Tag Archives: Games

Participatory culture, do we dare to partake?

Though personally I really like the simplicity of Scratch and how engaging it can be, without the right direction and support it can turn into a classroom nightmare and turn students off a brilliant way introduce students to coding.

Mitchel Resmick- the director of the Lifelong Kindergarten MIT Media Lab says Scratch “teaches kids to think creatively, reason systematically and work collaboratively”. It is very important for our students to learn lessons from being able to fail in a safe and supportive environment. Game Based Learning (GBL) can support teachers in providing a safe space for students to work and learn from failure. But, this must come with a caveat attached, for students to fail and learn, teachers must at least have an idea of how to support students to succeed within the GBL environment. Prototyping methodology as outlined by Drew Davidson can be a powerful tool set in the hands of learners, especially if a teacher has taken the time to support students to develop their computational and design thinking skills. However, not all students start out on an activity with the same skill set, including problem solving, creativity and critical thinking skills so be must build their capacity first to assist them to achieve.

Support forms an important part of a GBL environment.
Support forms an important part of a GBL environment.

Recently I was invited into a classroom in Perth to watch a practicum student teacher present a session on coding to Year 8 students – the invite was from the practicum student as they know my background in mentoring technology in the classroom. Unfortunately for the practicum student teacher the lesson did not run according to their plan. Ultimately the session outcomes were not met key reasons for this were: there was only a little introduction to the topic; a very small amount of task description which was given verbally only to the students; no scaffolding; and poor support skills from the practicum student. The students in the classroom became frustrated as they really did not have a solid foundation for the task or what the teacher wanted them to achieve, this then resulted in the students becoming disengaged mid-lesson.

At the end of the session (after the students had left) I debriefed with the supervising teacher and practicum student about the session. My worry was the practicum student had become increasingly frustrated and angry with the students during the session as they became disengaged. The frustration stemmed from the students not grasping what was required of them and that they did not seem to have the skills to complete the task. I asked the practicum student about previous lessons that the students had in using the software and quickly discovered that this was the very first time it had presented to students and the practicum student was using a colleague’s lesson plan. As our conversation progressed about the topic I also realized that the key difference between how this lesson ran and her colleague’s lesson was that her colleague had taken the time to learn the software, worked up an example for the students to get an understanding of what was required and put in some solid learning outcomes.

With effort the story completed with an excellent ending.
With effort the story completed with an excellent ending.

Now from this story there is a happy ending. I was invited back to support the practicum student in presenting another session to the same group of students – this was at my suggestion. We really took the time to structure an example, demonstrated the techniques that were required to be used to create the digital output (ie. wire frame, story boarding and coding skills) gave the students a solid understanding of what was required for them to achieve. The practicum student and myself then became guides on the side for the remainder of the lesson to support the students as required. The result for the practicum student was that the class achieved all the outcomes, a complete turnaround to the previous. All the students had achieved and were excited to continue on with the next lesson. By investing the time to support and engage with learners and to demonstrate prototyping learning design.

To me this basic failure of the teacher to use effective teaching strategies just because she was using technology was the primary issue. I do believe however, that we need to support teachers in learning how to play and engage with technologies as well as support them to develop their own computational thinking and design thinking skills. By investing in our teachers we are investing in the students.

Creativity forms an important part of computational thinking and design thinking.
Creativity forms an important part of computational thinking and design thinking.

Students still find it difficult to creating new technologies and expressing themselves with technology. We need to support students to develop design thinking skills to support them in creating in new and different ways. Students will become familiar in technologies without a teacher always standing over them to make sure that they are using the technology exactly the same way the teacher would.

Recently I have encouraged a peer to reform a Community of Practice for the Adult Literacy and Numeracy area of the WA VET sector, which has been launched because of my support. This is exactly what peerography represents for me.

I think Samuel Beckett sums up the need to build resilience and safe failure into our teaching with his thoughts on the necessity of failing to eventually achieve:

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Less screen more green – an adventure in blended delivery and games

Less screen more green flickr photo shared by CMIMMJYT under a Creative Commons (BY) licence
flickr photo shared by CMIMMJYT under a Creative Commons (BY) licence

I am fortunate enough to work with VET professionals to develop and implement methods for using elearning as part of a blended delivery program. It’s always a challenge when putting together a professional development session to ensure that there is a good blend of theory and hands on work to ensure that the participants go away with a solid understanding of the content of the session and how to use that content in their specific context.

