Common Sense Review
Updated July 2014

Community PlanIt

Custom-designed civic engagement game helps kids make local impact
Common Sense Rating 4
Teacher Rating (1 Teacher Review) 1
  • Players crowdsource local solutions for local issues.
  • Community PlanIt gamifies a cycle of civic engagement.
  • Alliances made in-game are meant to last and benefit the community afterwards.
  • Life Online versions of the game tackle school social-media issues.
  • Engagement Game Lab returns all sorts of data and visualizations from each game.
Offers highly customizable, relevant and robust data collection and analysis with activist hooks.
There's nothing to pick up and play, so teachers have to work to get one started in their communities.
Bottom Line
If you're lucky enough to play, Community PlanIt is sure to provide a compelling experience that'll get students collaborating on impactful school or community-based projects.
Chad Sansing
Common Sense Reviewer
Classroom teacher
Common Sense Rating 4
Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return? 4

It's customized to each community, making the activities feel relevant rather than canned. The real-world changes players make is a natural hook.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer? 4

There are a variety of differentiated missions for players. Missions communicate lessons about civic engagement, citizenship, communication, and problem-solving.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students? 3

The Engagement Game Lab works with its community partners to ensure access, and delivers a customized experience. Still, the site could use an FAQ section and overall better explanation and scaffolding of how the games work.

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How Can Teachers Use It?

Teachers can use Community PlanIt to increase students' awareness and understanding of local issues facing their communities and schools, as well as to inspire student activism on those issues. Teachers can use the data collected and returned by each game to help students analyze information and make fact-based decisions. Community PlanIt offers teachers a chance to partner with education and community leaders to bring an instance of the game to their town; as yet, it doesn't seem as though Community PlanIt co-designs games for individual classrooms. 

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What's It Like?

Community PlanIt is a social impact game mixing online interaction and real-world issues. Players get missions on the website tailored to their communities that help them learn about and act on civic issues. Games are developed by Emerson College's Engagement Game Lab in cooperation with schools and communities. What results are tailored instances of the game for local communities that run for a set period of time. Past games (which are archived on the website) have touched on school social media policies and city-wide school transportation issues. As players complete missions, they earn badges and coins to contribute to local causes vying for a small amount of real-world funding as part of the game. Through real-world and multimedia online participation, students crowdsource knowledge, develop solutions, and engage with one another and other community members using multiple methods of communication. 

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Is It Good For Learning?

There's no doubt that Community PlanIt can deliver powerful lessons on civic engagement, citizenship, clear communication, and how to collect and use data to solve problems. It makes civics education very real, and encourages students to invest in, and try to positively impact, their local communities. However, one of the reasons it's so compelling -- the tailored experience -- also presents one of its biggest challenges for implementation. Playing Community PlanIt depends on getting a game started in your community. Since there are so few games run, teachers can't bank on being able to use Community PlanIt. Still, it's worth sending in an application because if you get picked, your students will have a rare and awesome experience.

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See how teachers are using Community PlanIt

Lesson Plans