A blog for teachers and learners who love technology

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Classcraft - Managing the class or playing World of Warcraft?


So what is classcraft?

This week I am going to present you classcraft. When I visited classcraft's website for the first time, I knew what to expect from this multi-purpose tool. To begin with, classcrafts is a tool that is expected to be used during the class. It is classroom management tool that helps with rewarding, motivating the learners The reason behind this is the fact that, it was created while having in mind World of Warcraft and other famous on-line role-playing games (RPGs). It borrows some core elements that made RPGs so popular like creating a character, questing (finishing in-game tasks), leveling up your character by gaining experience points so as to make him stronger and cope with more difficult quests. Another important feature of the game is the fact that it promotes groupwork. The way has been implemented in classcraft completely nullifies every argument which supports that those games promote antagonism between the learners.

Do I have to pay to use it?

Teachers can choose between three versions of classcraft, the free version, the freemium version and the premium Version. The differences between those versions are hardly noticeable. The free version includes access to the full gameplay, support from the community and the developers, as well as different localizations including English, French, Spanish, German and Chinese. The Freemium version is a free version which enables learners to make in-App purchases. The in-game currency (gold) only affects the customization of each learners' character and they are not exclusive to only those who purchase them as the can be obtained by leveling up your character. It is important to highlight that the in-App purchases are capped at 5 dollars Apart from that, it includes the aforementioned features of the free version as well as the interactive class forums, the student analytics, the ability to obtain pets and finally iOS support through an application. Finally, the premium model will add nothing to the game experience other than granting teacher's the ability to distribute the in-game currency in order to reward learners, which means that they can no longer purchase gold themselves.

How classcraft works? Example class

I created an example class so I can explain classcraft's different aspects and capabilities. To begin with the game starts with the teacher creating the class and then allocates students into different teams in order create their in-game characters.

Classroom setup screen

Each learner can choose between the three available classes (mage, healer, warrior) which greatly affects their role in the game.  After creating their characters, players have access to a unique screen when logging in with their accounts in which can see their abilities. In this learners can see their HP health points), AP (Action points), EXP (Experience points), as well as their GP (in-game currency gold). When learners do a rightful action or give a correct answer in an question, they are granted with some experience points by the teacher.

Allocating Experience points according to what learners managed to do.

And vice versa, if the students have showed bad behaviour in the classroom they can be penalised and lose health points.

Penalising learners for bad behaviour

However, due to the fact that penalising someone also affects the team, team mates will often use their AP to help students who are in trouble. For example, a warrior may use his 'Protect' ability to share and reduce the amount of HP that will be losed. Similarly to the warriors, each character class has different skill trees. As Learners gain experience they can unlock new skills. For instance, mages later in the year after when they would have collected many experience points will have the ability to postpone an exam by 8 minutes for his team. This is an example of an academic power.

Mage's skill tree

Other interesting features

Those constitute classcrafts main features. However. the game implements a variety of mechanisms that can help with the classrooms management as well as motivation. Teachers can initiate a random event in which learners take part. Those may negatively or positively impact the whole classroom or a team or even one individual learner. For instance, one random event may result in all players losing some HP or carry out a task.

example of random event

Another interesting feature is the presence of a dynamic forum in which teachers can initiate conversations in which learners can give their opinion and argue with the other students. For example in I have created an example of a topic that might be discussed in an English language classroom.

In this particular example learners of this English class has to read the same graded reader every month.
Learners can share their views on the book and hopefully argue in a constructive manner in order to acquire a better understanding of the book. Having said that, someone may say this is something that can be done with a standard forum. However, the game being loyal to the mechanism of a role-playing game allows the teacher to allocate experience points for excellent posts.

Lastly, classcraft gives teachers the ability to monitor their learners performance. This can be done through analytics which through graphs shows how learners have been doing in a specific time period.

Ok, but how is this going to help me and my students?

Probably what makes classcraft such an interesting tool its the fact that every aspect of it promotes collaborative work. Jeremy Harmer (2007 43-44) identifies several advantages of groupwork into English language teaching such as more active participation and, therefore, more opportunities for language practice. However, someone might suggest that the games that lend all those features to classcraft are based in violence and antagonism between the players. Instead, in classcraft no-one plays against each other. Namely, it implements strong elements of collaboration between the learners, considering the fact that someone's good behaviour will positevely affect the whole team and vice versa. This is where classcraft biggest advantage and possibly disadvantage lies depending on the teachers' ability to handle classcraft. Considering the fact that any good or bad actions will always affect the team, there is strong pressure come from within the teams to every individual to act properly and improve its performance. As a result, the pressure for becoming better is no longer coming from the teachers but from the group members. In an ideal world, this would be perfect considering the fact that learners will be keener to accept the pressure from the group mates rather than their teacher. However, this may be the reason from creating conflicts between them and therefore learners may miss their language learning goals. Therefore good managing skills, as well as knowledge and familiarity with the game, are essential for teachers who want to implement this to their classes.

