Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Egyptian Game Designer as Guest Speaker

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Reading Time: 3 minutes

Today, I invited a guest speaker into my educational game design module. She’s (co?)-founder of a company that designs educational games in Egypt. They created a board game called “Baladna” (our country) in 2013, and then revised it and are rolling out a new, improved version these days.

It was an inspiring class, and she’s an inspiring speaker.

My main goals for inviting the speaker were:

1. Show students that someone right here in Egypt has designed an educational game. Last semester some people finished the class feeling they wanted to become educational game designers (rats, I forgot to invite her to this class!) and I wanted them to meet one such person;

2. Give students an inside look into what it entails to design an educational game

3. Show students the process of moving from the first to the second version of the game (this is huge because the first game looks visually beautiful but emphasizes learning by memorization whereas the new game gives students room to practice different skills, develop critical thinking, discuss their opinions and do fun things like sing)

4. Have students play the two games and compare them in a group reflection.

5. Learn from today’s class and transfer that learning to their own game designs

Talking to my guest speaker y/day to plan for class, I suggested we split students into two groups, playing the different versions of the game, and then switch, and have students play the other game, then discuss. We did this after a brief video introducing the game (see below; it’s partly in Arabic and partly in English.

Everything I hoped for today happened, thankfully 🙂 But some of the valuable unexpected learning that occurred today included:

  • Students compared the manuals for the two games; one a 4-page all-text manual; the other one visual slide. This will come in handy when students write instructions for their own games and think about how to make them more appealing and clear at the same time
  • Students had all sorts of useful suggestions for improving the game – and the speaker invited their critique and emphasized that continual improvement was key – even though they were about to launch the second version of the game, they were already thinking about the third version). This is great because I want my students to “not stop at their first idea” (as my colleague told them last semester) and keep thinking of how to make their game better; when time is tight in my classes, I try to reward students for reflecting on how they might make it better (kind of like my PhD – the conclusion chapter where I talk about all I don’t like about what I did and how I would have done it differently and what I want to do next…)
  • There were discussions related to audience, etc.
  • The speaker talked about her collaboration with Nahdet el Mahrousa (an NGO – I  served on their board a few years ago) – and I liked this aspect of it. She talked about how they were not educational or content experts so they partnered with people who could help them with that. Always important to learn what your limitations are and how to overcome them – collaboration is often faster and easier than learning from scratch on your own
  • The speaker talked about their crowdfunding campaign which I think is cool because it gives students ideas for how to get capital to do things like this
  • The speaker talked about how she started working in the corporate world and eventually started her own business. Students, I think, benefit from learning about the career journeys of others…

I gotta go now – just waned to record this 🙂  I hope I read about the impact of this guest lecture in students’ reflections on their own game design at end of semester.

2 Comments

  1. Like the idea of the game as an evolving process. Writing, composing music and other creative fields “grow” by adapting in an intelligent way. Leading your own learning by testing and reflecting avoids that stopping at one idea that confines so many of us. The nerve and willingness to test your own ideas and change them as necessary is a skill I’d not thought of before this posting so thanks Maha and thanks to the game building team for the insight.

  2. Love this session Maha! Brilliant way to explore the iterative nature of learning and game design – and what an immersive way to do both 😀 Sandra

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