Vs. Mode - Mastery in Games & in the Classroom: What Can We Do?

With the vs. mode discussion wrapping up for this week, I wanted to take a moment to offer suggestions on how to answer my own question. The round started with Chad's discussion of mastery or "good enough" in games. I replied with a detailed description of games as both "try and die" and "mastery through play" and responded to some of the questions from Library Voice. While the vs. mode supplement provided examples of both styles, it did not address the specific question:

What steps can we start taking now to foster this mentality?

I'm not naive enough to believe that changing the classroom setting and educational dynamic from "try & die" to "mastery through play" is a simple or straightforward process. I may not be naive, but I am a hopeful fighter. There are many pieces to creating this change, both on the front end (classroom) and the back end (educational system) that need to occur for lasting change. But I have faith. Last week's LOEX conference was full of examples of people working to help shift us closer to "mastery through play."

[any information on the LOEX presenters can found... here. The site will be updated with more handouts soon.]

Front End Changes:

  • Meet students where they are. We should value our students' experience and use it. Not diminish it. William Weare, Valparaiso University, and Michelle Kowalsky, William Paterson University, spoke on this topic with their presentation "Library Instruction and Student Engagement in the Age of Google."

  • Engage our students in areas where they already have experience and use the worlds they know. Sara Holladay and I talked about this with our session on using fantasy sports as a bridge to the academic information literacy skills our students need.

  • Apply various learning styles to reach all players/students. Just as gaming uses a variety of methods to reach the audience, so should we. Merinda Kaye Hensley discussed and provided examples to reach a variety of learning styles in her excellent interactive session: "When the World Grows Smaller: Renewing Your Instruction Methods for International Students Using the Cephalonian Method."

  • Let the students play. We can lower the barriers to failure and create engaging and dynamic lessons applying gaming strategies.

Back End Changes:

  • Assess the comments and attitudes of our students. What was/is their emotional pulse. Candice Benjes-Small and Eric Ackermann from Radford University spoke on assessing comments in their session "Creating An Architecture of Assessment: Using Benchmarks to Measure Library Instruction Progress and Success."

  • Evaluate our services after the assignments are due. We should be asking the question of if our "game guides" (instruction) was really useful. If not, do we need a better walkthrough guide? Here is the handout from Jeannie Callas' assessment presentation with some examples to help us get started.

  • We can treat assessment as an assembly process, not the final product. Assessment that is based on the "quest" rather than just the "final boss." This portfolio method of assessment is not new, but it takes the emphasis off of the "good enough" end product (boss battle) and turns it to the process/journey of a portfolio.

  • Librarians should advocate and work for inclusion on the "design team." Are you or is someone from the library on an assessment committee or organization on campus? Does the library have a place at the table? If we are part of the "games" design, then we are in a better longer term position to creating winning products... life long learners.

These are just a few of the many changes we can start to move our educational focus to mastery through play.

If not now, when?

If not you, who?