Category: Gamification

The Final COETAIL Course 5 project. Exploring Music Genres.

I was thinking about the day when I will write this post. Two years seemed to be a long period of time for me. Not any more 🙂

When I began my COETAIL journey, I knew I will write about something related to the Gamification concept. I could only imagine, how my final project will look like. I didn’t think that it would include all this knowledge I gained during this program. And, finally, I did it. While creating this unit I could feel the influence of the newly learned teaching strategies, concepts, and methods. In this unit, I have included concepts and teaching/learning methods that I’ve discovered during my COEATL journey over the past 4 courses, such as  SAMR, CARP, collaboration between teachers, collaboration between students, research, rubric-based assessment, analyzing learned knowledge, reflection and, of course, new pedagogies with deep learning strategies. I hope and I’ll try very hard to remember and apply all I’ve learned and all of the information that helped improve my teaching so much. I am also glad that I will be able to read the posts of other COETAIL’ers to not only refresh my knowledge but also learn new things. Thanks to COETAIL for sharing all of our blog posts and projects publicly.

Before we begin exploring my new unit, here are my unit planner and slide deck:

Unit Planner

Slide Deck

Exploring Music Genres

My final COETAIL project is integrated Music and Technology unit with Gamification elements. It took two months to implement it.  The driving goal of this unit was to provide an authentic learning experience for students to learn music genres and enable them to apply this knowledge creatively while working on creations that would allow them to express themselves. The group of students that I chose for this project is Grade 3 students.
Gamification elements that I used in this unit allowed me to split unit into 4 stages, which were presented to students as separate missions. By completing each mission, students got rewarded with digital points and badges. During the first mission, students learned music genres and used this knowledge in order to create a unique soundtrack, which would represent music genre of their choice. For this purpose, during the second mission, students used digital music creation tools from the Chrome Music Lab. Chrome Music Lab is a website that makes learning music more accessible through fun, hands-on experiments. Soundtracks created by students were downloaded and used for further missions. With the third mission, students learned basic coding concepts using Scratch coding platform. They could apply knowledge gained about coding by working in groups. Students used soundtracks created earlier for their interactive animations or games on Scratch. During the final mission, students shared their Scratch animations and games on Seesaw Blog, which was also shared with the school community. Students, as well as parents, could comment and evaluate the creations. After that, students used received feedback to improve their projects. While working on this project, I gathered a lot of valuable information about Gamification and Coding from the ISTE books – “Gamify Literacy” by Michele Haiken and “No Fear Coding” by Heidi Williams, which I would highly recommend to anyone interested in these topics. You will find more details about my project in my reflection video below. 

Major Changes

Once I began planing, I realized how much I am losing because of unexpected (or maybe expected) school closure because suddenly my entire unit was supposed to be taught online. I have to admit that I also wanted this project to be so big, that initially, I have included too many elements. On the other hand, I’ve learned a lot from my mistakes as well. Teaching online gets at least twice slower than face-to-face and now I know that very well 🙂

When I shared the concerns about this unit with my colleagues, some of them said that every time you try to work on a new unit and think that you have it all ready, students will always find a way of emphasizing its gaps. Once again I understood that keeping everything as simple as possible is always a better choice.

First of all, my slide deck with all of the Gamification elements didn’t work as I expected. My plan was to have students update the slides I’ve shared in Google Classroom and add everything they’ve learned there. At the beginning of the implementation of this unit, I figured out that Seesaw would be a way better platform for sharing the activities of this project. I could leave reflective videos there, comment, create slides with voice elements and this seemed to be more attractive and easier for students to use. Loom screen recording was another great tool in my teacher survival kit. I could record video instructions for students on how to use digital tools provided during the project and add them to Seesaw activities. This was the biggest change in my unit, which proved to be very effective and successful. 

Moreover, we still could use the slide deck for gathering badges and points as the rewards. Students still could use the slides and track their progress by checking their rewards. However, by using Seesaw I could gather more responses and communicate more effectively. Moreover, students’ projects could be smoothly transferred to the Seesaw Blog, which later would be accessed by parents, teachers, and other students to gather their feedback. It also allowed me to monitor and approve all incoming comments. This feature allowed me to ensure safe learning environment for my students during the project.

Even though there was some frustration about the use of gamification in this unit, I could still feel the power of this amazing concept. The digital tools I’ve used also contained game elements and attracted students’ attention as well as motivated them to learn harder and reach better results! By using Chrome Music Lab tools students could experiment with the variety of instruments, notes’ length, octaves or beats, etc. While coding in Scratch students learned how to program interactive animations and games. They could customize all of their projects’ elements and program them. The coding process was also full of experiments. I have to admit that while working remotely students could get a little more independent while planing their learning time. Even though we had an agreement about certain limits of screen time for students at our school. Students were so into the coding process with their teammates that all of my extra time offered to students for consultations was occupied, very often by several groups at the same time. Students got so involved that they were coding even during their free time without my assistance. This wouldn’t have happened without online learning, knowing the fact how busy students are at school.

