Icon for: Elisabeth Gee

ELISABETH GEE

Arizona State University
Facilitators’
Choice
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Elisabeth Gee

    Elisabeth Gee

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 01:03 a.m.

    Welcome to the NSF Showcase video for the Play in the Making project.  Thank you so much for watching! In this video, we’ve highlighted the work we’ve done in Arizona, in a collaboration between Arizona State University and the Phoenix Public Library. Last year’s video focused on the work completed by our partners at California State University – San Marcos and local middle school teachers. The overall goal of our project is to explore ways to introduce children and families to design thinking through designing games around real-world problems. We would love to hear your thoughts about the following questions (or anything else you want to talk about):

     1.  What aspects of the project do you find most interesting, and why?

     2. What value do you feel that game design has as a learning activity in makerspaces or  other educational settings? Do you have any examples to share from your own experience?

     3. We used the model of design thinking created by the Stanford d.school as a basis for our game making process. What other models or frameworks for design thinking have you found useful in K-12 or informal STEM learning?  

     4. As a next step, we are considering the creation of teacher professional development activities. What do you see as the most promising next steps or potential challenges to further dissemination of our work?

  • Icon for: William Spitzer

    William Spitzer

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2019 | 10:29 a.m.

    I really loved the way that this project is grounded in theory about design thinking, but uses such accessible materials like board and card games to explore the different challenges. At a time when "game" is often synonymous with "computer game" it is so refreshing to see students working with home-made materials, and going beyond their own perspective to think about the experience of other users.

    It is really helpful that you posted some guiding questions about the project. I was interested in learning more about why your team focused on game-making as opposed to other kinds of design challenges, and hearing more about some of the more complex "social change" games that you referred to.

    Also, can you share more about what kinds of evidence of impact you are going to be looking for?

    Thanks,
    Billy

     
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    Brooks Mitchell
  • Icon for: Elisabeth Gee

    Elisabeth Gee

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 07:04 p.m.

    Hi Bill - Thanks so much for the positive comments and for your questions. We chose to focus on game-making due to my and the PI's prior experience with games as opportunities for learning. In particular, we felt that making games offers distinctive opportunities for learning through and about design. I like to quote Eric Zimmerman, who in an article on gaming literacy wrote "Making a game includes creating a formal system of rules, while also designing a human play experience for a�particular cultural and social context." In other words, making games can touch on many different aspects of design. In addition, people are drawn to games and typically can draw on diverse experiences of their own game play. 

    Our current work focused primarily on determining how game making might elicit various forms of design thinking, using the d.school model as a starting point. In the informal setting, our goal is primarily to provide participants with rich design experiences that can serve as preparation for future learning about design. We have yet to develop a means of assessing this, and that should have been another next step that I listed above :)

  • Icon for: William Spitzer

    William Spitzer

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2019 | 10:30 a.m.

    Thanks Elisabeth, I think this intersection of design and gaming is really interesting, and I look forward to hearing more as you develop assessment strategies. I hope you will post the results on informalscience.org!

  • Icon for: Margaret Glass

    Margaret Glass

    Facilitator
    May 13, 2019 | 03:18 p.m.

    I really like your approach of using gaming as an entry to design thinking, and setting this within a frame of making. I am curious about the kinds of topics for game design challenges that arose in your various workshops. Did you observe any consistency or patterns in the topics of interest that arose in different age groups or workshop settings?  For example, were younger children interested in design challenges that reflect tensions or problems they want to solve in their daily lives? Were older participants drawn toward design challenges for larger social issues? I ask this because of the observation in the video about how the designers worked to understand the viewpoint of prospective players.

    Interested to hear more about what you are learning!

    Margaret

  • Icon for: Elisabeth Gee

    Elisabeth Gee

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 07:13 p.m.

    Hi Margaret - Thanks for the questions!  Our librarian facilitators identified broad topic areas that they thought would appeal to participants. Within those areas, we certainly did see evidence that teens chose to tackle more complex issues. As an example, in one summer camp our teen participants created quite complex games about causes and solutions to water pollution. In a camp for younger kids, the topic was endangered species, and the games created by the kids were much more simple. I think that in part the participants drew inspiration from games they knew, and the older kids had played some pretty sophisticated card and board games. It's clear that the kids' prior game experience was a big factor in the designs they created (not surprising of course).

     
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    Margaret Glass
  • May 13, 2019 | 04:01 p.m.

    This is an interesting concept. Thanks! 

    Did you assess participants ability to design before and after playing the game?

  • Icon for: Elisabeth Gee

    Elisabeth Gee

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 11:50 a.m.

    Hi Mohammed - That's a great question. At this point, we were primarily interested in whether participants actually exhibited forms of design thinking in their game making process. We collected the drafts and notes they created as well as audio and video recorded their game design processes. We've coded this data using the d.school framework, and found rich evidence of their engagement in design thinking, though we also found that the process is more complex and recursive than our original model suggested. Once we identify the processes, we can better find ways to assess learning over time. The "design game" activity that we are currently testing, in which small groups play and refine an existing game, could be used for assessment, as one example.

  • May 14, 2019 | 11:54 a.m.

