Walking into my first year 9/10 ICT class for the semester, I faced high-5s, excitement and high anticipation! What!!! Why???
This was an elective class, students who chose to be there and the name of the class was “Gaming!” I wanted to trial gaming as an elective to see what learning could take place and obtained permission from the leadership team to do so. We have some serious gamers in our school and they are in this class!
However, I am not a at all a digital gamer and have no real inclination to be one. That puts me on the lowest level of knowledge and the least likely to be qualified to teach such a class. I am still working through class content and the way in which learning can be assessed.
MinecraftEDU is on our server and is the one constant game played over the semester. Students just do not seem to tire of it. However, students come up with minecraft challenges and these challenges are given out to the others. Students will bring in hardware including wii, xbox, game boy, play stations, hand held devices etc Are they learning anything by just playing games? Let me tell you more.
The Student cohort:-
- A large proportion of under-achievers and disengaged students
- Excursion and school avoiders
- A lack of girls (although several came in later in the semester)
- High absenteeism
- Students who will be absent from school in order to queue at the shop for the latest games release or in order to make sure they get the limited collectors items.
- Highly engaged students often working in small groups, mentoring each other, sharing their knowledge and learning, answering each other’s questions etc.
- Students working out challenging projects together
- Excitedly sharing with me the latest things they are trying out
- Searching online for video tutorials or withing online forums to solve problems encountered, best prices,
- Working out budgets to see whether they can afford the latest games etc
- Collaboratively and simultaneously building fixtures in minecraft
Interestingly I can “con” them into learning some associated digital literacy skills using gaming as the theme so that my role as a teacher:
- Teach them how to blog and journalise their progress in games
- Encourage them to write posts on things pertaining to games playing eg game reviews, 5 things I learnt this week, 5 things you might not know about…… , My top 10 computer games, 10 games you should play before you die!, What makes a great computer game etc
- show them how to add links, resources and hyperlings in blogging
- #tags in twitter for favourite games
- how to use a spreadsheet and create budgets etc
- Create online surveys to get games feedback
- Collaboratively build online documents sharing knowledge, ideas and processes etc
- Introduce some free educational type online games and get them to trial them eg logos for business studies, history games, commerce games etc.
- Teach them how to screen casts to show progression over time and
- create videos that will be uploaded to youtube.
- Demonstrate how to upload videos to youtube, change thumbnails, apply tags etc
- Curate favourite sites with diigo, symbaloo links etc on blogs etc
- Look at social issues caused by games eg games addiction, rating of games etc, application to the workforce eg simulations etc
- Organise a knowledgeable student(s) to introduce some games making software eg MS Kodu, and Gamemaker
I asked students what we could do and how I can assess it as traditional assessment methods will not work. They have come up with some great ideas on this collaborative google document. This is still work in progress but their use of blogging etc, stats, comments, youtube uploads etc Evidence of collaboration, mentoring and sharing etc.
This Thursday, the class will go by coach to Quantum in Melbourne (a 4 hour drive each way) for a full day workshop on Games Technology. Many of these students would normally choose to avoid excursions or just be very slack in returning forms. But….. this time, forms are all back and came back the next day!
What does all this say? I am still trying to work through it all but I know that I have engaged students with almost nil behaviour problems in this gaming class. Now, how can I get this in my other traditional subjects?
What experience do you have? What have your findings been?