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Week Two Reflection October 11, 2014

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My first foray into the world of blogging was a result of joining a MOOC.  Agreed, the blog truly is a way of purging your “brilliant” thoughts and rantings.  I spent two hours watching the two Blog Talk videos, and agree they are good, but, because it was my second open class, there was really no new material for me.

I am definitely challenged, not by the MOOC, but by Minecraftedu, an activity that “involves uncertain outcomes due to variable levels, hidden information or randomness.” Challenged to the point of incapacitation, am I! I still have no clue what to do, how to do it, and especially have no clue about strategies to use in Minecraftedu.  If there was a vocab test right now over Minecraft terms, I most certainly would fail it!  Not sure the four principles of intrinsic motivation – control, challenge, curiosity and contextualization – are enough to get me out of the Minecraftedu rut in which I find myself!  I am sold on open connected courses, but no verdict yet on Minecraftedu.  Maybe I have to know darkness before I can understand light!

From the reading the GiverCraft blogs, I also sensed we are not all at the same level of acceptance of the concept, some of us are overwhelmed and a bit frustrated, and others are smooth sailing.  One colleague made the analogy to the social learning aspect and collaborative use of technology as being similar to the need for a variety of ingredients tossed into a mixing bowl, working together, to create something good.  As a baby boomer, I have a lot to learn from the experienced gamers in our group and am grateful for the knowledge they are sharing.

Now for a few good words about the game.  Following are some factors of the effectiveness of Minecraftedu (MCedu) for learning.  A member of our team emphasized an attribute of Minecraftedu which I have been mulling over: the great potential it has for cultural responsiveness. Can’t you just see a Whaling Activity in Minecraftedu?  Gotta love it!

One factor is that it allows both students and teachers to be creative.  Activating higher order thinking skills with hands on collaborative challenges is certain to be engaging.  Other merits of MCedu are that it facilitates the differentiation of instruction and reduces the need to ask the question “Why do I need to know this?” or “When am I ever gonna use this?”  Students these days all know how playing video games are going to help them!  Another bonus of MCedu is it enables students to be both challenged and successful.  Additionally, several of the blogs mentioned the importance of feedback and fun for learning to occur.  The game also has the ability for globalizing learning through teamwork, or to borrow a phrase, enables global collaborative tinkering.


Week One: Reflection

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After reading the blogs of all classmates in this MOOC, Gamification and Open Education, #edgamify, it seems we have a good working definition of gamification.  We seem to understand that gamification is the current trend in instruction, that it is a tool for learning, and it not a panacea for education.  In general, we feel learning should be fun, and we are all anxious to see our Minecraftedu project’s success, as well as success implementing gamification in our practices.  There seems to be a consistent thread of passion for teaching and learning which flows in the veins of the class.

It was most interesting to read what video games classmates referred to from their childhood/school days.  I still have no video game references in my life.  The option of learning from failure in video games is appealing.  We do learn from our mistakes.  The value gamification places on feedback is very appealing to teachers in this class. Using Minecraft to teach content to ELL students is very appealing.

One article I read on the introduction of technology in learning referred to how educators went through the same thing we are now, only it was with radio and how to use it to engage and motivate learners.  Again, we all know radio was a trend and is one more teaching tool.  My remaining question is how long will the gamification trend last?


Team GiverCraft

Filed under: Uncategorized — grannynannycook @ 12:14 pm
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How has your team approached and documented the design of your game?

The first thing I want to address in game design for our team’s GiverCraft project is communication.  We are all telelearners, not meeting altogether in one place, and not necessarily at the same time.  But we are meeting.  One of the points stressed most in the readings for this assignment is the importance of communication during game design.  For the project design, our team has used the usual communication methods: hangouts, email, google docs, wikispaces, minecraft chats, tweets, and even telephone.  These three questions from Chapter 9 have helped our team focus during the design process:

What have I done since the last meeting?

What do I still need to do?

What obstacles have I encountered?

