Assessment 4 – Part C – Reflection

When I started this unit, I had two very definite views of game-based learning:

  1. Game-based learning is high risk in the vocational education and training (VET) environment and should be used very carefully within a narrow context, and
  2. Gaming, gamification and game-based learning are three very distinct concepts with rigid definitions that I knew how to explain to teachers.

This unit has been the most engaging and rewarding unit I have ever studied. I have learnt so much and it completely disintegrated and changed both of my strong-held views above.

I discovered that game-based learning is NOT high risk for the VET environment. In fact, there appears to be an immense appetite for ANY engaging content within my organisation. When I shared the first draft of the Have a Great Day game with the Hair and Beauty teachers they were so excited and asked if they could use it straight away. I explained it was just a simple, superficial swipe at the topic of environmental sustainability in their industry area but they claimed they had nothing that was engaging or relevant to use thus welcomed anything that was digital, engaging and game-based. I know they will be using this game from next week.

My reflection post March 16, 2019, outlines how reading Kapp (2012) replaced my preconceived notion of gamification and allowed me to deconstruct and then rebuild my understanding during the unit of game-based learning, gamification, serious games and more.

Learning about flow and the importance of the narrative in games and how this applies to an educational context were two major light bulb moments for me. I can now see the end game is to try and tap into just a snippet of the immersion and engagement that my 14 year old son demonstrates on the PlayStation, who would sit there all day if I allowed him to. How do we get that kind of immersion and engagement in education?

The importance of flow in games became more evident as the unit and associated readings progressed (Jackson & Eklund, 2006). It is now apparent to me how important flow is for educators and game-based learning (Wood, Chappell, Davies & Mark, 2004).

I have always advocated that any educational technology employed should be intuitive for both the teacher and the student and that if extensive training, manuals or onboarding is required then we have chosen the wrong technology. I can now see after this unit that the same holds true for games and indeed game-based learning. Just like an LMS, if the user needs to receive extensive instructions on how to navigate and play the game, this interrupts from the narrative and flow of the game and will reduce immersion. Snoman Gaming (2014) agrees that a well designed game doesn’t need to teach you how to use it and that the story should unravel through your actions rather than have someone tell you how to play.

Another illumination during this unit was the realisation that while the gaming sector is a multi-billion dollar industry, the educational slice of gaming is miniscule and lacking funding and attention. Many educational games and links in this topic were 10-20 years old, flash-based and obviously created on a thin budget. The next progression of my professional development and understanding in this unit was the realisation that the less “educational” a game seems and the more engaging and immersive it is, while secretly being educational, the more successful it will be. Minecraft is the perfect example to demonstrate this hypothesis.

The final reflection I would like to make on this amazing unit relates to a comment made by a fellow student during one of the tutorials. The student said they needed an “adult platform” to develop their game in. I would like to contend that the technology is not primary, nor should it dictate the level or design of a game. The learning design and pedagogy surrounding the activity, while merely utilising a technology tool, is quintessential for effective, engaging and immersive game-based learning. I have successfully used Kahoot, Flipgrid, powerpoint and more with staff and adult learners, all of which could be classified as K-6.

I have never enjoyed a unit more. I read every single reference. Watched every single video. I have loved every minute of this unit and hope to continue my studies in this area as it is so new to VET.

Thank you June.

REFERENCES

Jackson, S. A. & Eklund, R. C. (2004). The flow scales manual. Fitness Information Technology.

Kapp, K. (2012). The gamification of learning and instruction: game-based methods and strategies for training and education. John Wiley & Sons.

Snoman Gaming. (2014, October 14). Good Game Design – Shovel Knight: The “Teaching without teaching” Principle. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYvPdEyTXUc

Wood, R. T. A. G., Chappell, M. D., Davies, D., & Mark, N. O. (2004). The structural characteristics of video games: A psycho-structural analysis. CyberPsychology & Behaviour, 7(1), 1-10.

Assessment 4 – Part A – Game-based learning rationale

Have a Great Day (Lehman, 2019) is an environmental sustainability single player branching scenario style game designed for vocational education and training (VET) students across various industries. The game narrative is that players need to make it through one whole day at work making environmentally sustainable choices. If they choose poorly, they start to lose points. Conversely, wise environmental choices inflate their score.

The learning goals of this game are to improve knowledge and skills to:

  • Increase awareness of own impact on the environment
  • Identify opportunities to reduce environmental impact
  • Increase ability to identify environmental and resource efficiency issues in the workplace and consider opportunities for improvements to work practices in own work area
  • Increase knowledge of recycling, energy consumption, resource usage and their effect on environmental sustainability

Most VET courses have at least one sustainability unit (DET, 2011, 2016a, 2016b, 2016c, 2018) thus this game has the scope to be accessible and useful across many industry areas. Once the player heads off to work, they hit a stop point and get to choose an industry workplace to ensure the game is relevant to their specific study area.