I was asked recently to put together a blended delivery session that would engage TAFE lecturers from a variety of portfolios for Polytechnic West lecturers from Balga and Thornlie campuses. I really wanted to build a blended delivery session that made participants use personal learning networks, technology and had a game based element to it. What evolved was a very interesting and well received session that was engaging and really made the participants understand that technology can support all training packages.

The brief outline of the session was “So you are keen to engage your online students but do not like the thought of just getting them to sit at a computer. This face-to-face session will work through ways to motivate your online students to ‘experience’ the real world and not to rely just on spoon fed online information.” Being held on two campuses I made sure that sessions ran as close to concurrent as possible as my co-presenter and I wanted to split the participants into small groups with the groups being a mix of representatives from both campuses. The participants were placed in teams prior to the session commencing – based on the roll, however the groups mix was  tweaked in the session when it became apparent on the Thornlie campus that we had a mix from a third campus.

Participants began the session in a computer lab at both campuses with a short presentation and briefing from me and my co-presenter about what we were going to do in the session and the key learning objectives. The participants were then given a physical live task to perform at each campus, and needed to work as a group across both sites to achieve the end goal. Participants were given access to a virtual meeting room space in Blackboard Collaborate and could also use mobile devices to communicate with the other site. The workshop ended back at each “basecamp” for debrief and to un-pack the learning from the activity.

It was important to make the physical activity an authentic learning activity which was a learner centric learning design that supports a higher level of learning by participants. I used a mix of both synchronous – Blackboard Collaborate and asynchronous – sms messaging and Google documents, which enabled collaborative learning (Laurillard, 2008). This supported a dynamic learner centric learning process for the participants (Herrington & Parker, 2013), which is essential for adult learners.

As the professional development was for adult learners who benefit from real-world relevance (Herrington, Reeves, Oliver and Woo, 2004) the live physical activity linked to the Employability Skills Occupational Health and Safety area of training packages as well as a ‘get to know the campuses’ orientation. This ensured that the participants were not doing an activity just for the sake of it and could see the context in that related to training packages and their training.

The activity was a Scavenger Hunt around the two campuses with focus questions that the groups had to work together to answer, within a 40 minute time frame. Cunningly the Scavenger Hunt was designed so that general knowledge would take them so far and they actually had to physically move around the two campuses to get the information to complete the questions.

The teams firstly had access in the physical classroom to Blackboard Collaborate and worked through as much as they could together and formulated a plan of action; they identified what questions might relate to each campus and then worked out a way to chat to each other outside the class. Some of the mobile technologies teams used were: sms messages, Facebook instant messages, Twitter and one team setup a Google document live to add findings to. During the session I acted as an instructor, a guide and an evaluator (Hanghøj, 2013) to enable to participants success in game play and facilitated groups through to a successful conclusion of the activity.

Once they had collated the answers they nominated a team member to fill out a survey monkey quiz that replicated the scavenger hunt questions, which enabled the two presenters live to demonstrate how the answers and statistics show in this system. The team then had to email the presenters that they had finished. Two prizes were awarded:

  1. First team finished
  2. Team with most correct answers

The participants thoroughly enjoyed the game element to the session and as part of the session debrief unpacked how this type of activity could inform their future training. The blended element of the delivery, though technically challenging having two big groups online working at the same time, it was extremely rewarding for the participants.

Participant guide – Less screen more green

 

References

Hanghøj, T. (2013). Game-based teaching: Practices, roles, and pedagogies. In S. de Freitas, M. Ott, M. Popescu, & I. Stanescu (Eds.) New pedagogical approaches in game enhanced learning: Curriculum integration (pp. 81-101). Hershey, PA: . doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-3950-8.ch005

Herrington, J., & Parker, J. (2013). Emerging technologies as cognitive tools for authentic learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(4), 607-615. doi:10.1111/bjet.12048

Herrington, J., Reeves, T., Oliver, R., & Woo, Y. (2004). Designing authentic activities in web-based courses. Journal of Computing In Higher Education, 16(1), 3-29. doi:10.1007/bf02960280 Retrieved from http://link.springer.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/article/10.1007/BF02960280

Laurillard, D. (2009). The pedagogical challenges to collaborative technologies. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 4(1), 5-20. doi:10.1007/s11412-008-9056-2

Ingress: A gamers story

Late in 2014 the organisation a colleague and were due to run a session on using games in a training. We looked into the prospect of using Ingress, but decided that for a one day professional development session it was not viable. However, my colleague, a serious gamer, became hooked to the point that our team were planning on holding an intervention for him as the game started to take over his life.

BLVCKK allowed me to follow him for a few days while he played as well as agreeing to an interview about Ingress. This allowed me to create a short documentary, which he was happy for me to share.

