After the Arcade

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Dean Terry

Hopefully your game was a success – people learned, had fun, and won prizes! For a final blog post I want you to do two things talk about how things went with your game answering the questions below.

For your game answer these questions:

  1. Was your game one of chance or skill or a combination of both? How did people respond to the style of play?
  2. Did your game allow for players to construct knowledge (through play they learned the lesson) or was it more of a showcase of knowledge (asking players for answers to questions would be a good example)?
  3. How did the mechanics of the game turn out? Was it slow, fast, cumbersome, just right. Same with the rules. What would you change and why?

Here are links to the videos I took of your games being played. Apologies for the few videos with bad sound. I think I had my thumb over the microphone! Be sure to embed your game in the final post.

World’s Fittest Athlete

Coin Skee

EZ As Fraction Action

Adder All (speed adding on the computer)


Rhyming Slide

Whack a Mode

Meal Toss

Make A Meal

Bingo Speed Addition

Finding Factors

Find The Ace

Physical Fitness Plinko

Aim And Build It Healthy

Also I want you to comment on at least to games posted. Find your favorite game you played and talk about what you liked about the mechanics and rules. What made it fun. Also find a game that you think could have used some improvement to the game’s mechanics and/or rules. Be sure to give advice and ideas.

Finally please in your final post reflect on your expectations of the class and what it turned out to be like. Tell me about your feelings of the class being designed around constructing the arcade as well as describe your favorite non-game oriented assignment. How would you change this class? Why?

And if you want to export your blog posts and import them to your own free blog follow the instructions from the summer semester post. You should post your blog URL in the form on that page too. And if you have questions about this process, please ask questions in the comments below.


Find Fun in Educational Games

cc licensed ( BY NC ) flickr photo shared by jovike

We’ve been messing with games for a few days now having looked at the Price Is Right, The Institute of Play’s GAMEKIT, and Chuck E Cheese games. We’ve also thought about how to change the mechanics and rules of a game and test these changes to see how they affect play.

Now it’s time to apply some game mechanics and rules to a traditional lesson plan for your K-12 classroom. I want you to find a traditional lesson that you’ve created or modified from other lesson plans and present it in a post. The lesson can ask your student to do anything such as write, draw, drill & skill, make a diorama, whatever.

Next choose a part of the lesson and apply game like mechanics and rules. Pick different parts and see which ones seem more ‘playable.’ Once you’ve selected some, build a mockup of the game and play it with a partner.

In your blog post be sure to include the following:

  1. Detail a traditional lesson for a particular piece of knowledge that you would have students use in your K-12 classroom. Provide source links if appropriate.
  2. Choose at least two parts of the lesson and apply so game play ideas. Detail what mechanics and rules you created.
  3. Create a mockup of the now ‘playable’ lesson and test it with a partner(s). Be sure to document the mockup with photos/video and feedback from the players.
  4. Modify the mechanics and rules based on the feedback and replay. Do this at least three or four iterations of the game and document them.

Educational Winner’s Wheel

We spent Monday playing arcade games at Chuck E Cheese winning tickets and prizes. And taking notes about the mechanics and rules of a variety of games. Each student is to document the game play with photos and video and then describe the mechanics and rules. Also the students are to suggest possible mechanic and rule changes to make the game an educational game.

I chose the Winners Wheel which was one of the slot games in which you time your token to cross a moving plank into the winners slot. Below is a video of the game, sadly I kept missing the planks!

Once you do cross the plank into the winners slot, a ball pops out onto a track making a quick circle around the wheel and falling in. On the wheel are nine holes into which the ball may drop which corresponds to a ticket reward worth 6-26 tickets or the bonus slot which is defined on the display above (50 tickets when I played).

I did notice that the hole for the bonus prize had a raised lip around the edge, making the likelihood that the ball would drop there practically zero. The wheel also appeared to not be spinning on a level surface as it did not just move to the outside edge and stay there as you would expect with centripetal force from the wheel spinning. The ball would roll across the middle from likely high to low spots of the angled wheel surface. I couldn’t tell if the lower surface was near lower ticket amounts but it wouldn’t surprise me.

To apply some educational rules to the Winner’s Wheel you could have quiz questions allow a player to win tokens, which are then an opportunity to play. But that’s kind of an easy way out. I think it might be interesting to change the mechanics of the plank size based on a math game, particularly fractions and fraction addition. A player could ‘win’ a larger plank based on their ability to add, subtract, multiply, and/or divide fractions correctly.

So for example the student starts with by default a plank that’s a 1/4 inch wide. They select at random another piece of plank they can add between 1/4 inch wide to 1 1/4 inch wide. A student selects a 2/3 inch piece of plank. The student must add 1/4 and 2/3 correctly to get the wider plank, which in turn would make it easier for the student to get the token across to the winner’s slot.

GAMEKIT – Build Your Game Design Skills

The Institute of Play, a non-for-profit organization founded in 2007 by a number of game designers looks to “design experiences that make learning irresistible.” Read about their history and of particular interest the New York City public school they created based on their learning models.

