Using Game-Based Learning as Formative Feedback feat. Jenny Varrichio - 144
7:08PM Jun 14, 2021
Welcome EduGamers to this week's video cast episode. Today, I have Jenny with me and we talk about game based learning as a formative assessment, so be sure to stick around, we're gonna jump into that conversation here in just a minute. Before we jump into the episode, I do want to share with you our board game crates. These are excellent for anyone looking to get started with tabletop games, or to add some more tabletop games to your already existing library. So these are excellent for anyone looking for some games for your after school program or for in the classroom to target specific content learning outcomes. The survey for the crate is a way to create a curated selection of games for your learning environment or game group. So we also have some questions on there if you're just looking for some games for friends and family, or even if you're looking for some games to add to your homeschool collection. So again, I'll leave a link below if you have any questions you can always reach out to us at games at Board Gaming with Education calm. Alright, let's get into the episode.
Welcome to another episode of Board Gaming with Education super excited to be joined by Jenny verico. Did I pronounce that right now?
Well, I'm excited to have you here. Today, we're gonna talk about, I'm gonna put this up here, game based learning as a formative feedback. And I'm excited to learn a lot from you. Because I mentioned it's, it's really great to talk to new people and learn more about what they're doing and learn about this specific topic. A little bit about Jenny. She is a learning performance consultant at United Healthcare. I hope I got that right. And then she has been doing a lot of gamification and her specialty specialization is an E learning. So you've recently started digging more into like game based learning and serious learning. That's what we're going to talk about today. And your background is more in the corporate world. And I'm a kind of K through 12, educator slash hire educator, I've kind of taught all levels. So I'm going to kind of dig into the perspective from a teacher's perspective and ask you some questions about how we might use that in the classroom. But first, before we get there, would you mind just sharing a little bit about yourself and your background?
Yeah, sure. So I've been working in instructional design for just about 12 years now. Now, I'm an learning performance consultant. So I meet with different business partners and figure out different training needs. And a lot of that turns into distance learning interventions and stuff like that. Outside of work, I'm also on the board of directors for the federal government distance learning Association, and I head up the publication's committee. So moiz looking for new and exciting things to bring to the members there as far as distance learning is concerned. Yeah, and I'm currently working on my dissertation to finish my doctorate education and instructional design. So all of this is at the forefront of my mind, because it's my focus in my research.
That's super awesome. And I imagine you were quite busy this past year, maybe? I mean, it sounds like you've been doing distance learning or elearning for a while. Could you share? Like, maybe, because that's not really going to be our topic today, we will probably touch on it a little bit. But could you share maybe a top insight you learn from this past year?
From a distance learning perspective? Yeah. Yeah. Well, it was, it was really interesting, because at least at work, and I'm sure, in higher ed and also with schools, everyone had to go through such a big transition of going from in classroom to at home, and what does it mean to be in distance learning. And it was interesting with the stakeholders that my work, I didn't realize how many people felt very differently about distance learning. Since I'd been doing it for so long. It was like, Okay, well, we'll just kick into that gear and move these over to E learning. And some of the stakeholders were really nervous about that. So I think what the cool insight was, is that people had a chance to see how impactful it can be if it's designed well. And there's a way to be really purposeful and strategic and, and you can create these digital environments that while it's not a one for one with a classroom, it can really make a learning experience very, very rich and exciting and stuff like that. So it was kind of cool to bring people that were a little bit hesitant to that change in and see their attitudes change a little bit more towards distance learning in a good way and innovation there. So yeah, yeah, that's
super cool. I know I've shared this on our podcast previously that I flipped my classroom now is like that Three, two or three years ago, so before the pandemic, and I had an opportunity to kind of learn and discover what it's like to throw instruction online. And going into the pandemic kind of realized that there were some tools that can be used post pandemic based on how we flipped our class. streaming now, we've done everything online. And hopefully we take some of those things we've learned and bring it into the future when we're back in person. Yeah, yeah, that would be great. All right, so let's let's talk about game based learning as formative feedback. Could you define game based learning kind of what it means for your practice?
