I will preface this post with: This is a brain dump, it will probably jump all over, and while I will re-read and edit the post, it is just a dump of information to get things clearer in my head and ready to start thinking about how this applies to my next MinecraftEdu lesson (which I am currently planning).
This all came about because I just had a meeting with my admin, in which we were discussing games in education, what they should look like, how they should work and what they should do. This is not just digital games mind you, but any 'educational' game.
So my understanding of gamifying a classroom is that you make the learning part of the game, as is the instruction. One game I think that does this well is Historia, it is a classroom game where students play to learn, play while learning and reflect on their learning as part of the game. So how is this different to playing games in class?
Playing games in class does not necessarily integrate the learning within the game, take for example my planned Spore project, or my Plague Inc evolution lessons. These are not the same as the base for Historia, these are utilising a game to start a discussion with the class. So within the game there is no 'space' for playing to learn, playing while learning, or reflecting on their learning as PART of the game. Don't mistake my meaning, these games do teach things, innately, however I as the teacher then tie all this together through discussion into what I hope is a powerful learning experience for my students.
So what should games in school look like? My opinion is, whatever suits the learning space. However in my classroom it is more along the playing games and leveraging relevant and powerful discussions from them. However after the discussion with my admin, I am going to try to 'quest' (similar to the Measurement lesson) my upcoming MinecraftEdu lesson, which may have to become a project instead, so that students, while playing the game, learn, show their learning, reflect on their learning, and then move on to the next 'segment' of learning. This will, maybe, tie more into the gamifying category, as students will play the game to learn, learn as they are playing it and reflect on their learning within the game.
So how will it be different to my Measurement lesson? Well the newest version of MinecraftEdu has a much wider scope for 'tracking' student progress and rewarding for each step, as well as triggering the next section afterwards. Which the Measurement lesson was sort of geared towards, but the version of the software was not fully operational in this sense as the current.
So what am I planning? I have a very 'limited' plan at the moment, and I will share the whole idea once I have fleshed it out a bit, so stay tuned for that. I can tell you that it will be based on Algebra, and students will be required to learn algebra skills along the way, and utilise these skills to progress in the game. There will also be small 'rewards' along the way as students progress, as this is something I feel that was missing with the Measurement map.
As when I think about what makes me play games, why I enjoy them, it is different for different games, but the overarching reason is small rewards for progress. Whether that is levelling your character, the chance of epic loot, or unlocking certain 'hidden' parts based on progress, it is all about the rewards. So I think one of the reasons students were not overly 'driven' to complete the Measurement map, and therefore plodded along slowly may have been because they gained no 'value' by moving forward.
Ok, enough brain dumping for now, if you stuck around to here, great job, thanks for reading. If you would like to share what makes you continue to play a particular game in the comments below, please do.