Week 4: How can immersive virtual reality enhance gamification?

Immersive virtual reality is “the presentation of an artificial environment that replaces users’ real-world surroundings convincingly enough that they are able to suspend disbelief and fully engage with the created environment” (TechTarget, n.d.). When I think about immersive virtual reality, I think of the funny goggles that I see people wear in commercials, but goggles are not actually necessary to have immersive virtual reality (which is good because those goggles are expensive). I can see where it would be very exciting for students to learn through immersive virtual reality, especially in gamification.

However, there are things that concern me after reading through the articles assigned this week. As Castaneda, Cechony, & Swanson (2016) wrote, “Many of the concerns expressed about VR use with children and adolescents center on eye strain and other physiological impacts. While these concerns need to be addressed, it is equally important to consider the ethics of the psychological impacts of VR on youth. While virtual experiences may appear objective in nature, there is a very real and subjective component to virtual worlds, particularly when considering use with adolescents. Users of VR bring their life experiences, emotions and fears into the immersion with them.” Personally, these are concerns that I would need to address, but I feel they could be worked through.

I believe that immersive virtual reality could enhance gamification because it would allow students to achieve “flow” and maintain it for longer periods of time while learning. I think it would be a great way to teach all subjects, but I’d start with math and science. I know it wouldn’t be long before I’d want to branch out from there. I found the Amplify (n.d.) website that sells access to immersive educational games. Their STEM section states, “Experiment and explore math and science with games that introduce and reinforce key skills in life science, physical science, fractions, factoring, order of operations, algebraic equations and binary math. Through vigorous gameplay, students build confidence in their own mastery of these skills.” The website does not give prices for their products, but I imagine it is expensive. I believe that with time websites like Amplify will be more common and affordable, which will allow students to more easily achieve “flow” while learning.

References

Amplify Education, Inc. (n.d.). Amplify Games. Retrieved October 3, 2016, from Amplify Education, Inc.: https://www.amplify.com/games

Castaneda, L., Cechony, A., & Swanson, T. (2016, July). Implications of Virtual Reality in Applied Educational Settings. Retrieved October 2, 2016, from http://foundry10.org/: http://foundry10.org/dev/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Implications-of-Virtual-Reality-in-Applied-Educational-Settings.pdf

TechTarget. (n.d.). Immersive Virtual Reality (immersive VR). Retrieved October 1, 2016, from Whatis.com: http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/immersive-virtual-reality-immersive-VR

Week 3: What classroom strategies can contribute to or detract from “flow”?

According to Chen (2007), “Flow represents the feeling of complete and energized focus in an activity, with a high level of enjoyment and fulfillment. During the Flow experience, we lose track of time and worries. Indeed, our level of focus maximizes our performance in and pleasurable feelings from the activity. Flow is also called the optimal experience, or being in ‘the Zone’.” Not only have I experienced “flow”, but I’ve seen others experience it as well. I used to play video games with my brothers and I remember being so into what we were playing that my eyes would water because I wasn’t blinking enough. My mom could talk to me and it was like she wasn’t there until she stood directly in front of me, blocking my view of the TV screen. To be fair, I’m sure that was frustrating to both of us. According to Sillaots (2014), there are specific conditions to achieve flow. The conditions include:

  • Balance between challenges and users skills. Also constant growth of the level of difficulty accordance with the growth of skills.
  • Distractors are avoided and concentration is supported.
  • Tasks are fulfilled spontaneously and effortlessly. Activity must be rewarding for its own sake.
  • Achievable tasks – difficult but achievable through great effort.
  • Ability to concentrate on task.
  • Clear goals – it should be clear what is needed. How to achieve that, is open.
  • Tasks provide instant and rich feedback.
  • Autonomy – user is controlling her actions.
  • Deep but effortless involvement – concern of everyday life disappears – Immersion.
  • Concern of self disappears – Immersion.
  • Loosing the sense of time – Immersion.

The main problem that I can see in a classroom that detracts from “flow” is the fact that students are asked to sit quietly and listen to a teacher talk, which usually isn’t engaging. I remember sitting in class and watching the clock, willing the time to go faster, worried that I would fall asleep and the teacher would catch me. As an educator, it can be difficult to engage students, much less achieve “flow”, but it isn’t impossible. According to Aguilar (2012), “every lesson must have clear and laser-focused objectives — not because an administrator is going to come in and ding you if they’re not posted — but because without an articulation of a clear goal, students can’t attain flow. This is why we need to know what our students know and what they can do, and why we need to be acutely aware of their zone of proximal development (ZPD); this is why we need to do those diagnostics and KWLs, so we can match their skill level to an appropriately challenging task. This is why we need to design lessons and assignments that are rigorous and on the upper levels of Bloom’s, that ask students to argue and debate, create, and evaluate. And this is why we need to check students’ understanding every 10 minutes and use a range of formative assessment strategies so then we can adjust course and ensure that they’ll be successful with the task.” So, with these strategies in mind, as an educator, I am going to actively try to get my students to achieve flow.

References

Aguilar, E. (2012, March 27). Beyond Student Engagement: Achieving a State of Flow. Retrieved September 27, 2016, from Edutopia: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/student-engagement-elena-aguilar

Chen, J. (2007, April). Flow in Games (and Everything Else). Retrieved September 25, 2016, from ACM: https://blackboard.uas.alaska.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-338134-dt-content-rid-2561595_1/courses/201603_76581/Flow%20in%20Games.pdf

Sillaots, M. (2014, October). Achieving Flow through Gamification: A study on Re-designing Research Methods Courses. Retrieved September 26, 2016, from ResearchGate: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/267155607_Achieving_Flow_through_Gamification_A_study_on_Re-designing_Research_Methods_Courses

 

Week 2: What is gamification and why does it matter?

