Playful Pedagogy


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Talk given at the University of Bergen on 12 April 2013.

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  • Need photos of a board game (based on a classroom?), a gamification image (from zichermann, or badgeville?), letter grade “A” (from
  • An attempt to use what we know about games to make learning more engaging and playful (photo of students having fun)An ongoing and iterative experiment ((scientist with clipboard, maybe?)
  • Inside the classroom
  • 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.”
  • We wanted 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?A personal narrative emerges…what does the narrative look like? How is lore disclosed?
  • The intention was less about pushing them to do things that they wouldn’t otherwise do, and more about recognizing what successful students do, helping new students to discover those activities, and allowing all students to remember and reflect on their accomplishments.
  • What we wanted to emulate from FourSquare was not just the points and the leaderboards, but the aggregation of information about enjoyable activities, both for sharing and for personal recall.
  • 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!
  • 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 hadto be voluntary, fun, and engaging. Students had to vest in it as creators, not just consumers. This is the key takeaway from Deci & Ryan’s SDT work. We know this because we asked them 
  •….what feelings of competence did we want to focus on?
  • Big questions that guided our content development.
  • This was the model that emerged for us—the tension between the athenaeum and the mechanics institute, as well as the tension between individual and collaborative competencies. Bloom’s taxonomy informs the rings, but the important part is not just expansion but BALANCE.
  • We got some things right…but we got a lot of things wrong, too.
  • Four kinds of achievements:Collectible cardsUser-submitted content (photos, URLs)System-assigned based on external criteriaCheckins at locations or events (unable to implement properly)
  • Images
  • Playful Pedagogy

    1. 1. Playful PedagogyElizabeth Lane Lawley, Ph.D.Rochester Institute of TechnologySchool of Interactive Games & Media • igm.rit.eduMAGIC Center • magic.rit.eduslides online by tomorrow!
    2. 2. WHAT THIS ISN’T…
    3. 3. Flickr: Mike Fleming
    4. 4. Image: Sebastian Deterding
    5. 5. Flickr: amboo who
    6. 6. WHAT THIS IS…
    8. 8. JUST PRESS PLAYOutside the Classroom
    9. 9.
    10. 10. ―We are beginning tosee ourselves not justfrom the inside, as anactor doing somethingon a daily basis, butfrom the outside—understanding what welook like to the worldaround us anddeveloping a kind ofhybrid identity.‖– Aram Simmreich
    11. 11. I apologize for this next slide…
    12. 12. Project Goals• Provide students with a clearer sense of theiraccomplishments in various areas (academic, social, andcreative) of their college experience, and provide them withtools to reflect on their range and balance of activities.• Increase students‘ awareness of activities and opportunitiesoutside of their academic coursework, from wellness tocollaboration to knowledge of the campus and city, and inspirethem to sample a range of experiences.• Enable students to maintain and share a record of theiractivities.• Provide students with a sense of fantasy, whimsy and playfulabstraction in dealing with the stress and growth associatedwith the transformational nature of undergraduate education.
    13. 13. It‘s the autonomy, stupid.
    14. 14. ―My point is thatthe ‗fun‘, thepleasure of theseelements doesnot come fromsome extrinsicreward value ofthose elements,but chiefly fromthe experience ofcompetence theygive rise to.‖Sebastian Deterding
    15. 15. What behaviors did we want toreward and encourage?What feelings of competencecould we engender?What did we want our students toremember and reflect on?
    16. 16. SO, WHAT HAPPENED?
    18. 18. Flickr: Skrewtape