Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 12 seconds

Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

It’s work, it’s a game… It’s #TvsZ


Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 12 seconds

It was kind of (but not really) funny trying to explain #TvsZ to my husband the other day. Let’s ignore the fact that you can’t really explain #TvsZ to anyone anyway, it made no sense to me until i first played it this summer. Even avid twitter users need to get into it to really “get it” but some people get it faster than others (glad most of my students are handling it ok but a few aren’t and i need to figure out how to deal with it).

But i think the key thing that bothered my husband was this: is this work, or is it a game? Had to explain that part of my work was teaching this designing educational games module, and i have my students playing this game to broaden their horizons about how games can be played.

But that’s beside the point. I could be teaching another course entirely and still want my students to play #TvsZ – for social media literacy, for cross-cultural collaboration (small as it may be), as a microMOOC in connected learning (gosh do I put this on my CV as a microMOOC i co-facilitated?)

He asked me what kind of “return” on my “investment” i was getting for this.

I kept thinking: you’re asking the wrong questions, man. They’re neoliberal questions (tho he’s a surgeon and possibly never heard of the term), and it’s like Simon Ensor said today on his blog – he’s basically saying that stats and completion rates don’t represent anything about true learning and i think he also means to say the impact of a cMOOC cannot be measured in those ways as well.

So let me make a few points clear:
1. Learning can and should be fun, to whatever extent we make it
2. Learning can and often is also intense, exhausting, painful, sometimes at the same time it stays fun and engaging
3. “Returns” are not always tangible, and the most valuable ones are neither measurable nor even predictable!

So about #TvsZ – to help my students imagine the extent they should engage i gave them some guidelines. My hope is that even though the guidelines seem numerical ,that being online and on #tvsz long enough to do what i ask will engage them enough in the game that they learn what is really worth learning in the game. Which is vaguely social media literacy but exact learning will differ from one person to another. Each is responding differently and doing different things and worrying and DMing me about different stuff.

You just need to watch someone like @dogtrax play #tvsz to know that you cannot reduce the game to its rules and mechanics and dynamics and what-not – he makes the experience however it pleases him and he pleases so many around him, as he and Terry Elliott so often do. Kevin is a phenomenon unto himself. Just today ALONE he created a thinglink, a cartoon, and a voocaroo [ok multiple cartoons and voocaroos i noticed while getting the links now!], all for #tvsz (ish) but none r part of any mission or rule on the game. Nana created a fliphtml to keep track of things (way to go, nana!)


And still that’s only the visible evidence of learning. There is so much more behind the scenes.

So for me, personally, I have learned all kinds of things from the experience of hacking #tvsz with the wonderful group of ppl whom i now feel very close to because of it. I have learned a lot from my students as they played it and i look forward to their reflections on it throughout the coming few weeks.

Gosh, is there much substance to this blogpost? Only a certain kind of person will agree there is. The one not looking for something to measure!

Salam for now

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