Thursday, August 9, 2012

Gamification Continued... 3dGameLab Teacher Camp

Teacher Camp has begun and I am a happy camper!  TeacherCamp takes place within #3dGameLab, a learning management built on gamification principles.  The project was developed by Lisa Dawley (@lisadawley) and Chris Haskell (@haskell).  So, this post will discuss my experience as a student in a gamified learning environment.

3d Game Lab presents students with quests to participate in that lead to experience points (XP), badges, achievements and awards.  As you complete quests, your XP bar increases ultimately leading you to leveling up within the system.  Quest strands are designed in a manner (and the system supports this functionality) where each strand can have prerequisite quests so that students must participate in required quests before 'unlocking' additional quests in the strand.  This helps from a standpoint of not overwhelming the student with a huge list of quests.  Rather, students stay focused based on what quests have been unlocked.  Students do have choice in terms of completing any of the unlocked quests and receiving XP, and other awards based on completion.

What does this mean for the learner?  the teacher?

As a learner, I will say that I find myself looking through and choosing quests that seem 'manageable' and possibly easier to achieve quite often.  You can see how long the quests will take.  Often, I sit down with a finite amount of time available, so I might try to choose a quest that I can finish in one sitting.  This is something to be mindful of as a course designer.  I realize that I will have to scaffold quests in a way that my students won't be discouraged by how long a quest might take.  Depending on your students, this might mean having many small quests that serve as check points along the path to completing a project.  I raise this point as I can see that the gamification components of a course might lead someone to want to just 'complete quests' that can be completed easily and avoid quests that might seem too time consuming.  The fact that I see myself doing that was just a small hint :)

I am learning so much and enjoying the different strands available.  This is a definite plug for differentiated instruction within a gamified learning environment as choice really allows a student to choose a path that is of particular interest, allowing for a variety of learning opportunities.

So far, I am most engaged in the following strands:

Machinima - I hadn't heard of machinima as a term, but I guess I am not a complete stranger to the art form as it encompasses a lot of areas including video production of gameplay videos, walkthroughs, cartoons based on fan fiction, etc.  I have completed a few basic quests, but have not created my own yet.  I think that is one of those longer quests that I'm waiting for the right time to tackle.

Android App Inventor - Oh my!  I've created my first two android apps.  I must be particularly drawn to this quest strand as I have trudged through some of the quests that took quite a bit of time.  I guess creating an app and seeing it function in my phone is intrinsically motivating to me.  I see great application for my students as I teach Video Game Design and could see adding a course in app development or an optional game design project that involves students in creating a mobile game using app inventor.

Feel free to download my apps:

Minecraft - I've been hearing so much about minecraft from my students and then started following discussions related to minecraft in education .  I'm a gamer and wanted to see what all the hype is about.  I have some ideas about how I could integrate minecraft in my classes, so this has been of particular interest.  During camp, I have been able to participate in several in game sessions where I was able to learn from and discuss ideas with Lucas Gillispe (@pcstech) as well as the other participants.  I have begun the quest strand as well and REALLY enjoyed the videos that are the beginning of a documentary on Notch (Minecraft's creator) and Mojang (the company he founded).  One of the other quests had me in the game building and yet another (I haven't completed it yet, but will shortly) has you 'surviving the night'.  All in all, this has been a FUN and engaging learning opportunity and a great overview of Minecraft and how it can be used in the classroom.

Mobile Learning - Liz Kolb, author of the book (and blog), "From Toy to Tool: Cellphones in Learning" is guiding us through a strand on using mobile devices in the classroom.  We have covered polling apps and tools, wiifiti and other tools.  I was able to participate in a live session with Liz which was most helpful as well.

So, I am learning tons and enjoying the sense of 'blissful productivity' (if I could borrow the term from Jane McGonigal) that I feel with each quest completed and each level or achievement gained.  My goal is to start to schedule my time so that I can begin to tackle some of the longer quests as I do notice that I often shy away from them in favor of working on something that I can complete in one sitting.

I'm open to your thoughts on 3d Game Lab, gamification, games in learning, and differentiated instruction.