The Community (of Practice)

Hi Nashwa,

I have taken the liberty (and I hope you don’t mind) of trying to be really open about our collaborative process. As I explained when we met, my blog is sort of like my notebook, wherein I reflect on my reading. It’s more often that not off the top of my head – I type and publish, without much editing (which goes some way to explain all the typos) or structure.

We agreed that, due to our various commitments beyond university, most of our collaboration would be on-line. So what I’m typing here might be what I’d written to you in an email, but given the experimental, open and collaborative nature of the Opposites Attract Challenge, I thought it might be fun to share our thoughts and discussions in this public way. Then, even if we fail to produce anything that works in the next six weeks, we’ll at least have a series of posts on this blog to share at the Festival! If you’d prefer not to communicate quite so openly, I totally understand. We can go back to more a private medium like email.

So anyhow, the challenge we set ourselves when we met was:

We are going to prototype an app for tutors and course leaders that will gamify the objective of creating on-line Communities of Practice among their students.

It might be worth catching up on what we mean by “gamification”, and handily, I recently wrote a blog post on that very subject. A paper linked to in that post suggests that gamification uses “motivational affordances” like: Points; Leaderboards; Achievements/Badges; Levels; Story/Theme; Clear goals; Feedback; Rewards; Progress; and, Challenge. Some of the other ludic affordances I’ve encountered in my reading include things like music and presence (the feeling of being in the virtual world) which might be affordances too far in the six weeks we have to complete this project.

You’ve already got a “game metaphor” going for your research work, and that’s a board-game, like Snakes and Ladders, wherein course leaders work their way up to a winning square. So in gamification terms, you’ve already been thinking about affordances like Acheivement and Levels, Clear Goals and (on squares 5 and 11) Feedback. What we are looking to add (I think – but stop me if you disagree) are some of the other affordances, like Story, Rewards and Badges.

So, I thought I’d share with you, to kick off the discussion, some cuttings from my sketchbook, and my thoughts so far. Our clear objective is the creation of a Community of Practice, and a story that I’ve been playing with (but I’m not committed to) comes in three acts: Gathering the Tribe; Settling the Farmland, and Founding the City, which correspond with the three levels of your original game metaphor.

So, for example, the first part of Gathering the Tribe, is the first square of your game board. (Actually, no, the very first thing our player does is came his/her course and input the number of students on it, on a simple screen I’ve sketched above, with some ideas for badges won for simply adding classes – the proportion of returns s/he gets from students will very likely be the trigger for badges as you will see later.) The first square of your gameboard is about getting students to do a self-assessment learning preferences test. As the cohort share their results, I imagined the tutor inputting them into the app – not as individuals (likely to be all sorts of DPA issues around that) but simply number of students of each type in the class. Of course, s/he could input them as Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing, Kinaesthetic and Multimodal, but I thought it might be fun instead to represent them as characters within the story or theme, thus:

  Quite why our tribe needs safe-crackers, I have not yet worked out, there may well be a better role to represent those with the Auditory learning preference. Here’s a question for you, does the VARK test return simply these four types plus multi-modal? Or are there other results that we’d need to find character classes for?

I thought of a couple of other badges the tutor might win during this process, which have no real impact on the game result, but may well act as motivators. When the tutor first gets one student of each type, s/he might win a “Full House” badge:  

 And when the total number of students of each type matches (or exceeds) the number in the class, s/he wins a 100%! badge (this might be a badge that appears, possibly in variant form for other challenges too):

 Maybe on completion of this first challenge, s/he also gets a “Behaviorist” badge:

   (A rather poor rendition of a jug of knowledge, about to be pours into an empty vessel.) Of course our tutor might offended by being called a behaviorist, but if they understand that they can win a “Constructivist” badge by completing more of the quest, this might be a very effective motivator 🙂

Your squares 2 and 3 appear in my level 2, Finding the Way. As they complete the tasks set by your recommendations, the path to a place to settle becomes clearer. And our tutor might win Explorer and Map Maker badges too:


With Pedgogical and Technical plans completed and the Wiki Framework in place, we are into Act Two, Settling the Farmland (your square 5). I’m less certain about what the tutor’s tasks should be for these next few squares on your board, and thus the rewards, but for some reason I thought this “Dib Dib Dib” badge would be a good idea (it probably isn’t):

   I did think though, that we should reward those disgruntled behavioursists with a shiny new Constructivist badge as soon as they’ve completed your square 5:

  And square 9 should be when they get their Socio-constructivist (or should that be Connectivist? I’m a bit confused) badge:  

 Between those two levels, I was floundering a bit:  

 I thought that at square eight is might be fun to reward our tutor with a role/grade according to what proportion of their students are suggesting topics and resources. Using a corporate metaphor for example, just 10% of your students suggesting topics would earn you the lowest Team Leader rank, 100% would make you Chairman of the Board, and in between you might become Assistant Manager; Manager; Head of Department; VP; President; or CEO. The whole corporate metaphor doesn’t fit very well with my Tribal story, but I’m nervous of making up ranks in a tribal society for fear of being too “orientalist”, and I already discarded a military one from Cadet to General. Given that by square 8 we’re about to move in Act 3 of our story Founding the City, a civic ranking system, with Mayor at the top might be more appropriate. What do you think?

