Friday, January 31, 2014

Teaching and Learning in Immersive Environments Redeux

The Spring semester has begun and I have a new group of virtual travel companions. 15 Graduate students from UAlbany have blasted off into the Metaverse with me as their guide. Last night ten of us got together in Jokaydia for a fireside chat and a visit to North Country Island.

These intrepid adventurers have been on board for little over a week. Yet the conversation has already included embodied "feelings" (like modesty, clumsiness, disappointment); norms of behavior; and educational affordances. And of course we have already experienced the challenges of technology when it doesn't work - see the embodied cloud in the image.

In our exploration of the educational application of games, gaming theory, and constructive virtual worlds, I like to wrap our work in gamification features. A narrative storyline, discreet tasks that are rife with failure and success, collaborative missions and of course leveling. Management of all of this is always the challenge to me the game master/instructor. Upfront planning saves a lot on day to day upkeep to be sure. And though I intended to build the course in 3-D Gamelab, I just have not wrapped my mind around how to do it. So I stayed in [Argghhh] Blackboard with lots of pieces in Google docs. I am very pleased with my massively formulated Google spreadsheet documentation strategy. XP and levels are calculated immediately when travelers check off missions they've done. And of course their artifacts are dropped in their inworld portfolio for me to see. But "it ain't pretty." Every year I tweak and expand and learn. Mostly I learn. Let's see what I learn most this time around.


Anonymous said...

I have to say that I really enjoy the XP system that you introduced in class. To be completely honest, I think my favorite part is being able to see, at-a-glance, how I am comparing to the rest of the class. It is a wonderful way for me to easily see if I am falling behind. I don't have to go in to check blackboard obsessively to make sure all my assignments are up to date, I just take a look at the front page of the spreadsheet and see if someone has more XP than I do. If so, that means I need to get some more assignments done.

The only aspect that I'm not too crazy about is that with google docs, you can not control how much I can edit. I can either edit it all, or edit nothing which means that I am consistently nervous about accidentally deleting everything and destroying the whole classes progress. However, until google changes their set up, that seems unavoidable.

Heather Kurto said...

I actually appreciate the use and balance of Blackboard. As a student getting ready to graduate this is what I have known. Using this as our "spaceship" is a safe place for me. I do still check it obsessively so I can be sure I don't miss the assignments. It also helps me contrast a more traditional way of online instruction to a more progressive mode.

prof lkr said...

I am considering using a similar game concept with points in my art and fashion history courses. Because I do use Blackboard very robustly, I have been thinking about ways to use those tools to auto compile achievement points and make the course more differentiated. The balance I am seeking would still support a comprehensive social presence for all and a sense of being in a cohort (community college undergrads can be like herding cats). I already give them a game like approach for weekly quizzes that I create - and they are very hard because they are secretly forcing them to read and look closely at the pictures. So I am ready to take this another step forward given what I am seeing this class. I should also add, that I do feel like the slow dog on the sled team sometimes and realize my competitive feelings are then awakened in my desire to keep up!

Christina Arnone said...

I am enjoying this classroom experience immensely and, after this week's visit to a High School teachers' island have begun to see the implications for using 3D technology in education outside of our own Curriculum Design discipline.

It took a little time to just get used to visiting Jokaydia, but the more often I go there and the more assignments I complete the better I become at maneuvering.

In addition to the exciting adventures of Jokaydia the set-up of our blackboard class is also easy to maneuver and understand. Having a Achievements page where I can view the entire class and their level helps motivate me to keep up and allows me to know when I am falling behind. All in all, this is well-thought out classroom experience!

Diana Cary said...

I am really enjoying this class mostly the social aspect of it. I am eager to learn and motivated by the willingness of classmates to help me when I am unsure of an assignment and i love to help others when they are in need of help.

The google spreadsheet makes it easy to check off what I have done. The XP for working with others on assignments is not automatic for me. I am guessing that extra XP is added by our commander.