Sunday, 20 October 2013

Using Quandary in an FCE reading prep class

 I came across an online game called Quandary a few days ago via @dkapuler - someone very well worth following on twitter if you are into that kind of thing & have an interest in #EdTech (useful technology & tools that can be used in the classroom).

I quickly realised I should try it out with my young #FCE students, who enjoy a change of pace and revel in a challenge. They also relish the chance to compete with each other, but being brothers this can often be hard to achieve with a level playing field. Getting them to read quickly is a bit harder...

The premise of the game is that the player is the captain of a crew, who have just arrived at a far flung planet & begun to colonise it. The crew/settlers are diverse bunch with a predicatble range of opinions which the player needs to take into consideration as he/she moves through scenarios. Each scenario requires the player to read (can also listen to the information) about a particular situation, then tap into the community's opinions and make a decision about a course of action; then fine tune that decision with more information and take stock of a core of opinions selected from the larger group.

The player scores points along the way, according to how well they have categorised opinions or matched potential outcomes to predictions...and the outcomes do vary, depending on the choices made by the player along the way. I will ask my players to offer their own feedback on the game soon (hopefully they are exploring a few more levels for 'homework' this weekend).

I liked this activity because the game is not too wierd or requiring role play into dungeons & dragons territory. The premise is simple, the scenarios realistic and the moral dliemma's presented are everyday & believable: the outcomes are not judgements on the player's character either, more a hint that they did not take heed of the right opinions or make such smart decisions, given the information available.The information is just heavy & involved enough, and the range of opinions given requires re-reading & ranking, sifting for nuance & a setting aside of personal bias.

Once familiar with the chain of events as a scenario unfolds, my lads quickly became independent and jumped into the next situation. We have 2 PCs in the classroom so they could do this real time against each other both in terms of time taken & points accumulated (also found they were not on the points leaderboard at the end), which dampened the triumphalism (Yes, there's more than just you two in this mire!) while I could keep track of where they were & ask a few questions of my own along the way.

I will be coming back to the next time we have a 'too tired to think' evening. Games in class? For me, gamification is not a dirty word if used well - hoping it will encourage my learners to engage with more reading out of class. Their moral compasses are pretty sound, but never hurts to give them a polish every now & again!