My Favorite Indie Games for Education

education-gaming

In June, I was fortunate to again attend the Games for Change (G4C) festival in New York. As in past years, the highlight for me was hearing indie developers talk about how their game vision was realized by conscious selection of various storytelling techniques and game mechanic decisions. Designing games is like composing music, making movies, writing novels, building houses, or painting pictures because games provide the structure for interesting things to happen. Continue reading

The Wide World of Videos!

Melanie Reyes, MSW Online Program Coordinator for the School of Social Work, in her Faculty Showcase video, “The Wide World of Videos”  discusses how the School of Social work uses videos to introduce faculty and staff, present field internship expectations and training, build student engagement, and connect with subject matter experts to deliver course content. Continue reading

Faculty Videos and Games: Enhancing Student Engagement and Performance

Does increasing the amount of time students spend viewing faculty research videos and playing course specific games positively impact course grades?

Yes, it does, in both online and face-to-face courses and regardless of student GPAs.

Image by Alyssa Robinson
Image by Alyssa Robinson

These questions were the basis for a paper on the effects of faculty-research videos and games in an upper-division empirical-methods course. We expected that a media-rich environment would increase student engagement and that this increased student engagement would enhance performance and increase student satisfaction with the course.

Working with ASU Online and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Political Science faculty created 10- to 20-minute videos in which they presented a research project; they explained what they found, how they found it, and why they asked the question.

The videos are part of a repository and, although the impetus for the project was the growing demand for research methods online, the videos have been used in online, face-to-face and blended courses.

  • We assumed that the video examples of real research projects, tied to theory, would add depth and breadth to the course. In turn, this would make research methods more interesting;
  • increase student engagement;
  • improve the quality and quantity of student interactions with faculty;
  • expose online students to a wider range of faculty than their coursework typically might offer, thus providing them with some of the benefits accrued by traditional students;
  • and raise course grades.

These questions are consistent with the media-integration model, which dominates the theoretic literature and research on technology inclusion.  Earlier research found that streaming video and audio explanations are better than textbooks at explaining complex concepts.

We found that online students spent 21 percent of their online time viewing the faculty-research videos. The correlation between video-viewing time and course grade (49%) was the same as the correlation between course grade and GPA (50%). We expected the relationship between GPA and course grade to be strong but were surprised to find that the relationship between video viewing and course grade was equally strong. The correlation between viewing the research videos and GPA was 24 percent.  When we controlled for GPA, the partial correlation between faculty video viewing and course grade was 73%, which was considerably higher than the zero order correlation between course grade and video viewing.  GPA and faculty-research videos had independent effects on course grade; they did not substitute for one another. Moreover, within “GPA groups” video viewing had a strong, positive influence on course grades.

Anecdotal evidence is consistent with these findings.  Students wrote, “the videos were fantastic and…fun to watch; as an online student, the videos are essential to making me feel a connection to the faculty; (the videos) were indeed informative.”

The videos “helped make the abstract concepts a bit more concrete and easier to grasp. I think the videos were…a good addition to the course.”

Another student identified a benefit beyond the scope of the project when s/he wrote, “I quite enjoyed the videos and found them useful not only as a tool to explain course concepts and research examples, but also – and probably more importantly – as an opportunity to sort of ‘sample’ other professors. The videos provided a kind of mini course from a few professors, which helped in selecting classes for the following semesters.”

Our project had one more element. The spring 2013 online section added games associated with the course material for each week.  These were drill and practice games emphasizing memory, repetition and retention;  and Quizlet (our creation tool) offered students variations within the drill and practice theme.

The data regarding the impact  of these tools is unequivocal. Students using drill and practice online vocabulary games had higher quiz and course grades than students who opted not to use the games.

Additionally, the inclusion of “mini-games” or “learning objects” in the course, while not measured, appeared anecdotally to increase student satisfaction.

On an anonymous course evaluation, one student wrote, “this instructor went out of her way to make it easy for distance-learning students. She…tied the different elements of the course together …. (making) learning much easier (textbook, homework, quizzes, discussions and games).” Another wrote, “The many sources of media ….brought diversity to the course material.”

Our project was a success. Many faculty who made research videos reported that students referred to the videos in conversations.  This was an unexpected consequence but one that was entirely consistent with the project’s goal of making students more comfortable with research.

The videos helped students become reviewers and evaluators of research instead of passive consumers; the games made them comfortable with the language. Course material often seen as dry became engaging, and as they came to appreciate it, teaching became easier and more rewarding.

Click here for the full article with citations.

By Marilyn Dantico, PhD, Gina Woodall, PhD, and Tahnja Wilson, MIM/MBA

The Voices of Online Learning

In these Pearson produced videos, instructors Meredith Carpenter, Steve Lurenz, and Tom Stoudt discuss how they flip, create community, and change lives in their respective classrooms. Specifically, they mention:

  • the fail-safe learning environment of the flipped classroom. In a flipped classroom, the students can’t “do something wrong” as the instructor is there as a guide to redirect.
  • that online learning success is when the students come together as an online learning community with common goals.
  • the flexibility that the online environment affords the student the opportunity to review material repeatedly until either the student understands the concept or can compose an intelligent question.

View more: The Voices of Online Learning

From the Trenches – An ASU Online Student Perspective

Kenzie Horn, ASU Online student.
Kenzie Horn, ASU Online student.

Full disclosure: my daughter is an ASU Online freshman – she has 25 credits under her belt as of now.  She has taken required courses and electives and thus far she is loving the convenience of getting her bachelor’s degree online through ASU while attending a two year professional acting studio in New York full-time.  Her dream is to act on Broadway; my requirement is that she earn a four year degree at the same time. 

As a seasoned online student, I thought it would be useful to pass on some of her ideas about what makes a great online course.

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Student Success with Video Chats on Google+ Hangouts

Christina Carrasquilla, a lecturer for ASU’s  Graphic Information Technology Program, presents the hows and whys of using Google+ Hangouts in her courses. She discusses how video chats enhance student engagement, promote social interaction, encourage course community, and lead to higher student performance and satisfaction. Using the Google+ social network for course interactions is easy. All students are given an ASU gmail account due to ASU’s partnership with Google. Why Google + Hangouts? Listen and learn!
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