Sunday, 12 October 2014

Flipped Learning Update 2

In the initial update I did on flipped learning I forgot to mention unintentionally I had turned the game design unit, Unit 40 into flipped learning also.

The way this is running is that the students read the directed chapter of Level Up! By Scott Rogers before the lesson, make notes while reading. (A minority are doing this, but need a way to get rest to do so. However this seems to be a problem whether at home or in class across the board students don't like making notes!) Then in class we will do activities based around the chapter they have just read. Such as research the definition of what a game is using the books in the library (there is a similar exercise on what a mechanic is). Or I will select an appropriate activity from the Game Designers Workshop, or one of the other books I have. These activities can have them reflecting on a particular aspect of a game they have played, brainstorming game ideas, prototyping etc. I will also provide students with hand outs of optional further reading on that weeks subject for those that are really interested in the subject.

For example this week we started looking at story in video games. So before the lesson the students would have read level 3 of Level Up! (Chapters are called levels in the book). In the lesson the activities were the following:

  • Using Story Cubes write a short story that begins "Once upon a time..." - the story only had to be about a paragraph. However a related this back to brainstorming and using this as an exercise that could be used to help generate ideas.
  • Next they then did an exercise from the Game Designers Workshop that had them reflecting on the story of a recently played game, and what was broken about it, and how they could fix it.

I also handed out some information on story arcs,an article on using environment to tell story, and embedded some videos on the units VLE page that dealt with the Heroes Journey. The story arcs material will be the basis of the next lessons activities.

For me running unit 40 this way is the ideal way to run the unit. The dry theory is done outside the class, and creative fun stuff is done in class. We are able to concentrate on brainstorming as individuals or groups, there is plenty of opportunity to prototype games and mechanics, we are able to build confidence in standing up in front of people and present our ideas. For me game design is about ideas and creating. Within the class we apply the theory not just in looking at games we have played, but also in creating our own ideas.

The other thing I forgot to mention in that initial post was although at the time I didn't know it I'd already been thinking about sketchnotes and visual note taking, back in April/May time cartoonist Martin Shovel (I follow him on Twitter) announced a workshop aimed at communicators ( the same week as the Develop conference in July. This was something I would loved to have done. Go look at the link If you haven't already. Learn to draw cartoons! Count me in. Well if scheduling and an external moderator visit hadn't clashed with the day it was held, and me not having the cash handy to pay for it (somehow don't think my bosses would see the benefit of this to pay) I'd of been there. Why? I want to be able to "spice" up my slides, worksheets, notes etc so they are more interesting for the students. Cartoons I think are the ideal way of doing this. Instead of trying to find that just right image, draw a cartoon to illustrate the point. Plus the cartoon may be the thing that helps the student understand the point where the words didn't. I will go to one of these, I'm determined to get to one.

So there you have it the forgotten stuff from the initial post on flipped learning. How I am also using it in game design, and a little of my philosophy of teaching it, and how I had already started to think about visual notes. Hope that this was also useful.

PS in a future post I share some of the resources I use for this unit.


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