Collaboration

I was very happy about the collaboration with our music teacher. She provided amazing input and encouraged students to treat their soundtracks as a piece of art. She found many unusual ways of creating music and showed students how fun this process can be. Also, we encouraged our students to dare to be unique, unusual and unleash their creativity to the maximum. During this unit, students could see each other’s works and leave meaningful comments to each other on a Seesaw Blog. I was surprised how often students were reacting to the feedback received after the submission of their creations, which helped them improve their works and resubmit even better soundtracks. Gathering feedback for improvement and seeing progress of their peers worked really well! I am sure that this valuable experience will help students learn better and try harder in other learning processes. In addition, the Seesaw blog was also shared with parents of students participating in the project. Students were excited to see comments from their parents and students from other grade levels. Moreover, some students were receiving and checking feedback left by Scratch users on the Scratch platform. This was also very exciting because often they didn’t know people who left the comments in person. However, the comments were kind and relevant. People even shared their creations. Such interactions had a positive effect on students. They could feel the power of communicating and sharing. This seemed to be one step closer towards the geeking-out process.

At the end of this project, the Seesaw Blog was shared with the community of the elementary school. All teachers, students, and parents could see students’ projects, leave meaningful and encouraging comments. This was a great experience for students. They could feel proud of their learning progress.

Few More Gems of the Project

I was very excited to see remix culture popping up here and there during this project. Some students acted independently and searched YouTube to find ways to recreate famous soundtracks or songs. Most probably you will recognize a few of them in my video reflection.
Other students could not stop improving their soundtracks until they sounded perfect, which resulted in 3 and sometimes even 5 versions. Some of the students had a different approach – they created music by… drawing pictures using colored notes in Chrome Music Lab. Other students managed to learn independently by using the Raspberry Pie projects platform or a book about Scratch coding. What’s amazing about all of this experience is that it was shared between students during the Google Meet sessions. I am glad that I could recognize all of these amazing learning approaches thanks to my learning experience with COETAIL. Huge progress made by students showed me, that I have met most of the goals which I raised while planning this unit.

Here are links to the students’ soundtracks and Scratch projects, if you would be interested in the outcomes of the project – Soundtracks&Projects

While implementing this unit I gathered a lot of valuable experience and had an opportunity to rethink my teaching methods, update my teaching toolkit, improve my collaboration skills and start enjoying my work more than ever. I feel that during course 5 I have grown as a global collaborator and started seeing things differently. Sharing learning outcomes and receiving feedback was a new challenging approach for me, but I am really happy with how well it went and will definitely use it in my other projects. While expanding the boundaries of my unit, I felt that I want to plan more units like this one. I found really valuable that thanks to this project and the approaches to learning used while implementing it, students’ engagement was growing fast and my connection with them became very strong. Students came to me sharing how much they liked working on this project and asking when could they work on it further. This is the best evaluation of the project for me. I feel that this unit was really successful and all the mistakes made at the initial planning stage converted to valuable experience and helped improve it. Next time I am planning to involve students into design process even more and I am sure that together we will build an even better Gamification-based learning activity that I will be able to use in my further teaching. 

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Learning Through the Game?

Everyone Loves To Play

I have to admit that one of the best ways to spend some good time with friends is to spend it with a board game. People like playing games. Playing games makes us feel happy and maybe sometimes a bit upset when we lose a game. However, that’s life and all of us get this experience in our real lives as well. Games lead us through entire life. We begin playing in our early childhood as it is one of the most engaging and effective ways to learn new things.

I love learning through games and even my personal experience shows that it’s really effective. Russian is my second native language, but I have never learned how to fluently read in it. I do recognize Cyrillic characters, but my reading level is similar to the level of a second-grader. Once, I have participated in a small and cozy party. A colleague of mine brought a card game – “Alias“. Since she is a Russian language teacher, it was all in Russian. I definitely was going to challenge myself. The key factors like competition and engagement incredibly accelerated my low reading skills. It is incredible, how learning through the game might be a really powerful and engaging tool for learners. Moreover, one of the biggest advantages of playing games, is that they help us escape from our routine and get some exciting experiences.

Photo by Andrey Metelev on Unsplash

Our motivation to win points in the game generates signals in the brain’s reward system that are similar to those produced by our attraction to many other pleasures such as food. (Koepp 1998) Resource

Here are some interesting insights on people playing digital games in the US, shared by Eugen Eşanu. “Gamification: Understanding The Basics”:

69% of all heads of household play computer and video games;
97% of youth play computer and video games;
40% of all gamers are women;
One out of four gamers is over the age of fifty;
The average game player is thirty-five years old and has been playing for twelve years;
Most gamers expect to continue playing games for the rest of their lives;

This kind of statistics might seem shocking at some point. On the other hand, this shows how much people are engaged with digital games. What if those games would be really beneficial for the players, e.g. teach some useful real-life skills, new language, geography and so much more. Jane Mcgoligan (a digital game designer, who makes games for 10 years) has some good ideas on how gaming can make a better world.

