Be a TEL Explorer


This topic contains 7 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  guy saward 6 years, 2 months ago.

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  • #17786


    So for my “Explorer” response I began working on designing a learning activity 2.4, this activity was to be an “ice breaker” or first task for a new collaborative cohort, using an online system or platform that had a “board” style posting feature. A discussion board, wiki, grouped twitter ( or Facebook.

    The cohort would be given a word or phrase depending on number of participants. For example “learning” for an 8 participant group, their task would be for each member of the cohort to decide on a letter from the original word or phrase. This would be chosen via a discussion board, twitter or Facebook during a group introduction session. They would then take a picture of their chosen letter in their day to day “normal world” activities. This picture would then be uploaded onto the learning platform, along with an explanation of why they chose this letter and where the image was taken. This “use” of image and discussion technology helps introduce an online cohort to each other, and to the technologies that would be used on their course.

    As I progressed this idea I wasn’t sure if it fitted correctly so looking again at the activities I settled on activity 2.5, “Active play” and time being against me for the latter part of this week, along with Sky’s broadband shield which wouldn’t initially allow me access to “games” based sites, how boring! I decided to review two of the games instead.

    Now before you continue to read on I’m not normally one for online games so I apologise in advance to gamer lovers, but I decided to give it a go, as I’ve written up a few posts this week, and thought that I may enjoy the “gaming” aspect and it would be a bit of “fun”.
    After sitting for 15 minutes playing Lost in city (LIC), and Westward (W) for what seemed an even longer 15 minutes, I thought I’d post my findings.

    What do you think you could learn playing this game?

    (LIC) Basics of reading, language, hand eye coordination, strategy, how things work (possibly due to placing batteries in radio etc.). Role play and time management.

    (W) Hand eye coordination, role play, patience, mouse skills, and financial skills.

    What (if anything) did you find engaging?

    I didn’t like anything about Westward it just wasn’t a game for me.

    Lost in City was challenging and kept my interest levels active for longer, as I was almost in an online episode of Diagnosis Murder or Jessica’s Murder she Wrote. Piecing bits of a puzzle together.

    What (if anything) did you find de-motivational?

    Westwards, interface, characters and platform didn’t agree with me, maybe I hadn’t had enough coffee when I tried it or maybe I’d had too much, but something just didn’t gel. I found it slow to work on my PC.

    I found Lost in City to be better, but even this after 15 minutes was enough and I needed a break.

    So after reviewing the two online games, has my stance on online gaming changed?

    Not yet, based upon these two games, I think I’ll stick with designing learning activities in future, at least until “It came from the desert” ( appears as an online game, mind you I’m probably remembering that with my rose tinted Commodore Amiga glasses on.

    I’d welcome any thoughts on the above, please go easy online gamer lovers, also replicated on my blog site here:

    • This topic was modified 6 years, 2 months ago by  glenn.
  • #18344


    As another non-gamer, I’ve just played the requisite two games: westward and lost in the city. Neither, I’m afraid to say, grabbed me: I played each one for 15 minutes, and didn’t feel adequately engaged enough with either to continue.


    Westward: clunky interface, felt like something from the 80s. I didn’t feel as if I was doing anything interesting: I dragged the characters where I was told to drag them, collected the items I was told to collect. There wasn’t a clear challenge or task, so I din’t feel motivated. The graphics were so poor that I didn’t feel motivated to explore.


    Lost in the city. This seemed a bit more engaging, but after a few minutes I got tired of looking for little things and clicking on them. There was a bit more motivational design here insofar as there was an overarching narrative.

    What I thought about in terms of using games for learning.

    Games are undoubtably popular: they’re a huge market. Successful games out there are highly complex and immersive, with huge production budgets. This means that there’s little point in trying to design new games specifically for learning: because they’re competing with hugely-resourced products such as, for example, GTA, they’re usually going to come across as inferior, dated, and clunky.

    This means two things for learning designers. One: use of existing, high-production value, games for learning purposes. This drove the Second Life moment some years ago. Rather than trying to complete the the significant budgets and game design skills of successful commercial products, learning designers can use those products to their own ends. This isn’t an area of scholarship I’ve explored, so I don’t know whether there are any strong successes in up taking existing game products for sophisticated learning (as opposed to basic learning, for which games are good: my eight-year old, for example, gets good learning outcomes from playing math games online in Mathletics).


