Adventures in Gamification: Wrapping it up!

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Welcome back!!

Well, we’ve worked through the six modules that make up Gamification in Education.  We’ve learned a lot and had fun – but now comes the big question…how do we SHOW and TELL anyone what we’ve learned? By creating an e-portfolio to display your incredible learning!  During a previous course, I learned and blogged about e-portfolios as I searched to find one that best fit me – which is how I found Accredible…learn more about that here!

Gathering Your Game Pieces (This is Always the Trickiest Part)…

Using your Accredible Learning Profile is a great way to showcase your work and that is what I’ve done for this (and many other classes)!  Before you can begin, you need to make life a little easier for yourself by following these basic steps:

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Step 1 -Did you use the blogging tool on OpenLearning?  It made it easy to take notes while watching the videos!  If you used that function, download your blogs now! (Or screen capture, or print as a PDF…there are ways to do it, regardless of technical ability and know how!)

Step 2 – Did you handwrite your notes?  Then start scanning!!  Showing that you did more than just watch the videos is important!  Even if your handwriting is slightly (or in my case – very!!) illegible, scan it into a document.

 

Gamification - pic 1 - group forumStep 3 – Did you participate in the forums?  Time to take a selfie – of your comment that is!  Try to get your comment without capturing the name and image of your classmate…if they haven’t given you permission to use their image, you should avoid it as much as possible!

 

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Step 4 – Did you share your learning in a personal blog? Perhaps sharing information, posing questions, solving said questions, producing gamelets for your readers?  If so, gather the links to share in your portfolio! (Also, please share in the comments below – I would love to read your experiences too!).

 

 

Step 5 – Did you answer any of the “homework” questions in a document or on paper (not the quizzes!!)?  You can add that too!

Step 6 – Did you try any of the lessons out on your friends and family?  Did you make any notes on their responses?  Put those together too!  This will allow you to show active demonstration of your learning!

Every single gamelet that was posted on each of the 6 weeks of Adventures in Gamification was tested by my kids (ages 7 & 9).  Every classroom game that was considered was practised first on them and (perhaps) also on my (ever so patient) flatmate who may never admit to playing hangman or reviewing history facts!  No one escaped testing out the ideas – my husband, my Mom, even my Nan (who had been a teacher).  We would try, discuss, debate, try again, etc, until we were (or at least I was) convinced that the idea could work in a classroom setting.  We all learned a lot about the Statue of Liberty for week 5!

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Step 7 – If you took the course with a friend, did you by any chance record the conversations?  If you did a Google Hangout on Air, you could share the link to your video!

As an FYI – these can be a lot of fun to do – but as a lesson learned the hard way…test the set up before you record your entire broadcast.  Yep, I did one, we didn’t check and the entire hangout is of little ol’ me…it should have gone back and forth depending on who was speaking…Live and learn!  And now, I am sharing that lesson with you (but…not the video!!)

 

Basically, anything you’ve done to help study the material should be included.  With one MAJOR exception!  Please, do not upload your quiz answers!  Feel free to share images of your scores but not the questions and answers!  This is for 2 major reasons – one, it violates the terms of agreement for the course and two, you would be making work for Prof. Benjamin if he had to create new quizzes every time someone shared their quiz!

One last piece of advice when gathering your “game pieces” – don’t forget about the “mistakes”.  First, there is no such thing as a “mistake”, just an opportunity to learn even more the second time.  Second, if you can show a “mistake” AND how you learned from it, how you changed your thought process, and how you resolved it, then you’ve shown perseverance, motivation, and a truer understanding of the material.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” ~ Michael Jordan

 …Setting up the Game Board…

Once you’ve gathered all of your work, you will want to upload it to an e-portfolio.  What I like best about Accredible is that it is easy to upload my work and to sort into folders.  There are 3 to get you started – “Course Materials”, “Notes” and “Assignments and Projects”, but you can add your own if you would like more!

Remember, you can upload any type of file – picture, document, video, podcast…whatever showcases your learning!

…And Playing the Game!

After you’ve uploaded and organized your material you still have a couple of things that you can do:

1) Share a link to your “Slate” via LinkedIn (which is a great way to keep your resume up-to-date!), Twitter or Facebook.  This will give the viewer an opportunity to find out the details on the course goals and what you did to achieve those goals.

2) Update your profile!  Add a picture or set the tone of your portfolio by updating the background to a style of your choice!

3) Search for your next course and add it to your “To Learn” Wall!  OpenLearning has a great selection of courses, so you are bound to find one (or more!) to suit your interests!

4) Find your course mates – by clicking on the Course Name, it will take you to the description page.  There you can see how many people on Accredible are taking the same course and how many have added it to their “to learn” list.  At the bottom of the page, you can see who has signed up for the course – and you will have the option to follow those individuals.  Maybe you came across someone who made some fantastic comments in the forum – why not write them a quick reference (This link takes you to my page, FYI)!  A quick note saying “Elizabeth offered some great insight and ideas when discussing the Hero’s Journey!  She completely changed the way I thought about the “call to adventure” and it’s role in game format.” adds credibility for that person, their work, and the course.

