The History Game:


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The History Game: Taking the classroom outdoors with mobile devices
The main aim of the session is to stimulate participants to think about how to use the outdoor space more creatively for language activities. In this session I will show the case study of how 6th graders could explore the history of their local area by turning it into a game. After finding out some significant events, the students make a simple game to guide players from one place in the historical story to another by the use of short texts, images, audio or video. These are then uploaded to a free tool which players access when they want to play the game. This activity could be extended to all sorts of different themes such as a sight-seeing tour or a detective mystery game. The activity is not restricted to the use of one tool; there are several free tools available which can do a similar job.

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  • Thank you for having me back. Why mlearning? 2011 is the year of QR codes and my new phone!
  • I approached our local village school with this idea because I wanted to try it out. I had no idea what their reaction would be. One positive factor was that I knew that the school uses the outdoors a great deal so I thought that a project based in the local village might appeal. What you can see in the photo are some of the children out on their timetabled outdoor lesson cooking something wonderful on the bonfire! I was lucky that the teachers of one mixed age class had a need to find something to do for their younger pupils while the older pupils went away on an age related activity for a few weeks at the same time once every two weeks. So the teachers were looking for something which was on the curriculum but which the older students could still benefit from after the younger students had done the project. The two teachers wanted to cover some history and were very attracted by the way in which the project could get going quite rapidly. The final piece in the puzzle is the fact that the local history society has a huge amount of material about the village. It is in the form of text (stories from local people) and photos of what the village used to look like. They have put this material on a website but it is not very well organised or user friendly. So this project would give the 12 year old pupils a reason for looking through the website, maybe talking to the people in the local history society and trying to link the material on the website to actual places in the village. The teachers also gave the students homework to interview their elderly relatives during the holiday in mid-October
  • Many, but not all, the pupils have modern phones onto which they can download the free software needed to play a treasure hunt game. So the main work of the pupils would be to learn about some important events and places in the village and design a treasure hunt game for their missing classmates. They would do this by talking with the local history society and their older relatives. They would also explore the village to find relevant landmarks and to work out a route for the game. The game allows you to use text, photos, and even videos, audio or weblinks to make the clues or challenges for each step of the game. You can see what a question/challenge in the game would look like on the phone in the image from a Sony Eriksson Experia.
  • So there are two stages to this project. The first stage is for the pupils to find out about their local area and then design a game. It is important at this stage for the teacher to know which software they are going to use so that they know which type of media it is possible to use in the questions or challenges. In this case we had chosen SCVNGR which allows all the media I mentioned previously. The second stage is when the game can be played. In my case this would be for the older pupils who were away for the lessons while the younger pupils were preparing the game. The game will not take much time at all to play. In this case, as in so many uses of digital tools, it is the process rather than the product which is the most important as this is where pupils will learn most. In order to play the game, those with a Smartphone will need to download the free SCVNGR app. This should not cost anything if they use free wifi to do this. The playing students should play the game in small groups – so there is only need for one smartphone per group. When the software discovers where the players are and shows them the right question or challenge this will use a small amount of data on the phone. In Denmark many mobile phone subscriptions include some free data and I have discovered that this is also available in Poland. So cost has been a worry when using mobile phones in the past but it is becoming cheaper.
  • So let’s go back to the process of building the game. As established before pupils can create questions or challenges which use text, images, audio, video or websites. Most mobile phones now include a camera and a way of recording audio so even those without smartphones should be able to use their own devices to contribute to the creation of the game. While the pupils create all this material, it is probably best if it is just the teacher who opens an account with SCVNGR and uploads the material. By the way, the SCVNGR people are very sympathetic to educators so if you write and explain what your project is about they will probably increase the number of questions you can put in a game from the original 5.
  • This shows you what the input page looks like on SCVNGR. I don’t want to go into details but this is just to show that the process is quite simple as long as you have access to all the text, images, audio and video produced by the pupils.
  • By the way you can get a bit of help with the interface by using Google translate to translate the page into Polish or any other relevant language.
  • So here agian is an example of a completed question. In this case we have text and an image and ONE correct answer. The system makes you start again if you get the answer wrong or leads you to the next question if you get it right.
  • The story isn’t finished but I hope that it shows you that you can experiment in a low risk way with some of these tools. I am visiting the class next week and there I hope to hear from myself the reactions of the producer pupils.
  • The History Game:

    1. 1. The History Game Taking the classroom outdoors with mobile devices
    2. 2. Why? <ul><li>Outdoor school </li></ul><ul><li>Rapid set-up </li></ul><ul><li>To engage pupils in their own world </li></ul><ul><li>Local history </li></ul>
    3. 3. How? <ul><li>Turn it into a game </li></ul><ul><li>Learn about some pivotal events in local history </li></ul><ul><li>Consult the local history society </li></ul><ul><li>Explore the local area (ie walk around) </li></ul><ul><li>Work out a treasure trail with one right answer leading to the next clue. </li></ul>
    4. 4. Who does what? <ul><li>Players (students) </li></ul><ul><li>Download the free Scvngr app to your iPhone or Android phone </li></ul><ul><li>Designers (students) </li></ul><ul><li>Prepare the treasure hunt with questions, prompt materials which might include images, audio and video as well as text. </li></ul>
    5. 5. How – the tools <ul><li>The clues or questions in the game could include text, photos, videos, audio or Internet links. </li></ul><ul><li>This is uploaded to Scvngr </li></ul>
    6. 6.
    7. 7.
    8. 8. How it appears on your phone
    9. 9. Disadvantages <ul><li>You need to use a small amount of data to play the game on a smartphone </li></ul><ul><li>SCVNGR (& most other AR* tools) is in English </li></ul><ul><li>*AR = Alternate Reality </li></ul>
    10. 10. Advantages <ul><li>Small projects are free </li></ul><ul><li>Quite easy to set up </li></ul><ul><li>Most student effort goes into planning & producing clues </li></ul><ul><li>Gets students out, interacting with each other & local experts </li></ul><ul><li>You only need one smartphone per group </li></ul><ul><li>Fun product at the end </li></ul>
    11. 11. Where are we now? <ul><li>Pupils have done the research </li></ul><ul><li>They have created the route and the questions </li></ul><ul><li>They are now producing the media (text, photos and so on) needed to enter the treasure hunt on to SCVNGR </li></ul>
    12. 12. LINKS <ul><li>My webpage </li></ul><ul><li>My podcast </li></ul><ul><li>SCVNGR </li></ul>