Gaming & Gamification in Composition

A few weeks ago, we had a CIC workshop on gaming & gamification in composition.  This post will be a summary, follow-up, expansion, and resource bank of some of the key take-aways for teachers and researchers interested in the potential for gaming and play in teaching composition.

Workshop Participants with Meeple Avatars

Workshop participants show off their meeples from one of the workshop activities.

First of all, here is an introduction to some shared vocabulary that informs our conversation (from Deterding et al & Envato):

  • Play: a free-form, expressive, improvisational recombination of behaviors & meanings
  • Game: playing structured by rules and competitive strife toward goals
  • Gamification: the use of game design elements in non-game contexts
  • Gamefulness: the experiential & behavioral quality of gaming
  • Game Design Elements: Challenge, Choice, Change, Chance

Example Gamification Books

We can think about gaming as literacy practices, which are tied to composition (see Kurt Squire & the New London Group in particular for connections with multimodality).  We should also recognize gaming practices to be embedded and emerging from within social and cultural practices, especially as they move into economic and educational systems and contexts.  As critical educators, we need to be careful of adopting “gamification” concepts wholesale.  Consider the source and purpose of tips and strategies you may find to “gamify your class.”  In the ethics of argumentation, we don’t want students to just “crush the competition!”

Multimodal & Gaming Literacy Excerpts

Multimodal resources excerpted include Writer/Designer by Kristen Arola, Jennifer Sheppard, and Cheryl Ball, “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies” from the New London Group, and “Video Game Literacy” by Kurt Squire.

Since many CIC instructors hold a variety of teaching philosophies and approaches to the level of technology integration in their classes, we also find it useful to identify ways that gaming and play can be used along an integration spectrum.  As a caveat, there are many additional ways that gaming can take place in classes, so this is not an exhaustive set of examples, but rather a starting point.

  • Minimum integration: Game as text used to analyze course theme(s); gamefulness in class activities (example prompt)
  • Medium integration: Game/game element as assignment or class activity in addition to game as text (example prompt)
  • Maximum integration: Game as text to investigate multimodal literacy practices and games as texts/integration points for related compositions in multiple genres (example prompt)

One example of a student-composed game for a multimodal composition class at UW that was later published is now publicly available via the following link (excluding accompanying reflection writing):

Scratch – STEM Curator: Women in STEM

In this game you will play as a museum intern tasked to design a museum to help girls stay interested in STEM, Science Technology Engineering and Math. The purpose of this project is to educate people that the discouragement women face when entering STEM fields is entirely cultural. We as …

This game was featured on Scratch and received positive reviews.  Reflection writing revealed the students’ composition process and intentions.

Students can also interact with and analyze games as texts.  In role-playing games, students can choose an avatar to play, which allows them choices for playing a character that seems closest to who they are in real life or to experiment with an identity at a greater distance.  Because of this, they have opportunities to conduct inquiry into issues of identity and representation without being obligated to reveal vulnerabilities in class.  They can draw on primary sources from their play experience and secondary sources like online forums to explore and research their position within the game world (as well as how this connects to real-world issues of identity and representation).  For example, imperialism, nativism, and racism all appear in the game Skyrim with different material impacts and choices for different characters’ play experiences.  The available (and customizable) races in Skyrim are included below:

Avatars for Exploring Identity Issues

Skyrim character images subject to creative commons license from Wikia.

In the following class activity, various students’ experiences and responses were used to refine the conception of inquiry in research.  Students responded to a set of questions using Survey Monkey, and the class moved from a basic binary question like, “Which side did you choose?” to identifying better non-binary questions and then moving to more nuanced research questions like, “To what extent are the Stormcloaks justified in the civil war?”  The choices players were given from the game designers on any issue in time remained open for investigation and connection to real-world issues.  Students also practiced framing evidence for their own purposes with the graphs produced from class responses.  These were also issues they were invested in through play experience, rather than an abstract research topic that they might not feel authorized to write about yet.

Survey Monkey Results for Class Inquiry

Graphs generated by student participants using Survey Monkey.

