3D GameLab Day 2: Getting Down with Dr. Z

A lot of exciting things and real learning happened for me on Day 2 of 3D GameLab online teacher summer camp.  Allow me to share some highlights:

  • Reward mechanics in quest-based learning

I had an interesting chat in Second Life with Leigh Writer, or Dr. Z., as he’s known on his blog.  He had worked through many quests on day 2, and said he hadn’t yet received any feedback and was trying to figure out what to do to earn a gold star.  Now the gold star is interesting, because it is a manual reward granted by the teacher, at the teacher’s discretion!  I was intrigued that this highly intelligent, cutting edge professor was motivated by the reward from the teacher.  We spoke about how he enjoyed the automated badges and achievements, but still wanted the personal connection with feedback and/or awards like stars, an acknowledgement from the teacher that he was on the right track.  We talked about the balance between awarding too many stars, and trying to make them scarce to give them more value and meaning.

After our chat, I went back to gamelab and had 20 quests to approve.  I made sure to leave comments on each one, even a short sentence was better than no sentence.  I find I’m saving my stars for truly deep thought, an extra effort, or someone trying to help the community.  I am rewarding the behavior and culture we are trying to cultivate in the community, a purposeful rewarding.

  • Creating connection through voice and video (real time and recorded)

Dr. Z also turned me on to Audioboo, an audio recording website where you can record feedback for students and embed it in their feedback, instead of written text.  He said his students LOVED getting and giving audio comments.  My goal is to test it tomorrow, and see the response.  I’ve been looking for a tool like this for awhile, very excited to find a web-based platform for it.  I’ll need to be sensitive to hearing impaired students to ensure I’m not limiting their experience, as well.

Just for fun, here’s a voicethread I started today in the opening of the Virtual World Builders group.  Love the comments and variety of people, interests and experience reflected in it!


  • Understanding what it’s like to work at a Help Desk

I did anticipate a little chaos in launching a new technology.  I had no idea on the number of emails I would receive with questions about logins, registrations, email and passwords not working, and not being able to sign up for events.  Tech support on a new technology product is something that should be planned and I missed the boat on this one entirely (which is funny considering I ran a department and hired tech support in various forms for years–you’d think I’d know better!)  As a result of the hundreds of emails I’ve sent out over the last two days and countless Skype and Vent chats, I have a much stronger appreciation for people who work at Help Desks, and I promise to always be calm and nice in the future! 🙂

  • Questing means assessment in “bits”

I’ve been enjoying reading students’ quests and leaving feedback in “bits.”  I can sit down, do a few quests, go wash dishes, come back and do a few more, go to a Skype call, come back, etc.  I have the ability to do more realistic just-in-time feedback compared to my regular online classes where I may let the “weekly” assignment pile up until the weekend when I sit down to grade a big batch of projects.  This process is mirroring the mobile lifestyle that I find myself living more and more, and I think is more helpful to learners, as they’re not sitting around waiting for me to grade their work.  The number of items I have has increased, but they are quick “bits,” easy to run through in short periods of time.  While I have always been thrilled to get engaged with my students’ work, the idea of “grading” projects was laborious to me.  Have I finally found a solution??

How was your day in 3D GameLab?

3 thoughts on “3D GameLab Day 2: Getting Down with Dr. Z

  1. Cheryl Briggs August 3, 2011 / 3:00 AM

    I’m glad you are taking people with hearing loss into account. I am a teacher of the deaf with a master’s in instructional technology and would have loved to join in on the beta but I couldn’t justify spending the money when I didn’t know how well I would be able to adapt the technology to our deaf students. We spend a lot of time teaching our students about their hearing loss and thought this might be a good alternative to the common instructional format we tend to use. We also have our students spread all over the county and would love to help them connect with each other. As soon as you go public beta I’m be there checking things out.

  2. Jeannette Harden Shaffer August 3, 2011 / 9:24 AM

    This post caught my attention because I am a participant in the 3D GameLab Summer Camp and I also wanted to blog about my experience. So, I wanted to read what others had to say about their experience.

    Now, reflecting on the information in this post … I understand Dr. Z’s desire for a personal connection with the instructor via a gold star. I was sharing with a colleague that it was fun completing quests but once I completed a set of quests I just received another set of quests. How long will this be fun for me? Complete quests and get more quests. For me in this environment and context I need more than just quests. The personal connection via a gold star let’s me know someone else is there and they are seeing my efforts and achievements. I know there are many events planned to get participants involved and we are only the third day into the summer camp so I look forward to all the opportunities of completing quests and interacting with the instructors and participants!

  3. Lisa Dawley August 17, 2011 / 11:40 PM

    Jeannette, thanks for your feedback. I hope you like our new “comments” feature on completed and in-progress quests!

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