Ladies & Gentlemen

Ladies & Gentlemen.

No, I’m not about to welcome you to a circus or a wrestling show or anything. The board game Ladies & Gentlemen (as I believe I’ve mentioned) is one of the games that spurred my desire to create this class. I knew we could have excellent conversations around the topic of leadership and social identities through this game.

First, however, I should probably provide you with a way to learn what the game is about…and you read enough of what I have to say. So here is the Shut Up & Sit Down review and overview of Ladies & Gentlemen.

So-the game is set in Victorian times and encourages role play of the roles as they were in that era. The game features very stereotypical gender roles, but also have a few other things going on as well. Would people pick up on it? So after everyone was done playing I asked for an initial reaction. The perceptions were what I could hope for. That clearly it is a game and is fun. That it is largely satirical. At the same time-it clearly demonstrated many stereotypes, showed the sexist nature of society and many other things I wanted them to notice. So we put a list of social identities on the board and asked students to find out ones that came out in the course of the game, either through game mechanics or the interaction of players.

Gender: This clearly played a large role in the game.

Race: “Yeah-these were clearly all white people.” (That the game has you play)

Sexual Orientation: “If the game was set now it would be more acceptable that it could be Ladies & Ladies or Gentlemen & Gentlemen.”

Social Class: “Social class was there. These were rich people-poor people don’t care about elegance at balls. And in the game were the servants.”

Nation of Origin & Or Citizenship: “In my group I decided to say something in Spanish. One of the other other players, in character, said “Who let the foreigner in?””

Body Size/Type: “Clearly this played out as you could tell these were all supposed to be well off, beautiful women.”

The class reflection questions also did a good job of catching viewpoints. We asked “How would this game be perceived in general society?” Responses include:

“The reaction wouldn’t be great because even though it’s satire, people don’t understand or care for it and it leads to people being upset.”

“I think larger society would be kind of ok with it honestly. It’s a game, & it’s set in Victorian era. This is pretty much how it was back then, and no one will deny that. It doesn’t reflect society today, so I don’t see why people would care. Of course some would, but I think most wouldn’t.”

“Very negative. If the news ever got to a website such as Tumblr the amount of online yelling would be horrible.”

“I think society would be upset by the gender stereotypes perpetuated by this game. In recent times females have had a stronger presence in STEM, Business, etc and this game diminishes the ability of women to be involved in activities other than shopping.”

“I think people would enjoy the game, but I could see women being offended, especially when men play ladies and play it up and make stupid comments, it could get hurtful.”

“Shock and disgust. Someone would claim that this game is a way of promoting patriarchy or gender subjugation.”

“It would have a very mixed reaction. Many people wouldn’t look past the surface and wrongly assume the game is very sexist. Some would understand the satire.”

We discussed current issues faced by various social identities, both at Miami and larger society. Overall-the game served all the purposes I wanted it to.

As a side note, a photographer from the university was present and took pictures of the class for future Miami publications, which is awesome.

You should check out the photo gallery of the pictures Miami took to use in publications.

Another great week of the class!

How “Two Rooms and a Boom” Creates Obvious Leaders and Followers

This week in class, we played an awesome hidden role game called Two Rooms and a Boom, where there are two teams (red and blue) with two different objectives. There are also “gray” players who have individual objectives to win the game, regardless of the outcome of the red/blue battle. People are split into different rooms, and then given a random card designating their team and special role, if any. On the red team there is a bomber, and on the blue team there is a president. A leader is chosen in each room, who decides which hostages to trade with the other room’s leader every round. At the end of the game, the red team wants the bomber to be in the same room as the president, and the blue team does not want this to happen.

Right off the bat, we are naming people “leader” and giving them ultimate control of the current state of the game. It was interesting to see which people jumped to the front and requested to be leader, and how others wanted to stay in the back. Someone with a dominant role like President or Bomber may want to be in control because they are important pieces to the team’s objective. However, some roles (particularly gray players) require you to be a little more relaxed and not running too much of the game. For example, I was a gray Romeo character, where at the end of the game I want to be in the same room as Juliet and the bomber. I honestly didn’t care how the red vs blue war turned out, so I offered to be more of a supporter for whatever team tried to help me. The game is interesting from that perspective, because you are not an active decision maker. I was much more of a follower, while the leader of the room was directly trying to influence the game to meet his/her objective.

