Thursday, April 28, 2016

Learning Points and Plans

The last 15 or so weeks of course development have been quite illuminating.

We created a framework - a course skeleton - divided according to our interests and areas of expertise. Within that framework we added notes and readings.

We charted out a loose Welcome just to see what would be needed...and to serve as a depository for notes until the end of development when we flesh out the Welcome in detail.

The Towne of Histore is completed finished -only needing narrative that will be added at the end.

Gaming Towne is under development and is coming along very nicely.

I have discovered - not that I didn't know this before but more of a reaffirmation - that I create by using a loose topical outline, filing notes and items within each topic, but start course development at the beginning and work to the end to be sure I see how everything within a module unfolds before leaving and moving elsewhere.  I simply cannot function by developing several modules at once.  finishing what I start allows me to move on.  While I knew this before, I had forgotten it. Ideas come to me, for example, on the Gamifi-what...and I make notes, but I cannot start without finishing what comes before.


Since I mentioned it...Gamifi -what is where I will introduce the term gamification, starting to drive home the differences between gamification and using games. I will create a video for this, detailing a variety of gamification examples, just to tease student interests fo a later town.

I have located a software that will allow us to create a map of Gamitopia......

(I have been asked by a colleague to provide assistance to help him find simulations he can use in the classroom - a little off topic, but very important.)

Having given up on there actually being a text we could use entirely I have accepted that we will  write content for the entire course.... and craft several videos of our own....

Finishing is not a question - we will finish.  We have already accomplished a lot, and will continue to move forward with the goal of having this ready by Jan 1, 2017, for piloting and teaching by summer 2017.

This has been a great deal of fun - and learning!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Frame games and other fun items!

This week's topic is persitence.

I possess the ability to focus strongly, blocking out other distractions, other "sparklies." This ability can be problematic, however, when I face a roadblock ... or a mere boulder in the way.

Designing a course that fits the needs of all learners is time-consuming. Since this course is for those in K-12, higher education, and business, I have tried very hard to be sure to include examples and videos from all three areas.   I do not want anyone to feel left out or marginalized.

This takes design time.  Lots.

For example, in the section on frame games, I provided videos demonstrating the use of Wheel of Fortune games. finding classroom examples was easy....finding business applications, not so much. I actually spent two entire days searching for the business videos.   I finally found to really great examples, but that was to days I was not developing content and the rest of the course. Sure, I could have skipped them and left a note for me to return to this area, but that could easily be overlooked, resulting in what I consider to be a weakly designed course...

So, two days it is!

I finished Simulation Quarter and am halfway through Frame Game Quarter expecting to complete this one within a week...unless I experience another stall due to searching for hours.....

I found an old notation regarding the use of narrative with the idea of using a graphic novel approach to deliver the content.  I originally thought about using Pixton to create really cool storyboards...but that is far in the future...

For now, more content development in Gaming Towne ....and trying to keep it all balanced....

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The PBJ Approach

 It occurs to me that I use the PBJ approach to online course development. Let me explain this...

I have taught Research Design Design and Qualitative Research Design in an online setting.  Whew!  Those were the most difficult to teach online courses I have ever developed. It is not that teaching these subjects online cannot be done, the concern is to do it well....and have students leave these courses prepared to begin research design for their on dissertations.

After reading one vague research proposal after the other with none of them providing the level of detail necessary for a successful design, it occurred to me that I must not be communicating my desires clearly.  The students were definitely capable, but I was not "getting" the assignment across to them.

At that time we had all doctoral students on campus for one week during the summer.  They stayed in graduate housing, bunked together, attended bonding activities in the evening, and the during the day, faculty planned sessions for the students.  I had them for three hours.

I instituted my PBJ assignment. (I promise I am not digressing.)

The assignment is to write a process paper where they explain how to make their perfect PBJ.  Yes, it can have bananas or honey or whatever they want to use, but they key is to explain how to make their perfect PBJ.  They do this in class, usually taking about a hour.

After a 10-15 minute stretch break, I begin unpacking..... bread, spoons, peanut better, almond butter, jellies and jams, bananas paper towels, napkins, hand sanitizer......and the students manage to look puzzled.

They then exchanged papers, reading each others paper out loud, slowly, while I try to make their sandwich just as they described.  I admit I sometimes exaggerate when some instructions are omitted, and by the time I am juggling a jar of peanut better that I was never told to open a knife and a piece of bread, they catch on. Sure, it's fun, and we explore why directions are so important, then relate that to crafting a  research plan. From this point, I simply refer to the PBJ of a study, and everyone is right there on the same page!

They've got it! Yes, we had some ugly messes, and we took turns eating an enjoying the creations, but the point was made. Details really do matter.

When I teach students ho to design an interview protocol, I explain they every word they utter must appear in that protocol, beginning with, "Thank you so much for letting me talk with you today..."  and ending with, "Thanks again for meeting with me today..."

How does PBJ relate to teaching and online instructional design?

