The best way to be taught by way of play: A spectrum for lecturers

How can you teach through play?

We’ve already talked about it role of play in learning, and that’s an idea that I’m increasingly intrigued by. It’s also quite a difficult nut to crack.

What exactly is gaming? Can you let it happen or do you have to let it happen? What is the relationship between play and “flow”? And what does all this mean for formal and informal learning environments? Well, that depends on whether you see the role of play and self-direction in learning as necessary or as a waste of efficiency.

What students need to learn through play

Less restrictive

1. Nothing given

The little student does not receive any resources or support. They can do – or choose not to – do whatever they want.

2. Given time

At this stage, a student is limited only by some sort of time constraint. “Do whatever,” you might say to the student, “but do it within this time frame.”

3. leeway given

One step more restrictive than either “nothing” or a basic time constraint: At this level, the student is “placed” in a playful space – be it physical or digital. Beyond that immediate context – and the freedom to make mistakes and “fail forward” – it really is.

4. Given an opportunity to work together

In this phase, the students are only given the opportunity to work together, perhaps in a playful setting. While it may be limited in time, it is not necessary. Again, no other endorsement or framing is offered.

5. Given dynamic tools

At this level, creating play-based learning means providing students with dynamic tools to place in play-based spaces, with opportunities for collaboration. No “content” is provided at this level.

6. Given a subject

One level more “restrictive” than the five levels above, “Level Six” provides students with actual content for the first time: A topic.

At this level, students are given all of the above (well, except for #1), but are also offered a topic: gravity, variables, symbolism, war, hip-hop, etc. No other criteria or suggestions are offered. No testing will be done and as usual the above options in terms of time, rooms, collaboration and tools are optional. By giving students a specific topic, students still don’t have a “task” but a specific bite to begin with.

7. Given appealing models

Would you like to create playful learning, but not that learning is purely open-ended and based on curiosity? At this level one begins to apply actual “models” or proposals. (Of course, whether this improves or affects the quality of the students’ work and learning depends on it.) Regardless, the students have now added appealing examples of human thinking in their “learning space”: paintings, apps, novels, architecture, music, examples for math problem solving tool etc.

8. Given a challenge or goal

Let’s add one more twist and get a little more specific: give them a specific challenge or goal. examples? solve this problem. Make 10 shots in a row. Find a more efficient way to package an item. Such a “goal” or challenge should be relatively small, otherwise it could quickly become a large-scale project.

9. Given a process, learning model or cognitive framework

At this point, the learning process becomes much more limited. Students are presented with a process, sequence, framework, or other external method that serves as both a ‘support’ and a disadvantage to their own natural self-regulation.

10. Demand collaboration with little choice

In addition to the externally planned sequencing mentioned above, learners are now required to work collaboratively, with little choice as to who, for what purpose, and at what stage of the learning and/or production/design process. This is a far cry from the early stages of play-based learning, where students were simply given space, time, or ideas. Indeed, today’s teachers need specific collaboration with specific requirements and little choice – at least as far as the collaboration itself is concerned.

11. Subject to specific criteria

In addition to specifying the space, theme, models, challenges, and collaboration, the teacher (or expert) now also adds specific criteria to the task, whether it is simple (a due date), moderate (number of resources needed), or complex (specific criteria of a specific model to be created by the learner).

12. Given a flexible rubric

The teacher helps the learner to understand what might determine the “quality” of a task. This can be both supportive and restrictive, depending on the manner.

13. Received an order

It is the teacher’s task to decide on the content, form and criteria to create and/or distribute an “assignment” that is intended to lead to a specific understanding. The level of support/restriction is becoming increasingly important.

14. Given a detailed project with a detailed rubric

The students have the flexibility of a project here, but everything else is dictated and controlled from the outside.

15. Fully scripted assignments are provided, packaged as a student or project unit

This is one of the most restrictive approaches to learning (although that’s not necessarily “bad” – it’s just restrictive, which generally tends to reduce opportunities for learning through play.

Depending on your perspective, this will either be expertly planned by a trained teacher to produce creative and critical-thinking learners who are able to self-direct their own learning paths. Or it stifles the same areas and undermines learners’ empowerment, innovation, play, and beyond that, pedagogical skills.

Less restrictive

Both flow and play require a strong sense of will and intellectual security on the part of the user. independent learning, project based learning, mobile learningand other Learning in the 21st Century Forms all depend heavily on states of mind.

It also seems that gameplay precedes flow to some degree – and since every game is a powerful source of imagination, creativity and innovation, it makes sense that we understand where they come from and how they work.

To that end, I’ve put together the outline of a game spectrum above to give an idea of ​​how it compares to traditional learning. It moves down from less to more restrictive, with learners being given “nothing” – literally nothing – in a totally unrestricted environment, and given specific assignments with detailed rubrics in a more restrictive environment.

In the middle is a sort of “sweet spot” that simply provides learners with dynamic tools, opportunities for collaboration, and the ability to work and produce without critical judgment. Other components are also available, from responsive models and peer-to-peer collaboration to browsing tools and available audiences.

The end result would be a learning environment in which learners have the opportunity to experiment, interact, problem solve, fail, share, iterate and be self-directed. Essentially, the spectrum above creates a set of conditions that are more or less likely to lead to play through learning – and learning through play.

How to teach playfully: A spectrum

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