My Code Combat Affinity Space Experience

One of the final Games and Learning projects is a presentation of my Code Combat affinity space. Through this game designed for young students, I was able to learn the basics of javascript code. My Camtasia video details why I think the following three Gee and Haye’s affinity space features apply to the Code Combat discourse:

  1. The development of both specialist and broad, general knowledge are encourage and specialized knowledge is pooled.

  2. There are many different forms and routes to participation.

  3. A view of learning that is individually proactive, but does not exclude help, it’s encouraged.

 

References:

Gee, J. P., & Hayes, E. (2011). Nurturing Affinity Spaces and Game-Based Learning. Learning and Meaning in the Digital Age Games, Learning, and Society, 129-153. doi:10.1017/cbo9781139031127.015

 

 

Ask for Help or Stay Stuck?

Screen Shot 2016-09-01 at 10.25.43 AM

Photo Credit: Code Combat

The last time I wrote about my affinity space I spoke from a place of fear of group participation, while wanting to complete as many levels as possible. Isn’t that exactly what affinity spaces are created for? To accelerate one’s understanding and identification of a chosen discourse? As fate would have it, I have reached a level where I cannot pass without asking for help. I tried for three days to solve the code problem on my own with no luck.

I posted my code and question to the board. With no response after a full day, I’m starting to wonder a few things. Did I categorize my question properly in order to be seen by the right people as quickly as possible? What if that level has a bug? Who am I to tell Code Combat there must be a bug in one of their levels?

In all truth, I could post my question to every category and, although that is probably poor form, it shows that I really want to learn. I truly am sick of this level and want to keep moving. However, I suspect my case is exactly the point the discourse hopes players will land. A place of needing help and the motivation to solve the problem outweighs the desire to stay below the radar.

I’m stuck in the Backwood Forrest  on an If/Else loop that requires me to kill the never-ending supply of munchkins. Here’s my code:

loop {
var enemy = this.findNearestEnemy();
if (this.isReady(“cleave”));
this.cleave(enemy);
else
this.attack(enemy);
}

Whether my code isn’t correct or there truly in a bug in the level, I’m grateful for this point of pressure. It is forcing me to engage and this extra little push is exactly what I needed.

It’s about the community, stupid.

Photo Credit: http://www.csjo.org/
Photo Credit: http://www.csjo.org/

Between my affinity space, open annotations, and scholarly critiques required of my Games and Learning class at CU Denver, I keep coming back to the importance of community. Each of these aspects revolves around curating new connections and deepening my understanding of applying play skillfully. I feel like I’m beginning to think in a completely new way: the community I form now will sustain me in my new career after school.

Affinity Space

Although I have never posted on the Code Combat discourse board, I have been able to find most any answer I need when stumped by the game. Even simple problems are openly discussed on the board for the world to see. All my needs are being met through lurking, but if I were to build community, active participation is warranted.  

Open Annotations & Scholarly Critiques

Annotating the course readings through Hypothes.is has led to new streams of curiosity. Often times a conversation over a reading would lead to my next article to critique. I have become quite picky about my articles because I’m not simply completing the assignment, I’m carving my own unique, educational pathway. More specifically, here are a couple Hypothes.is conversations that led me down the path of critiquing articles on serious play and playful assessment: 

Games Taken Seriously = Serious Play Learning

I previously wrote The Science Behind Serious Games around the game, Mars Generations One: Argubot Academy EDU, which was a collaboration between GlassLab, The Educational Testing Service, and Pearson Education. I was amazed by the idea of learning scientists developing learning progressions to create superior learning experiences. I thought, “Wow, learning scientists must be really smart people. They have the secrets to how to make a learning progression.” My professor, Remi Holden, point blank asked if I could describe what learning progressions they used or what research they shared to back it up. I could not answer his question. I think I got enamored by the flashy words and big name companies. This was a reminder to always dig a bit deeper.

Below is a snippet of our Hypothes.is conversation where Remi suggests I look into the research behind the serious game, Place Out of Time (POOT).  

He directed me to his the article, It Matters Because It’s a Game: Serious Games and Serious Players by Jeff Kupperman and team. I devoured this article and realized the game they created wasn’t some high-tech video game. It was a very thoughtful, imaginative opportunity for students to act out their characters roles in a safe, online setting. Then I thought, “Hey, I could do that!” it was a nice perspective shift to see that I am fully capable of being a part of the serious game scene. 

Assess(ment) as Play?

My next Hypothes.is tip-off stemmed from a conversation with Remi about the article, Questing as learning: iterative course design using game inspired elements by Seann M. Dikkers. In the margins of this readings, Remi respectfully disagree with Dikker’s belief that time is best spent playing the games online and not in the classroom. This statement intrigued me, so I asked for specific examples about how playing games in Remi’s classroom proved to be valuable learning experiences. 

https://media.wix.com/ugd/0a72dc_1108889c47284cd0ad0b1720b6839fed.pdf
https://media.wix.com/ugd/0a72dc_1108889c47284cd0ad0b1720b6839fed.pdf

Our conversation pointed to my next article of study, which happened to be written by Remi himself: Playful Possibilities for Assessment: Fluffy Ducks and The Queen’s Gambit  I was beginning to see that playful teaching and learning were not just a technique to use, but rather a pedagogical way of being. True, playful learning requires more of the students, but it also requires more of the teacher. Playful teachers need to be just as interested and invested in the students’ learning as the students themselves.

The scholarly critiques have proven the most enlightening part of this cycle’s activities. The articles about serious play in POOT and Playful Possibilities for Assessment opened me up to the larger playful learning movement. These articles, along with my Hypothes.is conversations are influencing and shaping my educational path. So much so, that I found a way, which is very well hidden might I add, to develop my own independent study this summer to further explore playful learning, open source education, and instructional design and technology.  

Changed Preconceptions

My biggest realization has been that a game doesn’t have to be complex or full of rich video game graphics to be engaging. In the context of POOT, I love the element of imagination tempered with serious role play. The students get to chose their character, but they are also expected to convincingly play this person through their discussions and word choice. The game maker has captured the student’s  imagination, which means that even I, without any video game creation experience, could create a playful and meaningful learning experience. 

Growing Network

My Hypothes.is annotations and work as a CU Tech TA have been creating a critical mass in me on the topic of open educational technology. I’m starting to know the key players and have begun to connect the dots tracing back from my first class this past summer, Digital Storytelling. There are so many wonderful avenues to explore and connections to make. I’ve listed a few of the connections below:  

  • Medium
  • DS106
  • Jim Groom
  • Digital Pedagogy Lab
  • Quest 2 Learn
  • LTMedia.lab
  • Domain of One’s Own

What I’m left with is how to ensure that I truly become a part of the community. It seems that there so much to do in order to stay current within the realm of educational, technology.

  • Do I tweet enough?
  • Do I read enough?
  • Do I tinker enough?

Right now I’m simply trying to catch all the information as it comes at me. Luckily, I learned about Google+ Communities in another class and am using it as a warehouse for information. Who knows, maybe it’ll grow into something, but right now, I’m happy to have found a good system for tracking all the information flying at me.

I’m creating a personal learning network in order to ensure, sustain, and grow my career in education technology.