In the game Skyrim – like many others – players also choose to develop “skill tree” items as they level up depending on their play style.  For example, they may choose skills to develop related to a warrior (heavy armor, archery, smithing, etc.), mage (illusion, conjuration, destruction, etc.), or thief (light armor, lock-picking, sneak, etc.).  In order to start owning the language of the outcomes and create a revision plan during the portfolio sequence, students created analogies between the available Skyrim skill tree items and EWP course outcomes.  This also modeled the way students could enter the discourse communities of their majors beyond the game and the composition class.

For assessing assignments that deal with gaming and play, we need to consider the following elements:

What are we assessing?

  • Game design
  • Statement of purpose, reflection
  • Achievement of statement goals
  • Fulfillment of assignment goals

Who is involved in developing assessment criteria and how are students internalizing criteria?

  • Creating or co-creating criteria
  • Practicing assessment
  • Revising criteria

Here are some resources available on and beyond campus to explore how you might implement some of these ideas or some of your own.

For Accessing/Analyzing Games:

For Designing Games:

CIC Sample Prompts and Activities:

While many of these examples and resources tend to follow digital medium games, it is important to note that the same play and gaming principles can be available through table top gaming as well.  The UW library system is currently acquiring table top gaming resources that should be available for the 2017-2018 academic year.  Please check with the UW English Studies Librarian Faye Christenberry for questions or updates.

New CIC Assistant Director: Holly Shelton

Hi everyone, welcome to Spring 2017 in the CIC!  This post is to briefly introduce myself and ways I might be a resource for your computer integrated teaching, learning, and research this year.

CIC AD Holly Shelton

If you start teaching in CIC or ENGL 182 this year, you’ll definitely meet me during your orientation.  I’m currently a PhD student in the English department’s language and rhetoric program and chair of the annual UW Praxis Conference.  I have a background in TESOL and applied linguistics, and my research interests focus on how and why people move across language and modalities in their literacy and composition practices.  I’m also interested in gaming and critical pedagogies.

CIC supports many levels of technology integration in our classes and spaces, from minimally to fully integrated.  You don’t have to fundamentally change your teaching philosophy for CIC, but can adapt your teaching to the available technology.  If you don’t have a regularly scheduled class in one of the CIC computer labs, but want to reserve a space for a specific class activity like peer review, research, an eportfolio session, or anything else, I’m the one to contact.  If you’re not sure what you would use a CIC computer lab for, let’s talk about the possibilities!

Here are some things to keep on your radar this year:

  • CIC blog posts – check back periodically for tips from me or your colleagues
  • CIC workshops – invitations will be circulating through department emails
  • CIC teaching resources – we continue to add content to the website

You can reach me at hshelton [at] uw.edu and my office hours for each quarter are posted here.  If you have an emergency with technology in the CIC rooms, check with the ischool first, but I can also help troubleshoot in a pinch.  I look forward to working with you this year!

Teaching the Technology of the ePortfolio

A couple of weeks ago, we held a workshop for all teachers in the English Department, focusing on how to teach the ePortfolio technology to students. Because faculty found it so helpful, we wanted to follow up with a blog post overviewing how to introduce the technology to students, particularly to provide resources for how to teach the technology for EWP ePortfolios.

Before you explain the technology, we recommend that you spend a class period (at least 50 minutes) to introduce the concept of the ePortfolio to your students and detail the assignment requirements. Here is a sample powerpoint, prompt and checklist for EWP students.

To introduce the technology of the ePortfolio, you can follow this sample lesson plan. I have also created a screencast of how I explain the technology to EWP students, which you can watch to prepare for your own explanation or share with students. This would be particularly helpful to share with any absent students.

Some general tips for introducing the technology:

  1. Budget at least 50 minutes.
  2. Be sure to have a projector available so you can model the technology as you set up.
  3. Ask your students to bring laptops or tablets to class. Phones are not the best for this kind of work. For those that need access to a laptop, refer them to rental availability through the UW-IT Classroom Technology’s Student Technology Loan Program.
  4. Before the introduction to the technology, be sure to set up the portfolio assignment, publish it, make it available for students to submit, and select URL submission only.
  5. Share these links with your students (via a Canvas announcement to ensure easy access during the workshop):

We hope this information helps! Please let us know if you have any questions, or contact one of the EWP Assistant Directors.

Updating Preferred Names on Canvas

Last week, the UW responded to concerns about name representation on institutional interfaces. Both staff and students have long wanted the freedom to represent their preferred names on UW information systems and directories.