The hardest part of Two Rooms and a Boom was completing your task without making it obvious as to which role you were playing. If the leader was on the red team, he clearly wants the bomber to find the president, but can’t make that super obvious or the blue players in the room will elect a new leader. Hidden role games are extremely difficult in this regard, and require extra strategy and communication skills between players. While this is difficult, it is also one of my favorite parts of this genre of game because of the creativity involved in achieving your objective.

My friend Ryan would absolutely love this game. He’s huge into hidden role games, and this one adds just an extra element of immersion by physically being in different rooms and swapping hostages. If possible, I really want to find out a way to play this with a group of friends in my apartment sometime, because it’s so much fun. Definitely my favorite game we’ve played so far.

Day One Leadership, Drew Dudley, and the Framework of the Class

As I’ve mentioned in many contexts-I coordinate the EDL 290 family of classes and teach some of the sections. My direct responsibility is for 290E (Emerging Leaders), 290S (Student Organization Leaders), 290O (Open section about individual leadership for anyone interested), and of course 290T (Tabletop Games and Leadership.) The concepts of the Emerging Leaders class started back in the late 90s while I was still in college as an undergrad at a different institution and has evolved through the years. As Bethany said to me recently “The point of education is that it is constantly evolving-if you weren’t changing things I’d be worried.” As part of that I am consistently looking for new things to add to the class to make it the best possible experience for the students.

A few years ago in my searches I found something that literally changed my perspective on things and changed the way I taught leadership, or at least gave me a better tool to do so. It was a short YouTube video.

Listening to Drew Dudley talk about leadership in this way that I knew and believed myself changed how I taught the class. It is hard to describe, because I had concepts like this that I taught-but it gave me the language and the means to get students to think beyond the normal perspectives they had of leadership in a relatable, touching manner. It let me give students a new way to look at leadership: as Lollipop Moments. It quickly became one of the three frameworks I use in my class for what leadership is. (The others are Heifetz & Linsky’s Leading with an Open Heart and Kouzes and Posner’s Five Practices of Exemplary Student Leadership.)

Really…the Everyday Leadership video I thought would be all I needed. And  I watched it again…and again…showing it to literally hundreds of people (who spread it more themselves) and wanted to see what else Drew had to say on the topic of leadership. And it was so much more.

The video The Leadership Game had me reconsidering things in class and help discuss integrity and values in new ways. The Game Has No Winners and The List are excellent ways of getting students to consider the goals and vision for what is important in their life. Those were wonderful additions. The fact that I agree and believe Drew’s philosophies and statements helped. What he gave me was the resources and the words from an expert to let them see what I wanted them to hear.

Best of all though was The Power of Disconnection. Where Drew shares a believe that has shaped the rest of his career (and without knowing it has always been a major part of mine): every day being a Day One.

When I walk into class every day…it is Day One. All I have in mind is the 20+ students in my class They are all that matter to me. I know many people dread going to work…I have been employed at Miami University for over twelve years and I don’t think I’ve come to work a single day in my life. Every day I want to be here and help and serve the students. If I was independently wealthy I would do this job for free. Every day, in the words of Drew Dudley (and the guide through the desert-we can’t forget the impact Mustafa has), is a Day One.

To my great pleasure as part of another aspect of my job (University Lecture Series) last year we got the pleasure of bringing Drew to campus. I got to spend about a half day with him. It was amazing. Drew is such a fantastic person who has touched so many people he will never get to meet. It was awesome getting to let students interact with a man who has inspired and shaped their beliefs. He was blown away by how much our students know about his work. He would mention one of his videos and everyone around knew and had watched it.

JS, Drew Dudley, and Jennifer Bragg

Drew is an amazing individual. He has done so much to touch so many lives and I am so glad I was able to bring him into my life and help spread his message to so many people through EDL 290.