 According to the author, Karl Kapp, for learning game design, the most effective process is a hybrid approach between ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation), a step-by-step process, and Scrum, a team approach based on an iterative and incremental agile methodology. The first step in the hybrid method is to determine what we want the learning outcome to be, and we have.

Because our team is using the pre-existing game, Minecraftedu, the GiverCraft approach is modified from the hybrid method, but a deliberate process has been followed.  First we chose the game to use (Minecraftedu) and then brainstormed how to use it to address learning domains to teach the content.  Learning objectives were established.  A blend between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation was determined.  The team determined a storyline, reward system, and in-game activities for the concept to be taught.  A rubric for assessment of learning based on the reading Common Core Standards was developed.  The team worked on these things to reach a common goal, not necessarily in a sequential order, but all together to advance the project in a flexible manner, not having to wait for someone to finish their part before we start our part.

There is an advantage to using Minecraftedu.  It has already been tested for playability, engagement, and learning.  Although we did not need to create a paper mock up and play it, we did play a sample scenario to create a similar situation to that the students will experience.  And, the team has been playing a lot of Minecraftedu, both individually and in groups.  The hours spent playing the game provided the team with feedback to help the team improve GiverCraft.  Feedback enables us to determine how closely instructional objectives will be met, to give an insight into how teachers might envision using the game, to identify obstacles to using the game, and to test the reward structure established by the team.

Taking into consideration the author’s suggestions for the ideal gamification design team and elements of a design document, some of his suggestions were implemented, and some were not applicable.   Regarding roles within the team, we seem to be practicing “aces in their places”, letting people do what they do best, because our members have different levels of understanding of Minecraftedu and ability to play the game, as well as different teaching experience.  For our project for the gamification of learning and instruction, these roles seem to have evolved: project manager, instructional game designer, subject-matter expert, information tech representative, and representative from the learner population.  Although the roles may not be exactly defined or implemented as Kapp does, they are approximately what we are doing.  Roles which are basically unnecessary for the team because we are using Minecraftedu are: artist, programmer, music/sound, animator, level designer. There was no need for storyboards and art, but game play challenge scenarios were created.

Since this writing is tardy, I know how the game will be presented, documented, and marketed.  The game is being presented in Minecraftedu.  The group will use a website for marketing, and a weebly for commucication with registered participants.  The website, GiverCraft, open to the public, will have an overview of the project, registration forms, and other pertinent information.  The private weebly, for registrants only, will be used for keeping track of progress, posting screenshots, and other project sharing.  A Google group has been created to address questions and issues from teachers who are participating with their students in our the game.

Although we have been collaboratively working on the Minecraftedu challenge project, not all the answers are clear.   The design document, to help with planning and resource allocation,  is a work in progess.  It includes an overview of the concept, statement of the expected learning outcomes, instrucional objectives, game environment, reward structure, look and feel of the game, technical description, and a project timeline.  The timeline contains start dates, end dates, estimate of how long each phase will take, and a time for celebrating and sharing.

In closing, I want to summarize one of Eric Milks’ Tips for Managing the Gamification Process: gamification should be a balance between fun and pedagogy; keep players interested (fun), yet educate them (pedagogy).1 Ultimately, this is the goal of GiverCraft.

  1. Kapp, K. M. (2012). The Gamification of Learning and Instruction : Game-based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education. San Francisco: Pfeiffer. Chapter 9, p. 215.

Griefers and trolls, idiots all

Filed under: Uncategorized — grannynannycook @ 9:17 am
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Growing up, I learned about trolls from the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff.

Oh, and those little weird rubbery dolls with the bizarre hair in the 60’s.

Oh, and fishing with my gramps from a boat.

In the first MOOC, I learned what troll means in the the new millennium.

Netlingo explains:

It “originally meant the act of posting a message in a newsgroup (and later on a blog) that is obviously exaggerating something on a particular topic, hoping to trick a newbie into posting a follow-up article that points out the mistake.

