23 augusti 2017

Experiences of activity braclets for eSport students

How do you monitoring eSport students physical exercise? 
We think we've found one way to do this: activity bracelets.

During the schoolyear of 2015-2016 we tried to have our eSport students do training diaries. With such a diary we also wanted to have a estimation of how much young people also play competive computergames.

As it was hard to have the students understand why its important we changed it last schoolyear (2016-2017) to make a reflection after each in game session. That report would be a tool for us to help them develop their personal skills but also highlight what is not working (be in ti´me, communication, teamwork and more). 

None of this try out have been working as we want. They (our students) want eSport become a real sport but they don't understand why they have to help us prove it. Not even when we concentrated us on the actual gaming sessions it worked.

Suddenly we got funding to use activity bracelets and that money couldn't be used on salary's, instead all should go to motivate the students to exercise! The funding gave us a chance to use gamification on something boring as cardio and walking.

We made the walking to a game, each step was one experience point. At a certain amount of steps you achieved next level (ding!) and shortly this is how our gameplan looked like and you can read more about it here.

We thought 10.000 steps a day would be reasonable and therefore a month of 30 days would result in 300.000 steps (xp) and a level to reach (lvl 2, and 20€ ingame cash). We had to put a fairly high level as a STEAM card with the value of 20€ (~23,50 USD) is pretty much for a level.

Even though 300.000 steps is that much (30 days * 10.000 steps) the amount of steps scared our students. We started in December 2016 and in March 2017 we invented a special occasion: attend the Finnish classic Kalevan Kierros but instead of actual skiing or running, our students had to walk the same distance during one day (between 00:00-24:00) and only one challenge a day. So you couldn't do a 30.000 step challenge and also get all the other lower ones done in the same day. 15 kilometer (km) = 15.000 steps one day, 23 km another day, 54 km a third day. In total we wanted them to walk 218 km = 218.000 steps during one month.

This they thought were achievable and they started to walk. 
And walk a lot!

Each row is one student, and half of our students have been used it (and reported their steps).

We also challenged people from the Finnish eSport scene, like different organizations, researchers and the federation to take the challenge. Of those eight, four accepted the challenge and two made it! So before judging our students, this to start exercise is a challenge for the whole eSport world.

Every eSport student will get an activity bracelet as it turns out to be an easy way to monitoring their exercise, their sleep and much more. All they need to do is to wear them and empty their data in a computer.

With the last years experience we will set up a required amount of steps you have to walk to pass the course, maybe 5.000 steps a day. And as we don't have funding to such a generous awards this year we'll set up an own higher goal and those students who achieve that will get a reward (like a 20€ STEAM card).

Otto Takala, vice president of Finnish Student Sports Federation (OLL) and vice chairman at the Finnish eSport federation (SEUL) gave us this feedback on our activity bracelet try-out:

I like that walking challenge concept. It teaches young people important routines and it also develops control of life. 

In a bigger picture - if we watch into the future - today's biggest challenge is 'how to motivate people to exercise'. And I see this case 'Prakticum eSports' is good pilot for that and one big step towards the future.

10 februari 2017

Experiences of MinecraftEDU

New to use Minecraft in education?
I have some experiences to share...

They need a ruler
If you think you as a teacher shouldn't be needed anymore when you add a game you're wrong. I thought so myself, but had to change my attitude after my very first 36 hours in game, the time it took for my students to build up a city and started to argue about childish things (scale of houses, amount of houses, roads and such). And we started the vanilla server on Thursday and Saturday morning I had to clear out some conflicts...

During those first 36 hours they had built what you see in the first 1:40 minutes in this clip. What comes to city building you could use this Swedish site Futurecity.nu and it's lessons plans (lektionsplaner) and use Google Translate on it, that would be enough to get inspiration.

Student democracy works to a certain limit but you as the teacher have to be the president of your new world. Students can be prime minister, minister of transport, minister of education, Minister of agriculture but you can't leave all responsibility to only students!

Your present in the classroom or the virtual classroom have never been as important as now. You need to have them focused on the target and your goals, they need your guidence.

Besides been doing a full scale practice of using a government in Minecraft (without add myself as president) I have also tried to mirror a student group as a company (nuclear power) and I got the same result / experience. 

The emperor Teacher is vital in game!