According to a recent email from Phillip J. Reid (Vice Provost, Academic and Student Affairs), students can update their preferred names by going to https://identity.uw.edu/. This website allows students to update their preferred name, which will then appear on select institutional systems. The following interfaces are available for the Autumn 2016 Quarter:

  • Class photos
  • Rosters
  • UW Directory
  • Grade Page

There will be additional interfaces made available in the Winter 2017 Quarter, which include:

  • Canvas
  • MyPlan
  • MyGradPlan
  • Electronic Academic Records (EARS)
  • Degree Audit Reporting System (DARS)
  • Panopto

To get more information about these changes, see the Office of the University Registrar’s Preferred Names page.

Because Canvas is not an available selection until Winter Quarter, we wanted to take a moment to share how Canvas users can have their preferred name represented.

1. Go to Canvas.

2. Click on “Account.”

3. Click on “Profile.”

4. Click on “Edit Profile.”

5. Enter the name that you would like to appear on Canvas.

6. Click “Save Profile.”

As always, please let us know if you have any questions!

 

 

 

Digital Teaching Tools

Earlier this summer, the CIC staff (Kimberlee Gillis-Bridges, Jacki Fiscus, and Ann Shivers-McNair) attended the Digital Humanities Summer Institute in Victoria, B.C. (thanks to the UW Simpson Center for sponsoring us!). We came back with lots of ideas and resources that we’re excited to share with you, including a bevy of digital teaching tools for you to consider as the summer winds down and we’re turning our thoughts to the fall. They’re categorized by what you could do with them, but many of these tools exceed their categories, so we encourage you to explore and invent new possibilities (and then share them with us!).

Digital Publishing: Curation and Storytelling

A screenshot from the Scalar trailer video that demonstrates non-linear composing process.

A demonstration of Scalar’s non-linear composing capabilities.

  • Scalar – Beloved of the digital humanities, Scalar is “a free, open source authoring and publishing platform that’s designed to make it easy for authors to write long-form, born-digital scholarship online. Scalar enables users to assemble media from multiple sources and juxtapose them with their own writing in a variety of ways, with minimal technical expertise required” (Overview).
  • Omeka – Like Scalar, Omeka is a publishing platform. Think of it as a virtual museum, where individual items belong to collections and can be placed within exhibits that tell stories around particular themes. Students can team up on collection and curation, but tell individual stories about the items in their own exhibits.
  • The Cookbook: How to Create Your Own Digital Story – As the name suggests, this is a set of detailed recipes for digital storytelling (rather than a platform for digital storytelling). Especially helpful is the recipe for digital storyboarding, which could be a great way to support students’ invention and drafting process.
  • Storify – You may be familiar with Storify as a tool for creating stories from Twitter hashtags, but its story-gathering and storytelling capabilities also include news and blogging. Storify is easy to use and doesn’t require much expertise.

Data Visualization

A screen shot from Carnegie Mellon's guide to information visualization tools. A man stands with his arms stretched out above his head, reaching toward a series of maps, charts, and other visualizations.

From Carnegie Mellon’s useful guide.

  • Palladio – This is a powerful tool for visualizing historical data in a variety ways: geographic maps, lists, and grids. While we tend to think of visualization tools in terms of representing our analyzed data sets (at the end of the process), visualization tools can also help students invent and analyze early in the process.
  • Poemage – This tool visualizes the sonic topology of poems: “We define sonic topology as the complex structures formed via the interaction of sonic patterns — words connected through some sonic or linguistic resemblance — across the space of the poem.” This could be great for modeling literary analysis.

For even more data visualization tools and a discussion of how to evaluate and use them, check out Carnegie Mellon’s helpful guide.

Text and Video Annotation

An annotation comment is being entered in a box on the Annotation Studio's interface; the annotation box is over a sample text that is being annotated.

An image from Annotation Studio’s site demonstrating the interface.

  • Annotation Studio – This digital text annotation tool has many potential uses not only for reading and annotating but also for composing. One of our colleagues at the DHSI used it to have her students collaboratively create a digital critical edition. Note: The tool is not in stasis, but the MIT team may not be as responsive as they may have been in past.
  • Hypo.the.is: Also a digital text annotation tool, Hypothesis was designed to “leverage annotation to enable sentence-level critique or note-taking on top of news, blogs, scientific articles, books, terms of service, ballot initiatives, legislation and more” (About). This could be an effective tool for teaching rhetorical analysis of public texts. Also: see below for a plug-in that allows students to aggregate their annotations.

