Professor Mikael Hellstrom, University of Alberta
What a great class!!!! My students were so excited to be working through our first French unit on Identity. What usually takes me a week to get through was done in 1 class!! They were more open with sharing their insights, were helping each other (despite the fact that most of them were complete strangers at our boarding school) and were asking for more quests. I didn’t assign any quests for homework, but I just keep seeing the XP climbing higher and higher….on the weekend!!! Keeping up with them is going to be tough.
Today was great. The kids seemed happily shocked to see how the class will be run. No more lesson plans. No more lecture. Still rigorous and accountable. I was worried about 20 iPads hitting my network at once, but the kids were watching the videos with no trouble at all. Everything just worked.
It has been working great and giving me more time for differentiated instruction, and for giving quality feedback that gives students the chance to improve their work, not be penalized. Students stay really busy in class, too! I have loved this way of teaching!
Ok, I’ll admit it. I am not a gamer…So finding a resource like the 3D Game Lab Teacher Camp was like being hit by lightening. WOW! My learning curve was very steep during the April teacher camp, but it’s starting to feel more comfortable and I feel ready to start building my own quests. And believe it or not, I’m redefining myself as a teacher: a teacher who uses game theory, quests and “play” in my classroom. Maybe I am a gamer after all. This is very exciting.
I’d been listening curiously to a conversation between the tallest kid in the class and one of the shortest, who seem to gravitate to each other to work on their quests. One was explaining to the other the difference between rewards and awards. The other boy wanted to know how he knew that. The explainer said, “Because I looked it up.” I was fascinated at how important this was to them – they continued talking for several minutes about the awards and how to get them. It seemed to be a very important, deep conversation for them, and I was thinking how wonderful it is to let them experience blended learning and to have an opportunity for communication over how the system works….Do I need to say it? I’m having the time of my life with this group and 3DGameLab. It’s so great to see the potential for mastery learning. When they don’t read carefully or follow directions, I can ask them to dig deeper. When they say they’re confused, it’s an opportunity for a conversation online, or a face-to-face meet to talk about it. I’ve been in education 26 years and have absolutely been waiting for 3DGameLab!
An unexpected outcome so far is that I am enjoying playing. I am not a gamer. I have tried and quit many games over the years because I don’t like them. They take too long, they are complicated, they require insider knowledge that only gamers seem to have or be able to access, they are pretend and fake looking, they are difficult to win, plus I’m not competitive. But I am kind of feeling pretty addicted to completing quests and following all these paths that keep presenting themselves in the form of groups and quests. It’s amazing to me (although probably not to the people who designed this specifically to hook people, right?)
I will be using 3D for my students to earn extra credit. One of my colleagues is using it in his curriculum but I am not quite ready to do that. With my kids doing for extra credit, they can get access to it and I will be able to get familiar with the platform without the pressure of it being a requirement. It is strange too, because now any time I think of a cool science activity, I am beginning to think if I can make it a quest. Fun.