21st century teacher - tales from a pedagogical experiment

Angolos ötletek - 2013. június 26.

Írta: Prievara Tibor

Many have claimed that the challenges of the 21st century workplace and society necessitate a shift in our educational paradigm. Definitions and mentions of the so-called 21st century pedagogy  abound. This essay is a descriptive account of an ongoing pedagogical experiment (started in March 2012, 15 months ago) and it will attempt the following:
a)    to provide a theoretical framework for 21st century pedagogy in the classroom
b)    to give a detailed account of a step-by-step introduction of these theories
c)    to analyse the impact of 21st century pedagogy on the learning process

It is important to note that the title of ’21st century teacher’ refers to the difficulties one teacher went through and the challenges one has to rise to when trying to implement 21st century pedagogical principles in practice. It is , therefore, an account of a journey rather than than the success story of a new system.


Introduction of progressive pedagogical theories is often seen as a context-dependent enterprise. What you need – say many – is money, equipment and an exceptionally high level of technical skills. Right at the outset, it is important to establish that the present experiment is a low-cost project that would not be beyond the means of most European classes. Some important background information:
a)     I am a full-time high-school teacher in Budapest, Hungary, which means I have at least 22 classes to teach a week. This, in turn, means that whatever the new system is, it had to fit my fully packed schedule
b)    I am employed as a language-teacher in a high school that is above the average but it its not one of the top educational institutes in the country
c)    I work with 14-19-year olds, who have 3 to 5 English classes a week
d)    As far as access to technology is concerned, we sometimes have classes with an interactive whiteboard in it, occasionally classes in the computer room (subject to prior arrangement) and – most importantly – students have access to the Internet at home.

In conferences and research papers on the integration of ICT in teachers’ classroom practices, we are often provided with a vision (see Sir Ken Robinson’s famous TED talk) or a description of a best practice (see FICTUP). Motivating as the former are, they stop short when the teacher would most need help: ’I understand the concepts of collaboration, ICT, real-life issues, self-regulation, but what do I do next week in the first period?’. The asnwer to this query is usually that visionaries are not responsible for that, which is true. To put a positive spin on this, we might claim that teachers are in a unique position now to design ways to implement the concepts of 21st century pedagogy and design practical guides for colleagues and further research. When reading best practices, one cannot help but feel that they are isolated, often irrelevant to our context and success-oriented (which means they describe successful projects, showcase impressive projects and often neglect to document the negative aspects of undertaking such a project, the difficulties and the failure to integrate and engage students at times. This is understandable as one would like to present positive results of their endeavour, however, novice teachers might be disappointed, having previously thought that such projects always run like clockwork). This paper set out to do something different: to create a practical, step-by-step guideline for a paradigm shift in classroom practices.

The first step in designing a workable framework was to conduct informal research involving some 150 teachers in Hungary asking them what demands parents voice during parent-teacher conferences in terms of what they (i.e. parents) would like to see happening in schools. Having analysed the results, the following categories transpired: School is successful if …
a)    … students have good marks
b)    … teachers prepare students for ’Life’ (with a capital ’L’)
c)    … students learn skills that will help them earn a decent living
d)    … students are accepted (to high school, university etc. – whatever the next stage is in their career)
e)    … students can find out what they might be talented in
f)    … it does not put a lot of stress on students.

Parents (and increasingly the students themselves) have  more or less clear ideas as to what would contribute to a better life in the future (here is a vision of what part technology is going to play in pur lives in the near future http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5-6gB9_c10) . As for the education needed to achieve these goals, we  should be under no illusion; if parents feel that schools are not anymore adept, they will seek alternative routes to provide for their children. This, of course, would also mean that schools will become even less attractive to students, they will ’play school’ (i.e. come to classes, raise their hands and write tests feeling all these are irrelevant for their future careers and success). It is up to us, educators, to decide whether we would try and force students to learn the way we have been taught to teach, or try and teach the way they learn. What is needed is not an occasional ICT supported online project in some of the classes, but rather a deep-running  transformational change with face validity!

Theroretical framework
In this chapter an attempt will be made at describing the underlying principles of the experiment.

21st century skills
Research conducted by  Microsoft (ILT research, http://www.itlresearch.com/research-a-reportsLINK!!!! §§§) identified five so-called 21st century skills, which are
collaboration, knowledge construction, self-regulation , real-world problem-solving and innovation,
the use of ICT for learning, skilled communication

Having the student work rubrics (http://www.itlresearch.com/images/stories/reports/21cld%20student%20work%20rubrics%202012.pdf) also enabled me to monitor class activities in light of 21st century skills, which proved essential at first. Besides the theories, however, consideration had to be given as to how to best operationalise them in practice. In order for the classes to work, there are a few elements which have to be mentioned.

