Dustin Staats with board games and gamification in education | Episode 086

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Dustin is with his beautiful and wonderful wife Grace living in Taiwan. Dustin teaches English at a university in Taipei and works in the field of education in other various capacities, including consulting and research. He is always looking for ways to create a more engaging classroom to develop a strong classroom culture to strengthen learning. This is how “Board Gaming with Education” was founded. He contributes to the podcast as the host. He also does the website design, editing and some marketing. You can find Dustin playing board games with friends, teaching at his university, running around Taipei training for races, jamming to music or at any of the “Board Gaming with Education” events.

His days might be teaching at the university, planning for it, working on the podcast, research in games-based learning or one of the related projects he is on. On any given day he would be doing these things.

His favorite failure came when using gamification in his university-level course, about a year ago. He created a knowledge-point based system using a flipped classroom and several technologies. He found it was a good opportunity to play some games in the class with his students. However, he jumped in too fast and had too much going on and felt that it was too much work for him! He also got in his survey comments like having “too many games”, instead of asking for more which is more usual. He doesn’t believe now it shouldn’t be as much of a focus but also to include other things. This was the crystallization of the fear of many, so we asked for his recommendation on how to avoid such possible overwhelm. He recommends certainly to start small but also to reach out to others who have done it before in the classroom.

His favorite gamification solution was on one of his first teaching experiences in Korea, after graduating in Nebraska, US. It is a Korean school that has many activities that can be in English. He had a class whose behavior was really hard to control, including a lot of speaking in Korean when they were supposed to only use English. The school had a star system to reward good and punish bad behavior, but it was certainly not working well. At the time Avengers was really popular, around the first movie, so he decided to get them to choose a superhero and have Loki (the main villain at the time) towards the end of the board. The idea was that it was a race to get to the end of the board to fight Loki, were also Dustin was participating. Students got to advance for doing the right things in class, answering questions correctly and those sort of things. However, when something went wrong it was Dustin’s character who advanced. He feels it worked really well because even though there was some competition it also catered towards the Korean culture were there is also an important component of cooperation.

Dustin’s process to design a lesson has two lines of thought were, like in board games, either the theme comes first or the mechanics come first. For lesson planning, he feels it also applies, where he looks for either a game that can meet his learning objectives or how to change/adapt or create a game so that it covers such objectives. One of the first would be Werewolf would apply very well to the objective of learning how to ask questions for clarification when learning English. Another example could be Codenames to learn vocabulary that you’re learning in the game or to play it. The other path would be to add the learning objective to the game. The example he used was teaching English while using Uno. Since you can play the game almost without talking he adds rules like “you need to say a word with an adjective in the present continuous tense” when you play a card (or a red card, etc.) Another example of this would be with Noah’s Ark Don’t Rock the Boat. He added out cards with animals and adjectives so they had to form sentences before adding animals to the boat. His main inspiration is playing a lot of games! Of course, when he’s playing a game he’s initially thinking about how it could be used or adapted for his purposes. The other thing if he doesn’t find a game he’s played he starts thinking how the learning objective can actually turn into a game.

A best practice for Dustin is to consider that gamification goes well beyond a classroom behavior control mechanism because he’s found it extremely useful to build class culture as well. So it is important to consider it when designing gamification for the classroom, to consider the student-teacher relation. His favorite game would be Final Fantasy VII!

He would recommend the Engagers to read A Theory of Fun for Game Design by Raph Koster, in particular, one of his favorite ideas in the book is grokking applied to games. His superpower in board gaming in education would be teaching! The random question this time is related to proof with regards to games and gamification in the classroom.

His final advice would be to try out gamification if you haven’t already and to reach out! On social media and in many specific places you can find people who are quite willing to lend a helping hand or advice. We can find Dustin on the Board Gaming with Education Facebook, we can sign up to be on the testing phase of his gamification kit on www.worldsxp.com or on his email podcast[at]boardgamingwitheducation[dot]com

 

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Looking forward to reading or hearing from you,

Rob

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