Game-Based Learning Talk

A quest to transform education through game-based learning

Posts Tagged ‘edtech

Planning A Game-Based Learning Virtual Academy

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Transform education?  Yes we must!

— Sir Ken Robinson in a Huffington Post article

Today, there are several reasons why the timing is right for educational transformation to take place.  The main reasons include:

  • The Academic Achievement Gaps – Not only is there the gap between the “haves” and “have nots” in this country, but there is also the global achievement gap between U.S. students and their international peers.
  • The Economic Downturn – Business innovation often occurs during times of economic hardship.  So, it stands to reason that educational innovation should also occur in today’s era of drastic budget cuts in education.
  • The Internet – Nearly every industry today is being transformed by the Internet.  Businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies are all changing to adapt to an Internet-connected world.  Traditionally, education has been slower to adapt to new innovation, but we’re now starting to see the Internet’s impact on education, especially with the rapid growth of online education.

We need new educational innovations from large institutions all the way down to individual educators to help us revive of our stagnating educational system.  As an individual educator, I am embarking on a new venture in order to help transform education.  My plan is to create:

A game-based learning (GBL) virtual academy for college-age students

Game-Based Learning Virtual AcademyWHY GAME-BASED LEARNING?

The Horizon Report 2011 has selected GBL as one of six “emerging technologies” that will impact learning in the next five years.  GBL activities have many educational benefits over traditional learning methods, including:

  • Better motivation for students because of the engaging and “OK to fail” GBL environments
  • Better assessment, including more frequent formative feedback, which is important for the multitasking “videogame generation”
  • Games can provide a situated learning environment in which students can learn through authentic experiences

These benefits can lead to the better learning of subject matter, critical thinking and problem solving skills, and other 21st century skills (creativity, collaboration, etc.).

WHY VIRTUAL?

Online education has arrived.  Today, there are over 4 million K-12 students and over 13 million higher education students who participate in online courses (see the Ambient Insight report for details).  At its current phenomenal growth rate, online education will soon become a standard way for people to learn throughout their entire lifetime – in school, at work, and even after retirement.

And, we’re only just starting to learn how to teach and design effective online courses.  We’re also just starting to see the many benefits of online education.  In a few years, I’m pretty certain that we’ll see a lot of new, innovative techniques to make online learning an even more effective way to learn.

WHY COLLEGE-AGE STUDENTS?

There are several reasons that I am targeting this segment of learners, including:

  • This year, California community colleges may have to enroll 400,000 fewer students because budget cuts have eliminated several courses
  • The 30% high school dropout rate in this country has created a massive number of potential students for a program that can teach valuable learning skills
  • GBL brick and mortar schools already exist in K-12, such as the Quest To Learn school in New York, so I would like to make this type of program available to the adult student population, many of whom probably grew up playing video games.

GBL VIRTUAL ACADEMY CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY

The subject matter curriculum for the GBL virtual academy will cover the general education courses because there is the greatest demand for these courses at the community college level.  In the future, the curriculum can expand into practically any subject area where there is a demand for learning.

Courses will feature various GBL activities that will be designed or selected to promote efficient learning and deep understanding of topics and learning skills.  These activities and programs include:

  • Playing learning games
  • Designing and developing games in order to learn through the game creation process
    • Sandbox games (e.g., Minecraft, Gamemaker, Scratch, etc.)
    • Virtual worlds (e.g., Second Life)
    • Alternate reality games
    • Augmented reality games and other mobile games
    • Non-digital games
  • Creating game-related multimedia
  • Adding game elements to the learning system, such as experience points and achievement levels for assignment completion and discussion board participation

IMPLEMENTATION PLANS

In order to fulfill this vision to create a GBL virtual academy, I’m starting with a single prototype course and then evolve into a series of courses.  Here is an overview of my implementation plan:

  • Start with a prototype course
  • Expand to a program of multiple courses in a specific subject area
  • Explore becoming a certificate program
  • Expand to multiple programs of other subject areas
  • Investigate becoming a standalone school or aligning with an existing educational institution

Of course, I’ll have to develop a formal business plan, which will address issues such as feasibility, market analysis, sustainability, and growth areas – but, that will come later.  The first step is to build a prototype course (currently underway), implement the course, and then reflect on how to expand.

