Moodle, dailies and angry birds

I’ve just been reading this post by @deangroom and aside from it being an excellent concept it’s got me thinking. Having never really been anything more than a passive gamer (although I did have an extended love affair with all things Mario on the N64 as a teenager), I’ve recently fallen prey to Angry Birds. Angry Birds is an iPad/iPhone game which involves flinging assorted angry birds at various structures holding green pigs, which one must destroy. It is insanely addictive and insanely frustrating.

However. The idea of dailies has got me thinking about exactly what it is that keeps me flinging angry birds day after day, despite my n00b skills. Essentially, it’s the thrill of the conquest – because achievement is broken up into small levels, my ROI for effort is quite good, and I can play for as little or as long as I like whilst still feeling like I’ve achieved something. The satisfaction of killing the pigs keeps me coming back to see if I can get more skills to kill more pigs in better ways. The other genius of Angry Birds is that there’s more than one way to complete a level. You can get an average score for a one-star completion that still allows you to progress to the next level, but once you’re a bit more skilled, you can return to that level and play more efficiently to get two- and three-star completions. Alternatively, you can just be skilled in the first place and knock over three-stars on every level. This is not me. But it would be nice. Additionally, my husband has now got Angry Birds on his iPod Touch, so there’s a nice element of competition.

Currently I’m charged with the task of designing the training program for our impending move to Moodle. With any training program, the real issue is how to get people to engage, particularly those who don’t self-select. Dailies might be at least a partial solution. I’m thinking of a course where staff login once a day, every day, for a very short period of time (Dean makes the excellent point that no-one is too busy to spare 10-15 minutes). The course is built on levels, which must be completed to ‘unlock’ the next level (using Moodle conditionals). Each level can be completed with one-, two- or three-star skills. It’s designed for one level to be done daily, but restrictions are only on completion, not time, so motivated people can rip through the course as fast as they like. Conversely, time-poor people don’t have to try and cram in everything in one go then immediately forget everything (which is the usual mode of operation in LMS training). Let’s just hope that if I build it, they will come.

A side note that I find interesting is the concept of cheating. If I’m getting frustrated on an Angry Birds level I can’t beat, I’ll go to YouTube and look up walkthroughs. My husband thinks this is cheating. I think it’s smart. In a Moodle dailies course, I’d encourage people to ‘cheat’. The more they go outside the course to source tips and skills the better. Bring it on, I say.

6 Replies to “Moodle, dailies and angry birds”

  1. Playing devil’s advocate.

    What would be the motivation for someone to complete the Moodle daily? Embedded in Dean’s WoW example and yours with Angry Birds there is something that is motivating engagement. What’s the motivation for the Moodle daily? I’m not sure I see it.

    Which brings me to the question, why do staff need training with the LMS? Most of the games I’m aware of (e.g. the pre-network WoW titles) came with massive manuals, but you didn’t need to use them. You could get stuck into the game (as most people did) and there was training built into the system. It helped you along the way. Why aren’t LMS (and most institutional information systems) built/implemented this way?

    This type of approach is by no means simple, but it would match the desires/preferences of most academics that I’m aware of. Perhaps that’s the motivation? Providing just-in-time answers to questions as needed.

    Perhaps the dailies you were thinking of creating could be linked into appropriate places in the LMS?

    Sorry, went a bit off tangent. I think the question of “what is the motivation” is the age old problem with this activity. Not sure modification to the structure of the training (e.g. shortening it to dailies) is sufficient to answer the motivation question.

    If you have an answer (or find one), would love to hear about it.

    1. You’ve hit the nail on the head, and it’s not something I have an answer to atm. I agree the above mod doesn’t answer the motivation question – I was nutting it out with someone earlier who made a similar point to you. My tack at the moment is that I am required to develop training, a certain type of training, and until perceptions of what that mean change, I’ve got to do the best I can within the parameters I’ve got. There’s not any more motivation to the above than for ‘traditional’ training (ie step-by-step workshops), but it at least addresses issues of time, rate of delivery (lack of time, information cram, too much time between training and execution etc etc). I tabled the idea with my husband (who for the record is an academic) briefly earlier, and the first thing he said was ‘Wait, you’re expecting lecturers to be self-directed?’. Currently we’re relying on people being motivated to improve their own teaching practice to engage in training. How do we engage people who aren’t motivated to improve their teaching practice? Still not sure on that one, but we sure as hell don’t start by offering research-only promotion.

      In regards to ‘why do we need LMS training at all’, I absolutely agree (I certainly didn’t read anything to learn Moodle or Bb) and would dearly love to do away with it (and workshop training in general). Senior exec does not agree. Most lecturers do not agree. It’s a question I’ve been wrangling with for a while now, in relation to students as well as academics – what do you do when someone doesn’t know what’s good for them? ‘Just give me a sheet with instructions on it’ is what I hear most commonly from people – how do you convince them it’s not the most effective way to learn, even though they think it works for them?

      Ultimately I’d love to be able to answer these and overhaul what we do. I think the little fish in the big pond might have to get a little bit punk.

      1. I have loved reading this. As an (ex-)gamer i find it fascinating that people are looking to games for ideas and inspiration on how to better engage an audience, in this case for the purposes of education. I do think however that there is a significant element which has been overlooked in the addictiveness of performing ‘dailies’. In WoW the purpose of performing daily quests is, from the software vendors perspective, is to actively engage a returning audience and creating a habitual behavior. (and just for informations sake that 10-15 min for a ‘daily’ quest is not particularly insignificant when there are several hundred ‘dailies’ that NEED to be completed. 16 hours later you can suddenly wonder why you are hungry.) The habit though is not formed by the daily need to complete the quest but rather by the reward that is ultimately offered. I have personally seen individuals struggle through years of mundanely repeated questing (also known as grinding) for some unique trinket which only they or a select few can obtain. This reward system is not present in an education setting or if it is the reward itself is probably considered undesirable or worthless and is possibly one of the reasons why replicating this model ultimately fails.

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