Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Designing Professional Development? Game On!

It's the last 2 weeks of school and nobody wants to attend a 4:00 professional development session. How do I create 1 hour of meaningful learning for my teachers? I know– I'll gamify it!

The purpose of this professional development session was to highlight some of the many innovative learning activities that occurred around campus during the year and how they tied into our overall technology plan. My team and I brainstormed types of game mechanics that could facilitate competitive play, information gathering and movement. We decided to incorporate elements from "The Amazing Race", "Super Mario Brothers" and "The Legend of Zelda". The resulting game included 9 information stations– each representing learning opportunities  that incorporated 21st century skills. At each station, team members had to complete a task that focused on particular concept (i.e. student created content, telepresence, blogging, 3D printing...). Additionally, they were to identify the student or faculty goals from the technology plan that were developed by the activity. Teams earned tokens at the stations and had opportunities to earn bonus tokens at points during the game play. The core game elements included the following:

Trophy designed and printed on our MakerBot
by Dave Rice
Goals- Each team will collect as many tokens as they can from any of the 9 informational stations. The
winning team earns a casual day pass and a trophy.

Rules- Only 1 team at a station at a time. Teams have 40 minutes to play. Teams that arrive back home late will be fined a token.

Space- designated rooms in the Lower School building, players move from room to room at their own pace

Components- Token buckets, tokens, iPads, Node desks, 3D printer, Smart Board, Telepresence Unit, Chrome Books, Tech plan goals, recording sheets

Mechanics- Walking, collecting, solving, racing

I front loaded most of the instructions so that teams would come in ready to play. We only had 1 hour. I selected the most competitive people on campus to be team leaders and assigned members to their team. Each leader received a packet with avatars (jobs for each member), recording sheets and technology plan goals that they distributed prior to the game. On game day, teams reported to the home base and we had about 5 minutes to review our goals and rules. We blew the air horn and everyone was off.

It was a very fast-paced session and all teachers were engaged! Competitive team leaders pushed their teams to complete the tasks, identify faculty and student goals and move on to the next station. One team was fined a token for returning late to home base but that was because they wanted to complete the task at their station! It was a close race but we had a team that was 1 token ahead (which caused some rumbling from the 2nd place team about tokens they felt they should've been awarded).

Two of our stations were manned by student "Padwans" which I found to be very powerful and a win/win for everyone involved. Students taught the teachers how they utilized technology in authentic ways during the year. The students loved teaching the teachers and the teachers had the opportunity so see the enthusiasm students bring to project-based learning.

This was an amazing first experience in gamification of professional development. One thing to note is that some people got so caught up in the game that they lost the point of what I wanted them to learn. I will examine some ways to avoid that for next time. A model that I would like to try will include the use game elements at carefully placed points during a longer professional development session. This will decrease the intensity and enable me to scaffold the game play leading to a culminating point towards the end.

Gamification is not limited to professional development. Teachers all over are engaging students with content by incorporating game elements into their instructional design. Gamification is a way to increase motivation, provide immediate feedback, develop perseverance and incorporate a variety of learning styles.  Help your teachers and students get their game on by creating learning opportunities that they will remember! What game will you play?

GameOn! Smore- This was sent out to teachers prior to the game
Sample Station- 3D printing station

Other Resources–
Gamify My Class Blog
Gamification of Education
Gamification Infographic
How to Use Badges for Positive Growth