And the Winner in the Game of Learning is….You!

You’ve done the work and you deserve the credit for it!  By creating an e-portfolio you are offering a potential employer or school an opportunity to get to know more about you, your learning style, your commitment to furthering your education and professional development.  So share your work!  You should be proud of what you’ve done!  Let us know in the comments below which OpenLearning courses you are taking next!

Phew! You’ve done 6 weeks worth of coursework and now created your e-portfolio!  We’ve wrapped that up nicely…but I think our package still needs a bow to be complete!  Keep watching – Tom Benjamin, OpenLearning and Accredible have one more surprise coming up just for you!   

 

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Adventures in Gamification: Week Six – The Active Ingredient in Games and Multimedia

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Welcome Back!

This week marks the last week of Games in Education – Gamification on OpenLearning.  I hope you’ve had as much fun on your Adventure in Gamification as I’ve had – starting from the Introduction, strategic uses of games,  how to apply games in education, using scenarios as levellers, to the Hero’s Journey.  We’ve covered a lot of topics, played a few games and had a bit of fun along the way! If you’ve followed along but not yet signed up for the course, you can start it at anytime.  Add it to your To Learn list or start it today!!

The Active Ingredient in Games and Multimedia

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When using games one thing is really important – selling it in the first few minutes.  You really have just a couple of minutes to convince your audience that you have a great product that is of great benefit for them, that will improve their lives exponentially, regardless of their issues, place in life, financial situation, grades in school, etc.

You must become one with your inner Charlatan.

Picture yourself standing on stage or on a wooden crate, shouting out to all of the passing people about this great opportunity you have for them!

 

Attention! Attention!  Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages…step right up and prepare to be Wowed, Amazed and Dumbstruck by the sheer Brrrr-ill-iance and Geee-ni-us of this deceptively simple ed-u-cational deeeee-vice…the one…the only….the Gamified, Achievable, Measurable, Educational Device – or GAME for short!

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Why your inner charlatan?

Simply because you want to take advantage of the Placebo Effect…AKA taking advantage of new “treatments” or “tools” while they still work.  The belief by an individual that something is going to work to make them learn or understand more, to become smarter, to get better grades is half the battle!

 

 

Tailor the Game to the Learner

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As an educator or trainer, you probably have tools that get the job done.  Worksheets, quizzes, projects, exams.

What if you could tailor a game to your learner? What if you had a test that could tell you about your students’ personality traits so you could create activities that would work with their strengths and develop their opportunities?  Using Holland‘s RIASEC testing you could do just that…

But is that practical?  Perhaps not so much today on an individual basis, but in a classroom setting, you could determine overall opportunities and include opportunities to develop those skills within the grand scheme.

 

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So what does this all mean?

It means start with what you have.  Keep it simple. Add layers as necessary.

A meta-game has it’s place, but when a gamelet will do, why bring out the big guns? Remember, we want to use the tools while they still work.  We don’t want to misuse games in the same manner in which penicillin was misprescribed.  Using a meta-game when a riddle will do is the same as using penicillin for the common cold. At best, it’s useless, at worst, it reduces the overall effectiveness when things really count.

In Summary

This week covered a lot!  To pull together a few key points:

  • Be a Charlatan! Sell the game well for the best buy in
  • Customize to the group
  • Size matters!  Use the smallest, simplest tool to get the job done!
We’ve now finished the course – but we will come back next week to wrap it all up!  We will do a final review of key points, the tools available on OpenLearning and show you how to tie a pretty bow around it all by posting your work to your Accredible profile!  

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Adventures in Gamification: Week 5 – The Hero’s Journey

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Welcome Back!

We are into week five of Gamification (Games in Education) from OpenLearning!  So far we’ve covered what are games and gamification, strategic uses of games, application in education and scenarios as levellers. This week we will learn about the Hero’s Journey before we cover our final week of the course – The Active Ingredient in Games and Multimedia.

The Hero’s Journey

What is the Hero’s Journey (aka Monomyth)? According to Wikipedia

In a monomyth, the hero begins in the ordinary world, and receives a call to enter an unknown world of strange powers and events. The hero who accepts the call to enter this strange world must face tasks and trials, either alone or with assistance. In the most intense versions of the narrative, the hero must survive a severe challenge, often with help. If the hero survives, he may achieve a great gift or “boon.” The hero must then decide whether to return to the ordinary world with this boon. If the hero does decide to return, he or she often faces challenges on the return journey. If the hero returns successfully, the boon or gift may be used to improve the world. The stories of OsirisPrometheusMoses,Gautama Buddha, for example, follow this structure closely.

This structure is commonly used in myths, stories, 30 minute sitcoms and movies.  Walt Disney Studios have become experts in using the Hero’s Journey in their movies.  The video below reviews 5 popular movies from the 1990′s in relation to the Hero’s Journey.  See some of your favourite films again from a fresh perspective!

