Designing a new course: Gaming

My principal is really cool. I think she’s a visionary, to be honest. But better than that, she’s pragmatic. Her focus for our school for the next couple of years is on developing critical and creative thinking skills in our students. Her first step has been to introduce non-Board endorsed courses for Year 9 which centre on both critical and creative thinking. Teachers were asked to put forward ideas for a semester-long course (to be run twice a year) in an area they are personally passionate about or which they feel students would be genuinely interested by. The resulting courses are really exciting and year 8 had a big job trying to choose between them all! The courses that ‘got up’ are forensic science, marine and aquaculture studies, molecular gastronomy, product design, school magazine and gaming. The last course is the one I put forward. I wasn’t surprised that it was picked by the students and I imagine I’ll have a class heavily dominated by boys!

I’m NOT a gamer. I’ve never professed to be a gamer. On the contrary, I’ve always been quite vocal about my inability to enjoy playing video games for longer than 5 minutes. I do, however, have two sons and a husband who LOVE gaming and through their passion, I have found myself immersed in a world of games. I’m not an expert, but I can certainly appreciate video games. I see them as a very important text form that is almost entirely neglected in formal schooling, which is a shame considering how long gaming has been a part of popular culture. As a proponent of student-centred learning, I feel that my lack of expertise won’t be an issue at all. I’ll be the pedagogy expert – the one who creates the environment in which learning can occur and who creates learning experiences that challenge my students to think critically and creatively about video games and games culture.

Below is a quick overview of the course. It’s very rough… and this is where I would love some advice/suggestions/help. I’m after suggestions for a good book for students to read about video games and gaming culture as well as suggestions for places to take students on excursions to meet experts in the video game industry – reviewers, youtubers, game designers, professional gamers etc. I’ve just had the idea of maybe including a gaming competition of some sort at school – like a celebration of gaming event at school that my students plan and run, as well as a 24/7 game design competition as well. Any other suggestions? Maybe you know (or you are) an expert in video games and gaming culture who might wanna connect with my students?

Course title: Game On! (really lame title, needs to be changed – I was being lazy)

Brief Description: This is a course entirely about video games. Did you know that the video game industry is more popular and makes more money than the film industry? This tells us something about the emerging importance of gaming in our culture! This course will look at the history of video games, the language of video games and how video games can be used for social good. Students will be given the opportunity to research an area of interest relating to video games as well as spending time designing and creating their own video games.

Topic Areas:

English (analysis of games; writing research report)

Media (research how social and corporate institutions inform/influence video games)

Design (using Design Thinking process when designing game that addresses a social problem)

Multimedia (analysis of video games, designing/creating own video game)

ICT (using edmodo, YouTube, Diigo, GoogleDocs etc to collaborate, communicate, curate information)

Assessment Ideas:

Assessment for learning: ongoing feedback from teacher, peers and self using rubrics, checklists and the SOLO taxonomy

 

Assessment as learning: students will take control of their learning by setting goals, planning projects and reflecting on their learning and learning styles throughout this course

Assessment of learning: final products (filmed game reviews, research report and video game addressing a social problem) will be assessed by peers, outside experts and teacher using jointly constructed rubrics; 21st century skills (creative and critical thinking, collaboration and communication) will be assessed using the Punk Learning rubric

Next Monday and Tuesday, I am going to try to write some sort of loose program for the course – probably four projects over the two terms. I’m thinking two individual and two team projects. All products will be shared via our YouTube channel. The first semester gamers can compete with the second semester gamers for the most views of the channel, lol.

Would REALLY appreciate any ideas you have to make this course a success for my students πŸ™‚

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20 thoughts on “Designing a new course: Gaming

  1. Hi Bianca,

    Great initiative from your principal and “Congratulations” on ‘getting up’ your subject. Although the idea of new semester long courses for Year 9 & 10 has been around for a while, topics such as forensic science, marine and aquaculture studies, molecular gastronomy, product design, school magazine and gaming are quite new. The choice for students is significant and appear to be far more engaging that some current Board Developed options.
    .
    Questions…..
    Was there / will there be ‘time release’?
    Did teachers work collaboratively or independently to come up with the options for students?

    Greg.

    • Hi Greg πŸ™‚
      Yeah, we did get time release to design the courses – two days each. I have mine next week. Collaborating was an option but I think all went for individual – basically because it was only one person who could teach the course.
      Very excited for next year!

  2. Bianca,

    What an amazing opportunity! In regards to assessment maybe ask your students to design their own game. They have to think about the plot, characters, sound track, audience, purpose, twists. They then have to pitch their game to the ‘Play Station Board’ (maybe your principle or other staff members).

    Or get your students to do a spin off of the show ‘Good Game’ where they have to review games.

    Sounds incredibly fun though, your so privileged to have such an amazing principle.

    Sarah-Jane

    • Hi Sarah-Jane,
      We will definitely be doing some reviews ala Good Game and posting them to our YouTube channel. I’m currently working with year 8 as they design a game manual for an adaptation of a graphic novel – a project designed by my colleague that’s really been a hit!
      You’re right – my principal is awesome πŸ™‚

  3. Great idea for a course! For an end of course project, how about students organising and running an e-games day at the school and donating the money collected to charity (child’s play charity for example). I was at a school where a student did this off his own bat and it was a great success.

  4. There’s an episode of Good Game where the three presenters argue about their favourite decade for video gaming – it’s a good potted history and rather fun. The composer in my family is very much in love with video game music – he has whole CD’s of it in his car – and he’s also big on the contribution of other agents – voice actors and so on. We’re working on an article at the moment about games as related texts… but it’s still a bit unformed.

    • Hey Stewart,
      My passion for games comes from my passion for texts and meaning making – I think they are valid texts to study in English and very valid as related texts. Students just need to have the confidence and the metalanguage to discuss them critically. My son LOVES game music as well – his favourite is a composer who posts his music to YouTube. I will ensure my students focus on this aspect at some point.
      B πŸ™‚

  5. This sounds really exciting for you and your school. You also might want to use gaming magazines like Hyper to support this course.

  6. Hi Bianca,

    I LOVE this idea! I’ll have a think about the assessment but I would like to pitch a name.

    How about COD: S. (Call of Duty: School).

  7. How exciting to have such an opportunity to be creative with your own teaching and learning and provide opportunities for your students to be creative and develop critical thinking skills also. As a student I would find it difficult to choose between all of the courses on offer – what an amazing and inspiring choice. I’m not sure how expert your students are already with programming, but the online tool “Scratch” (http://scratch.mit.edu/) offers explicit tutorials with step by step instructions and examples of games and programs made by others of all ages. I checked this out earlier in the year the on the recommendation of another great blogger Judy O’Connell (http://judyoconnell.com/2013/06/05/creative-computing-give-scratch-a-go/) and found it to be quite a good introduction to programming using blocks.
    I wish you and your students success. Sounds like wonderfully fun learning.

  8. Excited to see the progress and learning that comes from this. About 10’years ago I used to do a media study that included games. A documentary that was useful then but may be a little dated now is “First Person Shooter” about a father dealing with the impact of gaming on his son’s life. Raised a lot of issues about addiction, social impact, and health concerns. We used for generating debates and writing on those larger issues. http://youtu.be/YwJlErJJxvc

    • Hey Miles,
      Thanks for the suggestion for the documentary – sounds perfect for an intro to the course, to really get the students thinking critically and debating. Would love any other tips you have for this type of course. It will very much be focused on critical literacy around the industry and the like as well as the creative aspect which is the creating and playing. Cheers.

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