    Two: gameification. This one seems more valuable. What makes successful games successful? What do users find rewarding about them? What are the features and elements that result in gamers spending significant time and money on specific games? Which games appeal to which demographics? Knowing the answers to these questions shows learning designers what people value in online or technology-based engagement. Badges, reputation-building, and levelling-up are three elements of computer games which users enjoy and find rewarding. It’s great that ocTEL incorporates badges for this reason. I could imagine other ways in which badges could be used for motivational reputation-building: participants who have earned a certain number of badges or points, for example, could have their name listed in a certain colour (reputation), or could be given access to a locked forum (levelling-up). Does this approach encourage strategic rather than deep learning? For example, if the instructions state that a student can earn a gold name colour if they respond to a minimum of twenty other users’ forum posts, will there just be a lot of junk answers and no productive dialogue? Perhaps. I’d like to see research from those who have incorporated gameificaiton elements into high-level curriculum design.

  • #18360

    ed3d (Peter)

    I think basing a strategy on AAA games is risky. To quote guru Raph Koster:

    In the long run, though, this is bad for the ecosystem owners. Right now, as it always is in mature markets, the conventional business wisdom is to move to a blockbuster mentality. Place few bets, spend like utter mad against them (500m for Destiny, is the current news item, but in the past we have seen the same story for GTA, SWTOR, WoW, Final Fantasy, and Sims Online. Even for Cityville). The risk, of course, is that by reducing the portfolio diversity to that degree, a few failed blockbusters in a row topple the whole organization. Any structure that depends solely on blockbusters is not long for this world, because there is a significant component of luck in what drives popularity, so every release is literally a gamble.

    The big success latterly has been Minecraft. Dean Groom is a big fan but I’ve seen zero use in tertiary ed in the UK

    Gamification, like badges, can probably be overdone. My enthusiasm for ocTEL badges hasn’t really lasted because they don’t seem to lead anywhere.

    One possibility is to use simple interactive fiction tools like Twine to generate fairly basic games.

    See Cathy Moore for an example. Get the students to make games as well as play them!

    • #19412

      guy saward

      Peter, unlike you and Santanu, I find the badges in ocTEL to be one of the things that keeps me going and directs my activities, even if there is no public recognition value at this stage – though I like C’s ideas about name colours or rank on posts.

      Maybe this is a reflection of my orientation as a strategic learner, or the fact I would be a gamer if I didn’t find them so addictive and have so little time.

  • #18377

    Santanu Vasant

    I am also a non gamer and I have agree with some of the comments made so far, @pmiller – I agree the badges don’t lead anywhere (as a tutor I will say they are part of the motivation mix for people engaging in the course), I think until they mean something in the real world with a wide range of employers, or bodies offering accreditation, they will be seen as extra / nice to haves. We are seeing more complicated badges with verification built in etc.

    I think a fair better strategy us to answer the ‘why are we learning this / doing this task?!’ question and to find something in the learner to hook onto, a difficult task at the best of times, in my view.

    Does anyone have any other comments on this?

    • #19409

      guy saward

      I would entirely agree with your comments about recognising people motivation (whether superficial, deep or strategic) and/or providing them with a better one.

      • This reply was modified 6 years, 2 months ago by  guy saward.
  • #18397

    ed3d (Peter)

    I guess you are alluding to the difference between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation? I can appreciate that badges play a social role but how does that work in a multiplatform cMOOC?

  • #19405

    guy saward

    Interesting to see talk on playing two games (I only managed one), people’s reaction to them and how the conversation has moved on to gameification.  I seemed to skip the middle bit and just go for the latter as I was in an educational game mindset, rather than just enjoying the game.

    My take on gameification doesn’t necessarily add a lot to what is discussed here, though it is interesting to see that Lost in the City doesn’t appear to have the leaderboard or badges elements in the (commonly used?) PBL approach to gameification as per tweet, which led to interesting points on parallel play.

    But here are my (brief) thoughts, which are less detailed than glenn’s:

    • What do you think you could learn playing this game?
      How to play the game!  Or less flippantly, how to interact with the gaming environment.  May also pick up some basic simple problem solving skills, but not a lot else
    • What (if anything) did you find engaging?
      The narrative and story setup.  Bonus elements you could buy are good in adding to this.
    • What (if anything) did you find demotivational?
      The thought that the game might go on forever, without much point.  I guess I am too busy to just let myself get in the flow and enjoy myself

    As a final reflection on this activity, maybe my lack of motivation is what surface/strategic learners feel about poorly designed/signposted learning activities.  Maybe a more social game, or an element of parallel play would have added a bit more motivation/drive/fun.


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