Who Moved My Classroom? Part Three
Introducing a Model to Gamify Your Professional Learning
“Technology can either alienate us or it can connect us and that is a design decision.” ~ JC Hertz (Author, Joystick Nation)
If you’ve been following the series the grand finale is here and I'm excited to share how you can gamify your professional learning (PL) model. It is essential that PL be an ongoing experience for all educators, however it needs to be personalized, differentiated, and above all enjoyable! Many times the focus is on student learning (rightfully so) but what about the learning experiences we plan for educators? Often times when planning PL sessions the learning experience being provided for educators is overlooked. How many times have you sat through an hour long boring PPT presentation where the presenter is telling you how you need to create student-centered learning environments that harness the power of technology to engage your students! Ironic much? With the rise of social media today’s educator has so many different ways to connect with others to learn and share. However the PL that takes place on our campuses and within our districts must be thoughtfully planned and meaningful so that educators can benefit from the best of both worlds.
Be The Change You Want To See
In an effort to gamify our PL, our goal is to model what we want to see take place in the classroom. We don’t want to tell you our vision for 21st century learning, we want to show you! We want you to feel it and experience it for yourself so you understand the level of excitement you can bring to your classroom.
Often times when I read about gamification in professional development it seems to stop at badges, points and rewards. I was always intrigued by the idea but when I reflected upon why I loved to play games it was never because of the amount of coins I could collect or the number of one-ups I could score. It was about the challenge, it was about journeying through the story, it was about being able to accomplish the goals and finding my way there after failing multiple times but never giving up. Furthermore my involvement in games led me to connect with others where we would share ideas, tips and tricks and of course boast about our success and “aha” aka teachable moments!
It wasn’t until I read, “The Gamification of Learning and Instruction,” by Karl Kapp that I was able to put two and two together. Kapp defines gamification as, “Using game based mechanics, aesthetics and game thinking to engage people, motivate action, promote learning and solve problems.”
I wanted my experience during game play to be what educators experienced during Pl. Using the book as a model I set out to integrate these elements into a PL model. Following Kapp’s advice I did not make badges, points and reward the focus. In Part Two of the series we talked about the required gamification elements in depth; here we will talk about their implementation in our PL.
If you’ve seen the iconic scene from, "Ferris Bueller’s Day Off" you’re probably just as afraid as we are that 21st century students in 20th century learning environments are becoming zombies! With this scene in mind I developed the following narrative to guide our game:
"Placed in 20th century learning environments students are slowly becoming zombies because they are so bored in class. Mundane daily tasks and worksheets are killing their inner creativity and they want revenge. They've seen how some humans are using the iPad and all the other exciting 21st century tools and how it can save them and bring them back to life. They are coming back from the dead and starting a revolution taking over parts of the world one by one. These zombies are demanding that they engage in critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration with others locally and globally. Without the next generation the world will end as we know it and educators are the only ones with the power to save the world. Giving these zombie children 21st century learning experiences is the only way to bring them back to life. If lost the world faces being lost into a dark oblivion where innovation, leadership, and a love for learning are all lost. Your greatest weapon against being attacked by the zombie students is to create exciting lessons using AppTracks, and gradually you’ll watch as these zombies come back to life. These AppTracks are your secret weapon to protect yourself from the zombie students as you play to save the zombies and the future of learning!
Helpful Hint: When developing your narrative allow room for teachers and students to create their own narrative within.
Journey to become a 21st century educator who creates innovative learning experiences that will bring the zombie students back to life and help them love learning again.
Helpful Hint: Don’t forget to build smaller goals within the game so that individuals experience a sense of accomplishment along the way.
Question: How many AppTracks will I need to create?
Answer: There are 12 critical steps to take before the zombie apocalypse is averted.
Question: Is this a single-player or co-op game?
Answer: Not only is working together in multi-player teams allowed, but you can collaborate to unleash extra powers in your quest to save the zombies and the future of learning.
As you can see we don’t have a long list of rules. We imagine more may possibly develop as we move forward but for now we are happy! :)
Fewer rules means more creativity because remember, we want to model what we expect!
Helpful Hint: Be Flexible! The goal is to create an open environment that encourages risk taking and failure not a place where people feel restricted.
The longer the students remain zombies, the harder it can be to bring them back to life! Time is the scarcest resource of them all! The goal should be to model what you want to see take place in the classroom so I decided to take the flipped approach to learning to maximize time together in PL sessions. I created a group of virtual instructors brought to life through Tellagami who introduce educators to a variety of different tools they can use in their classroom to revive zombie students. Furthermore, this virtual team travel the globe interviewing other educators from whom we can learn and share. PL sessions are dedicated to creation and collaboration as making AppTRACKS. Working together, we can maximize our strategy to save the zombies and the future of learning.
