Friday, July 19, 2013

Understanding Quest Based Learning Week 3 in GE4L Micro-MOOC

I am in the third week of the Micro-MOOC on Game Elements for Learning on Canvas LMS. I joined it because I am interested in effective ways of educating future teachers and because I am a lifelong learner, I am game to learn. This is the first summer in 12 years that I am not teaching. A great time to LEARN!

The masters of the course provided us with a lot of resources and challenges to overcome and offered different venues for achieving our personal goals. We are connected via Canvas official space for the course and also via Twitter using #GE4L, via personal blogs and forum discussions. Canvas is an LMS platform similar to Moodle or Blackboard. I am still learning the tools and interface of Canvas. I am a fan (expert!) of Moodle and think it is an easier and more user-friendly platform for a course design.

I have been collecting the resources about gaming, game-based learning, game elements, and the gamification principles. It is now the time to stop and ponder a little about what game-based learning is about.

First of all the terms: game-based learning and gamification. I had a conversation/discussion with my husband, Michael Edelstein, a more than 40 years experienced college professor. He was trained in the school of Kurt Lewin, the founder of social psychology and group dynamics. Being a follower of Lewin, Mike uses the term game-based learning and supports the idea of real life situations, experiential learning where learners do not rely on the extrinsic factors like rewards, points, etc. He was using some elements of games in his courses that encourage students' self-search, self- and others' exploration and etc. when I told him about Gerol Petruzella and his philosophy course based on Dungeons and Dragons, he immediately got interested and said that that game is surely can be used in the ethics course design.

I like this presentation of Gerol at the INSTRUCTURE conference this summer:

Mike hasn't heard the term gamification. I shared my understanding of the terms.
Game-based approach means to me using a FULL game suitable for the course content with its roles, rules, levels, etc. and engaging students in it for learning.
Gamification means taking some elements of the game design and applying them to a non-gaming environments. Somebody shared this MindShift blog post in our GE4L course where a good explanation of the differences is provided.

I shared my experience with gamification in my course design on the GE4L discussion forum:

"I think gaming is in my blood. I started my educational career back in Russia in 70s as a pioneer leader at a prestigious English language school. I designed games to engage students in social activities to help them learn to stay active, curious and become leaders. When I became a student of the School of Foreign Languages I was assigned to supervise summer teacher training camp. I used the same approach: future teachers played roles of their future children and participated in the activities as children to learn the rules and conditions of  summer camp life. We created troops, followed the routine of a summer camp, arranged the activities that teacher candidates would be organizing for their kids, etc. That environment was very powerful. When I became a University professor, I taught English through songs, games, simulations and role pay to immerse English learners in authentic socio-cultural situations. After defending my theses in Educational theory and Practice, I gamified my education classes to immerse teacher candidates in the pedagogical situations for them to learn about children and effective teaching. I am in the U.S. since 2000. I first started teaching the Russian language and I applied similar approaches. The results were amazing. Learners mastered the Russian language through Russian games, songs, real life situations, and role playing. The final exam was a Russian fable in rhyme "Mukha-Tsokatukha" that the lcourse participants had to first learn, understand, memorize and perform to the college community. The main result was I found my wonderful husband through gaming. He had the main part in the Tussian fable and learned the main words in Russian -- how to propose! I was flattered by his Russian and agreed to marry him!  
Anyway, I believe in the power of gaming in education. Last semester I used BizWorld projects in my Social Studies methods classes to teach economics and entrepreneurship. Three of my classes were challenged to create companies in the elementary school classrooms:  Friendship Bracelets companies in the second grade, Movie production companies in the fourth grade and Investments Teams in the 5-6 grades. What an experience it was! Both teacher candidates and school children were learning through real life business situations, facing challenges of communication, team work responsibilities and reliability, the grounds and consequences of competition.  
I am taking this course to learn more about gaming in the new digital context. I have already read a lot since the beginning of this course and am finding more and more resources on the course gamification. Here is one with the list of ideas and apps to help meaningfully integrate augmented reality into education: "Meaningful Integration of AR.

Gaming is very powerful. There is a lot of research on the benefits of gaming in learning. Beow is the infographic poster illustrating it.

Attribution to for this graphic.

How Video Games Are Changing Education

I also like the term "quest-based learning" that is discussed in this slideshare article by Chris Haskel.

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