So how does this relate to Gamification and Use in the Classroom?

Well, besides the obvious use in literature classes, imagine inviting your students on a journey in which they worked through the various stages? How exciting would that be for them?

In K-6 classes, I can imagine this being super fun to create – a week-long journey that required completing tasks from various disciplines (math, geography, history, literature, etc) to gain the necessary boon (information) to resolve an issue in a mystical world and then be applied to the real world (i.e. by answering questions on a test or reflecting on what had been learned that week).

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Perhaps you want to teach your class about the Statue of Liberty.Instead of telling the class that, you tell them they are going to solve a mystery about a world landmark – and by the end of the week, they should be able to tell you all about it.  But you don’t name the landmark.  In math, you give them special clues to solve that give the height or width of the landmark.  In geography, they solve problems that will lead them to places like Paris (where it was built), Philadelphia (where the torch was displayed during the 1876 World’s Fair), Boston (the city that nearly stole it from New York by making a play when fundraising stalled in NY), the Suez Canal (where it was originally designed to go – bet you didn’t know that!) In science, you cover metals, specifically copper (of which she is covered) and gold (which was planned). I could keep going….the ideas keep flowing!

We covered a lot more on the Hero’s Journey, but you will have to check it out for yourself!

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Want to grab a learners attention? Use Superheroes!

By using age appropriate characters (real or fictional), learners may already have a “relationship” with the character and relate to them and their struggles.  They might be aware of gifts or special powers that the character has or is given.  They might even be able to see themselves as a superhero in your classroom metagame – with special powers being “granted” – perhaps for completing a gamelet (task or assignment) first or with the best answer.

There are so many things I could share about the wonders of using superheroes in your hero’s journey style metagame, but I really think you should take the course to learn more!

In Summary

  • The Hero’s Journey format is commonly used in stories, shows and movies.  Disney does this really well.
  • The possibilities are endless in using the Hero’s Journey in the classroom.  Remember: creating a challenge is a great way to get people to want to learn!
  • Known superheroes make it easier for your audience to buy into the story, empathize and start their own hero’s journey through your metagame.

Come back next week for Adventures in Gamification: Week Six – The Active Ingredient in Games and Multimedia!  From my quick peek ahead at the topics, it’s custom-made to suit the program!!

 

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Adventures in Gamification: Week Four – Scenarios as Levellers

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Welcome back to Week Four! So far we’ve covered the introduction and trying to define what a game truly is, the strategic use of games and applying games in education. Phew! We are now into week four of six and are investigating the use of scenarios as levellers.

What is a scenario?

From WikipediaIn the performing arts, a scenario (from Italianthat which is pinned to the scenery[1][2]) is a synoptical collage of an event or series of actions and events. In the Commedia dell’arte it was an outline of entrances, exits, and action describing the plot of a play, and was literally pinned to the back of the scenery. It is also known as canovaccio or “that which is pinned to the canvas” of which the scenery was constructed.”  
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So a scenario sets the scene.  In video games, you often have an opening introduction or vignette that explains the mission or the premise for the game.  It’s what catches your attention and gets you to “buy into” the game.  When I think of the games I play regularly on Facebook, they all had a opening scene that was designed to catch my attention and tease me into playing for a few easy levels, which gradually get harder or feature a change in the conditions required to advance to the next level (more points required, more tasks to complete, etc).
How can you catch the attention of the learner(s) in your life?  By making things seem like an adventure! Check out Module 4 for more information!

Levelling Options

So, once you have devised a game, how do you keep in interesting?  Challenging?
As previously mentioned, you have to make it harder to advance or to complete a challenge.  This is done in many ways.  I will only review a couple, and you can find more when you work on Module 4 yourself!  Be sure to let us know what other examples you came up with in the comments below or in the unit forums.
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Weightings –  For example, ending a game on an exact throw.  Remember when Trivial Pursuit was played on everyones coffee table?  You earned your 6 wedges but couldn’t win unless you solved a final question on the middle cog.  If you rolled past the hub, you would answer a regular question and then wait for your next turn to try again.  Wasn’t it frustrating to get the answer wrong and have to roll all over to try again?
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Abrupt Change of Conditions – You are mid way through a football (soccer) game and a teammate trips an opponent.  The Ref then awards a Penalty Kick to the opposing team.  Now you have to play by a different set of rules while the kick takes place, giving the opposing team a chance to get ahead. (See Law 14 for more information).
There were many more Levelling Options provided…I just don’t want to give away all of the secrets from the course.  I will share another secret though…I knew absolutely NOTHING about football (soccer) and had to research all of it to share with you!

Intermittent Reinforcement Schedules and Cognitive Dissonance

Perhaps you have heard of B.F. Skinner who was an American Psychologist who developed various theories – but one particularly interesting one was one that focused on Intermittent reinforcements.  This theory was tested on pigeons who were more prone to act when they could only sometimes get what they want.  Basically, strictly positive reinforcement wasn’t enough.  The withdrawal of rewards occasionally make the process more interesting and exciting.  Motivation and Human Behaviour….
Changes in the probability of reward can cause a change in motivating properties.  This partially explains gambling addictions.  Who are more likely to be driven by Chance?  Extroverts!  Introverts tend to want to be rewarded in a more linear relationship to their abilities.