As one last piece of advice from Drew to all students:

Secrets Hitler: “But we have a thing!”

We recently played the board game Secret Hitler which was both entertaining and extremely reliant on communication and logic. In the game, there are two factions who are either trying to elect “Hitler” as chancellor or to get him assassinated. The only players that know who anyone else is are the ones on the fascist side. This lack of knowledge forces everyone else to communicate logically to determine who is good and who is evil – using critical thinking and logical deduction of other players’ words and actions. Some instances of trust are garnered through illogical means such as two players claiming that they “have a thing!” and that they trust each other on that basis. This, while not always the best strategy to win, definitely makes this game thought provoking and fun to play with friends and strangers alike.

First day of class!

This week was the first day of class! The day Bethany and I worked so hard to accomplish was finally here! So of course, I decided to just cancel class!

Of course…that is far from what I did!

What Dane and I did was talk about the first class a few times over the course of the week. The only thing left was to teach the class.

This week was really an introduction to the class and how it will work. We spent some serious time on how the quests (assignments) will work and answered all questions. We then passed out our pre-tests and weekly note cards. The question for this week’s note cards (where we ask a brief reflection question) was what worried them the most about the class. The two biggest responses is people worrying about fitting in, language barrier (for several international students), the complexity of the games and about the freedom of dates and assignments. That gives Dane and I good feedback for what to work on and look at.

After that, it was time for one of the key parts of our class: Tabletop Games!

This week the class was playing Avalon. Avalon is a hidden role game designed by Don Eskridge and published by Indie Boards and Cards for 5-10 players. With class we have three groups of eight players, so we had Merlin, Percival, Morgana, the Assassin and Mordred as special roles. This was the one game we taught in class; future games everyone has to come to class with an idea of how to play. We are offering three opportunities for them to learn them; we have uploaded the rules, we have shared rules videos from YouTube or they can attend the Strategy Gaming Club on Tuesday in the same room and time from the class where we will teach the game from that week’s class.

After the first game of Avalon, we discussed just in general what the experience of the class was while playing the game. The students did an excellent job of discussing the various things they noticed. Topics included the difficulties of being Merlin when the first three people randomly were evil, the role trust and distrust plays and more. After that, we reset and played one more game.


Each of the three groups playing Avalon

Over the two games each group had similar things happen that are common to games of Avalon, especially with new players. Two evil people failing the same mission. Evil people being too cautious and despite having two on the mission not failing. A good person who is learning the game accidentally failing, which corrupts the game. However, after their reflections on ways they saw leadership in the game was also excellent.

After the discussion we wrapped up with sharing the article The Types of Board Games Everyone Should Know About to help people understand initial basics of tabletop games to help build their gaming knowledge.

Overall, it was a wonderful first week of this new and exciting class!

There’s More to Assessment Than Grades?

So, you know the course is working if students are playing the games, right?

Well, that’s a good start, but there is such a large opportunity to learn more about what students are receiving from this course! The students playing the game shows us that they might be doing their homework of preparing for day-to-day classes, but are they understanding the underlying message of the game? Are they able to reconstruct the game to teach a different message? Are they able to teach the game in their own words with game-specific lingo?

All great questions that can be found through different forms of assessment!

Our first (and final!) form of assessment will be a pre and post test to the students in the course. This test is not actually a test, but moreso a form that students will populate with their current understanding of gaming and leadership knowledge. It includes likert scale questions that are answered on a 1 (very little) to 5 (very much) scale. It also has open-ended questions where students can choose to answer as lengthy as they would prefer, such as describing their approach to leadership. Comparing the pre-test that is given at the beginning of the semester to the post-test at the end, we are able to see any increases in comfortability with gaming and  leadership concepts, as well as personal growth in formulating their philosophies in these areas. Witnessing a student’s leadership definition go from 3 words to a paragraph long with examples supporting it makes my heart flutter!

