Twitch streams have mechanics to engage and chatters and gamify the stream experience. Can we take any of these mechanics and incorporate them into the classroom?
Channel PointsAs you watch a stream you gain channel points. Viewers can spend the channel points to unlock features (like highlighting their next post) or get the streamer to do something (Hydrate: drink some water). The viewer gets to interact with the streamer and control some aspect of the experience.
The streamer can customize the experience for viewers and make whatever rewards with a matching image. The more you watch the more points you get and the better the reward is (ideally). This mechanic allows the viewer to directly interact with the streamer. This is also a reward for being present and participating.
Bits and SubsBits are more of a currency than Channel Points. Giving Bits to a streamer is akin to throwing money into the hat of a street performer. You buy Bits on the platform that you can then disperse as you feel fit. Giving Bits can put you on a leader board and give the spender status among the other viewers. Giving Bits can also unlock Emotes and other features in the chat. When you Sub a channel you are showing the ultimate support. You are rewarded with special sub-emotes and badges for subbing for consecutive months.
The Twitch ClassroomThese features of Twitch made me think of SAPS as outlined by Michael Matera in Explore Like a Pirate. SAPS is an acronym for Status, Access, Power, and Stuff. Channel Points work within the Power paradigm. The viewer has the power to control the stream and streamer. Giving Bits and being a subscriber gives the viewer Status and Access. Status is gained by being able to use Sub-only emotes and badges. You can also "Access" Sub-only chats and sometimes Sub-only parts of the streamer's Discord.
Trying to understand my description of these mechanics, without having ever watched a Twitch stream, will not give you the full picture. I encourage you to stop into Twitch and watch these mechanics in action. How do they encourage audience participation? How do streamers interact with viewers? How is this similar/different from student-teacher interactions?
How might we leverage these game mechanics within our classrooms? How might your Google Meet or Zoom session be different and more engaging? I have already used some of these mechanics in real life via Classcraft where students can spend Gold Points (GP) on choosing the music, being able to eat in class, or receiving candy. I do wish the process was as easy as it often is on stream in Twitch. For me this has proved an interesting source of thought recently. Some if not all teaching for me will be remote in the fall. Having some system in place to encourage online chat participation is intriguing and full of possibilities.