Posts Tagged ‘game-based learning’
They replaced the old spin bikes with some new ones at the health club where I work out. These new ones have a feedback monitor that provides feedback about effort via the RPM, watts, and gear level, The spin instructor told us that the recommended watts for a good workout is over 200. I started my workout as I always do, putting out my typical amount of effort. The watts indicator hovered between 100 and 125. Yikes! I have gone to two workouts using this monitor. I have reached, huffing and puffing, 200 watts on a few occasions, and attempt to keep it at around 150. I wasn’t able to reach 200 watts the first time and felt a great sense of achievement upon doing so during my second spin class with the monitor. Needless to say, these were some of the best spin workouts I have accomplished. I realized that the monitor made my spin performance into a type of game by me providing me with ongoing and continuous feedback and a way to level up.
I made the connection between my experiences on the spin bike and the need for humans to feel a sense of achievement.
Need for achievement (N-Ach) refers to an individual’s desire for significant accomplishment, mastering of skills, control, or high standards. The term was first used by Henry Murray and associated with a range of actions. These include: “intense, prolonged and repeated efforts to accomplish something difficult. To work with singleness of purpose towards a high and distant goal. To have the determination to win”. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Need_for_achievement)
I began thinking about how all of this applies to the educational setting. I have a cynical view about assessments, most often in the form of tests, and how they are used at school. They are often contrived and separate from the learning process, and a measure of a student’s deficiencies. As such, students do not use information gleamed from the assessment process to improve their performance. As a deficiency model, rather than one that promotes a sense of achievement, students who do not achieve 100% proficiency feel as though they have failed in some way.
Assessment should be a continuous feedback loop, one that is integrated into the learning process, and where the feedback improves the competency of the learner. Assessments should be used as opportunities to develop competencies and the related sense of achievement.
Sal Khan discusses this problem of testing:
Regardless of whether they can prove proficiency in 70, 80, or 90 percent of the material, they are “passed” to the next class, which builds on 100 percent of what they should have learned. Fast-forward six months, and students are lucky to retain even 10 percent of what was “covered.”
This is a grand exercise in labeling and filtering students with arbitrary grades rather than teaching them. It is a hugely inefficient use of time and resources, but no one wants to notice, because it is the way things have always been done.
Perhaps the worst artifact of this system is that most students end up mastering nothing. What is the 5 percent that even the A student, with a 95 percent, doesn’t know? The question becomes scarier when considering the B or C student. How can they even hope to understand 100 percent of a more advanced class?
Ten years from today, students will be learning at their own pace, with all relevant data being collected on how to optimize their learning and the content itself. Grades and transcripts will be replaced with real-time reports and analytics on what a student actually knows and doesn’t know. (YouTube U. Beats YouSnooze U.)
This is why I believe that game-based learning is becoming popular and being promoted viable means for assessment.
As James Gee notes:
Games don’t separate learning and assessment. They are giving you feedback all the time about the learning curve you are on.
So what is the difference between a game or a machine giving feedback and a teacher giving a grade? How does all of this relate to intrinsic versus extrinsic motivation? Is getting feedback from a game extrinsic motivation? Does the external rewards gained through leveling up in a video game or gaining a badge by completing a series of competencies diminish the sense of accomplishment?
It may seem counter intuitive to think that children would consider harder work a reward for doing well on a homework problem, test, or physical skill to which they devoted considerable physical or mental energy. Yet, that is just what the video playing brain seeks after experiencing the pleasure of reaching a higher level in the game. A computer game doesn’t hand out cash, toys, or even hugs. The motivation to persevere is the brain seeking another surge of dopamine — the fuel of intrinsic reinforcement.
Good games give players opportunities for experiencing intrinsic reward at frequent intervals, when they apply the effort and practice the specific skills they need to get to the next level. The games do not require mastery of all tasks and the completion of the whole game before giving the brain the feedback for dopamine boosts of satisfaction.
. . . which she further notes, helps students develop competencies and the related sense of achievement.
In the classroom, the video [game] model can be achieved with timely, corrective feedback so students recognize incorrect foundational knowledge and then have opportunities to strengthen the correct new memory circuits through practice and application. However, individualized instruction, assignments, and feedback, that allow students to consistently work at their individualized achievable challenge levels, are time-consuming processes not possible for teachers to consistently provide all students.
The best on-line learning programs for building students’ missing foundational knowledge use student responses to structure learning at individualized achievable challenge levels. These programs also provide timely corrective and progress-acknowledging feedback that allows the students to correct mistakes, build understanding progressively, and recognize their incremental progress.
How can all of these ideas influence how educators provide feedback to learners and opportunities to develop competencies along with the resultant sense of achievement?
When I teach my class on Pedagogy and Learning, one of the first questions I ask my learners (both pre-service and in-service teachers) is, What do you consider your most significant and powerful learning experience? None of them ever mention one that occurred within an institutional school setting. Caine’s most powerful learning experience, like my students, did not occur within the walls of a school building.
“Caine’s Arcade” — a short film about a 9-year-old boy who built an elaborate cardboard arcade in his dad’s used auto parts store in East L.A. — has gone viral with over 2 million views in less than a week. It is being talked about by many news outlets and social media networks, and his Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/cainesarcade, has close the 100,000 likes.