Check out Teaching Media’s great list of video annotation tools, with detailed discussions of how to use them.

Facilitating Collaboration and Invention

A screenshot of SpiderScribe's mapping interface, with images, maps, and text items linked by lines and arrows.

SpiderScribe’s mapping interface.

  • SpiderScribe – This tool is for online mapping, brainstorming, and collaboration. It could support students’ in-process data visualizations and invention processes, as well as collaborative authoring.

See also Carnegie Mellon’s expertly curated list of collaboration tools, with discussions of affordances and applications.

Studying and Visualizing Twitter Activity

Archiving and Analyzing

A screenshot of a keyword search for

A sample keyword search and visualization from Tweetchup.

  • Tweetchup – offers analytics and visualizations
  • Hashtracking – offers analytics and reporting features
  • TAGS – archives tweets from a customizable search into a Google spreadsheet
  • Sentiment Viz – tracks the affect of a Twitter feed

 

Location-Based Mapping

An image of a map of the Pacific Northwest overlaid with trending hashtags based on location.

From Trendsmap

Also useful for any location-based mapping or visualizing: Geonames, a geographical names database.

Aggregation and Corpus Tools

A screenshot from Google Books Ngram Viewer, charting the occurrence of the phrases

Google Books Ngrams

  • Google Books Ngrams – Chart the occurrences of multiple phrases in the Google Books corpus, but also keep in mind that there are significant limitations to this tool that limit the kinds of questions we can answer and claims we can make.
  • Hypothesis Aggregator – “Hyopthes.is Aggregator makes it easy to assign a topic, rather than a reading, and ask students to find their own readings on the web, annotate them, and tag them with the course tag. Then Hypothes.is Aggregator can collect all the annotations with the class tag in one place, so students and instructors can see and follow-up on each other’s annotations. Similar activities can be done by a collaborative research group or in an unconference session.”

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Let us know what tools you’re using or interested in learning more about!

 

MLA Handbook 8th Edition: A Change in Focus of Teaching Citation

The 8th edition of the MLA handbook came out recently, and the edition is very different from the 7th edition that we know so well.  Although it appears that there is not a free online guide to the 8th edition just yet, you can order the new version and/or you can check out the Purdue OWL’s list of the major changes between the 7th edition and the 8th edition.  The Purdue OWL will be updating all of its resources by June 2016.

From looking at the Purdue OWL, along with this Pearson blog post, it seems like the biggest change between the 7th and 8th edition is the shift from a prescriptive approach for specific types of sources to providing a heuristic to use for any type of source.  According to MLA, the shift occurred because “Works are published today in a dizzying range of formats.”  The authors of MLA have stepped away from trying to name each type of source and providing a citation formula, and instead have suggested that authors use the information that they know about the source (author(s), title, version, publisher, publication date, location, etc.).  Upon gathering the necessary information, the 8th edition suggests that writers order source information consistently throughout the works cited/referenced page.

In fact, this shift away from prescriptive guidelines has been adopted by various text books before the 8th edition was released.  Writer/Designer: A Guide to Multimodal Projects (Arola et al, 2014), for instance, provides a comprehensive heuristic for students to make their citations rather than attempting to create a format for specific types of sources.

The Purdue OWL gives the following as an example of the difference between the 7th and 8th edition style guides:

Difference between 7th and 8th editions

In terms of pedagogy, (I think) it is supremely helpful that MLA has adopted this heuristic approach in its latest style guide. Many students see citation, particularly in the rigid forms we have traditionally mandated, as an arbitrary convention that must be done.  Given the nature of the 8th edition, and just to unpack this genre convention of citation, we can use this opportunity to ask students: Why do we cite our work?  For what purpose?  This can lead to a discussion about intellectual property, credibility of sources, and the audience of a text having access to its references.  Students can begin to consider: Who is my audience?  What does my audience need to know in this citation?  What genre am I writing in?  What are the affordances and expectations of that genre for citation representation? These types of questions could lead students to consider their citation practices with an attention to audience and genre considerations.  For example, a student might intend to write an academic blog and decide upon using hyperlinks within the text (just like I did here) rather than parenthetical citations. She might still put a works referenced note at the end of the blog entry if it was for an academic audience (just like Ann Shiver-McNair’s recent post for the Digital Rhetoric Collaborative).   This kind of attention to audience, genre, and the ideologies embedded within our citation systems will (I hope) be helpful for student learning.

