Gamification in Education: Good Idea/Bad Idea?

Okay, so I’ll start with a confession: Since being introduced to the ‘Wood Puzzle’ game app at Christmas by my parents (who are in their 70’s/80’s respectively), I’ve been totally Addicted! It amazed me the amount of times when given the opportunity to choose between playing a high adrenaline, stunning graphics, £40, “A list” game like Battlefield 1  and a free, four colour phone app game, I’d go for the latter nearly every time!
Now, with any “street cred.” That I possibly had crushed, I’ll add to it by admitting that half way through a game I started thinking about work, students and functional maths… Those last two words to anyone who has even a glimmer of contact with secondary/further education will, I’m sure, have an almost unified reaction – especially when you include the word “embedding”. With this said, my “lightbulb” moment started to flood my brain with mathematical topic links that could be used as a conduit to facilitating learner barriers; shape (obviously), statistics, ratios, the list just kept going…
Then I thought back to a journal article I recently read about “keeping up with educational fads”… was that what this was? Just a late night, sleep deprived brain fart which tried to make something out of nothing? So, I started to do some further reading into articles I’d previously read a few years back when gamification started to become a “thing” in education… I’ll not boar you with a summary of stuff you can research at your own leisure (if you really want to) But I will share this:

It’s a YouTube link to a TED talk that metaphorically takes a stick of C4 to the whole debate about the value of gamification. Okay so it’s a completely different tangent to my initial line of enquiry but it’s sure as hell a valuable one!
Yes, I know what my thoughts would gravitate round if I was reading this, in short it would be some unholy rant about lack of time, work load and all the rest of the collection of “nasties” we deal with on a day-to-day basis as teachers but what if we flip the coin?

Retention, progression, assessment, success rates, behaviour management, student centred learning… how many Of these could gamification facilitate?

The Three Bears (Barnsley Style) For Max

So this lass wa Walkin rand Monk Bretton woods one day when she caught a wif o’this rite nice smell. ‘Oh, chuff me, that smells good’ she thought to her sen. She walked a little further n saw this little cottage in the clearing… ‘mmm a bet that’s where that scrummy smell is coming from, am gunna check it art’ she said to herself.
When she got t’front dor, she turned handle and found it wa locked… Na I know that might think she’s a cheeky git fo doin that but that’s what happened. Any road, door wa locked so she looked rand house for another way in n she fon this oppen winda rand back.
It wa a bit too high just to climb through (because she wa a short arse), so she looked rand garden for summit to climb on to get in. F’st she saw dog house, but that wa too tall n had a pointy roof she would fall off. Then she saw a plant pot, but that wa too small. Finally she spotted coil oil. It had a flat roof and wa just rite height to get through winda. She moved the plant pot next t’coil oil and used it as a step up t’get ont’ roof o’coil oil and climb int’ house.
When she got in she wa proper impressed wi what she saw… There in front of her wa three beds. She jumped ont’ f’st bed and started bouncing on it. ‘This is proper grand’ she yelled as she bounced up and down. On her last bounce, she lay on the bed to feel how comfy it wa and thought to herself; ‘Na, am not feeling this, a think I’d get lost in it it’s so big!’
So she went t’next bed… bounced around on it and lay there to check how Comfy it was. ‘Chuffin hell, this is rock solid’ she yelped and got off it really quickly. Then she came to the last bed. By this time she wa proper knackered from all her walking and bouncing so she dint even bother bouncing on this bed, she just laid there and before she could form an opinion of it she wa fast asleep.
When she wok up, she wa proper starvin and could once again smell that luvly smell wich brought her t’house int’ f’st place. As she wondered int’ kitchen she saw three bowls of stew ont’ table. F’st bowl wa chuffin huge n looked piping hot. ‘A better dip mi finger in this t’test it, it looks scalding’ she thought. N rite she wa, it nearly burnt her finger off so she went t’second bowl n did same. That wa a totally different story, it wa stone cold! Finally she tried the smallest bowl and it wa jus rite. Wi’art hesitation she troffed it darn n it filled her up good n proper. As she wa lickin bowl clean, she heard keys turn int’ front dor. 
Kackin her sen, she looked rand for somewhere to hide but everywhere she looked she knew she’d easily be fon. It wa  too late, she knew she’d av to fess up n hope for best! 
As the door opened, daddy bear wa f’st t’walk through dor. ‘What the chuffin hell’s goin off here then!’ The young lass stared at the floor as she told daddy bear everything that had happened in detail. Daddy bear stood there n listened patiently with a stern look on his face… after she had finished there wa a moment of silence that seemed to last an eternity… Then finally, daddy bear broke the silence and spoke; ‘Na then lass, normally I’d do what any self respecting bear would do and tear you limb from limb but being as you fessed up and told the truth straight away I’ll let you go get on your way, but before I do, tell me your name keep kid.’ The young girl breathed out with a sigh of relief and in a slight whimper she said ‘I’m Red ridding hood Mister, I wa just on mi way to see mi nan darn road…
The moral of the story being; what goes around comes around!

