four phases of implementation at a classroom level. We’ve called each phase a chapter because there’s a story attached to them.
As teachers progress through each chapter, they’ll be able to unlock new functionalities within Classcraft, but only when they’re ready.
Here’s a sneak peek at what they’ll look like:
- Basic version
- No individual student accounts or avatars
- Teachers can give points to students to unlock three basic powers
- Creation of student accounts
- Basic student avatars and pets are unlocked
- Gold Pieces (GP) to obtain new gear
- Students are placed in teams
- Full, class-specific gear sets and advanced avatars and pets are unlocked
- Advanced powers unlocked
- Full Classcraft experience unlocked
- Collaborative powers unlocked
- Negative behavior interventions available
This new experience is an easy way for teachers to unlock features at their own pace while keeping students motivated to learn. It’s also a strategic way to transition teachers from extrinsically motivating students to intrinsically motivating them for displaying positive behaviors.
The really great thing is that even experienced teachers can slow down their unlocking of features to match the pace of their classroom and the understanding their students have of Classcraft. We designed it to be a customizable and rewarding experience for all.
**Experienced Gamemasters, don’t worry! The new student overview will still showcase your students and look as familiar as ever!
We want to hold your hand
Another big change around the teacher user experience is the fact that we’ll be there every step of the way. There will be encouraging prompts and videos embedded throughout a teacher’s journey in Classcraft — like bite-sized, as-you-go PD sessions with useful tips and explanations. No more cognitive overload!
Streamlined Teacher Dashboard
Our new dashboard represents the biggest update to our design since Classcraft was launched in 2013! The new interface offers a more intuitive and quick workflow to ensure teachers can use Classcraft with minimal effort. As teachers progress through their user journey, Classcraft is designed to evolve with them, adding more functionality when teachers feel ready for it.
Some other highlights include:
- Less scrolling
- Less clicks
- Streamlined navigation
Simpler point system
Something we uncovered during our research is that teachers who are unfamiliar with gaming really struggled to understand the different points in Classcraft. To address this, we came up with a simpler system so points will be easier for teachers to understand and track.
Say hello to our new reward system
We’ve made significant changes to how we reward student progress! During our research phase, we saw that our existing reward system was overwhelming for a lot of teachers, and that was a big source of stress for them.
Some highlights of the new reward system include:
- Quicker and easier for teachers AND students to understand
- Can be used to teach students about goal setting
- Allows for more customization based on teacher needs
- Students can level up more often (once a week vs. every 2-3 weeks)
Our belief is the more students are able to level up, the more motivated they will feel!
The future is exciting!
We know change can be daunting, which is why we’re sharing the big news as soon as possible. That said, these changes were necessary and will open up the opportunity for even more magic within the Classcraft universe.
The details you need to know
- Our Beta launch will happen in July 2021 (stay tuned for more details!)
- All single-license teacher accounts can manually decide when to upgrade to the new experience
- Teachers who already use Classcraft will start at chapter 4 if students already have characters; otherwise, they’ll start at chapter 1 but can switch anytime!
- Administrators will be able to control which chapters their school is using (i.e. a school only wanting to do Quests could ‘lock’ teachers at chapter 2)
Q: Can teachers choose when to upgrade to the new experience?
A: All teachers with pre-existing Classcraft accounts will have until Dec. 2021 to manually upgrade by clicking a button in the application, giving them the opportunity to decide when they are ready to upgrade. Any teacher opening an account for the first time will automatically be upgraded to the new user experience.
Q: Once the new experience is live, will teachers have the option to choose which classes to upgrade, and which classes to keep in the previous version of Classcraft?
A: No, once a teacher chooses to upgrade, all of their classes will upgrade at once. Pre-existing classes will move to Chapter 4 automatically. New classes will start in Chapter 1, but teachers will have the option to move through chapters at their own speed on a class by class basis.
Q: Why are the different levels of the new Classcraft experience called “chapters”?
A: Because we love the power of narrative as a motivator, there will be a story attached to the teacher and class progression, so we think calling each level of progression a chapter is a nice way to tie it all together.
Q: How long does each chapter take?
A: How long each chapter takes is really up to the individual teacher. For example, a teacher using Classcraft with kindergarten students, may decide to stay at Chapter 1 for the school year because it suits the needs of their class best. Other teachers may decide to progress after one or two weeks spent in each chapter. It really is a self-paced progression, but each step moves them towards more robust intrinsic motivation mechanics. We recommend taking three weeks to a month for those who are new to Classcraft.
Q: Why is the progression to each new chapter not automatic?
A: Because we wanted to create a personalized and self-paced experience for all teachers with all different levels of technological ability. This helps to ensure that every teacher gets the most out of their experience, while also helping to sync the learning progression with students to make it a shared learning experience. It also helps ease some of the pressure of having to know everything up front. Teachers decide when to begin each new chapter so they can unlock more features and class tools when they’re ready — and when their students are ready. That said, the more teachers give Experience Points (XP) to students while in Chapter 1, the sooner they’ll be prompted to consider starting Chapter 2. Progression really is based on how active a teacher is within the application.
Q: If a teacher progresses to the next chapter, and realizes they aren’t quite ready, can they go back?
A: The whole point is to make this as stress-free and easy as possible for teachers, so yes, absolutely! Let’s say a teacher starts chapter 3 and realizes they’re not quite ready, they can go back to chapter 2 for as long as they like. That said, teachers will see encouraging prompts along the way based on their activity with Classcraft. The application is designed to help encourage them to progress, but always at their own pace.
Q: Does everyone have to start at chapter one?
A: Yes, but teachers familiar with Classcraft can move through the chapters right away. This allows those experienced teachers to get started without having to create teams, setup avatars, etc. up front.
Q: Will the upgrade affect Quests at all?
A: Quests will not change with the new experience. Teachers who already have Quests in place will not lose anything with the upgrade. The free Quest Marketplace and Story Mode Quests will also still be available!
Q: Will the upgrade affect any of the Class Tools (Boss Battles, etc.)?
A: No. All Class Tools will remain the same!