If you have more information or would like to give your opinions about MLA’s most recent style guide, post to the comments.

By Jacki Fiscus

CoMotion Makerspace: How to Utilize UW’s Makerspace in Your Own Classes

On Monday, Kimberlee and I went to check out UW’s very own makerspace, which is called CoMotion Makerspace.  For those of you who are not aware, a makerspace is a collaborative space with a variety of creation tools that can be used for DIY projects.  Spaces like these have proliferated around the country, particularly in urban areas.  There are other makerspaces in Seattle like SODO Makerspace, Seattle ReCreative, or Metrix: CreateSpace.  And of course there are many shops on UW’s campus.  CoMotion Makerspace is different than the shops on campus because the goal of the space is to host as many fabrication tools as possible and to welcome users of all skill-level.  What I feel like makes CoMotion Makerspace such an intriguing space and pedagogical tool is its ability to foster cross-disciplinary project based learning here on campus.

CoMotion Makerspace opened its doors just last year, and it is located at Fluke Hall in Suite 215.  For those of in Padelford, that’s a 5 minute quick walk.  We encourage you to check out the space when you have time!  In case you decide to visit the space on your own, want to use the space for a project you’re working on, or you’d like your students to use the space on their own time this quarter, here are their Spring Quarter Drop-In Hours: Monday-Friday 12:30pm-8:30pm // Saturday 9-6pm // Sunday 12-6pm.  Closed for University Holidays (Memorial Day, May 30th).

Registered matriculated UW Seattle students, full-time UW faculty and staff (all campuses), part-time UW faculty and staff (all campuses) who work an average of at least 16h/week, and visiting scholars all have access to the space free of change (see their FAQ for more information on eligibility for other users).

To use the space, you must do a safety training, which almost ~1,100 people have done in the past year. The event calendar hosts information about the safety training.  Once you’re done with the training, you can then use the space during drop-in hours.  There will be someone on-hand to ask for help on various machines.

CoMotion Makerspace also has the potential of hosting events, like the think-a-thon that you see the aftermath of below:

But perhaps most exciting for us, CoMotion Makerspace can host your classes in future quarters, either weekly, bi-weekly, or for one/multi-time use.  Their availability is in the mornings (typically before 12.30), and there is a Catalyst request form for you to fill out.  There is a fee for classroom use, and if you plan to use fabrication equipment, CoMotion Makerspace staff must be present ($30/hr).  Email CoMotion Makerspace staff at mkspace0@uw.edu if you would like more information.

If you do decide to reserve this space as a classroom, you will have a teaching station with a computer, projector, and document camera.  Almost everything in the space is on wheels so you can configure and re-configure as appropriate for your classroom needs.  And of course, you will have access to all the equipment in the space. To list just a few things that might be of interest to you, they have laser cutters, industrial sewing machines, 3D printers, a circuit board mill.  It’s an adult playground.

Regardless of your experience or comfort level — or your students’ experience or comfort level — all are welcome to make and play in the space.  Perhaps what struck me most when we were touring the space is how much it inspired creativity and collaboration.  Some of us reading this blog (including me) sometimes struggle with stepping outside are comfort zone.  We’re experts in alphabetic writing projects, and it might be foreign to spend time in a space that incorporates so many other ways of meaning making.  I think this space welcomes us to interact with composing tools that we may or may not be familiar with, and (I hope) our experience in the space will broaden our understanding of what counts as composition, both in our classes and in our own work.

The equipment that CoMotion Makerspace has at its disposal is extensive, making the space valuable to various audiences: UW groups, classes, and individuals.

And to use the making equipment, you can bring your own materials or purchase from CoMotion Makerspace.

If you have any questions about the space, please feel free to leave them in the comments or contact me.  I have a lot of ideas for how EWP/IWP instructors might use the space for one-time use, sequence, or an entire class, so contact me if you’d like to talk more about that.  Feel free to leave your own comment with ideas of how you might use the space.  

