29 August 2007

EduBlog Game One - FINAL RESULT

THANK YOU everyone for playing EnRoLE's ever first blog game. I hope everyone agree that it was a great experience. The game was played in 4 rounds. In the first round we have asked players to write an additional 100 words in response to the three incomplete sentences. Based on the sentences completed, three teams were also formed. In the next two rounds, each member of each team was asked to work on a different sentence from the first round and progressively reduce the number of words to 50 and then to LESS THAN 26. In the first round, there is a total of 55 entries. In the second round we had 39. In the third round, we still had 30 entries. Everyone has been great, supportive. You are all winners!

The three incomplete sentences were:
My best times as an online learner have been when...
Conditions for learning are optimised when . . . . .
The role of risk in developing innovative education is . . .


From this exercises, there are many gems which worth discussing and reflecting in more details. One of you even set up a blog (http://asonlinelearners.blogspot.com/ ) to capture entries for "My best times as an online learner have been when...".

In the last round, I asked you to vote on the sentences you have input in the first two rounds. The result are in. However, since this is a popularity vote, everyone are entitled to their own opinion. The votes have been spread across many posts, almost everyone has someone considered worthy of his/her vote. So the winners are determined by a very small margin. You may, or may not agree. Since this is a game, we have to be bound by the game rule.

The winner for My best times as an online learner have been when... is
Blue 8: (5 votes)

... I have been absorbing, asking, blending, cruising, connecting, considering, constructing, conversing, discussing, experiencing, fantasising, interacting, networking, participating, posting, reading, reflecting, thinking and sharing.


Specially noted:
Blue 9: (3 votes)

. . . I felt comfortable and personally connected with others. It gave me a flexibility to learn, access information and reflect in my own time.


The winner for Conditions for learning are optimised when . . . . . is
Green 6: (7 votes)

learners are actively participating, collaborating and contributing to their learning because they feel safe, respected, supported and encouraged to do so by peers, topic and teacher


Specially noted:
Green 8: (6 votes)

The learner feels motivated, respected, comfortable, supported, safe, challenging and encouraged under the learning environment in which goals and objectives are quite clear and attainable.

Green 2: (4 votes)

Students are motivated, respected, challenged, yet feel safe to make mistakes. Activities are engaging, relevant, and facilitated by someone well organized who models effective learning.


The winner for The role of risk in developing innovative education is . . . is
Red 3: (5 votes)

...challenging learners to "step outside the square", extend themselves and strive for enlightenment. Risk can cause discomfort but is essential in the process of change.


Specially noted:
Red 8: (3 votes)

The role of risk in developing innovative education is motivation and the creation of new opportunities to stimulate learning and personal growth. However risk must be balanced with opportunity to avoid disengaging the learner.


Thiagi (http://www.thiagi.com) has said that we play a game for the sake of debriefing. So, I would like to invite you to post comment(s) to this post as debriefing AND come back often to share with the other players. Here are a few pointers which may help you to think through this experience and get the most out of it.
1. How well have you done as a player of this game? What have you learnt about the three issues of online learning/teacher, ie as a learner, as a teacher and as a subject co-ordinator?
2. Looking back at all the wonderful posts by your fellow players, who has inspired you most? why?
3. As an online guide to your own students, can you use this game for your course? How would you modify this game to meet your own course?
4. Can you suggest reasons why we play the game in three rounds, progressively reduce the number of words of each round? What are the pedagogical considerations in this design?
5. Has the blog technology provided a good platform for this game? Any improvement? Possibility of using other platform?

Thank you again for playing. I look forward to reading your comments to this post.

10 comments:

Mike Barnes said...

I will answer the reflective questions asked in turn. But first I should say that taking the perspective of a student, I felt unmotivated by this game. The primary reason I think is that the learning goal was never mentioned up front as far as I can tell. I was motivated by the fact that this was an experiments, but that is not what teaching as such is about. Now the questions...

1. How well have you done as a player of this game?

That is difficult to gauge since there was no feedback provided. The winners would feel some sense of how they did, but in this instance the validty is in question.

2. Looking back at all the wonderful posts by your fellow players, who has inspired you most? why?

This is to hard to tell. I was inspired by the creativity of many of the posts. It was easy to tell that most of the responses were based on a lot of knowledge of the subject and there was a lot of sameness in the answers.

3. As an online guide to your own students, can you use this game for your course? How would you modify this game to meet your own course?

I can see how it could be used in my course (not that I have much of a say) by simply rewording the questions to the learning outcomes desired by our course. I would state however, what those intentions are.

4. Can you suggest reasons why we play the game in three rounds, progressively reduce the number of words of each round? What are the pedagogical considerations in this design?

I would think it is because it makes us reflect on our own and the answers of the others. I can only imagine the reason for reducing the numbers is to make students think precisely. It also helps motivation that it becomes more about content than quantity.

5. Has the blog technology provided a good platform for this game? Any improvement? Possibility of using other platform?

It is a good enough platform. My only concern would be that we should not require students to deal with the technology of a plethora of different systems, their interfaces and security. I would use the primary system at our institution which would be WebCT. Not because it is better but it offers similar capabilities in the form of discussion groups.

Administrator: Albert Ip said...

Thank you Mike. I totally agree that the "gameness" of this blog game is next to none. May be you and other people reflecting on this experience can suggest how we can add some "gameness" so that it will not be as boring!

I suppose the game was part of a course and the learning objectives have been dealt with. My apology for not stating that earlier.

K Lai said...

I'd like to address question 3 regarding adapting this game for a course in teaching (and incidentally touch on question 5 regarding the blog platform).

