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The K12 Talent Development and Community design team recently had the opportunity to present at the DevLearn Conference in Las Vegas for the first time.

DevLearn is a conference attended by more than 4,100 educators and industry leaders from across the world. The annual conference is held to bring these individuals together to learn about the ways the industry is evolving and to present innovative solutions for improving education.

Part of the week-long conference includes DemoFest, an “informal science fair for learning projects.” Melissa Schuster, Instructional Support Manager for Talent Development, led the K12’s presentation at DemoFest. We talked with Melissa to learn more about the work her team is doing and their exciting opportunity at DevLearn.

Can you tell us more about the work your team is doing?

My team builds asynchronous resources for teachers to use for professional development and training. We work with the product management team, teacher trainers, student support services, and the academic team.

We create the units, videos, and other resources that end up in K12 teacher training.

How did the opportunity to attend DevLearn come up?

I submitted one of our units from the Student Support Services curriculum that was released this fall as part of the DemoFest contest. During the contest, e-learning instructional designers from all over the world share their instructional modules and some are selected to share at the conference. Our unit was one of the ones selected to present.

How did the presentation at DemoFest go?

All the participants from DevLearn attend DemoFest, where the presenters set up their demo. Our team set up our game, Classroom Escape, on a few computers to let people play it. We got some great feedback! In fact, we had one person come up and say that they had to come see our demo because people were talking about it.

Can you explain more about the concept for the game?

Classroom Escape was designed to help Student Support Services staff develop the skill of determining the root cause, and the appropriate response, to student challenges in a virtual classroom.

By drawing on the concept of an in-person escape room game, Classroom Escape requires staff to use observation skills, collect the clues presented, and determine the cause of the challenge. We designed the game in hopes of stimulating a level of curiosity that teachers need to respond to students’ challenges.

Why do you make the training modules as games?

Gamification not only provides a more engaging professional learning environment but allows for an individualized experience. In this case, the game addresses observational skills and practical analysis. It also pushes players to draw a conclusion based on the qualitative data while still engaging the learner with a bit of fun.

The game was nominated for a DemoFest award – what was it like for your team to be recognized in this way?

The game was nominated for the Academic Implementer category. We didn’t win but that’s okay – it was our team’s first time presenting there. To be invited to attend and to be nominated for the award was a testament to the hard work our team put into the game.

What advice would you give to others who want to present at an industry conference like DemoFest?

You have to make something really engaging. Even if you don’t think you’re going to get selected, go ahead and put your entry in. I submitted on a whim and we were selected. It was a great experience that I’m glad our team got to be a part of.

Play ‘Classroom Escape’ – the game that was presented at DemoFest!

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