Enjoy!

Reflective blog task 2: Collaboration an important gaming bond

In the world of adult education ‘games’ are seen to be frivolous, however, solid authentic learning can be achieved through learner engagement via games or simulations and we should not discount the use in a training situation.

Gee (2005) points out that the formation of cross-functional teams is important in a MUD (multi-user domain). The team must work together to achieve a common endeavour, which means that they must work collaboratively and effectively to achieve the common goal.

In the training environment or even workplace gaming Perkins (2009) says that gaming can provide a sense of community to players, this community feel is extremely important when building a supportive learning environment within a classroom context.

In a training environment role-playing simulation players can ‘fail’ in a safe and supported way, and in turn learn from their failures both as a team and as an individual (Farmer, 2011). The important part of this learning is the engagement in a simulation with either a live team on the learning journey with the individual or by a team built into the game. This engagement provides the necessary feedback mechanism the student requires to improve performance by working through the various challenges in the simulation.

A well planned learning simulation will react to the user and provide feedback and new problems (Gee, 2005). A good simulation currently used in adult workplace training is the FLAME SIM (Flame-sim.com, 2015) software. It is used to train fire departments worldwide in effective collaboration and communication to reach the team goal – the fire being controlled and eventually put out. This software has a level of flexibility and complexity built in and can also have specific scenario modifications programmed by the lead trainer. Being in real time it provides the players an authentic learning task that requires effective team work and collaboration. At the end of the online session the lead trainer then debriefs with the learners regarding performance and issues.

Keramidas (2010) pointed out good games require design structures that put players in experiential learning situations with the right constraints for learning from experiences. In a training environment if we can provide a ‘safe’ learning experience (especially for high risk workplaces) where base level skills are mastered and demonstrated prior to going into the actual learning experience then this is can be lifesaving. By learning the importance of effective communication in the situation via a simulation can save lives in the workplace and goes a long way to building an affinity group through this shared experience.

Simulations and games can provide the avenue for peer-to-peer teaching (Farmer, 2011), which supports the building of a life-long collaborative learning style. The crucial difference between a ‘commercial game’ and an ‘educational game or simulation’ is that the latter provides support for the player/learner to increase the likelihood that the desired objectives are met, bet it as an individual or through collaborative cooperative learning (Becker, 2011).

Digital games and simulations are not just ‘fluff’ used simply to pass the time in a class, but can form part of an enriching learning experience that supports training and education. Being able to choose authentic learning simulations (Reeves & Herrington, 2010) which encourage peer-to-peer work and collaboration, both within the simulation and offline, in a cross functional team offers a powerful learning tool that is, if managed well, able to support students learning and understanding of content.

To me this is a win for the students and a win for games and simulations in the classroom.

 

References

Becker, K. (2011). Distinctions between games and learning: A review of current literature on games in education. In Gaming and Simulations: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools and Applications (pp. 75-107). Hershey, PA: . doi:10.4018/978-1-60960-195-9.ch105

DVHS,. (2009). FLAME-SIM Fire Training. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUa5BdHrPTY

Farmer, L. S. (2011). Gaming in Adult Education. In Gaming and Simulations: Concepts, Methodologies, Tools and Applications (pp. 194-213). Hershey, PA: . doi:10.4018/978-1-60960-195-9.ch111

Flame-sim.com,. (2015). Flame-Sim | Fire Department Training Simulation Software. Retrieved 23 March 2015, from http://www.flame-sim.com/

Gee, J.P. (2005). Good video games and good learning. Phi Kappa Phi Forum, 85(2), 33-37. http://dmlcentral.net/sites/dmlcentral/files/resource_files/GoodVideoGamesLearning.pdf

Reeves, T. C., & Herrington, J. (2010). Authentic Tasks: The Key to Harnessing the Drive to Learn in Members of “Generation Me”. In M. Ebner, & M. Schiefner (Eds.) Looking Toward the Future of Technology-Enhanced Education: Ubiquitous Learning and the Digital Native (pp. 205-222). Hershey, PA:. doi:10.4018/978-1-61520-678-0.ch012

Keramidas, K. (2010). What Games Have to Teach Us About Teaching and Learning: Game Design as a Model for Course and Curricular Development | Currents in Electronic Literacy. Currents.cwrl.utexas.edu. Retrieved 21 March 2015, from http://currents.cwrl.utexas.edu/2010/keramidas_what-games-have-to-teach-us-about-teaching-and-learning

Perkins, B. (2009, November 2). World of warcraft in the workplace. Computerworld, 43(32), 30. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/ps/i.do?id=GALE%7CA211959076&v=2.1&u=csu_au&it=r&p=EAIM&sw=w&asid=69d75258ac24be5d98a8c8d2747fe822

Pill, S. (2014). Games play: What does it mean for pedagogy to think like a game developer? Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, 85(1), 9-15.

