Mike Minadeo - Serious Games in the Classroom: United Colonies ARG


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This presentation will discuss new frontiers in education– specifically, how intrinsic motivation, knowledge transfer, and self-driven inquiry can be fostered in middle and high school students through alternative reality gaming (ARG).

I will offer an exclusive look into a case study at the 6th grade PlayMaker cohort at New Roads School in Santa Monica as well as insights into the lessons learned and opportunities for future application of this exciting new educational architecture.

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Mike Minadeo - Serious Games in the Classroom: United Colonies ARG

  1. 1. UNITED COLONIES EDUCATIONAL ARG 2012-2013 New Roads School
  2. 2. Mike Minadeo Tanner Higgin PhD. Creative Director Director of Research Consultant at GameDesk GameDesk CREATIVE TEAM
  3. 3. “Alternate Reality Gaming as a learning experience”
  4. 4. WHAT IS AN ARG? • An alternate reality game (ARG) is an interactive narrative that uses the real world as a platform with intense player involvement.
  5. 5. AN ARG FOR 6TH GRADERS • One of the first ARGs ever run in a middle school. (PlayMaker School at New Roads School in Santa Monica) • During 2012-13, the classroom, lockers, and class website soon ignited with new meaning as secret clues and mysterious objects were hidden within plain sight. • A unique student learning culture developed that provides us with a snapshot of a fresh new educational future.
  6. 6. FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL • Imagine you are a student starting your normal school day. • Today is different because when you open up your locker, you find a cryptic message inside! • This note ignites your imagination. Later in the day, you notice an UV bulb in one of the lamps in your classroom and hold the note up to it. • A puzzle in invisible ink appears and leads you on an educational scavenger hunt throughout the school. • Without knowing it, you’ve just started playing an educational ARG (Alternate Reality Game) that will reinforce the concepts you are learning in the classroom and stretch your mind.
  7. 7. “The Oculus” Branding signified a game item Opening note delivered to students lockers Secret Message revealed with Ultraviolet lamp in classroom
  8. 8. GAME BASED LEARNING • Game based learning (GBL) is a type of game play that has defined learning outcomes. • Generally, game based learning is designed to balance subject matter with gameplay and the ability of the player to retain and apply said subject matter to the real world.
  9. 9. COMMON CORE STANDARDS Reading • Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it Writing and Digital Age Skills • Use technology, including the Internet, to interact and collaborate with others. Language • Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple- meaning words and phrases by using context clues 9
  10. 10. 21ST CENTURY LITERACY • 7 Identifiable Literacies engendered by ARG’s: Gather, Make Sense, Manage, Solve, Create, Respect, Collaborate. • MIT Press Article: Alternate Reality Games as Platforms for Practicing 21st-Century Literacies (2012) Elizabeth Bonsignore, Derek Hansen, Kari Kraus, Marc Ruppel.
  11. 11. LEARNING OBJECTIVES 1. Decipher puzzles through knowledge of history, science, and media literacy.
  12. 12. LEARNING OBJECTIVES 2. Develop creative problem-solving skills by cracking mysterious codes, including Caesar Ciphers, Pig Latin, and American Sign Language.
  13. 13. LEARNING OBJECTIVES 3. Collaborate with other students for solutions to the various puzzles.
  14. 14. “WHAT WENT RIGHT” • Grit factor • Obsessive urgency to solve clues • Teamwork/collaboration • Competition
  15. 15. TAPPING INTO “THE GRIT FACTOR” FOR LEARNING “One characteristic emerged as a significant predictor of success. It wasn’t social intelligence or IQ. It was grit. Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals.” Angela Duckworth Phd. Speaking about her research into student success and learning retention.
  16. 16. TEAMWORK The students self-selected into certain team roles: • Riddlemaster • Hunter • Helper • Researcher • Social Organizer
  17. 17. “WHAT WENT WRONG” • “Bacon” puzzle Needed better math reinforcement • Immediate and scary participation drop off
  18. 18. ARTIFACTS AND PUZZLES •Pig latin/book safe
  19. 19. ARTIFACTS AND PUZZLES Valentines Puzzle • Puzzle was passed out as Valentine’s Day cards. • Needed to be assembled in correct order and looked at through red transparent plastic- clue reads “Who was the first woman in space?” • Children made the connection between her name (Valentina Tereshkova) and the holiday. • “Valentina/Valentine’s… That makes sense!”
  20. 20. ARTIFACTS AND PUZZLES PLANET PUZZLE POSTER • 4 layers of clues • QR link to Wikipedia about cuneiform • Cuneiform spells out “Braille Code” • Planet clusters reveal “All that glitters is not gold” quote • Points students to online puzzle where they have to create the word “meteorite” using the periodic table abbreviations for 5 elements
  21. 21. ARTIFACTS AND PUZZLES Meteorite • Outside was covered in cuneiform • Taught in an earlier history lesson about Mesopotamia that year. • Code translates to "Break Me Open".
  22. 22. PARTICIPATION METRICS • 40+ pages of forum posts • 15 student generated riddles • 150+ Hours of cumulative gameplay • 35+ Hours of Student collaboration outside of school hours
  23. 23. SECRET SAUCE •No Prize Inducement •Solving the Mystery was enough reward
  25. 25. FACILITATION IDEAS/FUTURE APPLICATION • Educational programs that focus on “grit” and perseverance. • Ethics and Compassion training for all ages. • Government Agent Training Scenarios (selecting candidates for observational aptitude). • Encouraging media literacy: students search for characters on websites that have historical similarities to lesson plans. For example, students could investigate a mystery about Nikolai Tesla. Along the way, they would learn fundamental concepts about electricity, history of that time period, how the patent process works, and how competitive business can be. • Math lessons can be strengthened by teaching the students how to decipher codes. For example, an alien language could appear and students would have to grasp the fundamental concepts of language generation in order to communicate with the “alien” who is contacting their class.
  26. 26. CONCLUSION • Alternate Reality Games encourage students to develop a “21st Century Literacy.” • School becomes an anytime, anywhere activity and expands the boundaries of the traditional classroom. • Develops students who are intrinsically motivated to spend more time studying. • And the best part is, the kids see this as fun and not as schoolwork.
  27. 27. CONTACT: Mike Minadeo 714.485.9668 Michael.Minadeo@gmail.com @MikeMinadeo