Last week was my Media Literacy Institute so I fell far behind on posting. I did submit a proposal to MAPACA which was accepted so this is a perfect time to talk about how I want to connect casual games to gameful mindset to find ways of supporting student mindset development that includes self-assessment, self reflection, ultimately self efficacy. I’ll eventually, in future posts, get to that connection. Right now I want to focus on what didn’t work. Intelligent Agents. I love Intelligent Agents and the idea of hiding Easter Eggs for my students in my curriculum design – but they, apparently, don’t.
As I prepare my data for Connected Learning I’m seeing that where matters. Where do I communicate game prompts to students? Based on some playing with Intelligent Agents Fall 2017 I found that students liked the personalized emails the system can send them about their participation and grades in the course. So Spring 2018 I built all my quests through intelligent agents.
- it’s a push system – the student causes the email to be pushed to them based on their interactions in the system
- it’s a set and forget system – once I built out ideas for a module with dates, I didn’t have to do anything again
- it individualizes the email, including the student name, so I can build connection to the course, connection to the students
- it provides space to fully explain the concepts I want students to engage with, to allow them to playfully post self-assessment and self reflection.
- very few students played
Yeah, my advantages list is significantly longer than my disadvantages – and the personal connections I can create with students seem so important. However, students just don’t check their email, or don’t take the step of moving from the email notification to action (i’m sure there are marketing terms that would encapsulate this idea). So, despite the advantages, the trial (of the 40 students eligible to play, only 5 played) showed me I need to make changes.
Why? Why didn’t students play?
I’ll start with the change I made to Summer. I co-taught the Media Literacy Institute Summer 2017 and created a paper and stamp based game for the graduate seminar. While I didn’t collect much data – I know students played. My anecdotal remembrance that a lot of students played led me to create a game again this summer – for last week.
What seemed to work in that situation was the handout format. The students had the quests – the prompts – right in front of them. What would not be sustainable (or even possible in online courses) is the stamping completion. So for my online advanced composition course, I decided to create worksheets to scaffold reading (what should you be getting from reading – now apply that in this way). In creating worksheets – I could create the quests as check boxes for students to fill in. Then, for the Media Literacy Institute (since it’s a one week intensive) I created the same paper worksheet with stamp boxes.
Then, I collected data while I taught (which is hard so I’m using TAGS to verify tweet counts). The accurate data will be presented at Connected Learning, based on early numbers I can report that over 90% of the graduate student-participants (most of whom are K-12 teachers) played the game at the Media Literacy Institute. In my first 5 week summer class over 60% of the students played the game.
It’s all about the delivery. Where matters.
Without verifying, I have a feeling students don’t view email the way I view email. I think seeing coursework in their email was not motivational. Seeing ‘extra’ coursework in the course and posting in Twitter seemed to work.
Now I need to try this with larger classes across a longer time period, with various sections. All the usual. But i’m really glad I had this summer with smaller, shorter classes to play with the idea and see if moving the quests worked. I didn’t want to give up on the gameful idea – but I didn’t want to put a ton of effort into scaffolding worksheets (i’m drawing from “Documenting Learning” by Tolisano and Hale AND “Learning Assessment Techniques” by Barkley and Major for worksheet design and quest prompt ideas) if they were a similar bust. So yay to some positive news.
Now…..to design more worksheets that don’t look and feel like worksheets 🙂