Outline from my talk on Lessons from Game Design for the Classroom

This post is set to go up a few hours before my talk at MEAD. It’s meant primarily for those who attended but I figured others might be interested so I made it public. It is slightly cryptic in that a.) I show the actual websites and games I use as much as possible rather than slides, so I don’t have a linear Powerpoint b.) the slides I do have tend to be understated and don’t make total sense without the talking to go with them and c.) there’s a fair amount affected by audience participation and ad libbing.

Game Design Presentation Slides

Instructions for puzzles
Puzzles 2
Puzzles 3

Pre-prologue: Pronouncing Mihály Csíkszentmihályi


Prologue: What this talk could be about and what it is actually about

Game design in the classroom could refer to
a.) Analyzing mathematical properties of games (Angry Birds parabolas, Super Mario physics, Pac-man ghost logic)

b.) Having students create games

National STEM Video Game Challenge

Lincoln Elementary School

c.) Having students play games

World of Warcraft in the classroom

Teaching Educational Psychology with Neverwinter Nights

d.) Using ideas from game design to modify the classroom environment. <– focus will be here, although we will also consider using a game design angle to improve (c.)

I. Hint tokens

Participants are in groups. Set up gamification of talk: show prizes, set up leaderboard.

Give two hint tokens to each group.

Have them work on average speed problem.

Award points after set time limit (10 minutes?) as necessary.

II. Nonlinear lesson planning

Open style problem often presented linearly but not discovered that way by students.

Example from Adventure (Nonlinear lesson design)

Example from Bronze

Example from Treasure Hunt AD&D Module

Example of average speed problem just solved; have participants try their own structure diagram

Dicussion of using structure to anticipate student questions; what help to provide

III. Gamification

Modifying “mundane reality” to be games: badges, progress bars, levels, experience points, leaderboards.

Problem of renaming without substantive content change: “Experience points”

More substantive examples: socialPsych

Khan Academy badges

Mozilla Open Badges Infrastructure

3D GameLab (aka “Quest Based Learning”)

Gamification ethics (optional based on time, may also be moved to later portion of talk): Badges etc. accused of being behavioralist. What are the ramifications? Noschese criticism (may have the “disastrous consequence” of making pupils mechanically repeat lower-level exercises to win awards, rather than formulating questions and applying concepts.)

IV. Flow

Mihály Csíkszentmihályi measuring happiness, flow being the optimal point between too much difficulty and too little

Jenova Chen: Design Flow in Games

Demonstration of flOw game, discussion of other instances in gaming (Max Payne, Parodius)

Comparison to traditional scaffolding: not only gains in difficulty but reduces in difficulty as necessary

Demonstration of “paper” version of flow (using puzzles)

Downside of flow: gaming the system (intentional losing, artificial feel when too mechanical), difficulty of paper implementation. Possibility of implementation into Khan-like software.

V. The McLeod criticism and Devlin criticism of educational games

McLeod: Do most educational games suck? Graphics-based criticism.

Devlin: No need to to present traditional symbolic-based learning (“has to arise naturally out of the natural environment and have meaning in it”)

Terminology of 1st generation / 2nd generational / 3rd generation educational games

1st generation, drill with game attached: relation to “Soup Cans” problem of compromising environmental mimesis by presenting a nonsensical task (7th Guest example)

2nd generation, integration around mathematics.

Teaching through simulation, discussion of Orbiter, example forum post

3rd generation, complete integration of environment and mathematics; Physicus & Chemicus examples

My small-picture criticism on 1st generation: often only cursory gameplay, meant as excuse to drill. Can we improve an educational game as a game?

Single round of “vanilla” math basketball

The only “strategy” students can use is “get the answers right, get the shots”. Could we incorporate more strategy, that is, more choices that affect things at the game level?

(Group discussion of improvement, test of improved rules)

[Optional if time permits] Same treatment to classroom Jeopardy!

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6 Responses

  1. This looks fabulous! I wish I could be there.

  2. Thanks for including socialPsych as something “substantive” in your coverage! I just wanted to point out that there is a slightly more complete write-up now than the one you mentioned: http://neoacademic.com/2012/01/12/students-find-multiple-choice-tests-fun-and-rewarding-with-gamification/

  3. Hi Jason,

    I was at your presentation at the MEAD conference and found an interesting example of flow @ MangaHigh.com They have some games/challenges called Prodigi which are exactly like your “paper” example of flow, but online and specific to different concepts. It also has a badge system and something of a class leaderboard that has so far kept my students (4th graders) really motivated and excited.

  4. [...] was at Jason Dyer‘s talk at the Tucson MEAD conference in January where he introduced me to these puzzles. The gist is: dotted lines indicate that circles [...]

  5. [...] my presentation is more straightforward than last time. I had many requests to present on Common Core, so I am acquiescing [...]

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