Teaching Naked: Game-Based Assessment Design

The first three chapters of Teaching Naked look at global competition, social proximity, and games and customization in an attempt to show the need for higher education to match the technological endeavors being supported by others.  Some of the most salient points made by Jose Bowen (2012) in favour of online learning include 29.3% of college students taking at least one online and students are willing to go into debt for this convenience of online learning (3 and 13). To continue, he explains that “as will traditional classroom instruction, the quality of online courses is uneven, but, at its best, interactive  technology provides not only content, but practical and individual feedback that can be difficult to administer in a typical classroom environment” (5), which supports one of the many advantages of online learning. He then argues that classrooms need to be adjusted to emphasize content less and apply the material to new contexts more (21). This adjustment has begun in certain contexts; for example, Telehealth and Assisted Learning modules (CETAL, 2016), but needs more extensive acceptance. The reality is that the digital age has made time for reflection and interaction suffer and the objective of higher-education should be to reclaim this (27); as a result, students expect learning to be instantaneous and lack the patience it takes to explore the depths of learning. The idea of customizing almost everything in the world has begun to migrate into education. Higher education, as Bowen states, has “shifted its focus from the professor to the students, and from knowledge given to knowledge created” (51). One of his strongest supporting arguments of digital learning is that students have more control over what they learn, and how they learn it, with the teacher as facilitator, not expert. We are bound to see an evolution in education towards collaboration and connectedness.

As an administrator, I encourage teachers to see technology as an effective teaching tool for English language learners, while at the same time demonstrating that the boundaries of this can be overcome. Bowen (2012) referenced a point made by others that “teachers have been asked for years to connect with different auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learners in their classroom, but they are rarely able to do it well (Kolb and Kolb, 2005, Lachenmayer, 1997, 53) and I believe that this can more easily be achieved using computers and technology. My mind began running through all the potential opportunities for learning outside the boundaries of the classroom, through Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) and Technology-Enhanced Language Learning (TELL) that I could implement in the school I currently work for to encourage both application of learning and time for reflection. The frustrating reality of this is that as much as I can see opportunity, it is overshadowed by boundaries from the institution, the teachers, and the students.

                Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) has played an important role in education since the 1960s. The benefits of CALL include experiential learning, motivation, enhanced student achievement, authentic materials for study, greater interaction, individualization, independence from a single source of information, and global understanding (Lee). CALL activities signify an interruption from daily classroom routines and allow learners to work/reflect at their own pace.  By integrating learning content and objectives into both online and face-to-face modes teachers can expose learners to the culture of real-world communication, adding socio-linguistic authenticity to pedagogic classroom materials. Through the use of the internet, teachers can more effectively promote co-operative learning, incorporate various learning styles/strategies, use customizable and game-based course design offering limitless possibilities of customization (Bowen, 63), and enable students to become self-directed learners. More specifically, an English for Academic Purposes (EAP) course can be an intellectual site of inquiry that helps understand and refine not just what language to use (competence), but also how and when to produce it (performance) to gain membership into their specific discourse communities (Chau and Lee, 2014). However, to accompany the noted benefits of integrating technology and using it as a means to improve the student experience are barriers, which include financing, the availability of hardware and software, lack of technological knowledge by students and staff, and the acceptance of change by institutions (Lee).

While many language educators hesitate to introduce new technologies into their curriculum, the learning opportunities afforded by blended learning are simply too great to ignore. Administrators can address this shift by providing students with access to new technology via classroom computers, class-sets of tablets, smartboards, projectors, and computer labs. Teachers can also utilize student smartphones, social media, and applications in their lesson planning and homework. Class blogs, Facebook pages, Skype partners, Twitter, and LMS like Moodle (Bowen 34-42) are just some of the ways teachers can create online learning communities, self-study opportunities, and reflective possibilities for their students. I intend to develop professional development seminars for teachers in in the area of game-based assessment design. Game-based learning and assessment is more than just selecting the right game for a particular classroom. It's about designing a meaningful learning experience for students, and realizing that assessment happens around a game more often than it happens inside the game (Rufo Tepper, (2015). I want to use technology to demonstrate to teachers in general English, EAP, and college level classes how to provide authentic, useful assessment tasks for students that also use technology. An example of this is a menu of learning activities suggested as a student engagement technique by Elizabeth Barkley in her handbook for college faculty (2010, 47). By continuously adapting these techniques, educators can prepare learners for success in an ever-changing era of fast, information-rich communication.

Barkley, E. F. (2010). Student Engagement Techniques: A Handbook for College Faculty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Bowen, J.A. (2012). Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

CETAL (February 26, 2016). An overview: Introducing Telecare and Telehealth E learning Course https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/overview-introducing-telecare-telehealth-e-learning

Chau, Juliana and Alfred Lee, (2014). Technology-enhanced Language Learning (TeLL): An Update and a Principled Framework for English for Academic Purposes (EAP) Courses. Canadian Journal of  Learning and Technology. 40(1). http://www.cjlt.ca/index.php/cjlt/article/view/799/389

Lee, Kuang-wu (December 2000). English Teachers' Barriers to the Use of Computer-Assisted Language Learning. The Internet TESL Journal, VI(12). http://iteslj.org/Articles/Lee-CALLbarriers.html

Rufo Tepper, Rebecca (June 17, 2015). Using Games for Assessment. Game-Based Learning. Edutopia http://www.edutopia.org/blog/using-games-for-assessment-rebecca-rufo-tepper


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