Individual learning paths
’Cognitive development is organic, each student is different, with different needs, diffculties and talents. It is the job of public educators to unearth and foster these talents’. Anyone teaching 22 lessons a week to classes of 25 students understands the challenge inherent in the above statements. Nevertheless, just because it is impossible, it does not mean it will not have to be done. As far as the present experiment is concerned, it became clear that it was crucial it provide an opportunity for individual learning and organic development of students.

Learner autonomy
This is quite closely related to the idea of individual learning paths. Learner autonomy was to become the part of the experiment that turned out to be the scariest of all on a daily basis. Having taken on board the concept of each student working at their pace and developing along the lines of different interests, it is inevitable that this should lead to less control on the part of the teacher (and the parent for that matter) on what the students are actually doing. To relinquish control of the learning process is a psychologically demanding task. If students have a stake and a say in what directions their studies are heading, teachers inevitably find themselves propelled out of their traditional role as a fountain of knowledge and have to adjust to accomodate the new needs that arise from the shifting context. The teacher has to become something else … a manager, maybe a fellow passenger? Whatever the role, it has to be accepted that the traditional setting has to be transformed, which raises a series of issues:
a)    what the teachers ’teaches’ becomes less pronounced, focus shifts to what the students learn
b)    if students are encouraged to foster their own interest, the concept of ’learning material’ has to be reinvented and re-examined
c)    the system relies more heavily on intrinsic motivation, which entails that the teacher has fewer means to formally punish students for not working
d)    the system presupposes that students actually do have individual interests which they intend to pursue
A detailed description of the practical implications of the above considerations is given in the next chapter.

The last (and possible the most crucial) element of the new system is how students are assessed and how their work is evaluated. In Hungary, they are given a mark from 1 to 5 (1 being a fail grade and 5 being an ’A’) and many a student would live under the spell of marks. Obviously, if assessment means marking (and marking only), our 21st century learning model will still be deeply rooted in traditional assessment. Students are often scared of marking, rather than being happy when receiving a good mark, they show signs of relief. A 3 (equivalnt of a ’C’), would often mean that they could easily become grounded for the weekend. It was my intention, therefore, to design a system of assessment that meets the following criteria:
a)    it acknowledges that students have some control over their development
b)    it gives students the freedom of choice concerning what they are assessed for
c)    it takes into account students’ different needs and abilities without punishing the weaker ones
d)    it sparks intrinsic motivation rather then reinforce extrinsic motivation through punishment with bad marks
e)    it is compatible with the official system of public education (e.g. simply declining to give students marks would cause a huge administrative mess that would soon get the teacher fired

In designing a new method of assessment, these concepts were given priority:
a)    assessment and official marking should be kept apart as much as possible
Marking is essentially unfair and – more importantly – not really suitable in catering for an organic development of the students. It seemed rather hypocritical to tell students that they are free to develop and nourish their interests, however, at the end of the road there is a test where  they would have to score over 90% to get an ’A’. On the other hand, there is the trap of the individual learning paths being used as an excuse for not doing anything. Whatever the means and the way, at the end of the day, it is also my responsibility to ensure that students learn to communicate in speaking and in writing in a foreign tongue. Furthermore, students are also expected to take final exams in their senior year, which partly decides on their future careers in tertiary education. The dilemma is therefore to find a way to balance the need to help students grow individually with the need to provide them with knowledge and skills that would help them get on with their academic life.

