In search of the highschool we don’t have

A solution by Innovative Project Arena submitted to Gamification in education

Through the general concept “Scoala pe care nu o ai” (“The school you don’t have”), students will get through a series of individual and team challenges - Hi-Quest - built around the key competencies that will make them better humans and which are not taught in highschool.

(Pitched: 15/04/2018)

One Page Summary

We expect youth to become kind and fair adults, which make wise choices for themselves, are good professionals, get involved in their communities, manifest understanding and care to people around them. However, we do not equip them with the proper competences, and school continues to bring theoretical input on subjects that are too slightly related to real life choices and to the behaviours we want to instil.

If we analyse the lists of 21st century skills (e.g. critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration), or the skills that will be needed in 2030, too few are approached in Romanian highschools, and most of them indirectly, based on the skills and motivation of the teachers to use innovative teaching methods or to implement extracurricular projects.

We are a team of people that are both experienced in designing and delivering game-based programmes for youth, as well as highly motivated to educate youth in the spirit of respecting human rights, supporting their communities, cherishing and building upon differences, developing their uniqueness without the constraint of being alike their peers. In our extensive brainstorming of creating the concept, we anaysed several ways of implementation and we evaluated possible success rates of any solution. We decided that in the stage of implementing the idea, the strongest impact will be possible through a real (board-)game using simulations, scenarios, exercises, quizzes and discovery quests in the framework of the classroom, and with the help of headmasters / teachers / youth workers. We took into account the possibility of using an app or a platform, and we consider that both of them would get us further from the aim: helping youth become better humans.

We did not find successful educational apps that have a certain level of attractiveness and are used on a large scale, and we believe that: (1) using a virtual tool would make us thrive to make it funny and attractive, so it would become more a game than a real learning tool, otherwise being considered a game for nerds; (2) we cannot teach youth to become better humans in real life by completing challenges and levels on "serious" subjects in a virtual individual game, which can have team collaboration but in a virtual, "not human" way; (3) a virtual tool would mean that less students will access it, and generally those students are either interested in the topics anyway, either gamers; (4) we want to support teachers and youth workers in testing and delivering gamification programmes that make a real difference in those students’ lives and can be further implemented at a large scale.

So we believe the concept we are proposing is the highest impact generating product for solving the challenge, and mixes different types of challenges for different types of learners that can be found in a classroom.

The main theme of Hi-Quest is “Scoala pe care nu o ai” (“The school you don’t have”) and is built upon subjects that are not approached in highschool – from ethical decision-making to sexual education – but are highly relevant for students’ future life as fair and kind humans, citizens, community members. We see this product as the first step in an alternative learning system for highschool students. We will build the contents based on the 21st century skills, combined with social justice and human rights subjects, in a concept that is both working with the HEADS and HEARTS of the students.

We already have a list of main subjects (critical thinking, diversity, self-awareness, lateral thinking, critical norm approach), and, after we finalise the framework and design together with Go Free members, through a gamification training, each of the 4 team members will develop the contents and challenges on 3-4 subjects, based on their own experience, with the help of the rest of the team and by consulting a well-known mentor for each subject. Being in the prototyping phase, Go Free members will be consulted and involved for the final product, as described in the Implementation section.

The game will have the form of a board game, with a manual for the teachers / youth workers. We believe that playing a game in a structured way ensures better participation of students, we only need to make it challenging and attractive enough. We will thus involve 10 teachers / youth workers that have weekly activities with students, training them to use the game. The game can be played at the optional classes or at “Dirigentie” and will involve weekly challenges. Some of the sections will begin with individual challenges, some with team challenges, some with small bits of theory, some with self-reflection. Students will gain individual badges and team badges, and we can also design the game on basic / medium / advanced levels. In this phase we will not use a platform, we will use the physical game and open applications such as Trivia platforms, and we will upload the documents for teachers for wide access.