Sunday, July 29, 2012

Another Step Toward Gamification

We are now beginning week 4 of GamesMOOC and I've had an epiphany regarding gamification and language learning.  For years I hesitated to include a games mod in my online course because I felt that I didn't have any experience on MMORPGs.  However, as I tried out some of the single player games suggested in the GamesMOOC, I realized that for language teachers, the game itself doesn't have to be the where the language learning occurs. The language learning can be before, during or after any game. 

Actually I had read Kyle Mawer and Graham Stanley's book, Digital Play, and have Mawer's blog of the same name in my RSS feeds.  They suggest ways to use many genres of games such as "hidden objects", "dressing up", and "escape the room" for language learning, but  I think that I was hung up on the multi-player idea and was blind to other ideas.  Lee Sheldon's book The Multiplayer Classroom also discouraged me because the examples of coursework as games was directed at teachers who were real gamers and that's not me!

I think that I was under the impression that it was the vocabulary used in the games that would be important for L2 learners, but I have realized that the vocabulary can be pre-taught in the same way as pre-teaching vocabulary before any assignment.  What can add to the language learning experience are the pre- and post-game activities which may be oral or written learning tasks about strategies used in the game, obstacles encountered, or whether someone liked the game or not and what could be done to make it more interesting.
In the past week of the GamesMOOC, however, guild officers have focused on the elements of a game that make it engaging, the basic game mechanics.   I'm going to try to apply the rubric they provided to a number of the games in  the Digital Play book and see how they measure up.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Baby Steps into Gamification

As I approach the end of week 2 of GamesMOOC, I am almost ready to really try out one of the suggested games.  I have read Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirkey,  A New Culture of Learning by James Seely Brown, The Multiplayer Classroom: Designing Coursework as a Game by Lee Sheldon, and Digital Play: Computer games and language aims by Kyle Mawer and Graham Stanley.

I have always subscribed to the concept of gamification (gaming for education), but have been afraid to actually try out online or COTS (commercial over the counter games).  By participating in this GamesMOOC, I think I may finally be ready to jump in!  I'll keep you posted.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Six-year Blogging Anniversay

I just realized that I have been blogging for six years.  My inspiration for starting was Will Richardson's text Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts and Other Powerful Web Tools  which is now in its third edition with Richardson promising another update.  

I particularly like Richardson's distinction in the book between what blogging is and what it isn't.   Here are some examples of what blogging is not in his view:

Posting assignments. (Not blogging.)
Posting links. (Not blogging.)
Journaling, i.e., "This is what I did today." (Not blogging).

His list of "real blogging"on the other hand, includes reflective, metacognitive writing, and extended analysis or synthesis over an extended period of time.  Most important is that a blog post should be a reaction to something.  It could be a reflection on other's posts, or on the ideas in a book.  It could also be a reaction to a video, conference or webinar.  The idea is that a blog post should be part of an ongoing conversation whether this means a conversation with oneself or a conversation with others.

I have an RSS feed that includes many educational bloggers.  They are a constant source of inspiration and new ideas.  However, I don't often leave comments on their blogs or write posts about my reactions to their ideas. My lack of posting is probably because like any reflective writing blogging is hard work.  However, as I write this post I am reminded of a useful suggestion offered by Harold Jarche that one should establish a schedule for blogging.   So my promise to myself is to keep  track of good  I read in my Diigo account and try to blog about what I've read every Friday. Wish me luck!