Why Game Based Learning Works for This Math Teacher

By Dian Shaffhauser
Re-Posted from THE Journal 3-19-2018

Dian Shaffhauser reports how high school teacher Giulia Bini saw a 100 percent pass rate and grade improvement of 10 percent after she introduced a game to her calculus class.  – JS

When Giulia Bini started using a video game in her high school calculus class, she saw a 100 percent pass rate on testing about limits compared to 80 percent in the previous year; plus, grades rose by 10 percent.

The game she used, Variant: Limits by Triseum, places players on an imaginary planet. To rescue the planet from “imminent doom,” they help “Equa,” the main character, solve a series of increasingly tough calculus problems.

Continue reading by linking to the entire article at THE Journal 3/19/18. 

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media’s education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at dian@dischaffhauser.com or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

Variant: Limits the game

When Variant: Limits is used in conjunction with traditional class-based teaching, students are able to better visualize and grasp the abstract concepts underlying calculus.

Instead of having to learn calculus from a book, players will see the subject come to life in 3D animation as they find themselves on an imaginary planet facing imminent doom – unless the players can work to avoid it (from game site web page).


The GBL Shift to Analog

When I started this blog in March 2015 I stated that my raison d’être was the “investigation of the intersection of learning and human engagement.”  A high falutin goal indeed.  To be sure I noted that  “using the concept and techniques of games and gaming in this intersection”  was my real goal, and I did indicate that “other than learning and teaching, games and gaming” were my “personal passions.”   My recent discovery at the time of analog mega games as a potential revolutionary classroom pedagogy notwithstanding, digital games were clearly the dominant game based learning (GBL) instrument.  It was for digital GBL that the apps and ipads and pods and everything digital in the classroom were focusing.

It has now been exactly 3 years, and whereas digital GBL is still the biggest game-based learning thing, I sense a shift toward the analog.  My excitement is being rekindled. I certainly welcome a shift toward the analog, since this area has been my passion from the beginning.  But, I feel this is just not hopeful thinking.  I think I can point to anecdotal evidence that the shift toward analog gaming in education is happening.  I think the analog aspect has become more inclusive in the game based learning arena.  How do I know this?

Two words: Escape Rooms.  This new phenomenon, which is both an exploding social activity and business venture, is sweeping education (K-everything) and the library world. Just google “escape rooms,” and you will be overwhelmed with the pervasive existence of these things across the social and educational spectrum. I suspect the whole “high tech, high touch” phenomenon (See John Naisbitt’s Megatrends – 1982),  further evidenced by the board game renaissance, is a major factor.

This, I think, is merely the opening salvo in the increasing involvement  into more “hands-on” (“high touch”) analog engagement, immersive, participatory games use in education. Just as escape rooms have been adapted by educators and librarians from the social interactive world, it is clear that the adaption of megagames and LARP activities – already being used in educational settings (Edu-LARP anyone?) –  will only be increasingly make inroads as well.  Stay tuned as the revolution begins.


Want to Find a Good Department Chair? Try Role-Playing

REPOSTED FROM: The Chronicle of Higher Education
By Audrey Williams June

Here’s what a search committee looking for a department chair can’t tell from a curriculum vitae or answers to interview questions: How well can the candidate mediate the sticky situations that crop up when managing colleagues?

One way to get a more accurate read of that ability is to role-play, according to a new article in the journal Academic Medicine. To better understand how a potential manager actually manages, the authors of the article simulated a typical interaction between a department chair and a faculty member.

Candidates in four department-chair searches in Pennsylvania State University’s College of Medicine were asked to respond to this scenario: A faculty member was frustrated by how his increasing clinical load had left too little time to pursue academic interests. The candidates, who were aware it was a simulation, were told that the faculty member had good teacher ratings and was liked and respected by residents and medical students, but his clinical productivity was lower than that of his peers. The frustrated faculty member also hadn’t published since joining the faculty 18 months earlier.


LINK HER For ENTIRE ARTICLE at The Chronicle of Higher Education

This Standing-Room-Only Class Features Music Videos, a Gaming App and … Breathalyzers

Written by Bruce Anderson on January 16, 2018
Re-Posted from Edsurge

If organic chemistry were easy, an old joke goes, it would be called biology.