Jack n Jill (Barnsley Style) For Max

So, these two barnes (Jack n Jill) went up muckstack to get some wata. Thing that pair of dozy buggers dint realise is that if they would’ve opened their eyes they would’ve sen dyke t’bottom ot hill n would’ve saved their legs. But nooo, up the’trotted, through them trees n when they got t’top the’wa well narked!
As they luked darn t’other side the’cud see pond. Jack said to Jill ‘well chuff me, I’m buggered, stuff that if tha thinks am walkin a step futher’. Jill replied ‘Tha dunt av t. Just get ont’floor n roll darn’. Jack though abart it for a sec n said ‘ar, why not… shud b a laf’.
So off he guz, darn t’hill bouncing n bobbing like a warm un. Jill watches him for a bit n does same. Wen the’get t’pond, the’stop n stare at it for a bit… ‘luks a bit mucky dunt it.’ Jill moans, ‘ah, sush thi gums lass, a know it’s not a brew a tea but am proper gagging’.
As Jack bends darn to tek a sup, this three eyed fish jumps up and bites him ont noorse end. ‘What the chuffin hell wa that’  screamed  Jack! ‘Ah stop roarin before tha kaks thi sen’ laughs Jill. ‘Ere soft lad, let mi show thi ow it’s dun’. But before Jill’s gob az chance t’touch wata, this even bigger fish jumps out, bites her head and pulls her in. Na Jack really is kakkin himsen! Before he ‘as time to av a proper think abart what he’s doin, he jumps in after her. 
Well, that really is a daft thing to do int muckstack pond as Jack finds art… he only gets his leg stuck in a shopping trolley that’s been dumped in there n can’t get free!!!
Moral o’story is, always look for a way round a problem n if summat luks dodgy, get someone else to av a go first.

The Three Little Pigs (Barnsley style) For Max

Na then, ther wa these three oinking toe rags, Fred, Steve and Phil. They al wa darn Eastfield pub one day when they came up wi this pissed up idea to build an house each fo themsens. So they buggered off darn Wakefield Road to BMB (Builders Merchant Barnsley). 
Fred wa a tight fisted Git from Athersly estate so he thought he could get away wi just using straw. Steve weren’t as tight but still dint like spending money… he wa from Carlton n he thought he could build a decent house from wood. Phil wa a bit more posh n had a bit more coin… he wa from Mapplewell n he bought some bricks to build his house.
… Na I dunt know ha Fred n Steve bought straw and wood from BMB but stuff it, it’s med up n I can’t be chuffed to use mi imagination any more…
So, Fred got his straw ont’ footie fields next t’muck stack n started building. He’d just finished then sum kids drove this nicked car ont’field next to Fred’s house and burnt it… barbaque bacon Fred…
After hearing this Steve thought; ‘stuff it’ and decided to take his wood t’other side a’muckstack ont’ flat bit at back of Carlton Working Men’s Club. ‘No bugger is going to get me here’ he thought. So fist nite in his new hose n it starts pissing it darn wi rain… Fair play to his building skills, Steve stayed dry, that wa until t’dyke at back o’club at bottom o’muckstak started to rise. Slowly it seeped into Steve’s hut. By the time it woke him up it wa too late, he was stranded int’ mud and draned. Bar maid at WMC saw what happened and thought to herself; ‘waist not want not’… So that was the end of “Pork Scratching Steve”.
Na then, that just leaves Phil. He’d heard a’bart other two, n wa pretty chuffed with himself that he wa no where near that cursed muckstack. He’d looked all rarned Mapp, to find best place to build his house. First, he thought about building it int park, close t’Co-op for sum grub but then kids would be a pain. Finally he decided ont’ scrap yard darn road. ‘N’obdy even comes here anymore, I’ll be dead rite.’ 
“DEAD” was the operative word… he built it on a Sunday when it wa closed … First thing Monday morning this massive wrecking ball came straight through his wall… from that day on he was known as “Flat Phil.”