WHY ME?

Because I have the experience, background, knowledge, and most importantly, the desire to build this new type of educational system.  I have several years experience in the videogames industry as a game developer, several years experience designing educational programs, a master’s degree in instructional design and technology, an MBA degree, and I’ve been a gamer since the days of early Nintendo.  Also, I am an associate dean at an international university, where I’m working on creating curriculum for a new program.

Of course, there are probably many people who are much more qualified than I am to take on this type of project.  However, games and education are in my blood, and marrying the two to build a GBL virtual academy at this point of time just feels like it’s the right thing for me to do to help make a difference in education.

BECOME INVOLVED

If you’re interested in becoming involved in this project in some capacity, please post a comment or email me at randall@shoyu.com.  I’m looking to partner with experienced educators and game designers who understand the strengths (and weaknesses) of game-based learning design/implementation and have a desire to start something new and exciting.

Otherwise, if you’re just interested in GBL, please feel free to post your comments here as I post future updates on this project.  Thanks a lot for your interest and feedback!

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Written by randyfuj

June 23, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Designing an Educational Alternate Reality Game

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In designing the Finding Identity educational alternate reality game, I found some areas in which the design of an educational ARG differs from the design of a  more traditional ARG (such as the ones tied to movies/TV or the purely entertainment type).  Here are some of the design issues I’ve come across thus far:

EDUCATIONAL ARG DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS

Game Structure

Educational ARGs require more structure than do traditional ARGs  because they have to be able to assess learning.  Also, time constraints may require additional structure to be placed on the game.

  • Pre-designed Activities and/or Puzzles – In order to assess learning, educational ARGs need to present tasks in which students can provide evidence of their learning, such as through media creation or blog posts.  In traditional ARGs, the puzzles and activities can be more open-ended and not require specific deliverables from all players.
  • Storyline – It’s more difficult to allow the narrative in an educational ARG to be as open-ended and player-driven as in traditional ARGs because of the pre-designed puzzles or activities mentioned above.  In a strictly player-driven narrative, it would be difficult for the instructor (puppetmaster) to create valid assessment tasks “on-the-fly” (not impossible though but you would need a very creative instructor and/or game design).
  • Game Entry – In an educational ARG, it’s more difficult to have different points of entry (“rabbit holes”) into the game because of assessment requirements (assuming players are assessed on the same activities and tasks).  In addition, if the game design calls for group play and intergroup feedback (such as in Finding Identity), players will need to start the game from a single point of entry (or at least with the same starting activity).

Collaboration vs. Competition

Traditional ARG – Collaboration is generally emphasized more than competition because the players are all interested in solving puzzles, doing tasks, etc. as quickly as possible in order to advance the narrative.

Educational ARG – Because there are grades at stake, there is a different dynamic between collaboration and competition, esp. if the students are working together in groups (such as in Finding Identity).  On one hand, students need to collaborate just as in traditional ARGs, but, on the other hand, students also are motivated to compete against one another for better grades.  Balancing the collaboration and competition is a key to an effective educational ARG.

Commenting

Having students comment on the accomplishments/creations of others’ is an excellent task to include in an educational ARG for the following reasons:

  • Allows students to learn from each other
  • Allows students to reflect on their own learning
  • Provides the instructor with formative feedback on students’ learning
  • Motivates students to produce high quality deliverables because they know others will be commenting on them

Assessment

An educational ARG can contain various assessment opportunities, including:

  • Deliverables from assignments and puzzles
  • Students’ comments on other students’ deliverables
  • In-game and post-game discussions
  • In-game and post-game tests

Creating an Alternate Reality

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of designing an educational ARG is in regards to creating a scenario that is not only educational but can also be believable, engaging, and relevant to the players.  If the scenario comes off as too “educational,” it will not only be demotivating for many of the players but also turn the game into a “non-game” and more of a school assignment.  This is a little ironic because of the well-known ARG mantra, “This is not a game.”  In the case of an educational ARG, the game needs to try to be believable (“not a game”) while at the same time be a fun, enjoyable, and engaging series of activities (“a game”).