Yeah. So right now I'm going through a whole bunch of current scholarly literature. And a lot of scholars actually, were saying how game based learning gamification to others are two different things. No one can really agree on it from an academic perspective, and even the term game has been disputed, as one of them said that too. But for the purposes of what of my research, what I decided to go with was, there was one definition that was a game based learning is teaching using an actual game. And then in contrast to that gamification was taking, it's not identified as a pure game, but you're using game elements in a non game context. So those are just to differentiate there. And then formative feedback kind of ends up playing into all of that, but what formative feedback is, it's feedback that's provided to learners during their learning process to support their development, so giving them a chance to understand where they're at in the learning process, without having that final assessment feel. But instead, they're, they're figuring out Okay, so I need to be over there. I'm over here. I've answered these many things, right. But I need to answer, you know, X amount more, right? Or, or I'm doing great, you know, so having a sense of where they're at in that process. And then that feedback is that formative piece there. So and then it works on the other side, too, for the designer or the facilitator, in the sense that you can look at the progress of the student and see, well, they should all be farther, or, oh, maybe this is too easy. And then you can make some modifications based on how they're progressing through a learning experience and evaluate your your materials that way using that the the formative feedback.
Right, right. And that's, I mean, I'm excited to kind of talk about some examples, and different things you've seen in your research, because I think, when anyone that's used games or played games know that games are really good at making things just not too difficult. And not too easy, right? It's right in the zone of proximal development and in learning terminology, right? We're, we're right in our best area for learning. And I'm trying to think of some examples of games. So maybe, maybe I'll go to you. And I'll try to think of just game examples. But what are some examples you've come across in your research or just in your experience of using game based learning as formative feedback?
Yeah, so with formative feedback, there's all these different, I found a bunch of different at least in research, a bunch of different formative activities that are made up of all these different kinds of elements and mechanics, to provide the learner with some insight into how they're doing in their their progress during a lesson. And then in my study, right now, there were 15 participants, they were International. And there were 34 different game elements that were mentioned as being tied to formative activities, formative game based activities, which was great because I was finding in the research, there was a lot of researchers saying we need something besides points, fate, points, badges and leaderboards, to talk about as far as like, formative elements to let people know how they're doing. And so this was cool to see that go beyond, you know, those the points, badges and leaderboards. The top three elements were narrative points, were number two. And then levels was number three, and then just throw in number four was maps and regions, because I thought was kind of interesting how people were building maps, and then learners were able to see where they were at, you know, and have that kind of sense of progression and self assessment, based on where they were in the map. So yeah, that's an example.
That's really cool. I'm thinking cuz we've done we've done something in the past with a gamification toolkit. And we leaned into narrative based, more almost gamification, but game based learning in a sense to all it's hard, because I feel like those terms have a lot of overlap sometimes. Yeah, yeah. Um, but yeah, cuz they advanced in the story. And as they advance in the story, they're completing activities related to language learning. I wonder, maybe. So what are some benefits to using, oh, before we go there, maybe we can talk about game based learning versus gamification and formative feedback versus those two things. Maybe we can shed some light on that. Yeah. Tell me more about that. What do you mean? So if we're maybe if we're talking about gamification, we might have like, points badges? I feel like that would be gamification, but then maybe it could be used for game based learning? How would we? How would we use it for game based learning?
Yeah, so with with the game based learning, it would be the game itself would have those pieces in it. And I, I personally think it's, it's easier to build a really seamless experience with the game based approach, because it's, it's all working together as one piece, you know, so you have the rules ar, ar, ar, ar setup, and the mechanics are set up, they're all working together, with one kind of system in place, versus gamification. The design approaches is quite similar, except that it's not a game. So there's no game rules the whole way through, but there might be like, rules within a specific activity, and maybe a mechanic and he in here and there. So but I personally think games bass is is, and serious games. And that kind of approach is a little bit more interesting, because it has this his personal opinion, it has that, that seamless, like full experience of being, you know, kind of a little bit more immersive. like going back to the narrative, for example. That was like the number one, all 15 participants mentioned using narrative, and pairing that with the formative activities, because like you were saying, with the story, it can unfold over the course of the gameplay, which creates this natural like scaffolding, which is what you were saying, again, with the zone of proximal development as well. And those story elements were all used in different ways that the participants, some of them would work in, like branching scenario. So like, you'd have your, your story. And then depending on what action you take, you go completely different direction. It could be positive consequences, maybe not so great consequences, depending on what your choices were, and giving learners that autonomy in that in that space was really great, because it, it gave them the chance to fail forward, or, or just full on succeed in a in a safe, like magic circle kind of space. And I I think that serious games kind of like lend themselves to that kind of environment, that immersive place a little bit better.
