In each case, our affiliated researchers bring something of value to the RIT pilot (educational assessment, and legal & policy analysis), but also hope to run their own implementations of the game in other contexts. Joey Lee is already doing “gamification” projects in a Brooklyn middle school; Dan Hunter is interested in determining how a game layer for urban professional school students would differ from one for RIT undergrads. Each wants to help us do this well at RIT, but then use that to implement something comparable in other educational contexts.
The idea for this came from a conversation one of our professors was having with some students in the spring of 2010, in which the students said “we should get achievements for being awesome.” She took that idea to our chair, who took it to Microsoft Research, who said “here’s some seed money—think this through, then come back and tell us more.”
So, we pulled together an amazing team of faculty, staff and students in IGM, recruited wonderful and creative researchers and educators elsewhere, wrote a vision document, and went back to them—and in June, they fully funded the project. Now, June wasn’t very long ago, so we’ve been scrambling to go from “wouldn’t be awesome if” to “shipping.” We had originally hoped to start the game with the beginning of the school year, but it became clear that wouldn’t happen. Our current launch date, which is pretty solid, is October 14—RIT’s homecoming weekend.
We want to make the implicit map more explicit. What are the mileposts and markers along the way? How do they know they’re on the right track? How can we visualize their progress towards a goal?Narrative emerges…what does the narrative look like? How is lore disclosed?
As they complete activities, they will be collecting virtual artifacts, stocking their inventory with the tools we know they need to be successful.
The achievements shouldn’t be extra work or tasks, but rather should layer on top of things they’re already doing—from visiting a professor’s office to checking out books from the library.
Our achievement categories come from what we know about our students, and their strengths and weaknesses. The athenaeum and mechanics terms come both from the history of RIT (the merging of The Athenaeum and the Mechanics Institute), and the tension between design & development for our students. Athenaeum + Individual = go to a talk in another area; explore the campus/cityAthenaeum + Shared = random acts of kindness; explore the campus/community *with others*Mechanics + Individual = create tumblr blog, successfully finish a year of classes in IGMMechanics + Shared = 90% of the freshman class passes their programming sequence; be part of a group that submits to the Global Game Jam
Collection & Visualization
Students’ stories will become part of the game narrative/lore; one achievement available to alumni might be a “tell your story” achievement in which they submit their story, along with supporting images/video.
When Andy first pitched this to MSR, he made a point of saying “GREAT DANGER HERE”…and he was right. The reason you don’t see this achievement approach everywhere in education is that it’s really hard to do well!
It’s simply *not* possible to anonymize data; we’ll need to be extremely careful about how we use the data we have access to. This is one of the reasons why we have NYLS involved with the project.
By adding external tangible rewards, we can actually do damage to our students’ intrinsic motivations. The focus needs to be on “now…that” rewards, rather than “if…then” rewards.
For this to be successful, it has to be voluntary, fun, and engaging. They have to vest in it as creators, not just consumers.
After seeing Seann’s talk earlier this morning, I was struck by how his “traditional” vs “backwards” teaching models reflected our thinking about this project, as well. We started not with “what will they learn” and “how will we assess it”, but rather with “what is engaging?” and how we could build from that. It’s scarier to do it that way, but the rewards are significant.
Transcript of "Just Press Play: A Gaming Layer for Student Success"
Just Press Play:A gaming layer for student success<br />
RIT Researchers / Developers / Designers<br />Steve Jacobs<br />Andy Phelps<br />Liz Lawley<br />ElouiseOyzon<br />Affiliated Researchers<br />Kurt Squire, University of Wisconsin<br />Joey Lee, Teachers College<br />Dan Hunter,New York Law School<br />