Three days in conference has yielded much… but I am reminded yet again…that the foundational choices and decisions we make to engage our students must begin and end with clear intent.
The single most commonly articulated point: MAKE CERTAIN YOUR OBJECTIVES ARE CLEAR. If we begin with this in preparation, selection of activity, debriefing, and assessment you will find success in achieving learning in the room.
Drawing a clear line from objectives to execution and assessment is the challenge and the lifeline in playing with games and simulations. As Amanda Rosen and I consistently commented throughout the days in conference, it isn’t enough to select teaching tools/media/games that emphasize a topic…
The lesson is the same for us as it is for our students…. identify a clearly articulated thesis/argument. With this in mind the selection of your activity will highlight the key dynamics or reinforce the worldview you seek to elevate rather than rummaging around for impressions and opinions about an issue.
Intent is everything.
For example: Daniel Beers from Knox College presented his work in real-time simulation. He ran a simulation about the Haitian earthquake, and certainly this is a wonderful topic…but we must ask ourselves about the purpose. What did Beers hope to convey to his students through that topic?
Beers’ purpose was to highlight the dynamics and challenges of internally displaced persons under crisis and to humanize the devastation through the simulation.
Beers’ simulation was well-tailored and clear-eyed in execution…. the result of a clearly articulated objective at the outset.
2 Replies to “Purpose and Intent”
Thanks for this interesting reflections and I am looking forward hearing about your experiences.
I just discovered a similarity between your approach and Problem-Based Learning as we use it in Maastricht that I was never aware of (and that in my excitement I wanted to share with you):
in our PBL set-up students are supposed to prepare in self-study (6-7 hours ideally) and then share and reflect on their findings in the group with one faculty member in order to deepen understanding for concepts etc. We normally assign readings for the self-study of students, but lately I also often throw short videos or other materials in the mix. Just when reading your post, it began to dawn on me that this goes in the same direction – to let students work through the materials outside the classroom and in their own pace, but then use the contact hours to compare their gained knowledge, discuss problems and challenges and answer remaining questions.
Two questions remain that I am still struggling with in designing this approach and where I would be interested to hear about your experience:
1. (Under what conditions) do you provide the links for students, assign specific online lectures (or readings in the traditional sense), or (when) does it make sense to just set the topic but let students search for the materials that they want to use themselves? For now I try to mix the two approaches – more guidance for less experienced students, less guidance for experienced ones (although then I discovered that it is really important to talk about how they selected sources and if/how they assessed their appropriateness/relevance).
2. When does it become too much of stimulus and outside-the-classroom activity? I sometimes wonder if I am not overwhelming students with articles to read, videos to watch, discussion fora etc – did you ever have the impression that there was too much activity going on?
again thanks for providing the trigger of me grasping the underlying dynamics between flipped classroom and our PBL system;
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