In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the excessive mental stress and discomfort[1] experienced by an individual who (1) holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time or (2) is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values. This stress and discomfort may also arise within an individual who holds a belief and performs a contradictory action or reaction.[2] ~ Wikipedia

Long and short of it?  Having to earn the opportunity to learn means you will appreciate the learning all the more!
Want to learn more about the differences between men and women?  Module 4 has some interesting commentary!  Worth checking out and relating to your own life and the people in it!  There’s also a lot more information on Cognitive Dissonance…and a fun little project to do – see mine below!

In Summary

We covered a lot this week. Here are a few key points…but once again, not all of them!

  • Setting the scene provides the background info – can be realistic or far out there!
  • Making a game increasingly difficult keeps it interesting!
  • Earning the opportunity to learn makes one appreciate the learning more!

Next week we will learn about the Hero’s Journey, AKA the monomyth.  I admit to looking ahead a little…mythology is very interesting and I think I need to re-watch  a mythology based movie to see if I can apply the steps of the Hero’s Journey to it…perhaps Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief will do!  Don’t forget to add your projects and notes from this week to your Accredible profile and come back next Friday to find out what happens next!

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Adventures in Gamification: Week 3 – Application to Education

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Welcome back to Adventures in Gamification!  Previously in this series, we reviewed the Introduction of Gamification, tried to define what a game happened to be and talked about a few quotes from Tom Sawyer.  We also reviewed the Strategic Use of Games, discussing how to use gamification to reach adult learners, the magic of gamification, and the importance of maximizing the students participation and involvement and minimizing that of the instructor.   The first two weeks were exciting – let’s go on a journey through Week Three.

Remember back in Week One when we said it has to be challenging to be fun?  Well Tom Benjamin has made this week a challenging and fun thinking week!  I found the videos to be very interesting…yet each of them left me thinking and trying to puzzle through the next step.  The chase is on to solve the mysteries!

We start off looking at using principles from popular games and applying them to the school syllabus.

Hangman

I distinctly remember the daily use of Hangman in my Grade Two class – it was the first thing we would do after attendance.  We’d each get a turn to guess a letter or to solve the phrase.  The phrases always had something to do with our work in one subject or another (now that I look back at it, what a great way to teach kids words like chrysalis and photosynthesis!) and thus, tied into not just language arts but science, social studies or health class too.  The joy of solving the puzzle and the disappointment in failing still sticks with me.  I can’t recall too many lessons from Mrs. Higgins Grade Two class, but Hangman…still makes me smile!  Oh – and the game did help me to become a very good speller (at least until the invention of spellchecker which ruined my poor little brain!).

We also looked at how changing one rule can change the entire game.  Prof. Benjamin gave an example of Basketball and changing the height of the net or adding in the 3 point line.  Now, this means nothing to me because I don’t really understand basketball, but I could relate it to hockey.  Every year the NHL Board of Governors and the Executive Board of the NHLPA have meetings in which they discuss changing this rule or that…one current rule change is changing the size of the trapezoid in which the goalie can play.  By increasing it, the goalies will be better able to assist defensemen and that will change the game.  Something that seems so small on the surface (Increasing one line by 4 feet) will be huge in the game.

How does that relate to education?  Let’s return to the Hangman example from Grade Two.  When we played everyone had a chance to either guess a letter or the phrase, but not multiple turns (which was great because I remember this one boy who would have played every turn!!).  I have since played the game elsewhere and the player could guess letters until they made a mistake (thereby not allowing everyone to have a chance to guess).  Small rule change, big impact on the students who might not have otherwise had a turn.

Games as Tests?

Using games in testing has caused some debate.  Can you get reliable results?  Turns out that if a few more games are played, then yes, you can get reliable and even somewhat predictable results.  Professor Benjamin gives a much more detailed explanation…but there is a connection to the number of baseball games played in a year!

Chaos…or Perhaps Just Unpredictability

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Unpredictability…its the Zig to the Zag of an otherwise boring game.  It is the uncontrollable variables that makes it F-U-N!  Think about rolling the dice when playing Snakes and Ladders, a Chance card in Monopoly or saying “Hit Me” when you play Blackjack.  Or perhaps it’s the competition when playing chess or heads up Texas Hold’em…times when you have to figure out what the other person is thinking and going to do next. It’s hard to be sure and it leaves you a little nervous and uncertain, your adrenaline starts pumping and suddenly, it’s a ton of fun!

There was a lot more covered, but you need to take the course to find out more!  Work along with me and share your opinions in the comments below!  See you in the course!

In Summary

  • Changing a rule, changes the game (for better or worse)
  • Unpredictability creates tension and F-U-N
  • Education needs CAN be met through a game

Come back to find out what we cover in Adventures in Gamification: Week Four – Scenarios as Levellers!  There are three weeks left to this session, but remember, you can join at any time!  New participants are joining all the time.