By Jacki Fiscus

New CIC Assistant Director: Jacki Fiscus

Hello CIC instructors and teaching with technology fans!  My name is Jacki Fiscus, and I am the new CIC Assistant Director (AD).  I am very excited to be working with all of you!  I’ll use this first blog post as a way of introducing myself and reminding us (or telling newcomers for the first time) what my role is and how I can assist those interested.

For those of you that did not know, Ann completed her AD term last quarter and now is back to teaching (in the CIC — no surprise!), and my term will run for the next year.  (So yes, as many of you have already asked, I’m “the new Ann.”  I am honored to be following in her footsteps.)

To get in touch with me, feel free to email me (jfiscus@uw.edu) or find me on Twitter (@jackifiscus).

jacki.fiscus copy

A little about me: I’m a PhD student who focuses on english language studies and composition.  I am particularly interested in language ideologies, sociolinguistics, and multimodal composition.  In the last couple of years, I have taught English 108, 121, and 131, a lot of which were hosted in the CIC.  The CIC is my favorite place to teach on campus because I enjoy the way the space naturally decentralizes the classroom power dynamic, shifting the energy and focus of students onto one another.  The CIC is an excellent place to utilize technology productively while also playing with student-centered and activity-based pedagogy.  If you are at all interested in project-based learning, flipping the classroom, or group work more generally, I would love to brainstorm lesson plans or assignment sequences with you.  In particular, I have experience with guiding students through multimodal projects of their own choosing, so do contact me if you would like to give me insight into your best practices, swap stories, or brainstorm how to design a project that gives students a chance to respond to exigencies of their choosing.

For those of you who are regularly teaching in the CIC this quarter, know that I’m always on campus during your scheduled lab times.  Please call me or text me if you need my immediate assistance in your classroom.  Know that I can always come assist you with introducing new technology or trouble-shoot with you when technology malfunctions.  Most importantly, I am here to help you via doing observations, brainstorming ideas for your classes, working through any interesting classroom dynamics, or anything else you might need.  Email me if you would like to make an appointment to chat about all things CIC, teaching in general, or whatever you think I could help you with.

And for those of you that are not regularly scheduled in the CIC, remember that you can (and really should!) request a CIC lab for your class by emailing me.  Of course these labs are a great space to introduce portfolios, but I encourage everyone to try using a lab for another lesson as well, particularly one where you want students to interact in groups or with a certain technology.  I can also come to your classroom to help introduce a new technology to your students.  Please let me know if you have any questions.

Like Ann, I will be using this blog space to post about teaching with technology tips and general information.  Please use the comment box below if you have any special topics you would like to see addressed.

Scheduling Conferences with Canvas

Tired of using a piece of paper to have students sign up for conferences? Then it’s time to try the Scheduler function on Canvas. Here’s how:

  1. Log in to Canvas and click “Calendar” in the purple menu bar.

2. On the Calendar page, click the Scheduler tab on the upper right, and then click Create an appointment group.

3. In the Edit Appointment Group, under the Calendar menu, select your course.

Canvas Workshop

As you turn your thoughts to spring 2016, please join us for a workshop on using Canvas as a teaching tool on Friday, March 4, at 10:30 a.m. in MGH 082. Whether you’ve never used Canvas before or are looking to take your Canvas use to the next level, you’ll get answers and help from two experienced Canvas users, Kimberlee Gillis-Bridges and Ann Shivers-McNair. To accommodate a range of experience and comfort levels, we’ve organized the workshop in two parts. You’re welcome to attend either or both parts.

10:30 – 11:30  Introduction to Canvas Basics

If you’re new to Canvas and considering using it for the first time, this is for you! We’ll be covering the following essentials:

  • Navigating the Canvas interface
  • Editing your syllabus and syllabus description
  • Uploading and managing files
  • Creating assignments

11:30 – 12:20  Small group and one-on-one consultations

If you have a specific question about or a feature you want to learn on Canvas, this is for you! Ann and Kimberlee will be available to work with you one-on-one or in small groups (if a few people have the same question). Also, if you joined us for the first hour, you can stick around to find out more about other commonly used features on Canvas, like pages, discussions, groups, and other settings options.

Let us know if you have any questions, and we look forward to seeing you there!