Another form of assessment for the course is collected through in-class discussions. There is allotted times during each class session where students have the opportunity to participate in these conversations, sharing their thought processes and quandaries about the topic. We have also made available online discussion forums if students feel more comfortable sharing their thoughts digitally rather than in class. These discussions help us to see where students’ understandings are in regards to depth and clarity of the topics each week. These discussions are not necessarily for a grade, but rather to help us, as instructors, to guide the conversations and provide extra support to the students that might need it.

Speaking of grades, we will be using assignments as an addition form of assessment. This is where it starts to get somewhat tricky… Because the assignments have been completely gamified into experience points (XP) and students choose what level they want their characters to end on, we expect some students will not be as driven to reach an A+ level. Some students may be okay with earning a C in the class and only turn in that many assignments. (Thus, we have other forms of assessment to ensure learning is still happening!) The 80+ different types of assignments will help us to see where the students seem to direct their energy in completing “the missions” (assignments). Perhaps Student A submits many assignments in the current events category, so we may try to provide additional current event information that we come across for the student to delve deeper if they so choose during their own time. Maybe Student B submits multiple game designs for different assignments, showing interest in game design for a career, giving us the head’s up that we could introduce them to someone we know in the field- helping to make those crucial connections for internships, experiences, and perhaps even jobs!

In addition to these more immediate types of assessment, JS and I will also be completing an overarching data comparison with all of the data collected in this course with a previous, similar course that had been offered in the past in a different department. What this comparison will look like is still up in the air, but we thought this comparison would be important to see what differences we made in the course made a positive or negative impact on the students and their learning.

So, what’s next? Just collect the data and move on to the next class? Absolutely not! After visiting the data, JS and I hope to not only revamp the class accordingly (to better support our students and their learning), but hopefully continue to build off of this class in other areas of our professional lives. Yay for data making a difference!

Collaboration and Creation

JS: I have worked with a lot of people through the year. The day we are writing this and posting it is the final day of my twelfth year at Miami University. I’ve served on a number of committees, worked on tons of projects, and done a ton of different things. I’ve never had a collaborative relationship like this one. To start with I was never asked about doing it…Bethany told me we were going to. And then she told me her time frame and I thought she was insane. Looking back at it 8 months later…it is easily the best collaboration I’ve ever been a part of. And I think that is because we are, very much and in a lot of ways, opposites.

B: The collaboration piece of this project is what made the end product so amazing. JS had an idea and I believed in him- so I may have given him a little extra push with some confidence… and an aggressive timeline. JS was our big picture person. It was JS who brought in the overarching idea for the class and goal of having everything gamified. I came along and helped to set up the checkpoints to ensure we got it done and met all of the adminsitrative-y things along the way. The details? Well, let’s just say we were not saving the trees with how many post-it notes we went through when going back and forth come to a “decision” in our discussions.

JS: Bethany hit the nail on the head. I am very much an idea person and not so much with the executing. Even StrengthsFinder will tell you that. I took a course to learn to facilitate strengths and they gave us our full list. The highest thing in the Executing theme of the signature themes was 14th. Ideas…that I can do. Following through…not so much. Bethany made sure I followed through. And pushed me to be a better collaborator than I had ever been. Or as she called it…a mountain builder.

B: Oh, StrengthsFinder… I think 4 of my top 5 were executing? (JS: I think sometimes she wanted to execute me…) Anywho…

Overall, I was impressed that we were able to not only meet the aggressive timeline, but surpass it with everything we were able to achieve. Not only did we create the course, but we also wrote a grant (that was awarded!!!!), created the online portion of the class, connected with multiple academic departments to cross list the course, get it approved by the university, do initial planning to ensure the course was as accessible as possible for students with all learning styles and abilities, create materials for the course, build over 100 types of assignments…. Well, need I go on? Seriously, this team was ON FIRE!

