Professional Development in the age of Hybrid Learning

ep. 4

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PD Links

Below is a list of back links to every badge and cert mentioned in the podcast episode. They are not listed in any type of order.

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Stem.org Certified: Check out the process here

ISTE Certified Educator: Check out the process here

Tynker Blue Ribbon Educator : Check out the badge here

KQED Media Literacy Innovator: Check out the process here

ThingLink Certified Educator: Check out the process here

EdPuzzle Badges: Check out the badges here

Nearpod Certified Educator: Check out the process here

Certified BrainPOP Educator: Check out the process here

Common Sense Educators: Check out the process here

Classcraft Certified: Signup for a Classcraft teacher account to partake in the certification.

Microsoft Hybrid Learning Badge: Check out the badge here

Google Certifications: Educator level 1 & 2, Google Certified Trainer, Certified Innovator, and G Suite Certified.

Microsoft Certified Educator: Check out the process here

Microsofts Minecraft: Education Edition Teacher Academy: Check out the badge here

Classcraft

  • What is it?
  • Who is it for?
  • What’s intrinsic motivation
  • Does it work?

 

Gamification with ClassCraft


What is classcraft?

Gamification is a rough concept for some educators. Combining learning with fun seems to be a really tough topic. However, there are tons of developed gamification tools for educators to take advantage of. One of these tools in Classcraft.

 

Classcraft is an online game/software that allows educators to transform classroom activities by adding in RPG video game like elements. Classcraft’s biggest seller here is “intrinsic motivation.” Intrinsic motivation is what drives players to continue participating in video games. It simply mean we are internally motivated to continue playing. A reward could be exploration or learning more about your favorite video games lore. These motivators have no positive or negative effects on us externally, which is why it is motivating. Classcraft takes advantage of this by developing a video game like experience for their players (educators & students).

educators


There are tons of resources for helping educators get started. Whoever Classcraft hired as an instructional designer was very thorough in the creation of educator resources. The site goes over basic concepts like gamification and why we should integrate it into learning. They also have amazing guides on getting started with classroom setup.

Classroom setup is easy. Educators choose between to types of classroom setups. The difference is that one type of story mode disables students from creating their own avatar. Although I love having options for crafting classroom experiences, not having an avatar takes all the fun out of the game. But, outside of creating a classroom, you’re able to name your class, add students, set objectives for the day, and even go on quests.

Lastly, Classcraft offers a certification and ambassador program for educators who want to leaders in terms of Classcraft.

Students


Something that’s really cool here is that students get to create their own avatar. This gives a sense of ownership to students. They also get to choose between three types of characters: Warrior, Mage, and a Healer. The game is meant to be played in groups (mainly three) as each character supports another. Each type of character has special abilities that help teams on quests and also help to save other characters from “death” or rather becoming inactive. The fact that this is split up into groups helps drive competition amongst classroom groups. Competition is also another intrinsic motivator.

Taken @ Classcraft Website

 

Before I forget, students can also assign their own ability points as well as equip different outfits for their characters.


 

So, now the big question: How does the game actually work? Well, if the district is involved or the whole school is involved; it would be easier for a school or district leader to create a main account for each school that teachers can join. However, teachers can set up their own accounts without being attached to a district or school. The next step is to create your classroom and prep it for daily quests/set up daily conditions. The tool is meant to be used at the start of the day and in between activities. This is because the teacher rewards students with experience points when a student meets real world conditions.

(Taken @ Classcraft Website)

These conditions could be completing a task in class, handing in homework, being quiet when told to be quiet, etc. A teacher can also provide penalty points (deduct health) to students who are unruly or don’t complete their daily tasks. Lastly, Quests are the most unique aspect of Classcraft in that a teacher can initiate a sort of “boss battle” that all the students can participate in.

 

the good, the bad, and the ugly

So the big question for me is: does it meet my standards? This is where we get into the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Classcraft is so unique and there is so much editing that can be done to the play style (by the educator). Educators can change the names of skills and effects to match more real world goals and skills. Also, the RPG/game like elements are just really fun. The whole process of creating a character and selecting a class is totally unique and provides students with ownership over their character.