    Dear Elisabeth

    Thanks for the clarifications. I would love to know more about your research

     

    Mohamed

  • Icon for: Elisabeth Gee

    Elisabeth Gee

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 11:01 p.m.

    Thanks so much, Mohamed. We are planning to write up some of our findings so hopefully we will have more to share soon!

  • May 21, 2019 | 09:58 a.m.

    That's a very interesting observation about the design process being more recursive than initially expected. We see that when students are designing ships in our simulator; after they get familiar with the components they dive deeper into the design. I was wondering if you had an illustrative example or could expand further on how the recursive nature of these processes in your research.

     

    Thanks so much for a wonderful video and a window into your exciting research!

  • Icon for: Joan Freese

    Joan Freese

    Executive Producer, Ready To Learn
    May 13, 2019 | 05:35 p.m.

    Hi, Betty--

    You mentioned the different ages of the participants. I'm curious if you also had different levels of game expertise or interest in your groups. If so, how did those differences play out? Were there any surprises?

    Thanks,

    Joan

  • Icon for: Elisabeth Gee

    Elisabeth Gee

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2019 | 07:19 p.m.

    HI Joan - I do think, as I just mentioned in another post, that participants' prior experiences with board and card games (as well as video games) were quite inspirational. It's hard to say what factors were most important in their participation, though. In our afterschool sessions, participation was voluntary, so kids with no interest in games would not, presumably, choose to participate. I'd like to look at this question in the context of our classroom game design data, where we'd have a less selective group of participants!

     
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    Joan Freese
  • Icon for: Elysa Corin

    Elysa Corin

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2019 | 02:26 p.m.

    This is a very interesting project, thank you for sharing! Do you have plans to disseminate your model so educators and practitioners might adopt game-making in their contexts?  Have you found that some environments are more suitable for this approach than others?  I am very interested to hear what sort of "best practices" you've developed while engaging in this work, and the challenges associated with supporting youth in engaging in game design. Thank you!

  • Icon for: Elisabeth Gee

    Elisabeth Gee

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2019 | 11:00 p.m.

    Elysa, thanks so much for your comments and questions. Yes, we are hoping to develop a ways to disseminate our findings, though I am not sure we have a well-developed model yet. We found that there were notable differences between what you might call the "learning culture" of libraries and classrooms. These differences affected how the librarians and teachers adapted the game design approach to fit their particular contexts. In the library context, one big challenge was the unpredictability of who would show up for the typical "drop in" session that was a common format. The ages of the kids varied quite a bit, for example, as well as the topics they found interesting. It really helped to narrow down some of their choices; for example, to give participants some pre-made board game templates as a starting point, or a limited amount of supplies, so they didn't spend all their time deciding what to use. In the future, we might also experiment with having participants modify existing games, since that would also place some limitations on their choices, but still give them the experience of thinking about design.  

  • May 15, 2019 | 09:03 a.m.

    Hi,

    I really enjoyed this video- thank you for sharing about your work.

    I noticed that students are able to create something to help someone else- for instance, the example about a story for a child who is afraid of the dark.  I also see your model early on that names empathy as a block of the design process. I'm wondering how you capture what this work does for student's propensity to empathize and communicate with their peers?  That is really interesting to me!

  • Icon for: Elisabeth Gee

    Elisabeth Gee

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2019 | 12:43 p.m.

    Thanks so much for your comments, Jessica.  I think the empathy element is really intriguing as well, and we've only begun to explore the many different ways that empathy might be encouraged through the game making process. It's interesting that you mention empathy for peers, because one thing we're just realizing (due to comments from participants) is how working in teams on a game promotes better understanding/empathy among team members. They share past game experiences and preferences, and start to think about different perspectives just among their team. That's in addition to whatever ways they need to think differently about other peers who might play their games. 

    We don't really have data yet on longer term impacts, and we're focusing mostly on what kinds of thinking is elicited by the game design activities themselves. That's a reason why I was intrigued by your project, where your goal is to identify the complex understandings that learners already have, in your case of fractions. That's such an important first step and your findings are fascinating. You've inspired me to think a bit differently about our work too.

  • Icon for: Stacey Forsyth

    Stacey Forsyth

    Informal Educator
    May 15, 2019 | 01:33 p.m.

    Thanks for this video - I really enjoyed seeing how you're using board game design in different learning settings. We also work in different Makerspace settings and although our project (Build a Better Book) initially focused on creating accessible, interactive stories, we have found the participants (typically teens) are very drawn to creating board games! It has certainly opened up a new avenue of opportunity for our project to explore.

    In my other 'day job' (at a university-based informal STEM education center), we are also getting ready to run several week-long summer camps focused on board game design for upper elementary and middle school students. Board game design can be such a complex process; I'm curious how you scaffold the process and encourage younger Makers to explore different types of game mechanics. Do they tend to mimic existing board games and/or resort to roll the dice, move ahead type of games? Do you have suggestions of effective strategies to support them in creating games with different types of game play? How much time do they typically have for the full process?

    I'd also love to hear more about how you analyze the artifacts created in the process, including their notes, drafts, etc. Could you say a bit more about that?

