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Gamification In the English 1302 Classroom By Kim Davis & Jake Gebhardt
Who helped? Bill Davis, Patrick Garrett, Jacqui Davis, and Heather Davis Jake Gebhardt
Collaboration between English and Computer Science Departments * The “Nerds who developed the Python programming language named it after Monty Python, [which was] designed to reflect the idea that programming should be fun” (O’Meara 121).
Why “The Raven”? It is a canonical work of American Literature, and can be easily incorporated into a unit teaching students to read and analyze poetry prior to writing about it. It is relatively short. Poe wrote about how he wrote “The Raven” in his essay, “The Philosophy of Composition,” which we will also read and discuss in class. It lends itself well to visual treatment.
Gamification Principles at work in “The Raven” game • A gamified learning environment takes the elements that make games engaging, fun, and interesting and uses them to enhance the classroom experience (Kapp, 2012). • Multimodal features allow for better comprehension and retention. • Text, images, sound, and even limited kinesthetic elements (keyboard + mouse) are incorporated to address various learning styles. • A limited amount of text appears on the screen at any given time, which narrows the scope of the analysis, helping students compartmentalize their analyses. • The self-paced aspect of the game allows students to repeat difficult or confusing sections, so there is less concern about failure.
The Lesson PlanNote: This week’s lessons follow a general lecture about the elements of poetry. Tuesday 1 ½ hours: • Lecture: The Gothic of Edgar Allan Poe; Poe’s “The Philosophy of Composition,” his discussion of how he wrote “The Raven” (Students should have read “The Raven” and “The Philosophy of Composition” already.) • Handout: vocabulary list • Homework: Play the “The Raven” game, study vocabulary Thursday 1 ½ hours: • Quiz: “The Raven” vocabulary (10-15 min.) • In-class writing:(major essay grade) Using the prompt discovered in “The Raven” game.
About Ren’Py It is Open-source—use and modify it as desired. Developers favor open-source software, so online support is plentiful through user forums. It uses Python scripting language, so even novice coders can succeed with it. It’s FREE—no fees or royalties Ren’Py’s main drawback comes from the nature of the visual novel—more thinking than action. As a “game” it cannot compete with the likes of Assasin’s Creed or Tomb Raider (which teach some history and culture).
What is a Visual Novel? A visual novel resembles a mixed-media novel. The graphics are mostly static, often featuring anime-type illustration, though any sort of art, photography or video may be used. Player interaction involves clicking to make choices, which keep the text, graphics and sound moving. Many visual novels contain multiple storylines, accessed by the player at intermittent multiple-choice decision points. Visual novels generally use first person narration from the point of view of only one character.
The Game Creation Process • I created a list of vocabulary words and put them on Quizlet.com, a free online service that aids students learning vocabulary. • I created a list of essay prompts, one for each student. • Jacqui followed the instructions on Ren’Py, and wrote the code for the game. It took three days with no prior knowledge of Python. She reported that: • The Ren’Py website, provides a helpful tutorial and FAQ page. • If she didn’t find the answer she needed there, a quick Google search provided ready answers on other forums. • Bill read the poem for the voice-over track. Jacqui used Audacity, another free open source program, for editing the audio. • Jacqui photographed Patrick with a raven puppet we bought on eBay. • Using FREE royalty free music, from incompetech.com, Jacqui rendered video segments of the poem with background music, and voice-over to complement the photos. (Any software will work here, but she used Sony Vegas.)
In Conclusion The potential for presenting literature using the visual novel genre is virtually unlimited. The format would lend itself well to various works of literature and creative writing, though original work and work in the public domain presents the least challenges. The visual novel approach is appropriate for visual learners, auditory learners, and even for kinesthetic learners (keyboard + mouse). Gamifiedlearning is not new, but with today’s students more interested in social media, text-messages, and electronic games than in face-to-face instruction or books, gamification has gained mainstream acceptance. A project in Ren’Py could connect English and Computer Science curricula in a way that would be beneficial for both disciplines. The process of creating a game to encourage students to engage more fully with literature can be inexpensive and relatively simple. No special skills are required beyond the ability to follow directions. The true test of “The Raven” game will come in the classroom.
Works Cited “Audacity.” http://audacity.sourceforge.net/. Web. 15 May 2014. Cavallaro, Dani. Anime and the visual novel: narrative structure, design and play at the crossroads of animation and computer games. McFarland & Company, 2010. 78–79. Print. Kapp, Karl.The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-Based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education. San Francisco: Pfeiffer, 2012. Print. Klug, Chris, and Josiah Lebowitz. Interactive Storytelling for Video Games: A Player-Centered Approach to Creating Memorable Characters and Stories. Burlington, MA:FocalPress, 2011. Print. MacLeod, Kevin. “Royalty Free Music.” Incompetech.www.incompetech.com. 2014. Web. 20 May 2014. O’Meara, Tom. A Miscellany of Britain. London: Arcturus, 2012. Print. “Quizlet.” Quizlet. www.quizlet.com. Quizlet LLC: 2014. Web. 5 September 2013. "The Ren'Py Visual Novel Engine.” Ren'Py. www.renpy.org. Web. 4 April 2014.