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How to level up an assessment

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  • -these elements of definition work for all games – you can talk about every game – from ‘tag’ to ‘Cranium’ to the biggest video games you can think of-where these games differ isn’t so much in whether these elements exist or not, generally, we judge the ‘quality’ of games based on the degree to which these are demonstrated – a clear goal is better than a vague one, rules that are easy to follow are better than ones that aren’t, feedback about progress is generally better if it’s provided faster, and certainly games we WANT to play, and have a real choice to engage with, tend to be more fun-these criteria can also be applied, in many ways, to school – but what we get isn’t pretty-goals exist – demonstrating mastery of a set of material to a given standard, etc. but they’re ill defined – is ‘mastering fractions’ or ‘getting in to university’ the goal? And do the same goals apply to all students? What does ‘winning’ look like for students? Personal bests? Comparisons to others, etc.-rules limit how students can do that – you can’t copy, which we generally accept, but these rules aren’t well-designed to express the creativity and strategic thinking of good games – because really, how many ways can you demonstrate knowledge on a multiple choice test?-feedback systems tells students how they’re doing – an A tells you you’re meeting goals, a C tells you you aren’t doing as well – but often, these don’t identify skills you’re building, and many aren’t that great at providing motivation – because once you bomb that first midterm, there are few ways to make up the marks, so you stop trying (and many teachers only mark things that are wrong…)-participation is, at least in theory, voluntary – at university, certainly, students choose to be there – they choose to attend and choose their courses, and in elementary and secondary levels, we can force students to attend but we can’t force them to ‘play the game’ and learn things-this is where I came to gamification – the idea that, basically, school was a game, but if anyone tried to sell it as a game, they’d be bankrupt because it’s not a very engaging one – my brother has always loved games – video games in adolescence, and now, primarily board games – he’ll play them for long hours, and is actually really, really good at a lot of them, but this is the same kid who wouldn’t spend 15 minutes doing math homework, and it’s a pattern I see in many people in my life – my husband, at one point, played 15 hours of Warcraft a week, and was on his computer an hour early to make sure he was prepared for the session he was going to play with people he’d never met in ‘real life’ – and would never study for an exam more than the night before, and then, only grudgingly-concluded something about games – and, as educators, we might as well learn from the game designers – each company has several PhDs in psychology employed full time to develop mechanisms to get people to play, and keep playing, and to keep them happy to do it – they do it to make gaming an enormous industry, but if I can capture even a tenth of that, my students would likely do a heck of a lot better in their courses – and since school has all the elements of a game anyway, it makes sense to look to the people who’ve made gaming a billion dollar a year industry to learn to make education a better game Preliminary exploration of this idea of gamification – there are lots of holes in the literature – focus on video games, been written more by game designers than educators (so there are lots of subjects that haven’t been covered yet) – how the literature goes…
  • Effectively what I did in my classes last year, with different point totals, and tasksAllowed students to choose what they’re good at – writing, speaking, short assignments, long ones, etc., in much the same way as different people are going to do different things in order to make a conference experience ‘valuable’ to them, some will listen, some will meet new people, some will present, some will build collaborations, etc.Idea is you create tasks, and let students work within that system – I can really encourage people to do what I think are more valuable learning tasks by changing how many points they’re worth (on the list above you can tell I think building collaborations and offering presentations are more important than simply attending sessions)Within that system, participants (i.e. students) make their own choices – you can help them design approaches, or make suggestions, but do not dictate what’s essential – for example, in the system above, you could, in theory, be a conference superstar WITHOUT attending a single sessionFor that freedom to work, you need to build in enough possibilities to allow someone to skip any one of the tasks This is my version, for other adaptations (requiring x number of points in certain areas, for instance), see Lee Sheldon’s book, The Multiplayer Classroom