b)    the new system of assessment should be designed in such a manner that it measures students’ individual progress rather than comparing students to each other. Once we have established that students develop organically (at their pace, pursuing their individual interests), it becomes next to impossible to design uniform assessment (e.g. a multiple choice test) as that would beat the purpose of individual learning paths and organic development. Therefore, a new method and structure of assessment had to be created that would enable us to juggle all the needs that public education should meeat and answer to. In addition, it was also important to be able to function within the official and legal bounds of a high school. Setting up a pedagogical experiment is one thing, getting fired for not marking students is yet another. It was my priority, therefore, that the new system should be fully functioning within the legal boundaries set by public administration.
c)    Finally, any such system should be acceptable to students. In other words, it should have face value, by which I mean that students would understand the working of the system and be on board adjusting and forming it, should the need arise. As they need to get marks in the end one way or another, this seemed (and later proved) to be the toughest nut to crack. However true it might be that they have a greater say in what is going to happen to them, even if I managed to assess their individual progress and appreciate any develeopment in their skills, what I am proposing is still a break with what students were used to and replace it with something that demands a more reflective and pro-active attitude. This did not g down very well with a few students. Issues that were raised during the first few months are the follows:
i)    How do I deal with students who do not do any work?
ii)    How do I ensure that learning is going on?
iii)    Good students felt it unfair that their privileges were taken away (e.g. My English is much better, how come I get a worse mark? or, shockingly ’His English is much worse, how come we both get the same mark?)
iv)    Learner autonomy comes with learner responsibilty. This was new to many of my students, they were used to being pushed to do things, trying to ’dodge the bullet’ and finally try and negotiate with the teacher. In our 21st century system, if they do not take initiative, there will be no product to assess and these mechanisms cannot function they way they used to.
v)    Students do not all want to take initiative and they do not all have interest in growing organically. Some simply could not care less, and the pressures of the new system were an unwelcome change.

Practical guide to the setting up of the new system
In this chapter the introduction of the new learning process is being described.

a)    Restructuring the learning process
It is important to note that the experiment tackled the issues of ’how to learn’ primarily and the aspect of ’what to learn’ proved secondary. The reason for this is that the introduction of too many changes at any one time might prove overwhelming for students jeopardising the success of the endeavour in the long run.

In order to accomodate students as much as possible, the foloowing approach was chosen:
i)    A detailed needs analysis was conducted in which students were asked to thinkn about and describe their plans, wishes, strengths and weaknesses in English.
ii)    Learning was divided into  three-week periods, whereby each student was asked to design a learning path with what they thought important to focus on (e.g. I would like to polish my writing skills for an exam I’m taking in two months’).
iii)    The book was not altogether abondoned, therefore there was what might be called ’core material’ that was partly dealt with within class. This aspect was kept in order to give students some points of reference as well as some cohesion to the classes.
iv)    Marking was done using a method employing gamification principles, which meant students had to gather ’health points’ along the three-week period to complete the ’Level’. At the end of each Level, health points were converted into marks and the new Level started.
v)    For each Level, I (the teacher) provided students with opportunities to gather health points (HP) (e.g. a vocabulary quiz was worth 5 HPs, a writing submitted 5 HPs, etc.). Students could ’pass’ and not do things if they felt so inclined. At the same time, they were allowed to hand in anything that they wished (summary of a book they have read, translation of a song they like, extra grammar exercises they did, new words they had learnt from a sitcom etc.). How much these were worth was always subject to negotiation and I had the final word. This meant that they were given freedom as well as guidance. This was crucial, as their inexperience in taking pro-active responsibility for their work proved a daunting task to most at first.
A detailed description of the HP system follows. Next, the practical steps of setting up the system in class are outlined:

b)    Virtual classroom
In order for students to able to work efficiently, this the single most important factor. I started the process by creating a virtual space (which is password protected, safe and tucked away from the careless chatter of social media) that would help students carry on with their individual learning paths as well as communicate and ask for help. There are quite a few such websites and service providers on the Internet. For my purposes I found Ning was the most suitable (although not anymore free) alternative. The role of Ning classroom is summarised in the following:

i)    Communication with my groups and among the students: Each group had their own topic where they could communicate as well as a forum to ask me questions and ask for help if they got stuck. Also, this provides a certain amount of transperency, as students are required to keep track of their progress and document what they have accomplished in the Ning virtual classroom. This, in turn, enables students to look at each other’s work, and maybe even take items or ideas from their peers.
ii)    It is very easy to send newsletters to all the students in all the groups. This one-step communication makes life much easier.
iii)    There is a stream of new posts appearing on the front page of Ning, so students always see what is new in their group or what others have posted.
iv)    Sharing files, materials and handout is much easier. Besides, any extra material (e.g. a TED talk relevant to a discussion, an interview online, an audio file or a newspaper article) can be simply shared with the goups. All these students might decide to incorporate in their next Level challenges.

c)    SkyDrive
Students are often at a loss (especially in the beginning) as to how to take control of their learning. This is natural, and I went to great lengths to provide them with all sources of information. Sharing a lot of files and materials, however, is troublesome. In order to be able to collaborate on files and host a lot of materials, I set up a SkyDrive account, which provided me with 25 GB of free space (it has since been reduced to 7 GB for new users, which is still more than enough for the project). Materials were shared and students could handpick what they felt they needed. The materials included grammar worksheets, practice tests for language exams, but also a collection of TED talks they might find of interest).

