Anatomy of Slaying GOBLINs – #OpenEd16 Presentation

Last week, John and I gave one of my favorite presentations while at #OpenEd16. We spoke about our game-based professional development program, GOBLIN. During our 25 minute presentation, we combined role-play, gameplay, storytelling, and discussion to emulate the experience of participating in a session of GOBLIN.

Role-Play

To add subtle hype to our final-day-of-the-conference session, we distributed a few sightings of the GOBLIN via twitter:

These “sightings” aimed to invoke curiosity and set the tone for our presentation. John and I intended to paint the attendees of #OpenEd16 as warriors we’d gathered to consult and help us defeat the mighty GOBLIN. As soon as the session started, the role-play was already in full swing. John and I introduced ourselves as the Guru’s of these lands, seeking aid from valiant warriors. We were not disappointed.

One of John and I’s worries of the extensive role-play in our presentation was soliciting buy-in from participants. If role-play is not fun, coherent, or accessible, then it will not be well received—and like GOBLIN, we had crafted role-play into our presentation and staked success on this design. Fortunately, we were relieved at the laugher and feedback from Twitter inspired by our approach. We’d put a significant amount of thought and craftsmanship into how role-play would be integrated into our session and the results were fantastic:

My favorite line to deliver was about the computers, tablets, and smartphones of the participants:

These comments were not inconsequential. They allowed John and I to layer and tailor our own ideas over the real world. We were framing tasks in new light—breathing perspectives and meaning into normally trivial endeavors. In practice, John and I capitalized on the world we created with a short research game.

Gameplay

With our fantasy universe was established, we engaged participants in a simple game. The task was to submit open resources like images, video, or software to goblin.education/opened16. This crowdsourcing of information inflicted damage upon the GOBLIN. The more resources procured, the more points removed from the GOBLIN’s health bar:

Gif of GOBLIN being damaged by recourse submissions

There were so many people attempting to submit resources simultaneously that we crashed the website for a couple minutes! (Which was fine as we only need to demonstrate the concept of the game.) Nevertheless, thanks Lee! 😉

Storytelling

Cartoon campfire

Following the game, we launched into the history of GOBLIN. I framed this story in the context that John and I had encountered this menace before and needed to inform these warriors of the GOBLIN’s origin. This weaving of role-play and reality sure made for some memorable storytelling!

The birth of GOBLIN is quite simple; it arose from a single question:

This question drove the development of GOBLIN. We wrestled with it as developers/instructors and we used it as a point of engagement for our faculty.

In addition to this foundational question, John and I practice experiential pedagogies, and pragmatically, this means we use the concepts we’re teaching in the design of the instruction:

In practice, this meant we:

Once we established these two core ideas in the genesis of GOBLIN, we explained our development process and how open educational resources enabled us to build character cards for the table-top, D20 based RPG named GOBLIN.

But the GOBLIN game was merely a primer for discussion of pedagogical concepts like scaffolding, overcoming failure, and gamification (etc.). These discussions and the exorbitant amount of optional homework completed by faculty were where we engaged participants in professional development. Together, these aspects of GOBLIN resulted in the highest attendance of any faculty learning community we’ve ever facilitated (even ones where iPads were given as part of their involvement)!

However, the story is not all fun and games. GOBLIN suffered from a lack of equal representation among the characters. For instance, it was difficult to find open female artwork that was not heavily sexualized. John and I made it a point to diversify our characters as much as possible. We used labels to imply gender ambiguous artwork was female and ensured that no more than half of the characters where explicitly male. But even with our attempts, we still received feedback that greater diversity should be present. We agree and plan to keep working at improving this weakness of our program.

Slide from GOBLIN presentation showing female character and implied female character, sorceress.
Female rogue and implied female character, sorceress.

Discussion

Fortunately, we concluded our presentation in several minutes of open discussion and talked about these shortcomings with the attendees. There were some great suggestions to engage art students at the university in producing open artwork for GOBLIN.