I have a friend that works there and asked if he could give us some feedback on our plans to build an Education Arcade. He suggested we try out their GAMEKIT, which is currently in beta. The site teaches game design principles through short challenges which ask you to build and/or modify games and test them. The site currently has four challenges you can choose from.

  1. Find Play in Things
  2. Mod a Board Game
  3. Mix Strategy + Luck
  4. Design a Play Space

Please chose one of the game design challenges to complete. For the Find Play in Things challenge feel free to select different ‘things’ to experiment with and create a game. Be sure you document all the steps of the challenge with photos and/or video. Also describe what you did for each step and how you chose what you did.

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by comedy_nose

When it comes to testing the game you’ve created, be sure to play the game with someone else! Whether it’s family or friends, you must play with others and get their feedback. Be sure to make changes to the mechanics and rules of the game based on the gameplay and document these changes.

The blog post for this assignment should include the following:

  1. Photo and/or video documentation of each of the steps taken in the challenge. There should also be some description of how you made the choices you did.
  2. For the testing of the game with others be sure to have answers to these questions. What is fun about the game? Not fun? What would you do to change the game? Why? Did the game get more challenging, less challenging, more fun, less fun after you made each change?
  3. Be sure to include documention with photos and/video changes to the game mechanics and rules.

Tweaking the Rules of the Game

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by moonlightbulb

If you’ve ever played Bananagrams you know the stress of hearing the word “peel,” particularly with a good player that says it a dozen times in less than twenty seconds. If you don’t know Banagrams, it’s a word game like Scrabble in which you arrange words into a crossword except each player builds their own board with letters. Everyone starts with 11-21 letters apiece and they a race to build your own crossword puzzle with all your letters. The first person out of letters says, ‘peel’ and everyone must grab another letter to add to their crossword. Good players typically play that letter quickly and say ‘peel!’ again, and again, and again…

When all the letters are gone, and if you’re the first to finish your crossword you say ‘bananas!’ and win.

I love this game vs. Scrabble which tends to be much slower as you deliberate over your seven letters trying to find a place for them on the board while maximizing points. Bananagrams on the other hand is very fast, there are no points assigned to each letter, you just have to make words. Also there are two other changes to Scrabble – you can rearrange your crossword at anytime as well as dump a hard letter (such as a Q or Z) and take three letters. Both of these rule changes foster speed in Bananagrams.

This is a great example of a modified game that led to a very successful product. Many of the games we play are modifications of existing games or game systems – think of how many card games there are out there – practically an infinite number.

To finally get started on your educational penny arcade game, I want you to research an existing game and start tinkering with the game rules and mechanics. We’re going to look at the core components of a game by looking at The Institute of Play’s Gamestar Mechanic Learning Guide.

Then we’re going to rebuild a paper/pencil mockup of a game found on the List of The Price is Right pricing games. Search for video of the game you chose (it’s likely out there on Youtube), and then define it’s five core design elements. You’ll next have to translate the game into a paper/pencil mock-up. So if there is a wheel spun that has five choices, then recreate those choices on five slips of paper so they can selected at random.

Next follow Modifying Games exercise on pages 51-54 with a group of three. Choose one of the pencil/paper mockups to modify and each of you must choose either a rule or core mechanic to change (see worksheet on page 54). Everyone should play based on your change. Report out the results asked for in the modifying a game exercise.

You will need to put all of these results in a blog post. First your own mockup and then the modifications of the game you made in your group. The post should include the following:

  1. Embed a video of the original Price Is Right Game.
  2. Define the five Core Design Elements of the game.
  3. Document the pencil/paper mockup you created and embed images/video. Describe the mockup as well.
  4. Share the report of your modification to the group game.

Just a Little Something I’m Making

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by Public Domain Photos

Over the weekend I want you to make something and document your process with photography and/or video. You can choose anything you would like show us – how you make your family’s secret cookie recipe, how to fix your skateboard, build a better paper airplane, crochet a winter hat – anything.

Your going to have to choose whether photography will be best for you or video. In either case be sure that you include three things into your demonstration: A clear introduction to what you are going to make, a description of the materials and tools needed, and finally go through all the steps. For great examples of a photo based tutorial, look at this description of how to build an indestructible LED lantern. And I really like this video tutorial for fixing a leaky freezer, it’s not that pretty a video but it helped me save a bunch of money!

If you make a video you’re going to need to upload it to Youtube (create a Google Account if you don’t already have one) and embed it in a post. And If you wish to edit the video, try using the free video editors on a Mac (iMovie) or PC (Moviemaker). These editors tend to have share to the web functions to upload directly to Youtube.

If you do a photo based tutorial, be mindful of the pixel dimensions of your images. Web based images should not be much more that 600 pixels wide, and most digital cameras (including phone cameras) exceed this dimension.  There are web based image editors such as pixlr to do this, and here’s a tutorial for resizing an image in pixlr.

There’s a lot of tutorials on the internet by regular people that just enjoy what they do and want to share how they did it. Why do you think people do this? What compels them to not only make something, but share the process of making with others?