Right, right. And I mean, there's like three things that you said that I want to go back to the first thing? Oh, no, the first thing was that you just mentioned the magic circle. And that's what I always love to share with language learning because students aren't. So I guess, in the student demographic I taught in Asia, in Taiwan, and even like Korea and China, they're very nervous about making mistakes in their language, just when they're speaking. So when you put them in a game environment, they're less nervous because they're playing a game as opposed to learning a language in a classroom. And I really like that, that games are able to do that. And you also mentioned earlier on about how there's a formative feedback for the facilitator as well. And I want to wonder if you could talk more about that, and also share some other benefits to using game based learning as formative feedback?
Yeah, so from the facilitator perspective, it becomes kind of like a formative evaluation is another term that you'll see for the instructor because they'll be able to see based on the way that they've designed the game, or, or they put together gamified elements, however they want to go about it. It can, they can see very quickly, is it too easy for the learner based on you know, how they're performing? Is it too difficult? Should there be like a more knowledgeable other in place a mentor in game environment via Sage or something kind of cool? Or a glowing button that just like, lets them know, like, just cool over there? So it's something that creates a bridge? Or is there more intervention that's needed? So having a sense of, you know, how you want the learner to perform from the beginning, and what their journey would be like and prototyping that iterating on it is really important. And using those feedback points, to determine like, Hey, how's it how's it really going with, with the learner progress? Are they right where they should be if there's something a little off that kind of thing?
Right? And that's, I mean, that's so cool. I'm trying to trying to draw an example from my brain, but I'm imagining when a facilitator creates a game environment game structure, and they can see whether things are working or not, I feel like with a game it's much easier to modify What's happening and direct students a certain way, then versus a maybe traditionally structured lesson plan? I don't know. or activity? I don't know, I'm trying to think of an example. I can't come up with an example. So maybe not.
It's so true, though, because most of the participants I talked to will all of them were iterative in their design approach because of that same thing, because there's always like, some kind of hole or and a lot of people would say, the learners, they will figure out a way to break something like, No, no, no problem, we'll figure out a way, no matter how much you play test that someone's going to figure out something that you just didn't see coming. And which is great, because then you can figure out okay, where can i enhance this? How can I make it stronger? Is there a cognitive dissonance at some point in this game that I can, you know, tweak? and enhance? So yeah, yeah.
Yeah, I've had a few teachers on the podcast that have played tested their games with their students and say, students are excellent play test. Yep. So we talked about some benefits, what are some challenges? Or some pitfalls? Or drawbacks? Or are there any Is there anything negative about using game based learning as formative feedback,
maybe not negative, but it's a like, planning items, I would say just so you can prep yourself, if you're interested in in pursuing it and trying things out with your, with your, your class, it takes time to plan. And so give yourself time, be nice to yourself. And then also get out there and explore see what people are doing. There is a lot of innovation out there. And a lot of people are sharing I think part of it is because this is all so new in the learning space, as far as the history of education goes. And there's a lot of people that are out there sharing online and LinkedIn and all that. So exploring, and then the fun part, I think, is play the play games, play board games, and figure out what what do I like about these different games? So what do I like about chess? You know, what do I like about, you know, thinking about it from a different perspective as a as a designer, and how you can implement those things that you like, into the game, and then also, consider the you might have a little bit of bias in your in your design, so they might not like it? So just be aware of that. Um, that Yeah, so iteration, give yourself time explore. I think those are some challenges, but also, they're kind of fun challenges.
Yeah, yeah. Right. I mean, I enjoyed the design process a lot. Like that's one of my favorite things in the design process, and then watching it, implemented in my classroom and seeing how students receive it. And just to echo something that you made me think about is how I give myself time. I didn't realize this before until now is like, I, usually when I when I taught in Asia, this winter time was a huge break, too, as well as the summer. So we had two big breaks in the winter, the year. Yeah, I mean, the summer wasn't as big as it is in the US. But it's still it's still pretty big time, I would plan a lot, or do a good chunk of planning early on. So I have that there. And then one thing that we talked about with game design, and even lesson planning is iterating. And then that way, I'm at least able to have something down on paper and iterate on it throughout the summer, throughout the winter. And kind of Finally, when we get towards the semester, I kind of plug away and get it ready to go. But yeah, that's a really good point. I think it does take, it takes a lot of time it takes when you can't do it. Can't do it the week before you're less, right. No, don't stress yourself out. Yeah. Cool. So what are, I guess maybe before the last topic we can talk about is what are some things that game based learning as form of feedback can do that maybe other traditional learning environments cannot do?
