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#8004184 Jun 18, 2013 at 01:05 PM
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I've been studying games and learning since before "gamification" was a thing (or even a word). My mentor has been studying humane (aka serious) games, including games and learning, for far longer. I'll admit that the word "gamification" makes me twitch. It holds a lot of negative connotations, which I won't really get into here. Let's just say that while I support the idea of making learning fun, I'm not a fan of what "gamification" stands for.

That said, the "Exploring Gamification Techniques for Classroom Management" article was quite a good read. I didn't find much of it surprising, as these are much the same challenges I've observed (and speculated) in using game-related ideas for teaching. Nicholson also addresses one of my biggest challenges with these techniques, which is the increase in workload for the instructor. While I'm not opposed to doing work to make my classes better, there's a point where I start to feel like I'm putting in more time/energy than I'm ok with.

For example, I love the idea of letting students redo assignments. I think this is a great way for them to learn, as well as a great way to improve the quality of assignments. However, this can quickly add up to a lot of extra grading for me (grading being one of my least favorite parts of teaching). I can also see potential problems for students to get behind with this model. Do you let them work on the next assignment while they're redoing the last, or do they have to finish each to a reasonable standard before moving on? As much as I'd like to let students work at their own pace, I still have to make sure all the required material is covered before the end of the semester/quarter. However, this is something I'm considering trying to work in to at least some of my classes.

I also like the idea of multiple paths to learning. I posted this in another thread, but I really like the multiple path system used in 8bitmooc (http://blog.8bitmooc.org/post/51559225543/progression-in-8bitmooc). Again though, this a lot of extra work for me to come up with several different paths, and keep everyone on task to make sure they make it through all the required content before the end of the semester/quarter. I also feel like this is something that's going to get me in trouble with the "bosses", for not being structured enough (I've talked about this before, so I won't rehash).

The big challenge I still see in both of these is also addressed in the article: helping the weaker students be successful. Giving the option to redo work seems like it might just provide an excuse to get behind. Or give students an excuse to do poorly, knowing they'll be able to make it up later (and then get behind). I love the idea of the multiple paths to learning, but my experience is that students aren't really great at self-selecting the path that's best for them. Most will take the path that seems the "sexiest", bite off more than they can chew, and then get frustrated when the going gets tough. An obvious solution seems to be to make sure all paths are well balanced, but I'm not sure I'm a good enough teacher to come up with three well-balanced, well-structured, paths through the material.

Anyone have ideas or solutions to these potential problems?
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#8010360 Jun 19, 2013 at 03:54 PM
Guild Officer
73 Posts
I think multiple paths to gaming would be easier to integrate with a guild association system. Leveraging the expertise of other educators with similar styles, aims, and interests might be something to consider. What do you think?

If that's something that interests you, we will be doing the build your guild badge through the second session this summer!
Games Based Learning Mooc (gamesMOOC)
FRCC Humanities Instructor
The best combination of technophile and luddite

Twitter @ThereseEllis
Google+ therese.catherine.ellis@gmail.com
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#8012215 Jun 20, 2013 at 12:47 AM
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I think the idea of working with other educators is great, but I haven't had much luck with it in the past. Part of the problem is finding other educators who have the time for collaborative projects of this nature (most of the ones I know are always too busy). I do talk to other educators (especially my mentor) whenever I can, which is why I'm here.

The other problem is that I have a hard time using other people's material. I'm kinda a perfectionist, and a bit OCD, so I tend to poke at everything until it's just how I want it. I do use other people's curriculum and material for ideas, and as a starting point, but I tend to still do a lot of work to get it how I want it.

I'll admit I'm still not really sold on the whole guild idea. I just don't see anything about it that's better than what I currently do. Maybe I'm just being cynical, but it just seems to be a way of masking what's what's actually happening (the whole chocolate covered broccoli thing). Like Scott Nicholson mentioned in the video, you have the keep the best interests of the students at the forefront of anything you do. I'm not sure that making them learn a new system, and one they really have to buy into to make it work, is really in their best interests. (I'll be the first to admit, if I walked into a class with "levels" and "badges" instead of grades, I'd probably roll my eyes and grit my teeth. And if I can't get behind the system, I can't really expect the students to either. This may be a personal failing on my part.)
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#8014950 Jun 20, 2013 at 02:04 PM
Guild Officer
187 Posts
I agree with you on several points. I like to think I'm very balanced in how I approach using game elements in my classes.

I'd probably be second in line to roll my eyes if I walked into a course with badges/achievements/etc lined up, especially as it was in the Multiplayer Classroom. My feeling is that it worked well for him because he taught a Game Design class. I feel that those elements need to be worked into the fabric of the class a little better.