Having got so far, there was a virtual classroom to communicate, a new concept of assessment using gamification and a platform to share materials. Furthermore, learning was divided into three-week levels in which students (with the help of the teacher) designed individual learning paths to achieve their individual goals. Students were awarded health points for any achievement and were encouraged to take responsibility for their learning. In order to help ease students into the system, a coursebook was still used, a ’core material’ retained for easy point of reference and to prevent the school year from going down in anarchy.

Implementation of the new system
In this chapter a summary of the experiences of the new system will be attempted with special emphasis on the ways in which it affected our daily classroom practices.

a)    On freedom
The first importance experience (for me) was that freedom does not liberate. Having been used to being told what to do and how to do it, the majority of students felt crippled by the prospect of taking responsibility for their work.

An example of this inertia was the type of tasks they handed in when they could have submitted anything they took an interest in. A 15-year-old girl once brought an article on a catamaran being shipped to Budapest from Germany in parts. We also lerarned that this ship was going to be re-assembed and work as a ferry on Lake Balaton the following summer. This article is anything but the personal interest of this student and is far more boring than anything I might have taken to class. When asked, she said there are just too many possibilities and she had never had to actually think (let alone make decisions) about what she felt like learning about. In retrospect, this is a more than valid point of view, which was reinforced by other students, claiming it was tough having to think of topics to write and learn about, as they had previously been taught not to do that – it was the teachre’s job. Therefore, a lot of patience and scaffolding is needed in the beginning to make sure students develop their interests and learn to structure the learning process. However, one year into the system, this seems to be working much more efficiently now.

b)    Assessment and traps
As it has already been discussed in some detail, one of the crucial elements of the 21st century teacher project was to do with assessment and evaluation of students’ work. In order to balance short- and long-term goals (as it is done in video games as well), I decided to divide the school-year into roughly 3-week periods (we called these Levels) and asked students to work out what they would like to achieve in these periods. Within the levels, they had to make sure they collect enough Health points to make it to the next level.

Healt points (HP) were awarded for ANY work the student did during the level. Their target might be focus on their writing skills, in which case they could hand in an essay every three days. Similarly, they might set out polish their presentation skills, in which case they might prepare and give a 5-minute presentation on a topic of their choice for the rest of the class.

Liberal and flexible as it may seem, the system proved dysfunctional when students were left to their own devices. To provide a gradual transformation into setting new learning goals, a framework was created that students could adhere to or disregard as they wished. Important cornerstones of the framework are as follows:

i)    The coursebook was not abandoned, however, no homework was set from the book, hence freeing up time for students at home.
ii)    For each level, certain checkpoints were designed, which allowed students to collect HPs. The typical description of a level in terms of assessment looked something like this:
Students had to collect HPs, which are then converted into marks. I provided them with 20 HPs worth of assessment (including an essay to hand in for 5 HP, a vocabulary quiz for 5 HP, etc.). They were supposed to reach 16 HPs for a ’5’. Conversion of HPs into marks worked like this: 0-8 HPS = 1, 9 = 2, 10 = 3, 11-15=4, 16+ = 5. 
iii)    Students might hand in anything they feel like doing, which are then awarded HPs.
iv)    Students are allowed to ’pass’ any of the formal assessment checkpoints provided by me.
v)    Any points over 20 are called Master Points and are collected. Whenever a students reached 15 Master Points, these were converted into another ’5’.
vi)    There wre occasional ’tests’, but these were designed by the students themselves to showcase what they had learnt in that period of time. Students were asked to design the tests bring them to class, where they had to do them without any furter help. This turned ’test’ classes into basically stress-free periods where students concentrated on what they had learnt, rather than focus on what they might have forgotten to learn.

