Monthly Archives: May 2013
There has been a great deal of debate among techies lately concerning which format is the better choice for website developers: Adobe Flash or HTML5. In a nutshell, Adobe Flash allows for a lot more animated transitions but requires a lot of storage space and isn’t compatible with most tablet and smart devices without a converter. HTML5 however, is very compatible with devices but lacks the animation capability of Adobe Flash. Fortunately for students and faculty at my Middle School, we’ve just installed a “guest” server and have recently become a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) School. Until this past February, the only devices students had access to in class were school MacBooks and eMacs located in computer labs or shared laptop carts.
Beginning last summer and continuing during the school year, I spent a great deal of time creating my interactive websites (flipsideinteractive.com and giftedcelestia.com) using blank Adobe Flash templates at wix.com . I initially chose the Flash format because I liked the “pop” and fun the flash animations added to the websites while also enhancing student engagement in the gamification process. However, now that 85% of my students are bringing in their own smart devices with them to class, I was faced with the somewhat difficult decision regarding the future of my interactive sites: Do I keep the Adobe Flash sites that I’d already invested so many hours developing and synchronizing with my curriculum, or should I start creating new sites from scratch in the HTML5 format so they could be more easily accessed at school or at home on a myriad of devices? Here are a few reasons why I decided to convert to HTML5:
1) Students can access HTML5 sites from any device, anywhere (no excuses).
2) All of the images I’d previously uploaded and used on the Flash sites are still accessible through my Wix account for use with any HTML5 template.
3) My school district is moving away from their previously mandated curriculum and into the national Common Core State Standards next year, so I’ll have to align the sites with a new curriculum and new resources next year anyway.
4) Even though I’d purchased domain names for the Flash sites, I can transfer them with very little effort to my new HTML5 sites.
5) Students can still take screen shots on their mobile devices and submit them as evidence of mastery just as they did with the Adobe Flash sites.
I decided to try my hand at the HTML5 template for my last Language Arts unit of the year (mythology/fairy tales/folktales), so you’ll notice that the new, HTML5 version of “Flipside” is currently the active site linked to flipsideinteractive.com. I’ve also taken advantage of feedback I’ve received from students, colleagues and friends and already changed a few things:
~ New look to the Arcade
~ New, non-animated icons to identify the Training Hut, Arcade, Item Shop, etc.
~ Some areas have limited access and are under construction
~ Since the Voki’s that give directions in the Item Shop, Training Hut, and Arcade require Flash I had to come up with a “work around” – I recorded them from the Voki website using a screen recorder (Screencast-O-matic) and uploaded them to YouTube. Now I can still share them using the video player on HTML5 website template.
~ The music used by the HTML5 Wix template uses Sound Cloud and I’m still learning how to comfortably adapt that element into the site, so at the time of this post, there are no sound effects on the new site.
I’ll be updating my blog during the summer and am hoping to be able to find time to record some screen casts of my HTML5 site development. As always, if you have any specific questions or feedback, feel free to contact me or leave a comment here.
Now that the first year of implementing my “gamified” classes is coming to a close, there are a few reflections and suggestions I’d like to make for anyone considering “gamifying” their classes.
First, remember that this concept is new and many students, parents, and administrators will not understand the concept. Don’t try to educate them all at once. Just as you likely took your time learning about this approach, give them information a little at a time – scaffold it just as you would any other lesson. I made the mistake of moving too fast and, although they were all very excited and enthusiastic, there was a lot of confusion and misunderstanding in the beginning. The elements of game design are very useful when planning to integrate gamification into your classroom. I actually invited my students’ parents to come in on a pre-determined day and observe first hand how it all worked (the time was limited to one class period, they could only observe during their child’s class, and would have to leave at the end of class). It was a wonderful success! Not only were they able to see it in action, they also observed how their child interacted and how the instruction fit into the model.
Here is the Gamification Design Framework developed by Professor Kevin Werbach which he presents as part of the (free) online Gamification Coursera MOOC (which I recently completed and I highly recommend):
- Define business objectives. Why are you gamifying? How do you hope to benefit your business/class, or achieve some other goal such as motivating people to change their behavior? As you state your objectives, emphasize the end goal or goals of your gamified design rather than detailing the means through which you’ll achieve this goal. Basically, if your gamified system does what you intend, what specific positive results will it generate for your organization?
- Delineate target behaviors. What do you want your players to do? And what are the metrics that will allow you to measure them? These behaviors should promote your business objectives, although the relationship may be indirect. For example, a business goal might be to increase sales, but the target behavior could be for visitors to spend more time on your website. As you describe the behaviors, be sure to explain how they will help your system achieve its objectives. The metrics should in some fashion provide feedback to the players, letting them know when they are successfully engaging in the intended behaviors.
- Describe your players. Who are the people who will be participating in your gamified activity? What is their relationship to you? And what are they like? You can describe your players using demographics (such as age and gender), psychographics (such as their values and personalities), Bartle’s player types, or some other framework. You should show that you understand what sorts of game elements and other structures are likely to be effective for this population. For example, you might discuss whether a more competitive or cooperative system would be better for this player community.
- Devise your activity loops. Explore in greater detail how you will motivate your players using engagement and progression loops. First, describe the kinds of feedback your system will offer the players to encourage further action, and explain how this feedback will work to motivate the players. (Remember: rewards are only one kind of feedback.) Second, how if at all will players progress in your system? This includes how the system will get new players engaged, and how it will remain interesting for more experienced players.
- Don’t forget the fun. Although more abstract than some of the other elements, ensuring that your gamified system is fun remains as important as the other aspects. In order to fully explore this aspect of the design process, consider how your game would function without any extrinsic rewards. Would you say it was fun? Identify which aspects of the game could continue to motivate players to participate even without rewards.
- Deploy the appropriate tools. By this point, you’ve probably identified several of the game elements and other specifics of your gamified system. If you haven’t already, you should explain in detail what your system would look like. What are some of the game elements involved and what will the experience be like for the players? What specific choices would you make in deploying your system? For example, you might discuss whether the gamified system is to be experienced primarily on personal computers, mobile devices, or some other platform. You might also describe what feedback, rewards, and other reinforcements the players could receive. Finally, think about whether you’ve tied your decisions back to the other five steps in the process, especially the business objectives.