  • -the experiences which are identified as salient in a gamified classroom are one of the places where literature on gamification butts up against a lot of other literature – literature about student engagement, about feelings of self-esteem and competence, and literature about the importance of student autonomy – which can touch on ideas like democracy in education like Noelle was talking about – the idea of making meaningful choices that affect your experience-one of the big things that comes up about learning in games is the idea of the cost of failure – in a video game, if you make a mistake, and your character dies, you go back to a save point, and try again – and you can do that as many times you need to succeed – this means that your ‘cost’ for failure is pretty low – it doesn’t change your whole life, or your whole experience of the game to make one mistake (other games follow much the same rules – a missed stroke in a golf game, or a missed turn for playing an illegal word in Scrabble are relatively minor penalties)-this low cost of failure encourages people to try things, and adapt in new ways, because if it doesn’t go well, the cost of failing isn’t that high-it also encourages people to keep trying when it doesn’t work – to look at what worked in the last attempt, and what didn’t, to change things and do better next time – this is really similar to what adult learners do – but we have very little opportunity for it in most classrooms – if you make a mistake on an assignment, you have little opportunity to do it again – some gamified classrooms work by letting (or insisting) that people re-do ‘quests’ they didn’t succeed at – trying it again and learning from their mistakes, others do it by having lots of quests requiring similar engagements or skill sets – so you can keep trying until it works for you-the off-shoot of that is also a feeling of progress- because you’re trying things again and again, you’re looking at seeing progress, and getting closer to where you need to be – because, for the most part, you’ll earn experience, and points, for partial successes at a task – in my classrooms, for example, I’ll tell my students that they should attempt an assignmnet, even if they aren’t sure they’ll get an amazing score – because, at the end of the semester, even a 50% on an assignment is the difference between a C and a C+ (since, as we’ll get to next, they don’t need to do all the assignments) – it usually works, and they work with material in ways they’d otherwise never attempt if they knew a 50% would bring down their whole GPA…. – so we’re looking at a single assignment encouraging growth in skills, as well as feelings of progress towards some longer-term goal-autonomy is a big one – in games, there’s almost always more than one way to do something – you can ‘finish’ a level and rescue a friend by either sneaking past all the guards, or by shooting them all, or by infiltrating the base and passing yourself off AS a guard – as an example – this allows the player to choose how to engage with the game world (to say nothing of choices about which game to play, and which order to pursue levels in) – generally speaking, when we make these kinds of choices, we are happier with the results, because we’re better able to choose how to go about things, and we can choose things that fit with our personalities, styles of play, etc.-in gamified classrooms, this usually manifests, similarily, as a variety of ways to get to a given goal – if your goal is to get an A, for example, you may be able to do that by doing EVERY assignment, but doing it only at 70% of your capacity, or you can do it by doing only a few assignments at 100% of your capacity – for example, because there are multiple routes to success – in this case, we’re talking about a system where you wouldn’t have to do ‘every’ assignment to get a good grade – indeed, the expectation is that you won’t – you choose assignments that work for you – if you’re great at oral presentations, do that – if you’re terrified of them, do something else-this question of multiple roads to success is a way of dealing with autonomy – students in this style of classroom are able to make choices about their engagement and their learning, and are able to make those choices meaningfully, and so that they won’t suffer for it – they no longer get a message that they’re bad students because they don’t do well on exams, they can be ‘good’ students because they’re really good at synthesising information, or presenting it to other students – all of those matter in this classroom, because they’re all rewarded with points, or what have you-that doesn’t mean students can necessarily not take exams, it just means they don’t need to hinge so much of their identity as students (as ‘smart’) on them – they can achieve that identity another way, so not doing well on the exam is less scary – meaningful choices also help to lower the cost of failure-student engagement is part of this –-Lee Sheldon, for example, gives his students experience points for coming to class – and out of 700 possible absences (number of students by number of class sessions), he had 10 – 10 individual students who missed individual classes – this is the same things as giving marks for attendance, but it works way better than any iteration of that I’ve ever seen for getting students in class – presuming classes are useful for student learning, that means that, if for reasons of attendance alone, reframing parts of our grading system make sense-completion of work loads – this is one of the areas I started looking at gamification from – people work really long and hard at workloads they choose – 15/20 hours of a video game in a week – it works on gamified classrooms too – in general, instructors are reporting that students are doing more work (not only ‘more’ projects, but putting more work into them) and having more fun with it- meaning they’re not complaining, etc. – last semester I had a student who knew she wanted an A – so she did 5 oral presentations, 4 written assignments, a term paper, and a lot of homework – she said it really helped her feel like she was on top of things – it got to the point where I told her she’d worked herself out of the necessity of any marks on the final – so all she wrote on it was ‘have a merry Christmas’ – and she didn’t tell me the class was too much work