Why is Caine’s story touching so many? I believe it touches people’s hearts due to the authentic passion Caine shows for his craft. Some the characteristics of Caine’s passion include:
- Tinkering: His dad, “He takes apart all of his toys to see how they work.”
- Foresight, planning, and attention to details: Caine, “I have fun passes, office speakers, business cards, tokens, and prizes. The winning tickets come through the box arcade like they would in a real arcade.”
- Open to feedback: Caine, “People told me that my soccer game was too easy so I added goalies.”
- Encouraged to problem-solve: Caine, “Dad, I want a claw machine for my arcade.” Dad, “Caine, then build one.”
- Patience and tenacity: “Caine never gets discouraged waiting for customers.”
- At least one caring adult: His father and film maker, Nirvan Mullick, believed in and supported his efforts. Nirvan, “This kid is a genius.”
- Joy: Caine found joy in all parts of his business venture.
- Game-based learning. Caine created his own form of game-based learning and it was NOT technology-based.
Forbes magazine has even recognized and analyzed Caine’s success in their article 9 Hidden Factors of Caine’s Arcade Success:
- He asked permission: He asked permission to use some unused space and recyclable materials.
- He sought to serve others: Caine’s passion is focused on what others will experience.
- He had a benefactor: With indie filmmaker, Nirvan Mullick, a chain of wonderful events is set in motion.
- The visual is clutch: Caine certainly understood the importance of making something visually appealing and having a story.
- More than x-box: There is excitement when adults see children and young people striving to do something other than electronic games.
- Familiar with yes: Caine appears to have heard the answer, yes, often in his life.
- He made use of remnants: There is a certain allure in American entrepreneur circles for turning waste in wonder, of finding a diamond in the rough, so to speak.
- Preparation meets work: His chance to meet Nirvan Mullick came because he was waiting and looking for a customer.
- Tears of joy: The hidden lesson is that Caine maintained an air of thankfulness and gratitude through his long summer and that rubbed off on others.
. . . and Seth Godin, the famous blogger, had this to say:
The first thing that made me smile was how willing Caine was to do his art regardless of how the world responded (it didn’t). Caine didn’t care. The goal wasn’t to be accepted, the goal was to do it right.
The second extraordinary thing is easy to miss. Around 3:30, you learn Caine’s folk-arithmetic trick of using square roots to validate the PIN numbers on each fun pass. Extraordinary.
And the third? Starting around the nine-minute mark, any entrepreneur with a heart is going to shed a few tears. In the immortal words of Caine Monroy, “and I thought they were here for me, and they were.” (http://sethgodin.typepad.com/seths_blog/2012/04/lessons-from-caines-arcade.html)
Why is this type of ingenuity, innovation, and entrepreneurship not being nourish within the school walls? How can we include passion-based learning as part of the curriculum? For more information about passion-based learning, see:
- Nine Tenets of Passion-Based Learning
- PBL is Passion-Based Learning: Show Me Your Passion
- Passion-based learning in the 21st century: An interview with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach
- Guidelines of Passion-Based Learning
Passion is not tangible but it can definitely be seen and felt as the following photos demonstrate. Caine sees, for the first time, the crowd of people wanting to play his arcade games, the crowd he so patiently wished and waited for.
Caine told his dad that this was the best day of his whole life!
I wish for all children to have an arcade moment like Caine at least one time during their lives.
As of the writing of this post, there are approximately a million apps available. On my daily Twitter feeds, I see list after list of apps for educational use.
- Monster List of Apps for People with Autism
- 22 Best Apps for Education
- 250 best iPad apps: education
Yesterday, I saw a post from TechCrunch The Top 20 iPhone and iPad Games Of 2011. I downloaded and have been playing Cut the Rope for two days now. It has been giving me hours of joy. See Cut the Rope: Experiments Review. If I was still teaching my 3rd through 5th grade gifted students, I would definitely introduce them to this game.
I have been critical of the use of educational apps and games in the classroom in that many of them have been developed by adults in business ventures. They are more like worksheets on steroids rather than games and apps for higher-order thinking. I also wonder as I read through the lists of recommended apps if the kids, themselves, would find them educational and interesting . . . worth their personal time in using and playing with them.
As such, I test out technology tools and games from the standpoint of a user rather than an educator . . . asking if I’d like to use it if I were one of today’s young students. Based on my own experiences as a gamer, educator and kid at heart (one of my 4th grade students gave me the compliment, “You haven’t forgotten what it is like to be a kid.”), I developed my own criteria for evaluating the potential of apps for educational use and engagement:
- Does it have cool graphics and an interesting interface?
- Is there a game-like and/or creative intent to the app?
- Is it fun and entertaining?
- Does it make the user laugh with joy?
- Does it require creativity, ingenuity, imagination, and problem-solving in its use?
- Do the tasks get more complicated, requiring more skills as the user works through the game-app?
- Does the user have the opportunity to gain points and level-up?
- Does it have an addictive quality (yes, I believe in this) in that it calls for continuous play?
- Does using the app create a state of flow?
