EPIC Academy

EPIC Academy – Game-Inspired Professional Development

The Presentation:



The EPIC Guild BannerWhat is Gamification?

It’s important to distinguish between gamification and using games for learning.  Gamification is the application of game mechanics to non-gaming situations.  If you’re still confused, my friend, Steve Isaacs, has written a beautiful article for ASCD that outlines the differences:  The Difference Between Gamification and Game-Based Learning.

What makes gamification valuable is not experience points, levels, leaderboards, or badges.  Those are minor features of a good game and certainly not what makes one “good.”  What’s valuable is the incorporation of elements like:

  • Story Elements
  • Interesting Choices
  • A Focus On Mastery
  • Collaborative Play
  • A Player’s Sense Of Agency
  • Novelty And Surprise
  • Challenges!!

These are much more challenging elements to add to your instructional design than simply creating a fancy badge or a leaderboard.  But, you can do it and the results are worthwhile!

EPIC Academy Resources:

An Overview of EPIC Academy

The EPIC Academy Player Guide

Our Current Quest Tree – a map of all of the quests, achievements, and badges available to teachers.  (Doesn’t include secret quests!)

What’s New in EPIC 2.0?

In 2016, we’re re-launching EPIC Academy after a successful pilot with lots of upgrades including new quests, badges, and ways for teachers to interact.  Here are a few things we’ve added:

  • epic-ed-bannerTeacher-Designed Quests – We’ve nearly tripled the number of available quests as we’ve recruit teacher leaders to design new quests for their colleagues!
    • Alicia Ray (@iluveducating) – creator of quests on Augmented Reality and Digital Formative Assessment.
    • Rebecca Bennett (@RBennettSLM) – creator of quests on Skype in the Classroom, Coding, Makerspaces, and Genius Hour.
    • Becky Critz (@bcritz129) – creator of quests on Google Apps for Education.
  • Episodic Content – Some of our quests will be time-bound and available for windows of time.
  • Physical Badges and Display Banners – Upon earning their first badge, teachers will be awarded their EPIC Teacher Banner to hang outside/inside their classroom and display all the badges they earn in the system.



In Development:

  • House Competitions – Every player will be sorted into a House or team.  Periodically, there will be House competitions and possibly House-specific quests.

Tools to Help You Transform Your Class into A Game

Full-Featured Tools:

Screen Shot 2015-03-01 at 6.20.30 PM3DGameLab – developed by Drs. Lisa Dawley and Chris Haskell, this is an LMS-like tool built on the concept of quest-based learning.  It is an easy-to-use tool that truly supports choice-driven instructional design.  I definitely recommend this tool!!

Classcraft – add student characters and course management with roleplay game-style elements.

Badge Management:

Credly – platform for developing and issuing badges that can be shared publicly.

Mozilla Backpack – an open platform for managing and sharing digital badges.

Creating Badges with Google Sheets – by Alice Keeler – a how-to guide for creating a badging system using Google Sheets – Also see her guide here:  Creating A Level Up For Your Students.

Download a clean copy of Alice’s spreadsheet complete with instructions here.

Let’s Connect!

My passion is working with educators to help them grow!  Let’s connect!

On Twitter:  @lucasgillispie
On Skype:  lucas.gillispie (introduce yourself when connecting so I don’t think you’re one of those people…)


The ideas behind EPIC Academy are designed to inspire others to change the way we approach teacher professional development.  Feel free to use any of the ideas with your students or teachers in your district.  However, if you do, please give attribution!  EPIC Academy is shared under a Creative Commons License.


Creative Commons License
EPIC Academy by Lucas Gillispie is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://epic.edurealms.com

2 Responses to “EPIC Academy”

  1. […] Gillispie Nth Carolina: Gamifying teacher professional learning in EPIC […]

  2. Debora Wood says:

    Hi, Lucas,
    I am working in Buncombe County as a Title 1 Literacy Specialist. I recently finished my ITC certificate through Appstate.
    I am very interested in using gaming in the classroom to encourage boys to read.
    Currently, we use Minecraft Education Edition with our morning Boys Club. Our district wants to pilot Rezzly in our school, Fairview Elementary for our teachers to learn about gamification in the classroom. I’m working with our IT coach, Pam Johnson.
    I see from your info, you work in all those realms.
    Pam and I want to learn more to pass along to our teachers. We have 40, k-5 teachers. Using Rezzly as an optional PD platform to encourage gaming is our goal. I’d like to test it out with my Minecraft Boys Club. We are starting The Hobbit and developing a Middle Earth World, currently.
    Any help you can offer will be greatly appreciated! I’m an infant when it comes to gaming, but I see the tremendous value of learning and using it with my students.
    Thank you!

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