I believe a blog game like this can be fun for students (I agree with Mike about the topic) although we need to be very careful about the aims of this exercise.

We were told at every stage that we had to be as inclusive as possible so that we could satisfy more people.

However, in many courses (and in many real-life events), our aim is not necessarily to please as many people as we possibly can.

In the span of a course, peers may not be the best judge of the optimal solution to a particular problem (i.e. perhaps more relevant or expert knowledge is required).

Given my concerns here, I'd hesitate to assess students on the basis of work done on the blog platform. Nevertheless, it is undoubtedly useful for discussion.

Administrator: Albert Ip said...

k Lai has a great point here. Let me rephrase in a more general way.

1. "Game goal" is NOT necessarily "learning objectives". The best alignment would be the success of achieving game goal required the mastery of the intended learning objectives.

2. "Game goal" is NOT necessarily the determination of a game winner. In most competitive games, game goal is almost the same as game winner. However, in many less competitive game, role playing in particular, individual players may have their own individual game goal. Roni Linser and I have created the term "dynamic goal-based learning" (as different from Roger Schank's "goal-based learning") to clarify that in role play simulation, different role may have different game goal and the game goal may also change as the role play progresses.

3. In game scoring is NOT the same as learning objective assessment. Scoring as one of the many ways to motivate players to continue (or repeatedly) play a game. Assessment is a measurement by the hosting institute (the Uni or college which required you to play the game) on the success (or lack of) of the learning objectives. Again, the ideal alignment would be the game score is positively correlated to the assessment.

That said, do you still see value in using games in a teaching/learning environment?

Mike Barnes said...

Do I "see value in using games in a teaching/learning environment?" Definitely, as long as both the game goal and learning goal are understood by the participants. I see it as a way towards deeper learning because of the student activity involved. So it is crucial that the participants have every motivation to participate.

Administrator: Albert Ip said...

Great point Mike.

But how to ensure "that the participants have every motivation to participate"? Any suggestions?

Mike Barnes said...

"But how to ensure "that the participants have every motivation to participate"?
That is complex, but if you will indulge a quick brain dump:
- Make them comfortable.
- Remove any impediments to using the tools, seamless, natural or intuitive, and that work without fault or jumping hoops.
- Appeal to them visually as well as in text.
- Make the learning goal relevant to them.
- Make the game goal appeal to the audience but fit the learning goal.
- Throw in surprises that they can anticipate but nor second guess.
- Challenge them but make achievable.
- Oh, and did I say make them comfortable - that is tricky balancing the above.
- Appeal to their creativity.
- Structure so that different skills are allowed an expression - everyone wins.
- Alert them to activity or impending deadlines.

All of this is easy to say, but not so simple to develop. It requires multidisciplinary skills beyond the learning content. To make it work you need pedagogic, cultural, social, and individual cognition inputs, and in the case of online a wide range of technology engineering and dare I say social engineering skills.

Mat Hardy said...

Hi,

I think the value I got out of this game was the chance to empathise with students who were provided with confusing and vague instructions/objectives! In fact, for quite a while, I thought that was the ‘trick’ to this.

For example, I found some of the instructions confusing. Eg. We were told at the start that we had to post to the topic with the least number of replies. But then in round 2 we were told “Three teams were formed by the self-selecting process, by which you each chose your sentence.”

So I was left thinking “But I didn’t ‘self choose’ it. I was told to choose it. Did I do the wrong thing? I would much rather have answered one of the other two questions….”

That may seem like a hair split, but it definitely put me in the mind of a student who was confronted with an instruction or process that wasn’t as intuitive to them as it might have seemed to the teacher.

Writing instructions for role play games is something I do on a regular basis, so I will definitely look to that task with a new perspective following this exercise!

Administrator: Albert Ip said...

Hi Mat Hardy,

good comment.

If you were to facilitate a game (any game, not necessary this one), what would you do?

If you can share, everyone would learn something.

cheers
Albert

Mat Hardy said...

Well I’m not a font of all wisdom. But basic game design processes that are applicable to the next Xbox title are just as relevant to designing educational games.

The primary one is play-testing. You can’t control/referee a game that you haven’t played. The game also needs to be play-tested by neutral third parties who were not involved in the design process. Do they understand the instructions and the processes? Or are they confused? They should try to ‘break’ the game to establish weak points.

Of course with a simple text-response game like this one was, there were many less variables to play with compared to more complex RPGs.

Others have commented above on the lack of objectives for the game. I don’t know if my recruitment for this was typical, but I got an email saying “Want to participate in a role playing workshop?” and I accepted. Then I’m suddenly presented with an unfamiliar blog interface that kicks off straight into a list of formal instructions. And it wasn’t really an obvious role playing game.

I think you need to give a bit of a preamble about the objectives saying “What we are trying to do is….” And then follow with a bit of an overview of the game “the way it works is….” This introduction and overview is quite different from giving game mechanics instructions.

As for adding to the gameness (as opposed to ‘gameiness’!) of this activity, I think I would have jolted all those pedagogues straight out of their comfort zone. Maybe the role-playing could have begun straight away. Get them to post replies on those sentences in the persona of a student or parent of a student. That would, I think, be more game-like than having everybody trot out their version of “Active Learning 101”.

As mentioned in my earlier post, I gained empathy for the student in this exercise. I was quite intimidated by the high-falutin’ pedagogical language of many of the previous posters. I thought “No way I should get involved in this. Anything I say will look dumb by comparison.” That, I imagine, would be a common response for many students in games I have refereed and I will bear that in mind. That is not a criticism of this game of course. For me, that’s a valuable outcome.