Maximilian John: A Letter From Your Dad…

Hi son, 
You’re 9 days old today so it’s going to be a while before you read this but though it best to “bring you up to speed” on stuff you’ll never remember (you know, man-to-man). Your mum has her photos and the memory box she’s putting together for you, oh yea, the nursing staff gave you that just before you left for hospital number two.

I’ve “flirted” with the idea of starting to write this a couple of days ago, when we found out that you really were quite ill, I mean like one in ten thousand ill, but out of everything that has happened over these last two weeks… (Oh yea, you were born six weeks early because your mum was taken into hospital with suspected preeclampsia (I got THAT text message AFTER finishing refereeing a volleyball game in Tamworth – even though the text was sent shortly after the game had started… Whoops)) … the thing that kicked this idea into action was the fact that I read you your first book yesterday ‘Blue Little Worm’ and I couldn’t console myself (yes, there may have been tears) about the fact that I was reading it to you in a neonatal unit and not in your Moses basket at home.
So, back to the beginning, 9 days ago, Thursday 19th May 2016, 12:04pm. I met you for the very first time. The instant love I had for you hit me like a speeding train the second I clapped eyes on you… You hear stories about “instant love” and “a love so great it hurts” but that doesn’t begging to describe what happened when I first time we met. I couldn’t even properly get the words ‘hello son’ out of my mouth before my face turned into a river (yes I know, again with the tears but really, that’s “okay”). You really weren’t happy about coming into the world, in fact, you were positively annoyed! The minute or two between you arriving and your mum and I seeing you were the longest of our lives. You were so content in there you even had a little bit of a protest ‘put me back… I’ll hold by breath until you do!’ The medical team won that argument and you were put on 30% oxygen. That didn’t last long though because by the time we got down to see you at 7pm you were just on normal air. This was the first indication of how much of a fighter you are (and we’d see plenty more examples of that over the coming week!
Each day we come to visit you, you managed to blow our minds and melt our hearts, you are such a content baby, except when it came to putting your CPAP mask on and you using your IV splint to bat the nurses away and pull it off… Or when you very subtly tried to wrap your arm around your feeding tube and pull it out… Oh yea, round about day 6/7 you started to open your eyes, you were so alert and attentive, taking everything in, so much so that over the last couple of days you have really started to recognise your mum and my voices! OMG how you fight to try and stay awake when you are in our arms… Well you normally do that with mum but you seem more content just sleeping in my arms… Cheers son, not sure if that is a back handed compliment or not, I guess time will tell 🙂
Day 10 – Sunday 29th May. Your mum was pacing the floor last night, she couldn’t sleep with worry… ‘about what’ I heart you ask, ‘my heart?’ Nope, you’re still in ICU but you were really stable yesterday. She was worried about your poo! Your aunty Nat spotted some dried on you leg when she came to visit you and your mum had to peel your nappy off because this stuck up snotty nurse wasn’t doing her job properly and tried to judge us on how we were doing ours… It’s a good job the car played up so I spent some time away from the hospital sorting it out but when I was holding you, you briefly grizzled because you were having a bad dream and she flew across the room towards me like I’d just done something unspeakably horrible to you. I “snarled” at her a little bit as I went into “prehistoric protective cave man” mode and she backed down, then she tried to make “nice” with us by … Wait for it… Reading another patients notes and getting our surname wrong – basically implying that your mum and I weren’t married… MISTAKE!!! Tell you what son, if you weren’t in my arms fast asleep I would have “sarcasmed” her to death and it would have been so subtle she wouldn’t have even known what was happening!
Anyway, back to today, we’re currently at home (don’t really want to be writing this while I actually by your side), just about to set off to the hospital, mum called ahead for an overnight update and the good news is you’re being moved from ICU (intensive care) to HDU (high dependency), you’re also being moved to an open cot rather than an incubator which is brilliant 🙂

