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#6432751 Jul 23, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Guild Officer
354 Posts
Gamifiying Your Classroom – Collaborate or Compete?

There have been many discussions on the topic of student competition in the classroom. So do you have your student collaborate or compete? How do we delineate between good competition and bad competition in the classroom? What about creative tension?
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#6433218 Jul 23, 2012 at 03:47 PM · Edited 5 years ago
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I want to get this discussion started, as you might know I have been interested in game theory since 1974. I realize that what I think of as "activities" in my classrooms are really games in the context we are discussing them, but they are in the real world, we do online too. I have posted elsewhere I had a game optioned by Psychology Today (magazine) in about 1974-6 called "The Prison Game" it was board/chance, similar to Monopoly, but you were in prison. They paid me $1000 for the option, it was set to be published as a 4-page folded insert, but PT decided to quite doing a game a month a few months before publication date. I don't have any copy of the game, threw them out years ago.

As to "good" or "bad, " PETP (People for the Ethical Treatment of People) can rest assured, "No student was harmed during the execution of my games.":D

Here are some games I personally have created and used in my classes, generally in anthropology, except I use the "Golden Ticket" in all of them:

1. Competition and Collaboration -- Urban Automobile Archaeology. Students go out in teams of three and look into/at ten cars in our parking lot (notify security they will be doing this). They do not touch the car. They make lists of what they see inside/outside, and teams come back and report on one interesting car, and then they also combine their cars to come up with some "universals" then after all teams report, we come up with some "FRCC Student universals" such as our students are involved in many thing and looks like that they come to the college on their way to or from somewhere, like job, sporting event, schools, shopping. They have FUN! They also noted that there are not a lot of luxury cars in our lots.

2. Competition and Collaboration -- Why an opposable thumb is a good idea! I take hockey tape (easy to get off) and personally wrap each student's thumbs to their first fingers [both hands], then I give them each a box of those "valentine hearts candies" and tell them to open the box, take out each heart individually and then put them back in. First one done wins a chocolate heart prize. Then they work in teams of two and first done get smaller heart prizes, and then finally a team of four, again winners get prizes. Then they get to keep the boxes of candy hearts. By the time they are done they know why an opposable thumb is such a good thing.

3. Collaboration / Creative Tension -- Kinship Charts 1900, 1950, today. I hate teaching kinship charts, so I have a Kinship Chart game, Each person draws a piece of Triangle (male) or Round (female) piece of paper with a name on it. It doesn't matter if you are a male and draw a female , or the other way around. They then announce their name and age. Then the whole class has to gather around the board and tape their triangle or square in an appropriate place and draw the connecting lines symbolizing relationships. In 1900 NO divorces for example. They have to figure out their age and gender to find "marriage partners" "kids" "parents" etc. The next time they do 1950 and divorces may be allowed, there is adoption, and re-marriages, less kids per family. Finally they do today, and anything goes. They creatively have made male to female symbols, allowed gay marriage, allowed living together, allowed single mothers, they even got creative enough to put antenna on one or two to symbolize aliens from another planet. Then they look at these three diagrams to see the changes in family patterns over the last 100 years or so in America.

4. Competition and Collaboration / Creative Tension -- Golden Ticket. My students draw lottery tickets to determine when they will give their in-class presentations, they are over three days at end of term. I generally have 24 students, eight a day. You can choose to go first day first ones, I also allow some students who have spoken to me ahead of time to have the last ones on last day. I then show the youtube of "I've got a Golden Ticket" but don't tell them why. (2.3 minutes) I then tell them there are three golden tickets in the numbers. They draw but don't say what they drew. Those who got the golden ticket (has big gold star on it) announce "I have a Golden Ticket and shows everyone. They then can take anyone's number who wasn't here for drawing, [they are told what those are] or they can take anyone else's number but they are taking a chance since they don't know who has what number. Interestingly they will sometimes take a number that they know that will be lower than theirs, but I have no one ever randomly take another student's ticket. [not too chance orientated] . They can also trade amongst themselves. This makes the forced drawing of numbers a lot easier for them to be comfortable with doing other than drawing a number and no chance to change or being told what order they will present.

