In my quest for badge based experiences, I am working my way through the Engaging by Design quests for teachers offered at 3DGameLab. I’ve been exploring Trillo which is a basic online project management organizational tool. Here is what I like about it:
- It uses Google to sign in
- I can collaborate with colleagues
- Its web based so I can access it anytime & anywhere
- I like the drop and drag of tasks for a project so I can have my to do list, in progress list, and completed lists.
- I like that you can add files from drive and web addresses for research
- I am planning on using this with a fellow teacher to organize our summer project for aligning curriculum
- I can see using this with older students on a collaborative project for research.
Below I have a screen shot of my initial planning for this summer curriculum alignment project.
What makes attractive quest design?
Given the list that was outlined in Dr. Chris Haskell’s research on quest design, I have done some of my own reflections. I have found that if within the quest chain there are embedded flash games that apply to the content students will work harder to work towards getting to that task and will complete more quests within that chain. I have also found that for most students quest based homework is much more attractive that paper and pen homework. Having used this platform with students in grades 4-12, I have found that students in younger grades want more embedded media in their quests. They are less likely to read any text on the screen the younger they are. Given this fact I have shown the more reluctant learners how to add the Speak It extention to Google Chrome to aid them in getting the instructions but reducing the amount of reading they actually need to do.
I have also found that using video tutorials within quest assignments that are introducing students to new features in Google Docs works well. Students like that they can play and pause the video and go at their own rate of speed. Many students find this less stressful than having to keep up with whole class instruction. This makes quest based learning an effective way to differentiate instruction for students.
Students will also click on a badge and work hard to unlock quests that will get them a badge or achievement requirement. I find that students love to level up. So if you can make a hierarchy of 10 levels as opposed to only 4 or 5 it will keep students motivated to continue progressions. See rank image for 6th grade Ancient Civilizations course.
I like the idea of reflecting throughout the learning process. I would like to begin to incorporate this piece into their Google Sites digital portfolio or explore a tool such as blogger to use for a similar purpose. The place I am at at this point with my quest design and content is how do I get parents and students on board with questing outside of school. This provides a cultural shift in how ICT is seen within the school and community at the elementary level.
It never ceases to amaze me the role that technology plays in education and the acquisition of new skills. For example, yesterday was a snow day, despite the fact that my daughter didn’t have school and I wasn’t teaching in a typical classroom setting there was tons of learning occurring in my house.
While I was lesson planning in Google Drive, creating new ASSISTments for a PD session, and attending 3DGameLab camp on video game design, my 8 year old was asking for more practice work in Khan Academy and learning about computers on Discovery Kids Puterbugs. Even today with a sick day for one of my kiddos I’ll still be working from home and as she feels better I am sure there will be Khan and Puterbugs in her future. Yet, this independent learning and working from home still hasn’t permeated the walls of most educational institutions. The change process in education seems as though it plugs along at such a slow pace that it is always behind the needs of society.
Maybe it doesn’t need to be a snow day where it counts as a missed day of school. These days could be educational opportunities for digital learning. However, with parts of the country still without internet access, the digital divide impedes this as an option in rural communities. Certainly, this is an option that could be explored more in the future. Think of the financial savings of this day not being added to the end of the year. One less day that the school busses need to run. One less day the lights need to be on in the classroom. Just because we are not in the physical four walls of a brick and mortar school doesn’t means that learning can’t occur. Even at the elementary level this is a possibility with the right supports for teacher professional development and technology resources in place.
I am at the beginning of another great professional development camp with 3D GameLab. This time though I am focusing on Google Apps for EDU. I have chosen to participate in this quest chain during the October super camp to aid in reviewing content I have learned through my own exploration in order to prepare to become Google Certified. In addition, I hope to learn some new tricks and tips along the way.
On day two of camp I am on a roll. I have created this portfolio to record my progress in learning/reviewing Google Apps for EDU, explored Google Spreadsheets formula and auto fill features, and explored Google Forms. It never ceases to amaze me how much as an adult I enjoy the magic of unlocking new quests, leveling up, and earning badges, rewards, and achievement. The process of being on the student end of things in 3D GameLab reaffirms what an amazing tool this learning platform really is.
