Week 10 — Pre-Thesis

For this week, I’ve focused on refining what is do able, for me personally, but also what could be used as a prototype that could be tested with potential stakeholders.

I started out meeting with Scott who was extremely helpful in conceptualizing the project further. We talked about some tools that could be used to further develop the project and we also discussed some other logistics for refining the idea and question. I’m going to start working with Twine to start developing storylines for what would be the adaptive game, for the VR accessible demo, it’ll be very close to “choose your own adventure” where based on a predefined list of learning disabilities or learning styles, you’ll receive a personalized experience that is also adaptive to ensure the student is answering correctly and retaining the information. We also discussed scaling the project done even further, for this phase, I’m going to choose maybe 1–2 learning disabilities, and focus on 2 learning styles, and developed storylines based on the similarities of those. I plan on meeting with a Special Ed teacher within the upcoming week to help me narrow down to list to some that might be achievable for this project.

We also discussed some important contexts to think about with regards to how this technology is introuduced in the future. As discussed in previous blog posts, you see this sort of technology used within retention or course recovery efforts, at least the adaptive based technology, and we talked about how this tech could introduce new limitations that could be problematic. For example, if the VR component is only for gifted students, and the text-based is only for students with disabilities — that would be problematic entirely. And we discussed how I aim to provide experiences that uses advanced technology regardless of disabilities or learning styles, but for now I will be focusing on just a few for this project.

Moving forward, this summer I will take the storylines from Twine and learn/place them into GameMaker Studio and VR World to provide a more developed demo for the thesis portion of this class. I hope to finish the storylines in Twine by the end of this semester. As for the other components of the demo, those are a little more less involved, so I’ll be able to create those using applications I’m more familiar and comfortable with.

The key goal this week was the scale down the project in digestible pieces, and moving forward, I think it works now.

Lastly, I wanted to reflect on the measurement of outcomes question. How will you know if your project is successful? How do you measure specific outcomes?

  • I’m testing whether the use of technology will make it easier to personalize content based on the users individual needs. I will test the solution hopefully with a group of students that share the needs I’m building the game around and measure by using the assessment within the game to see whether they retain the information.
  • Still need a control group — but will probably collaborate with a teacher to evaluate their success with an manual test

As for the storyline:

Ms. Somoza is a 28-year old teacher who has been teaching for the last 3 years. Ms. Somoza teaches Science and Civics to middle school students at Attucks MS. Currently, Ms. Somoza has 6 preps, and about 160 students, with roughly 30 students per class. Within that group of students, roughly one of those students has some form of an IEP, another portion is ESOL, and a few of the students are gifted. Because of funds, Ms. Somoza has two classes where she has two preps within one period, leading to a tough situation as these preps have a wide variety of students in reading and writing ability. Ms. Somoza has noted to her principal that it has been extremely difficult to work with each student when she has so many students that need personalization to the content. However, today, Ms. Somoza was introduced to a new program that Attucks has adopted on a pilot basis for teachers like her. This platform, [TITLE[ will help Ms. Somoza in personalizing instruction so that she no longer has to create baselines for a wide variety of students and allow students to take charge of their own learning.

Ms. Somoza opens the platform and notices that there’s a lesson similar to what she was going to teach within the platform and assigns it to the students to complete. She also opens the guide which has a few materials with it, one being a user guide/script (in case she needs to manually walk the kids through the activity) and also some general instructions. She notices that the platform allows you to select a theme you’d like to work within, she like sports, so she selected to complete the activity within a sports theme. The game takes her through a few questions where she plays with her favorite team. Ms. Somoza liked that there were various game options and noted that this could be helpful for the students since they could do something they liked while also learning. While playing within the platform, Ms. Somoza was able to get to the next level, where she was introduced to the cell and its functions. Ms. Somoza heard that the platform came with interactive features and the adaptive question game framework and noticed that to learn about the cell, she could use the VR headset and dissect the cell herself and click to hear more about those individual functions. When she finished playing with the cell, she was then taken back to the basketball game, where she learned more about the cell functions and answered questions until she could get all the functions correctly. Ms. Somoza looked at some of the data that the teachers would receive and noticed that it was very detailed in looking at where the students were struggling and suggested resources or external activities to ensure that each student met the standard.

The teacher wanted to sort of look into the user guide and script a bit more, and noticed that there’s a script that’s attached to the VR activity the kids can complete. The script has a persona that the teacher would take over, and she would walk the students through the VR activity with this script. She really liked this idea, because it allowed her to get involved with the students and take them through the journey. She figured she could use her acting voice and really enjoy that activity with the class.

Once the students got to use the platform, Ms. Somoza noticed that the kids were really engaged with what they were doing and that it was very different from some of the other applications they are used to. She recalled WebQuest which is a cool app that has a ton of games for a lot of different lessons, but noted that they were pretty general and outdated. The kids like WebQuest but they weren’t able to select a theme that they truly enjoyed and the content wasn’t adaptive. As a result, while it seemed the students enjoyed the content, she wasn’t actually able to determine if the kids really learned anything without conducting another formative assessment. Thus, she knew this platform would be better, because it’s personalized to the students needs in terms of learning style and potential accessibility challenges, and also adaptive in the sense that it continuously challenges the student to reach another level, either to get them back on track, or encourage them to go higher. With the interactive video portion of the lesson, the students selected the theme and were sent on a journey to solve whichever quest they were on, and then for the VR experience, either the teacher guided them through the experience, or it was self paced. And for this particular use, she noticed that the students were able to get through the content without asking questions or needing constant redirection. From this, she assumed that the students actually liked the activity, perhaps because they were able to select a topic that resonated with them. She then concluded that it not only helped her as a teacher, but that it helps everyone, because the students are able to learn the content they need at a level they understand, while still being challenged to go to the next level in a way that keeps them engaged and excited about learning. She knew that as soon as future lessons were added that she would continue to use the platform.

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