My thesis titled Affordances Toward Fluency: Second Language Emergence in a Classroom Role-playing Game is available to download freely from the Sookmyung Women’s University library. This study takes a complex, dynamic systems approach in analyzing the fluency of two groups of students as they iterate through sessions of League of Explorers during one semester of study. If you’re curious about using role-playing games from this site in your class or for doing research, check it out and let me know what you think!
I’ve updated the site with a page on League of Explorers, a game about exploring the world’s cultures that is run similar to Deadway. Here are quick links to passport/character sheets, a sample mission page, and an XP spreadsheet.
Here’s a mini-research paper I wrote last year and published in Issues in EFL. It plays around with the ideas of imagined communities and group intersubjectivity. The abstract:
This mini-research project explores the identities
and power structures formed within a negotiated
community (NC) that emerges from implementing a
classroom role-playing game (CRPG) with university
students. General theories of SLA have noted that
output and interaction are requisites for L2 acquisition,
while more social theories have called attention
to conflicting identities and power structures that
may aid or hinder the amount and types of such interactions
as they occur during acculturating into a
discourse community. This paper expands on
Norton’s (2001) interpretation of imagined communities
to introduce NCs, which are dynamic, collaboratively
imagined communities that are created and
mediated in real-time in the classroom. Through a
questionnaire and interviews, this paper explores to
what extent students felt invested in their fictional
identities as well as how equal they felt the power
structures were in the NC. The results of this project
suggest that the majority of students were invested
in their identities, and that they definitively agreed
that power was spread equally, although not necessarily
due to the specifically examined game mechanics
of the CRPG presented in this paper.
I designed new character sheets for Tiny Hearts for use in the RSCON 2014 presentation. These are more in-depth than the one in the demo chapter and reflect an adaptation of the Deadway-like ruleset, which is the underlying mechanic I use for most all general English classrooms from young learners to university students these days. The back of the character sheet has a tutorial, rather than just rules, to help teachers in scaffolding the activity. The PDF can be downloaded here.
I will be presenting on Tiny Hearts at this year’s Reform Symposium Free Online Conference (RSCON 2014) on Saturday, July 11th at 11am EDT / 4pm UK (Friday midnight KST). This is a framework for young learners I developed earlier this year during an EVO session. I will put materials up on this blog regarding that framework before the session, in the meantime here is the brief session abstract:
It has been argued that language learning is an interplay between the cognitive and the social (e.g., Atkinson, 2002), and that using language in socially meaningful ways is key to L2 development (Sykes & Reinhardt, 2012). In addition, the notions of investment and identity in imagined communities (e.g., Norton & Toohey, 2011) posit that learners have various and shifting desires to engage in classroom practices.Therefore, structuring a classroom into a dynamic negotiated community in which social power is evenly distributed and identities are free to explore could offer beneficial effects on L2 acquisition. From these theoretical backgrounds, this presentation will introduce Tiny Hearts, a classroom role-playing game.
In Tiny Hearts, young learners assume the identities of sentient toys earning hearts as they interact with each other and the imagined environment. Working together, students role-play through missions. Each mission can either end favorably or take a wrong turn.Individualized characters, unscripted storylines, dangerous and dramatic situations, as well as unpredictable mission results mean that every lesson is a unique and engaging experience for both the teacher and students.
In this session, I will first introduce classroom role-playing games and compare how they are different from other activities. Referring to a sample chapter created for an EVO session earlier this year, I will then describe how the game is implemented by scaffolding it over the course of several lessons, such that students can succeed each time without it seeming complicated.
I’ll be doing a workshop on Deadway this weekend (5/31) at the KOTESOL National Conference at Kyungpook National University in Daegu. It will be in room 304 of the Global Plaza at 4:30. Below is the session abstract:
A growing field of interest in L2TL is the use of game-based learning (Sykes & Reinhardt 2013). However, the majority of games for education have taken a behaviourist approach to the learning process. Another view of learning posits that it is an interplay between the social and the cognitive (Atkinson 2002), and it’s this principle applied in a unique yet pragmatic way that we will explore in this session through a game-mediated activity. In this interactive workshop, we will be playing Deadway, a classroom role-playing game about survival and rebirth in a post-apocalyptic world. Attendees will work together in small groups to solve problems, defend values, reconnect with what they have lost, and rebuild a new world according to their beliefs. While not a digital game in the sense that the virtual world primarily exists and is renegotiated in the collective imaginary spaces between players and facilitator, participants should have at least one device per group with Google Drive and KakaoTalk installed.
BTW, I’ve realized that the KakaoGroup app is the quickest way to get people into the appropriate group chat. So, if you read this and are attending, please have KakaoGroup installed and then you can just join the group by going to this link on your device.
Deadway is that latest game that I’ve run enough times and tidied up enough to publish here. Set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, your students will need to band together in small groups as they navigate the perils of a world gone wrong, while at the same time seeking to forge a new society based upon their own ideals. A Vygotskian-inspired work, Deadway can turn the ordinarily mundane task of language production into an engaging experience for students as their trials become part of a grand story jointly created in a shared imaginary space that takes center stage in your classroom.
Similar to other games here, you will need character sheets and about 10 dice to run. There’s also a mission templates file and an xp chart in Google Docs. For more info, check out the Deadway page.