Helpful Hint: If you want teachers to innovate, create and collaborate they need time!
What skills do you have to tackle the zombie students? To find out, teachers will take an initial assessment. This allows the PL to be personalized and each teacher can set their own goals for progression through the courses in a way that fits their needs.
Practice Level - The Appstacle Course
Each level serves as a quest in which educators will acquire the skills they need to create innovative learning experiences for their students. They will navigate the AppSTACLE course as a practice activity for teachers new to the app/tool. Teachers who are more advanced can move onto the next level. The AppSTACLE course and AppTRACKS are brought to life through Thinglink.
Level One - The AppTRACKS
In level one, teachers will come to PL sessions to create an AppTrack using 2,3,4 or more apps. (Points are awarded based on the objective of the lesson and its use of the app. Don't want educators using lots of app just for the sake of using them. Process > Product)
Level Two - Curating and Reflecting Upon Your Journey
Remember earlier how we said, keep your narrative broad to let others jump in and add to the story? Well here is why. After teachers have created and led the lesson using the AppTRACK they will curate their lessons and complete reflections in book creator. This also serves as a great book to share out with other campuses and even globally.
Level Three - Saving the Zombies EdCamp Style
Teachers create their own flipped classes to share and lead PL sessions at their campus.As we move through the game different boards will be designed (ideally teacher-driven) and we can’t wait to see how teachers and students will use these. Some AppTRACKS will have a required app and the teacher can choose the other ones; sometimes they will be completely blank allowing the teacher to select all of the apps to be utilized. I've highlighted only a few here, but the possibilities for what you have teachers engage in are limited only to your imagination.
Helpful Hint: Double up the AppTRACKS and AppSTACLE courses to serve as student instructional handouts or 21st century lesson plans. Don’t forget to include the objective and any assessments used.
C-C-C - Conflict, Competition or Collaboration
The student zombies provide the conflict, competition occurs between our four different campuses, and collaboration is our favorite C because this is where educators move beyond the four walls of their classroom to connect locally and globally as they work to achieve a mutually desired and beneficial outcome, namely saving the zombies!
Helpful Hint: Ensure that collaboration is an integral component of the game so that educators strive to become connected.
Badges, Points and Rewards
While this is not the most critical part of the game, it is a necessary component. Educators should feel that they are making progress toward saving their zombie students. It also creates an opportunity for teachers to share their successes and teachable moments. Some of our rewards include free dress days, gift cards, and certificates handed out in front of the teacher’s class.
Helpful Hint: Strike a balance - rewards should not be too easy to achieve, but not too difficult either. Be sensitive before creating a leaderboard and be sure to have this conversation with your administration before making rewards public.
The beauty of this model is the constructive feedback you receive on an ongoing basis from your colleagues, your administrators, but most importantly your zombie students. As you are utilizing your lesson, you feel the excitement and level of classroom engagement as you watch your zombie students come back to life through creativity and collaboration. This leaves the teacher wanting more, not only in their classroom but also sharing it with others so that they can experience the joys of 21st century learning as well.
Helpful Hint: Often times there is a negative connotation associated with evaluations which is how most teachers are used to receiving feedback. Use this as an opportunity to shift the culture of what it means to be evaluated and what it means to receive feedback. This is key to your teachers becoming open to a more transparent and collaborative learning and sharing experience.
Working in isolation is so 20th century and we all know how the zombie students feel about that! In part one of our series we talked a lot about change and how different people respond to change .Encouraging educators to take new risks and embrace changing times with positivity and excitement is the the heart and center of why we chose to gamify our professional development. It is within the game space that one is not afraid to fail! In fact, the user desires failure, because a game in which one did not fail is one in which no challenge was presented and no satisfaction was received. We wanted to create an environment where our teachers embraced and desired failure so that they can feel that sense of accomplishment. One by one, zombie students are brought back to life Where badges, rewards and points are insignificant because the player is focused on the ultimate goal - providing the best learning experience each and every day as they bring the zombie students back to life.
Helpful Hint: Think about how you can harness the power of social media to engage your learning community, share successes and lesson ideas and tell the story of your school to the world!
I hope you have enjoyed our series on the gamification of professional development and look forward to seeing what AppTRACKS your teachers create as together we discover, innovate and share.