Design the Experience


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This presentation explores the idea that educators can adopt the principles of game design to design learning experiences that foster engagement, ethical citizenship, and entrepreneurial spirit. I gave this presentation at the 2013 conference for The Association of Alberta Public Charter Schools (TAAPCS)

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  • Despite the fact that I am currently working towards my M.Ed. in distance learning and instructional design, my most recent accolade is that of BARD in the international GamesMOOC (Massively Open Online Course, to be located at the GamesMOOC, The Bard award is conferred upon the person who represents the story of Game-Based Learning beyond the niche (but growing) community of interested educators that make up its ranks. To some degree, that is what this presentation represents – me telling anyone who will listen about my burgeoning awareness of this approach to learning design.
  • Everyone must snap their fingers on both hands exactly 25 times.When you do this, you experience the jolt of having done something mildly challenging (no matter how small, the impact in the brain is large).And, of course, this is how I want people to feel when starting a presentation!
  • If this is the best teacher, what the hell are we here for?
  • Educators are the curators of experience – the ORIGINAL DM’s. We curate experiences for youth and when we consider the experiences we want them to have above the content we want them to learn, everyone wins! One might USE games to curate experience or curate the experience AS a game. These are some interesting options, but the EXPERIENCE is king because it is the best teacher…we govern what experiences our students have!
  • Think of your most memorable lesson (either as a student or as a teacher). What was the setup? What did you do? I would be willing to bet having to wear a Stamps jersey that the school experiences you really remember, the ones that really impacted you involved games and stories.These are the atoms of learning. Stories let us know how to feel about facts and they provide context. Games let us try things out for ourselves and to test our skills and theories.
  • What do all of these have in common? They are difficult tasks that we deem worthy of our efforts…for some reason. They each have objectives, rules, an interface, and a way of knowing if you achieved the objectives…just like every good lesson should! Because of this, there shouldn’t be any content that a crafty teacher can’t tackle like a `Riders defenceman with games or stories.
  • Source: not take this oversimplified dichotomy to be a suggestion of simplicity. There are several places where these areas would overlap (and, perhaps, should). Furthermore, when one says “class plays games,” we are talking about more than “Math Blaster.” There is an entire area of study around “Serious Games” with definite and complex learning objectives and where the games are meant to simulate problems in the real world and allow “players” an opportunity to solve them in a low-risk environment. These are games that exist for more than enjoyment.
  • Chances are, most of you have used these mechanics for years. Intuitively, you know that all the most engaging teachers you have ever had were either playing games or telling stories. Really, these are the only ways we learn: stories for context-setting and games for skill drills. That’s it!
  • A subtle shift that makes a big difference – If we move our perspectives from one where we consider the learners AS players, we can consider how best to design engaging experiences with curriculum content!
  • What experience do you want learners/players to have? What should they walk away with? (bigger than learning objectives).
  • This list comes from a 2004 study and book called Got Game: How the Gamer Generation is Reshaping Business Forever from Harvard Business School Press (cited in Prensky, 2006).
  • Flow and Fiero are both documented psychological states. Flow is the full concentration of your being on a given task. Fiero is the success we feel upon completing that task. Above all else, when we design, we must design experiences with opportunities for flow and fiero in mind!
  • Societies have been using games to teach skills and knowledge forever. For a hell of a lot longer than we have enjoyed electricity and internal combustion engines. Just like people could build shelters before there were air hammers, it is possible to create an engaging experience without a video card. Really, you just need objectives, rules, an interface, and a way of knowing if you achieved the objectives.
  • Just creating a game around content isn’t effective. This is just putting lipstick on a pitbull. Math blaster requires that students already know how to do the mathematical functions (in fact, if a student doesn’t, all it will really do is divide their attention and make it harder!) In order to be effective, a gamelike learning experience must ask learners to collect and employ knowledge, skills, and values at opportune times…in this way, the “serious game” becomes an effective application for learning.
  • Our brains encourage us, by way of releasing all sorts of fun chemicals, to do things that we enjoy. A healthily-reinforced activity is one that takes up all of your attention and is appropriately challenging; an unhealthily-reinforced one is one that you choose in favor of other fun things…food, music and so forth.
  • We assign gender to things. Often a scalable version of this is done by marketing companies that create a gendered narrative around products. At their core, games have rules, mechanics, stories and aesthetics…none of those carry a gender we don’t assign to them (so, like, don’t assign a gender to them if you want to avoid this).Feminist Frequency does a much more detailed response to this issue than I can but, are THESE games inherently gendered?
  • Can’t games expose young people to content that we wouldn’t want to expose them to? Yep. So can books.
  • New MOOC starts on October 28th! (Monday!!) #gamemooc on Twitter.
  • Tons of great resources, regular activities and webinars, lots of great sharing opportunities.
  • 1 – Games and Stories2 – Teachers are the curators of experience…they design the experiences3 – 4 Elements – Objectives, Rules, an Interface, and Feedback.4 – ResourcesBonus
  • Design the Experience