Small modules rather than a large entity
What went wrong? Well, the whole (task) became too large. They didn't know where to begin and therefor they did anything (else) but what you (as a teacher) had planned or hoped for. 

I once had a modded server with industrial craft, and as that mod enable you to make nuclear power and nuclear weapons I thought that was a challenge they would be interested to solve.

What I thought they should build (picture from here)

What they actually built

First when I stepped in and gave everyone a task to fulfill they started to come closer to my master plan. But I had to make them understand they needed to have builders, workers, woodcutters, guards and more. Expecially when you add a game, a chance to work in 3D, students struggle with the big picture. With that said, they have easier to understand coordinates in Minecraft (3 axes; x, y & z) than on paper (2 axes; x & y), an example here

Before they start to build they should have a working gameplan!

The SAMR model
If your biggest challenge is that you're afraid of boring the kids when you start each lesson with "build a model of..." you don't yet have realized the full power of Minecraft.

I know SAMR model is severely criticized but when you use Minecraft in education it's a very good tool to use, I've bloged about it here.

If you only tell your students to "build a model of..." you havn't changed the task enough to achieve more learning. You're only on level two of the SAMR model: augumentation.

You have to change the task, and it's here many teachers start to criticize the SAMR model as you now have to change your course content which, of course, mean more work for you. Deeply sorry, but those teachers are not only lazy but also to blame that students of today loses interest of education. 

As my school now should use the SAMR model, our teacher's usually not come any longer than step 2: augumentation and here's my favourite example. In the mother tongue course you should read a book and write an essay of it, let's check SAMR model:

Instead of write the essay on paper, students now write it with Google Docs.

Students collaborate in google docs and are also able to comment each other work.

Students read the book and build the book in Minecraft

Students roleplay the book story inside Minecraft, make a movie of it and upload it to Youtube. You have to come up with a storyline, you have to document the whole process and while do that you can prove you have understood the book in several ways than just on paper.

Now we have changed the task from only read the book and write about it to experience it and also transformed it to a complete new task.

Cross curriculum
Next thing that traditional teacher's hates: when you adopt tech in your teaching, you're also going cross curriculum. The book example above is not only language but STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

So, the good thing is, if you're colleagues are open minded, they don't have to use a game in their classes, but use the magic of it. For example, we're now have eSport as a free elective course. The best way to help our students to improve in their hobby is to help them with exercises in the gym (strength and endurance), language teacher have the course as a discussion topic, math teachers can use the topic to probability theory, the four operations, percent and statistics.

If you need inspiration what to build, use plain LEGO instructions. Together with my daughter we've built Friends Lego inside Minecraft where she had to reflect over scale, math, problemsolving and be creative.

Previous examples and experiences:

22 december 2016

TeacherGaming Analytics

In mid November we did a field trip to TeacherGaming in Tampere together with the Finnish Swedish iLearning tutors. We had the honor to listen to COO Mikael Uusi-Mäkelä who talked about what happened after MinecraftEDU and showed us a very neat tool: TG Analytics!

To be able to monitoring your students while they play any game, connected to this analytic platform, would be like a dream come true. It will save so much time when following up students activities! Best of all, when you see what skills they have practice and which ones they have not, you should be able to push out that needed skill to their next log in. That was actually the feature that hooked me.

Back home I immediately contacted them and signed up as a beta tester.

And please keep this in mind; the platform is not ready!
You are a beta tester.

Some people might look at it and think it’s the complete product - which it's not - and leave it when they see something broken. When you see something broken you report it, that's why you are a beta tester!

With the experience I've got working with this kind of tools is, it has to fulfill mainly two things else teachers and schools won't start use it

1. The price has to be low.
With that said, usually 500€ sound expensive while 350 students which cost 2€/school year suddenly is affordable (even though the price just turned higher).

2. It has to be simple.
Teachers - or parents - learning curve has to be low. The tool has to be that simple so you could learn it within 5 minutes. Already to use tech usually stress teachers enough to avoid adopt them, no matter how awesome they might be!

However,  the games themselves can of course be advanced, Students and/or youth most often surprise the older generation ;)

Does TeacherGaming meets my requirements?
As they're in beta phase there's no price tag just yet, but what I've understand from my discussions with the dev team it won't be expensive. The tool itself will most probably be free but the games connected to the platform will cost some.

