My interest in using games as a learning tool began when I signed up to take a current issues seminar dealing with relative location-based (RBL) educational games. In that class we were introduced to a exciting game format based on the players relative location in the world. Geographical based games deal with fixed points in longitude and latitude and are not easily transferable to other locations. Relative location-based games allows a person to play a game within a “geofence” — an area defined around your current location, usually 100×100 meters, without having to be tied to one location. Dr. Brett Shelton developed a platform and web-based tool called GeoBob for teachers to create their own RBL without having to deal with the gritty details of programming. The web tool allowed us to create our game and add media relatively easily. Most in the class choose games geared towards younger learners but the concepts are the same for adult learners.
I chose to design my game around Carl, a cold virus as he and his friends are infecting a small boy. The difference to many other games is that you assume the role of the bad guy rather than be the stereotypical hero and prevent harm from occurring. Carl travels to different locations in the boy’s body to observe or cause the symptoms of the common cold. Along the way I asked questions about the symptoms they were observing, how to prevent the spread of colds, or how to mitigate the damages of the symptoms. The player has to physically travel to different locations or checkpoints, within the 100×100 meter geofence, in order to advance through the game. To win the game you must help Carl survive and escape the boy’s body so he can infect someone else.
This experience taught me several things about educational design. The first and obvious one is that it is much harder than it looks. There are so many factors to think about when creating a game from storyflow, platform limitations, device mechanics, and storyline. Second, each of these elements had to be critically analyzed and documented through a design document so each of us could keep everything organized and provide a development road map to follow. Third, just because its a educational game doesn’t mean it will improve the learners mastery of the concepts presented in your game. These are things that I have repeatedly found as I was reviewing literature on gaming in the classroom and as an educational tool. A poor understanding of game design can result in the improper usage of a game either commercial off-the-shelf or specifically tailored to the learning situation can result in the student learning less than they would if traditional education methods were used. A teacher must not introduce a game without first understanding how it will help their students learning.
These series of pages will introduce you to game theory and how it can be used effectively in the classroom.
- Literature Review
- Case study on how one professor turned his entire class into a role-playing game
- Which adult learning theory does Game Theory fit in?
Links to Resources showcased in this series
I had some time during lunch so I threw together 2 videos on Canvas.
1. Undelete a Canvas Quiz – How to use the undelete feature to recover a quiz and submissions in Canvas.
2. Creating demo users in bulk for Canvas LMS – This video demonstrates how I used the free service http://www.fakenamegenerator.com to create a csv file of 1,000 users for use within my Canvas development environment.
I am happy to announce, (belated announcement, known for 3 weeks), that I have been offered a job as an instructional designer at Utah State University, which I accepted. Its not a huge stretch from my current job which is a technical coordinator/instructional designer at USU-Eastern but I have exponentially more courses to manage and I will deal mainly with online courses. I will also have more opportunities for advancement and I can finally take face-to-face classes for my masters program!
Our main focus is migrating over 400 online courses from Blackboard to Instructure Canvas. If you haven’t heard of Instructure Canvas before take some time and check them out. They are a new player in the Learning Management System world and they are gaining new clients every week. Did I mention their LMS, is open source, all the better reason to download it and give it a try.
For one of my classes I had to create a short presentation on a technology related to e-learning. I decided to revisit an oss project I first looked at 2 years ago called Xerte. At that time I was looking for ways to create interactive content and since I had no money I started looking for open source projects. I found two eXe and Xerte. Out of the two projects I was really drawn towards Xerte, eXe was nice but when I had looked at it there had been no new versions of it since 2009 and I checked up it a few days ago and no major versions had been released since I had last looked at it. Xerte is still in active development and released a update just a few days ago.
Short list of open source e-learning authoring tools
I know there is other oss e-learning creation tools out there but so many of the lists I found are filled primarily with LMSs such as Moodle, Sakai, Dokeos, etc… My criteria for an e-learning tool is that it can create a stand alone package. Some of the projects create packages that need a player but not a full blown LMS. While it is true that these LMSs let you develop e-learning content the problem is that it is usually tied to that particular system and in most cases cannot be ran as a stand alone package. One thing to also note is that many of these projects have had very little activity on them. That might be a good thing to investigate further because it seems like a trend that is happening especially with the projects funded or created by a educational institution.
So I have decided to take this summer and delve deeper into Ruby on Rails. Working with Instructure Canvas has made me decide that I need to learn how to extend Canvas using plugins which means delving into ROR. My initial plans are as follows:
- Polish off the Lynda.com tutorials on Ruby on Rails and if needed Ruby. Both are done by the same instructor and I have already gone through much of the ROR portion and several of the Ruby ones.
- Work through the Beginning Rails 3 by Cloves Carneiro Jr. and Rida Al Barazi. Their book is part of the reason I structured my plans the way I did. There is a Apress Roadmap that suggests this book first as well as a Beginning Ruby then either Practical Rails Plugins or Practical Rails Projects.
- Since my focus will be on plugins I will work through Practical Rails Plugins and create my own plugins.
- Start working on my first plugin. One that I want to do is interfacing with the AAA department’s course evaluation. Everybody wants to use BLTI but I think it will not fulfill our needs.
I submitted a proposal to present at the Southwest Blackboard Users Group 2010 conference and it was accepted. I talked about CEUs custom login page for Bb Vista 8.0+ and how we decided on the content. I also talk about using CSS grid systems and a CSS reset stylesheet with Bb widgets that make it easy to create a custom login. I have included my Wimba presentation on the portfolio page. If you are interested in building a custom login page for Bb Vista 8.0+ and need some help let me know.
I have always wanted to install Sakai but I was always put off by the amount of configuration I had to do because it was Java based. Well the first week of school went much better than the previous semester so I actually had some down time and I decided I would knuckle down and get it done. I got it installed and have been running it through some basic tests, mainly figuring out which site tools matched those in Blackboard and if there were any gotchas with them.
Weber State has a instance running so I became even more encouraged about its feasibility for a pilot. I contacted the person who set it up but it took a while for him to respond. During that time I started to read all that I could from the Sakai document system. Needless to say it took a lot of work to assemble all the appropriate information. The Sakai documentation site is sometimes difficult to follow and I did notice that there were about three sets of installation instructions. I ended up piecing bits together till I got a good install mashup that would work.
I documented my Sakai setup and I decided to create a new blog page with my installation notes. You can check it out by visiting the Sakai Installation Notes page.