Others spoke about artwork and their fear of competing against high budget games. John and I let the discussion evolve naturally and many great points arose from these statements:

To wrap it all together, Erika Bullock gave a testimony as a student who participated in developing games for class assignments. She attested to the potential of learning inherent in that design process and her comments encouraged instructors to consider the value of games as instructional opportunities.

What a great time of discussion we had. John and I enjoy crowdsourcing ideas from the discussions we host in GOBLIN or in presentations about GOBLIN. Learning is best as a communal experience. 🙂

Reflection

Presenting at #OpenEd16 was a phenomenal experience. The opportunity to share ideas and work with many of the people I look up to is a fantastic “right of passage.” Like Terry said in his #OpenEd16 reflection, “It is VERY satisfying, when you get up the nerve to tell [your edu heroes] you admire their work…to see them seem genuinely grateful for the praise and interested in who you are.” I couldn’t have asked for a greater audience and location.

One component of the presentation that folks might not have been aware of at the time, is that the entire presentation was a reflection of a GOBLIN session. We used a game to set the stage and add context to the discussion we wanted to facilitate. There were some extra components since it was a presentation, like the dive into GOBLIN history and the how the building process was impacted by open resources. But overall, very similar structure between GOBLIN and this presentation about GOBLIN. #meta

From the feedback we received and the questions following our presentation, I’d call the session a success. I made a lot of connections with folks interested in GOBLIN and look forward to the working with them.

As a reminder, GOBLIN is built using open materials and is also licensed openly for you to take it, adapt it, use it, and expand it. If you want some assistance with the materials, let us know. Be aware that we’re still building pieces of the GOBLIN  website and improving implementation and distribution.

Also, if you want a copy of our slides, here you go:

Finally, if there’s one way our presentation will be remembered, I’m glad it’s because we gifted D20 dice as swag. 😀

The featured image is included with Mark Morvant’s permission.

eXperience Plan

If you are interested in participating in eXperience Play (XP) remotely, I am going to provide a to-do list of items each week. These to-do lists will include a variety of tasks such as playing games, reflecting, blogging, and portions of game development. If you complete all five to-do lists, you will produce an educational text-based game in five weeks. For more information on this professional development, read this blog post, visit the eXperience Play website, or contact me via Twitter or email.

This post corresponds with the second session of XP.

Part 1 – Game Development

1. Watch this video:

Think about the scope of the game you want to build and know that you do not have to make a perfect game on your first try. You are learning!

2. Outline the story/choices of your game (from the idea you were brainstorming last week).

3. Create a storyboard to visually organize the outline of your game. Hold onto this storyboard for next week. Here’s an examples of how the connections in your storyboard may look:

Digital flow chart illustrating liner and circular organizations of stories in text-based games.

Please note that I’m not concerned with an “official” way to storyboard or plan your game. XP participants have developed flow charts on whiteboards, used notecards to represent each “scene” of their text-based game, setup spreadsheets to map out choices, and created digital flow charts using software like CmapTools. Use whatever tools you need/want while planning your game. If you have questions about this or want to engage with us, please reach out to us.

Here’s another example of the planning taking place in XP:

Part 2 – Professional Development

4. Write a blog post about your experience planning your game using the following prompt:

Blog Prompt
  • Write an overview of the process you followed while planning your game. Document what tools you used (whiteboard, notecards, software, other, etc.) and include screenshots of your planning artifacts (complete or in-progress).
  • Reflect and write about how this outlining and storyboarding exercise helped you while planning your game. Alternatively, applying this activity to the classroom, how can outlining and storyboarding a concept or project aid a student?
  • Research & define “Digital Storytelling” in your own words. Describe your outlining and storyboarding exercise in the context of your definition of “Digital Storytelling.”

Please have your plan/storyboard for your text-based game ready by September 26th.  Share your storyboard with me via Twitter or email or reach out with any questions.

The featured image is provided CC0 by Olu Eletu via Unsplash.

