Educatic during my stay in Oruro. It was the first of a round of 5 workshops during which local teachers will go through various phases of digital content production. At the end, this will result in a number of educational flash games invented and designed by the teachers themeselves and implemented by the team of Educatic.
This time, a group of 10 teachers that were very new to ICTs came – a challenge in a way, as they will have to think about how to adapt their functional game design in a way that it will be feasible to digitalize it. Unfortunately, winter holidays had just started, so that the normal group size of around 30 wasn’t reached. During this first one-day workshop, the teachers – recruted through the local branch of the Ministry of Education – were presented with the main objectives of the project and got to know their fellow teachers who will likewise design their games in the same round of workshops. The first challenge they were presented with was to think about an educational problem from their subject in a specific age group, e.g. sorting of natural numbers or spelling of specific words. They were then asked to think about an (offline) setting which is specific to their region or cultural group. This might be a game, or simply the natural surroundings of the villages they come from. As this region has always been a mining region, one setting was the entrance of a mine with the worker encountering various co-workers as the levels of the game increase. Another setting was taken from a children’s game which is played outside, where seeds are thrown towards an object. The closest seed wins. Thanks to this contextualized approach, the students will hopefully be more inclined to identify with the games and have more fun while playing and learning.
During a well-facilitated session, all teachers were able to come up with a first idea on paper. Initial drawings of the game design supported the imagination of the course of the game and identify potential difficulties. During lunch, the shy group started chatting over the traditional “charque”-dish (dried lama meat with a hard-boiled egg, potatoes and dried corn and a piece of goat cheese).
As it is not always easy to find an address here in the maze of small streets and shops, two teachers only managed to find us when the rest had almost finished. However, they were not sent home but welcomed just as warmly and received their private introduction which ended in them producing some very nice ideas.
During the comming sessions, teachers will define their ideas more finely, adapted their drawings and explanations and finally evaluate the prototypes produced by Educatic.
I admit that this way of digital educational content production is a long process. Teachers will have to travel several times and spend their weekends working. They will have to make a great effort to get involved in a new medium they might have no experience in. However, from what I have seen and heard, I do believe that in the end, the results are very valuable. Teachers will have developed a pride in their own achievements, feel the effort they have spent and are thus more likely to adopt the games in their teaching routine. Last but not least, they will leave with the feeling that they have been listened to and were able to apply their didactic and professional knowledge.