According to Hall (2013), “Gamification is defined as the application of typical elements of game playing (rules of play, point scoring, competition with others) to other areas of activity, specifically to engage users in problem solving” (Hall, 2014).

It matters because it allows students to be engaged problem solvers. Many people love to play games. I grew up playing card and board games. I played some video games, but we didn’t have video games when I was growing up. It was fun to go to my friend’s house and play her Atari and later the Nintendo. We didn’t get a Nintendo until I was a teenager.

I have to admit that I do not know a lot about gamification. I do think that one of the most important things that I read this week is that “The problem with most attempts at gaming in education is that educators mistakenly think that if you give out a badge or slap points on it, you’ve gamified. This is wrong” (Davis, 2014). I am very competitive so I was really surprised about this. However, it makes sense. I think about some of the app games I have played. They have all been about getting through levels and solving a problem. Usually the games I liked the most were ones where I could “team up” with my niece and nephew. It was fun to build something together.

Personally, I think gamification is important because it is engaging and I want my students to want to learn. I want it to be exciting and fun. Chou (2013) wrote, “Clearly there should be a way to help kids learn from what they do best – play. This is why many educators are looking into a variety of new tools and techniques in Education Gamification. No longer viewed as a mundane process for presenting information while testing for retention and understanding, the modern educational challenge involves tasks of engaging students, stimulating their interests, retaining their attention, and maintaining a positive attitude in a nurturing environment” (Chou, 2013).

In addition, I want my students to use higher order thinking to solve problems. I want them to analyze, collaborate, design, invent, construct, and build. I work to incorporate higher order thinking into my class daily. I believe that gamification brings both engagement and higher order thinking together for students, which makes it very important.

References

Chou, Y.-K. (2013, April 25). 47 thoughts on “Gamification in Education: Top 10 Gamification Case Studies that will Change our Future”. Retrieved September 18, 2016, from Yu-kai Chou: Gamification & Behavioral Design: http://yukaichou.com/gamification-examples/top-10-education-gamification-examples/#.UuoIvfldWSo

Davis, V. (2014, March 20). Gamification in Education. Retrieved September 17, 2016, from Edutopia: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/gamification-in-education-vicki-davis

Hall, M. (2014, May 13). What is Gamification and Why Use It in Teaching? Retrieved September 17, 2016, from Johns Hopkins University – The Innovative Instructor Blog: http://ii.library.jhu.edu/2014/05/13/what-is-gamification-and-why-use-it-in-teaching/

Week 1: What common characteristics do engaging games have?

I will admit that I love a playing games, both online and in person. I was raised playing card and board games, so I thought this weeks question would help me better understand why I love to play them. According to Growth Engineering (n.d.) a good learning game encourages engagement, provokes thought, and improves retention. The engagement part of games needs to be present regardless of whether the game is a learning game or a “for fun” game. If the game isn’t engaging then no one will want to play it. The online games that I currently play for fun give me rewards and have levels that challenge me but are not too difficult. Personally, I do not care to spend more than a week getting through one level of a game. The longer it takes, the less engaged I become until I just give up and quit playing the game. “If the challenge is beyond that ability, the activity becomes so overwhelming that it generates anxiety. If the challenge fails to engage the player, the player quickly loses interest and tends to leave the game” (Chen, 2007).

I usually find out about new apps from my niece and nephew who are constantly asking me to give whatever app they are using a try. However, I tend to play one app at a time, so every other game goes by the wayside if a new game peaks my interest. Often, I will not try new games because I get too involved and I have a hard time walking away from games, especially puzzle games. According to Tocci (n.d.), there the five categories of game appeals are as follows:

  1. Accomplishment: Appeals involving extrinsic and intrinsic rewards.
  2. Imagination: Appeals involving pretending and storytelling.
  3. Socialization: Appeals involving friendly social interaction.
  4. Recreation: Appeals for adjusting physical, mental, or emotional state.
  5. Subversion: Appeals involving breaking social or technical rules.

Based on these five categories, the one that I identify with most often is accomplishment. I love getting through levels and winning awards. As I was reading this list, I thought about some games that I’ve played and they fit into more than just one of these categories, which is smart because then the game will appeal to more people. A few years ago, I played an app called Hay Day. The app gave me rewards, while I pretended to be a farmer. I even had neighbors (friends from FaceBook). I quit playing when it started to take too long to grow my crops and take care of my animals, which took up too much of my time to oversee. I moved onto games that were more engaging to me.

References

Chen, J. (2007, April). Flow in Games (and Everything Else). Retrieved September 25, 2016, from ACM: https://blackboard.uas.alaska.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-338134-dt-content-rid-2561595_1/courses/201603_76581/Flow%20in%20Games.pdf

Growth Engineering. (n.d.). What Are the Characteristics of a Good Learning Game. Retrieved September 25, 2016, from Growth Engineering: http://www.growthengineering.co.uk/what-are-the-characteristics-of-a-good-learning-game/

Tocci, J. (n.d.). Five Ways Games Appeal to Players. Retrieved September 25, 2016, from Gamasutra: http://www.gamasutra.com/view/feature/168807/five_ways_games_appeal_to_players.php?print=1