GradeCraft + DIG

Barry Fishman, Professor, Learning Technologies, School of Information & School of Education – @BarryFishman
Cait Holman, PhD Candidate, School of Information – @chcholman
Rachel Niemer, Director of Digital Pedagogy and Learning Communities @rkniemer


We are thrilled that GradeCraft, our game-inspired learning management system designed and developed here at U-M, has officially become the fourth project to be housed within the Digital Innovation Greenhouse (DIG). What does this mean for GradeCraft, and for DIG? When GradeCraft received a Third Century Grant, we knew we would need to grow our team in order to reach our goal of creating more motivating courses for 20,000 students over the next three years. In response, we have hired a new project coordinator, and increased the size of our development team. We also wanted to do more to integrate with the incredible community at the University of Michigan working to reimagine what teaching and learning supported by technology might look like. The opportunity to join DIG as a partner application felt like the perfect next step to accomplish that.

Joining DIG enables us to share our experiences regarding what has (and perhaps more importantly, hasn’t!) worked in building our platform, growing our community of practice, sharing our pedagogical philosophy, and integrating with the organizational and technological landscape at Michigan. It also means that we can learn from our fellow DIG team members’ experiences as they pursue a similar journey with Student Explorer, the Academic Reporting Toolkit 2.0, and ECoach. GradeCraft is a slightly different take on what it means to be a DIG application because we continue to be primarily developed by a team led by Barry Fishman and Caitlin Holman in the School of Information, and supported by external software developers. It’s exciting to start imagining how this community will work to change what it means to design and develop learning technologies and bring them to scale–particularly those that push the boundaries of understanding how learning analytics data can be employed to design transformational educational experiences.

Faculty discussing gameful pedagogy.We have big plans for the next year. We’re reaching out to instructors all over campus who have expressed interest in gameful learning and are working with them to consider how to redesign their course experiences to support more student autonomy. We are building a new website dedicated to answering instructors’ questions about gameful pedagogy and sharing good practices for implementation we’ve observed over the last four years. We are reaching out to students to form a team of GAME ambassadors who can help their peers navigate choices within their coursework. If you are interested in using GradeCraft in your classroom, joining the ambassador program, or nominating someone to be an ambassador, please get in touch! We also invite you join us at our open office hours Friday mornings at the DEI’s weekly Digital Donuts event – every Friday morning, 9AM-12PM at 500 E. Washington Street!

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