Over the past 24 hours, I have had an experience that has been really uplifting, reaffirming, and set me on a course that I think I should have been on a lot sooner.
First, some background: during this summer break I have been throwing myself into the design and development of a simplified pen-and-paper Roleplaying Game that is to be used as a learning and behaviour management system for year 7 and 8 English classes.
I’ve posted on here before about gamification in education (see the category in the sidebar for my few posts on the topic) but in truth, I’ve been a lifelong gamer who has felt that games had been a much maligned enterprise in society. As I became more and more aware of the growing body of educational and psychological research on the benefits of games, I had this nagging voice in my head that told me I should be returning to my nerdy roots and bringing what I know and love into the classroom.
So over December/January I got to work, and the draft was coming along nicely. As I worked, I was casually searching the internet for images that students could use to represent their characters, or that I could use for people, places or events. With such a wealth of resources on the internet I quickly realised that it was easy to be paralysed by choice, and also that it’s hard to know which sites contain really inspiring, useful images, and which are just galleries of someone’s napkin doodles.
So I hit upon an idea. I would ask the internet for help. More specifically, I would reach of to Reddit and Imgur, two sites that are awash with people interested in games, art, stories and cool images.
I posted a graphic message on imgur, and linked to it on Reddit. The response was overwhelming. The post reached the reddit front page in less than an hour (which I’m told is quite an achievement) and as you can see, the responses on both sites included lot sof people sharing their resources, links, suggestions, and the odd condescending comment or two. I also received over 150 emails from people sharing files and folders, links, etc.
I posted thank you messages on both Imgur and Reddit, which have yet to garner quite as much attention as the original post, but at least allowed me to express my thanks to the hundreds of people who helped me out.
As for setting me on a course that I think… really, I KNOW… I should have been on a lot sooner.
In undertaking my Masters of Educational Psychology, I have been working through ideas for my research project and dissertation, and always in the back of my mind has been the desire to pick a topic that I could expand into a Ph.D.
Gamification, and the effects of roleplaying games in class, are my topic. It’s what my topic should have always been, and just the thought of it makes my heart and mind sing. This area is developed, but growing, and there is so much to explore – the effects on creative thinking and problem solving, the effect on positive self-image and resilience, the benefits to literacy skills and interest in literature. There are dozens of papers and probably a couple of books waiting to be written under those titles.
So… here goes…