The introduction of the HP system and the Levels (it was easy for students to see) gave them a lot more frredom. However, with freedom comes great responsibility. The issues that we had to face included the following:
i)    They left everything to the last minute and were unable to complete the level. (In the long run, nevertheless, they learnt how to better structure their time and allocate resources for the successful completion of the Level)
ii)    They did not learn the same things! This seemed frightening at first, however, looking back on it, they did learn to speak and write in English, so this might have been scary for me only as I had to relinquish control of what they were learning. It turned out in the end that there was a learning process in how to design their learning paths, which did in fact pay dividends as students did in fact become more independent and learned to take initiative.
iii)    As a direct result of all the freedom students were given, it became considerably more difficult to motivate underachieving students. It was inherent in the system that the teacher did not have the means to compensate for students’ lack of input. An eloquent example is the ’test’. Since it was the students’ responsibility to design these, the teacher had no means to interfere – if the student did not create the test, they lost the HPs awarded for them.
iv)    The system did away with negative assessment. If a paper was really bad, the student received 1 HP. Thus, instead of sending out the message of a ’1’, the student said ’1 HP done, 15 to go …’, which makes the world of a difference as it motivates them to try again and again as long as they get it right.
v)    Another important aspect is how assessment has become separated from marking. To see how these two are related, I asked students (in a questionnaire) after each level the following question: ’If you were assessed using marks only, would your results be a) better, b) worse, c) don’t know’. To my delight, after four or five levels, nearly 40% of the students answered ’I don’t know’, which indicated that marks lost their importance and were not anymore considered the only gauge of value.

Alternative assessment – on the coalface
It has been illustrated in this chapter how the system works in theory and some practical considerations were also dealt with. What is left to describe is what steps I have taken to ensure my assessment system is practicable.

I set up a public Excel table on SkyDrive, in which the following data was entered: a) name of the student, b) number of the level (e.g. Level 3) with the number of HPs received, d) an ’Events log’ (in which I kept track of what the students received the HPs for – this proved to be an essential part of the Excel table as this way it was easy to see what the students actually did and also to deal with any claims of fewer HPs entered than students achieved). An example of such a publi Excel table can be seen here: http://sdrv.ms/18fn5oj. The abbreviations refer to certain tasks students handed in (e.g. ’Cuba’ refers to an essay on the missile crisis, whereas ’recomm’ means a letter of recommendations).

Alternative assessment – lessons learnt
In this chapter an overview of the alternative assessment system will be given, with lessons learnt, issues that arose as well as possible solutions to problems that inevitably crop up in trying to turn education upside down (or inside out, rather).

As it has been already mentioned above, in this system students take more responsibilty for their development, individual learning paths are designed to cater for students’ interests. Furthermore, when it came to assessing their achievement, a system based on gamification was applied that awarded students with health points rather than marks. During the lesson, a course book was used, but students were given as much freedom as they wished to have to complement the course or do something completely different that interested them. The only principle was that they had to do (produce) something. They were encouraged to take initiative and use this freedom wisely, however, if students did not produce any work, the system could not reward them and there was very little the teacher could do.

As students followed individual learning paths, handing in different portfolios of what they had done, it was simply impossible to test them on these materials, simply because it would have meant designing an individuaal test for all the students, which is not feasible with classes of 18 students or more. As I had about 80 students in my classes, it would have meant creating just as many different tests. There were two solutions to this problem that I have tried:
a)    what if fewer progress tests are administered
b)    what if we take a different approach to the idea of progress tests and turn them into genuine achievement test.
The first option was first welcomed by the students, but after a while they told me they actually miss being assessed on what they had learnt, not because of the marks, but more because this way they felt those materials were ’under the belt’ and felt more comfortable moving on.

The second option required a shift of perspective as it looked upon the test not as a means to ’catch’ students not having learnt something but rather to provide an opportunity for them to showcase what they have actually learnt. The best way to ensure this seemed to be if students designed their own tests, including whatever they have covered. In class, they had to do the tests they had put together without any further help and assistance. This made sure there was an element of competitiveness in writing the test, but the deblitating anxiety that freezes students so often turned into facilitating anxiety, where students feared they did not have enough time to write down everything they had learnt. The preparation for the test turned into a process of reflection on what they had covered, whereas the day of the test stop being a source of extreme anxiety.

How to help students design their own tests?
Asking students to put together a test is easier said than done. As they have ver little (if any) experience in this area, assistance is of utmost importance. First, set a target in terms of points in the test (e.g. the test should be of 100 points altogether). Next, establish how many points each item is worth (e.g. if they have learnt a new expression, it it worth 1 point, however, if they use that expression in a sentence, then it is worth 2 points. Similarly, a sentence transformation task is 2 points, a short summary of a text they have read is 5 points etc.). 

