Games based learning is supposed to be the next big thing. So when I revamped a unit of work for Year 10 based on designing scientific investigations, I decided to “gamify” the unit of work.
I was inspired by a YouTube video by Seth Priebatsch on gamification, where elements of gaming can be added to education. After also seeing presentations by Dean Groom and Ben Jones I have come up with my first “gamified” set of learning experiences.
The normal non-gamified version
Here is the unit of work in its regular, non-gamified version. It is like many units of work in high schools – sequential, everyone does the same thing, etc. In a nut shell the unit of work is about how to design and carry out fair experiments to test a prediction, how to record results accurately, how to make sure your results are reliable and how to write up a report to share you findings.
scientific investigations 2011_blog version
So here’s the gamified version
The unit of work has been turned into a game called “The great science race”. At the start students are introduced to The Professor, who explains the overall game narrative. It’s sort of a corny narrative. If anyone has a much better narrative, please let me know!
The game is divided into four quests. Each quest has a number of tasks where some are compulsory and others are optional. All tasks have been assigned points that reflect their difficulty level. For example, a fairly easy task where students have to tick whether an experiment is controlled or not will allow students to gain 5 points on completion. Whereas a more difficult task with more higher-order thinking questions will allow students to gain 10 points on completion. This is set up to encourage students to undertake more difficult tasks. There will be a leadership showing the students’ scores.
Quest 1 is the training quest and introduces students to the basics of experimental design (for science nerds these are the basics like the types of variables, the meaning of accuracy and reliability, when to use a control, etc). There are three compulsory tasks in Quest 1. These tasks need to be completed in order to gain the apprentice badge and a password to level up and unlock Quest 2. Quest 1 also has a number of non-compulsory tasks that will add to the students’ score. Like Quest 1, the other three quests require students to complete certain tasks before they are awarded a badge and a password to level up and unlock the next quest.
Quests 3 and 4 involve students choosing a problem from a list and designing an experiment to solve the problem. The problems are given different points depending on their level of difficulty.
The gaming platform
So how can I implement this game? I could program it into Adobe Flash and turn it into a FLV game, but I haven’t got the time at the moment. So I decided to use the exiting resources that I’ve got:
-The game narrative, quests and the tasks within the quests will be given to students at the start of the unit of work as a OneNote notebook. The introduction (which contains the game narrative and explanation of badges) and Quest 1 will be unlocked sections. Quest 2, 3 and 4 are different sections which has been password protected. Once students have been awarded the relevant badge they will get the password to unlock the section.
-Edmodo will be used to give students their badges and password. The class will be a group on Edmodo. This will mean that a post to the class group will be seen by all students. A “small group” will be created for each student team. Posts to small groups will be seen only by students in that small group. This means that students can have discussions amongst each other and with The Professor (me) without the rest of the class seeing. Once a student team has completed a Quest, they convert that OneNote section of the quest into a pdf document and use the “turn it in” function in Edmodo to submit it for marking. The Professor (me) will mark the quest and provide feedback. Points, badges and passwords will be given to students via posts to their Edmodo small group. Updates on which teams’ progress on badges and points will posted on the Edmodo class group.
So that’s it for the time being ….
This unit of work will be implemented in a week’s time. There will be some classes doing the non-gamified version and my class (and others) doing the gamified version. I shall update the progress on this blog.
I am also applying the same gamification techniques to a Year 7 unit of work on the classification of living things.
Watch this space …. 🙂