Traditionally “to troll” means to allure, to fish, to entice, or to bait. Internet trolls are people who fish for other people’s confidence and, once found, exploit it.

Trolls vary in nature; here are a few types of online trolls:

Playtime Trolls

Tactical Trolls

Strategic Trolls

Domination Trolls

Concern Trolls

You have probably heard various opinions about how to deal with people who write insulting or provocative remarks on various Internet forums. The most common is “Don’t Feed the Trolls”, which says that all the people in the forum should avoid responding to the troll.  From Wikipedia “Media attention in recent years has equated trolling with online harassment” or cyberbullying.

The people who post nasty comments online are likely to have pathological personalities, said a 2014 study from the University of Manitoba. Known as “Internet trolls,” Web users who like to post inflammatory comments, incite arguments, and send insulting tweets are more likely to exhibit Machiavellianism, narcissism, psychopathy, and sadism. Collectively known as the “Dark Tetrad,” these personality traits were shown to be prevalent through surveys designed to understand what makes trolls tick.”

See more details at:

Griefing is another term new to me.  There is a whole page explaining it on the Minecraft Wiki.  On that site, griefing is “the act of irritating and angering people in video games through the use of destruction, construction, or social engineering.” Or, deliberately disturbing or destroying other players’ work without their permission.

A griefer is a player in a multiplayer video game who deliberately irritates and harasses other players within the game, using aspects of the game in unintended ways. A griefer derives pleasure primarily or exclusively from the act of annoying other users, and as such is a particular nuisance in online gaming communities, since griefers often cannot be deterred by penalties related to in-game goals.  From Wikipedia: In Taiwan, griefers are known as “white-eyed”—a metaphor meaning that their eyes have no pupils and so they look without seeing. Behaviors other than griefing which can cause players to be stigmatized as “white-eyed” include cursing, cheating, stealing, and unreasonable killing.

Probably the kindest word in my vernacular to sum up a griefer would be idiot.  Of which I am one, as a newbie to Minecraft.  I have destroyed much, completely unintentionally.  So, I apologize in advance for not having the necessary hand-eye coordination necessary to not be a griefer!  In my case, the destruction is purely accidental.


Luddite October 6, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — grannynannycook @ 10:36 pm
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What tools can we use both in and out of Minecraft, to create a convincing case that learning occurred? 

Somehow in my research roamings through assessment of learning with Minecraftedu, I encountered the unfamiliar terms narratology  and  ludology.  Not that it pertains to the assignment per say, but it was very interesting learning from a neutral presentation about the big debate between the two.  Whether or not the information source is accurate, I do not know, but the video seems to be an explanation even I can understand (caution, the F word can be heard in this clip).  Although I understand how both concepts can apply to education, I’m not sure I understand the debate as a whole.  Here are the definitions.

Narratology – noun
the branch of knowledge or literary criticism that deals with the structure and function of narrative and its themes, conventions, and symbols
Ludology – noun
the study of games and gaming, especially video games
“ludology, like the games it studies, is not about story and discourse at all but about actions and events”
a member of any of the bands of English workers who destroyed machinery, especially in cotton and woolen mills, that they believed was threatening their jobs (1811–16).
a person opposed to increased industrialization or new technology

Now, back to the assigned topic.  Of course, assessment is the method teachers use to determine if learning has occurred, if learning goals have been met.  From what I have read, it seems that the most important way to determine what progress students make is to use authentic formative assessment, i.e., check up on the students while they are completing the tasks.  For example, in Minecraftedu, listening and watching game participants and noting observations are informal formative assessment.

