Games, Web Workshops and Alignment

This last week, we spent some time watching this excellent TED talk by game designer Jane McGonigal:

TED: Gaming Can Make a Better World

Her stated goal is to make it “as easy to save the world in real life” as it is in games,” and her talk was super interesting. I’ve had her audiobook, Reality is Broken, sitting on my computer for about a month now, waiting for a good listen, and I did actually give SuperBetter a try when recovering from an illness over the last 6 months.

Aside from the actual content of her talk (and some interesting discussion it prompted related to the idea of transfer), we used her TED talk as a part of a larger experiment.  We looked at her talk as if it was a webinar or remotely-conducted workshop, and each filled out an evaluation form after viewing it.

We also got together in groups to sort out the questions that had been on the evaluation — this stimulated some good discussion as well as some thoughtfulness about which questions were even useful to ask vs. sort-of-superfluous.

One thing that really struck me was how these questions made me consider the previous week’s reading on alignment between what students are learning and what is actually being measured.  For example, does it matter if we measure how many people noticed the speaker’s footwear if we really care about the ideas in the presentation?  Although this may seem like somewhat of a no-brainer, being walked through an experience like this really made me wonder how many times even quick survey assessments of learning are off-kilter in what they are measuring.  I feel like that in itself will make me far more deliberate in how I design surveys, assignments (and how I complete them, too!) as I move forward into my career.

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