I just love how simple, clean and easy it is.

First I log in to the platform and I create my class 

Simple right? I name the class, an ID is generated and now my class is up! Next, we add a student, it's as easy as create a class. We write the students name, and we also get a student id. 

The skill tree is another awesome feature. You should be able to pick your "own" curriculumno matter if you're teaching grade 1-3 in US or grade 4-6 in Sweden.

The Dashboard, it's where everything happens and you can follow your students (or childrens) progress. But hey? No games added yet? Nope, students havn't logged in so there's nothing to see.

But as I started a code thinking course, I'd like my student to play Switch&Glitch. I've installed the game on the device and now my student log in, using the class id and her student id. As soon as she, my student or actually daughter, are logged in to the game, real-time information will start to show up in TG Analytics. How awesome is that?

When I click on my student I will get up more information about the skills she's learning while playing the game!

Sounds interesting? 
Why don't sign up as a beta tester you too?

13 december 2016

Healthy me, game on!

To our eSport course we got funding to improve the health among our participants. During the school year 2015-2016 we tried to use season tickets to the swiming hall but it turned out many of the gamers had such a bad self-perception they didn't had the guts to go there. Therefor, with funding, we wanted to try activity bracelets. Would it be possible to make our students aware of the every day exercise and 8 hours sleep if you use such a bracelet?

According to one of our lecturer, Jaana Wessman, the top three things to do outside of the game is (and I quote)

1. Sleep
  • regularly
  • enough
2. Exercise
  • preferably daily
  • preferably something requiring spatial navigation (walking/running outside) and/or complex co-ordination (dance, martial arts), or both (trail running, team sports)
3. Minimize unrelated stress
  • take care of your family obligations
  • take care of your school/work
  • have a Plan B
Serious competitive gaming requires leading a disciplined life.

And I end the quote (from slide 25/32) and Jaana's presentation about "Digital games and health" backed up with science can be found from here.

So, activity bracelets?
It turned out not only the eSport industry thought this could be a good idea but also Insmat.fi who gave us a nice price. Suddenly we could afford a reward system, with other words, use gamification on everyday exercise to make our students aim to walk 10,000 steps a day!

The system works as XP in every other game you play, you collect it and when you reach a certain level you ding one level. As the game cards wasn't in any other value than 10€ (LOL) and 20€ (STEAM/Battlenet) the distance is quite far but still realistic. The highest level is 6 and 2.100.000 steps as we'd like our participants to be able to get the rewards before summer. Between January 1st and May 31st it's 151 days, if you aim for 10.000 steps a day you need 150 days to reach 1.500.000 steps and level 5. To reach level 6 you need to walk 14.000 steps a day for the next 150 days and that's really a lot!

Also, if you start with LOL you ding the first and second level before you can change path and choose another game card.

Strange, this is the outsiders biggest concerns but not the participants. Could it be more tempting to an outsider to fool the system? Ask yourself, what would they win with cheating? Another 20€? Is it really worth the risk of 20€ to be known as a cheater in such a small group (20+15 students) and also make the responsible teacher who fight for you and your interest disapointed?

Exercise motivation?
First our students got the activity bracelets and the game was on! It was not only the rewardsystem itself that started to motivate the participants but also the competition; "how far distance have you walked today?"

But when they saw the pictures of the bought game cards, they took a deep breath and whispered: "O h   m y   g o d !"

Yes, now it's not only talking but for real!

The game is on!

7 november 2016

Viking Village

So I have this math course inside Minecraft with a student who learn in a different way. He also fears math so we need this safe environment where to learn. 

I don't have to succeed with all these qualifications but some, the student should be able to
  1. can express relationships between variables with mathematical expressions
  2. can form and make up equations, expressions, tables and drawings related to their fields
  3. solve mathematical tasks required at work using equations, deductions or charts
  4. to assess whether the results are correct and the right order of magnitude
  5. can apply economic mathematics needed in everyday and working life, such as profitability, cost, tax and loan calculations
  6. to collect and group information related to their own industry.
The challenge is when it says "related to their own industry", luckily it also says "needed in everyday and working life" and that's an easy one. We're aiming for number 3, 4 and 5 as you can do that inside Minecraft and also have lots of discussions outside game how it relates to the everyday and working life math.

