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Unread 03-08-2013, 05:17 PM
Leibniz13 Leibniz13 is offline
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gamification of chairmans outreach

Think how much less awesome it would be if the we spent all that time building robots, then had just one opportunity at one regional to walk our robot through its paces in front of a panel of judges. At the end we were told we either won the whole regional or did not win. No matches, no ranking, no score, no learning from what our competitors did to beat us, no beating last year's rank, etc.

With the clever minds involved, why can't we figure out how to bring the game spirit and energy to the community outreach/education side of FIRST? Sure, those things are valuable in themselves. So is managing to create a complex robot and bring it to life. The inspired vision of a varsity sport of the mind still adds something more.

Ideas for and against are welcome, but I'm particularly interested in collaborating on the preliminaries of a feasible gamification architecture (metrics & commensurability, key variables, comparison across strategies, etc.). Promising participants may be invited to a separate forum to develop ideas further.
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Unread 03-08-2013, 05:21 PM
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Re: gamification of chairmans outreach

The point of outreach isn't to "win" a "game" so I'm not sure what you hope to achieve with such a concept.

The idea of "beating" another team in terms of outreach is fundamentally flawed.

My $0.02.
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Unread 03-08-2013, 06:03 PM
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Re: gamification of chairmans outreach

Love that you have such a different way of seeing it (and yours might well be the more common view)-more ideas/views means seeing it all in a bigger context.

It seems to me that the awards process already asks us to hold ourselves up in comparison to each other as a way to use friendly competition to better ourselves. It's not as if it were a zero-sum game. Consider how different groups in the community (or classrooms within a school) will race to raise the most funds for charity x or y. There we have good examples where the friendly spirit of pushing each other by competing has a non-zero-sum effect. It's also an example where seeing how we're doing in comparison to each other works better than just turning in your private results and finding out at the end which team won (with no 2nd-nth place winners revealed).
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Unread 03-08-2013, 06:22 PM
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Re: gamification of chairmans outreach

I see where you're coming from, but I'm curious if you have any concrete ideas of universal metrics that could possibly encompass the incredible variety in a teams' individual goals and mission, its location and community surroundings, and other qualities that make every team (and its outreach) completely and necessarily unique.

The best metrics are your own. Do you see the impact of your efforts in your community? Do you feel like you should/could have won Chairman's, but another team was even more deserving? That's how you know FIRST is really working.
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Unread 03-08-2013, 07:47 PM
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Re: gamification of chairmans outreach

Remember that the reason that you do something should NEVER be for the sole purpose of winning an award. To paraphrase something said by one of the Hall of Fame teams: "You should choose to do something because it is fun and the right thing to do."

Yes, in human nature we like to get rewarded/recognized for things we do; however, you should not have to rely on this to be "successful". Remember the purpose of FIRST - To change our culture.

We have seen the difference in people's lives on our team as they went through the program. There are all sorts of examples, and I am sure you (and everybody other team) have similar stories. At the end of the day, that is really all that matters; changing lives in a positive manner.

As far as how to evaluate and give a "score", whether comparative or on a scale, that gets tricky. For example: take a look at the past [Championship] Chairman's Award Recipients and try and compare the programs. How would you compare them against each other? How would you weigh the different categories? What would the categories/metrics be? How would they be decided?

My main concern with the categories/metrics is that I believe you would start to limit the creativity of teams and make them focus on certain things just to boost a score. Creatively solving problems is part of the fun. Continuous improvement and sustainment of [old] programs is also important.

I don't think everything can, or even should, be based on numbers. Not every team can start 200 teams in Canada or Hawaii (just 'fictitious' examples) because they are located in relatively dense region of teams already. This doesn't mean they can't impact their local and surrounding areas. This is where you have to be creative. I am a firm believer that there is no model that can be transplanted/copied from one team to another and have the same level of success. Further extrapolation would lead to: there is no formula for earning the Chairman's Award. You can't do (20%*number of teams started) + (40%*number of outreach events) + (30%*number of people interacted with) + (10%*number of students sent to college)=Chairman's Award. There just isn't a formula for it. The mindset you should have is: "I know I have made a positive impact on my community".

Ever since I sat in on my first Chairman's Chat at Championships in 2010 my mindset has transformed into that stated above. It is important that you do things for the right reason and have fun doing it.

