Leaderboards: A Fog of War



What’s that? Yes, it’s a traditional classroom leaderboard displayed on a non-traditional classroom whiteboard: a bitmap picture. The students’ names are nicely displayed on the left-hand side and their achievement is marked via the awarding of stars. How did they get those stars? That’s a question for the teacher, but most likely the determining factor was class participation i.e. whose arms spent more time in the air than Michael Jordan.

Leaderboards play a major part in videogames, particularly online. The importance of the videogame leaderboard has taken on such significance that some players devote their lives to it. The cream-of-the-crop players, always at the top, can earn stacks of money based purely on their elite videogame play. Leaderboards represent the competition aspect of playing videogames; players want to be better than their opponents.

How can teachers use a classroom leaderboard without upsetting the students at the bottom?


Avatars provide a degree of anonymity on a classroom leaderboard, but they’re not a great help when students can recite all their classmates’ names like items of fruit. A better approach may be to cloud the students at the bottom with a videogame ‘fog of war’. The fog of war can be forecast to only reveal the top 10 or top 5 students, thus creating an Olympic podium, rather than a fully-detailed leaderboard.


The columns in the example only list ‘attendance’, ‘participation’ and ‘homework’: it is always best for exam results to be kept private. Students universally hate their exam results being made public, especially in a world of Facebook and Twitter, where news travels faster than light. The leaderboard here only reflects what a student can truly control i.e. their level of effort.
Wait, it would take half of the class period to write up a leaderboard like that one on the whiteboard at the beginning of class! Are there any other options? Of course, the leaderboard can be periodically e-mailed to students as progress updates. Those teachers familiar with Google Apps like Google Sites, or even Google Drive, can freely share a leaderboard with students there, just so long as they have a Gmail account.

Another alternative would be to use free class management software, like that found at schoolrack.com. For an example of what that might look like, see the example below or click here: http://www.schoolrack.com/waynefinley/classroom-leaderboard/


Click to Continue – Difficulty Settings: The Hard Way


One thought on “Leaderboards: A Fog of War

  1. Hi! Did you create the leaderboard in excel first and then use the “add file” option on SchoolRack? I am trying to figure out how to set up something similar and your website was both helpful and encouraging! Thanks!


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