Choose Your Own Lecture

Choice. Personalization. Freedom. Exploration. All are game based strategies and all helped keep students interested and engaged in the classes I’ve taught over the last 3 days.Over the past days at work, I’ve taught 12 class sessions and I’ve run around like crazy (a good thing). Why? And how does it relate to gaming… read on.

The Librarians meet a total of 9 times, 3 times per paper with each Research Writing class. The first meeting is to provide them with some context and background on the geographic region they will be writing about and introducing them to the research process.

I’m responsible for that first lecture that provides the context and process to each class (another reason I’ve been MIA during the first week of the semester). Putting together a 45 minute lecture that provides an overview of the social sciences and potential topics within the Mississippi Watershed area would be challenging enough, but add the entire scope of history into the mix – from prehistory to today, and it’s impossible. Like any lecture it can fall into the trap of being pretty straightforward and not all that exciting.

So to make an already long story brief, I knew I wanted to do something to keep the students involved as we touched on bits and pieces of history. Enter Turning Point. Some of you may have used Turning Point or other instant polling software for classes or meetings, but briefly it allows you to create quizzes or polls within a Power Point presentation that the students can vote on. I used it to engage students and allow them the ability to direct our discussion during the lecture. In addition to having slides about whether or not they had ideas for topics and slides to evaluate the lecture, there were multiple slides that allowed the students to choose their own lecture.

As the diagram shows, I created slides that allowed the students to choose between a few different topics in order to determine what we were going to focus on. Each student voted and we followed the topics of those with the most votes. By creating a branching content presentation, each class focused in different topics, but the overall content and research information was the same. The questions were created and then I linked the text to each of the corresponding slides, so that the class could directly jump to the topic they choose – hiding the rest of the information.

Well the approach meant that I did not cover the same information with class, but the individualized branching paths resulted in more students being engaged. Voting on the path four different times during the presentation resulted in keeping most students interested and involved in the discussion. I had one student say, “This was great, it kept me from falling asleep.” Although I wasn’t quite sure how to take that… coming from an 8:00 am class, that was pretty good. I had another student tell me that she was thinking about dropping the class, but now she is interested in the topic and was glad to be involved in the presentation.

Using game strategies to create a personalized path, allowing students the freedom of choice and a reason to stay involved, helped to create a lecture that students were interested in and had a stake in.

Another small, but successful application of gaming strategies.


Kevin said...

Does Turning Point keep track of and store the paths chosen for later review? It might be interesting for lecturers and students to review the path taken at the end of each presentation and compare paths across different sessions of the same presentation.