For some, O-chem is where med school dreams go to die. Many see it as an impossible maze of ceaseless memorization. But Professor Neil Garg looks at organic chemistry and sees a delightful puzzle, an engaging problem to be solved. He finds it endlessly relevant to everyday life, intellectually stimulating, and ultimately fun.

Neil Garg of UCLA

His students at UCLA seem to agree. Getting a seat in Garg’s Chemistry 14D class—even one on the floor in the aisle—is for many undergraduates a cause for a victory dance, no doubt accompanied by the UCLA Eight Clap. Among a slew of teaching awards, Garg has received UCLA’s Eby Award for the Art of Teaching and was named the 2015 California Professor of the Year. He has been named a Master Educator by Course Hero, an education technology company that produced a short film on Garg, who is now one of three finalists for the Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching bestowed by Baylor University.

Garg is an innovative educator, famous at UCLA for the organic chemistry music video extra-credit assignment he initiated. He also created BACON (Biology and Chemistry Online Notes), a series of online tutorials that interweave organic chemistry, human health, and popular culture. He and his daughters, Elaina, 10, and Kaylie, 5, authored The Organic Coloring Book to introduce younger students to organic chemistry.

Last week, Garg and six of his students launched an app called Backside Attack; it teaches basic concepts of organic chemistry and is available, free, at the App Store. EdSurge talks to Garg about his new game, his favorite music videos, and how to make chemistry fun.


The World According to Edu-Larps: The Analog of Learning Games

By Sande Chen excerpted and Re-Posted from Games & Learning

January 2018

Larping It Up

Any adult who has been through a mock interview can tell you about the benefits of role-play and simulation. Universities have been using role-play and simulators for years in the fields of healthcare, business, science, and social policy. Former teacher Peter Shea, now director of Professional Development at Middlesex Community College in Massachusetts, recalls one incident in which a student doctor was weeping after she had killed off her virtual patient.

Adults, in general, understand the value of role-play for professional development, but may not see how the imaginative play of LARPs helps education. Call it a historical re-enactment and it sounds educational, but that wouldn’t fully describe larping since players affect the story of the game. They are not just hearing about or re-enacting a story, but are a part of the story.

Like improvisational theatre combined with the game mechanics of tabletop RPGs, LARPs have systems for character progression through the narrated story. In Archer’s edu-larp on the Industrial Revolution, there are experience points (XP) given for various activities and yet, winning may not be about gaining the most XP. Winning might be in co-authoring an extremely satisfying story regardless of whether or not the player’s character dies or amasses the most wealth in the game.

Archer’s company, Iocari Games, recently branched into developing curriculum-compatible edu-larps for schools in addition to its after-school programs and summer camps. The after-school program relies heavily on tabletop RPGs with familiar gaming systems like Dungeons & Dragons but with original content. The summer camp combines engineering, physical activity, tabletop RPGs, and larping by allowing the kids to play out their created characters. For example, in one summer session, he did a Star Wars themed week where the kids got to manufacture foam light sabers using parts from Home Depot.

For entire article link to article at Games & Learning

Excerpted and Re-Posted from Games & Learning


Invasion of the German Board Games – “The Atlantic”

By Jonathan Kay from The Atlantic, January 21, 2018

In a development that would have been hard to imagine a generation ago, when video games were poised to take over living rooms, board games are thriving. Overall, the latest available data shows that U.S. sales grew by 28 percent between the spring of 2016 and the spring of 2017. Revenues are expected to rise at a similar rate into the early 2020s—largely, says one analyst, because the target audience “has changed from children to adults,” particularly younger ones.Much of this success is traceable to the rise of games that, well, get those adults acting somewhat more like children. Clever, low-overhead card games such as Cards Against Humanity, Secret Hitler, and Exploding Kittens (“A card game for people who are into kittens and explosions”) have sold exceptionally well. Games like these have proliferated on Kickstarter, where anyone with a great idea and a contact at an industrial printing company can circumvent the usual toy-and-retail gatekeepers who green-light new concepts. (The largest project category on Kickstarter is “Games,” and board games make up about three-quarters of those projects.)

Continue reading entire article HERE.


A LARP inspired Megagame OR How these two genres got so tangled up

Editor’s Note: I often preach my mantra that Mega-games are grand examples of how gaming interaction could be effectively integrated into higher education curricula.  Elsewhere in this blog there are many examples of how a mega-game can involve players (students) in the mechanics of an historical event or a political system.  One activity that is becoming increasingly integrated into mega-game designs is that of the LARP – live action role play.  This allows a player to not only don the guise of a role  within the game (such as scientist, president or general in a game like “Watch the Skys”), but to flesh our her character with backstory, and motivation and personality and ….well character characteristics.

