Sunday, July 28, 2013

Have you heard about Jane McGonial's life story? Have you seen her TED presentation? You should see it! It is so inspirational and energizing and most of all, it is enlightening. She had a brain injury, was suicidal, etc. What saved her? She created a...

Better listen to her story

And read this blog: Show Me the Science! Resilience, games, post-traumatic growth, and more 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Week Three: Reflections on "The Game Elements for Learning" Micro-MOOC 2013

This is the last week of the Game Elements for Learning micro-mooc designed and held on by the Micro-MOOC Masters (see below). This is the time for the feedback and reflection. We were given several opportunities and ways to reflect and share the learning experience in GE4L course.

My Reflections on the course learning outcomes:

It was an interesting and challenging experience. I enjoyed taking challenges and sharing my experience with the learners on the ways I used game elements and plan to gamify my courses. 
I studied the provided on the course site, explored on my own, and bookmarked tons of resources about game-based learning, gamification; I learned and had a chance to interact with the experienced gamers Gerol PetruzellaPete Rorabaugh and Jesse Stommel  with their Twitter vs Zombies (Hybrid Pedagogy), watched TED videos with Tom Chatfield and Jane McGonigal, I read the blogs of the game-based learning supporters. I learned another LMS platform, Canvas, and realized how I love designing my courses with Moodle. I can't wait to see the upgrade of our current Moodle 1.9 to Moodle 2.5 that supports gamification elements -- point system, badges, leaderboards, etc.
I truly enjoyed weekly twitterchats with the game design experts and our MOOC masters, and the course-mates who were sharing their insights and more resources. 
This course encouraged the learners to search for games, web tools, research tools and literature and promoted our collective intelligence on the topics of the course and engaged us in collaboration, creative sharing and new ideas' exchange.
I realized that I am a poor test taker. My entrance course quiz results were better than the final quiz results. I am not trained in taking multiple choice tests. That's why I do not use MC tests in my courses, I use them only for students' self-learning (I invite students to visit the course textbook  site and take the chapters' test). Teacher candidates complete the tests for their own check for understanding purposes and reflect on what they have learned  in the course designing the digital artifacts and adding them to their course blogs.
I had a better time creating the Game Elements for Learning QR treasure hunt on the course concepts and shared it on the Canvas forum. I also shared my ideas of how to use twitter capabilities in my future course in the fall. 
Here what I wrote:
"I am thinking of using TweenTribune (based on Twitter conceptfor my Methods of Social Studies classes. Future teachers will participate in reading the news and posting their comments on TweenTribune.  A reward system will be designed for posting a certain number of comments on the site and for the feedback on other posts; badges/certificates will be created for the masters of the TweenTribune news for the best posts, for the best feedback, for the comments on the children's posts or other TweenTribune achievements."
And immediately got a response from Michelle Pacansky-Brock

I am just so excited that you shared this site with me -- what a great, collaborative project. Student-generated news. I love it! I'm going to make this the homepage on my family's computer.
I can see how your game will incentivize participation on the site. Great idea to get future teachers involved, Ludmila.
Thank you Michelle for the feedback and all masters for all your encouragement throughout the GE4L mooc.

 Kudos to the Mooc masters for designing and facilitating the course during these intense 4 weeks of July. It was a rewarding learning experience!

Academic Partnerships (AP) is a leading higher education service provider working exclusively with public universities in the United States and outstanding higher education institutions around the world to help them benefit from this global phenomenon. “The great enabler today in higher education is online learning which vastly expands access to our partner institutions,” says Randy Best, founder and chairman of Academic Partnerships. “We are helping public universities transition to a much more inclusive and sustainable model.”

The Academic Services and Learning Technologies team, led by Chief Academic Officer Dr. Charles Green, is focused on providing value through research, development, and innovation that benefits our partner faculty and students. We future-proof Academic Partnerships with new models for delivery, new technology tools, compelling mobile applications, and the design and development of learning communities that position AP as a global thought leader in higher education.
The Academic Partnerships’ (AP) Faculty eCommons is  a social learning “ecosystem” for faculty across the globe to learn, collaborate and share research about effective online teaching and learning. The eCommons offers research, guidance, professional development, and national quality standards to assist faculty in preparation and evaluation of their online courses and programs.

