Tag: Gamification Page 1 of 4

Photograph of the staples holding Keegan's head together

Keegan’s Game Jam

This weekend, there is a 48 hour Game Jam in honor of Keegan Long-Wheeler. As most of you know, Keegan had to have brain surgery a couple of weeks ago to remove a tumor. In order to cheer him up, we wanted to encourage his friends to build games about Keegan, friendship, dealing with illness, or whatever else came to mind.

The Game Jam is a 48-hour window to build a game in Twine and post it to the site (by midnight on Sunday). There is a community forum to chat, ask for help, or share ideas. I would also like to see if we can find a time to meetup online next week to play games and talk.

Keegan and I have been teaching Twine as a game building platform for the last couple of years. We like Twine, because it’s very easy to pick up allowing us to focus our attention on creating interesting choose your own adventure stories. We built an open faculty development program called eXperiencePlay.education to teach faculty about storytelling in the classroom. The hope with this program is that even if faculty don’t embrace game play or gamification of their courses, they’ll rethink the narrative and student choice within the course. If you haven’t made a game before, I’d suggest going to the site and looking through the material there to help you think about game design and storytelling.  

After, we got started with building games, Keegan got in touch with Dan Cox. Dan is one of the leading figures in the Twine community having built numerous Twine tutorials and the Twine cookbook. Thanks to Dan, several of Keegan’s projects and tutorials have now been incorporated into the Twinery’s guides. When I wanted to set up a game jam for Keegan, I reached out to Dan and he put together this site on itch.io, guidelines for the Game Jam, and a set of resources to help everyone out.

So, if you’re a friend of Keegan (if you know me, you probably know and are a friend of Keegan), I hope you’ll join us for our game jam.

Making Conferences Fun

I am currently helping to organize a couple of conferences and am trying to think about what I have enjoyed about conferences in the past. I don’t typically remember the talks at a conference as much as the un-planned stuff. I met Ben Scragg over dinner at OLC and have considered him my food guru ever since. I remember watching Keegan lure people into playing a Switch game where they milk cows. At InstructureCon, Keegan and I attended a board game night that filled an entirebuilding. My fondest memories are of exploring Washington DC with my future wife and Prague with my friend John Perkins.

Picture of me and my future wife from Washington DC, 2007

With all that in mind here are a couple of ideas I’m pitching for the upcoming conference season. Let me know if these sound good and also what other things you would include in an ideal conference.

1. Healthier food and activities 

I feel like conferences are usually sort of gluttonous with buffet lines and eating out every night and all. Having healthy snacks and lunch options would be good and I remember there being some healthy options last year. Similarly, morning group activities like yoga and runs could be informally organized or we could work with the conference center. Outdoor activities like lawn games could be fun too and give people a way to get moving midday. If they already have an area like this at the conference center, we could flag it in handbooks and encourage people to hang out there.

2. Breakout room type activities

I feel like breakout rooms aren’t quite over yet and might be a good group activity. There are things you can do with boxes rather than actually locking people in a room that make it possible to set this up in any conference space, and there are also digital break out activities that we could run across the conference center.

3. Game night

I’d like to use one of the conference spaces to have a game night with board games and video games. We could also include some online games for the virtual attendees. I think this might help people meet others at the conference and just be a fun thing to do.

4. Craft maker space

A place with rocking chairs and work tables where you can sit and knit or make bracelets or paint or whatever would be a nice relaxation and meeting thing. We could probably even provide some supplies for fairly cheap.

5. Unconference space for hands-on computer coding and tool workshops 

I’m envisioning a small space where 10-12 people could meet at a time. On the outside of the space people could stick up post it notes or write on a glass wall or whiteboards or whatever as to the types of hands on workshops that they want. We could poll people ahead of time using social media to plan the events for the first day. Every hour or so a volunteer would lead people through WordPress, Omeka, Drupal, HTML Coding, Slack, or Canvas LMS training or whatever else they ask for. During the first day as people throw up new ideas, we also try to encourage people to sign up to lead those events and then recruit to fill whatever events need to be filled. 

6. Livestreaming

I’ve got a couple of people in mind who have live streaming / life streaming experience who might be willing to stream their whole conference experience. If they could also do a workshop on the first day on how to do this and how to do light-weight versions of this (taking photos and sharing them on Instagram, Twitter streaming, etc) , we might be able to get other people to join in. This will take up a large amount of bandwidth, so we may need to either find someone willing to use their data, or figure out someway to pay for data.

Gamifying Courses: Notes from Session 4 of #PaintCanvasOU

Today, we are kicking off a new mini-conference called Paint Canvas. Prepare All Instruction, Now Teach (PAINT) is a half-day Canvas training that showcases the best of Canvas in the classroom to inform and inspire educators. PAINT is organized into 45 minute rotating stations that focus on various Canvas features including pedagogical approaches and technical examples. In this series of blog posts, I’ll share my notes on the talks I attend in each session.

In the fourth session, we had five presenters:

1:00PM – 1:45PM – Purple Track: Gamification

Topic Presenter Room
Gamified Courses Heather Ketchum, Grant Loney LL 118
3D Game Lab John Stewart LL 118
Peer Review In Canvas Megan Elwood MaddenJennifer Shaiman LL 123
Canvas Badges Jennifer MayesJohn Boekenoogen LL 123
Collaborative Mind Maps Andy Vaughn LL 123

I was supposed to present on 3D Game Lab, but I subverted the plan by joining up with Dr. Heather Ketchum and Grant Loney into a mega-presentation. Immediately, I knew that I’d made the right decision in that I was being thanked on the opening slide of Dr. Ketchum’s deck.


Dr. Ketchum started off by talking about the principles of gamification that we had discussed in GOBLIN. She then transitioned into how she applied these principles into her own course on parasitology.

One of the most exciting elements for me is that in gamifying her course, it encouraged her to move away from a lecture format and into an active learning class format. Noting the problems of the “Tyranny of Content,” Dr. Ketchum advocated for refocusing on the process of learning. There are still structured course objectives, but they include things like “Accept failure and learn from your failures” and conducting experiments to learn experientially. This has vaulted the course up Bloom’s taxonomy into more analysis and creative activity. The feedback has been so positive, that she’s moving from lecturing towards ALC in other courses as well.

To make this shift, gamification elements were introduced around the idea of team work. Students role play as parasitological researchers, starting off as low level grad students and moving up to the director of the CDC. Students level up by earning experience points through their course work. As the reach different levels in their career, they gain benefits. These benefits include expert help in explaining or simplifying difficult concepts and a budget to buy resources and diagnostic tests for their “lab.” Students then use this lab work as the basis for reflective and analytical writing.

This design is so brilliant in that it professionalizes the students into this field of study. It clarifies the grading system making it easier for students to understand and at the same time pulls that grading system out of the normal, painful school paradigm. It integrates the course content, assignments, growth model for learning, and assessment into a well thought out system that is both educational and fun. It makes the teamwork for the course an important, authentic part of the course and necessitates teamwork without the common extrinsic motivators imposed arbitrarily by an instructor frustrated that students are doing what they’re supposed to.

Ketchum and Grant’s presentation was so much fun for me in that it demonstrated how the concepts Keegan and I developed for GOBLIN were translated into a real course. Even better, the course looks so great that I wish I could take it. Building a course so good, that it makes a squeamish person like me want to study parasitic worms and epidemiology, is a huge testament to the power of fun and gamification.

I talked about 3D Game Lab and Canvas. While 3D Game Lab is great, and I’ll write more about it in the coming weeks, the LTI for Canvas integration is currently completely broken. I was very happy to not have to talk for more than 5 minutes.

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