Gamification Reflections and progress

This page will document what I’ve done to set up the site… and mistakes I’d like to help others with.

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Install wordpress, set yourself up as an admin.

Here are some helpful tips on security: Quick and easy way, or learn more here and here.

Another good security tip is to create an admin user that you use for the site maintenance… and then set up another user that’s just used for editing the pages and content. That user will be an “Editor” role- which can’t mess up basic site setup and configuration. Only login as admin when you need to. Generally, you’ll use the editor role.

NOTE- I don’t do this, but it’s good practice. Especially if you’re new to wordpress. When you need to get in and do game on features, access the clipboard, etc… you need to be admin. But if you’re just entering in posts and quests, Editor will do.

Also go get your akismet key to stop spam. Just drag the slider to zero when it asks how much you want to pay. We’re in education… so we don’t need to pay.

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Install Required plugs and a sweet theme!

You’ll want to get a few plugins to make life easier and to enable gamification. Plugins are little “add on” items (in gaming terms, expansion packs) that let your site do extra new and groovy things.

PLUGINS

Required:

Game On– This plug, developed by students from the Mac Lab in San Diego, CA, runs the gamification part of the site.

Not Required, but fun: I’m using a short collection of plugins that I’m really loving… recorded here for your info- and especially so I don’t forget! 🙂

  1. Contact Form 7- let parents and other teachers email you… also can be used for kids to email specific assignments if you set up custom forms. Runs my feedback loop.
  2. Disable Check Comment Flood- In schools, you have a few outward facing IP’s… to wordpress, when 20 kids comment at the same time- it can look like a spammer. This turns off the check and lets them go through.
  3. Register Plus Redux – I use this one to require acceptance of “terms of Service” that they agree to all the site rules, as well as requiring a password to register. I write the password on the board in class so that nobody can register unless they’re physically in my classroom!!! HUGE bonus to let the kids register themselves so you don’t have to enter them in, and it’s foolproof!
  4. Shortcodes Ultimate– Allows you to get some awesome add-ins and display items that you see around the site. The dropcaps on this page are created with it, for example. Also lists subpages, custom post lists, etc. Amazing and free!
  5. Lightbox Ultimate- I like the videos in lightboxes. Not necessary, but it’s sexy and you don’t have kids with a billion browser tabs open.

 

THEMES

This is totally a matter of opinion… but ELEGANT THEMES is the best deal going. I also found that VANTAGE THEME is super cool and flexible… and CHEAP.

Avoid themes with “Super duper Feature Q” and “ELEMENT X that no other theme has!” You’re just asking for compatibility issues, IMHO.  Elegant themes is the best deal because for the price of one theme, you get over 60… and they’re all amazing. Then you can use them on the kids’ blogs too, if you set things up that way.

For the record, I’m using Aggregate from ELEGANT THEMES.

 

 

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Do a little research!!!  

I seriously recommend checking out some other sites first and see what/ how they’re doing things! Here are a few people running right now…

Then play a couple games with your kids or nephews or something. Pay attention to the role playing elements. Pay SPECIAL attention to how the quests are developed and threaded.

Take a couple online courses that are free. Coursera has a bunch. Get in on THIS ONE if you can.. it’s AMAZING!

Try doing some old school learning in Books or just searching your own resources. Here are some of my faves:

Books

 TED TALKS

 

 

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OK! Time to get started!!!

First, set up your static pages. Get your class rules, pages for parents… all the extra things that aren’t part of the curriculum and that won’t be quests. This will give you practice setting up pages and posts, and learning to organize the site.

[su_note note_color=”#fedbdb”] PAGES VS POSTS– So after learning a lot more about wordpress and setting up literally dozens of sites, I learned a lot more about pages and posts… Bottom line, use posts when you can- especially for sections of your site that will have a lot of entries (like projects/missions). Want the details?

Pages are used for the constant parts of your site, like the about page, the syllabus, the parents page… the things that every time someone comes to your site, they might want.

Posts are for your actual daily information or assignments. You can link to them and use them just like pages… but they’re easier for wordpress to deal with. Use tags and keywords instead of the hierarchy to organize your site. [/su_note]

 

 

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