I also allowed and encouraged them to include essays (of. about 150 words) in their tests. This proved to be exceptionally useful as they were allowed to hand the essays beforehand, so I could correct them and give them back to students before the tests. Then, they could use my corrected version and produce a ’perfect’ essay in the test. This proved to be one of the most efficient parts of the whole system. I am convinced that anyone teaching in public education has felt really bad when students completely disregard your corrections in their papers and only look at the mark. Quite often, you can also find meticulously corrected papers in the dustbin after class – usually of those students who would need to take heed of your remarks and corrections the most. Including esssays in the tests solved that problem at a stroke. My correcting the papers before the tests turned that upside down! They wrote the essays without having to fear they would be marked down for their mistake and my corrections became really important for them as they knew they needed to correct the essays as any mistakes left in them would mean losing points on the test. The result was quite astonishing; rather than throwing away papers, students approached my after the class asking me to double-check their essays for mistakes because they wanted to correct everything before they actually learnt it and used it in their test. I felt my feedback finally had an effect and students were more than keen to take my suggestions on board and finally produced much better papers.

This is just another system
At the outset I was convinced that I am doing something great for my students, finally liberating them from all the constraints of an outdated educational system. To be honest, I expected no less than instant gratification. I felt like a revolutionary wanting to reap the rewards for freeing the people. More often than not, it turns out that people do not feel that bad being oppressed and many of them do not even want to think about what they would like to do. In short, taking responsibilty for your work and progress did not go down very well with some students. In retrospect, this is absolutely understandable. A system that they did not really like but they knew seemed much more secure than an alternative that is still fraught with loopholes and inconsistencies. A solution to this was to involve students in shaping the system. At the conclusion of each level they were asked to (anonymously) to give feedback on what they found useful and what they thought was unfair in the system. Before beginning the new Level, their ideas and suggestions were discussed, voted on and – if supported by the majority – incorporated into the system. This, again, did not go as well as one might accept. Forone thing,  it is inevitable that some of the students will try and find loopholes and weaknesses in the system with the view of proving that it does not work. Furtehrmore, the teacher has to brace themselves in order to take criticism on the chin and be ready to alter the system to better suit students needs. This process is possibly the most painful and sensitive part of the whole experiment because it means that students become decision-makers and will only work effectively in this capacity of they shift their focus from the traditional role of the student (i.e. trying to get away with as much as possible with minimum input) to a cooperative partner in a democratic process. This step, however, is harder to take than one might imagine.

Making peace with the educational system
Having started the experiment, I did become a ’state within the state’ as a lot of what I was doing did actually go against current trends of education state policy and it was definitely different to what students were used to in school. I had to try and strike a balance between meeting the official requirements and not compromising my principles. In order to do this, I decided to ’tread softly’ and always make sure that students understand that this is a system that works in my classes only, it is not meant to counter what is generally done in schools but it is an experiment  looking for ways to complement routine educational practices. Also, I did give them marks, which has to be done in order for students to be able to go on to further education. It might also be an issue if a student does not do much work, as their marks will eventually suffer, and explaining a system like this to an upset parent is not very easy. This, however, has not happened until now as usually the syetem is motivating enough for students to do ’something’ and it offers endless opportunities to get even more HPs for whatever they feel liek doing.

As for the school admisnitration, there are two crucial points: I always made sure the students had the required number of marks and emphasised to students that what we were doing was an experiment, which might work or fail. Therefore, it would be pointless and unfair of them to demand that other teachers introduce a similar structure to the classes. Fortunately, they did understand and accept that, which meant that my system could peacefully co-exist with the official system of the school, acknowledging its existence and meeting the official requirements set by the administration.

With almost 15 months passed since the start of the experiment, I feel that it is workable and can function within the constraints of public education in Hungary. There are other teachers and schools that have adapted this approach and in most cases it is done in peaceful co-existence.

It is important to point out that the successful integration of gamification, individual learning paths, learner autonomy and democracy is quite a handful and does not always go easily. Some studenst (especially the better ones) might it unfair as using gamification each student’s progress is measured in terms of value added and the effort made, therefore, ’bad’ students get good marks if they work. This is yet another example of having to break down barriers in communication and thoughts. Students in Hungary are brought up in a highly competitive environment, it is not easy for them to accept that their progress is measured against their abilities and is not expressed in relation to others’ knowledge (e.g. I am MUCH better at English, why does she get a ’5’?).

Naturally, the experiment does not stop here but goes on in the school year coming (2013-2014), where hopefully even more data will be gathered to be presented to our colleagues.