23 oktober 2015

This is not Gamification

For a second I thought I'd finally managed to reach Nirvana, the hot spot of Gamification. And by saying this, to clear this out from the beginning it's not Gamification but anyway an important experience to share.

What am I plan to do?
By introducing a notional currency we hope that we can save money. Because we use the "money" as points or XP and with prizes to win, I thought for a moment that this was the same as Gamification. But it's not. It's a board game, as Monopoly.

Or something else.

Everything need not be gamifying, you can create interesting and inspiring educational activities anyway.

We have two goals:
  1. Our students need to understand the value of money, what a budget really is and what the consequences are if it is not kept.
  2. Savings in real world. Or more precisely, if goal number one is met, we will not need to replace lost or damaged materials. Perhaps we don't need to have the double of everything either.

By introducing this fictitious currency (Peuro, P-euro, Prakticum-euro) we hope it will feel more real in our students hands than using numbers in a spreadsheet (which, by the way, havn't worked at all!).

The student group will all be in the vocational media assistant education, they will have two movies to be made. They have to plan a budget for each project; salaries and payroll taxes, to rent materials and what a rental cost of filming per day, before and after tax. Fines applied to both individuals and materials, profits will hopefully increase personal presence and that all materials are returned on time, nothing missing and nothing is broken. This last one is the saving that we hope to achieve.

The school currently has an insurance of this equipment and where the excess is 600€, students (or their parents) pay the deductible or replacing the material itself if it's under 600€. With our system all students, whatever the loss, will have to pay 600P€.

A good production results in a good grade and that generate in a larger prize. Just like in real life, movies can become blockbusters! The one with the most money is the one who handled the deal the best, performed best. The person, or these persons, will at the end be rewarded probably with movie tickets.

Well received by students
Today I have been and presented the project for the first class and the students think this will be both exciting and fun. Above all, because it will be something concrete, they will be able to feel the money, have them in his hand, experience the flow of money.

It's not Gamification.
It's Monopoly ...sort of!

21 oktober 2015

Games in education

Fittingly enough, I had an interesting conversation this morning with one of my colleagues, the master chef. The other week he coached two students in the international competitions in Cervia, Italy with an extraordinary result: gold medal in class haute cuisine and silver medal in crotch decathlon.

His experience about where students fail are in situations where they often succeed when they play games. In his opinion, key skills for chefs are problem solving, planning, strategy and creativity

He has already understood that he must be the link between video games and reality, that what one learns in a game needs students have translated to reality. If that can be done, you have succeed with reaching an higher goal with a small amount of effort.

But he is not using games in education.
Imagine what could be achieved if he did, as our students anyway play games during class...

Real life
He told me quickly this morning how you have to have a plan, use a strategy, that after you serve the first course have the main course to be ready to be served within 7 minutes (in our training restaurant). The serving itself must be done within 2-3 minutes, and so on.

We can't have five chefs who cut onions, then we have five cutting boards and five knives that must be cleaned. You need to communicate and collaborate.

This is the computer game all the way. 
The worst thing is that it's actually HayDay in a nutshell.

Could this be an example how to use computer games in education? Make teachers understand how to benefit from games as the students anyway play? What if you allow one only game...? Will they learn more?

My next challenge in HayDay is to fill my riverboat with an unknown amount of raspberry jam, potato bread and potato pancakes.

As in the kitchen you have to be prepared, you have to have done a proper planning or else you won't succeed. When the boat arrives I have between 15 and 16 hours to get the challenge done. Raspberry jam takes 5 hours 57 minutes to make, potato bread 38 minutes and potato pancakes 1 hour 42 minutes. Most probably I will have three crates to fill of each product.

We're doing the math.
  • One jar of raspberry jam (5h57min) and I need 3 berries
  • One potato bread and I need 2 potatoes, 1 butter, 1 granulated sugar and 3 eggs. 
  • One potato pancake and I need 1 potato, 1 egg and 1 goat cheese.

I need three raspberries which grow on bushes and takes 18h before I can harvest, therefor I must have done this before and I must have a storage. My Jam Factory must be running 24/7.

A lot of resources as milk and eggs require to first make the food for the animals, feed them and after some additional time collect the stuff. Before you could start with the production of that particular ingredients.

For example:
A cow can be milked every hour, assuming you have entered the feed. 3x cattle feed is available from 1 corn and 2 soybeans. Corn takes 5 min to grow while soybean grows at 20 min. The cattle feed itself takes 9 minutes to produce. 

Just to get the milk to the butter to the bread we are talking about the 20 + 8 + 60 min = 88 min or 1h 28 min. The butter takes 25 min and now, before even started with the bread we've spent 1 h 53 min. The bread will take another 38 min, so 2 h 31 min. Will I be able to produce let say 3x3 breads within 15 hours? (probability theory)

Will it be even possible to make it? 
In real life you would have given up by now
But, now it's a game
It's a challenge. 
You give yourself the heck you can do it. 
Imagine if we could get that feeling, the attitude, into the classroom.

