Reflection Games and Learning – Cycle 5

*Reflection is an important element of learning. It is a chance to look back at activities and thinking and fit them in with a big picture of what is being learned. For my learning and games class I will be reflecting on my learning every few weeks in a series of blog posts. For these reflections I have a bank of questions to guide my thinking.

How did your participation in course activities this month contribute to your understanding of games (generally) and the relationship between games and learning?

I had a very interesting series of interactions on my affinity space over the last few weeks. I have join a fantasy football affinity space for two reasons. First fantasy football is a game that I enjoy and I felt that join this space was a way to learn more in the offseason and make me a better player. I am also very interested in applying fantasy football as a math learning activity with my students. I have posted to the affinity space what my project idea was and asked for suggestions from the community. This string of interactions have taught me two important lessons. First, the affinity space has been a wealth of knowledge and ideas about how to implement my plan, because the members have passion for the game they want to contribute their expertise and, for the most part, see a project like this succeed. I also have found that there are going to be dissenters, some constructive some not. If students are going to be in affinity spaces they will need to know how to take constructive criticism and more importantly knowing how to protect themselves from the trolls. For the students I work with, this means seeking out spaces that are monitored to protect children.  There is a Children’s reddit with moderators and vetting of contributors, and could be a start for building an affinity space that I would feel comfortable sending my students to. I did, with a quick inspection, find some features that worried me, however. Users had to check a box to search only within the children’s area, which is a red flag because I would want to users to have to opt-in to the adult areas not opt-out. Also, the amount of content seemed limited, meaning that affinity spaces would need to be created and developed before being useful, but it could be a start.

What preconceptions about games, play, and learning have you changed because of your course activities so far?

The biggest switch in my thinking over the semester have been that games are not the tools for learning but they are the catalyst for learning opportunities. Games give students the opportunity to problem solve with a set of constraints (game mechanics, in-game laws of physics), playing games and reflecting on strategy give students the opportunity to practice identifying what the obstacles and constraints are then finding solutions to those obstacles (finding answer in tutorials, trial and error, coplaying). Students who are engaged in games are also encouraged by their engagement to engage in interpersonal communication around the game. With excitement to engage in the communication a facilitator can scaffold that communication to be productive and prosocial. Finally reflecting on game play as a whole can be compared with physical world situations and students can identify connections between the game and the physical world and opportunities to transfer learning from one to the other.

How have you relied upon networks – with peers, via social media – to advance your learning in our course?

I feel I have developed a useful and efficient system to formulate and share my thoughts and musings with Hypothes_is annotations. I first attack readings (both required and chosen) by reading and using Hypothes_is to take initial notes in my own private working annotation group. This lets me organize my own ideas and read thought the article without being distracted by the ideas of others. Then I take my working annotations and transfer them over to the ILT5320 group. If no one has made an annotation in that section I can start the conversation. If others have shared their thoughts then I have already formulated my ideas around that concept and I can use those ideas in a reply to my peer.

Ask yourself a question about games, play, and learning – and provide a meaningful answer.

Looking to the future of my fantasy football math activities I have been thinking about what game mechanics I need to develop to structure my fantasy football math league?  The first step in playing fantasy football is determining the important statistics from the physical world football game that will be used in the fantasy game. These physical world statistics are multiplied by a value and converted into game points, so next a point value needs to be determined for each statistic. The most basic fantasy football games look at two statistics for scoring points, yards gained on the field and points scored (in the form of touchdowns, extra points, field goals, etc.). To keep the initial game accessible to all players these are the statistics I will use as well, these simple statistics will keep the game accessible to both novices and veterans of fantasy football. By focusing on basic statistics novices will not be overwhelmed by excessive statistics to keep track of or make predictions about. To keep game veterans, who could find this scoring system to basic, challenged aspects fantasy football games that have been traditionally automated will be done manually, this includes the of collecting of raw statistics and turning that data into game point thought mathematical calculations. These new challenge will keep a basic game engaging, even for the fantasy veterans. I also want to develop an evolving conversion rate between the raw statistics and game points so that each week different calculations and operations will be needed to turn raw calculations into game points. These evolving conversions will keep the scoring process engaging through increasing difficulty and support a wide range of mathematical practice. 

What are your ongoing curiosities about games and learning, and how might you pursue these interests?