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This concludes my summary of the design of the Finding Identity educational alternate reality game.  I hope that this information has allowed you to formulate some new ideas how educational ARGs can be designed to be excellent learning tools in various areas of education and training.  For more information and research about ARGs, please visit the research section on my website.  Thanks, and happy designing!

Written by randyfuj

July 20, 2010 at 11:18 am

Posted in Education

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Educational Alternate Reality Game – Trial Run Results

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(This is the next post in my description of the Finding Identity alternate reality game.)

The game concludes with a final email to all the players from John Takahashi, Jr. :

Congratulations!  You have made it through the war.  The Takahashi family members are now planning their futures living once again in a public environment.

Having successfully navigated your way through the wartime period, you now bid the Takahashi family a fond farewell and head off to a new future.

Here is what happens next: http://www.goforbroke.org/learning/arg/scenarios_finale.asp

Take care, John Takahashi, Jr.

TRIAL RUN RESULTS
In a trial run of the game, the 16 players that participated were all highly engaged by the puzzles and collaborative tasks.  All together, they posted 2,500 messages to each other in the game’s discussion board in a one-month duration.

Pre-game and post-game surveys were administered to all of the trial participants.  Although a small sample size (n=16), the data showed that there was significant learning about the Japanese American segregated military units and also about the use of primary source historical information in research.

In addition to the learning, the participants commented that they had FUN during the game.  One participant remarked,

It was a lot of work in a small amount of time and it felt like the deadlines came up quickly.  But to me that was okay because it didn’t give us too long to become bored with anything.  I actually liked the pacing and we were able to get everything completed on time.   I also liked the fact that we were learning something meaningful while we were playing  both historically and technologically.  I thought the game was well thought out in content and allowed the players to push the boundaries of creativity.

My next post will provide some thoughts about the challenges in designing an educational  alternate reality game.

Written by randyfuj

July 16, 2010 at 7:59 am

Posted in Education

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Educational Alternate Reality Game – Online Collaborative Story

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(This is the next post in my description of the Finding Identity alternate reality game.)

The final scenario begins with another email to all the players from John Takahashi, Jr. :

Good news!  The war is just about over.  The Allies have taken control in Europe and in the Pacific, and news reports say that the war should be ending fairly soon.

However, you and your family are still currently in Poston.

Here is what happens next: http://www.goforbroke.org/learning/arg/scenarios_resettlement.asp.  Read through the scenario and see what you’re supposed to do.

Good luck in getting through this final scenario.

Thinking about you, John Takahashi, Jr.

There is no puzzle for this scenario due to the time commitment to keep the game to a one-month duration.  Therefore, this scenario leads directly to the next assignment: http://www.goforbroke.org/learning/arg/scenarios_resettlement-assignment-story.asp.

The group’s new task is to:

Create an ONLINE COLLABORATIVE STORY about what happens to the Takahashi family after leaving Poston.

The main learning objectives of this assignment are as follows:

  1. Players will research the post-war resettlement of Japanese American returning from the internment camps.
  2. Players will collaborate to synthesize their thoughts on the subject.
  3. Players will create a collaborative story together using an online collaborative writing tool, such as Writeboard.

Here is an example of a collaborative story that demonstrates the fulfillment of the learning objectives:
http://mystoryinletters.wordpress.com/2010/04/26/in-search-of-jane-takahashi-sumida/

The next blog post will describe how the game ends.  Thanks for reading and providing any feedback!

