As I continue my exploration of online repositories, I get recommendations from other HAPS members. For example, Hiranya Roychowdhury, co-chair of the Curriculum and Instruction committee, made me aware of the University of Wisconsin learning object repository at https://www.wisc-online.com/learn. A quick search brought me to the life sciences learning objects, where I could see how many ‘hits’ a particular object has, what rating it has, when it was last updated, and even whether it is compatible with mobile devices.
The site has a number of cool-looking options, including a game builder, along with badges for different levels of participation. I admit I haven’t had time to explore the learning objects posted there for quality, accuracy, and engagement, but the idea of it is intriguing.
I also came across a blog posted at Edutopia (eduotopia.org) this week that discussed aspects of game design, and how that increases student engagement. I remember playing competitive games in high school courses, and how those activities increased buy-in from me and my classmates. I’ve played a version of Jeopardy (TM) with my own A&P classes, and I was surprised when some of my non-participatory students could pop up with correct answers when sufficiently motivated and engaged.
I’ve started using an app called Duolingo, which teaches languages through quiz-like assessments – including recognizing pictures, speaking, listening, and interpreting. (It’s completely free, by the way.) Maybe, with this quick and easy, short-lesson-format, I’ll finally learn some useful Spanish after living in Texas for 30 years…I’ll confess, I get really drawn in to video games. Once hooked, I tend to return to get higher scores and achieve higher levels. All it takes for me is early rewards and a clear path to the next victory. Turning course work into games might help hook some students that otherwise would not take the time for the drudgery of memorization and review.
One of the points made in the Edutopia article was the need to have early failures (low stakes) built in, so students are working to improve performance and getting early rewards for doing so. I have also read that making decisions – even if incorrect – can help reinforce memory. I’ve built some auto-graded assessments into my online lessons, but I think the gaming environment would make them more attractive to some of my students. I speculate that if we could make a sufficiently addictive video game for A&P, we could just sit back and watch students learn. Until that day, though, I continue to search for anything that simultaneously engages and teaches my students.
I’d love to hear from you, particularly if you know of other repositories, apps, games, or references on how to incorporate more engaging content in an online or classroom environment.