There are lots of ways to perform formative assessment, here are a few reliable ideas:

53 Ways to Check for Understanding

 Tools for Formative Assessment –

56 Different Examples of Formative Assessment

Formative (Informal) Assessment Strategies


Kathy Schrock’s Guide to Everything. (simply because I have been following her forever)


The MOOCs in which I have participated have used “frictionless” formative assessment.  Features of Social Media that enable formative assessment might work for a definition for now, as no official definition of the concept was found.  As a MOOC student, I have experienced assessment via: Livetext, video, screen cast-o-matic, screen shots, blogs, twitter, google plus (hangouts), Edmodo, and polls.  “To assess basic comprehension, attitudes, difficulties, and higher-order thinking, social media and formative assessment naturally complement each other,” concludes Paige Alfonzo Edutopia contributor.

Speaking of Edutopia, it has a lot of pages on assessment.  In Dipsticks: Efficient Ways to Check for Understanding, the author states a simple way to gain information from your students is to simply ask them.  Ask them why, to explain their thinking, and ask them evaluative questions such as:

  • How much time and effort did you put into this?
  • What do you think your strengths and weaknesses were in this assignment?
  • How could you improve your assignment?
  • What are the most valuable things you learned from this assignment?

Additionally, as a teacher, I have used CRISS strategies for assessment (free recall for example), rubrics, journals, anecdotal notes.  I often use rubrics which allow students to self-assess.  In the game of Minecraftedu, books, information blocks, and signs are ways students can use text to communicate understanding.  In addition, communities created will communicate understanding to the teacher.  Listening to language use while students are crafting is another way of observing learning.

All of the authentic informal formative assessments for Minecraftedu discussed in this blog have one thing in common, and that is feedback.  Quality of learning can be observed through what students say, write, make, or do (Griffin, 2007).  Class discussions, differentiated instruction, response to intervention, data-driven instruction, self-assessment, and peer assessment are all forms of either delayed or immediate feedback.  Feedback is more effective when it focuses on the task details, methods to improve answers, and ways to set appropriate goals (Shute, 2008)The series on Comprehensive Assessment, covers a variety of topics including a variety of ways to measure a student’s learning.  The Research Review section states that feedback must (a) be based on evidence of student understanding and integrated into regular classroom practice, (b) yield actionable insights that learners can and will use, and (c) provide learners with opportunities to improve their performance (Shute, 2008).  The marriage of formative assessment and feedback promotes learning, and that’s what we are all about.

Assessment to promote learning: Set challenging, meaningful goals for student understanding; collect evidence about current position relative to goals; and then identify ways to close the gap between the two (adapted from Black & William, 2009).
Where the learner is going/the goal Where the learner is How to get there
Instructor Set challenging, multifaceted goals, and clarify learning intentions and criteria for success. Elicit evidence ofstudent understandingthrough discussion and activities. Focus on the what, how, and why of the task or problem. Provide feedback that moves learning forward andactionable steps to address misconceptions and advance learning.
Peer Share and understand learning goals and criteria for success. Peer assessment: Students act as instructional resources for one another.
Learner Self-assessment: Students act as owners of their own learning.


Filed under: Uncategorized — grannynannycook @ 2:26 pm
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Week 3 Essential Question:

How can we use Minecraft to create a sound and robust learning experience for students?

Recapping the information from the text to answer the question of the week is not my goal.  Instead, my aim is to elaborate on what the reliable media says about Minecraftedu to unpack  the question posed by examining these components: robust, minecraft, how.

  1. strong and healthy; vigorous.
    “the Caplans are a robust, healthy lot”

minecraft is a sandbox construction game. Gameplay involves players interacting with the game world by placing and breaking various types of blocks in a three-dimensional environment.  The differences between Minecraftedu and Minecraft are explained fairly well here.  Plenty of sites which will elaborate on Minecraft  exist and blogs abound, and several are referenced in this writing assignment.


Most Minecraftedu for beginner videos, are helpful, but way too long to recommend.  However, I strongly suggest visiting this great introduction to the game, Getting Started with Minecraftedu, and viewing the video.