Written by randyfuj

July 13, 2010 at 9:58 am

Posted in Education

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Educational Alternate Reality Game – Video Slideshow Assignment

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(This is the next post in my description of the Finding Identity alternate reality game.)

After the group members solve the photograph puzzle, they are emailed the link to the video slideshow assignment page: http://www.goforbroke.org/learning/arg/scenarios_military-assignment-slideshow.asp.

The group’s new task is to:

Create a VIDEO SLIDESHOW about the significance of the Japanese American segregated military units in World War II.

The main learning objectives of this assignment are as follows:

  1. Players will research the history of the Japanese American segregated military units in World War II
  2. Players will collaborate to synthesize their thoughts on the subject
  3. Players will create a 60-second video slideshow using Flixtime, a free, online video slideshow tool.

Here is an example of a video slideshow that demonstrates the fulfillment of the learning objectives:
http://flixtime.com/video/detail/fc4ee97874c81a30ad66e5d197f262YSAcErezh8NUkodQLX2F/

As with all of the other assignments, discussion scoring points are awarded based on the quality of comments on the other groups’ completed assignments.

The next blog post will be the start of the next scenario: Resettlement.  Thanks for reading and providing any feedback!

Written by randyfuj

July 8, 2010 at 1:48 pm

Posted in Education

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Educational Alternate Reality Game – Japanese Americans in the Military

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(This is the next post in my description of the Finding Identity alternate reality game.)

The game continues with another email to all the players from John Takahashi, Jr. :

Hello once again.  After Executive Order 9066 forced you and your family to leave Reedley, you ended up at the Poston Relocation Center, a government camp set up by the War Relocation Authority.

Several months later in February 1943, the U.S. government announced that it was forming an all-Japanese American Army unit and was seeking volunteers.

Here is what happens next: http://www.goforbroke.org/learning/arg/scenarios_military.asp.  Read through the scenario and see what you’re supposed to do.

Good luck in getting through to the next scenario.

Warm regards, John Takahashi, Jr.

This scenario leads to the next collaborative puzzle (http://www.goforbroke.org/learning/arg/scenarios_military-start.asp).  In this puzzle, each player is emailed a piece of a photograph and they are given clues to the site that contains the original photograph.  The player’s mission is to identify the photograph and copy it over to the group blog.

Here is an example of a puzzle piece:

Puzzle piece

Here is the original photograph:

Original photograph

This puzzle has been designed with two purposes in mind:

  1. Engages the group in a challenging, collaborative exercise
  2. Exposes the players to a variety of websites that feature large collection of historical images in order to use these images in the next assignment.

After all the images are found and posted on to the group blog, members are then emailed a link to their next assignment, which will be discussed in the next blog post.

Written by randyfuj

July 5, 2010 at 1:27 pm

Posted in Education

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Educational Alternate Reality Game – Word Cloud Assignment

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(This is the next post in my description of the Finding Identity alternate reality game.)

After the group members solve the Executive Order 9066 puzzle, they uncover the link to the word cloud assignment page: http://www.goforbroke.org/learning/arg/scenarios_eo9066-assignment-wordcloud.asp.

The group’s new task is to:

Create a WORD CLOUD that describes your feelings about having to evacuate your home because of Executive Order 9066.

The main learning objectives of this assignment are as follows:

  1. Players will research Executive Order 9066 and its impact on the lives of Japanese American people living on the U.S. mainland
  2. Players will collaborate to synthesize their thoughts on the subject
  3. Players will create a word cloud using an online word cloud application (such as Wordle or Word It Out.)

Here is an example of a word cloud that demonstrates the fulfillment of the learning objectives:
http://randysguineas.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/rgassignment3_16mp.jpg

The next blog post will be the start of the next scenario: Japanese Americans in the Military.  Thanks for reading and providing any feedback!

Written by randyfuj

July 1, 2010 at 12:46 pm

Posted in Education

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