So what’s the bad? First, this is mainly meant to be played in groups. In order for groups to be successful, they should be balanced. This means one warrior, one mage, and one healer at minimum. Groups can have more students, but their should be one of each type of character archetype present. Why is this bad? Well if my group partner chose warrior and I wanted to be a warrior, I’d be a little upset. I should have the freedom to choose what I want to play as. Of course you could group me with another group but what if the same problem arises in the new group? I would definitely feel unmotivated if I didn’t get to play as who I wanted to play as. Also, understanding why groups need to be balanced is a high level developmental capacity line of thought that younger students wouldn’t understand.

Now the ugly. Ambassadors and Classcraft wizzes would totally disagree with me here. Outside of creating your own character, there really isn’t anything intrinsically motivating about playing. A students characters progress is directly linked to a students real world actions. If I don’t do my homework or if I’m noisy in class, not only will I get in trouble but my game character will lose health points. If I lose too many earth points, my character will become inactive (form of death). If that happens, I will be placing a burden on my group mates as they will have one less member and they will have to work twice as hard in order to obtain skill points and revive me. If I do this too much my group mates might just end up hating me. See where I’m going? There are a lot of extrinsic motivators present here. This isn’t a bad thing, but you shouldn’t market the product as solely intrinsic.

 

Final verdict

If I worked in a typical school setting with no students who are nuero-developmentally delayed, I would totally use this product. However, as someone who has solely worked with nuero-diverse students, I would never use this in my computer groups or recommend that a teacher in my school (all nuero-diverse) use it.

Learn more about Classcraft at their website

“Sometimes, as an educator, you find yourself too busy to explain certain concepts and wind up interchanging both words to explain what your students are working on.”

Coding vs. Programming

A big issue in the teaching STEM is the synonymous use of the terms “Coding” and “Programming.” Aren’t they the same? Well, no. But before I jump to far ahead, I am guilty of this too. Sometimes, as an educator, you find yourself too busy to explain certain concepts and wind up interchanging both words to explain what your students are working on. However, we should distinguish the two words from one another. After all, it’s important that students understand the differences between coding & programming. So let’s get started.

 

Coding

So, what is coding? Well, it means exactly that, to code. Coders are typically writing code for various different purposes. Lines of code are used to do multiple things. You can code the colors of a website or app. You can write code for an app. You can even use code to develop a video game. But the term starts to get convoluted as we near video game production or even software production. This is because these also need to be programmed. Coding involves writing lines of code in a particular coding language. The easiest way to explain this is by talking about HTML and CSS. HTML and CSS are (were?) commonly used to develop websites, web apps, and web games. A lot of the code one writes simply dictates what content a user will see and what the website will look like.

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Programming


Now where does programming differ? Programming involves programming a machine or computer on how to run and, even, how to execute our code. Computers and machines are very smart, but they are smart because we program them to execute the desired functions. For example: A microwave is programmed to accept a user input of time and warm its contents until the said time is over.

 

Read Along


With the on-going Pandemic there is dire need for distance learning and accessible (key-word) learning apps and methods. One of the big players in online learning, Google, is really stepping up to the plate this year (and last year) with tons of accessible learning apps for the digital age; one of these apps being Read Along.

 

At the moment of writing this (05/11/2020) Read Along only seems to be available for Android based devices which isn’t truly accessible as they are denying users with Apple devices the right to download and use the app with their kids/students.

 

Anyways, the app starts you off with an avatar who reads lines to you and then asks for you to read them back. The voice is kind of robotic which can get a tad bit annoying. The app then asks for microphone permissions so it can record your child’s voice. Kind of a scary thought, but the point is to score your child on how they pronounce each word. Moving forward, the app takes you to it’s main page which is the library. The library is filled with several different stories, as well as stories you can download to your device.

After clicking on a story, your child can quickly begin reading or click on the female/robot avatar that will read the sentence aloud to help them out. A cool feature of this app is how the points systems work. If the child/student leaves a book early, they lose all their reading points. This disables students from “cheating” their way into prizes.

This is definitely a unique app in the EdTech learning space. Of course, it’s features do raise some concerns.