    1. 1. What the second-best teacher can learn about using the first
    2. 2. Introducing: badbuddha0 The Bard
    3. 3. Let’s start with a snap…
    4. 4. Your mission for the next hour… Get ready to do these things during the session:  Identify Scott’s two “atoms” of learning;  Distinguish between the roles of teacher and experience;  List the 4 building blocks of game (and lesson) design;  Identify resources for you to explore gameful learning. Pay close attention and you could WIN a cool prize!
    5. 5. EXPERIENCE
    6. 6. Our Job? Design the Experience
    7. 7. Games and Stories
    8. 8. What is a “Game,” anyway? They “…are unnecessary obstacles that we volunteer to tackle.” Dr. Jane McGonigal Author, Reality is Broken They are paths into an experience Jesse Schell Professor, Carnegie Mellon
    9. 9. GBL vs. Gamification Game-Based Learning Gamification Class PLAYS games Class IS a game
    10. 10. This is not a new idea
    11. 11. How do Games Engage? Game-like learning offers support for each aspect of engaged learning by providing • Objectives • Rules • Interface • Feedback Dickey, 2005,
    12. 12. Example – Taylan Kay’s “Auti-Sim”
    13. 13. Learner = Player
    14. 14. Determine the Essential Experience …and then determine the Objectives, Rules, Interface and Feedback tools you want to use to engage students with that experience.
    15. 15. What do students learn?  Systems thinking  Collaborative problem solving  A pro-skill orientation (new skills = awesome!)  How to positively tackle challenges  Organizational skills  Relational skills  How to use data  “Just-in-time” preparation  How to be an agent of their own destinies
    16. 16. Or, how I learned what NOT to do…
    17. 17. What is the Game? My First Try • • • • Every student starts at Level 0 But the first thing they learn is that they can “level up.” Students receive XP for being able to demonstrate actions in and around the school. Students never lose experience and can complete tasks at any time.
    18. 18. Results – December 2012  Out of 28 enrolled students, 20 have attended at least 1 session.  Of the 20 who have attended, 3 have not levelled up.  Anecdotally, whether or not a task is related to XP is the determiner for its completion by students.  A sense of community is developing as students take risks in the class and see that their classmates support them in making them.  The class, while operating on game mechanics, is not “gameful” in the sense that students are in a state of flow while in session. It may be worth examining how the actual class tasks might be more gamelike.  Like any role playing game, there is a challenge to new students who start while the course is underway. While they can certainly catch up by doing the work, they haven’t formed the relationships needed for a satisfying experience.
    19. 19. I was missing…
    20. 20. In other words: Flow…and Fiero
    21. 21. Experience some Fiero yourself… Rules: It is possible to put together three hands of three players who want to indulge in thumbwrestling. A nodal network is formed. In a game of three, the player holding tight the thumb which is furthest down is the winner. All other thumbs (further up) have a walk-over for the two thumbs furthest down are frozen already. Since humans have two hands the left hand can be used to connect even more players to the network. Thus, various possibilities pop up.
    22. 22. Because you can’t get the gold in the dungeon with out fending off a few hordes of enemies!
    23. 23. Games = Video Games?
    24. 24. Effectiveness?
    25. 25. Addiction or Flow?
    26. 26. Gender/Race/Access Issues?
    27. 27. Questionable Content?
    28. 28. So was THIS at one time:
    30. 30. Where does he get those wonderful toys?
    31. 31. Games MOOC
    32. 32. Institute of Play and Q2L
    33. 33. Gamestar Mechanic
    34. 34. Dr. Jane McGonigal
    35. 35. My Stuff
    36. 36. Dropbox THIS is my dropbox link for this session. I decided to save a tree
    37. 37. How closely were you paying attention?
    38. 38. Mission Results  What are Scott’s “atoms of learning?”  What is the relationship of the teacher to experience?  What 4 elements can you adjust to design an experience?  What was the 4th thing you were supposed to watch for?  Easter Egg – What is Scott’s favorite football team?