Posts Tagged ‘pedagogy’

  • Session Proposal: Playing Doing History…Online…Without a Teacher

    Woman's Med Alumnae, 1906-1908

    Woman's Med Alumnae, 1906‑1908

    (During this session, notes were taken (link).  Thanks to Seth Denbo for initiating this.)

    There’s this woman. She became a doctor around 1900…not super common at the time. I can’t remember her name. Considering the time period, it was probably something like Eveline or Florence or Maud. This basic knowledge is our starting point. One end point brings us to the knowledge that she was Australian, or maybe British, or both, raised Jewish, converted to Christianity, was a Medical Missionary to Hawaii and probably Mexico, possibly a lesbian, and she died of a head injury after being run down by a car in Hollywood. She is a notable nobody of the past.

    For students figuring this out, the process is not only Doing History, but it is also Playing with History. This is the same satisfying play that thousands of historians and history professionals, and millions of genealogists do every day.

    By exploring a set of documents, students can gain experience and start scaffolding this process. When we do these activities face-to-face with students, they frequently respond with some version of “I feel like a detective!” Feeling like a detective means gathering and corroborating evidence, then coming up with your best guess at “the truth,” but knowing that you may never know for sure. This is historical thinking in practice…one kind of critical thinking in practice.

    Teaching students the process of putting together a historical vignette is tricky, but made easier by constraining the places to look for clues (e.g., give them 10 documents and photos). This constraining should make it a viable candidate for moving the process and learning into an online setting. There are even steps that people have developed (see numerous links below).

    But if we were to transfer this into an online setting:

    • How would you make it engaging?
    • How would you make it useful, with real learning outcomes?
    • How do you make sure it is non-trivial and not worthwhile to cheat?
    • How do you keep students interested when a game requires significant amounts of reading and text-skimming? (This is hard enough when you’re hovering and badgering in face-to-face settings.)
    • How do you let students experience the real-life research dead ends, then pull them back from that frustration before they bail?
    • And how do you go beyond multiple choice-based monitoring of student progress/understanding to something that monitors students’ synthesis of more nebulous concepts? In other words, students meet some higher-order learning outcomes without the mediation of a live human teacher.
    • (Bonus question: How do you do it without designing a one-off game scenario that costs over $50,000 and you can never get another grant to maintain, develop further, or add new scenarios/stories/people?)
    • Caveat: For the sake of argument, let’s focus on history process not history content

    I only recently learned of the concept of Epistemic Games, “games in which players see what it is like to live in the world of adults.” Is Doing History a good candidate for an epistemic games?  The process also shares characteristics with metapuzzles, as described in Friday’s “Narrative Puzzles / ARGs” BootCamp led by the Arcane Gallery of Gadgetry folks.

    As mentioned, some “standard” approaches for analyzing primary sources:

  • Not really a session proposal


    The advantage of proposing a thatcamp session at the last minute is that I get to see what everyone else has already posted and, upon recognizing a trend, I can either follow that trend or buck it. While I’m certainly very interested in all the proposals related to pedagogy (as all of my courses this semester involve videogames in some signifcant way), the scholarly part of me is more interested, probably, in the sessions proposed around game preservation and game analytics. It even occurs to me that these ideas are related by an affinity with software tools deployed in service of humanistic inquiry, so I wonder if the output of these sessions might even be a toolkit or at least a software “best practices” for ludologists? I don’t think that idea needs to be a session proposal in itself, necessarily, but it’s perhaps one way to start looking forward with whatever goes on tomorrow.

    Anyway, I suppose I should also mention that I’d love to attend and contribute to most of the sessions already proposed here, so rather than come up with my own redundant proposal, I’ll just mention that I’ve taught a course on ARGs and I’d love to hear others’ experiences teaching similar things. I’m also teaching a seminar for first year students on the idea of a videogame canon, so broader questions such as the value of videogames for the liberal arts are near and dear in their own way.

    All told, I’m excited about all of the proposals and I look forward to getting to see or meet everyone tomorrow!

  • Session Proposal: Maryland Is For Gamers


    I’m going to plead my focus on Other Conference Things (i.e. making sure we have coffee the morning of the conference, designing Sweet Conference Swag like the sticker above) as an excuse for not writing a full session proposal on a single topic, but I wanted to at least throw a few short ideas out there and see if anyone is interested in talking about them, in-session or out. For those of you who haven’t written a proposal yet–please do post something! Even if it’s just a few sentences or some bullet points. At the very least, this will let others with similar interests know to seek you out at the conference. Don’t forget that sessions can take many formats: discussions, collaborative writing, reading groups, game design or testing, play-alouds, game critiques, syllabus design… and you can propose as many session ideas as strike your fancy.

    Wrangling Unwieldy Mythologies: Anyone who’s spent time designing a game knows that the brainstorming process–especially with extensively narrative games–is exhilarating but messy. How do we preserve and display the process of our game designing for future researchers, designers, and players? Are there practices we can use during the design phase that would save time later on without impeding creativity as we work? What types of software do people use to organize and track changes in their design notes?

    Big Humanities Game Pedagogy Resource: A roundtable discussion of our experiences teaching games to undergraduates, culminating in a GoogleDoc of resources (e.g. links to games studies syllabi, games assignments, games that worked well in the classroom) for humanities teachers (unless there’s a good instance of this someone can link me to already?). This could even be a GoogleDoc I set up next Saturday morning that we could all add to during the day, though I’d love to hear from you all in-person about what’s worked when teaching games.

    A gamification manifesto/reading list: I’d probably be okay with never hearing the word “gamification” again, but sometimes one needs to re-argue the difference between meaningful game features and trendy but empty game elements (e.g. when designing a course or seeking funding for a study). This session would draw up a GoogleDoc with links to this year’s most interesting writing on the gamification debate as well as draft a sort of manifesto for the place of games in the humanities curriculum–something we could share with interested non-game-studiers (maybe this could even buddy up with Kevin’s great “Badges Done Right” proposal?).

    The Literary ARG: I’m fascinated by the similarities between ARGs and classes that focus on wrestling big, complex works of literature (Ulysses, I’m looking at you: you’ve got the puzzles, answerable and not; the collaborative classroom reading; the frustration and the triumph; and the opportunity for a reader/player-created wiki/online community.) Perhaps teaming up with the quest-class proposal, I’d be interested in discussing how such a game-class structure might work for a literary course (maybe it’s just me, but I’ve had an easier time wrapping my head around quest-courses about history or STEM or game design than I do about literary quest courses.)