In her blog BeckyBecky deftly describes a new game called Alchemy set in Renaissance Europe that has elements of both a mega-game and a LARP.  More intriguing than this description is her explanation of the entangled relationship between mega-games and LARPs.   As BeckyBecky explains, mega-games are basically a cross between board games and LARP or LARPing (live action role play).  Some people even describe  “mega-games and LARPs as convergent design.”  She goes on to explain that people struggle to define them exactly.  This is in no small part because Megagames are being created as interactive events by people who have never done them before, and they basically reinvent the wheel every time.  However, this very fact is adding to the growing variety and number of such events.  As BeckyBecky says, “People from different gaming backgrounds can add in or emphasize the elements of their favorite type of gaming. Mega-gaming is still very much an emerging game genre.”

But, enough of my musings.  Read BeckyBecky’s article.  If you are not inspired to run out and apply mega-game/LARPs to an educational setting after reading this engaging article (as I certainly am), I can only guess that you are brooding over your un-cool looking LARP costume.  

-Jared Seay Jan 12, 2018

Game of Alchemy and Megagames vs LARPS

5th August 2017

Re-posted from BBBBeckyBeckyBlogs

IMO, one of the most awesome things about megagames is that people really struggle to define them.

Okay, I bet you’re confused. Why would that be awesome? Well, it means people will interpret it in a thousand different ways. Additionally, since megagames are live events, many people around the world are putting them on without ever having attended one before.

In many ways this is frustrating, and leads to people continually reinventing the wheel. It means that people will independently develop the same or similar mechanics. It means that people will stumble into common pitfalls they could have avoided.

But it means that no two megagames are alike. People are free to put their own spin on things, without worrying that they’re screwing everything up. Without the confines of THIS IS A MEGAGAME IF YOU DON’T HAVE ALL OF THIS YOU CAN’T CALL IT ONE, the variety of games available is growing and growing. People from different gaming backgrounds can add in or emphasise the elements of their favourite type of gaming. Megagaming is still very much an emerging game genre.

Take my own game, Everybody Dies, for example. My own gaming background is largely roleplay and board games. And my first megagame was Renaissance and Reformation, which I took a lot of influence from. There’s a massive focus on characters, on drama and decisive moments. Arguably the weakest part of the game, the combat, is because I don’t come from a wargaming background, unlike a lot of UK megagame designers.

And so I was super excited to chat to Ed Procktor of Game of Alchemy, the newest Megagame idea to come out of Southampton. He comes from a strong LARP background, and so our conversation let me examine how a LARP-inspired megagame looks.

To continue reading link to original post at Game of Alchemy and Megagames vs LARPS

FEATURED BLOG: Megagames in a BGamers World & Singapore

BGamers: This is not a very deep or intensive blog.  In fact it is little more than a calling card for facilitating megagames in Singapore.  This  blog is maintained by a team of gamers in Singapore who focus on board games and how they can be utilized both as entertainment and education and training.  This section on Megagames contains some basic explanatory information on what Megagames are including links to common megagame sites.

The site is relatively simple but is interesting and fresh.  It is produced by a team of young people in Singapore.  It  showcases scores of images of mega games (and other board games) in progress in a variety of settings in Singapore.  At the very least it showcases the international appeal and use of megagames.


Gamification: The Good, the Bad, and the Potential

Designing Successful Gamification Practices in Higher Education

by Bob Hand was originally published on Getting Smart.com on 12/28/16

Gamification has become an increasingly pervasive part of education over the last decade. Educators in K-12 schools have found creative ways to engage students by gamifying coursework. But why are these teaching strategies not more common in higher education?

Gamification, the process of introducing elements and mechanics from games into the classroom, can often be dismissed as just a buzzword in HigherEd. HigherEd educators and students have become apprehensive of the concept of mixing work with games. The aim of gamifying the curriculum is to improve student motivation and engagement—and when applied correctly, there is evidence that games can improve student performance.

However, gamification has had both positive and negative effects in education. Here are examples of both sides.

