It took a few simple steps to introduce iteration. First, I showed students exemplars of previous student work (with names remove, or course!). Then I asked, “What could be done to make this better.” Here is where out-of-the-box thinking comes into play. I awarded a “Creative Thinker” digital badge to the students who had the most original ideas.
Posting leaderboards of wins and scores from class games, as well as earned badges, also encourages iteration. Another method to encourage iteration is by embedding the assessments, sometimes known as mini-deadlines, or short-term due dates. This added feedback ensures that students stay on task and that project work turns out to be excellent.
Puzzles usually have one possible solution. Games have many. How to win is open-ended. This is a reason why games mirror life better than standardized tests. Games are designed for players to try different solutions to any given problem. In fact, in some gamer circles, failure is celebrated. A search for “epic fail video games” on YouTube returned over 1,310,000 results. Many of the posted game fails are comical, including silly ways to lose in Halo.
For iteration to be effective, a safe place to “learn by failing” must exist. Many theorize that this is a reason for the popularity of video gaming, for children and adults. Failing is as fundamental to playing as it is to learning.