Communicate, collaborate, make it happen as a team. Skills you do need in a kitchen so you don't end up with five chefs cutting onions...

20 oktober 2015

Hay Day

My latest thought about games in education is Hay Day. It hit me when I had a discussion with one of our principals that didn't understood the power of Minecraft. So many adults believe they don't play any computer games but they don't see themselves as doing so, this because the games are on their iPad or iPhone.

My mom is an excellent example of someone who doesn't play video games but probably sitting there with a dozen games of "Words With Friends". She has even invented new own rules: we can not change tiles and if someone accidently pass the other part have to return the game with another pass.

WHAT unintentional learning takes place here? 
English vocabulary (meaning and spelling)

WHEN do we learn it? 
When we try to find new words.

WHY do we learn? 
Because it's fun. And it's multiplayer. You stay in touch with friends...

So, in my colleagues mind they don't play games. Only Angry Birds, Candy Crush Saga and HayDay everyday, but no real games. I asked the principal if she had had a second thought what she really learn while playing Hay Day, and she responded right away; I learn nothing!

Yeah right! But indeed an awesome start to discuss what you really learn from Hay Day and soon we could agree on math, problem solving, language and collaboration.

In Hay Day there is already a functioning economy, there are prospects for a cooperative farm (collaboration part). You can complete (and enhance) your finances by having real money to buy in-game money (or diamonds) only for this game (consumer education)

Since there is a cap of each product you will soon learn to see where you can earn extra by, just like the stock market, buying products cheaply and sell expensive. Or if it is really worth investing in. (Economics)

Challenges in the game, fictitious villagers or goods delivered with deadlines and special rewards require you to plan long term. Sometimes you have to estimate the probability of whether it's even possible to meet a challenge because everything has a production time (math).

Some of these challenges is possible only with cooperation with other neighbors. Derbies are limited events that occur in neighborhoods once a week, those which complete tasks listed on the Derby Stand will rank up and work towards special prizes (collaboration).

Of course there are wiki's and as "the game is horribly addicted" you most probably end up search for information at least once (languages).

So why is this important?
What I'd like to do is make my colleagues, teachers, enlighten of the power of games in education they might start with it. It doesn't need to be more complicated than this and most probably it's a game many teachers already know a lot about.

So, when you use a computer game (in this case, Hay Day) it differs from traditional teaching in the classroom. Suddenly we have gained access to a concrete case in which our students can perform financial transactions that affect their way of understanding how financial markets work from a digital, social and educational content that both affect and are important to them. 

Where are we according to SAMR?
By the digital world as Hay Day adds, we can execute trades in a way that had not been possible with just paper and pencil because there already exists an economic system in the game that students (and teachers) are interested of (third level of SAMR: Modification).

Even beyond our educational mission the idea is already alive and exist, it creates entirely new conditions that would not be possible in a regular classroom situation (fourth stage of SAMR: Redefinition).

8 oktober 2015

Turtle Canyon

Yesterday my principal asked me (you can say 'yes' or 'yes sir') to be a replacement for a sick colleague. The class should do some programming in C++ - and how fun is it to try to have a subject you don't master?

80% of the class also told me, as first thing, they don't know what to do and can't work on their projects without help. And that without even opened their computers. They were determined. It was too difficult. Too hard to even try.

After 30 min of watching them play different games and watch YouTube I asked if they'd like to help me, to test something I've never tested before but I need the experience. Sure, why not? what have we to lose?

Away to the computer lab and Turtle Canyon - A ComputerCraftEdu Sandbox...!

If they don't have any interest of C++ they might be able to learn some code anyway today. I know, Lua isn't the same at all, but hey! If C++ is too hard you might have started a bit too high, a bit too difficult?

Suddenly there was some magic happen, that don't occur normally in this class.
  • They were silent.
  • They concentrated on the game, plot and mission.
  • They stopped to ask when we would have a break.
  • They stopped doing other things.
  • They ended up tinkering on their phones.
  • They began to ask for help.
  • They began to collaborate and problem solve.
  • They dare to do wrong.
  • They stopped to tease, or more exactly: with the turtle's help, they pushed the bully of a precipice...

Most fascinating, as always, the student with diagnosis and usually have difficult to understand, suddenly became normal and started to explain code to the others.

Unfortunately they spend a little bit too much time to quickly get up than to explore, analyze and program their way out. They use the opportunity to accumulate an unlimited number of turtles instead of collecting block.

Yet when they were asked, they could reflect and think. Maybe they used while loop or something else, they realized they still had had to construct some sort of code to be able to come up.

When they came to the surface and didn't find anything, they jumped back down to do it right the second time.