Day 11: It was so good to see you in an open cot yesterday, just to be able to touch you and look at you without crouching down to peek through the hand  holes in your incubator, yes there is the Perspex incubator which I can see you through perfectly but there is a big difference between the two: being able to hear you breath, being able to stroke your head (without bending my arm into all sorts of shapes and directions).

You had a lot of visitors today son, aunty Emma came to see you this morning (she not a “related” aunty but a really good friend of mine and your mums)… You have a fair few “aunties & uncles”, and even more people who would love to be your auntie & uncle. You’re kind of a little  bit famous son… You’ve even had news articles written about you! Aunty Jenny & Uncle Kenny also came to see you this afternoon (uncle Kenny is your mum’s brother so they are actually relatives). There’s only three to a bed allowed so I was sat in the parents lounge writing this while they were here. 

I fed you again (first time in this hospital), it was so funny that I had to basically pass a test to prove to the midwife I knew what I was doing… There was paperwork that had to be signed and everything. We left tonight very tired but reassured you were in good hands 🙂

Day 12: Your mum and I are having a “media blackout” day today, other than me writing this it’s just going to be the three of us. Agenda for today, get you weighed, fed, changed and cuddles in that order… Didn’t get any cuddles yesterday so really going to make up for it today, oh yea, and your mum gets observed so she can feed you as well … We may even do some more work on those facial muscles and developing that sucking reflex… Please don’t cheat today and just get the milk of the dummy then spit it out… That’s not how this is supposed to work! 🙂

So you’ve been weighed today and lost a little bit more… I still don’t  quite think your brain has got the memo that your heart isn’t working properly!

Day 13: Okay, so I take that back. Looks like today your head finally did get the memo. When the consultant broke the news to your mum and I we both just froze. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that image – your mum sat on the chair next to your cot and me standing next to her. I can’t remember the last bit of what the consultant said but I kind of zoned back in when he asked ‘do you have any questions?’ I just shook my head and thanked him. I stepped out of the room to process what had just been said and next thing I know I was in the far end of the ward in the parents lounge messaging our family:

‘Why can’t this child of ours just be given ONE chuffing break!!! Resps hitting 120, pulse 170-190bpm… High flow up to 6 litres (moving him back onto to CPAP and talking about intubation), cutting his feeds by half and putting him back on IV glucose!!! 

Seriously, what more can his young little life throw at him?!’

Your mum watched them put the CPAP mask over your little nose and this time you didn’t resist, she even said how well you did and how brave you were when they put your canular back in. We knew the doctors and nurses were making all the right decisions but it just felt so unfair considering how much you have fought already. 

It’s been hard to hold onto/take away positives from today son, but the most important thing is how much time we spent with you, changing nappies and doing your feeds may not sound like much but we were “doing parenting” as much and as best as we could.

You’re such a little tyke, I can really see you being a night owl when you get older like your dad. Over the last couple of nights you’ve grizzled every time we’ve tried to leave as if you know we were going. Through the day this never bothered you when we went for breaks, as if you knew we were coming back, but at night you’ve really taken to trying to keep us there as long as possible. I’m not complaining son, I’m amazed, impressed and proud that you’ve got a grasp of your world so quickly 🙂

Day 14: I’ll not lie to you son, today hurts like hell. Minutes after the consultant breaking the news to us, this was the message that went out to the family:

‘Max is in heart failure, he’s having a long line put into either his arm or leg to directly feed him with glucose, calories, amino acids et al (TCP).The cardiac surgeon at BCH is concerned about him. He’s stable at the moment but things could either stay the same or get worse.’