Promising Uses of Gamification

For educators, mastering gamification requires restructuring current teaching methods. It is only successful if it is holistically integrated into the curriculum. Affixing game mechanics to pre-existing lesson plans in a slapdash manner can confuse and frustrate students; it can unnecessarily complicate simple processes. Here are some examples of well-implemented gamification:

Modeling your classroom as a role-playing game.

A well-known example of successful gamification in education is that of the work of Dr. Lee Sheldon. In 2009, this professor began modeling his classroom on a massively multiplayer online game. Students created avatars, formed guilds with classmates and completed quests to gain experience points.

Furthermore, Sheldon made structural changes to the class to offer choices to his students. Students could tackle assignments in the order of their own choice. As long as they reached level twelve by the end of the semester, they would receive an A.

According to Sheldon’s book, The Multiplayer Classroom: Designing Coursework as a Game, the average grade of students rose from a C to a B under this new system. Attendance records also improved drastically. Other educators have taken notice, and many of the strategies described in Sheldon’s work pervade pedagogy today.

Gamification to motivate students during lectures.

Engaging over two hundred students at a college lecture might seem like a daunting task, but Professor Cliff Lampe has found that the solution is to gamify his lectures. At the University of Michigan, Lampe has been using elements of gamification such as offering students the freedom of choice, providing rapid feedback via a monitoring system, offering chances for students to work as a team, and using “game labels” (such as those used by Dr. Sheldon).

Despite scrutiny from his peers, Lampe’s strategies proved successful. The lecturer has reported that students have given extremely positive feedback to his approach. Students praise the professor’s focus on collaboration and choice. Furthermore, they claim to have a greater retention of class material.

Examples of Ineffective Gamification

There are also several examples of ineffective uses of games in HigherEd. While usually well-intentioned, these attempts do not contribute to better learning. These attempts to gamify either fail to engage students, misunderstand the purpose of gamification, or merely distract students with extrinsic motivators:

Games do not always motivate students.

Virtual badges and other rewards will help to motivate some students. However, a number of students will inevitably be turned off by gamification. Due to preconceptions they may carry, they will not respond favorably to such strategies. Other students may be turned off by the competitive nature of some aspects of gamification. Some elements, like leaderboards, should be optional for students to participate in.

Simply using extrinsic motivators, such as virtual trophies or achievement points, does not always guarantee students will actually care or be more engaged. Educators must be mindful of which gaming elements they want to try to implement into the college classroom. Most gamers will agree that achievement points and virtual trophies do not make a game good. On the other hand, choice, rapid feedback, and creative design do contribute to an engaging experience. These are the elements that professors should seek to incorporate into their teaching.

Trivializing important issues.

Introducing games into the classroom can be an effective strategy. However, using games that are based on sensitive issues can be a misstep. Author and technology advocate Refranz Davis brought up an excellent example of this mistake in an article about the game Mission US: Flight to Freedom—a game intended to give an intimate look at the history of slavery in the United States. Perhaps not surprisingly, there are some troubling implications in the game. The fate of the player is dependent on what choices he or she makes; when the player ends the game as a slave, it is due to the decisions they made. The implication that slavery was a choice is absurd, and likely offensive to many students.

Successful gamification involves introducing elements of games into lesson planning, and it can guide the structure of the classroom, but merely introducing games into the classroom is not necessarily an effective approach to gamification.

However, there are clear incentives for educators to adopt high-quality gamification. The impact it has had on HigherEd has been substantial. Promising results continue to pour in from universities across the nation. Even counselors are finding novel methods of using technology to engage students. While more data will be needed, gamification will continue to find a place in classrooms at universities.

In the future, new strategies will be available in higher education. Universities are adopting BYOD policies, which will provide easier technology implementation for students. Pioneers in edtech are even finding ways to use virtual reality in the classroom. This shift will give students the chance to explore subjects in exciting ways.

Adaptability is key to successful teaching, and prudent educators should be careful to only implement proven strategies. Furthermore, routines can grow ineffectual over time—if a pedagogical approach is identical in every lesson, students will cease to be motivated by that approach. There are hundreds of platforms for introducing game mechanics into the classroom. Educators should continue to explore these options, and pioneer new ways to motivate and engage students.

For more, see:

Bob Hand is a blogger and education enthusiast. You can follow him on Twitter: @bob_hand567.

Re-posted from Getting Smart original article of 12/28/16



Let’s Watch a Mega Game on the American Revolution