As for Google Apps, I find that it also is an amazing set of tools. I love the fact that these applications are completely free for starters. I have worked in two schools that have adopted Google Apps. In both locations I find that working in the cloud gives me the flexibility I need to work on things at home and school. This platform also looks exactly the same on a Mac as a PC given the fact that it is web based. With that said it doesn’t matter which system you are familiar with it basically functions the same in both operating systems. Often times in education I have seen a switch in operating systems in a school district make staff very uncomfortable. However, with Google Apps the features will be located in the same location regardless of which system you are using. With any application web based or otherwise the key to get others to use it is training. I am hoping that this quest chain will continue to enhance my own skills so that I can effectively train my colleagues to transition to using Google Apps.
During the past week, I’ve been partaking in the June 3DGL camp for teachers. This time around I am focusing on quests that relate to the utilization of Adobe Photoshop. Thus far I have managed to edit a photo taking out the original background and placing the person on a creative commons image from Flickr. I have also been able to adjust the hue, size, and RBG of the original photos to create a more visually pleasing image. It is amazing what great software can do once you know how to use it. I’m looking forward to ore quests that will enable me to correct older photos to use in my scrapbooks.
After playing several different games designed by my classmates it reaffirms for me that not every game is designed for everyone. Personally, I don’t like the Algorithm Adventure games. It just isn’t a game I get into very easily. At least not those created by the Sploder design platform. I did enjoy Combat Miners of Rhea which surprised me. I was surprised because this game is classified as a first person shooter game but its reminiscent qualities to simple arcade games of the 1980s that I recall playing. The Physics Games category seemed to hold my attention more then others because it feels more as though there is a puzzle to be solved. I find the platform games that you can construct using Sploder are similar to the design of a Zelda quest game. The old style arcade games are typical of Mario Brothers games.
My take aways from this quest assignment are as follows: just as there are all kinds of learners, there are all kind of gamers as well. Given this designers of games in order to be successful need to design games that have components that may attract several types of users. Minecraft comes to mind as a great example of this. Players have the option to play in either survival mode or creative mode. Those that enjoy the trill of fear of the creepers will be attracted to survival mode. As where those players that enjoy building and constructing collaboratively will be more attracted to the creative mode of the game. Regardless of the gaming platform, personally I find those with a story line much more engaging than those that lack a story line.
This quest assignment was to view Jane McGongial’s Ted Talk and reflect upon it.
Play and learning go hand in hand. Young children learn through exploring play and trial and error. For example a child trying to put blocks in a shape cube. They may try every hole of the shape cub until the figure out which shape match which hole. Students play games and change their behaviors or paths they choose based upon certain outcomes so they can level up or ultimately beat the game. For years teachers have been using simulations from companies such as INTERACT to engage students in the learning process. Although these have not traditional been digital the merits of this gaming experience excites learners and rewards based on progress throughout the journey of recreated experience. Through reflection of these hands on experiences students gain a higher level of understanding the content because they have experienced it first hand.
Imagine a school report card with progress bars on them rather than letter grades, number if grades, or ranking of satisfactory, outstanding, and needs improvement. What if in order to get to the next academic grade (which is the equivalent to leveling up in the gaming world) only happened when you earn so many points, badges, and defeat the boss at the end of the level essentially saving the world? In a gaming environment there is this idea of constant feedback. As the progress bar of a game inches it’s way across the screen the player feels success. Making them want to continue to be successful. Can this be harnessed in the classroom? Absolutely it can. Given the fact that I have used 3D GameLab as a classroom teacher in this model I have seen first hand the power of progress model in action. I have seen students work harder, more engaged in learning, better grades, and less missing work in the model than they would using a pen and paper.
The parallels of games and schools comes down to the time spent gaming vs the time spent learning. By age 21 the average person spends the same time gaming as they would if they had perfect attendance from 5th grade to 12th grade. Today’s students are becoming experts at gaming because of the time spent engaged in these activities. If people spend this much time devoted to saving the world then we can change the world.
According to Jane McGongial there are 4 things games provide that make the players successful. Within game play there is a social component of collaboration and competition that keeps players motivated and moving forward. There are urgent decisions that need to be made in many game situations that are time sensitive resulting in quick decision making given a breadth of information presented in the gaming environment. Given the focus and collaboration of gamers they are very productive and happy in these virtual worlds. The possibilities of the gaming world make environments of epic proportions with millions playing each and everyday. These sort of things are what each and everyday classroom teachers battle to harness in students to move them forward, gain new knowledge, and solve the problems of tomorrow.