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techdirections March 2017 : Page 2

technically speaking Vanessa Revelli vanessa@techdirections.com At the University of Michigan, a new learning environ-ment is emerging—treating learning environments as games. They are finding that students are more willing to explore new ideas and techniques, and figure out their personal learning styles, which helps them with their classroom experience. In turn, teachers are able to figure out student’s goals, and help them achieve them. So, what does it mean to call learning environments games? Traditional learning is linear, meaning you have a set of expected goals you must achieve (a research paper, tests, and exams) and that is your grade—no flexibility allowed. However, in a gaming environment, the approach is quite different. Exploration and discovery are the keys to success. That the path from point A to point B can only be achieved one way simply doesn’t exist. Mika Lavaque-Manty, one of the teachers using this approach, says this: “In my own courses, gameful means three related things. First, there are multiple paths to achievement: Stu-dents can learn the material in many different ways, prac-tice different kinds of academic work, and demonstrate their learning through different means. For example, . . . a pair of students might best understand Niccolo Machia-velli’s political theory by writing songs about it because they are musicians, and connecting something they like and know to the new and difficult makes it more interest-ing and meaningful. Multiple paths acknowledge the dif-ferent skills, interests, and backgrounds of the students. “Second, whatever you do, you learn—and earn—some-thing. Students begin the semester with a zero and gain points as they complete assignments. The purpose is to motivate students and to signal that all practice involves some learning. When you score 95 on a conventional 100-point assignment, you did well, but somehow you “lost” points. When assign-ments are framed as adding to your stock of points, however, even the assignment on which you didn’t do as well as you had hoped earned you something you didn’t have before, and demonstrated you had learned something you didn’t know before. “And third, this means that instead of constant high-stakes assessment, the approach allows for safe failures. Arguably better than educators, game designers have figured out how to build “desirable difficulties,” chal-lenges that motivate us to try again even if we first fail. One of their key ideas is that failures aren’t high stakes— you can’t really die in a video game. Similarly, we believe students shouldn’t risk ruining their GPAs with one or two assignments, either. “Does this approach work? . . . For me, fostering student autonomy is as important as subject mastery. Autonomy is not the same as freedom; it involves, im-portantly, an individual’s awareness of herself as having both choices and responsibility. The evidence we have collected from gameful courses suggests more students feel a greater sense of autonomy at the end of a gameful course than they did at the beginning.” A Prakken Publications Magazine Digital Tech Directions (ISSN 1940-3100) is published monthly, except June, July, and August, by Prakken Publi-cations, Inc., 2851 Boardwalk Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48104. Executive, editorial, and advertising offices are at PO Box 8623, Ann Arbor, MI 48107-8623, telephone 734-975-2800; fax 734-975-2787. Vol. 76, No. 7. Board of directors Matthew D. Knope, Vanessa Revelli Business Manager Turalee A. Barlow, tbarlow@techdirections.com Managing Editor Vanessa Revelli, vanessa@techdirections.com senior Editor Susanne Peckham, susanne@techdirections.com Copy Editor Nancy Wright art, design, and production Manager Sharon K. Miller advertising sales Manager Matt Knope, 800-530-9673 x302, matt@techdirections.com subscription dept. 800-530-9673 x306 Editorial advisory Board Michael Fitzgerald, Engineering and Technology Education Specialist, Delaware Department of Education, Dover Edward J. Lazaros, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Technology, Ball State University, Muncie, IN Ed Prevatt, School Specialist, National Center for Construc-tion Education and Research, Gainesville, FL John Roccanova, Technology Education, Webutuck Central School, Amenia, NY Mark Schwendau, M.S., AHED Corp., CAD Curriculum Coor-dinator, Rockford (IL) Career College pEEr rEviEw Board Sam Cotton, Ph.D. , Professor, Ball State University, Muncie, IN Cameron J. Davidson, M.S., Researcher, Department of Technology, Ball State University, Muncie, IN. Charles R. Feldhaus, Ed. D., Assoc. Professor, Department of Computer, Information, and Leadership Technology, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis Ronald F. Gonzales, Ph.D. , ASE, Professor, Cyber Security and Information Assurance, National University, San Diego, CA Robert T. Howell, Ph.D. , Asst. Professor, Technology Studies, Fort Hays State University, KS Edward J. Lazaros, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Technology, Ball State University, Muncie, IN Robert D. Mordini, Ed.D., Asst. Professor, Technology Studies, Fort Hays State University, KS Joseph Scarcella, Ph.D. , Professor of Education, Cali-fornia State University, San Bernadino Mark Schwendau, M.S., AHED Corp., CAD Curriculum Coor-dinator, Rockford (IL) Career College Bert Siebold, Ph.D. , Professor, Department of Industrial & Engineering Technology, Murray State University, KY Jim Smallwood, Ph. D., Professor, Applied Engineering & Technology Management Department, Indiana State University, Terre Haute Chris Zirkle, Ph.D., Assoc. Professor, College of Education and Human Ecology, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH subscriptions: individuals: $30 per year; Canadian and foreign: add $20 per year. Canadian GST #R126213487. Single copies $3. Group rate for students in teacher-training institutions available upon request. periodicals postage paid at Ann Arbor, MI, and additional mailing offices. Printed in U.S.A. POSTMASTER: Please send change of address information to Tech Directions, PO Box 8623, Ann Arbor, MI 48107-8623. Manuscripts should be addressed to: Editor, Tech Directions, PO Box 8623, Ann Arbor, MI 48107-8623. Manuscripts become property of Tech Directions upon letter of acceptance to author and signed copyright release form. Payment made on publication. Electronic copies of back issues available from ProQuest Information and Learning, www.il.proquest.com. Microform copies available from NAPC, www.napubco.com ©2017 by Prakken Publications, Inc. 2 tech directions ◆ march 2017