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Adventures in Gamification: Week 2 – Strategic Use of Games

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Welcome Back to Week 2 – Strategic Use of Games

Thank you for joining me on my Adventures in Gamification.  I have just finished Week 2 of Games in Education: Gamification via OpenLearning and I am very excited to do so!  I first came across the concept in a course on designing Blended Learning courses and it stuck to me.  Like Crazy Glue. In true gaming fashion, sometimes an idea may threaten to drive me crazy…but then I have to figure it out and well, that’s half the fun!

No Significant Difference Can Be a Big Difference

I’m going to admit it, I am having a hard time wrapping my head around this one.  On a small scale, no significant difference really means nothing – 15% of a class of 20 is only 3 student benefitting.  When you look at MOOCs or using a strategy for multiple classes over multiple years, 15% of 2000 is 300…and that can be a big difference. It’s all about scaling…See?  It was hard and I had to figure it out…refer back to Week 1 for more details on this!

When preparing activities, there are many pieces to consider – supplies, knowledge and time.  You want to get the “biggest bang for your buck” and it is important to consider long term use of the activity.  Investing a few hours in researching and programming a simple game like a search-a-word that can be embedded on your class site and used over and over again for a specific module seems like a good investment.  Finding a site that just requires you to provide a wordlist and it create the puzzle for you in just a few minutes seems like an even better investment.

Make Your Own Word Search

The search-a-word above uses words from Module 2.  See how well you can do!

 

Reaching Adult Learners

Adults can be a hard group to train (trust me, I have spent years in training Adults – some days I thought kids would have paid much more attention!).  When attending training, they are often there because they are forced to be by the employer and they have very little interest in participating.  Worse yet, the material is dry and boring.  Sometimes overly technical. (Prensky, 2001)

How can Gamification help? Well first, it can catch the attention of a bored learner.  It can simplify complex materials by breaking it down into mini games.  It can help the learner develop “What if” strategies and analyze the results.  Of course, it can do much more…but you need to sign up for the course and watch the videos for more details!

 Gamification has the Magic Touch

If it’s boring, if it’s difficult, if it requires the analysis, evaluation, judgement or creation, then Gamification may be right for you!

Think about it…want to learn how to strategize for war?  Learn to play chess.  If you want to understand how city planners do their job, play Simcity or Minecraft (oversimplified, perhaps, but it still teaches valuable lessons in planning). Want to teach a complicated subject that can be broken into smaller, more manageable pieces, gaining the students interest and reward them along the way?  Use badges or a completion task bar.

Teaching map making in geography and primary and secondary resources in history?  Create an interactive group project that requires each team to create a map of their country to paste onto a “globe”.  Toss in “chance” cards along the way – your country has to share a border with Group B.  Or you are a landlocked country and need access to fish, develop a trade agreement with another country.  Or still – your country is large in land mass, but small in arable land, yet rich in precious metals, what do you do?  With whom? It’s not easy, it requires some research, analysis, evaluation and creativity….most importantly, it will grab their attention on what could otherwise be a boring topic. Trade agreements?? Maintaining security along a shared border? Not necessarily the most exciting topics when read from a textbook, but as a game?  Super fun!

 But note: for this to work well, students need to be hands on and teachers more hands off!

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Even fact retention can be made more fun with a game – think about Jeopardy.  There’s risk and strategy involved beyond the simple knowledge of facts.  Group that into team play and learners will be sharing their knowledge quite quickly!  This was one thing I used to do in Orientation sessions – especially in large groups.  It always drew out their knowledge and understanding, but by calling it trivia, we created a fun environment and developed a team.

Quests and Metagames

A quest is always a journey, made up of opportunities for the hero to learn new things and try new missions, all of which better prepare him (or her) to complete the quest.  Gamelets are mini games that help the student learn and try new things in preparation for the overall quest.

Metagames are more complex and have many games within a larger overall game.  Check out the example shared in the second video of Module 2.  I had an aha! moment there and you may too…so I won’t make this too easy on you!!

So that was week 2 in a nutshell!

In Summary

  • Make tasks into a game for more engagement
  • Maximize learner involvement, minimize instructor involvement
  • “No significant difference” can still be a big difference – on scale

There were a lot more takeaways, but I can’t share them all – so sign up and take the class along with me!  I’ll be back next week to continue the Adventures in Gamification: Week 3 to further discuss its application in education.   Don’t forget to share your comments in the forums and to upload your notes and work to your Accredible profile to keep building your e-portfolio as you go!
 
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Adventures in Gamification: Week One – An Introduction to Gamification

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gamification

Syllabification: gam·i·fi·ca·tion Pronunciation:

gāmifəˈkāSHən/ NOUN

  • The application of typical elements of game playing (e.g., point scoring, competition with others, rules of play) to other areas of activity, typically as an online marketing technique to encourage engagement with a product or service: gamification is exciting because it promises to make the hard stuff in life fun (Oxford Dictionary)

Welcome!