As a final part of your tutorial post, I want you to reflect on how well you think you did (it’s ok if it didn’t turn out exactly as you’d hoped). A big part of sharing what you’ve made and your process of making is to narrate. That’s kind of obvious for a tutorial, narration is built into it. But I want you to think of narration as part of everything you make, even your blog posts. So be sure to end with how you feel about the final product – the tutorial itself – and tell us if how you think people may or may not actually use it and why/why not.

Flipping MOOCs Code Open Politics

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Michael Branson Smith

Educational Technology blogger Audrey Watters recently completed a review of 2012 in her blog Hack EducationIn a series of ten posts she outlined the Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2012. One of these trends The Maker Movement was a resource for our first assignment this semester, and serves as inspiration for our ongoing assignment to host an education arcade for on the last class.

I want you to help me review the other nine ed tech trends identified by Waters and present your perspective on them. One or two of you will be assigned a trend to investigate (look below for your display name from this blog). In your review please be sure to cover the following:

  1. Summarize the trend identified, what is it?
  2. Why do you believe this trend was chosen? Give examples in your explanation.
  3. There are many embedded and linked resources in the description of the trend chose a few to read and give us some description of why they are part of the story.
  4. Be sure to embed any relavent images and/or videos, also be sure to quote and hyperlink resources.

1. The Business of Ed-Tech Anthony Omor

2. The Maker Movement (already covered in the first class)

3. Learning to Code ezmike and jkidd342

4. The Flipped Classroom mgaled87 and jsharma1

5. MOOCs mickey220 and yitongliton

6. The Battle to Open Textbooks mranderson

7. Education Data and Learning Analytics returnzero and zel2001

8. The Platforming of Education sgazcona

9. Automation and Artificial Intelligence thasan7 and thejovster

10. The Politics of Ed-Tech uzma05

Adam’s Call to Blow Up Schools

Adam Savage one of the two Mythbusters did not exactly ask anyone to blow anything up, particularly schools (though he’s quite capable of creating explosions). He did however in his keynote address at the 2012 Maker Faire in San Francisco to re-examine education and find inspiration in the Maker Movement. He was invited to talk about how he believes the Maker Movement could influence the future direction of education. In particular he emphasized the connections to knowledge and people through making:

When you make something, the world becomes a little more parsable, it becomes a little more understandable to you. You become part of a conversation. And when you make things that you can’t not make, that conversation goes really deep, and you meet other people that are making the same things they can’t not make, and these people become your friends and your confidants, and your teachers and your mentors…

He also emphasized that it doesn’t matter what you make or why you make, just that you do. I thought this was particularly interesting because he and many other makers that tend to build things inspired by pop-culture (like a Star Trek tricorder and Ghostbusters proton packs). And these makers are often derided as being ‘unoriginal.’

To Savage this is BS, because of the point above, you are learning and discovering a community of tinkerers to engage. Savage talked about his making process which has had him vacillate between building things of his own and those infused by his love of pop culture. But it was the desire to have the things he saw in TV and film that first inspired him. He built his first cardboard space-ship so that he could be like Han Solo fly his own Millenium Falcon built into his parents closet.

At a certain point though he envisioned making a man, not something he’d seen in movies, but something he could picture perfectly in his mind. And he worked, and worked as a twelve-year old boy with the support of his family and created the “cardboard man” which stayed on his front porch until the elements had their way with his sculpture. Below was his next project, “sitting man”:

Adam Savage’s Sitting Man Sculpture at 12-13 years old.

I’ve only recently discovered maker culture, but I’ve been making things for a long time now. I studied art in college, and graduate school, but before that I loved to create things with my childhood friend Chris Hall. He was an amazing model builder, fashioning a simple out-of-the-box model tank into this really cool diorama which included all his original modifications through air brushing and retooling. The plastic pieces would be distorted with heat and super-glue, and the final product was always better than the picture on the box, really. I benefited from getting to spend time in his basement building all sorts of things – fishing flies, popsicle stick forts, and more.

I now teach media at York College as part of our Communications Technology program, which has an inherent maker approach. Students learn to create all sorts of videos, design projects, and more through the program. But we’ve recently been inspired to create a makerspace and a maker course for our students so that we could get them into tinkering with tools. It’s brand new, but I’m most excited to learn to play with things like 3D printers, Arduinos, Makey Makey, and a Raspberry Pi. These new tools will likely bring me to new places in what I create, and hopefully I’ll be able to bring those experiences to my students.

Why Making in Education?

I want you to search for articles, blog posts, images, videos, etc. that talk about the growing interest in bringing the ideals of maker culture into education. Good terms ‘maker’, maker space, STEM and maker, K12.

You will create your first blog post and reflect on maker culture and introduce how you could imagine using some of these ideals in your K12 classroom. This means you should also introduce yourself and your future plans as a K12 teacher.

In this post, you will need to link to at least one article (website address) you are referencing and embed either a video or image(s) to illustrate your perspective as well.

Be sure to visit the about page to find Audrey Water’s article about Maker Culture in Education.