Notpron – Far too frustrating

I chose the Notpron from the list for activity 3.2 because the word puzzle was next to the name, and I normally like puzzle type games. I say normally. I hated this one, it was extremely frustrating. If left on my own, I would not have got further than the first level, which was easy as you just clicked on the door. This ‘puzzle’ was far too hard for me. You needed a degree in computing/programming and a very creative imagination to work through this, I have neither of these. Hints were provided, but these were insufficient to help me. When thinking of this in terms of learning, it reminded me of Vygotsky’s (1978) Zone of Proximate Development (ZPD). This ZPD stretches students to learn new things, but within their capabilities with guidance and providing suitable scaffolding for this to happen. This was way out of my ZPD, and the hints provided were not sufficient scaffolding for me to guess what to even try to do to get to the next level. I suppose this is a lesson learned in making sure that that enough scaffolding is provided for all level of student, and it provided me with the insight of what it felt like to feel way out of my comfort zone. In my case, I could just give up on the game (or cheat – see below) but what if it was someone’s degree course and they felt like that?

I didn’t give up straight away, as I don’t like to be beaten. I asked my son, who enjoys that type of thing, and together (mainly him) we worked out a few more levels. I also Googled the game and found a walkthrough, which provided the step by step answers up to level 10. Then we gave up – as it was way too hard and the hints and walkthough stopped at that point (no scaffolding at all). I didn’t feel that I built on my knowledge from one level sufficiently to get to the next one, it was all really hard and far-fetched. May be others with more creative minds found it easier but I just found it frustrating.

So lessons learnt were to build learning activities that build up knowledge (slowly if necessary), provide enough support and guidance to assist students to work within their ZPD, and that if students feel that the tasks are way out of their comfort zone, they are likely to give up.

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About Sue Folley

Academic Developer, interested in effective use of technology in teaching and learning, Web 2.0 and social networking. Just completed an EdD about teaching online.

Posted on May 2, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Hi Sue,

    My goodness that’s a challenge! I’m a keen game player and I really couldn’t make much headway with it. I didn’t find the hints very helpful, or encouraging either… I’ve asked my partner to have a go at it, to see how he gets on as he has a much more logical mind and a fair degree more patience! Perhaps there’s something here too about learner styles!

    I totally agree with your comments about ZPD, it would be interesting to see, if you had the time, how you found the other games in terms of their approach to scaffolding new user experiences. I did some research on World of Warcraft looking at how the designers scaffolded an “induction” type process, and really this was the best example of it’s kind that I found. (You can try a 10 day free trial if you’re interested in seeing how it works). Each new skill is introduced and then there are opportunities to try it out in different contexts and also to build it onto the previous skills you have already learnt. As the game is massively multiplayer online (MMO) it relies heavily on “affinity groups” (Gee, 2003) and uses the distributed learning of players to support and help each other in mastering the game. It struck me, actually, that in a way that’s also what happened when you asked your son to play with you – it’s a social constructivist approach that I’ve tried to replicate in learning activities that I’ve planned too.

    I don’t know if you’ve come across the work of Malone and Lepper?

    Malone, T. W., & Lepper, M. R. (1987). Making learning fun: A taxonomy of intrinsic motivations for learning. Aptitude, learning, and instruction, 3, 223-253.

    It struck me as particularly apt in relation to Notpron!

    Anna

  2. Hi Anna,

    Thanks for taking the time to comment on this post :). I haven’t come across the Malone and Lepper article, so I will definitely take a look at that so thanks for suggesting it.

    One thing that stood out of your comments for me was when you referred to patience – I am very impatient, and if I can’t learn something quickly or at least make progress, I do give up. I don’t mind if something takes a long time as long as you can keep making progress. So again we can think about that in terms of learning designs.

    Also the idea of using others and trying to collaborate over tasks does fit well with the idea of social constructivism. It did help me enourmously discussing ideas with my son, and although he was much better at this game than me, I was also able to make suggestions and we both got a lot further through working on the levels together than either of us would individually.

    Thanks for the comments. 🙂

    Sue

  1. Pingback: Getting the right level of challenge | OCTEL

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