The onboarding, or more accurately, lack of any detailed onboarding, was inspired by a game called Gone Home (Fullbright Company, 2018) that was experienced during this unit. In Gone Home, all you hear is a phone message and the discovery of what is actually happening unfolds as you play the game. Observations of colleagues trialling Have a Great Day confirmed that this approach was successful and all players observed managed to work out how to turn off the annoying alarm clock. After one or two slides they all realised their choices were having an impact on their score and that they needed to make more environmentally sustainable choices to avoid losing points. During testing, no verbal or written instructions were provided to colleagues, just the link. All testers engaged with the game and claimed to enjoy the experience.

The subject matter, environmental sustainability, provided additional opportunities and influenced the game design and mechanics of Have a Great Day. My 14 year old son was actually quite shocked when on his second go, deliberately making poor choices to lose points and see what would happen, hit the “time is up” slide. As he turned to me wide-eyed and mouth agape, I could see him make the connection between his every day choices and the future of the planet.

Environmental sustainability in VET is very similar to workplace health and safety (WHS). The topic exists in most courses but there is no longer any scope for subject matter experts to deliver these units for the industry areas, thus industry specific teachers end up delivering sustainability and WHS units. This often leads to teachers delivering what they perceive as “dry” topics and providing lengthy PowerPoint slidedecks or large PDF documents. These teachers welcome any available engaging tools to support their delivery of this content. Just posting the front page in our organisational social network elicited responses from many teachers asking when they could access the game for their class.

Have a Great Day was developed using Articulate Storyline 360. This allowed the developer, who has extensive elearning content development experience but no game development expertise, to create the visual branching scenario desired while incorporating game elements such as scoring without needing to learn how to code. Mastering the concepts of variables, states and triggers was required to make the game function. Up to twenty different game engines and development tools were researched and trialled to work out how to create this game within the timeframe based on the skills of the developer and desired output.

This game was exported as HTML5 and loaded into a website. It is thus browser based and will work on any device, any browser and in any location with internet connection or phone service. This is essential for VET learners and ensures no apps are required for download and no account creation or student data is required which can be problematic for VET students.

Have a Great Day is a formative activity designed to be an engaging conversation starter, introducing the topic of environmental sustainability to specific industry areas in a fun and humorous way. Teachers and students can then engage in a robust discussion around environmental sustainability issues in their specific industry and what best practice looks like.

Becker (2011) highlights the importance of an educational game meeting learning outcomes. This game provides an engaging and gamified approach to teaching environmental sustainability in the VET environment that is currently lacking in my organisation. Have a Great Day incorporates engagement, problem solving and a gamification element in context which should ensure success (Kapp, 2012).

REFERENCES

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

Department of Education and Training. (2011) SISOOPS201A Minimise environmental impact. [unit guide]. Retrieved April 24, 2019 from https://training.gov.au/Training/Details/SISOOPS201A

Department of Education and Training. (2016a). AURAEA001 Identify environmental and sustainability requirements in an automotive service or repair workplace. [unit guide]. Retrieved April 24, 2019 from https://training.gov.au/Training/Details/AURAEA001

Department of Education and Training. (2016b). AURAEA002 Follow environmental and sustainability best practice in an automotive workplace. [unit guide]. Retrieved April 24, 2019 from https://training.gov.au/Training/Details/AURAEA002

Department of Education and Training. (2016c). BSBSUS201 Participate in environmentally sustainable work practices. [unit guide]. Retrieved April 24, 2019 from  https://training.gov.au/Training/Details/BSBSUS201

Department of Education and Training. (2018) MSS014009 Evaluate sustainability impact of a work or process area. [unit guide]. Retrieved April 24, 2019 from  https://training.gov.au/Training/Details/MSS014009

Fullbright Company. (2018). Gone Home [Game]. Retrieved 31 May 2019 from https://gonehome.game/

Kapp, K. (2012). The gamification of learning and instruction: game-based methods and strategies for training and education. John Wiley & Sons.

Lehman, S. (2019). Have a Great Day. [Game]. Hands on Nature website, Australia.  http://handsonnature.com.au/GBL/story_html5.html

Assessment item 1 – Blog Task #1

I am employed by the largest vocational education and training (VET) provider in NSW as a learning technologist. A VET teacher myself, my students are now the very VET teachers I have worked with and for over the last eight years, supporting, inspiring and training them to increase their digital literacy and incorporate educational technologies into their lessons when appropriate.

For the last few years I have fostered a strong interest in gamification, undertaking a number of short online courses on the topic and even conducting a field trial of a microlearning, gamification app called Quitch for staff development in November 2018 at work. Walking into this unit I felt completely confident of the distinction between game based learning and gamification, the latter being the application of game principles and features in a non-game situation as confirmed by Edurevolution (2014). However, the reading from Kapp (2012), someone I follow closely on Twitter and LinkedIn, completely disrupted my understanding of the term gamification. Kapp (2012) addressed every preconceived notion I held about my narrow definition of gamification and claimed that serious games fall into the category of gamification. I am still processing this reading (Kapp, 2012) and the implications for my own understanding of the terms gamification, serious games and game based learning. I realise I need to start to reconstruct my understanding and am very excited about the prospect of having my definitions essentially erased at the start of the unit so I can be receptive to new information and learning on this exciting topic.