JS: Assignments? I think you mean quests. We decided to come up with a totally different framework from how we’ve done classes before. However it didn’t start with this class-I gave Bethany the opportunity to fully re-write a different class I coordinate. No restrictions-no limitations…take the general idea and make something new. And she made something I would NEVER have created. I would not have selected the concepts she wanted to cover. I would not have chosen the format. After a bad experience with two-day, shorter classes I wouldn’t have switched that. And she was able and willing to create something new. She proved an ability to challenge me to stretch myself and become a better person. She created a totally different way for things to be done and different class concepts I would not have chosen to teach but that are perfectly relevant. Working together on that class built a trust that when she said “we are doing this” I believed her. When she would challenge something I was thinking it was to make things better and push me in a new way. It was really all for the benefit of the students and the class. So I allowed myself to be led down a path that I had just visualized a few years earlier and was unsure would ever be a reality.

B: I think JS hit on the two key pieces of our work together: trust and challenge. I am the safe player. I can tell you the next ten moves, ten weeks in advance- it’s just how my brain worked. JS challenged me to think in a way that helped me grow and helped to build the best experience possible for our students. When JS challenged my ideas, I was scared- we travelled into the unknown! EEK! But, that is when the best ideas came to fruition. I followed JS into the scary abyss of the unknown and he allowed me to put it into something physically in front of us to continue to make sense of. This created trust between us. We knew that where one person was nervous or lacked confidence, the other person could be the foundation. Thus, the mountain building phrase we came up used throughout. Didn’t mean it wasn’t butting heads sometimes, but it was constructive and created the peak!

JS: An interesting thing to notice here…since this is a leadership class. We were both leading. And both following. Both equally important, in my opinion, to good leadership. We were willing to set everything else aside for the good of the class and students it would be serving. The students were always our focus-what would be the best, most engaging classroom experience for them. We shared similar goals and worked together to reach for them.

B: Also good lessons to be learned- We failed. There were days that we got almost nothing done. Days that we were on completely different ideas as to what we thought things looked like. But, it was through these “failures” that we succeed. When these days happened, we took a breather and came back with a fresh mind and ideas and continued to build the mountain. WE did it!

It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Needs $3000…

JS and I had the ideas, the skills, and the excitement to help this idea of a course come to life. What we didn’t have was the $3000.00 to purchase the games and materials.

JS and I put off this step of our course development as late as we possibly could while still being able to meet our deadlines. $3000.00 was a lot of money and the chance of not receiving the monetary assistance could prove to be a major problem in our timeline as well as extremely disheartening. This project is super exciting to us, but would it be enticing enough to potential funding sources to jump in for the following semester?

Thankfully, I had worked with a department on campus that oversaw teaching grants: The Center for Teaching Excellence. From my previous experience of working with the grant committee (previous to our grant proposal!)  I knew they were looking for innovative curricular submissions that could be assessed. If you are interested in learning more about the specifics of their grant requirements, please visit their grant information site.

Grant Writing Preparation. Phew, that sounded a lot scarier than it actually was to complete! JS and I copied and pasted the grant questions and requirements to a Google Doc and took turns filling out the different questions then reviewing the other’s work. What research backs this project? We had that collected from the beginning- it’s what guided this coursework! Support from our colleagues? Done thanks to the dedication of our peers throughout this project. Itemize and budget each aspect of the project? That was the fun part! JS helped with finding the games we needed and ensuring we had the correct number of copies of games for a class of 24 students. JS collected this information from many websites such as Amazon and BoardGameGeek. If you are interested in seeing our draft submission, please visit this Google Doc and its Appendices.

Sounds easy, right? The truth is, our grant wasn’t accepted at first…

We could have stopped there. We did a lot of work that we were proud of- but without the funds for the materials, it would not come to fruition. The rejection email was a major hit to our excitement in building the class.

We decided, instead, to resubmit the grant proposal with added changes suggested by the committee. These changes largely rested in expanding upon and clarifying how the course would be assessed for future renditions and creations. We redoubled our efforts, spent multiple meetings expanding upon how we could use different aspects of the course to assess effectiveness for the committee and even scheduled a meeting with the committee to ensure they were on the same page regarding the entire project/ making sure we tied up any loose ends.

“The Committee for the Center for Teaching Excellence completed its review of your resubmitted proposal for the Major Teaching Projects. On behalf of the committee, we want to personally thank you for improving your materials for this important award. We recommend that your revised proposal, “Leadership Through Tabletop Gaming,” be funded for $2935.18. We congratulate you on developing a worthy proposal.” I can remember rereading this email at 10pm on a Sunday night over and over again to make sure I read it correctly. We did it! 