Yeah, so I think that's still like being discovered as we as we speak, in in literature, and but one of the couple big things that I've found so far, in, in looking at what's out there is it has that ability to create that safe space to fail forward, like we were talking about, to a point like what you were saying people aren't afraid to fail. So they're they're actually taking that formative feedback. They're trying again, there's games can help prevent provide this intrinsic motivation when they're designed well, so that people continue on with like, repetitive tasks, which would be really, really boring outside of a game, but I was thinking of this as a terrible example, but I was thinking of candy crush, not to throw myself under the bus here, but I used to play it a lot, or angry birds do and it's like you're repeating the same thing over and over again. But you there's this impetus to get to the next level or to see What happens when I win this? Or what if, you know, there's the satisfaction of an angry birds that all the pigs going everywhere and everyone, you know, all this stuff being demolished, getting points and rewards for that. So that kind of gameplay can help build motivation to do those kinds of repetitive tasks, which was wonderful, because there's a lot of research that's finding people are over learning, which is a really funny term, because it just means they're, they're spending tons of time in these courses, because they just enjoy being in them. And they're motivated by the environment and they're over practicing, which isn't a bad thing. Yeah, been really cool to think about that we can create a learning experience that would cause people to be really excited to stay in it for right, you know, more than they need to.
Right. It's like the teacher dream right there. Yeah, yeah, exactly. We need to learn more about this for sure. Oh, cool. Yeah, I kind of think about just personal experience. You mentioned Angry Birds and Candy Crush, I've been playing a game. And I don't know if this applies to teaching or if there's any thing to take away from it. But one thing, I taught a course this past semester called among us mungus behavior in games, human behavior in games. And one of the lessons that he did was are, was creating healthy relationships with games, and I am doing some small research before is that one thing to pay attention to is when you're playing a game, and you're no longer enjoying it. And I realize I get to that point with mobile games. Because it's, they know how to tap into that, that pay to play aspect of it. Yeah,
yeah. Yeah. So
it's like I could, I'm just playing, just playing because I want to get further on, I could just pay $10. And I'm further on, I could just play this game and not enjoy it. And then I'm finally like, Alright, I have to delete this app. And move on to a different game. I wonder if there's I don't know if there's anything to take away there for for teaching. But
yeah, yeah. Yeah, I think so that that getting, you know, when is it? When is it unhealthy grinding versus, you know, actual, like, beneficial practice for the learners? Yeah, I think that's something as we learn more about how to implement these things that we should keep in mind to make sure that our learners are truly benefiting.
Right. Yeah. And that makes me reminds me of something. Have you heard of class craft? In your research at all? Yeah, some of my participants use it. Okay, cool. I have a friend who is high school students use in high school and, and this was probably like, four or five years ago. And he says that he still gets like notifications of one of his students like changing his character. Like, that's, I mean, that's cool. That stuck with them. But is that like, I don't know if that's super healthy, right? Like, yeah, why does that still matter? I don't know. Yeah, that's kind of the learning objective anymore, or? Cool. Alright. So before we move into their game, do you have any last words of advice or anything that we didn't cover that you'd want to share before we transition into concept? Yeah, so
I'm just taking advice that actually my participants gave me that I've been putting into action, and it's been wonderful. So I want to share it with with everyone. Explore this stuff, start small and try things and play more games, and find communities where people will play test your experiments, or your prototypes, because you'll learn from the communities and you'll just grow as a educator, so I highly recommend it. I've been giving it a try for the last like three months and it's been absolutely wonderful. So
yeah, I that's awesome. That's that's definitely my always my number one words of advice. The one part about playing more games, because I've been able to implement so many things through having played some games before I wouldn't been able to do some of this stuff. Yeah, yeah, I agree. It's speaking of games, we're gonna play a game. We're gonna play concept. Alright, so we're gonna play concept, I stole my wife's account. And this is my account. On board game arena. This is a online website where you can play games for free. There's some limitations on what games you can play and how often and wait times for the free version, but it's not like super limited, but there's there are some limitation limitations and then the premium is like $10 a month, $10 a year, so it's not too much. But we're gonna try this out. Alright, so we're gonna play concept in in the game, I'm going to give you a main concept with an exclamation point. So as an example, I shared this just a minute ago, but I'm sure again, for anyone watching is, if my word is milk, the main concept I would do as an exclamation point for food. And I would have two things that are related to that concept. I might do liquid and white. So that It would be a food main concept. It's liquid, it's white. So we would hopefully guess it's milk. So I'm going to choose my word now. And I'm going to, oh my goodness, these are tough words. Give it a try. Even even the easiest ones kind of hard. Alright, so you can see on your screen, the main concept is going to be person.
