*To learn more about participation in a interest based community, also known as an affinity space, for my Games and Learning masters class, I have joined the FFToday discussion community and am blogging about the experience.
On of my goals for joining the FFToday affinity space was to play around with the idea for using fantasy football as a learning activity in my small group math interventions. I don’t know where this ideas is going to go and I am changing jobs next year, so I am not certain I will even have an opportunity to employ it, but I have been thinking about fantasy football in math for a while. I might as well dive right into the affinity space and start seeing what the members thought. I started a discussion thread called: Fantasy Football used for teaching math in school. I made the assumption that the members of a fantasy football affinity space would see this a great idea and share testimonials about how they use math in game/in world, or about how motivating the game has been to look and and analyze data to be more successful. My opening post was an attempt to elicit those stories.
I also wondered if there was an inherent problem with fantasy football in a math class. I have seen, in the readings from and interactions with classmates in my Games and Learning class, that gamification is not always the answer to motivating students. Would competition and point totals make the game an electronic whip? Would students to feel forced to “play” and see their scores as negative commentary for their performance? So I decided to request reasons not to use fantasy football from the community. I thought that reasons not to play would be thoughtful and come from a place of understanding – because these are not only players of fantasy football but such die hard fanatics they are interacting in an affinity space in the off-season. What I did not expect was what I got, a troll.
It didn’t happen right away, at first weepaws was just a poster that seem concerned about fantasy football being gambling but his post quickly became an attack on “lazy” teachers.
I was not in a mental place to handle this internet attack on either my profession or myself. I have been feeling constant pressure political related interactions on social media that have ranged from discussions to arguments to attacks. I know that I am not alone in this feeling but there was no way I was going to handle the situation with weepaws well, this was a fantasy football discussion forum that people go to for fun, that I had joined for a class. I envisioned myself striking back at weepaws and letting the poster know what is lazy teaching really is – probably starting a feud with a long time community member, or blowing a gasket and then have to walk away from this affinity space. So I did the only thing that I could think of to that did not end in banishment from the group; I ignored him. I responded to most of the other posts, I got some great feedback, and I thanked other members who stuck up of me in shooting down weepaws repeated claims of gambling or lazy teaching. But I did not interact with weepaws.
I was ready to use this blog post as a way to go after weepaws, to vent, because I was furious. Then he made a post that struck a cord.
I had asked for opinions on both sides of the fantasy in math controversy. Weapaws shared his opinions and I needed to address this, I gave a lengthy response, but the gist was that I wanted positive testimonials to share to support the project, to think about negative responses to decide if I was going to do develop the fantasy football project at all, and that repeated attacks of lazy teachers was not convincing me of that it was bad idea. I concluded that the attacks gave me more motivation me to show my students I care about their engagement, so they don’t hate teachers when they grow up. I thought that conclusion would push weepaws over the edge and that my math discussion thread would devolve into attacks and insults. And again I assumed wrong.
I think I learned that viewing weepaws as a troll stopped me from validating the poster’s opinion. Posters in a affinity space are looking for validation. I am not going to see eye to eye with weepaws, but we have shared a civil exchange. I am interested to see if and how weepaws continues to post on the thread.