#games4ed – Leading My First Twitter Chat

Last night I moderated the #games4ed live chat. Little do anyone know, this was my first time to host a Twitter chat. O.o I’ve had a lot of fun on Twitter recently. First I remotely participated in a conference and then I published my first set of open Twitter data. Not to mention joining the #games4ed live chats and meeting many awesome people: Melissa Pilakowski, Steven Isaacs, Mark Grundel, & PBJellyGames, to name a few. With all of these experiences, I felt prepared to moderate a Twitter chat for the first time.

Preparing to Moderate a Twitter Chat

1. Brainstorming topics & questions – After Melissa asked if I wanted to host a night of #games4ed, I started thinking about what subjects I wanted to do. Eventually, I decided on Open Educational Resources (OER) and Game Design. John Stewart and I had just recently finished GOBLIN, which was built as an OER table-top game to teach professors about gamification and game-based learning. All of these ideas were fresh in my mind and I wanted to hear other educators contribute to this conversation. I am glad I selected this topic because #games4ed has not covered OER yet. So, I was excited to be the first!

#games4ed QAll
Final list of my #games4ed questions shared under a CC-BY 4.0 License

2. Creating question graphics – #Games4ed uses images to showcase the questions each week. The advantages of this approach means questions can be longer than 140 characters and graphics are easier to see among a sea of tweets. Additionally, I wanted to emphasize the OER theme for the night. So, I ended up using artwork from the public domain game Glitch to build the graphics. Some of the assets were used in GOBLIN, so I was familiar with the resources at my disposal. Finally, to edit the graphics, I used Pixelmator (a streamlined photoshop-like software) and I believe the graphics turned out great!

Example question graphic shared under a CC-BY 4.0 License

3. Scheduling Tweets – One of my major concerns for moderating was getting overwhelmed by the number of tweets I felt required to produce. Therefore, I removed all of this stress by using Tweetdeck schedule tweets feature. First, I calculated how to spread seven questions across one hour—I determined to start questions at 8:05PM ET and reoccur every eight minutes. Next, I scheduled other tweets I thought were relevant for the chat including an introduction and links to OER resources. In other words, I intended to limit my focus to the tweets of the participants.

List of my scheduled tweets in Tweetdeck.

What I Learned from Moderating

Scheduling tweets is the only way to keep up with the conversation. As a moderator, I want to welcome and make as many people feel at home as possible in the Twitter chat. Between being hospitable and attempting to hold a dozen conversations at once, having my own questions and answers running in the background helped me stay on track.

Begin moderating Twitter chats in small circles. The #games4ed live chats are sizable with anywhere from 25-60 participants. (Last night included 37 users.) In contrast, there were nearly 400 participants #oklaed on Sunday evening. If you want to host a Twitter chat for the first time, I recommend starting with a smaller community. A manageable live chat let me practice moderating and I had a positive experience hosting.

Inviting friends makes the event more fun! I gave some of my friends access to the questions for the night and although they couldn’t be present, they scheduled tweets to sync with my questions. This generated more ideas and their support was encouraging during the live chat (shoutouts to John Stewart and Jason FitzSimmons).

I need to practice keeping up with the conversations. During the chat, I fell behind a couple of times as I was attending to earlier tweets. I know this is inevitable in a Twitter chat, but since hosting I want to improve my response time in future sessions.

A core group of participants helped engage more users. Since it can be difficult keeping track of everyone, I am grateful to the regular participants for helping supplement my engagement. Melissa and Steven, were especially helpful during this session as they insured participants didn’t slip through the cracks.

I enjoy live tweeting! This was an awesome experience. From brainstorming questions to connecting with educators, I discovered that I value the process of moderating Twitter chats. I can’t wait to host another!

#games4ed Open Twitter Dataset

Finally, I am releasing all of the Twitter data from last nights session as an OER! If you would like a copy check out the following link:

Open Twitter Data Google Sheet

If you want to analyze this data I suggest a tool like Voyant-Tools 2.0. For more information on collecting or visualizing tweets check out my post on Open Twitter Data.

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 9.47.23 AM
Tweets from this #games4ed Twitter chat in Volant-Tools 2.0.