I really love the idea of letting students pick their own path. I've been rolling this idea around in my head for awhile. What I've begun doing is, rather than letting them pick their own path completely through the material, is giving them alternative choices for each assignment. Sometimes it works well, sometimes it doesn't.

I like the idea of tracking "XP". That's something I did as a student anyway. Matching XP up to levels might be fun, but I try to keep things that are just for window dressing down to a dull roar. Other than marking off every # number of points to the next level, what's the benefit to a student? (I'm not saying that there couldn't be a benefit, it's just a matter of making it relevant to the class. Sooo...how to make it relevant...?)

I've been experimenting a bit more recently with "soft" and "hard" deadlines. I tell them that they need to turn in a completed assignment. I give feedback, then they turn it in for the hard deadline. I don't do this a lot, just with the more complicated or technical assignments. I've had varying degrees of success.

What have others implemented?
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#8015068 Jun 20, 2013 at 02:30 PM
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110 Posts
I teach game design (and related) classes, and I still don't think badges/levels fit. I spend so much of my time trying to get student *out* of cliches and using all those classical "gamey" elements that structuring my class around them would be hypocritical.

I am thinking of how to better using the pick-your-path idea. I usually give students a lot of freedom on assignments, and always have at least one fairly open-ended project (make a game, it needs to meet this handful of technical requirements). I've been told that this is too much freedom though, and for some students it seems to be. I've though about writing out some specific game ideas, and then one "make anything you want", but I feel like everyone's just going to pick the "anything" project whether they're ready for it or not.

I always calculated my grades out as points from 0-100 as a student. I figured out how many percentage points each assignment/project was worth, then calculated how many points I had at any given time. For final projects/exams I'd then calculate out the score I needed to get various grades. It amused me, but I think students with weaker math skills are confused by this type of thing. Despite teaching game/programming classes, a lot of my students have weak math skills (not to mention the "math/programming for the math-phobic" course I teach).

I like your soft/hard deadline idea. What happens if they don't meet the soft deadline? Do they just have to do the final assignment without feedback? This is something I may try for some of my "bigger" project-type assignments.
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#8068389 Jul 01, 2013 at 05:15 AM
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I wrote a paper for the PLE2013 conference next week i berlin and melbourne which discusses a three tiered program of education to replace high school. Autonomous course selection is an important motivator. Adapting it to a particular course should not be too much work. Have some mini-courses which in essence are units in the course, the learning path might be circular so that whatever unit one starts in they still need to do the whole course (minus say 5or6 units that are bonus) to aid with the marking get students to submit papers with a secret colour code that only you know, then have students peer grade the work, allow rewrites only if a student has graded three assignments of the same mini-course. Merely a suggestion though.
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#8097076 Jul 07, 2013 at 12:10 AM
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110 Posts
I like the idea of multiple units that can be done in any order, although I don't think it'll work in most of my courses. A lot of the content builds on earlier concepts, so it needs to be taught in a certain order to work. I will think on this more though, it may work for some of my courses.

I'm not sure how I feel about peer-grading. I do some peer-evaluation (students play and give feedback on each other's games), and I while I think it's good experience all around, most students don't really give meaningful feedback. Most just say "nice game", without pointing out anything specific that was "nice". Students are also very unlikely to give criticism, so I'm not sure the peer reviews would yield anything useful for the student who's work was being reviewed. (I know some of the big MOOCs use peer-grading, but most of what I've heard is that it really doesn't work all that well.)
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#8098346 Jul 07, 2013 at 09:27 AM
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if one were to gamify the feedback, then the students would be more motivated.
i.e. if you felt the feedback was good then the grader can get a point but if you felt the feedback was not helpful don't award a point, the student's work and the student grading must be anonymous of course.
in a similar way as comments in forums can get a +1 or -1
i found the peer review on coursera to work because before i graded my own work i had to grade others work, which gave me something to compare against, but in essence it is kind of like grading on a curve then
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#8098967 Jul 07, 2013 at 12:38 PM
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"i.e. if you felt the feedback was good then the grader can get a point but if you felt the feedback was not helpful don't award a point, the student's work and the student grading must be anonymous of course.
in a similar way as comments in forums can get a +1 or -1 "

This seems like it'd result in me doing even more grading than just grading the students' first submission and allowing them to edit and re-submit. (I've got to grade all the student reviews, track how many review points everyone has, and still give feedback on the original first submissions to make sure the student feedback covers all the important points.) If peer-grading were important to the curriculum, or something that was happening in courses throughout the school/program, this might be worthwhile. But, as a stand-alone thing I think it would take more time/energy from both me and the students than is reasonable for the benefits.
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