Process

Standard – Understand processes such as change, design, development, and learning.

Context

EDTEC 670: Exploratory Learning Through Simulation and Games taught by Dr. Bernie Dodge, gave me the opportunity to apply the ADDIE (Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation) process to game design. The artifact to demonstrate the process standard is the my i-Migrate simulation. i-Migrate, built in the Star Logo TNG platform, allows middle school students to explore multiple variables that impact human migration and see first hand how small changes in living conditions can bring about large changes in migration. As the Director of Immigration for the country of Zeenofobeah it is your goal to craft an immigration policy that meets the quotas set by your government when faced with a variety of challenges.

Outcomes

The outcomes for the i-migrate simulation centered on four essential questions:

  1. What makes some activities interesting or fun?
  2. How can we maximize enjoyment without sacrificing instructional quality?
  3. How do we represent reality in a simulation?
  4. How do we balance simplicity, efficiency, and playability against realism, richness and complexity?

Demonstrating The Processes Standard

The process Dr. Dodge promoted using during the creation of our e-game was as follows:

  • Content Analysis Brainstorming
  • Incubation
  • Chunking
  • Aligning
  • Drafting
  • Additional Incubation
  • Testing
  • Refining

In the creation of i-migrate the above process and the ADDIE process played out as follows:

It started with a student’s question, “What causes entire groups of people to move?” We were in the midst of exploring the immigrant experience in America when Maya gave me the spark. I had been thinking about doing something related to immigration for my e-game, but had been looking at the issue from a first person perspective rather than patterns of immigration. Creating a simulation that allowed students to manipulate push and pull factors of immigration made some sense, in addition to the fact that there was not a current product that addressed the content currently on the market.

After exploring the Star Logo TNG platform it seemed that the content and the platform would be a match. After defining the initial variables of economic, political, social, and environmental push and pull factors and focusing them a bit via a chat with Dr. Dodge, it was time to dig into Star Logo.

Version 1

The first version of i-Migrate was very simple. The challenge at this point was creating procedures that actually ran. I looked closely at the Osmosis simulation that came with Star Logo TNG and based some of the design for i-Migrate from it. Version 1 featured the Zeenofobeans and Outsiders roaming freely on both sides of the boarder with the Outsiders that collided with the Zeenofobeans were “deported” back to a random spot on their side. Outsiders that made it to the Department of Immigration were changed to the color red so they could be counted as Zeenofobeans. At this point the only variable that could be controlled was pull factor of Racial Tolerance. The data that was being reported was limited to the number of Zeenofobeans and Outsiders.

Version 2 –

Based on user testing from two grade eight students the following changes were made:

  • The wall dividing the two countries was constructed using a random generation of blocks. The eventual goal was to be able to use the Immigration Policy Slider to determine the size of the gateways in the wall. At this point the procedure did not work correctly.
  • A range of movement was applied to both Zeenofobeans and Outsiders to give a better sense of country.
  • Procedures called Health and Motivation were added to the Outsiders to better simulate the push factors for them.
  • The Outsiders that successfully immigrated had their breed changed so that they conformed to the range of movement restrictions.
  • Outsiders that were deported had their color changed to gray and were counted and reported as deported.
  • A line graph of the populations of the two countries was added.

Version 3

Based on another round of user testing from BJ Afeman and the same two eighth grade students the following changes were made:

  • Walls were constructed using one block that varied in length which was controlled by the Immigration Policy Slider.
  • Bug was fixed in the natural increase procedure so that the number of Outsiders created did not crash the game.
  • Speech bubbles were added when an agent is deported.

Lessons Learned

First, John Keller’s ARCS model serves as a solid framework for analyzing motivational issues surrounding i-Migrate and other learning objects.

Factors Promoting Motivation
Keller’s Theory Elements in i-Migrate
Attention Since the entire Star Logo TNG interface is unique to most middle school students, this novelty should easily engage their attention. Furthermore the three dimensional graphics and use of characters from Nintendo’s Mario series will also grab the player’s attention.
Relevance As a stand-alone i-Migrate demonstrates present worth in terms of it’s relevance to manipulating push and pull factors. However when coupled with the scenario cards and its use within a unit on immigration it shows its true relevance. With accompanying instruction, the teacher can fully address the ideas of “Why are we doing this?”, future usefulness and needs matching.
Confidence i-Migrate allows users to gain confidence by controlling the agents via the sliders. Additionally i-Migrate allows the player to experiment with the controls and game play without negative consequences. There is no way to die or lose in the game.
Satisfaction The satisfaction in playing i-Migrate comes in several ways. First, there will be the tangible satisfaction of successfully completing the scenario cards. Second, there is entertainment value in manipulating the sliders and watching the agents reactions. Finally, it is satisfying and motivating to use a new tool when learning. Moreover, by using the simulation students will for the long term have a more concrete understanding of how push and pull factors influence immigration.

Second, Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow theory is relevant well beyond the scope of EDTEC670. This theory in particular has been an intellectual and instructional catalyst for me a middle school teacher. I have found myself reflecting on this theory frequently when designing lesson plans and learning objects for my students. Finding the point at which the student will be challenged enough so that they remain engaged, but not so challenged that they become frustrated has become a constant goal of mine in developing instruction.

Finally, usability testing can make a big difference in the success of projects that depend on motivation. It was only through the two rounds of usability testing that some issues were identified and addressed only through a ”fresh set of eyes” looking at the product. The value of usability testing is important to the creation of effective learning objects.

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