Grant writing takes time, takes effort, and definitely requires dedication. But, in the end, grant writing can be the key to making your innovation, dream, goal, or otherwise come true. Find a colleague you work well with and spend some time writing, reading and revising- but most importantly, don’t stop if you are rejected or postponed! Keep going! Your funding may only be one sentence away….

What is NASAGA?


The North American Simulation and Gaming Association

We will be talking a bit about NASAGA over the course of this blog. NASAGA has had a tremendous impact on us (and our ideas and methods for creating the class as well as other aspects of our work.) So, I feel we should introduce what NASAGA is.

NASAGA is the North American Simulation and Gaming Association.  From the website, “The North American Simulation and Gaming Association is THE home for trainers, teachers, and educators who use active learning methods to increase engagement, enhance retention, and improve performance.”  When people hear I’m going to a “gaming conference” for professional development they frequently question whether I am attending a professional conference and whether it is worth the university’s money. After seeing the results of what I have produced after attending the conference those questions quickly vanish. I can also point people to NASAGA’s Why Use Games page to help explain why our approach works.

My first trip to NASAGA was in 2012. Part of the ability to attend was it was close-two hours away in Columbus. While there I not only met some fantastic people but also was rejuvenated and blown away by the ideas and approaches that were being taken for training and learning. I had previously attended another excellent conference roughly 20 times (NACA-the National Association for Campus Activities) which I enjoyed but rarely hit my particular learning style. Someone I had met through NACA suggested I consider NASAGA and it was amazing. I felt awkward at first attending a conference where I didn’t know anyone and knew little of what to expect but quickly was enveloped into the fold and made to feel like I was home.

I attended every session slot and all but one (where the technology didn’t work) were excellent. If you would like to see what I attended at the conference you can view the report on the sessions I attended I turned in when I returned to campus. Notice one of the sessions is “Mining for Gold: Discovering Board Games’ Principles for Learning.” Greg Koeser (Founder/Game Designer for Short Attention Span Games) and Scott Nicholson Professor of Game Design and Development at Wilfrid Laurier University in Brantford, Ontario presented a session about using board games to learn. While I did find a few games I eventually bought for personal use at that conference, I think it goes without saying this was one of the things that helped with the idea behind the class launching this fall. I was excited, energized and ready to make an impact with what I had learned.


Part of the final presentation at NASAGA 2012

I did make an impact from that first trip and had a desire to begin attending annually, but things stopped me both personally and professionally from returning (or doing as much as I had intended.) Part of that was a new supervisor who also didn’t understand the value I found in going to a conference for gaming. However, when it was again just a couple of hours away, I was able to go along with two others from Miami; Bethany, who has been wowing you with her blog entries on here and Aidyn, who may be eventually as he is possibly also teaching a section of this class in the spring.  This semester we presented on the conference instead of writing a full report but I can tell you for all three of us NASAGA has revolutionized what we are doing in all aspects of our careers. Aidyn and I are working to create a number of breakout boxes/escape rooms with materials from Breakoutedu to use for training and team building. Bethany and I are creating this class. And that is just a couple of the things that have come from the conference. Trainings we have conducted, work with colleagues and our staffs-they have all been changed for the better by NASAGA. This fall Aidyn, Bethany and I will be returning as a trio to NASAGA…and this time it is not two hours away…it is in Reno, Nevada. (Side note-I’ve never been further west than St. Louis, so…adventure!)

Miami trio at NASAGA

The Miami Trio took NASAGA 2016 by storm.

This isn’t meant to sell you on attending NASAGA (although you should attend NASAGA-we hope to see you there!) This is to show you where we got a lot of the ideas and inspiration for what we do. Also to say take a risk. There are opportunities out there to revolutionize your work in ways you would never expect. NASAGA has twice done it for me and will be again this fall. Bethany and I are presenting on the class (more on that in a future blog) and Aidyn is presenting as well as helping plan part of the conference. Find those tools that help you do what you do better. We all did with NASAGA. Hopefully you find your way to do so also!