Thank you for joining me on my Adventures in Gamification.  I’ve just started taking Games in Education: Gamification via OpenLearning and I am very excited to do so!  I first came across the concept in a course on designing Blended Learning courses and it stuck to me.  Like Crazy Glue.

Why settle for a boring “Sage on Stage” when you can have F-U-N in class?

How much can you absorb when listening to someone read their notes?   (¡ǝןʇʇıן ʎɹǝʌ :ɹǝʍsuɐ)  We stop paying much attention after 20 mins if we aren’t taking good quality notes.  

How much can you absorb when you are having fun, being challenged, overcoming obstacles and FINDING answers? (¡¡ǝɹoɯ ʇoן ǝןoɥʍ ɐ :ɹǝʍsuɐ)

Tom Benjamin, PhD from the University of New South Wales (Sydney) has designed a course that encourages interaction and participation to enhance learning through games.  Along the way we will cover the Strategic Use of Games, Application of Gamification in Education, Scenarios as Levellers, The Hero’s Journey and to round it out, The Active Ingredient in Games & Multimedia.

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Module 1

This week I worked through Module 1.  At first glance, it looked deceptively easy: 3 components and 2 activities. As I watched the first video I took advantage of the awesome blogging tool offered by OpenLearning.  I could watch the video, see some text below and make my own notes and reflections on the fly!

So this great CGI filled video comes on and its fun and exciting.  Tom Benjamin takes you through the intro tossing activities at you to try on the fly (i.e. the Jigsaw puzzle that might give you clues about him) to show you a few things – empathy (don’t create games that you hate…your learners won’t like them either), relevance (not every point needs a game to be made) and an understanding that constantly forcing the participant to find their own answers is frustrating.

Here were my first impressions and thoughts of the course (created by said awesome blogging tool!):

Gamification - blog 1

Games are just the vehicle in which to deliver the message.  In studying Gamification its a case of the “medium is the message we should study”….looks like Hugh McLuhan was right again!  Well, that deceptively easy intro just got a whole lot deeper!! With those thoughts in my mind, I moved on to the homework…if you want to know what it entailed, you can sign up and work alongside me!

Forums

As I was exploring the group, I came across the forums located at the bottom of each page (Wow!  How easy – the forum for a topic is on the page of the topic! Sweet!!).  People were posting their definitions of a game and so did I. As you can see below, there were other ideas shared:

Gamification - pic 1 - group forum

Words like engaging, interactive, obstacles and objectives popped up.  I had only considered a structured environment (a place, a set of rules) but not why it was needed.  So much to consider!

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer?? A Lesson Waiting to be Learned…

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The second video looked at further understanding games.  Two quotes from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain were called out:

“Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.” ~ The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

 

“He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it–namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain.” ~ The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain

So…make it tricky and people will want to try it.  Make it something that isn’t an obligation and it becomes fun. Take learning from being a task, to being a game – I guess this is why gamification works…You should watch the video and try the game – there is a lesson to be learned there!

One clear idea from the module is that you don’t ALWAYS need to use a game.  Simple points don’t require anything but a short answer.  the more difficult concepts need to be delved into and explored – and a game provides a strategic way to do that. The games can range from the simple riddle; to creating a drama, a song or sculpture; to tests and competition; to the tricky meta-game (I’m thinking like Dungeons and Dragons or some type of RPG game).

Wow!  So that was Week 1.

 In summary

  • Games are the vehicle in which the message (learning) is delivered.
  • By making things tricky, people naturally want to achieve it.
  • If its not an obligation, it is a lot more fun.
  • You don’t have to make everything into a game – simple points don’t need a game.
  • I can’t tell you everything!
  • To find out more, you know what it do…join me on this journey!

I’ll be back to share my Adventures in Gamification: Week 2 on the strategic uses of games soon! I hope you will take the class along with me and share ideas and thoughts in the comments or in the forums – don’t forget to upload copies of your blog to your Accredible profile to build your learning e-portfolio as you go!

 

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Accredible Contest Hack #2: How to Create Winning Self-Paced Learning Slates

The Accredible #AwesomeSlates contest is running and we’re posting the series of hacks that will help you to win it. In the last blog post we gave you some insights into creating MOOCs Slates. Today we are going to walk you through one of the most difficult paths: self-paced learning by such MOOCs as Saylor, Udemy, Treehouse and others.

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Some self-paced learning platforms – YouTube, Saylor, Khan Academy, MIT Open Courseware,  iTunes U, P2PU, Udemy, Treehouse, Codecademy

With more freedom, people gain more responsibilities. Deadlines are an effective cure to procrastination, but they are absent in the self-paced learning. Hence you need more motivation and discipline to succeed there. Still, there are many benefits in self-paced learning. In this blog post, you’ll find out how you can use it to your advantage.

Before we can begin, make sure you are signed in. Then you can create a new Slate or open an existing Slate.

How to work with the Slate?

