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And we’re back with Tracy and Jon! In the previous episode we heard their stories of both FAIL and success! If you haven’t heard the previous episode yet, I’d encourage you to pause here and go for Episode 039 before moving on to this one! Their bios are also there in the show notes.
Tracy doesn’t really follow a set process. It looks more like a brainstorming or simply finding inspiration in her daily activities (for example playing games or doing their podcast!) and, since she knows the content she teaches, her students and the normal situations in class, it is almost easy to relate one thing with the other. Taking notes is really important. It is especially useful for Tracy to talk with other people and reflect about game mechanics, that’s the prime time for her ideas! Then she tries to sit down after that and do it all at once for that unit, so these ideas don’t run away, even if it’s just a first draft. She shows it then to other people to get feedback before implementing in the classroom. Take this to your own life Engager! There are many opportunities out there to share with others and get new ideas, you can read books, listen to this podcast, find a small mastermind, whichever suits your character and preferences better, go out there and do it!
For Jon it is quite similar, he’s playing a game, then walking or driving he gets these ‘aha!’ moments and whether it is for his classroom or a colleague’s it suddenly clicks and uses it or suggests it! He reads a lot, listens to podcasts, he constantly plays games (all types of games, those he likes most and those that might not be his favorite style as well) because he’s also building the toolset constantly. I would add and they both agreed, that it’s also fundamental to sit back and reflect on what is going on in the game, being a gamer is useful but not sufficient!
The best practice in gamification in education is just try it for Tracy! You need to try, read some, research some but go ahead and try it, move forward! Take those small risks, try and tweak until it is a success and then create more. Jon feels that there are many people out there who are using out of the box tools and what he suggests is figure out the mechanics that make games work so when you do your own gamification it resonates with your students! It is fundamental to keep the learning objectives on the top of your mind, what you want them to be able to do and be “appropriately ambitious!” The gamified method won’t let you down, you just had a failure from which you will learn and be able to adapt your ambitious level to the appropriate one. He also talked about being passionate about whatever theme you want to implement, think about your players but also think about you. This is really important because even if things don’t work how you planned it, your passion and efforts mean something to your kids and they might be willing to let it pass, whereas if not even you are enjoying it, you might as well not do it! There’s an interesting example Jon goes into of using Letters from Whitechapel for an entrepreneurship class at the university level. They use it to check their communication skills as a team!
One of the hard questions is the favorite game, Tracy named Call of Cthulu and Arkham Horror: The Card Game (which is like a version of that game but as a card game.) For Jon “it’s a hard one,” but he enjoys Codenames, which he considers a great starter for those who would like to get inspired to do gamification in the classroom. He’s a fan of German dexterity games, his favorite might be Villa Paletti about building structures. On RPG it could be Numenera. They even argued that in a way, all teachers are game masters and the question is whether you are doing a good job at it or not. Jon actually has a hard time thinking of a game he does not like given that he’s constantly evangelizing and offering opportunities of play to other colleagues so they can also get inspired. In video games, he really enjoys World of Warcraft, and just like Dutch Driver he really enjoys the game Journey!
Jon would love to hear from the designer of the game Freedom the Underground Railroad in Professor Game. Tracy’s candidate is Matt Leacock, the creator of Pandemic! Aside from Jon’s book Level Up Your Classroom: The Quest to Gamify Your Lessons and Engage Your Students, Tracy would recommend Jane McGonigal’s Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. Jon would recommend the Engagers to read Game Frame by Aaron Dignan and though it is more for a business audience he found it compelling, quite relatable to education as well.
Tracy’s superpower for gamification is risk-taking! It is really important to get things out there, test it so you can improve it. For Jon, it would also be that he has no problem in putting things out there, he actually enjoys it!
The random question was about what to do after you’ve been researching about gamification, what is the next step if you want to move forward? To get the answer, you’ll need to listen to the episode! Their final advice is to play all the games! It might be hard, it takes time, but there are even gaming communities online. So go out there and play new games to learn new mechanics. Playing, going to game conventions or gamification conferences should be part of your professional development from now on!
We can reach Tracy and Jon in many places, perhaps the easiest is the Game Level Learn Facebook Page, they’re also starting to build a Discord community, join here! They also have the Game Level Learn webpage, there’s the podcast, you can even email him joncassie[at]gmail[dot]com, they’re both quite active on Facebook and a bit less on Twitter.
Looking forward to reading or hearing from you,