By your level 10, I was feeling more confident suggesting  an “Architect” badge:

  And on your square 11, the tutor earns a “Wise Old One” badge, because at this point we are preparing the tutor to let go of his/her community building, and let the Community of Practice that they help create survive on its own terms (I think? Am I right?).
  And that’s about as far as got. How about you?

5 thoughts on “The Community (of Practice)

  1. Hi Mathew,
    Here are some brainstorming:
    -When the tutor finish row 1, he/she will be Behaviourist (award: crown with one diamond, shows missing other two diamonds)
    -When the tutor finish row 2, he/she will be Constructivist(award: crown with two diamonds, shows missing other one diamond)
    -When the tutor finish row 3, he/she will be Socio- Constructivist (award: crown is fully diamonded) Can print a certificate of honour “Horreeeeey”
    I prepared a list of choices for each block:
    For example: Pedagogical plan for each V-A-R-K learner

    (3) Suggestion
    There has to be alerts in some blocks such as (Block 4 ), if WIki framework is not ready to serve each V-A-R-K learner, a warning appears or crown changes the color or similar alerting issue to the tutor. These warning are suggested to be in Blocks (4, 6 , 10) as transitional points if not done, tutor will go back to a previous block/row.

    In our tomorrow’s skype meeting:
    – I will explain to you the suggested lists in each block.
    -We might need to design – roughly –
    Number of windows ( blocks) and what is supposed to be displayed in each
    Check points , what may happen in each (reward, alert, bounce, degrade)
    I prepared the net ready to code…. Horreeeeeey, long time for developing 🙂

    1. Hey Nashwa,

      I’s started a new post, but since you beat me to it, and commented here, I’ll add my thoughts to this thread. Great Skype chat last might. As promised, my thoughts here. First of all, we agreed that we might might the scope of our work to just the first level of the adventure, the first four squares of your board. This would work as a playable proof of concept at least, and should be achievable in the time we have available. If we find ourselves completing this with time to spare, then of course we can consider building out from this first level, but this way, we don’t spread ourselves too thinly from the start and end up producing nothing.

      You showed me some of the work you’ve produced in Visual and quickly ran me though some of the easy to use functions that are available. We talked a little bit about defining the size of our hypothetical screen, but other than suggesting it would be about phone sized we didn’t come to a conclusion. Should we make it 1920 × 1080 pixels?

      On dates, we did wonder whether, even though the tutor inputs the course duration in weeks, the app might convert it to days, to make dividing by four easier? When you send me some of the sample planning suggestions, I’ll come back to you with thoughts on the adventure script.


      You have a lovely weekend too. I’m off camping with the boy and it looks cold and damp out there currently…

  2. Hi Mathew:
    Some action points from our yesterday’s meeting….
    *Coding and Screens :
    (1)Login screen, contains the following
    • Details:
    • Course name
    • Number of students
    • Course duration (in weeks)

    Then, Maths calculation will run divide the inserted duration by 4 ( the first row (Behaviourist) phase.
    The calculation will alert the tutor for each block of the 4 for the remaining period
    (2)Second window shows number of students based on their learning preferences:
    For example
    Number of Visual students is :
    Number of Auditory students is :
    Number of Reader students is:
    Number of Kinaesthetic students is :
    Number of Multi Model is :
    If the tutor failed to insert in the previous boxes the total number of the students as inserted in the previous screen:
    • No award will be given
    • The next button will not show
    Extra windows:
    (3)There will be an Award panel window, to be shown on request, where the tutor can know what are the achieved/Aspirated awarded
    (4)With the learning style screen , there will be a button to open up the spreadsheet/notepad file that the tutor needs to prepare tpo save the students learning styles.

    * What to be sent to you
    By the end of this week end I will send you a list o my suggestions for the:
    • Pedagogical plans
    • Technological plans
    Looking forward to finish the basics of row 1( developing, story telling and coding) this week 🙂
    As soon as I finish any coding screens, I will keep you posted. Have a lovely weekend 🙂

  3. I hope that you enjoyed your camping at the weekend, weather was lovely specially Sat and Sun mornings down here.
    I started the developing and I will post you print screen of forms/windows/screens ( use what you are comfortable with )
    All windows screenshots are on run time and codes are working fine. However, coding is good flexible assistant and if you think anything g extra can help to add/explain any idea, feel free to suggest.
    Also, colors and other format are still basic and I see them poor, this can be tuned in last steps after few meetings as we can do them together in a live meeting

    I could not paste images here, so I uploaded them in this link:
    You should be able to view screenshots of the following images:
    login form:
    Learning Styles
    Learning Styles File
    Pedagogical Plans
    Technological Plans

    *Create Framework (Still Processing)
    I am thinking of using another pedagogical plan with its 5 technological plans.
    So in the Wiki framework, we will have two tutor’s selection of Pedagogical plans and their associated technological plans, based on each one, there will be list of (i.e 5 tick boxes (suggestions for the tutor to select from)
    Let me know your thoughts, just remember coding is a good boy can even bake us “Corniche Pasty” 

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