Robin Bartoletti is the Director of Online Quality and Community at Academic Partnerships. Ms. Bartoletti manages and administers the Faculty eCommons and other related projects. Robin is experienced in K-12 and university-level distance education. Prior to working as an instructional designer, Ms. Bartoletti was a faculty member teaching Master's Level educational technology and information science at Northeastern State University and the University of North Texas. She was recently selected as a research fellow at TheTexas Social Media Research Institute (TSMRI). She has presented at national conferences on the topics of online education, quality in course design, social media and many others. Ms. Bartoletti has a master’s Degree in Information Science from the University of North Texas, Post Masters Certification in Digital Content Management and is a PhD candidate at Texas Woman’s University.

Whitney Kilgore is the Vice President of Academic Services at Academic Partnerships.  Ms. Kilgore more than 10 years of experience in educational technology leadership in both Higher Education and K-12.  She has made numerous presentations around the country on topics such as: retention, mobile technology, engaging learners, and expanding your personal learning network.  She has co-facilitated numerous MOOCs (Engaging Technology and Online Pedagogy, Learning Open Educational Resources, and Instructional Design for Mobile Learning). She is a member of the Sloan Consortium, EDUCAUSE, and is a Quality Matters certified peer reviewer. Ms. Kilgore received a post-graduate certificate in Educational Technology Leadership from George Washington University, and holds a M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction from Texas A & M Corpus Christi. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in Learning Technologies at the University of North Texas.


Dr. Kaulbach has been in the education industry for twenty three years. Experiences in education include: Educational Consultant, University Director of Internships, University Instructional Specialist, University Director of Faculty Training, University Instructional Associate, and University Adjunct Professor. She has presented at numerous conferences and has served on university-wide committees including: University Accreditation Committee, University Curriculum Redesign Committee, University Rubric Development Committee, Representative for a university at the Ohio Board of Regents (OBR), and a Representative for a university at the Illinois State Teacher Certification Board (STCB). Dr. Kaulbach is interested in research that focuses on improving the student experience in adult learning environments. She is specifically interested in strength-based education that allows students opportunities to learn in their desired mode of instruction with an emphasis on their preferred learning style, while infusing technology into the online curriculum.
Heather Farmakis, Ph.D has extensive experience in professional development, distance learning and online instructional design. Dr. Farmakis is an adjunct professor at Lynn University where she currently teaches graduate courses in technology. For over 10 years, she has worked for the School District of Palm Beach County. Dr. Farmakis has conducted extensive research resulting in her dissertation titled "Investigating the Impact of E-Learner Cognitive Style on the Predictive Value of Student Success in Online Distance Education Courses". Dr. Farmakis currently serves on many dissertation committees assisting doctoral candidates in their topic. She has presented at national and state conferences on professional development and online learning.  She is the author of iLearn: Tips and Tricks for Online Learners.


Michelle Pacansky-Brock is a noted college educator and online faculty development specialist.  Michelle has received two Sloan-C awards for her online teaching effectiveness and has spoken nationally at conferences and faculty development engagements. Currently, Michelle is Director of Academic Services at Academic Partnerships, online Associate Faculty at Mt. San Jacinto College, and is completing her EdD in Educational Leadership and Management on a full, merit-based scholarship at Capella University. She is also the author of Best Practices for Teaching with Emerging Technologies .
Thank you!

July is winding down. I have to design a new course and add it to Moodle. For the first time I will teach Psychology of Learning and definitely game-based learning will be one of the topics and I will add the game elements to the course. I will also have to upgrade the syllabus of the Teaching Methods of Social Studies course. I will be teaching two sections of it in the fall.  I plan to gamify them as well. I teach the courses for elementary school teachers and feel that this is a great time for developing kids' imagination, creativity and collaborative skills. I plan to play a lot in my classes. I am inspired and equipped!
Off to work on the courses design! 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Understanding Quest Based Learning Week 3 in GE4L Micro-MOOC

I am in the third week of the Micro-MOOC on Game Elements for Learning on Canvas LMS. I joined it because I am interested in effective ways of educating future teachers and because I am a lifelong learner, I am game to learn. This is the first summer in 12 years that I am not teaching. A great time to LEARN!

