Learning Through a Game

As you know our goal is to integrate specific learning objectives into a game. Many are trying this on a small scale, but none have succeeded in a massive on-line SRPG (Strategic Role-Playing Game).

We will!!
This video embodies our vision of the integration of learning and gameplay.
Join us on this design journey!


Tool Development #3 – Determining the Ability to Use a Tool

Once we determined the tools we wanted learners to learn to use and organized them into categories for simplicity we tackled the difficult idea of Usability.  We know the first few times someone uses a new tool, their proficiency with it is weak, but not entirely incompetent. Usually there are some parts of their use that are “on the right track.” Over time with use in similar situations the proficiency increases.

Schwartz, a Cognitive Scientist out of Stanford, suggests that true expertise (which he calls Adaptive Expertise) is not only about proficiency but ability to use in innovative situations.  (http://www.amazon.com/Measuring-What-Matters-Most-Choice-Based/dp/0262518376/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1399739084&sr=8-1&keywords=measuring+what+matters+most+Daniel+Schwartz)

Schwartz's model

“Adaptive expertise is more appropriate for situations of high variability. Rather than replicating efficient routines, adaptive experts vary their behaviors and understanding in response to a changing environment.”  Adaptive Expertise requires both efficiency experiences and innovative experiences.

This model allows for  the development of Adaptive Expertise.  All of the real estate between point (0,0) and the goal is fair game for an individual’s journey to Adaptive Expertise.  Thus we considered how to map out the potential development of tool use ability and came up with a grid rubric.

Grid Rubric Graphic

Our next step is to define what adaptive expertise for our age group looks and sounds like (for each tool); AND then what approximations of that use could look and sound like. Since learning is our priority, this grid will provide the basis for assessment of tool use within our game.



Tool Development #2

Part of our tool development process was to brainstorm and organize our potential tools. Organization has been interesting since don’t want too many categories. This was part of our first step in looking at the kind of learning tools as well as physical tools that we wanted to embed in our curriculum/game.

Tool Development #1

Maggie, Mike, and Bunsen started as a fun way to use science tools to help kids do science. We anthropomorphized each tool and gave them a name and a unique personality.  Image

As the project developed we discovered that our idea of “Tool” was bigger than just the physical tools used in a science lab. We realized that there were many other kinds of tools used to “do science and engineering” and to “learn,” and we wanted to include these in our project. Thus began a rigorous process of development (which is ongoing).

First we brainstormed every kind of TOOL that we could think of with respect to “doing science and engineering” and to “learning.” Then we began to consider the following questions…

  1. What kind of tools were necessary to do science and engineering and to learn and did we have an exhaustive list?
  2. How do we organize these tools into logical categories to increase the chance of children understanding them?
  3. What does it mean to understand how to use each tool? And how do we measure one’s ability to use it?
  4. What does expert use of this tool look and sound like? And more importantly how does this look and sound for an 8yr. old (approx 2nd grad)?
  5. What does approximation look like for each tool? If a learner/player is 1/2 way to understanding of this tool and using is well, what might that look and sound like?
  6. What kinds of experiences require the use of this tool and how do these experiences translate to a technological game space?
  7. In order to be developmentally appropriate and based on learning trajectory research, in what order to we “teach” the use of these tools?
  8. What does scaffolding the learning to use each tool look and sound like (to offer support as needed) and how do we embed that into the game space?
  9. How do we portray different kinds of tools (both for clarification for the learner/player, and so we don’t have 200 different characters)?
  10. How do the different kinds of tools interact with each other? with our narrative human characters? with our overall game narrative? etc.
  11. Why address any of this at all? What is the purpose for us to include these other “tools?”

If all we were ever gonna be was an episodic show (distributed either through TV, cable, or the internet) then most of these questions were irrelevant. But since we moved from simple show to multi-level complex game driven by story but covering K-2nd grade STEM standards and Literacy and math Common Core, then we must consider the above.

As we explore each of these questions, I will keep you posted, as I feel it is very important you understand both our underlying philosophy about “Tool Use” and how each tool will be represented in our overall game.

Project Values

Part of our process was to establish the values of our project.  In additional to our STEM and literacy goals these themes emerged as the values we wanted to embed in the learning space showing the relationship between knowledge and life.

Maggie, Mike, and Bunsen Values:
Design integrity – Model true scientific and mathematic investigation as well as the iterative process of design.  Engage children in theory generation, research, prototyping, testing and explanation where even more questions emerge as the theory and/or prototype are refined.
Gender equity – Encourage girls to pursue science and engineering as a course of study.
Collaborative community – Model the strength of a focused community of like-minded hard workers as they pursue solutions together.
Grateful spirit – Awaken the spirit of appreciation for what one has in their life.  Assist each child in recognizing their privilege and opportunity and empower them to act out of that appreciation by offering support, family, and opportunity to those in need.
Social responsibility – Model the relationship between privilege and responsibility by showing good stewardship.
Purposeful parenting – Model authentic parent action as they use compassion, laughter, and love to intentionally develop their children as individuals, assist them in developing their unique voice, and empower them to use who they are to impact others in positive impacting ways.
Cultural relevance – Expose our audience to various cultures introducing the role of culture in a society’s social norms.  Cultivate a respect for the differences in behaviors, values, and beliefs.