Thursday, 2 June 2011

They Are OK, Are You?

I'm Okay, You're Okay
This post isn't strictly about games based learning; instead it describes a games based workshop delivered by my colleague Mary Dees to an adult audience. The workshop has some very interesting implications for education, hence the reason it is worthy of a blog post.

Before I describe the workshop, it is worth noting at games-ED / pixelfountain we think of games based learning as an education tool and when we deliver to adults we use the term learning simulations. This is pretty much a (marketing) terminology issue, as there is a huge amount of overlap between the two audiences in terms of the actual games and their delivery. So when I refer to game or simulation in this post, then I am essentially describing the same thing.  Anyway, before I get muddled in mire of the learning lexicon, let me tell you about the workshop and its application in education.

The Workshop
The workshop was run at ITA National Conference 2011. It examined the Transactional Analysis theory of life positions. It explored conflict and collaboration including existential and behavioural life positions in both 2 and 3 dimensions - 2D OKness and 3D OKness. 2D OKness is concerned with I and You; it is most commonly known in the expression "I'm okay, you're okay". 3D OKness adds another dimension - Them.  The theories were practically explored and demonstrated using the Sustainaville games based learning product developed by pixelfountain (games-ED).

In the simulation game, the delegates had three years to make the community sustainable in terms of social, environmental and economic issues.  The delegates were divided up into eight teams and had limited resources and both common and conflicting priorities. As the learning-simulation progresses, the learners must explore the interrelationships between the different stakeholders in the community. They have the means of making improvements but the timing of some improvements can cause other areas of the community to suffer.

The simulation is a situated learning approach and provides the delegates with an opportunity to explore their interrelations with each other: one to one, inside their teams, between teams and as a whole community. What life positions do they adopt? Do they avoid conflict? Do they manage to stay ok / keep others ok whilst resolving conflict? How do they respond to stress? How well do they collaborate and work together for the good of the whole community?

Application in Education Settings
Sustainaville has been successfully used in education (see older post on Proof of the Pudding), but this workshop opens up more possibilities. We have understood and shown how collaborative games can develop team working /creative / critical thinking skills, but combining the approach with concepts from Transactional Analysis delivers additional outcomes.

2D OKness and 3D OKness help individuals and groups firstly understand how and why they interact in certain ways and also to help them to move into more constructive ways of behaving. By delivering these concepts within a collaborative games based lesson, the learners are able to move from theory into practice. The Sustainaville situated learning simulation will give learners the opportunity to explore how they think, feel and behave under certain circumstances. It will enable them to experience conflict and practice collaboration. The simulation also includes the context of protecting the planet enabling the learners to look at life positions in relationship to future generations and species.

Specifically (in terms of the UK) the approach could support: Social and Emotional Aspects of Learning (SEAL); Personal, learning and thinking skills (PLTS); and Personal Social Health Economic education (PSHE).

SEAL: Improving behaviour, improving learning. SEAL seeks to develop skills such as understanding another’s point of view, working in a group, sticking at things when they get difficult, resolving conflict and managing worries.

PLTS provides a framework for describing the qualities and skills needed for success in learning and life. The framework comprises six groups of skills: independent enquirers, creative thinkers, reflective learners, team workers, self-managers and effective participants.

PSHE is a planned, developmental programme of learning designed to help learners develop the knowledge, understanding and skills they need to manage their lives, now and in the future. It deals with real life issues which affect children and young people, their families and their communities, and engages with the social and economic realities of their lives, experiences and attitudes.

Further Reading:
The full paper “They Are OK – Are You? ITA Conference Delegates run a Simulated World” can be found at
Blog post: The Art of Conversation. Pin It