Scott Oden dressed as quest character

With captivating storylines and challenging tasks, Scott Oden, an eighth grade language arts teacher at Lake Ridge Middle School, gamifies the learning process. Through Classcraft, an online gaming platform for schools and educators, he designs educational quests for his students. Classcraft recently honored Oden with the August Quest of the Month for his latest, titled "Escape the Tedium."

To create this particular quest, Oden gathered 26 digital escape rooms from Breakout EDU, an escape room-style learning tool, and then weaved them together with an original narrative.

"This quest is perhaps me at my nerdiest, as I paired Classcraft with Breakout EDU's digital escape room platform," said Oden "Only through demonstrating mastery of specific skills [such as grammar and usage] can students solve the various [English language arts] puzzles that allow them to progress through the quest."

Before starting the game, students also create their own avatars and join teams. As they play through, students earn "powers" that help both themselves and their team advance. For added fun, students can also attempt to solve puzzles in less time than "The Escape Artist," or Oden.

"I use Classcraft as an individuality celebrating, behavior management and team building system," said Oden "The ability of students to customize their own avatar, earn powers to directly impact their classroom experience, and to develop communal identity through collaborative team actions make this platform a virtual five-tool player."

First learning about Classcraft just over five years ago, Oden has incorporated quests into his classroom ever since. Ultimately, he enjoys allowing students to have more control of their learning goals and overall achievement.

While he recognizes this learning style is not for everyone, Oden also knows that there are students who do benefit from a more non-traditional teaching approach. As a young student, who felt like school did not quite fit him, Oden believes he would have benefitted from a platform like Classcraft.

"I would have loved the ability to build an awesome character, have visual and measurable impact on my character and teammates, and control the speed and depth of my own learning experience," said Oden.

By incorporating this non-traditional aspect into his own classroom, he hopes to engage all students, including the ones who may now feel like he once did.

"I'm not saying this is for everyone, nor that it's going 'fix' any particular situations, but it would have positively impacted my school experience. I think it is a positive part of my [students'] experience, too."