I think my heart literally broke earlier on this afternoon when the doctor put the long line into your arm – I was stood at the other end of the ward (about 60 meters away) when I heard you cry out in pain. It was horrifying! Like a knife in my chest, out of no where I could have collapsed to the floor. Of course I didn’t but it took about an hour to get my head back together and come back in to see you. So the shit has hit the fan. It’s going to be an even longer journey in hospital. You lay there sound asleep in your crib while I sit next to you just trying to get my head around the last 48 hours. 

Day 16: Didn’t manage to make an entry yesterday

The Walking Dead: RtS

The Walking Dead: Road to Survival (MMO Game) Faction: “One” Constitution

Introduction

This is and English speaking faction based in the “Habersham” server/region of the game. While this faction is very friendly, supportive and welcoming, it is also a highly competitive faction that is consistently ranked in to top 20 on the server for reputation. It has had a few members ranked in the top 30 during individual raid campaigns (highest ranking to date is 7th) and constantly strives to improve guided by the faction motto:
“We rise like a fallen Phoenix, to burn brighter than ever.”
Constitution

The faction is governed by a core team of founding members. Initially set up by “Joe” but currently lead by “Efreet”. The following is an itemised draught of the faction’s first ‘constitution’. This is designed to ensure autonomy within the leadership team and to invoke fairness, transparency and support throughout the faction.
1.0 Leadership

1.1 Founding members: The following players are deemed as the “founding members” of the faction. As such, this entitles them to certain authorities and exemptions. The players in question are as follows; “Joe”, “Efreet”, “Chris”, “Al” and “Tamara”.
1.11 Exemption 1: Founding members are exempt from “demotion” or “faction boot” criteria unless unanimously agreed by remaining founding members. Individual appeals to the exemption must be made, treated and voted on as a “case-by-case” instance. Appeals can be brought forward by any faction member but the appeal out come rests with the founding member voting process. This is in place to recognise that “wider faction duties” may detract founding members from raid commitments they may have otherwise invested in the faction.
1.12 Authority 1: ALL co-leaders (including non founding members) have the authority to promote, demote and boot other faction members below the rank of co-leader. This is based on the premise/understanding that the leader in question has (to the best of their knowledge and understanding) followed the guidance laid out within this constitution.
1.13 Promotion, Demotion & Boot Process & Appeal: These will be reviewed on a weekly basis, normally occurring on the Sunday of every week, although in individual cases, there maybe cause for the odd exception to this (e.g a faction boot for misconduct). If a faction member is demoted or booted, they do have the right to appeal in the form of a request from the leadership team member in question to justify how they have used the constitution to base their demotion/boot on. Demotion is not intended to be used as a disciplinary tool. It is intended to provide a medium in which an individual player’s standing in the faction reflects their tangibly measured commitment and effort to the faction based on the constitution guide lines (2.0 Faction Structure).
1.2 Leader Responsibility: As faction leaders, you have a responsibility to be a role model of the ethos of the faction to the rest of its members. This is reflected in what you say and do. In short, being helpful and friendly to all is a priority. Reviewing faction member stats and informing the leader of any suggestions/oversights is vital to ensuring high standards of satisfaction, quality and game enjoyment is achieved for all faction members.
2.0 Faction Structure

2.1 Newcomer: A new member of the faction has a four week “probationary period” where they must serve a minimum of two weeks as a newcomer. After this period has expired they can be promoted to any point within the faction framework. The rank status of a player with “newcomer” status must be a minimum of 1500 reputation and can be promoted if their rank is lower than 900. If a players reputation is higher than 1500 they can be subject to being booted from the faction although this may not always be an automatic process (subject to individual circumstances and “current faction needs” at that time. The appeals process may be used in this instance.
2.2 Runner: A player may have this status if their rank is lower than 900. They can be promoted to the next rank if their status gets lower than 500 but they can be demoted to newcomer again if their rank gets higher than 900.
2.3 Recruiter: A player may have this status if their rank is lower than 500. They can be promoted to the next rank if their status gets lower than 350 but they can be demoted (as appropriate) again if their rank gets higher than 500.
2.4 Constable: A player may have this status if their rank is lower than 350. They can be promoted to the next rank if their status gets lower than 200 but they can be demoted (as appropriate) again if their rank gets higher than 350. 
2.5 Co-Leader: A player may have this status if their rank is lower than 200. While this is the highest rank that can be obtained, the only rank change would be demotion (as appropriate) if their rank gets higher than 200.
2.51 Co-Leader number capacity cap: The faction leadership team will constitute of no more than 1/3 of the faction (leader + a maximum of 9 co-leaders). In the instance where more than 9 co-leaders are eligible (with the exemption of the “founding members”), the highest individual ranks will attain the five remaining co-leader positions. As mentioned in point 1.13, this will be reviewed on a weekly basis.