And the thing concept is going to be, I don't know,
mechanical, industrial. And another sub thing is rock mineral. So I'll put the, this one, this one means it's a person, family or group. This one means it's mechanical, industrial. This one means it's a rock, mineral or hard. And the last concept I'm going to do is black. So that is my, my constant. If you need more, if you need more things I can try to I'm going to think of some other stuff. Maybe I can add, but
I have written down say person, family or group, mechanical or industrial
rock, or mineral.
And it's black.
Okay, I'm going to add one more, and it's gonna be inside inside. Hope that helps. Then it was down. I was thinking about outside things inside I'm trying to see if I can figure out something else to add here. Oh, I'm gonna add another one. I got to add it on the screen. It's a profession. So what is this one? This one means work professional or craft. Oh is it a blacksmith? Close? You're on the right track. Maybe? Yeah, let's close Let me see if I can add another clue. I might be able to add another one. I'm pretty sure I should probably double check the rules but last time I remember checking you I can just continue adding whatever I wants taken away whatever I want until you guess it. Oh, okay. Okay. So I'm going to I'm going to try to add something else if I can. Maybe writing all these down because I didn't or not a blacksmith. Oh, here we go. Earth dirt. Or what is this grow? Earth dirt or grow? Does the another another hint?
Oh, another one. I'm gonna add another one. I think these help I'd hope they're not making it harder. As metal
I'm seeing if I can get another one here. This person family group, industrial mechanical, rock mineral hard black inside eternal work profession craft or grow in metal. I'm going to take away in black or no I'm going to add is that what is that what I think it is yellow. Yeah, I'm gonna add yellow. I'm gonna add silver. Yellow, Silver, Black. Okay. It's tied to a profession. It's inside. Um, I don't I couldn't add anything else without without taking us off the track. Maybe. I'm just I'm guessing it's not a construction worker then. No, but that's, I think it's closer than blacksmith. Okay. It's more modern. Mechanical Engineer. I don't know what that's like. Okay, I'll give a hint. That's not on the game. It starts with an M starts with an m. f, maybe.
Emma's and Mary? Yeah. Okay. machinist.
Oh, sir, you're getting closer and closer. I'll just say it unless you really want to keep going. One more guess. mechanic. Oh, close minor. Oh, minor. Okay. I yeah. That was hard. That was like the easiest one. The other ones on the thing. And normally they're not that tough. Because easy categories. Pretty easy. The other one was like prisoner. And then there was like, post Sidon. I don't remember the other ones. I didn't even look at the other ones. Well, yeah, that's that's concept. Cool. That was really fun. Awesome. All right. Well, Jenny, thank you again, for coming on the Board Gaming with Education video cast. If anyone wants to reach out to you. Where might they find you? LinkedIn at Jenny Bercy. Perfect, perfect. And you mentioned you have some links you're willing to share with us as far as your research too. So I'm excited to share those with our group or community.
Yeah, yeah. So
I'll link out all of the literature that I was kind of referring to and it's all available on Google Scholar you should be able to access it. Some of them are probably paid for articles, other ones maybe Publix just a heads up there, but I'll share anyway, just in case you're curious to start diving in.
Awesome. So thank you so much. And I know I learned a lot so I hope anyone in our community also learned a lot and hopefully we can have you on again soon. Like that. Yeah. Thanks for having me.