    Thanks for sharing your project - I really enjoyed seeing your video!

     

  • Icon for: Elisabeth Gee

    Elisabeth Gee

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2019 | 12:44 p.m.

    Stacey - Thanks so much for your comments. I love your Build a Better Book project and I can see a lot of potential overlap/similarities in our work. In our programs, we've found that narrowing game play choices is actually a positive strategy for our younger kids. We've given participants board game templates to use as a starting point, but encouraged them to modify the templates and game play rules according to their game goals and their own creative thinking. While many of their games involve the roll the dice and move ahead mechanic, there are a lot of ways that they have modified this basic approach. The best way that we've found to inspire different game designs is to talk about the wide range of games that they have played, and even introduce them to other games (if time permits). 

    The longest workshops we've held at the library have been a total of about 6 - 7 hours, spread over 4 days in a summer camp or 5 weeks in a once a week after school format. This is not really a lot of time to go through the whole design process, and the participants' final games are not necessarily complete. Our emphasis has been on the design process, not necessarily the end product.

    In our data analytic work, we've been focusing primarily on analyzing video/audio recordings of the participants' conversations and interactions. While we planned to have participants keep design notebooks, we found that this was a bit too "school-like" in our library setting. Our initial focus has been using the five part design thinking framework developed by the d.school as a starting point for identifying different aspects of design thinking in their process. We've also started to analyze our data for evidence of systems thinking - games are particularly powerful examples of systems, and we can see lots of instances where participants have to think about different elements and processes often associated with systems thinking. 

    Whew - great questions! We will be sharing some initial findings soon :) 

  • May 15, 2019 | 04:29 p.m.

    It's always great to see other STEM organizations working with libraries - they are such important pillars of the communities that they serve! What were some of the successes/challenges of working within a library setting for this project? 

  • Icon for: Elisabeth Gee

    Elisabeth Gee

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2019 | 12:33 p.m.

    HI Brooks! I was glad to see your work with the STAR Library Network too.  I certainly developed an even greater appreciation for libraries' community service through this project. One thing I really appreciated was the youth librarians' willingness to think expansively about the kinds of teaching and learning activities that they might offer, and how they adapted game design activities to meet the needs of their participants. Game making was something that seemed to appeal to all ages and was an activity that participants could dive right into, which was important given the relatively short duration of many library programs. That short duration and unpredictable participation was a challenge in terms of determining the overall impact of our activities. But I am sure you are familiar with those challenges :)

  • Icon for: Steven Bayless

    Steven Bayless

    Videographer/Producer
    May 15, 2019 | 04:57 p.m.

    What a great idea!  It's wonderful that your game design is so tactile and hands on.  Well produced video!

  • Icon for: Elisabeth Gee

    Elisabeth Gee

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2019 | 12:18 p.m.

    Thanks so much, Steven! I enjoyed your video as well - looks like we are almost neighbors :)

  • Icon for: Margaret Glass

    Margaret Glass

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2019 | 08:22 a.m.

    I am curious if you encountered any biases against gaming or game design while carrying out your project. Non-gaming adults seem to have fewer objections to board games, and the design aspects of your program clearly highlight the thinking and logistical planning involved. Still, there are strong feelings around gaming in general that often play out along generational lines. I would love to hear your thoughts about this!

    Margaret

  • Icon for: Elisabeth Gee

    Elisabeth Gee

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2019 | 12:16 p.m.

    Hi Margaret! That's a great question. In some of my past work, I have found a bias against video games, or at least the feeling on the part of parents that their kids already spend too much time on games. They don't, as you suggest, have that feeling about board games. Interestingly, we found something of the reverse sentiment among parents in this project - they were hoping that their kids would create digital games so in the process they might enhance their computational skills. I think it was a little harder for parents to see the broader value of design skills, at least in the context of game-making. Our participants were self-selected, though, so there may have been parents who would not bring their kids to any kind of workshop that involved gaming. It certainly is interesting to see how attitudes towards gaming have - or have not - shifted over time!

  • Icon for: Margaret Glass

    Margaret Glass

    Facilitator
    May 20, 2019 | 03:03 p.m.

    Thanks for the response! Jane McGonigal's research on gamers and gaming culture has also helped me to understand some of the neurological and social benefits of games - and addressed some of my angst around this behavior as a parent!

  • Icon for: Kristana Textor

    Kristana Textor

    Graduate Student
    May 16, 2019 | 02:02 p.m.

    I love that you're working with libraries and informal settings for this project, and I'll bet there have been some interesting conversations between kids and parents at the tables. :)

    Can you tell us a bit more about the research design, what methods and theories you are using to frame this work? What are you collecting as data? Does the incorporation of design thinking influence your methodology?

    -Kristana

  • Icon for: KRISTEN BIEDA

    KRISTEN BIEDA

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 20, 2019 | 12:35 p.m.

    Hi,

    I was immediately drawn to your video because as a early career teacher, I taught in a gifted summer program and created a course for middle school students around board game design. I worked to highlight connections between board game design and problem solving, as I was credentialed as a secondary math teacher. It is wonderful to see how you have used game design as a context for advancing such important goals for children's learning.

    Kristen

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.