Wait, there’s a name for this?

As much as I would like to claim that JS and I are super famous researchers (NOT!), it is important to situate our philosophical foundation for the course and giving credit where credit is due.

We used 4 main philosophical views to build our course. (Although, JS would say we just made it and named the researchy-things later…) I will take a moment to share each of these philosophies, theories and models for those of you who are interested in the more technical side of things:

  1. Bloom’s Taxonomy: This model is in the shape of a pyramid and believes that students move towards the top of the pyramid as students better understand and comprehend the material. At the bottom of the pyramid is the remembering stage. A student is at this stage if they are able to regurgitate a piece of information. However, moving up the pyramid, we find application. If a student can apply the knowledge they previously could regurgitate to a new solution, they are believed to be at this stage.We chose to use Bloom’s Taxonomy because we believe it is important to meet students where they are and want to provide opportunities for students to grow no matter where they are on this pyramid throughout the experiences while providing the necessary support along the way. Throughout the course, the students have the opportunity to read the rules of the games (remember rules), play the games (understand), submit blogs on their assignments/reviews of home games (apply and analyze and evaluate), and even create their own game as a final assignment (create). The students choose how quickly they move along the pyramid based on previous experience and desire for deeper learning.

  2. Kolb’s Model of Experiential Learning: Building from Bloom’s Taxonomy, we wanted something that supported the how of what we were doing. Bloom gave us many base-level ideas of what we wanted to achieve, but we needed to know how- which is where Kolb’s model comes in to play. Kolb’s Model of Experiential Learning shows how students can approach a experience to get the most learning out of it. The first step is to have an experience- the actual event happening. The next step is to have a reflective observation: write or communicate exactly what happened. Next, there is abstract conceptualization. Here, we ask why something happened when we participated in the experience. The last step (although, it is encouraged to repeat the whole process) is active experimentation. During this step, students are encouraged to think of ways to alter the experiment that would alter the outcome.This model (as well as our love of games) is the whole basis of why we are using actual games and gamification in the classroom. Hands-on experience where the students control their experience points (grades) and how the games play-out in the classroom. Students are playing together, recording what happens through writing weekly observations, reflecting on their thoughts, and altering the games through their home assignments are gaining these experiences tenfold!
  3. Gamification: Okay, this is where it starts to get tricky. Did you know game-based learning and gamification are different? Gamification is using gaming concepts in the experience you are creating. For example, our course has opportunities for students to earn more XP (gradepoints) by choosing their own quests (assignments) they want to complete. Additionally, we have created a Rule Book rather than a course syllabus that outlines the journey (course) they are about to embark on throughout the semester. Gamification helps to motivate even those who are not self-proclaimed game-nerds (as JS and I claim to be) become more motivated in whatever experience we take part in. Motivation by gamification seems like a stretch? Check out this article from Forbes.

    Player's Handbook

    The Player’s Handbook (Syllabus) for EDL 290T.

  4. Game-Based Learning: Now, for the other half… Wikipedia may say it simplest: Game based learning is game play with defined learning outcomes. (Seriously- why doesn’t this site get more credit for how helpful it is?) JS and I didn’t program the games we chose only because we liked them… We chose these games because we had certain outcomes we want students to come to discover and believe they best provide the experiences that help students get there! For example, we are using the game Ladies and Gentlemen. Yes, the students are learning to play the game in particular. However, we also have specific reflection questions that speak directly to sex, gender, and racial roles that are presented and appropriated throughout the play of the game. Is this okay? How could this be changed in future printings if they were the producers? Is this seen in other games they’ve played before? There is so much to learn from gaming experiences!

For those of you who survived this post, congratulations! Similarly to a personality test, you may have a brain more built like mine than JS’s. As I have said in previous posts, he’s the creativity and I am the structure. It takes both to build something as awesome as this class!

I talk a lot about the how in this post, but still, a large how is missing…. how we paid for the class coming to fruition. However, this is a “how” that will need to wait for fresh (digital) paper.