Posing the question “What will I need to do to enable my students to create and draw upon powerful digital learning networks?”, one teacher summarizes this way:

  • Provide opportunities to make learning explicit
  • Allow students to form questions to guide their learning
  • Encourage learning from experts in the field
  • Enable connection making
  • Allow students to develop a common language
  • Provide time

The author expands on each point in the article which is worth reading and is linked above.  A wonderful thirteen part guide to games and learning from Mindshift is also a good read for further exploration.

Is it fun?  Is that the ultimate question we should ask about creating learning experiences? It is said that the question, “Why do I need to know this?” disappears when effectively using Minecraftedu. Utilizing this game to help students observe, pose questions, engage in experimentation and error, and learn to analyze and reason, requires the usual skillful research based lesson design process to frame content. With planning, “games provide sequenced instruction blended with practice, feedback, and assessment”.  Before the game is implemented, “start with your traditional lesson objectives and build off those, give them an objective, not a recipe, let them figure it out”, which necessitates collaboration. The Institute of Play professes through games students build skills, learn content, and socialize with others.  Minecraftedu is a great tool for making more meaningful project based learning, open ended projects, and enabling students to showcase creativity through sharing.  It is about the learning process, not the product, i.e., not about what you build, but building it.  How we use it to improve student mastery of content mandated by state or national standards will primarily be in the instructional design and use of formative assessments.  Games and Learning website has some interesting data charts on assessments and should have newer information soon.

Differentiating instruction is made easy with Minecraftedu’s flexibility because the teacher can select how much freedom the students are allowed to have within the game and the level at which the game reacts with them. “As a player’s skill develops, the game’s complexity increases ad infinitum. In multi-player levels, players collaborate on building complex structures, use programming features to build contraptions, games, or compose music. Meanwhile, beginning players use their problem solving skills to scavenge for materials. They learn to mine stone for building, and coal for making fire.”  In addition, the diversity of students such as English Language Learners should benefit from the inclusivity of Minecraftedu, a safe space to engage in constructive learning (an idea spawned by reading Adam Heidebrink-Bruno).

Here are some thoughts from others on the learning experience from using games such as Minecraftedu:

  • “What video games do — better than any other medium,” writes games researcher and author James Paul Gee, “is let people understand a world from the inside.”
  • Game-based learning has emerged as a promising area of innovation in addressing a vital weakness in American educational performance: the need to make academic content more engaging, adaptive, relevant and rigorous for America’s youth.  Growing evidence demonstrates that digital games can be used to advance standards-based content mastery in literacy and math, develop a deep understanding of STEM concepts and build critical 21st century skills that are essential for preparing youth for success in a global and digital marketplace.”
  • Game-based learning is a great classroom tool because it allows for interdisciplinary learning through contextualized critical thinking and problem solving.

Games in the classroom can encourage students to understand subject matter in context — as part of a system. In contrast to memorization, drilling, and quizzing, which is often criticized because it focuses on facts in isolation, games force players to interact with problems in ways that take relationships into account. The content becomes useful insofar as it plays a part in a larger multi-modal system.

One promise of game-based learning is that it has the potential of building comprehension and literacy rather than retention. It does this by combining instruction, practice, and assessment. Teachers become the facilitators of a process where instruction is experiential. Practice is project based, requiring students to solve new problems and address new challenges using the new ideas to which they’ve been introduced. And assessment no longer measures a student’s ability to regurgitate information, or to choose among multiple answers, but rather, to use the content, or subject matter, in context. Even more impressive is that in order to successfully manipulate one piece within a comprehensive and complex system, the students must understand every piece of

The author, Karl Kapp, states: “Game designers do not have a magic elixir for creating engagement, instead, they rely on certain formulas for engagement. These include challenges, stories, effective user interfaces and providing incentives for correct activities. It even includes the counterintuitive aspect of chance or uncertainty. Few of these elements exist in many elearning modules and to engage learners, we must borrow these five elements from game designers to create an engaging and exciting learning environment.”  Which hopefully will result in a robust learning experience for all using Minecraftedu.  I can’t wait for the movie!



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