I am incredibly interested in game based learning and keen to explore how it might be appropriately applied to both vocational learners and teachers of VET. I currently hold the view that it will be challenging for both groups but have always weaved elements of competition, humour and interactiveness into my teaching and facilitating so very keen to explore game based learning opportunities.

I like games. I grew up playing and loving cards, Monopoly, we had one of the first Ataris, then a Sega and I was right into PC games in my 20’s. As life got busier, I stop playing PC games and would never consider myself a gamer. I tried to start playing World of Warcraft a few years ago but it was way too complex for my limited time and online games for me have been the mindless, yet relaxing jewel-matching type games. But my 14 year old son is certainly enjoying online games and I have watched the influence games have had on both of my children from birth through to now and their use both at home and at school. What I learnt from observing my son play an online game last year was something I detailed in a LinkedIn article (Lehman, 2018). This contribution of online games to 21st century skills in our students has been well documented (Extra Credits, 2014; Posso, 2016; Wall, 2019).

This unit has inspired me to return to online games. For the last five years I have been experimenting with augmented reality, virtual reality and simulations for vocational educational content and the synergy is not lost on me. I feel like I have permission to explore this world again and just today have created a Steam account and downloaded a number of games to try. Topic 1  of the unit highlights the importance for teachers to be familiar with games in order to be able to understand how best to use them in education (Becker, 2011; Wall, 2019).

REFERENCES

Week 2 Reflections – After Module 1

So this is new. I have read every word in Module One. Every single reading, every word in every reading and watched every minute of every video. I even watched all 33 minutes of the Connect recording. I suggest this is a testament to both the interesting content of the unit and my own passion for game based learning and gamification.

During this module many new terms and acronyms were revealed for me (Wall, 2019) including the importance of teachers needing to “address the challenges, opportunities and potential of game based learning” (pg. 1.1). Jesse Schell (Big Think, 2011) highlighted the difficulty of using games in our existing educational system mostly because the length required to complete a game cannot be quantified easily or fit neatly into regimented timetables and bell times.

The challenges for myself as a VET educator to playing games in the classroom are slightly different for both of my teaching situations, one of foundational studies with learners who are starting their vocational journey and the other training teachers to infuse technology into their lessons. The three failures discussed by Paul Anderon during his Biohazardfive game (Tedx, 2012) are relevant for my foundational studies students, many of whom have low literacy levels, low confidence and little experience learning independently. The range of age, skill levels and life experiences are amplified in a vocational classroom as well thus adding to the challenge of introducing a games based learning approach.

The use of games in capability development for VET teachers is also high risk as many are used to a more conventional approach of educational delivery (Becker, 2011) and are yet to embrace games as a valid form of learning. There is still conflicting research on the success of games in educational outcomes and game based learning is a new and complex concept for many teachers (Wall, 2019).

The behaviours I would like to encourage through game based learning for all cohorts and students include engagement, curiosity, deep learning and of course, enjoyment. Learning should and can be fun!

REFERENCES

Week 1 Reflections – After the intro

I have only just commenced this unit today and navigated through the subject outline and introduction, but already have so many points to reflect on. I’m assuming that is related to a combination of both the expectation that this will be an interesting and engaging topic and my own interest in gamification, game based learning and the distinction and applications of these, especially in the vocational education and training (VET) sector where I work.

Wall (2019) outlines the importance of this unit to consider the applications, challenges and opportunities of games in an educational setting. It was thought-provoking to read in this introduction that one of the reasons game based learning is looked upon with interest is because we traditionally use and associate games with our leisure time (Wall, 2019).

The first video provided was an excellent introduction to the importance of games for learning (Extra Credits, 2014). The four essential 21st Century skills of critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity were discussed and then linked to skills that develop when playing games. Extra Credits (2014) highlighted the challenge for individuals and critics of game based learning was the realising the transference of these four essential skills from a game to real world integration. Teachers using games in classrooms were recognised as assisting with this transference of skills by the video. A final reflective point from the Extra Credits video (2019) for me was that the four essential skill discussed cannot be learnt by rote, but only by experience, an opportunity afforded by playing games.

The list of games and tools provided in the unit introduction (Wall, 2019) highlighted how much game based learning is often targeting the K-6 audience. Personally, I am very interested to research and investigate the applicability and opportunities for game based learning in VET. My initial opinion is that game based learning can be very risky in the VET sector and must be well planned and delivered in order to be well received. I am looking forward to delving into this preconception and trialling possible appropriate examples of game based learning.

REFERENCES