The PBJ approach requires everything to be spelled out, a script, of sorts, and when I create course content, I turn my content pages into a script...everything I would say to the students if they were there physically in front of me in a traditional classroom.   I might say in person, "Now that you have been introduced to .....let's move on to look at this in more depth." In online content, that is just what I write.   Teaching, to me, is a conversation, and that aspect is sometimes missing in an online course simply because having a one-sided conversation is difficult and clumsy.  But...I pretend I am in front of a class, and that is how I write....a conversation with the page.

In an online course we lack the opportunity to "be there" to explain a course, to make sure everything is clearly written in such a tone and voice that students can "hear" and understand. So we have to do that for them, making our writing engaging, clear, and hopefully, something they will want to read (or at least not mind reading).

There does need to be some order and some standardization, and that sometimes slows me down in course design. (Note the jpg of my newest running shirt  to the left.) My process is to map out the topics for modules (in this case towns), making sure I am including the content in the most logical order, making notes on those pages. I think of this as a loose outline. Sometimes I create specific pages, just to have the placeholders then I add notes to those pages so I will have them for later. Luckily, Canvas lets me rearrange pretty easily as needed. I need to finish one page before moving on although I do put notes and links on the other pages in the the town, but I must finish one page before organizing and really focusing on the next page.

What do I mean by finish?

In addition to all content being present and conversational, the page must have related graphics and videos...and assignments...and in this case XP. I have a strong ability to focus, and in this case, I fully focus on one page and finish it completely, ignoring the rest.  When it is finished, and I can think of nothing to add, I publish.  I may be slow, but what I publish is complete!

After all content is completed, THEN I will return to the Welcome Module  then on to the narrative.... and creating the map and setting the storyline.  Module will receive new introductions that weave n the story, but that is best done after the rest of the course is complete.

Now, though, is the time to begin standardizing modules, making sure all content results in XP and/or leads to a quest or guildchat.

Accomplishments this week?
  • I figured out how to embed a blog post directly into Canvas
  • I finished Simulation Quarter in Gaming Towne, including locating a variety of free simulations for students to try.I actually found examples from K-12, HIED, and business!  That has been a difficult goal to reach.


We are considering a shift in the course, changing the final assignment to be a selection of case studies , making sure we allow enough time to really delve into the content.  This leaves us free to create an applications course as a followup, with this as a Theories course.

The plan?

Serious games, followed by frame games...and PBJ, of course!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Reflection 11: Pause

Hit Pause.

That is this week's theme.

Work responsibilities collided with course design.

This semester I am teaching 4 courses, and this week I have graded papers, created narrated grading videos, met with advisees, attended training in using Recruiter software, been awarded 2 programs to direct in addition to my current program, arranged internship visits, and made a list of possible recruitment activities for 2016-2017.

I also did a little work on course design, but not as much as I had hoped....

The segment on Simulations now has  an introduction and a content page, with the content page including a description of the three types of simulations (live, virtual, and constructive) and video examples of each. Locating those videos was more time-consuming than I realized.

I also realized I needed a page explaining how simulations an drive motivation and improve performance, so I have begun working on that content. I have some outline notes addressing how businesses and educators are currently using simulations and am creating a reading list and examples allowing students to watch videos explaining how to use simulations....But, even better....I have begun a list of actual simulations  from which students will be able to choose and download and actually give some a try!   This part really excites me as I have found some free downloads for VirtualU, SimCity, Gazillion, and Pandemic, to name a few. The plan is to give students a variety of choices and ask them to select one that might relate to their current work area and one that does not, but sounds interesting to them.....then have them share their experiences, likes, dislikes, and such.

My plan for the future includes more non-course design tasks (locate syllabi for new programs, in particular) and to continue to work on this Simulations unit, finishing up these pages. My process is to finish a page completely, adding notes to remaining pages as I run across items of use elsewhere on this topic, then, once the page is finished completely with graphics, videos, etc, only then will I publish and begin working in earnest on the next component.

I really enjoy this part of instructional design :-)

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Reflection 10: Progess


I am finally making progress!

The Towne of Histoire is complete - with content, graphics, videos, and activities!

Now I am moving on to Gaming Towne where students will explore the various types of games (simulations, frame games, serious games, virtual worlds, interactive virtual environments).  hey will learn the difference being gamification and turning a class into a game and delve into the history of gamification.  They will see how business and education use these various activities and even experiment with these types of games. Student will begin to ponder how to apply games or gamification in their settings.

I have really been looking forward to this Towne, although it will be bigger and much more involved than Histoire. Finally, we can explore pedagogy and games and gamification.......really get into the meat of this course!

My plan for the upcoming week? Finish the section on Simulations, including the various associated quests and hopefully begin working on Frame Games....  I have these mapped out already - I just want to make sure offer lots of options allowing students to choose among options for testing and learning.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Reflection 9: More Exploration and Progress

These past two weeks have seen a great deal of accomplishment - in my mind....

First, I finished the video game training in 3D GameLab, spending several days thoroughly delving into the world of Minecraft, a sandbox video game.