The masters of the course provided us with a lot of resources and challenges to overcome and offered different venues for achieving our personal goals. We are connected via Canvas official space for the course and also via Twitter using #GE4L, via personal blogs and forum discussions. Canvas is an LMS platform similar to Moodle or Blackboard. I am still learning the tools and interface of Canvas. I am a fan (expert!) of Moodle and think it is an easier and more user-friendly platform for a course design.

I have been collecting the resources about gaming, game-based learning, game elements, and the gamification principles. It is now the time to stop and ponder a little about what game-based learning is about.

First of all the terms: game-based learning and gamification. I had a conversation/discussion with my husband, Michael Edelstein, a more than 40 years experienced college professor. He was trained in the school of Kurt Lewin, the founder of social psychology and group dynamics. Being a follower of Lewin, Mike uses the term game-based learning and supports the idea of real life situations, experiential learning where learners do not rely on the extrinsic factors like rewards, points, etc. He was using some elements of games in his courses that encourage students' self-search, self- and others' exploration and etc. when I told him about Gerol Petruzella and his philosophy course based on Dungeons and Dragons, he immediately got interested and said that that game is surely can be used in the ethics course design.

I like this presentation of Gerol at the INSTRUCTURE conference this summer:

Mike hasn't heard the term gamification. I shared my understanding of the terms.
Game-based approach means to me using a FULL game suitable for the course content with its roles, rules, levels, etc. and engaging students in it for learning.
Gamification means taking some elements of the game design and applying them to a non-gaming environments. Somebody shared this MindShift blog post in our GE4L course where a good explanation of the differences is provided.

I shared my experience with gamification in my course design on the GE4L discussion forum:

"I think gaming is in my blood. I started my educational career back in Russia in 70s as a pioneer leader at a prestigious English language school. I designed games to engage students in social activities to help them learn to stay active, curious and become leaders. When I became a student of the School of Foreign Languages I was assigned to supervise summer teacher training camp. I used the same approach: future teachers played roles of their future children and participated in the activities as children to learn the rules and conditions of  summer camp life. We created troops, followed the routine of a summer camp, arranged the activities that teacher candidates would be organizing for their kids, etc. That environment was very powerful. When I became a University professor, I taught English through songs, games, simulations and role pay to immerse English learners in authentic socio-cultural situations. After defending my theses in Educational theory and Practice, I gamified my education classes to immerse teacher candidates in the pedagogical situations for them to learn about children and effective teaching. I am in the U.S. since 2000. I first started teaching the Russian language and I applied similar approaches. The results were amazing. Learners mastered the Russian language through Russian games, songs, real life situations, and role playing. The final exam was a Russian fable in rhyme "Mukha-Tsokatukha" that the lcourse participants had to first learn, understand, memorize and perform to the college community. The main result was I found my wonderful husband through gaming. He had the main part in the Tussian fable and learned the main words in Russian -- how to propose! I was flattered by his Russian and agreed to marry him!  
Anyway, I believe in the power of gaming in education. Last semester I used BizWorld projects in my Social Studies methods classes to teach economics and entrepreneurship. Three of my classes were challenged to create companies in the elementary school classrooms:  Friendship Bracelets companies in the second grade, Movie production companies in the fourth grade and Investments Teams in the 5-6 grades. What an experience it was! Both teacher candidates and school children were learning through real life business situations, facing challenges of communication, team work responsibilities and reliability, the grounds and consequences of competition.  
I am taking this course to learn more about gaming in the new digital context. I have already read a lot since the beginning of this course and am finding more and more resources on the course gamification. Here is one with the list of ideas and apps to help meaningfully integrate augmented reality into education: "Meaningful Integration of AR.

Gaming is very powerful. There is a lot of research on the benefits of gaming in learning. Beow is the infographic poster illustrating it.

Attribution to for this graphic.

How Video Games Are Changing Education

I also like the term "quest-based learning" that is discussed in this slideshare article by Chris Haskel.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Playing with Flavors.Me in #GE4L course!

I have just joined  "Game Elements for Learning" (GE4L) course on Canvas. This is the zero week of the four week mini-mooc. One of the assignments in the first week is, of course, introducing yourself using digital tools.
We were recommended to use About Me or Flavors.Me sites. I have already had About me profile created. So - I played with FlavorsMe. Here it is:

Ludmila Smirnova: I am an educator with a a lot of educational experience in a diverse cultural and educational, F2F and virtual contexts.
The gaming fun has begun!