First of all, as for MOOCs and any other type of Slates, official syllabuses are very important – so, don’t skip this step. If syllabuses are not stated, think about what and how you’ll learn and write down your own syllabuses.

Second, planning for self-paced courses is more important than for traditional ones or MOOCs since your success depends on your discipline and organization. You should know exactly what you want to achieve and by what time. When you have infinite amount of time for completion and unlimited sources of information to enhance your knowledge, you can be very easily distracted and spend much more time than you wanted. One of the ways to motivate yourself to follow your plan is to state your plans in a public document and add it to your public Slate from the beginning.

Third, you have more freedom and more time studying self-paced courses. You can put more effort and creativity into creating extra work. This will make your Slate truly innovative and beautiful and enhance its credibility. Still, be sure that you planned your work thoroughly because it’s very easy to get lost in oceans of available information.

Pro Tip 1

Accredible Slate can be very useful for you in terms of planning. Before beginning to study the subject, create a doc with detailed plan on what and when you’ll cover. Publish it in your Slate to commit yourself to this plan. The format of document may be in any way you like! You can use tabs, checkpoints, to-do’s bullets for things you want to study.

Alternatively, you can create a public Trello board to plan and schedule your course work and add it to the Accredible Slate.  This way you don’t have to worry about forgotten personal deadlines.

 

Pro Tip 2

Whenever you write some notes or take a quiz, add them to the Slate and go ahead with the learning. You could also record videos of yourself explaining what you learnt in a given unit. This way you won’t worry about lost knowledge. These archived artifacts are immensely helpful in revising too!

Danny King, CEO of Accredible, explains Gamification concepts (see it on his Gamification Slate)

You can even win $150 Amazon voucher for your learning. So don’t forget to enter your self-paced learning Slates to our #AwesomeSlates contest: https://www.accredible.com/contest

We’ve explored hacks for creating MOOC Slates earlier and self-paced learning Slates today. The next blog post will be tips for creating Accredible Slate for traditional learning. Stay tuned!

This post is part of a series on the Hacks to Create Winning Slates:

0. Contest Announcement

1. MOOC Slates

2. “Saylor category for self-paced learning” Slates (current post)

If you have any question, ideas or feedback, feel free to comment or drop a line to hello@accredible.com. What are your thoughts on planning beforehand the learning? How do you do it? Have you submitted your AwesomeSlate to the contest?

Beginner’s Guide to MOOCs: 5 MOOC Platforms You Should Know About

Although we featured major MOOC platforms Coursera, Udacity, and edX in the last post, today we’d like to introduce you to a few more great learning platforms that will help you enrich your knowledge. Read on to discover more about a growing network of MOOC providers: 

NovoEd

Started as a Stanford MOOCs experiment (Stanford Venture Lab), NovoEd now is an independent MOOC platform, currently offering 9 classes. Unlike the courses from many other platforms, NovoEd courses are about more than just reading, watching videos and taking quizzes. Their emphasis is on collaboration and learning by doing.

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The most famous courses, Crash Course on Creativity and Technology Entrepreneurship at NovoEd.

 

In the class Technology Entrepreneurship, for example, you need to find a team with which you will create a marketing plan, first prototypes, and even start your own startup. Assignments are unique since you are getting practical knowledge and developing new skills instead of simply remembering facts and recalling concepts.

Many NovoEd professors,- such as Chuck Eesley of TechEntr – are fantastic at keeping in touch via social media, watching and participating in discussions via Facebook and Twitter. Whilst students are discouraged from contacting them directly, most professors seem happy to participate in discussions.

Open Learning

Although Open Learning is a relatively new edtech startup from Australia (founded by Adam Brimo and Richard Buckland), it is already a very promising place for studying. Courses are created by professionals and teachers. Freedom of expression and a rich library of available tools allow them to make a unique experience for students.

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The most popular courses started recently in OpenLearning.

Students have opportunities to engage with learning and the community in new ways: tracking progress, earning badges and blogging about your thoughts, ideas and experiences helps to enrich your learning experience. Getting lost is impossible because course structure, profiles,and notifications are easy to learn and use.

Since Open Learning is a new platform, there are only a few courses on offer. However, the courses are very diverse in terms of time to complete (for example, Entrepreneurship by Taylor’s University takes 17 weeks whilst Service Marketing – The Next Level only takes 3 weeks). Content also varies heavily,from the ubiquitous Web Design and Development to the unique Observing and Analysing Performance in Sport.

In our list of MOOCs, Open Learning is the youngest platform. However, as it introduces new ways of teaching, studying and is evolving quickly, so might stumble upon a fascinating adventure whilst exploring it.

Saylor Foundation

The Saylor Foundation has a long history. It was established in 1999 by the prominent entrepreneur, founder and CEO of BI company MicroStrategy Michael J. Saylor and in 2008 switched focus to providing free, open, university-like classes for people around the world.

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Saylor University’s Areas of Study.