I would love to sit in on a panel discussion about this to further discuss. Maybe there is a way to develop some system, but we can't take the creativity out of it. We also shouldn't have teams doing things just to fill a rubric because that rubric may not be all inclusive of things teams do. We were asked to help change a culture. If the solution was simple FIRST would have given more specific guidelines on how to do this. It is our job as teams to find unique and creative ways to help fulfill the request from FIRST.

*Note-the mathematical model used as an example is just random things that are consistent among teams with arbitrary weighting values assigned to them. I by no means think that is the way it is or should be judged.
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Unread 03-08-2013, 07:52 PM
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Re: gamification of chairmans outreach

Tim, you really said it perfectly. If you're doing it to win, you're doing it wrong. Teams who truly understand why they are doing what they do will win Chairman's simply as a result, an added benefit. The award isn't the goal. It's the impact you create, and the results you see.
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Unread 03-08-2013, 09:16 PM
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Re: gamification of chairmans outreach

Quote:
Originally Posted by Leibniz13 View Post
It seems to me that the awards process already asks us to hold ourselves up in comparison to each other as a way to use friendly competition to better ourselves.
I agree with this. It is a different sort of thing since robots firing frisbees at the speed of light into a tiny slot that is fifty feet away is almost inherently more fun to talk about than that science fair you demoed at. However, I know that at FLR 340 won CA for what felt like forever years in a row, and when they didn't it was 1511. We used those teams as our standard. We knew that we probably wouldn't get up to that level in only our 3rd and 4th years as a team but we still strove to get as close as we could.

I know that outreach is one of my favorite things to talk about at competitions and I always love talking to the judges about it, but I have a feeling that for most of the students participating outreach seems a bit more boring. I like your thoughts on trying to create more of a game out of it because while it is not strictly within the "spirit" of outreach in terms of why you are doing it, I think that in the case the ends would justify the means.

Does it really matter what tactics we use to spread FIRST as long as we keep it in a positive light and get it to grow as quickly as possible?

Also, congratulations to 2809 for winning FLR CA this year. You guys are great.
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Unread 03-09-2013, 10:25 PM
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Re: gamification of chairmans outreach

Some great thoughts so far. A couple of things to add into the consideration:

1. Certainly winning some game should not be THE reason, or the MAIN reason we engage in outreach. It would be oversimplified to imagine that we must choose one or another motive, when all manner of human enterprises are a conglomeration of motives.

2. I also agree that we must not oversimplify the kind of rubric used. If we allow that judges already manage, however, to somehow objectively compare and contrast a wide variety of Chairman's submissions, though, we should allow the possibility of:
a) making those comparisons to greater place values than just the two categories of "1 winner" and "n non-winners", if they can look at a set of 100and judge entry #7 better than #1 through #n, then they could do it for any smaller set of #1 through #n after they take #7 out of contention, and so on (or rank some as a tie)
b) rendering the same kind of thinking they already use as capable of being formed into a rubric, and show the scores rendered (why is this less achievable than, say, Olympic gymnastics?)
c) allowing the possibility that some portion of whatever rubric be a category like "innovation" or "creativity" or something similar.

3. Whatever the rubric created, and whatever the number of place values might be added to the ranking, the practice of making the comparison process more transparent to the other teams would magnify the value of the role modeling done by winning teams. How can they be role models to inspire the rest of us if their games and the score values given in judging are a secret? How could we learn to play hoops like NBA players if we couldn't watch and study their playing (in theory, I suck at basketball)? How could we ever become better at any game or sport or area of study or test of human ability if we were never told which parts count for higher evaluation scores?

4. No, I don't know quite what such a universal set of metrics would look like, that's why I need all the people on here who are smarter than me to help me figure one out.
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Unread 03-09-2013, 11:01 PM
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Re: gamification of chairmans outreach

Tim said things quite well, but for fun I'll add a couple of more thoughts.

I once heard Dave Lavery say he agreed to get involved with a FIRST team because "he didn't know any better". It is a funny comment but leads me to my next point.

A long time ago we decided to chase the Chairman's Award and spent a lot of time thinking about how to do that. do this, do that, do the other, because that is what the "judges want to see".

Somewhere along the way things changed. Doing all this stuff took on its own merits and rewards. We no longer needed the award to tell us we were doing the right thing.

If they no longer gave out the award we would still do what we do. It's important, rewarding, and fun.

Over time we recognized that while getting the award is fun, it is even more productive and fun to take the award and leverage it into more success which is one of the real values of receiving the thing in the first place.

Having said that, we hope to collect a few more awards, but if we don't we will stick to our business and keep on doing what we do.
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