In addition, I believe that classcraft can aid teachers and learners with receiving and giving feedback respectively. The fact that classcraft promotes teachers giving feedback and assessing learners' performance on the spot by rewarding the with experience points can greatly motivate our learners. Good language practice will result in our learners gaining more experience points. Similarly with homework, learners who did their homework can receive experience points and depending on the excellence more points can be given. The whole process resembles the rewarding system that teachers utilize with Young learners in which the give them stickers but in an adults/teenagers world. What is more, classcraft can help with long term feedback as well. What I mean with long term feedback is that it gives teachers the ability to have individualized graphs and notes for a specific time period or even for certain dates. Therefore, it allows us to reflect both on ourselves and our learners. For instance, if learners did no have so many correct answers in one lesson this is something that might be telling us something about our approach on this particular lesson. Maybe we failed on giving our learners the chance to come up with correct answers and therefore we monopolized the lesson or our lesson's topic  failed to catch their attention which led to not being actively participating. On the other hand, the fact that we can see our learners' performance over a specific amount of time, allows us to better understand our learners difficulties and tailor our lessons according to their needs. For example if we noticed a performance drop at the second half of term one in which we introduced simple past tense this might be a hint that we should revise simple past and probably hold a lesson in which we clarify learners question regarding simple past.

To conclude, I would like to highlight the fact that if learners manage to identify themselves with their in-game characters that would significantly motivate them. Research has shown that a connection exists between intrinsic motivation and game's characters (Susaeta et al. 2010). Therefore if learners can identify with their characters they would feel the need to improve them because that would mean that they would also improve themselves.


As I have already mentioned, to be able to use classcraft at its full potential and without hindering language learnering, it requires teachers to devote time in order to become familiar with it. The developers of the game suggest that the time teachers need to devote on classcraft during a class is less than five minutes. They also quote other teachers experience who are actually supporting this claim. Considering the fact that I have not use this tool and therefore I have no hands-on experience, I cannot argue whether this is true or not. However, having examined the tool a lot I assume that if teachers are extremely familiar with the game's mechanics then the five minutes pledge might be realistic. 

Considering the fact that classcraft was created after a niche game genre, a fact that I will like to put forward, is that when we are using a tool like this which heavy relies on our learners preference. In other words some of our learners might not find any interest in this game. The developers suggest that in this case those who are reluctant might not participate at the beginning of the year but they can join later if they believe that the game is interesting after all. However, this exclusion of the learners from such an important aspect of the lesson (considering that your using this tool properly and for a significant amount of time), is something I cannot consider as an English language teacher even for a limited period of time.

To conclude I would like to highlight something that Russell Stannard mentioned in one his lectures in my own words. We often get too carried away by our love for technology and the capabilities of a tool that we forgot to achieve one of our greatest goals which is the need to meet our pedagogical goals. (Stannard


Stannard, Russell. "Skills Development - Fluency." Professional Practice ELT (ICT & Multimedia). University of Warwick, Coventry. 10 Feb. 2015. Lecture.

Susaeta, H., Jimenez, F., Nussbaum, M., Gajardo, I., Andreu, J. J., & Villalta, M. (2010). From mmorpg to a classroom multiplayer presential role playing game. Educational Technology and Society, 13, 257–269.


  1. I wondered about the amount of teacher time to implement this as well. I thought about making physical "Passes" that I could give to students at the beginning of each week that would represent the powers they wish to use for that week. (such as the invisibility pass). Seemed like that might speed things up a bit, rather than having me interrupt my lesson in the middle to adjust the game for a student who wished to use that power. Thanks for your post!

  2. I wondered about the amount of teacher time to implement this as well. I thought about making physical "Passes" that I could give to students at the beginning of each week that would represent the powers they wish to use for that week. (such as the invisibility pass). Seemed like that might speed things up a bit, rather than having me interrupt my lesson in the middle to adjust the game for a student who wished to use that power. Thanks for your post!

    1. Way to late, but still thank you commenting and I hoped you enjoyed this entry. I really like your idea. Not only you will spend less time dealing with Classcraft but also you will make your learners make some conscious decisions over their learning.