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Misson Epic Leadership
ISTE 2013 Debriefing - Mission: Fun, Flow and Fiero

San Antonio Conference Center at Nite by Center4EduPunx, on Flickr

As was inevitable, we went to ISTE with a mission. Our mission was fun, flow and fiero! Not for us just to personally experience it, but to tangibly demonstrate it and discuss it with our fellow educators and administrators. We were even willing to venture into that minefield of how to assess the learning that happens in games and measures of mastery.


Epic Leadership Symposium program description

Our day started early at 0700. We rendezvoused at level 4 of the Hyatt Grand Hotel. Last minute adjustments needed to be made. The simple cipher that was the key to finding the Paladin needed adjustment.

The chiffrement from the leader of the order, the Cardinal has left us with cognitive dissonance and a feeling that we will be inevitably betrayed. The order of the bricoleur needs you. Remember it all began with the Paladin and it ends with you.

Sounds a little cryptic? It was... and it was all part of a game. Educators from around the world were meeting on Sunday morning to find this Paladin. This Paladin, of course, was Jane McGonigal. We were part of this game. Our mission was to convey selected information to the participants so they could experience emotions, motives, objective reasoning and collaboration that manifests in game play. The reward was access to the Paladin.

So after a brief introduction, the Epic Leadership Symposium played a game. They didn’t know it was game. They were given a paper lunch bag with 20 pieces of dry spaghetti, two yards of string, two yards of tape and a marshmallow. They were asked to do - the marshmallow challenge.

Yes - the marshmallow challenge!
We gave them only ten minutes to create the highest free-standing structure that they could. (picture and iste blog about event)

So what did they do? They inquired about the rules, used mobile technology for cheats, hacks and how-tos, and even tried to make up their own rules. They created structures, watched them collapse and then rebuilt.

They got loud. So loud ...that we were actually yelling over the microphone to get their attention. At the end, we asked them if it was fun? They yelled YES!. We asked them if they had experienced flow - again they yelled YES! And lastly, we asked them if they knew what “fiero” was. We heard one woman’s voice above everyone else, shouting, “we do now!” We then stated, “that’s what we need in our classroom.”

You might think our mission ended after that but it did not. We were involved in a timed three hour mission where Jane McGonigal would spend the last thirty minutes answering all of their questions.

There was still work to be done, The Paladin (Jane) needed to be summoned. Experts were brought in to discuss and facilitate discussion. We went to our predetermined positions. We were ready and waiting. On this mission, we had two additional 12 minute opportunities to facilitate the game based learning discussion. We use the tried and true tactic of a “breakout session” where attendees selected one of six exemplar briefings to discuss.

The exemplar briefings offered were:

Then it was back to the big room to crowdsource the solution to the cipher and for the Paladin to appear. The cipher consisted of nine digits. These nine digits were the number of the cellphone that Jane McGonigal was holding in another room. The Paladin was not to appear until someone dialed that number and time was running out. One last clue for solving the cipher was given. It was in French and was exactly what was needed. A short time later, the cell phone rang, “The Paladin has arrived” boomed throughout the room as Jane McGonigal entered the room.

As with all tactical mission debriefs, this is the point of view of the agents not the strategic overview of whole field of operation. You’ll have to ask the Generals for that.