In the middle of a moment of the year when I felt I was reaching my limit with innovation, shifting and creating exciting and meaningul moments full of productive learning, with a blank mind hoping for a jump in time that would take me to holidays, I decided to push myself a little further and try two novel platforms: the scavenger hunt Goose Chase and the social platform Flipgrid.
GooseChase is a scavenger hunt in which the teacher can create missions, assign points for each mission and set a time limit to finish with all of them. The students can navigate through the different missions, not necessarily in order. I decided to give it a try after playing it at LEC2017 in Silvia Tolisano´s Workshop about Documenting4learning. The topic was SEXUALITY and the students were asked to explore different aspects: gender stereotypes, gender violence, sexual consent, music and machism, etc. I organized the missions really as little assignments and to accomplish they can submit either a short text, a photo or a video.
I set up 5 teams.
When launching the game, many students began to complain. Too complicated, too many restrictions, etc. Adolescents complaining about everything, as expected. I noticed however, that they were right in many things, though. Mostly because of my zero experience in setting up such a game , and partly because of some limitations of the platform itself.
Limitations and problems that came up:
- The assignments were too difficult to be solved in 300 words of text or just one photo.
- The time to play was in the end too short. I expected them to get involved at home, but they only used the time we have in school, 2 hours, and it was not enough. (more about this below)
- I did not consider a “warm up” assignment to get them hooked in, something funny. It was just from the beginning too academical and probably not very appealing. The gamification factor seemed an artificial frame for normal school assignments I could have delivered via google-classroom.
- I didn´t know how to manage with the flipgrids, I should have asked that to accomplish the assignment, they have to submit the link to the video. I didn´t, so I had to go to the flipgrid to check for accomplishment of the mission, but the goosechase platform did not recognize the points.
General adverse circumstances: the kids don´t have their own device. They are unwilling to download an app to their personal cell phones. Most of them connect only via wifi (not available for students at our school yet), and those who have a 4G plan or so, do not want to have so many data traffic for school stuff, they prefer to save it for their personal use (as parents limit the bills!). Many have low budget cell phones, full with games and little storage place for additional apps.
So, the activity is limited only to school hours. Having only two weekly hours split on to different days…..the experience is not so engaging or exciting. I think how wonderful it would be to have a whole morning or a whole day dedicated to such an activity. Impossible in our system.
Perhaps, if next year or the following, the students at Goethe Schule bring their own devices, the continuity and engagement beyond school hours will be more realistic. But I still have my doubts.
Improvements that would be nice to see on the platform:
- To be able to upload photos and videos recorded on a device, and not instant recording or pictures. So, kids could take many pictures, setup a collage and submit a collage for a mission (ej: 5 images that represent machism in our everyday life)
- To make the free version (at leat a little bit!) more flexible!
- To have a little more than 300 words submission for text.
- I was not able to change the stop time of the game. I needed more time and didn´t manage to do that. Perhaps I just didn´t find out how.
Despite all the obstacles, when we saw the submissions in class altogether, it didn´t look so bad. We had autonomous work on the student´s side, they were able to leave the classroom, record, discuss or watch videos at the corner of the school they felt more comfortable, it was a nice way to work. Watching the videos, the textes, the pictures, the flipgrids,generated a lot of debate and it was super-interesting to work -not on material you can find on the web-but on the resources the same students created.
I still believe GooseChase is a great idea. I will definitely give it a try next year, but plan it carefully, make sure to have simple missions: instead of one complicated, many simple. Have some group-buillding activities, fun, observation challenges. Give more time and find the way that they think about the topic beyond school walls.