Gamification in the classroom

“Games in the classroom help teachers to connect with their students” Kip Glazer “Game Creation as a Learning activity for students.”

has emphasized ways of gamification making students feeling happy. He also suggests celebrating students learning by using some elements from the games as rewards.

He thinks that learning isn’t always rewarding, and students do learn very often because they have to. The author suggests making learning a game or competition and celebrating students’ efforts by rewarding them with virtual badges. Moreover, by receiving a virtual badge students get a visual cue of their achievements, which helps them grow and make connections with the gained knowledge. It acts as a “memory bookmark”.You're the best The opportunity for improvement is one more benefit of digital games, that can be used in the educational process. When playing a game, you have a big chance to lose and start over. This means that gaming is a constant process of playing, losing, learning a mistake, and playing again, and therefore, improving skills this way. However, by learning and completing a task or taking a test, students usually don’t get to look back at the mistakes and try again. In most cases, students are preparing for the next one. Using gamification in education will not only engage students to learn but will encourage them to learn better.

 

“Gamification is not simply playing games in class….gamification goes beyond”  “3 Ways Gamification Will Make Your Students Happy”

Gamification vs Game-based Learning

I am currently working on the research for my final COETAIL project about Game-based learning and Gamification concepts. I try to dig deeper to understand how these concepts perform in education. Therefore, my biggest question is – “What is the difference between Game-based learning and Gamification?”

This infographic that I found at elearninginfogrphics.com compares Game-based learning and Gamification concepts. These two concepts are similar and different at the same time.

Gamification vs Game-Based Learning visual

My final project is more likely to be a hybrid model of both concepts. I am going to include a set of tasks, rewards for the completed tasks, levels, characters, settings representing the game environment.

…most school-age children, when playing a video game of their choice, can pay attention for hours,  will choose harder over easier tasks, and learn new cognitive game skill at a ferocious pace. Scott R. Garrigan.

Why are Games so Attractive?

According to the Malone and Lepper research, the intrinsically motivating elements making students want to return and play a game, again and again, are – challenge, curiosity, control, and fantasy.

Challenge – player accepts the challenge as it would be an individual goal that motivates him to meet the challenge.

Curiosity and Surprise – every player is curious about surprises in the game that can come together with the next game level 0r step.

Control – games differ by providing a variety of controls to the players – choosing a level, avatar, tools, or even ending the game.

Fantasy – Giants, Pirates, Characters from the fairy tales, Animated characters, etc., all these game characters as well as environments are making games even more attractive.

(Gamify Literacy)

Anyone will agree – children are the best experts of digital games. I was curious about the elements that make the digital game attractive and fun, so I have asked my students about that. Here is the list of the elements:
missions – student prefer challenges;
customizing option – students like to customize their characters,  gadgets, transportation, environment, etc.
peer comments and interactions or social interactions;
rewards – students like to be rewarded with coins, points, badges, etc.
environment – similar to Minecraft or Roblox,  Planet of cubes for younger students (Gr. 2 – Gr. 3). Fantasy, fiction, or sci-fi for older students (Gr. 4- Gr. 5)
– “Leader Boards” – students like tracking their progress as well as compare it with other students they know in person.
Similar elements are emphasized in the research about Learning Media and Technology by Paul Howard-Jones and other authors.

A New Version of the Monopoly?

Take a look at the example below which I found on Keri Lee Beasley’s website. The visual caught my eye because it looks like a famous board game – Monopoly. This board game was created for “Media Mentor Month” – a global education initiative designed to help parents develop a positive relationship with their children around digital technologies. Using this game-based format is a great and attractive way for parents to play/discuss media importance and impact to students’ learning by the representation of a board game that contains colors and icons, that attract to explore. If I was a student, I would like to play it right away.

Source of the visual

“Gamification is “taking game elements and applying them to a non-gaming context.” Brett Terrill

Gamification is Everywhere?

Before digging deeper into the concept of Gamification, I was sure it is related to education only. However, some facts surprised me after reading this article about gamification concepts and the ways they are used in business (E-learning Industry). For example, when shopping in a grocery store I receive some stickers, that provide me a discount for buying certain items. Moreover, I collect the stickers in my booklet for stickers, provided by the same grocery store. Sound familiar? I’ve seen this in my Kindergarten class but never thought about the connection 🙂

In order to find out more about gamification, I’ve signed up for a Coursera course ran by Kevin Werbach, a professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He has defined gamification as the process of our learning from games. Elements like badges, point systems are being used to reward a player/learner or even consumer for his achievements/shopping. For example, your SmartWatch is a great model of how gamification is being used in business. You thrive to walk and move more in order to achieve your goals and get awarded with a trophy. Eventually, you earn an appropriate badge and change a role in a game 🙂 Just like kids in a digital game. And of course, you buy a SmartWatch to play that game and feel happy about that.

 

Photo of my personal weekend gamification activity

“Circumstances where something involves some combination of game elements and game design that is for a purpose other than playing the game, that’s gamification.”

What is your favorite game?

 

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