3.0Competitiveness & Activity

3.1 Competitiveness: As stated in the introduction, this faction constantly aspires to improve its league table standing through the mutual support of all faction members. The faction chat is a very active forum for members to communicate with each other and share idea both on and off topic from the game. To encourage and develop players The faction leadership team (normally the leader), will set weekly goals for faction members to aspire towards during individual and faction raids. If a player does not meet these goals it does not infer that they will be booted from the faction, it is more of a motivational/support/developmental mechanism.

3.2 Activity: They say that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Faction success is no exception. With this, the leadership team will regularly monitor faction members “last logged on” dates. If a player has been “inactive” for seven days or more, it is very likely they will be booted from the faction to make way for “new blood”. If a player is booted for this reason, they have the right to appeal as stated above.

My Best Friend’s New Girlfriend

The other week I was having a text conversation with my best friend when he decides to float into the conversation the fact that he has a new girlfriend… Actually to be more accurate, he didn’t “float” it into conversation at all – it was more of a cartoon style anvil that randomly landed in my inbox with a amusing question mark sketched on the side: “Just so you know, I’ve met her” is all the text message said…
I stopped to ponder for a moment at the vast array of “piss take” responces I could send back in reply; starting out with the juvenile ‘Oh your boyfriend will be so disappointed and want his money back’ to the, well, childish and lame ‘A dairy cow doesn’t count mate…’ In the end I went with a sensible option of finding out what the hell he was on about and it turns out he was making reference to his new lady friend who he had no reservation in professing how fond of her he was. 
As the conversation progressed we talked about meeting up to get the  customary “seal of approval” … In order to get a bit of a heads up I thought I’d sounds things out and gain some insight into what she may be like. I started off easy on him by suggesting that if we go for coffee I offer to pay by trying to sell my imaginary three legged whippet called Gary to the cashier as a method of payment for the coffee… Having actually used this routine in public with my friend before, he was fully aware that “Gary” comes all inclusive with a 10 minute back story of how feeding a three legged dog is a quarter cheaper than a four legged dog …
… He didn’t quite see the second outing of “Gary” as funny as the premier, that may have been something to do with the fact that the new lady in his life works for the RSPCA…
… In fact asking him if it was ‘Puppy Love’, telling him that he ‘Ain’t Nothing But a Hound Dog’ and asking him if she knew ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’ didn’t go down too well either!
So, D-day arrives, I meet my friend at his house and we do some general catching up while we await the arrival of his new “gurl” … She knocks the door and we do the usual introductory pleasantries, there are one or two light humoured exchanges and it’s not long before we’re off in the car on our way to coffee. Despite the reception my text questions received from my friend a few days previously, he did comment how her level of humour appreciation was nothing less than expert. So being the inquisitive person that I am, I thought I’d put it to the test a little…
Being as we were sat in the car (and having no means of escape), I turned to my friend’s new love interest and said  “(insert friend’s name) tells me that I must be on my best behaviour and avoid talking about work, so (insert her name), have you read any good books lately? Animal Farm? Lord of the Flies?… Admittedly is was an epic risk to take so early on in the meeting but it payed off really well, the afternoon went from strength to strength and my best friend just about survived without visibly communicating how much he wanted to hold my head in a bucket of water until the bubbles stopped.
Fortunately he knows me better than that and in my defence I did take the occasional opportunity to tell her how much of an amazing person he is (out of his ear shot of course – guys giving other guys compliments to their face … Na can’t be doing that).
In short a good day had by all and no murder attempts… RESULT!