Technically Speaking

Vanessa Revelli

vanessa@techdirections.com

At the University of Michigan, a new learning environment is emerging—treating learning environments as games. They are finding that students are more willing to explore new ideas and techniques, and figure out their personal learning styles, which helps them with their classroom experience. In turn, teachers are able to figure out student’s goals, and help them achieve them.

So, what does it mean to call learning environments games? Traditional learning is linear, meaning you have a set of expected goals you must achieve (a research paper, tests, and exams) and that is your grade—no flexibility allowed. However, in a gaming environment, the approach is quite different. Exploration and discovery are the keys to success. That the path from point A to point B can only be achieved one way simply doesn’t exist.

Mika Lavaque-Manty, one of the teachers using this approach, says this:

“In my own courses, gameful means three related things. First, there are multiple paths to achievement: Students can learn the material in many different ways, practice different kinds of academic work, and demonstrate their learning through different means. For example, . . . a pair of students might best understand Niccolo Machiavelli’s political theory by writing songs about it because they are musicians, and connecting something they like and know to the new and difficult makes it more interesting and meaningful. Multiple paths acknowledge the different skills, interests, and backgrounds of the students.

“Second, whatever you do, you learn—and earn—something. Students begin the semester with a zero and gain points as they complete assignments. The purpose is to motivate students and to signal that all practice involves some learning. When you score 95 on a conventional 100-point assignment, you did well, but somehow you “lost” points. When assignments are framed as adding to your stock of points, however, even the assignment on which you didn’t do as well as you had hoped earned you something you didn’t have before, and demonstrated you had learned something you didn’t know before.

“And third, this means that instead of constant high-stakes assessment, the approach allows for safe failures. Arguably better than educators, game designers have figured out how to build “desirable difficulties,” challenges that motivate us to try again even if we first fail. One of their key ideas is that failures aren’t high stakes— you can’t really die in a video game. Similarly, we believe students shouldn’t risk ruining their GPAs with one or two assignments, either.

“Does this approach work? . . . For me, fostering student autonomy is as important as subject mastery. Autonomy is not the same as freedom; it involves, importantly, an individual’s awareness of herself as having both choices and responsibility. The evidence we have collected from gameful courses suggests more students feel a greater sense of autonomy at the end of a gameful course than they did at the beginning.”

Read the full article at http://www.omagdigital.com/article/Technically+Speaking/2728210/389524/article.html.

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