As my student could choose we now build a viking village. First he had to draw sketches, make a game plan, then start with the palisade and townhall. As my daughter - little_aquavera - every now and then joins me the village suddenly got a third tribe member. 

My daughter 8yo joined with the words "you can't fool me! I will not do any math!" and that might be true, but she needs to practice writing, reading and spelling and that's exactly what she's doing! During the summer semester she learned English just by watching YouTube and now she starts to write it.

Back to the math!
So here we suddenly have a guy, that doing math all the time with a smile on his face and as the world is vanilla survival he (or we) have to collect all the resources that's needed. We also need food and animals.

Suddenly we reached a breaking point and it was my daughter who started it. As she ain't that brave what comes to mobs she had started to think about what she could contribute to this village and came up with a book shop. She's now the poet of the Viking village. She also started to put pricetags on her work.

It was time to gather the village councils.
At the first council, in game, we agreed on what currency we should create and how to use it. 
  • 1 Emerald = 10 Lapis Lazuli
  • 1 Lapis Lazuli = 10 gold ingots
  • 1 Emerald = 100 gold ingots
At the second meeting, in the classroom, my student had to come up with an idea what everyone's work would be worth. Also, if some profession needed something extra as armor, weapons or tools. 

At the third council, now together with my daughter and in the classroom, he had to start think about taxes. And suddenly this was so fun so even the little poet was doing math, mental arithmetic and put notes.

They both agreed on planning and monitoring is vital and important. That includes also democracy (civics) and active citizenship (key competence for lifelong learning). Both also agreed it's in the realization phase they're learning.

For example; the soldier got paid with 20 lapis lazuli and 20 gold ingots. The tax is 1/5 (20%) and he have to give me (the Jarl of the village) that amount. Also, when he collects animals, he have to give me (the leader 1/5). 

With the evaluation, we're connecting today's lesson and connect it to the everyday and working life. And suddenly he understands.

2 september 2016

The product: the lustful learning

As a remedial teacher I usually gets those students who have one or more challenges (I refuse to say difficulties or problems!). Now I help one student and the more I talk with him, the more I start to wonder why we - the school system - insist on teaching like it would be 1980 and not 2016. Even if the Internet didn't exist throughout the teacher's life, there have been in our students' whole lives. 

This one student is judged by the 1980's methods and therefore he possesses not what the knowledge society requires. If you, on the other hand, use the methods of 2016 he actually master the skills needed more than many else.

According to traditional values, he has an abnormal and unhealthy interest in video games and no matter what he does, they consider it as dangerous gaming. Still, traditional thinking, he needs help and support in mathematics, physics, languages, social situations. He can't handle money (he doesn't understand the value of money), can't hold times, can't think logical, need a calculator and the list goes on and on and on...

When I first met him, the Fall of 2014, he was top 20 in the European league of "World of Tanks" and besides that also second in rank in his clan (including set up strategy's, handle price money and be the ambassador). Now, he has stepped down from the active gaming and instead run the whole clan by himself. 

Just to check if he was aware of what he's doing I showed him the school's organizational chart and asked him to tell me, based on this, how his organization looks. Hardly surprising, he placed his organization in the right places; CEO, deputy CEO, management, economy and so on. He also explained how he pay wages (in game money) to his whole clan (approx 75 people), the bonus system he use for unsocial hours (if they get attacked for example 04:00) and more. "doesn't understand the value of money"!? What a rubbish nonsense!

So, as you all understand, this is a guy that learn in a different way but in a way I think will be only more common. And just because they do learn a different way it's not because they are stupid.

But today, 2016, the school ain't ready for those students so therefor we're back at square one. Here we need the remedial teacher (me)...

According to regulations I should ask the owner of the course (who use traditional methods) about course content to use on this student to help him understand the things in an outdated view. To clarify: it is not up to me to interpret the curriculum. 

But now it felt so wrong, I over ruled the regulations and went to my supervisor and asked; do I help this guy as the individual teacher wants or can I interpret the curriculum myself? 

For the record, it's very clear in the curriculum what you need to know so there's no law broken, but different interpretations juxtapose.

I got the decision: interpret yourself as it won't work otherwise.