Alternatively, check out the Participate Learning transcript from the live chat:

Thank you everyone for making my first moderated Twitter chat a positive experience. I look forward to more of these opportunities to connect and discuss with other educators from across the world!

OLC Innovate: Reflections on Virtually Attending

Recently, I had the pleasure to attend OLC Innovate. Well, not in the traditional sense. Rather, I participated through the available digital mediums at the conference. Twitter was a large portion of my engagement, but I also joined a couple conference sessions hosted by Virtually Connecting and even remotely played games with several attendees. All in all, I connected with many awesome people and participated in several fruitful conversations that I am exited to share.

Virtually Connecting

My favorite part of OLC Innovate was the opportunity to attend two virtual sessions. These meetings were well executed, let me connect with others, and helped me join in dialogues from the conference.

Session 1 – xMOOC & cMOOC in HumanMOOC

Matt Crosslin presented over the dual-layer model of mixing xMOOC with cMOOC in HumanMOOC. In particular, he outlined the technologies utilized, design limitations, and challenges experienced while facilitating the course. After his quick presentation, Matt provided four discussion prompts to solicit ideas about the dual-layer model present in HumanMOOC. Following several minutes of group dialogue, everyone came back and shared the ideas they had generated in their small groups.

My group focused on the fourth prompt, “How do you grade assignments that come from such different modalities?” I was excited to tackle this question since I had been thinking about it recently. The main idea we generated was requesting student input on the assessment of their assignments. For example, if a student wants to create an instructional video as a project, they need to help establish the expectations and rubric of the intended assessments before embarking on producing the video. That way, students have the flexibility of learning any way they want while instructors are able to provide some structure to facilitate this open-ended approach. If you want to hear our discussion, check out the following video (starting at 13:32):

Virtually Connecting Experience

This was my first time to participate in a conference virtually and there were several factors that contributed toward making this a positive experience.

1. Our Onsite Buddy, Autumm Caines, was excellent. She helped make conversations feel natural by angling the camera toward Matt Crosslin or other speakers at appropriate times. Additionally, Autumm helped facilitate the discussion for the digital participants when it was time to break off into groups.

2. The presenter engaged with the virtual participants. Matt made a point to engage our virtual group. This allowed us to contribute toward the overall discussion of the session and Matt made me feel like a person rather than a computer screen.

3. Home grown and accessible technologies make me want to do this again. Google Hangouts on Air was the tool used to virtually connect to this session. Since it is freely available, anyone can use it to reproduce their own virtually connecting style session. The nature of this DIY technology setup resonates with Indie Ed Tech ideas that excite me.

4. My colleagues were attending this session in person. This session was more fun because both of my colleagues, Adam Croom and John Stewart were also in attendance. Sharing this experience made participating in the conversations more meaningful.

5. Technical limitations made the session intimate. Although we did not breach the user limit of Google Hangouts, being confined to ten participants is a good limitation for a virtual session. This restriction yields a small enough group size to allow everyone to engage in discussion.

6. Documentation makes conceptualizing roles easier. There’s a great webpage on virtuallyconnecting.org that outlines the various roles of a Virtually Connecting session. Reading over this gave me a good representation of the different personnel that compose a session.

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 6.28.11 PM
My computer screen while participating in a virtual session—using Google Hangouts & Tweetdeck.

Session 2 – Digital Redlining

Chris Gilliard, Kristen Eshleman, & Hugh Culik facilitated excellent discussion on digital redlining, privacy, and information access. I have been thinking about these topics recently, but I had not heard the term “digital redlining” before OLC Innovate. I am thankful for attending this session because it introduced me to a new perspective on a familiar topic. While I have focused on socioeconomic barriers and how personal technologies play a role in university education, I have not been addressing these issues at their systemic levels. Now when I consider mobile devices as more financially accessible productivity devices, I will think more broadly about the problems facing students. Using affordable mobile devices as an example, how does the variance of cellular data prices versus broadband internet impact students?

