Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Games in Education Symposium Recap

First, I am so glad that I found out about this event last Spring.  The GIE team reached out to me since they were looking for someone to present and conduct a workshop about Flipped Learning.  After looking into it a bit, I realized what an incredible event this was for anyone involved in education (teachers, tech coordinators, administrators, educational game developers, etc.)   During the two-day conference in Malta, NY, I attended incredible sessions that left me thinking about games/gamification in an entirely new light.  I will highlight two that I found particularly thought provoking.

Influential Sessions

The conference started off with a great keynote by Lucas Gillespe, an instructional technology coordinator from NC.  His presentation, among other things, gave us a glimpse of what is to come regarding gaming, such as the utilization of virtual and augmented reality experiences.  He also made the case that games should not just be a reward for doing academic work (ex. do math, then kill some zombies)  Instead, students should engage in games that provide a meaningful context in which learning occurs throughout.   This presentation also introduced me to ARIS, an augmented reality teaching tool that I think has tremendous potential.

The other session that I found riveting was by RPI professor Lee Sheldon called "Beyond the Multiplayer Classroom: Story." I actually did not realize how influential his work (and book) was regarding gamification until after the conference.  He started by introducing me to the concepts of leveling, xp (experience points), and guilds.  I though it was interesting that he begins the first day of class by saying "Good morning, you all have an F.  But you can level up!"  He also made the great point that all gaming does not have to be digital, as many of his simulations are acted out in class.

The main message of this session, however, was the need to develop a good story in order for students to fully engage in the game.  For example, he referenced an RPI class that teaches Mandarin through a simulated game in which students are stuck in a Chinese airport and need to find their way out.  The class includes simulated "interrogations" by actual Mandarin speakers to add authenticity.  Sheldon suggested that you try to sustain your narrative from lesson to lesson, or even throughout an entire course if possible.

Flipped Learning Presentation & Workshop

On day 2 of the conference, I led a 45 minute morning session introducing attendees to Flipped Learning.  Those who attended seemed genuinely interested and enthusiastic about the concept, while also posing some excellent questions in the brief Q & A session.  Here is a Link to the Session Video (also embedded below) and Google Presentation.

In the afternoon, many of those from the morning session joined me for a 3-hour workshop on developing flipped learning experiences. For this workshop, I developed a guide for creating instructional videos that they thought was very helpful.  I again used the EDUonGO LMS as the platform for resources and discussion related to the workshop.  (If you would like access to this, just shoot me a quick request via email or Twitter). I had a great time discussing all kinds of topics with those who attended, and learned quite a bit in the process!

The Takeaway

My big "takeaway" from this is my commitment to add a layer of gamification to my flipped-mastery classes.  I plan to add leveling, grading through attrition (xp), and guilds to the course.  In the future, I would like to add a story/theme/narrative to the entire course to make the gameplay more engaging.

I guess this is my 3rd Iteration (language courtesy of Jon Bergmann) of the flipped classroom.

1) Flipped 101
2) Flipped-Mastery
3) Flipped-Mastery + Gamification

I want to thank the Games in Education organizers for putting on an excellent event which was generously provided free to educators.  I am already looking forward to next year's conference!