Blog task 1 Are digital games being overlooked in ‘digital education’ reform?

I never have admitted to colleagues before, but yes I am a gamer. From the very basic hand-held version of ‘Pong’ called ‘Blip’ to the much cooler ‘Simon Says’ I have been into digital games. In the early 1990’s when you saved your money to upgrade from 4 MB of RAM to 8 MB of RAM simply to play ‘Sam and Max Hit the Road’. I vividly remember moving our lounge chairs into the study to play ‘Myst or Riven’ for the evening, yes quite simply I was hooked.

However, I could also see that games could be used by educators to have students explore concepts in different ways for example ‘Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego’ to have students demonstrate through puzzle solving their geographic understanding of the world.

Listening to Golding (2015) certainly made me think of the many different game types and styles I have used in the past and are still using now, both personally and as a launch pad of ideas in classes. As an educator my passion is for using technology in my teaching, where appropriate, while adhering to the moto; less screen, more green.

My current thinking on gaming in education is impacted on by my current work context, teaching adults in the VET sector to use technology to enhance training practices. As an educator of adults I am aware of the lazy stereo types regarding the abilities and motivation of older students (Jelfs & Richardson, 2013) and know that today’s adult students will use technology as a key part of their learning experience, which is why any ‘gaming tasks’ for education need to be authentic (Herrington & Parker, 2013)

The article by Jennings in the Sydney Morning Herald (2014) which discusses the ‘highly motivational’ aspect of games made linked to Herrington and Reeves’ (2010) reflection on how GenMe (Generation Me Twenge, 2006 students) are positively affected by the interactive games and simulations they have played. This makes GenME are open to having authentic simulation tasks, which mimic real world activities, in their training to enhance their learning and make them real world ready. It is an area that often the VET sector falls down on as games of any nature are often seen as frivolous and not meaningful learning experiences, where as if ill-structured problems of the kind found in the real world (Reeves & Herrington, 2010) are used as the basis for a simulation (utilizing gaming principles) then gaming in a VET classroom could be advantageous for student understanding

One aspect in this unit I am keen to explore is authentic learning through personal learning experience via branching activities. This is something that could be constructed in both digital and non-digital classrooms. An example of the branching activities that I am thinking of is the interactive YouTube video Choose a different Ending (2009). This was created by the United Kingdom Metropolitan Police Service to help combat knife crimes by teenagers. It is an authentic activity that steps the users through a series of choice and consequences.

I am also keen to explore the use of gaming principles in existing mainstream technology, such as Learning Management Systems, for simulated learning experiences for VET students via conditional release and badges. This work I also want to link to workplace learning and seeing how onsite work can also be included using gaming principles in an assessment strategy for VET students.

 

References

Broderbund Software. (1996). Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego (Version 3.0). The Learning Company

Cyan Worlds. (1993). Myst. Red Orb Entertainment.

Cyan Worlds. (1997). Riven. Red Orb Entertainment.

Golding, D. (2015). Games in Space. A Short History of Video Games.  Retrieved 9/3/15, from http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/shorthistoryofvideogames/podcasts/svg-1/5937684

Jelfs, A., & Richardson, J. (2013). The use of digital technologies across the adult life span in distance education. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44(2), 338-351. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2012.01308.x

Jennings, J. (2014). Teachers re-evaluate value of video games, Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au/national/education/teachers-reevaluate-value-of-video-games-20141130-11jw0i.html

Metropolitan Police Service, Knife crime and gun crime campaigns and videos. Safe.met.police.uk. Retrieved 8 March 2015, from http://safe.met.police.uk/knife_crime_and_gun_crime/campaigns_and_videos.html

Purcell, S. (2002). Sam and Max Hit the Road. Lucas Arts.

Reeves, T. C., & Herrington, J. (2010). Authentic Tasks: The Key to Harnessing the Drive to Learn in Members of “Generation Me”. In M. Ebner, & M. Schiefner (Eds.) Looking Toward the Future of Technology-Enhanced Education: Ubiquitous Learning and the Digital Native (pp. 205-222). Hershey, PA:. doi:10.4018/978-1-61520-678-0.ch012

Twenge, J.M. (2006), Generation me: why today’s young Americans are more confident, assertive, entitled – and more miserable than before. New York: Free Press