It was Monday night in Wisconsin Dells, and my friend Corey and I were putzing around the local Walmart (a couple of devil-may-care scamps painting the town red, clearly). We were leading a session called “Building Digital Literacy Skills with the Amazing Google Scavenger Hunt Challenge” at the Midwest Google Summit the following morning, and we were in search of prizes. We had our resources, we had structure, and we figured prizes for the most successful Googlers made sense (our session was called the Amazing Scavenger Hunt Challenge, after all). As we stood near the pet toys aisle chatting about how to best run the session, we had a thought:
We can do better.
Corey spotted decks of playing cards on an end cap, and he wondered aloud how we could incorporate them into the session. Then the Aha Moment of all Aha Moments struck me – “What if each time a group completed a challenge, they received a random playing card? And the team with the best poker hand at the end of the session is the winning team?”
And thus, our gamified PD session was truly born.
Here’s the basics of our session (the Slide Deck is embedded below – with answers that weren’t there I dished out the Slides, obviously): Inspired by Dan Russell, Google Search Anthropologist, I created a series of Google Search challenges that included evaluating biased websites, utilizing YouTube transcripts, accessing photo EXIF data and exploring royalty-free media. We gave the briefest of intros (many of the attendees had attended Corey’s Google Search 101 session the day before), instructed the attendees to form teams, then released the Slide Deck. Teams made copies of the Slide Deck and shared them with teammates. The rules were few:
- Teammates must stay on the same slide (no dividing and conquering).
- The process is just as important as the answer.
- If they think they have a correct answer, they raise their hands – Corey or I would check their answer and processes, and if correct – they drew a card.
We gave them 30 minutes – and it was a FAST AND FURIOUS 30 minutes. It was hands down the most engaging PD session I’ve ever been a part of. Teams completed 3-7 challenges, but what was amazing about the poker structure was that every team had a chance to have the best hand. Sure, the team with 7 cards had the best chance (spoiler alert: they did not win) – but it was almost like adding a handicap in bowling…which made it more fun. The winning team produced a pair of Aces, and they won a Walmart prize pack of random trinkets.
The most important part was the final 15 minutes of the sessions: the debrief and recap. Participants showcased methods and processes they used to find answers. It was great! Everyone learned some cool new Google tricks and walked away with a Slide Deck ready to adapt in their own classroom. I owe a debt of gratitude to Dan Russell – meeting him and learning about his website, SearchReSearch, was the inspiration for the session (and I even used a few of his old challenges). Check out his site if you have some time, and Google on!