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#7657580 Apr 11, 2013 at 12:18 AM
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108 Posts
So has anyone used ARGs in the classroom?

I did a lot of research on this earlier this year. I found this gentleman:

http://www.classroom20.com/m/discussion?id=649749%3ATopic%3A289317

Very helpful when I emailed him. From his work and my own research, I put together an ARG for social studies involving the students as time traveling secret agents. Their social assignments now include the option of emailing the agency for an assignment. I've done a lot of other stuff with it too.

The result so far: surprisingly low buy in from the kids. A lot of them will choose the game as an assignment but pretty much no one will do outside tasks. For example, I had an agent contact them and warn that Agent Socrates (our bad guy) was smuggling messages in cereal and that if they emailed a picture of themselves checking their cereal boxes they would get a special clue. I got exactly one response out of 47 students.

It was a really adorable picture, though ;)

I don't know if the problem is:

A: the premise itself
B: the execution
C: a matter of overload - maybe I have too much going on?

Regardless, it took a LOT of work to put together and the payoff has definitely not been worth the investment. After this year I plan to sit down , maybe ask the kids some questions, and see if I can improve things.

Anyone else had any experience with this sort of thing?
Don’t do work that just exists within your classroom... do work that changes the world. -Will Richardson

http://www.gamifymyclass.blogspot.ca
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#7659584 Apr 11, 2013 at 11:50 AM
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18 Posts
I have to say that I deeply admire your willingness to put the effort into creating an ARG for your class. Kudos for venturing out into the unknown like that. Don't give up on it yet, I think there are some lessons to be learned from your first attempt and that subsequent efforts will get better and better.

So, I think part of the trouble might be that it's difficult to convey the "this is not a game" mindset when the teacher is offering the activity during school time. I also think that maybe the ARG should be shorter in duration for younger people. Like maybe just 1-3 days, to keep their interest level high. The things we know about ARG for adults will be different for kids, and we just don't have any research to help us know the particular differences, yet. But, from my experience (I taught elementary kids for ten years), kids will need more specific clues and a shorter in-game time frame.

Keep up the adventurous teaching!
--DAB
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#7660774 Apr 11, 2013 at 03:40 PM
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108 Posts
Thanks for the suggestions! I will definitely consider them.

It's funny, but the kids are almost annoyed that I won't admit it's a game! I started things off by having a dull informational video interrupted by secret communiques and I guess they haven't totally lost interest by yesterday when I was having technical difficulties a bunch of kids were like, maybe it's that agency again! Check for messages!
Don’t do work that just exists within your classroom... do work that changes the world. -Will Richardson

http://www.gamifymyclass.blogspot.ca
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#7661909 Apr 11, 2013 at 07:41 PM
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20 Posts
#7660774 missrithenay wrote:

It's funny, but the kids are almost annoyed that I won't admit it's a game!



I guess I don't understand why admitting it's a game is a bad thing? Would you mind clarifying that for me?

I also wonder if the tasks are too difficult for them to complete. I'm not sure I would let my child use my smart phone to take a photo of himself looking inside a cereal box. So that begs the question: do you have parent support? I think that parents are an untapped resource when it comes to ARGs.

Taselian
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#7666029 Apr 12, 2013 at 03:25 PM
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#7661909 Taselian wrote:

[quote_post7660774 user=803334]So that begs the question: do you have parent support? I think that parents are an untapped resource when it comes to ARGs.



@Taselian, that is a very good point. I think a great model for an ARG designed for kids would be to have them play it with their parents when they're out in the world together. Kids do crave their parents' attention, and parents would enjoy witnessing their child excited about learning through playing such a game. Not to mention, the parent's presence would keep the child safe.

--DAB
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#7666774 Apr 12, 2013 at 06:02 PM
Guild Officer
187 Posts
#7661909 Taselian wrote:

#7660774 missrithenay wrote:

It's funny, but the kids are almost annoyed that I won't admit it's a game!