There is much more to be learned about these topics, so I recommend checking out the available YouTube video from the session:

Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes

In the middle of March, as GOBLIN was coming to an end, I connected with John Robertson as he was looking for volunteers to help with a gaming event he was hosting at OLC Innovate. John and I bonded because we were both planning on engaging faculty using the game Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes (KTaNE). Little did I know this would lead me to volunteer at OLC Innovate a month later!

John’s event, #PlugIN Gaming Session, was a combination of several games. My colleague John Stewart led a game called Artemis while I was setup in another room playing KTaNE. I was excited for this opportunity. How often do you get to remote in to a conference to play a video game with the attendees? In all seriousness, it was an excellent test case for this type of online engagement.

If you want a quick laugh, I am trying to explain how to disarm explosives in this video:

Being involved as a volunteer remotely was a positive experience for me. I got to meet some more outstanding people and connect with them through a game focused on accurate communication. It was a fun way to be involved at OLC Innovate and I want to thank John Robertson for facilitating!

Twitter

Twitter functioned as my main communication channel during OLC Innovate. More than that, it catalyzed my involvement with the @VConnecting group and the #PlugIN gaming session. Even though I was located in another state, Twitter allowed me to asynchronously engage with the content and hold multiple “innovative” conversations at once. I am grateful to all those that live tweeted during sessions (big shoutout to Laura & Mark) and fortunate to have met so many awesome people online!

TAGS Explorer

During OLC Innovate, I setup TAGS Explorer to collect all the tweets containing #OLCInnovate. Originally, I was only interested in the various hashtags used at this conference. Overtime, my interests quickly evolved as others started engaging with the dataset. Now I want to give others the opportunity to play with and analyze the tweets from OLC Innovate. If you are interested, see my post on accessing the open Twitter data from #OLCInnovate.

What Now?

If you are interested in more perspectives from OLC Innovate, here are my recommended posts & podcast (in no particular order):

Also, I invite you to explore the open Twitter dataset from OLC Innovate that I recently posted. Lot’s of interesting information is waiting to be uncovered!

Finally, thank you everyone for making my first OLC Innovate conference delightful! Even from afar, between the virtual sessions, Twitter, and volunteering in the #PlugIN gaming session, I felt as though I was truly present!

The featured image is provided CC0 by Jay Mantri via Unsplash.

OLC Innovate: Open Twitter Data

During OLC Innovate, I setup TAGS Explorer to collect all the tweets containing #OLCInnovate. Originally, I was only interested in the various hashtags used at this conference. Overtime, my interests quickly evolved as others started engaging with the dataset. Now I want to give others the opportunity to play with and analyze the tweets from OLC Innovate.

all the tweets

Access the Data!

I am providing the twitter data in a few different formats to maximize access. You are welcome to convert to any other file formats. As an open dataset, I am assigning a CC-BY 4.0 license to this content. Let me know if you have any questions!

Google Sheet

CSV

Txt File (Tweet Text Only)

JSON – For access, open the Google Sheet Link above and click “Export JSON” in the google sheet menu to create this file. For more information on the script I used to make this possible, see this post by Pamela Fox.

Data Uses

During the conference I used this data to show which hashtags were popular:

The dataset also helped me determine the most retweeted tweets at OLC Innovate:

Beyond these pieces of information, I would love to calculate how many times “Innovate” was used at the conference. Or analyze the tweets from specific users, like the top tweeters:

There are more substantial and interesting pieces of information within these tweets—I am excited to see what you find and produce! If you want to see what I am working on, here is access to some of my personal analysis.

Where To Start?

Voyant Tools 2.0 is my first suggestion for data analysis. You can copy the provided txt file into this tool to explore many interesting data visualizations. This is a great place to start because Voyant is very accessible and informative. Also, you are welcome to share any other data visualization tools you know.

Volant Tools 2.0

For those interested, I have posted my reflections on attending OLC Innovate virtually. I am excited to share my experiences about virtually attending this conference!

The featured image is provided CC0 by Bill Williams via Unsplash.