Now, to my lot, I have math and physics. I would actually have to have even the language, because if you're not from the start English-speaking, you become it through computer games.

And here's the funny thing; when you use games in education, you not only teach one course at a time. You can combine, you can do both, you can learn more, you can learn faster and suddenly you also have the lustful learning. The desire to learn and the desire to understand. 

Because it's fun. 
The environment is safe; therefor you can relax and start to learn.

So math and physics. 
And Minecraft. 
Because Minecraft is "AWWSOME!"
Even if you're 18 years old.

To be able to solve the physics we have to start with math. And survival (great choice!) as it's more fun. Yes, more fun and math is present all the way!

"1 coal smelts 8 blocks of iron ore. Burning time of one coal is 80 seconds while burning time of one lava bucket is 920 seconds more. What is the burning time of one lava bucket?" (from the Gameplay Publishing "Minecraft Maths")

It was an easy one; 920+80=1000 seconds.

Next examples are my own, not from the book!
But next one, according to the reports, he would need a calculator: How many minutes is 1000 seconds?

In his head he calculated 16 minutes.

And he had to explain.
"60 seconds multiplied with 10 is 600 seconds. Then I know I have 400 seconds left. 60 multiplied with 6 is 360 seconds. That's 16 minutes. Then of course you have another 40 seconds, so 16 min and 40 seconds if I have to be exact!"

He continued: "if we assume I can fill/empty the furnace constantly I will get 100 iron ingots after one lava bucket, as the burning time for one ingot is 10 seconds"

Now the idea is that we should do the physics part: velocity calculations and for that we have created racing tracks. We will measure how long it will take to walk, run, ride horse, swim, use boat and use minecart for 100 blocks (100 metres). We have already talked about cars speed, your walk speed and so on, but next week we'll figure out how to also do the calculations.

20 april 2016


I start slowly land from our eSport project and the final, March 30th. It has been a fairly stressful project year to be the first school in Finland to test e-Sport in education. Not least because it has felt like walking in a combination of marsh and uphill. Around Christmas Finnish media realized we have started, that you actually can learn e-Sport in school in Finland from the fall of 2015!

We have circulated in both Finnishswedish as in Finnish media; newspaper articles, radio programs and national television. We have started to collaborate with three Finnish e-Sport organizations, a PhD Student at Helsinki University (Game education research), The Finnish e-Sport federation (SEUL) and there is also a master thesis coming up on the health aspects connected to our e-Sport project.

We have been on a field trip to Sweden and Arlandagymnasiet, an upper secondary sport school where they also started e-Sport last fall. It was both interesting and educational, and we realized two things: 
  • we're on the right track
  • we've managed our first year better
Both Sweden (and upcoming Norway) uses the sports curriculum while we use a vocational curriculum. Contrary to our neighboring countries, our students actually not game in school, they do it in the evenings and home (as they anyway do it) and then it is counted as school days.

We also have all participants to sign written contracts, they are not legally binding, but we want both parties (the school and the students) agree on a contract. All experience so far has also been written down.

Like any construction project that takes the first sod to fundamentally we have done the same. Though instead of a shovel, we have used a Minecraft pickaxe and all collaboration partners we have come across has signed it!

In January 2016 we thought it would be cool to arrange a CS:GO school tournament (Insomnolence16) and when asking we should have at least 30 teams. Turned out we got seven and have to open it up to other Finnishswedish upper secondary schools as well. Then we got 12 teams. All groupstages would be played in evenings from home but the final, would be played daytime in school on stage. As we wanted this event to be a happening we also invited lectures, other educator's (schools) and parents. To document this, we thought we could take advantage of our media assistant education. Suddenly national television was eager to stream the occasion and our media students found themselves in the position to make national TV... 

Lot's of education connected to a gaming project, that's for sure!

We got caster's from the Finnish e-Sport stage, actually the same guy who usually cast in national TV (Teemu "wabbit" Hiilinen) together with a former female e-sport pro, Jenny "NapuliX" Kåla. Except the national TV stream we also had their TV show "Sportmagasinet" making a reportage about our project and the final. If you download the app (outside Finland) you would be able to see the show and e-Sport starts after approx 19 min.

With such a limited time (53 schooldays all in all) our students truly made a masterpiece. But to next year we need to start to plan right now.