And just to brighten your day, here is the link! I've Got a Golden Ticket I do pre-loaded past the commercials for my classroom use. You are stuck with a commercial.
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#6439551 Jul 24, 2012 at 05:16 PM
Cataclysmic
128 Posts
I have to say that as a student I've collaborated many times, and competed once.
In the competition setting ONLY the top team would get an "A", the rest would get non-A grades. This upped the stress we felt (in participating in a simulation nonetheless) and we made stupid rookie mistakes - we were deer in headlights when certain unexpected things happened in the SIM so we messed up even more so! This competition made it not fun to learn and made it so that we lost our cool and did not perform as well as we should. It did not show how we had mastered the subject.

I would go for collaboration -OR- for collaborative competition where teams compete, BUT they can get Karma points for helping others.
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#6441161 Jul 25, 2012 at 12:26 AM
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Thanks akoutropoulos, I agree with you I don't think competition should be for a grade, we all process information in a different way, and I have been in the "deer in the headlights" phase more than once. I also sometimes thing that instructors think that "group project" means "cooperation" and anyone who has been in a group going for a grade knows that there are one or two that do 90% of the work generally. I rarely allow group projects, I did allow a "group of two" to do a project this summer, it dove-tailed nicely and I could see they were going to be equal contributors. I do not have competition for grades. When we went into Second Life, and when we were in the Global Online Educational Conference, students got xx points for being there and participating, the level or quality of participating was not considered. I have teams sometimes compete, but the prizes are not grades and then I generally have a little something for everyone.
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#6443993 Jul 25, 2012 at 01:49 PM
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561 Posts
A few weeks ago I added a game that would be "competitive" into my online Anthropology of Religion class, they get nothing for winning other than a personal good score for timely postings. We have two discussions open at once, and I started giving a "FIRST POSTER" award, for the first post in a discussion (you can only win once per module of two), All they get is a congratulations message and at the bottom of my answer (I answer all posts to the original question) is a small blue ribbon jpg that says "first place," I have noticed that there are more posts earlier and more to discuss earlier in the week(s) and it isn't hurting their grade any as failure to post in each week, or posting last 48 hours lowers your grade. It won't let me post the actual blue ribbon, but it is only 100 pixels wide. Not enough to detract.
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#6446873 Jul 26, 2012 at 02:17 AM
Initiate
34 Posts
I'm not too sure I agree with you on the competition thing, even though I agree that collaboration in the end is the most important. I know most of my students (usually 9th graders) seem to thrive on competition, particularly the boys. Part of that is their collaborative skills are still being developed, i.e., actually almost non-existent.

Regarding grading, I don't think the competition part should be the sole determining factor in a grade, but at some point one idea/solution usually trumps another for one reason or another and wins out over another. Doesn't make the other idea a bad idea, only means for that particular situation one may fit better and thus one may deserve a couple of points more than another.

GrannieTech
Margaret M. Ridgeway, MSED
Concentration: Integrating Technology Into the Classroom
Teacher, St. Helena Central High School
Greensburg, LA
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#6448161 Jul 26, 2012 at 09:21 AM
Cataclysmic
128 Posts
I like your first poster award! Maybe we can develop that idea into a badge! (How I wish LMSs had built in allowances for badges!)

I wonder if this would work with graduate students

#6443993 grasshopper98 wrote:

A few weeks ago I added a game that would be "competitive" into my online Anthropology of Religion class, they get nothing for winning other than a personal good score for timely postings. We have two discussions open at once, and I started giving a "FIRST POSTER" award, for the first post in a discussion (you can only win once per module of two), All they get is a congratulations message and at the bottom of my answer (I answer all posts to the original question) is a small blue ribbon jpg that says "first place," I have noticed that there are more posts earlier and more to discuss earlier in the week(s) and it isn't hurting their grade any as failure to post in each week, or posting last 48 hours lowers your grade. It won't let me post the actual blue ribbon, but it is only 100 pixels wide. Not enough to detract.