Minecraft can be used a variety of ways in a classroom setting - we just need to think outside of the proverbial box and create:

A few possibilities for use in higher education occurred to me as I watch video after video on Minecraft. I could create a community college or university and create quest plates. this ay students could move through the college and be faced with a variety of scenarios to solves, ranging from budget to resources to faculty squabbles. Ideally, though, students need to be in Minecraft synchronously, so I would need to assign them in teams to various times....difficult task in a fully asynchronoous online master's degree program. this did leave me thinking, however, so that is good....and Minecraft will certainly be included in the course.

I quickly reviewed a series of videos on Minecraft (101  Ideas for Minecraft Learners) and found one that will be VERY useful once we are ready to create our map of Gamitopia. We will be able to sketch out a map of our world, scan it in, then the video below shows how to actually create a topographical map using our sketch and a program called World Painter:

I was also introduced to Classcraft, a  free class management tool.A great example of gamification, Classcraft uses gaming elements such as XP, badges, and boss battles to incentivize students with real in-class risks and rewards and help them develop meaningful collaboration. Faculty can pull up the LMS on a projector for  the entire class, using the system based on student responses and behaviors:

So...I have learned quite a bit.

I also have finished the Towne of Histoire.....FINALLY!   All content is posted as is a Guildchat.  I am currently trying to choose between designing a checklist or a rubric...or both. I love grading with the speedgrader in Canvas, but the rubric creator itself does not do what I want.  I prefer to have a description of each level of each criterion.  I suppose I can create a rubric in Word and attach it to the assignment, THEN set up the Canvas rubric with the basic numbers, but that would mean students need to use the handout when they review the rubric, instead of just the rubric...Just seems time-consuming and not useful!

Next for me?

Gaming Towne! This modules explores the types of games, provides some vocabulary, defines gamification, and gives a history of gamification.  I am very excited to move on to this section!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Reflection 8: Exploration

The above meme says it all.

I suppose I am not really lost....just trying to learn more, to fill in the gaps of my knowledge.....

3D GameLab is holding a Teacher Camp - free training for me  - and I have a difficult time during down free training.....particularly free training related to games.

Play This, Learn That is based on a free enhanced audio e-book that explores commercial videos and their use in the classroom.

While I am familiar with a few simulations for use in higher education , I am not as familiar with those for K-12, so this free training fills a gap in my knowledge base.

So far I have explored two video games.

Kerbal Space Program is a space flight simulator. Players control a fledgling space program at the dawn of the space age, similar to the US or USSR in the 60s or China and other countries in the 90s. Players are given a working spaceport with assembly buildings, research facilities, a training campus, and all of the trappings of mid-century NASA.

This simulation takes place on a planet called Kerbin, with a race of little green, minion-like, characters called Kerbals who all share the last name Kerman. As rockets are built, Kerbals are recruited to man the rocket, and missions are successful if the Kerbals fly the rocket, land, complete their assigned tasks, and return home.

This video provides a quick overview:

The primary mode of play is Science Mode where players begin with a limited set of technologies and resources. As they complete missions, players earn more spendable science credits or points that can be used to research and select new technologies for future missions. Early on, vehicles must be controlled manually. However, after multiple mission successes different guidance and stabilization systems can be unlocked and applied to future spacecraft.  Each successive mission increases future science and technology. Players build on successes and develop a need and understanding of each subsequent technology. 

Science mode is designed with the new player in mind, breeding many opportunities for simple successes and acquisition of new technologies in a graduated and personally selected way.

The game has different game modes as well. Career Mode lets players control more of the business of space flight. Players build, expand, and manage their own space center, taking on missions and researching new technologies.

Players can even build and play in Sandbox mode if they are interested in flying and discovering the Kerbal universe without restrictions. The Internet is filled with examples of incredible Kerbal creativity generated in this mode. With all of the tools and abilities at your disposal, this mode makes it possible.

KerbalEdu also includes a  mission library, editor, and sharing capability. You can select missions (described as contracts or quests) that align directly with age level (5-18+), subject (math, physics, astronomy, engineering, technology, other science), and mission type. The mission library of pre-made lessons can even include lesson plans, if included by the teacher.

Making History II: the War of the World  allows players to change history. The following video explains this far better than I can:

I have two or weeks of training to complete - and more simulations to explore - but these simulations have been fascinating, allowing me to see what is available in K-12...and beyond.  Entire assignments could be built around these simulations, and assignments do not have to be limited to physics, math engineering, or history. Students could use these to explore leadership or craft narratives about their experiences, improving storytelling skills.

How will I use these in this course of gamification?  These have a number of uses, ranging from examples of simulations to being pieces of pathways.  As I a just getting started with reviewing video games, I am am sure more possibilities will open up as I complete these quests in 3D GameLab.

What's next? I plan to finish the remaining training in 3DGL then return to Histoire.  I also want to make a note to look for the research on using such simulations....while looking for hose appropriate to the business and industry sector for other training.

I am happy to be learning!