Currently, you can find more than 200 different courses on saylor.org. There are two key features that really make Saylor stand out: lots of courses on Humanities and Business and the level of courses are higher and more college-like. All courses are self-paced but a time-advisory system helps you to plan your studies. Moreover, after completion you can go to a testing center and get credits for most of their courses.

Saylor Foundation is a great platform if you want to study at your own pace, seek knowledge at a higher-than-introductory level and have good organizational skills.

Hint for high school students: you can find a helpful course, SAT prep, on Saylor.

 

Udemy

In 2010, the Udemy learning platform was launched by Eren Ball, Oktay Calgar, and Gagan Biyany. Its slogan “The Academy of You” perfectly describes Udemy’s philosophy and its courses: everyone can create a course for others to learn from. Due to this, the courses are very diverse: from Organic Chemistry to Makeup Techniques and Applications. Moreover, most of the courses on Udemy are unique and don’t fit traditional academic characteristics. Where else on the web can you find such courses as How to Train Puppy?,Learn How to Juggle or Adapting Novel to Screenplay?

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Featured and new courses worth taking a look in Udemy.

All courses are self-paced but most of them are not free. However, prices vary and if you find a course unsatisfactory, you can always request a refund during first 30 days without providing any explanation. Don’t have time or money to take course right now? No worries, Udemy has a Wishlist feature that allows you to save and try the course later.

Udemy is transforming education by making it peer-to-peer and going beyond traditional academic subjects.

Open Learning Initiative

The Open Learning Initiative was started in 2001 as a grant-funded project by the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University. Since then, 6 charity organizations, including The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have supported them. What makes this platform unique is the integration of Carnegie Mellon’s expertise in cognitive tutoring into online courses. The idea of Metacognition (“Thinking about thinking”) helps people to study effectively.

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Example of Learn by Doing at Open Learning Initiative.

Although the course database is not yet very large, existing courses involve more than just reading or watching content. Student activities such as “Learn by Doing” and “Did I get this?” as well as great course feedback will help you study more effectively and have fun along the way. Moreover, many traditional universities and some MOOCs (Introduction to Psychology as a Science by GeorgiaTech for example) decided to use the OLI as supportive material to enrich student’s experience and create higher engagement.

 

Today we’ve walked you through five promising MOOCs worth watching and trying. Still, there are many more places that can turn your laptop or mobile into a living university. Don’t stop searching for cool online universities – this journey is fun and brings many new experiences, knowledge and friends.

This post is part of a series on the Beginner’s Guide to MOOCs:

0. Introduction

1. Major MOOC Platforms

2. 5 MOOC Platforms you should know about (current post)

3. 5 MOOC Professors to See Before You Die

Extra:

1. AwesomeSlates Contest: Win Up to $750

2. Make All Your Education Count: Redesigning CV

Want to share your experience and the places we didn’t cover? Comment or send us email at hello@accredible.com We’ll be happy to hear from you and cover new MOOCs or anything else you want in our next articles.

Accredible’s #AwesomeSlates Contest

“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”
- Benjamin Franklin

At Accredible, we believe that all kinds of education matter, whether it’s courses in traditional universities, certificates from MOOC classes or even reading books. We want to help you to learn, to show the world what you know. We are pleased to announce our #AwesomeSlates contest where you can show your learning by creating cool Slates, save and organize your knowledge, and even get prizes from us – vouchers for Amazon.

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The best Slate in each of these five categories will each win a $150 prize:

Why give you money for creating awesome Slates?

  • Motivation. We want you to challenge yourself, to explore new boundaries and discover new horizons. We want you to learn.
  • Help you to create your intellectual portfolio. Today employers and colleges want to see your knowledge, skills and talent. Your intellectual portfolio is the first step in standing out and demonstrating what you can do. Be the first, be creative and be credible.
  • Show you’re more than just a grade. We embrace your creativity, talents and aspirations, providing the place for you to show who you are. 

Today, on the 29th April, 2013 we are launching our #AwesomeSlates contest. The rules are simple: you create a Slate and submit it into one of 4 categories. The most creative, inspiring and beautiful slates of their knowledge, skills, or coursework will receive prizes and the chance to be on the first page in the history of digital education. Start building your slate now!

We want you to win! Every week we will post tips on how to create winning Slates, where to find ideas, and how to make your portfolio more effective.

The contest closes on 31st May 31st July (read about the deadline extension here) but remember, the contest isn’t about winning, it’s about your learning. As the talented coach and executive Vince Lombardi once said: “Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is”. Try your best, be yourself and enter the contest. Start building your Slate now!

To submit your Slate and find the rules, go here: https://www.accredible.com/contest

Help about Accredible Slates:
Getting Started with Accredible Slates
What all can be added to a Slate

This post is part of a series on the Hacks to Create Winning Slates:

0. Contest Announcement (current post)

1. MOOC Slates

2. “Saylor category for self-paced learning” Slates

3. Formal Learning Slates

4. Knowledge/Skill Slates 

5. How to Make the Most of Accredible?

If you have any questions, ideas or feedback, feel free to comment or send us a line at hello@accredible.com