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Feel free to call me "AK"
Blog: http://idstuff.blogspot.com
LinkedIn Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/koutropoulos
@koutropoulos
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#6456166 Jul 27, 2012 at 04:37 PM
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561 Posts
I think that "first poster" or whatever might work, what I find is that everyone likes a little competition once in a while, sometimes cooperation just gets, well, lame. . . I remember being in a graduate class in Graduate School of Public Administration at University of Colorado, and they played this "lifeboat/objects game, you know one where you have to make choices. We had objects, like poncho, map, gun, etc., and not enough food, was supposed to teach cooperation and choices for the greater good. I didn't do well. . . I can't remember what I did, the class had been divided into groups, and I "sank" our chances. Thus, most of my group wouldn't let me forget it even weeks later, Geeze, it was "only a game."
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#6463079 Jul 29, 2012 at 06:07 AM
Initiate
5 Posts
I think there's nothing wrong with competition and I'm always wooping for collaborative learning. The thing is to use both in a balance, not too much collaborative or too much competitiveness. Both are skills students will confront in the future (working life etc.) and it is vital that school is ahead of this and gives tools to use both in a meaningful way. My experience is that students are happy to be able to have an impact on the class and they are motivated by the trust from the teacher! There's too much "will this destroy the mind of an innocent student"-way of thinking and too little "how about teacher could talk with the students about these things"...

When talking about different types of students and different ways of learning, teacher should be able to use competitiveness and collaboration in ways to motivate students, not be the core of grading them. Both ways has its downsides and the teacher should argument all the learning tools pretty well.

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#6464009 Jul 29, 2012 at 10:59 AM
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561 Posts
InaMarie, I totally agree that using games as competitive for grades is not a good thing, some are just better than others at them, some are hesitant to participate and stand out. I remember asking my class, what is the one proverb that your parents used, I found among my Chicano/a/Mexacano/Hispanic student, especially those recent arrivals, it was "The nail that sticks up gets pounded down,or something similar to that. In other words don't stand out. So cultural differences in bringing attention to yourself interact in the gaming for grades. That is why all my gaming activities, while the may have "prizes," are either/or, you participate or you don't and you participate by being there and being active in the game regardless of the LEVEL or QUALITY of that activity.

I do know these games make the students more comfortable when they get to the final in-class presentations, and they also start being more active in discussions that are open to the class. Do you see them being more active in other areas?
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#6468890 Jul 30, 2012 at 11:05 AM
Cataclysmic
128 Posts
It was only a game, but some people go crazy over such games :)

Not quite a game situation, but as I was prepping a room's A/V for a course last week, I was overhearing a conversation from the group that was packing up. It was a ADA training group and the instructor said that in one training session she referred to a student as "smartie" (or something similar). By the end of the session the remaining participants of the course/workshop had taken a very negative posture towards this "smart" participant.

Someone (else) had told me that in our western contexts we tend to view things as black or white, 1 or 0; but we don't look at the shades of gray. When one man is "smart" the other must be dumb. But this is false logic. My dumbness has no effect on your smartness. We can both be dumb, or both smart, or...smart about somethings and dumb about others ;-)

This dualistic oppositional frame of mind is something we need to work toward dispelling :)

#6456166 grasshopper98 wrote:

I think that "first poster" or whatever might work, what I find is that everyone likes a little competition once in a while, sometimes cooperation just gets, well, lame. . . I remember being in a graduate class in Graduate School of Public Administration at University of Colorado, and they played this "lifeboat/objects game, you know one where you have to make choices. We had objects, like poncho, map, gun, etc., and not enough food, was supposed to teach cooperation and choices for the greater good. I didn't do well. . . I can't remember what I did, the class had been divided into groups, and I "sank" our chances. Thus, most of my group wouldn't let me forget it even weeks later, Geeze, it was "only a game."

--------
Feel free to call me "AK"
Blog: http://idstuff.blogspot.com
LinkedIn Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/koutropoulos
@koutropoulos
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#6531728 Aug 11, 2012 at 01:19 AM
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561 Posts
You are correct, that "labeling" is really something that sticks, I remember reading that President Johnson really nulified McNamara, his Secretary of Defense (?) because everytime McNamara came to a cabinet meeting President Johnson would say, "Here comes Mr. Ban the Bomb," and no one would support McNamara's position because they knew the President didn't.

I was never the "teacher's pet" (old term) I was the one most likely to be in some kind of trouble. . . not paying attention, talking in class, late, the usual annoyances of someone who finds it boring. I ended up in college with one of my mother's (she taught) "teacher's pets," hated her from the get-go...

We really need to be mindful of labels and how they can do more damage than good sometimes. I like my "first poster" but I think I may never have it be worth any points. . . I don't want that kind of competition in my discussions.

I want cooperative discussions online. This time I had a small class and i kept telling them how we all had to do our share, me included, to keep the discussion going and to ask follow-up questions of our peers and that I was a peer too. . . seemed to work. So helping students feel they are an integral part of the whole and they are needed works for me.
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