Okay, so all games require some interaction with the player. Just as “engagement” assumes interaction with the students. The key for us as librarians and educators is the degree and integration of that interaction. This is not simply a time for questions or discussion and pedagogically we understand that.
The example of “Duck Amuck” for the Nintendo DS (pictured) is a good example of maximizing the interaction. A player draws events and items that are used, uses the microphone to “blow out” candles, closes the lid for Daffy to “look in the dark,” and a host of other mini game applications that make use of every input the DS has. The game uses these various inputs at every stage of the game requiring continued interaction from the player.
The continuous interaction through a variety of inputs (learning styles) is a wonderful goal, but can often be challenging for librarians faced with a one-shot session trying to cram all the “necessary” information in. Now I know that putting “necessary” in quotes may be put off some people, but I mean no disrespect. I’m guilty of filling a session with useful information. But with a high degree of interaction, the useful “necessary” information still comes through, but it does so in a student initiated shared experience, rather than a librarian one.
This is the challenge. It takes time to plan this level of integration and time to practice it… and one-shots make that challenging. Maybe this is where the “try and fail” mindset (link here) is important. It takes time faith, but the success can be great. Last semester, I took what would have been a basic database review & workday and turned it into a narrative with constant choices for the class that determine the direction at each step. The interaction was limited through discussion and a student response system, but the student’s interaction was required for each step and decision. The class resulted in an increased student experience. Their interaction with the material and each other resulted in students discussing and debating with each other about the search and evaluation process.
Now the lesson did take a couple hours to plan, map out, and create, but the payoff for the students was worth it. They stayed engaged in the class and the content because they saw a value in it but also had a say in it. Their interaction was genuine and integral to the class, not separated from the content. Designing classes like this is not always possible, but the effort is still beneficial for our students.
There is a variety of good literature out there on student engagement and interaction is only one piece of it. But when designing lessons incorporating that interaction is key. The more the students can push, poke, prod the content (and us) they will be more invested in the class and the material.