I critiqued an article, recently, about an independent game producer who designed a game to send a political statement. It has sparked a curiosity in my to look deeper into ways to be politically active and playful at the same time. In this playful or creative vain I have been following a Twitter user, Limerickingthat creates limericks to accompany current news stories, they are funny and creative but share meaningful news, with a progressive spin, about what is happening in the world, most often focusing on politics and political decisions.

limeriking

These examples of creative and playful ways to engage in social activism hit me at a sweet spot of learning more about games/learning and engaging in the current social and political climate of the physical world. I have recently been introduced a tool, Bots for a Better World, that will take text messages I send to a bot that turns them into faxes to be sent to my representatives in congress. This tool is an engaging way to increase my access to those that represent me, that lets me use what I am comfortable with, texting rather than faxing, and the quirky interactions with the bot make the experience playful. I am going to continue my playful exploration of this bot with the hope of expanding the experience into a play blog entry.  

Advertisements
Reflection Games and Learning – Cycle 5

First Reflection on Learning for Games and Learning ILT5320

Reflection is an important element of learning. It is a chance to look back at activities and thinking and fit them in with a big picture of what is being learned. For my learning and games class I will be reflecting on my learning every few weeks in a series of blog posts, this being the first of the series. For these reflections I have a bank of questions to guide my thinking.

How did your participation in course activities this month contribute to your understanding of games (generally) and the relationship between games and learning?

One activity that has put me out of my comfort zone but has helped me understand some theories from our readings in practice was playing a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game or MMORPG.  The game I chose, Champions Online, is a style of game I have not ever played seriously. I ran into many obstacles that I did not know how to overcome. In the past when I learned new video game my problem solving methods have been to use trial and error followed by reviewing the manuals or tutorials, and finally searching the internet for a walk-through. Playing this new style of game, however, inspired me to try a new approach to problem solving by turning to the Champions Online online community, also referred to as an affinity space. Gee and Hayes wrote, in the article Nurturing Affinity Spaces and Game Based Learning, that members of an affinity space “rely on personal contact, through forums and messaging, to pass on their own craft knowledge and tricks of the trade” (2012, p.19). In the online forums I was able to find the information I needed when I was stuck in the game and was given unsolicited advice to not only pass obstacles but ways to do so the earned greater rewards. This was my first look into what can be learned from interactions in a interest based community and how that information can be more useful and expansive than what is in a game manual.

What preconceptions about games, play, and learning have you changed because of your course activities so far?

I truly believed that this course would be about teaching content through games. Looking at what is available and analyzing games effectiveness, then possibly finding or creating our own games to use in practice.  I have had this idea turned on it’s head. Even in this first segment of class I have seen that it is much more important to think about how game are designed to be engaging and find meaningful learning moment in the interactions, cooperative and competitive, that arise because users are motivated to master game play.  

How have you relied upon networks – with peers, via social media – to advance your learning in our course?

I have leaned on twitter as a way to stay informed with content my classmates have produced and to share when my blogs are posted. Twitter also give a nice opportunity to share short public comments to classmates that I hope are lighthearted and encouraging of their thinking and sharing. Finally I like using twitter to attempt to communicate with the authors of the articles and publications that I am looking at and open my content to a larger audience pool.

Ask yourself a question about games, play, and learning – and provide a meaningful answer.

I has a revelation during this semester about fantasy football as a game with potential to support math instruction. A few years back I purposed an after school fantasy sports program to support math practice, it was approved but I moved on to a new school before the program launched. After I have thought about how fantasy sports could be a good motivator for students who have low intrinsic motivation for math. This class is giving me the opportunity to find if others have looked into a connection between math instruction and if so to see how programs have be designed. My initial research has been promising I found a fantasy football lesson plan on the New York Time education blog and a teaching with fantasy sports website. The website has resources and video about fantasy sports math programs. One video, of a California school, was particularly interesting because of the firsthand testimonials from the motivated students.

What are your ongoing curiosities about games and learning, and how might you pursue these interests?
I read an awesome study about how playing video games helps increase affection and prosocial interactions in siblings for in cycle two, and in cycle three a popular press article that provides a brief real world example of how interactions around video games can help students develop empathy. These articles have started me on a path to find more about a connections between prosocial interactions and playing video games. I have found a chapter Pew Research Center study called, Video Games Are Key Elements in Friendships for Many Boys, which seems to have potential to discuss the connections between playing video games and developing social skills.

First Reflection on Learning for Games and Learning ILT5320