I guess I don't understand why admitting it's a game is a bad thing? Would you mind clarifying that for me?


I've heard it said that ARGs "should" have an air of "this is not a game". I understand increasing the feeling of immersion, but I never really understood that, myself. I might be a stick in the mud, but the idea of sitting in class and have someone burst in yelling as an intro (rabbit hole) for a classroom game would make me uncomfortable at the very least. I understand the need to immerse, but I feel students can immerse just as easily into something that is introduced as a game.

But then, maybe I'm just the nervous type! :-)

How strictly should the puppet master keep the curtain drawn, in your opinion? (Meaning: How tightlipped should a teacher be about whether or not something's a game? How about giving previews about what's coming up in the game to keep up interest?)
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#7695827 Apr 18, 2013 at 02:13 PM
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108 Posts
Interesting questions...

I didn't involve parents, but did go out of my way to stress to parents and students that the emails involved were safe and that they should not, as a general principle, trust random people they meet online!

As for the "this is not a game" thing... I think it's a key aspect of ARGs. You don't have to use it to have fun (I run another game in my class that's like an RPG and it's very clear that it IS a game), but most ARGs do have that aspect of insisting that this is real (there was actually a seminar I attended at a conference called, "This is Not a Game." It was about ARGs, of course!).

Personally, I love the immersion aspect. I didn't have anyone burst into my classroom, but I did show a very boring video on social systems that was "interrupted' by secret communications from an agent from the future. And while some of the kids are annoyed, some of them really love the air of mystery. They run up to people in the hall and use our "code phrase" to see if they're part of the agency.

So I guess you can't please everyone ;) For me, the "this is not a game" aspect is important, but certainly you COULD run a game without it.
Don’t do work that just exists within your classroom... do work that changes the world. -Will Richardson

http://www.gamifymyclass.blogspot.ca
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#7701018 Apr 19, 2013 at 02:08 PM
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561 Posts
#7695827 missrithenay wrote:

Interesting questions...

Personally, I love the immersion aspect. I didn't have anyone burst into my classroom, but I did show a very boring video on social systems that was "interrupted' by secret communications from an agent from the future. And while some of the kids are annoyed, some of them really love the air of mystery. They run up to people in the hall and use our "code phrase" to see if they're part of the agency.

So I guess you can't please everyone ;) For me, the "this is not a game" aspect is important, but certainly you COULD run a game without it.



I have just the boring video in mind :) Yes you could run a game without TINAG aspect. Again, I think putting games into classrooms are easier with K-12 than college. What is your opinion on that @Missrithenay?
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#7711045 Apr 21, 2013 at 09:21 PM
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108 Posts
Ah, young Grasshopper... a kettle of worms you have opened.

*I think I'm channeling a few fables and Star Wars, so I'll stop now.

I think each has its own challenges. Generalizing "K-12" is difficult. I think implementing a game in an ECS classroom would be WAY different than a grade 11 classroom. Still...

With younger kids, they're more willing to accept whatever the teacher throws at them. When I tell my grade 6 kids we're doing something, they just accept it. No problems. I was a TA at university when doing my MA, and I have a bit of experience with teaching at that level, and I know from that experience that college/uni students know EXACTLY what they think a class should look and feel like, and can be very resistant to anything that challenges those conceptions.

On the other hand, I think college students take more responsibility for their work, and you may have greater buy-in because these are people wanting to be there and wanting to succeed (yes, I know that's a HUGE generalization, but compared to the students in a K-12 school, who are forced to be there by law, it more or less stands). In, say, a university accounting course, you have all of your students focused on one subject and you can structure your game around it. In a K-12 room, depending (at least in an elementary room), you have a huge variety of personalities, abilities, talents, even kids who can barely read and write.

So there are different challenges at each level. There, did I wiggle out of that one neatly enough? ;p
Don’t do work that just exists within your classroom... do work that changes the world. -Will Richardson

http://www.gamifymyclass.blogspot.ca
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