Tag Archives: Gaming

Learn to Spot Fake News by Creating It (In a Game)

badnews-tablet-intro.pngFake News, disinformation, and conspiracy theories are not just the subject of political investigations and Sunday night commentaries, but there are a legitimate concern for those who need to teach digital and media literacies. To that end, a developer has created a free online game called Bad News.

According to its creators:

The Bad News Game confers resistance against disinformation by putting players in
the position of the people who create it, and as such gain insight into the various
tactics and methods used by ‘real’ fake news-mongers to spread their message.
This, in turn, builds up resistance.

They have also created an Educator sheet to help teachers and specialist employ the game and teaching digital media literacy skills at their institutions.

Advertisements

Reflections on ISTE 2014 Atlanta

Last night I came back from ISTE 2014 in Atlanta. As ISTE always is, it’s empowering, inspiring, overwhelming, and exhausting. This year, I had the privilege of becoming a board member of the ISTE Independent School Educators Network  (new twitter hashtag #isteisen) and Co-Chair of Professional Development with Kelsey Vrooman. If you want to join us for our first Professional Development event, we will be discussing Danah Boyd’s book “It’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens” (available at book retailers in print and eBook form and as a free download here) with the author on October 7 at 3:30 EST. This event is free and open for all via this link.

It would be impossible for me to discuss everything I took away from this conference – there was just too much! However, I can highlight a few things. Google, as we have seen at ISTE’s past, has really raised the bar with free professional development and resources for educators and schools. You can learn more about Google Apps for Education (GAFE) here. Google expanded on its release of Classroom, that will hopefully be available this fall. The Google Playground also presented several cool features. One of my favorites is fusion tables, Moss Pike of Harvard Westlake School demonstrated how you can use this in conjunction with Google Forms to delve deeper into your data (e.g. using a school survey and then analyzing collected data by age, grade level, department, etc).

Courtesy of Deviant Art

Courtesy of Deviant Art

Gamification was a big theme at the conference as well. Numerous educators and students held poster sessions and talks demonstrating the power of Minecraft in their classrooms. Douglas Kiang of Punahou discussed the power of games in his presentation “From Minecraft to Angry Birds: What Games Teach us about Learning.”

Vinnie Vrotny, the new Director of Technology at the Kinkaid School, organized and hosted the Maker Playground. The Maker Movement has become a key theme in education and the role it can play in children being innovative, inventive, and invested in their own education.

Overall my take away from ISTE is that technology is quickly revolutionizing education and encouraging discussions and change.

“ClassRealm” – Turning the Sixth Grade into a Video Game

A good friend of mine, knowing my affinity for educational technology and gaming, sent me a link to this amazing story about a teacher who turned his sixth grade class into an MMO termed “Classrealm.” I have written about learning as a “game” in my article, “Learning is an Epic Win – Jane McGonigal.” The idea of applying concepts of game theory to learning is not entirely new, but its application has been challenging and problematic. This article on Kataku highlights how a passionate teacher did just that by creating an RPG/MMO element game in his classroom titled “Classrealm.” The rules of Classrealm were as follows:

1. ClassRealm is completely voluntary. If you don’t want to participate you don’t have to.

2. XP is the backbone of ClassRealm. Every 10 XP you earn pushes you to the next level. Every one starts at level 1.

3. XP can be obtained by doing simple things such as:

• Answering questions

• Joining in class discussion

• Working hard on an assignment

• Helping others

• Participation in general

• Random Encounter Friday (explained below)

• Gaining achievements (explained below)

4. Achievements are gained by completing specific tasks. For example: a student can obtain the “Bookworm” achievement by reading two unassigned chapter books and explaining the plot and characters to me.

5. Each achievement has four levels — bronze, silver, gold, and master. Each level is harder to reach than the one below it.

6. Boys are pitted against girls. The gender that can acquire the most achievements by the end of the year will win extra recess and an ice cream party during lunch.

7. Each Friday will be Random Encounter Friday. Every one who wants to battle will put their name in a hat. I will draw out two names and they will battle. Students will be asked a question. I will repeat the question twice and then start battle music. The first to write the correct answer on the board and put their hands up will win XP. You can only answer once. Question subjects are chosen at random.

8. Students may join in alliances of up to six ClassRealm citizens. The alliance with the highest combined level at the end of the year wins a pizza party.

9. All info, except for the current amount of XP each student has, will be listed online and in the classroom for students and parents to see.

During the one week experiment, Ben Bertoli (the teacher) highlighted the rapid change in attitude experienced by his students.

“I had students I never heard from volunteering to answer questions they didn’t even know the answer to. Students who normally wouldn’t even care were going out of their way to get XP from class participation. Every one of my students pushed themselves to focus during the day’s assignments and behave. One student, who earned a bronze level achievement, was even applauded by the entire class. It blew my mind.” – Ben Bertoli

While the experiment lasted only one week (long-term application has not yet been explored), it demonstrates how game theory can be effectively applied in a classroom environment, promoting enthusiasm, excitement, good behavior, cooperation, and thinking outside of the traditional box of education. To learn more about this experience, see the article in Kotaku: “How One Teacher Turned Sixth Grade into an MMO” and “Ben Bertoli’s ClassRealm is Gamifying the Classroom” in Wired.