  • Different ways of interacting with a game – determined by what motivates you, what you’d prefer to do – dimensions between acting and interacting, and relationships with the players and the game worlds-Killers is probably the term I like least, but it covers people who prefer interaction and competition with other players – if you’re motivated by being able to beat everyone around you at your game, then this is you (in video games, this is players who like player-versus-player competition – directly trying to out-do or what have you other players)-Achievers are motivated by extrinsic rewards – high scores, achievements, etc. – if you immediately aimed for 15 points on the last slide instead of 10, this is likely you-Socializers are people who play because of social environments – the game is less important than the social experience you have playing with people- if you don’t really have strong preferences about games themselves, but strong ones about who you play with, etc.-Explorers are people who are motivated to discover what’s ‘new’ about the world and lead people behind them – trailblazers, they make maps, etc. – if you’re looking at the list of ways of earning points in this presentation, and are trying to do one from each category, just to see what it’s like, etc. – then this is you-in a lot of ways, a typology like this is very much like one of learning styles – no one’s going to be wholly one or the other, and many people can enjoy engaging in a variety of ways – what they are though, is preferences for interactions – ways we like to relate to situations and contexts- there are students, for example, who are motivated by extrinsic rewards – like high grades, and will work hard, because the ‘A’ is a good reward for them – others are motivated by a social experience of the classroom – for them to achieve, they need to be surrounded by peers who are encouraging them, and participating in tasks where the social environment feels valuable – we’ll see a mix of these styles in classrooms, and need to respond to them differently-largely because they provide multiple paths to a given goal (there are more ways you can ‘win’) games, and gamified classrooms, tend to be better at engaging people across this matrix – by incorporating this, we provide students with ways of engaging that better meet their own needs and what they come in with
  • McGonigal – not so much on gaming in the classroom, but a really good look at principles of gamification – including discussions of things that people who play games are really good at, and why that could be really useful in our world – from collaboration, to problem solving strategies – she also goes into games that are improving other aspects of life – SuperBetter is one that’s just recently become available which has been having some success in terms of illness recovery – having people focus on the ways they’re getting better, etc.Sheldon – a much more direct version of ‘how to’ – he was a commercial game designer, and when he started teaching game design at the university level, turned his classroom into a video-game like environment – the book offers case studies of a variety of other applications – from the biology classroom I discusssed earlier (where success rates on standardised tests more than doubled) and courses in education

Transcript

  • 1. How to Level Up an Assessment: Gamification in Post Secondary Education Anastasia Kulpa October 18, 2012
  • 2. What is a game anyways?Basically, games have 4 elements:-a goal, which focuses the attention of players and provides a sense ofpurpose-rules which limit ‘how’ you can get to the given goal, these unleashcreativity and develop strategic thinking-a feedback system identifying how close players are to the goal, whichprovides motivation, and works as a promise the goal is achievable-voluntary participation – people can choose to play, or not, and chooseto willingly accept goals, rules, and feedback system – creates games asa safe, fun activity -McGonigal, 2011, p. 19-21
  • 3. Gamifying Conference Attendance10 points is SUCCESS, 15 points makes you a SUPERSTARo 2 points for attending the opening receptiono 1 point for attending a presentation in each concurrent sessiono 1 point for each time you tweak/change something you do as a result of what you learno 1 point for each time you speak to a presenter/panelist after a sessiono 2 points for each new person you meet and talk to about educationo 1 point for attending the opening plenary sessiono 1 point for attending the closing panelo 3 points for building a collaboration/arranging to share resources latero 5 points for offering a presentation to share your knowledge
  • 4. Experiencing gamified classrooms -prior experience with games (WoW, Farmville) -feelings of competence/mastery -cost of failure -feelings of progress -autonomy -multiple roads to success -student engagement -attendance -completion of work loads
  • 5. Types of players Sheldon, 2010, p. 101-102
  • 6. Results of a Gamified Classroom -grades -Fs, Ds, Cs in about the same proportion -Bs almost all gone – move to A-range -behaviour -risk-taking (oral presentations) -planning early for desired grades -student evaluations -polarised, suggestions for implementation -grading -spread out over the semester
  • 7. Challenges with this kind of system -design work -what does an oral presentation equal to a paper look like? -scrutiny from colleagues -Are you just making the class way easier? -having to justify every choice you make -student adjustment to a new system -tools for designing course engagements -pacing -anxiety of ‘everything at the end of the semester’ -time below the ‘passing’ threshold
  • 8. Places to start reading: McGonigal, Jane, 2011, Reality is Broken : Why Games Make us Better and How They Can Change the World, New York: The Penguin Press *** Jane McGonigal also presented an amazing TED talk on the subject (with almost 2 million views) ‘Gaming can make a better world’ – available at TED.com Sheldon, Lee, 2012, The Multiplayer Classroom: Designing Coursework as a Game, Boston: Cenage Technology
  • 9. Questions? Want to read the publication when it’s done? Anastasia Kulpa Grant MacEwan University KulpaA2@macewan.ca