Two week update…

What have I done these last two weeks?

   I have spent most of my time processing registrations, easily spending at least 8-10 hours a day on all the related tasks!  For each registration, I sent back a Welcome email to confirm the registration and ask teachers to join our Google Group for teachers and post an initial introduction. I asked teachers to review all the information on our website and to assign “The Giver” to their students to start reading in preparation for GiverCraft.  Sometimes when a registration was missing information or I needed clarification on a class schedule, it would take several back and forth emails to get that first step completed.

   I created a Google Calendar to keep track of the schedules and how many students were in each class; with schools across the six (6) U.S. time zones as well as one group in Egypt, it was a great math exercise to keep track of when students would be in the game together.  Our limit is 120 students at any given moment so classes with alternating days or varying daily schedules required more attention.

   I created instructions and sent all registered teachers links to download our MinecraftEdu client; teachers have been communicating issues and with Lee’s help, I’ve been troubleshooting these issues with teachers.  I also created instructions for uninstalling incompatible Java versions and downloading and installing the correct Java version needed to use our MCEdu client.  Several of our teachers are still awaiting administration approval to download and install our MinecraftEdu client onto student computers, which could be problematic if it takes much longer.  I am hoping to set a deadline for Tuesday, Nov 4th for teachers to confirm that the client works, so we can potentially add other classes.  Not surprisingly, we had to post a notice on our website that registrations were now being put on a waitlist.  We have had several teachers withdraw their registrations due to scheduling conflicts, bandwidth issues, not enough time and money to order books, and not having the appropriate technology to participate.  One class only had Chromebooks and Ipads, since our client software will only work on Desktop or laptop computers, they were unfortunately not able to participate.  An interesting problem, that having more advanced technology prevented them from participating in the GiverCraft.

   This last week, I also sent a request for teachers to submit their Student Rosters so we can generate usernames that will be used to log into MinecraftEdu; these usernames and associated emails and passwords will also be used by students to access the GiverCraft Wikispace where they will post screenshots and write about their building.

   This coming week we will have a MinecraftEdu challenge with teachers; I sent each teacher a secret word that will be used to complete the challenge.

How do I feel about my progress?

   I have a lot of moving parts to my role so keeping them all on track has been a good exercise in organization. There are days that seem a little more hectic than others.   I have a lot of lists to keep track of tasks and I created filters in my email to sort messages from both google groups.  The Hangout chat has been very helpful for staying in touch with the team members without having to go back and forth on an email chain.

   When I finally responded to the last registration, I breathed a sign of relief because I had finally gotten through the list; since then, we’ve had three more registrations, such is the process!  Keeping up with the registration process for EACH teacher has been the biggest challenge.  I feel like despite all that I have done and with all I still have yet to do, I am still very excited about this project.  In two weeks, we will be starting GiverCraft and the sense of urgency is not necessarily a stressful one for me.

   I make it a priority to plan self-care so that I don’t get overwhelmed:  I’ve had a lot of coffee, eaten a lot of Halloween candy, gone running, taken daily walks or hikes with my two dogs (Coco Bean and Duke), taken breaks to watch several innings of the World Series or a show on my DVR, had Skype/Hangout sessions with my family, dinner dates with my very understanding and patient husband, and one day last week, I even took a nap!  It was a short one but went a long way to helping me get my second wind to jump back into my tasks!

What do I still need to do?

1.  Continue communicating with teachers who have incomplete registrations and add new teachers as allowed by the schedule.  This also includes getting them up to speed on joining the google group, testing the client, and submitting their student roster, etc.  I am also going to start calling teachers to follow up as it will be faster to process their registrations rather than going through another week of emails as we are nearing the start of GiverCraft.

2.  I am currently adding student pages to the wiki using their usernames; teachers will be added with first initial and last name.  We have three professors participating so they will also have teacher pages.  I also need to finish creating teacher instructions for joining and using the wiki as well as invite each teacher to join the wiki.  I will post the instructions in the Wiki and add a note for teachers to create their accounts and personalize their class home pages.  Dr. Lee suggested even having them post their screenshots from next week’s challenge so they can see how we will be asking students to post on the wiki.

3.  I  have been receiving student rosters which I pass on to Dr. Lee so she can generate usernames, passwords, and wiki email addresses.  After I receive them, then I create the wiki pages and send the roster back to teachers.

4.  I need to assign classes to the various zones and will need to check-in with Thomas and Tiffany to finalize the schedule and class zones before sending on to teachers.  At this point, I think I will create a master schedule that also includes the zones and share it with all teachers so they can see when they are in the game and what other classes are in the game at the same time.

5.  I am compiling a master participant list with usernames so when we monitor the game we can quickly identify students and teleport them to their appropriate zone during their first time in the game.

6.  I will be helping to host a practice session in MinecraftEdu next week for teachers.

7.  I am also going to start finalizing details for the celebration and reflection at the end of GiverCraft and ask team members to begin thinking about how they want to be involved.

How can others help me?

I acknowledge that I tend to plug away at my own tasks so if others need help, they are always welcome to ask me directly if they need help or feedback on anything.  I usually need help reviewing instructions or guides that I create before I send to teachers, so I have been posting to our team google group or in the Hangout chat and if team members are free, I appreciate their input.  Right now one of my largest tasks is creating Wiki pages, so if someone has free moments to help with that, I would definitely welcome the help!  I know our team is incredibly busy with their own roles so I appreciate everyone for stepping up in their “department” and especially for our department “chair” Dr. Lee for always being accessible and insightful!  I’m sure I am missing some information in this progress report, so thank you Dr. Lee for prompting me to blog and dump everything here so I can re-focus on move on to the rest of my to-do list.

And now for a break; going to walk my dogs in this sleet and see what happens!

2 thoughts on “Two week update…

  1. Mia, all your work is greatly appreciated! I know we are in good hands with your skill, dedication, and expertise. Looking forward to playing the game this week. The google calendar is an amazing feat.


  2. I was chuckling just a minute ago while I read your blog because as I was working earlier, I was mentioning to a client who’s a professor how much time this project is taking and I wasn’t prepared to make such a huge time commitment. She was shocked. I think the bottom line is that all of us, including Dr. Lee, had no idea how large and fast this was going to grow. I think the learning curve is that we should have capped it at a smaller number of students so it was easier to manage with so few of us doing the ‘managing.’ That’s good hindsight to move forward with for planning of future MOOC gamification.

    For us, though, it’s now just about survival. I’m glad you walked your dog – we have to keep throwing in some time for ourselves in between work, other classes, families, etc. I’m hoping that your workload will be reduced as teachers jump in and the process starts rolling. There’s a lot of hand holding in customer service, and that’s honestly where we’ve headed with this project. We have created a product and are now selling it, so to speak. I think it’s ok to let teachers know that we expect some glitches, this is a first-go and it’s not a product they’re buying, but an adventure to join us on. We need to let go of perfect and see what kind of results these students give us.

    Liked by 2 people

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