Smashboard Edu is my personal passion, and it was born out of a desire to remove the “blah” out of my lesson plans. Over the past year, it has been redeveloped several times into what it is today, but it stays true to its original intent. As documented in a previous blog post, the reason why I created it was because I am a firm believer in human-centered design (design-thinking) and problem-based learning, and I am also a hyper-creative individual that enjoys teaching and learning cross-platform applications. Hence the name, smashboard! It is a mash-up of several emerging trends in education that I love, being utilized to smash real-world problems. Smashboard Edu is problem-based learning & the design-thinking process smashed into a gamified experience! The goal is to have learners utilize creative applications to explain a solution to a relevant, real-world problem.
After several prototype tests with students and educators, the detailed instructions are finally ready to be shared with the public. In a nutshell, the process is simple- Problem, Research, Smash?! But like any fun game, layered with its simplicity are many levels of complexity. All resources can be found at smashboardedu.com including the full set of presenter slides, printable DIY cards with dice, and examples of advanced play. The following are detailed instructions for gameplay:
Prep the Problem
Instructor prepares by creating or co-creating with students a problem to solve. Prepping the problem to solve requires asking the following questions:
- What information will my students learn?
- When will they need the new skills learned in the future?
- How might we use this knowledge to help our community?
Time needed: depends on the complexity of subject and learners.
This is easily the most taxing part of the process for teachers. Oftentimes our standard curriculum is above student-comprehension level, and even worse, irrelevant to them unless re-worded and re-worked. The goal of our instruction must go beyond growing cognitive comprehension and expand to caring and compassion for others. If you struggle with figuring out the real-world relevance for your students, then imagine how they feel! For many kids, certain lessons will engage them simply because they are curious or they find the information interesting. These are the students that are most-primed to help you co-create a real-world problem to solve. Finally, don’t be afraid to change the problem to solve after going through the Smashboard Edu process.
Time needed: depends on the room, setup and help.
- Starter cards include Instructions, SOS, Problem, Research, and Smash?! cards.
- The instructor has the freedom to limit the number of app options for learners to select from. Smash?! Dice are used if the facilitator chooses to randomize the app selection process from several options.
- Where learners input their answers is up to the instructor. Responses can be recorded digitally or on paper.
- Agree on or assign roles in each group (ex: reader, writer, researcher, time-keeper.)
- One person in each group to write out the roles of each learner.
- One person in each group to read full instructions aloud to group from the instructions card.
Time needed: ~2 minutes
- Roles assigned by group members or by the instructor. The instructor can make this process formal or informal.
- Make sure all terminology is understandable by group members. Remind that they can always reference this card.
The problem can be assigned by the instructor or the group members (refer back to the prep card). Make sure the problem is real, and relevant to what they have been learning.
Flip the SOS card to reveal the prompts: Students, Others, and Search.
- What other Students (learners) can help?
- What are some Other sources like notes or text for reference?
- What answers can you Search and find online?
- Each group receives one card and are reminded to use the 3 before Me rule before requesting help from the instructor.
- If they use it, they lose it!
- This card encourages collaboration and critical thinking.
- Instructor can offer “bonus points” or some sort of recognition for groups that complete the entire process without using SOS card.
Flip the Problem card to reveal the question prompts: What, Who, and Why.
- What is the problem?
- Who does it affect?
- Why is it important to you?
Time needed: Rapid round ~5 minutes.
Extended time ~45 minutes.
- Details to these three questions are on the Instructions card.
- Clarify that they are only attempting to understand the problem at this point, not solve it.
- Remind the learners to record their responses.
Flip the Research card to reveal the to reveal the question prompts: Where, When, and How.
- Where does the problem exist?
- When did this problem begin or when does it occur?
- How have others already tried to solve this problem?
Time needed: Rapid round ~5 minutes.
Extended time ~45 minutes.
If learners have not been trained in how to properly search the internet then they should be given specific sources to perform research.
Flip the Smash?! Card to reveal the question prompts: What, How, and How.
- What app did you select?
- How does it work?
- How can you use it to explain a solution to the problem?
Rapid round ~25 minutes total:
- 5 minutes to investigate and get familiar with the functionality of the application.
- 15 mins to develop solution explanation.
- 5 minutes to share a link to the solution explanation.
- 5 minutes to perform reflection.
Extended time ~50 minutes total (15/25/5/5):
- Let the learners know that they will soon come up with an explanation on how to solve this problem using a creative application.
- Use the time given to play with the creative app and learn its functionality. Apps can be chosen from a list created by the instructor, or chosen by the learners if allowed by the instructor. If randomization is allowed, have learners roll the dice, then select an app that is categorized as writing, voice, graphics, video, audio, or silly. See examples. The full list of cross-platform app options is coming soon!
- Due to limitations of the app chosen, they may only be able to explain or design their solution, and not actually create a fully-functioning prototype.
Flip the Reflection Card to reveal the question prompts: What, When, and How.
- What new things did you discover about the problem, yourself, and others?
- When did challenges occur in the process?
- How will you do things differently in the future?
- Make sure link permissions are set properly so intended audience can access product. (Best if comments can be left directly.)
- Receive feedback from the authentic audience and identify ways to improve the creative solution.
- Time should be given for learners to improve their solution and to then create and share again.
- Examples from #EdtechTeam events, recorded in Flipgrid at flipgrid.com/SBEDU
- Mods are modifications to the original instructions, but maintain the same sequence of steps.
- Have learners select a second app to blend with their first app to create a completely unique product!
Hopefully, you all have figured out that a major goal of Smashboard Edu is to help teach empathy. As we teach our students through this gamified experience, my hope is that they see their world in a different light- real people that have real challenges, and that they see themselves as perennial problem-solvers. So what do you think? I would love it if you reached out via twitter @deelanier and offer any suggestions ask questions or post student projects. Also, be sure to follow the Facebook group at facebook.com/groups/smashboardedu for updated resources, because there is definitely more to come!