- Are there opportunities to connect with other users for socializing? problem-solving? strategizing?
As I said, I am currently spending my time playing Cut the Rope (physics and geometry). Past personal addictions have included Scrabble (language arts) and building in Second Life (geometry and spatial reasoning). Friends’ and colleagues’ game and app passions have included World of Warcraft (economics, social bargaining/cooperation) and Angry Birds (physics).
Excluded from the list is a question about educational value. A good educator can extract learnings from any app that meets most of the criteria discussed above. If educational value can be extracted from Angry Birds, then it is possible with almost any app :-D
It is important to note that one person’s app and game joys may not be another person’s, but most offer educational opportunities. An educator can leverage what students are using and playing in their own lives and explore ways they can be integrated into the curriculum to learn different content area concepts. The role of the educator is this era of learning of that of facilitator. What a great way to facilitate learning – to leverage what the learners are using in their own lives to teach broader content-related concepts.
The bottom line becomes focusing on quality rather than quantity – to find those apps and games that have potential for long term use and engagement. Following a constructivist model of education, an effective educator can assist students to extract their own meanings from an app of personal interest, helping them make larger world connections (which includes addressing those ever present content-related standards).
Win As Much As You Can is a popular negotiation game based on the Prisoner’s Dilemma problem (Axelrod 2006). In one version players are grouped into four teams and asked to play an X or Y over a series of rounds. The object is to score as many points as possible. If everyone in the group chooses X, then everyone loses points. If all choose Y, everyone scores points. If there is a mixture of X’s and Y’s, those that played X get more points and those that played Y get fewer points. Discussion is not allowed except during three bonus rounds, when players may discuss how they will play the next round.
Many assumptions are embedded in this deceptively simple and powerful game, developed to illustrate economic principles from game theory. The most obvious is the use of a “game” to introduce many of the fundamental themes and concepts of negotiation theory. These include the tension between creating and claiming value, individual versus joint gain, trust, concessions, attributions, ethics, and multi-round negotiations.
The sports or game metaphor and the “game,” with its title commanding the player to “win as much as you can” reflect the values of self-interest and personal aggrandizement. The title, score-sheet and rules of the game also suggest a “fixed pie,” leading to the assumption that there is no room for integrative bargaining. The game, however, is more complex than that, as players discover that single-minded pursuit of self-interest can backfire, and that a relationship between personal gain and joint welfare exists, particularly when there will be a continuing relationship. The title and rules suggest that conflict may lie ahead [and almost always does result]. Cultural Baggage When You “Win As Much As You Can” Julia Ann Gold
The mobile edition is appropriate for upper level High School students and college students. In the mobile edition, students form in four subgroups as in the original game. One member from each group becomes the designated voter using his or her mobile device to post his or her team’s response. Votes are made through texting into Celly (a free group texting service) their X or Y vote along with the round number using a hashtag to denote the round. The results of each round are projected to the entire group so they can view all teams’ votes.
The individual groups make their selections and votes with no communications with the other groups except in three of the rounds. Three different forms of inter-group communications are permitted during rounds 3, 5, and 6 with payoff results increased during those rounds.
- Round 3: Groups are invited to text to any other group any message of their choice. As such groups are asked to exchange phones numbers prior to the game.
- Round 5: During this round, the teams can text message any communications they want to make to the other groups through Celly which are projected to the entire group.
- Round 6: Groups can communicate directly with one another.
Reflection of Win As Much As You Can occurs through a VoiceThread set up for that purpose, and through group discussion.
This past week in my undergraduate interpersonal communications course, I adapted the Bridge-It communications exercise to incorporate my students’ (most ages 17-20) mobile devices. It combined some of my favorite instructional strategies:
- Experiential and Hands-On Learning
- Team Building and Problem-Solving Group Initiatives
- Using Mobile Devices in Educational Settings
First. students were asked to line up in the classroom on a continuum from those who believed they had the best, most effective communication (verbal and listening) skills to those who thought they lacked those skills. They counted off by three’s to form three groups. The top three self-reported communicators were asked to be the communicators, the others were the builders.
Next, groups were moved to separate rooms, given the same set of building blocks and their task . . .
Build a three-dimensional structure using all the pieces provided. All three structures need to be exact in dimension and in color patterns. The communicators can use their cell phones via text and/or voice to communicate with the other groups.
No time limits were set. When the teams believed they successfully completed the task, they could send pictures of their structures to one another.
After the completion of the activity, reactions and reflections were posted on a Voicethread slide using an image taken during the activity and quickly uploaded to Voicethread.
I loved doing this project! It was fun to get to know the class and it was interesting to figure all of this out without being in the same room with one another. We all worked very well together after we figured out what we were doing.
The activity showed we all communicated very well. The best way we were going to build our structure was to communicate by one and to make sure we had everything in place. i learned that communicating with good instructions will make it successful.
This activity showed how well we can communicate with each other. I learned that we can communicate well if given proper instructions that are detailed and precise.
Next class students will be shown video clips of their participation in the activity. Since the topic is on nonverbal communication, they will be asked to text to Wifitti what the nonverbal behaviors they witnessed during each of the clips.