Quest Boise 2014: Quest Based PD: Practical Use & Hopes for the Future

These are my live blogged notes from Quest Boise 2014 presentation, Quest Based Professional Development: Practical Use & Hopes for the Future. All mistakes are my own.

Presenter: Corey Papastathis |

Co-host and Student Perspective: Traci Hoschouer

Corey is the instructional coach of technology in CO was former instructor of game design computer forensics in Boulder, CO. Owner of Scribelife Games, a small card and board game company. Guild member of Cognitive Dissonance and Inevitable Betrayal.

Why Quest Based PD?

  • PD Carnival Challenge of Choice – this is where it started for him. How can we give choice to teachers around their PD? Teach an hour course about their subjects. 15 – 20 sessions within the day. Development was missing from professional development. More like sharing, rather than development of skills. There was no sustainability in it.
  • Content area and grade level specific tasks – things that they can do. With QB PD, you have deliverables or tasks that they can use in their classroom.
  • Teams form naturally based on need. People were having issues or challenges and could come together to work together to overcome.
  • Friendly competition –
  • A non-biased way to deliver pilot technology – his favorite. This means that two or three devices that he wants to use, uses game to determine who is ready to try new things.

Our Current PD – Flipped Learning (subject)

How to model self-direction in a PD?

  • Design goals – modeling what you want to see teachers do in the classroom; tools that they would use, change instruction on student needs
  • How to arrange xp – arrange it so they can go in any direction but there’s not a lot of opportunity for depth of knowledge that rewards people for going deeper; instead, he changed it. If they did the bare minimum, they had to do all the quests, mile wide, inch deep learning. HOwever, if they went deeper within a quest, they got more xp so they didn’t have to do every single quest.
  • What are the expectation for completion?
  • Credits? – in CO, was 15 hours. If they did all the quests, or went deeper, they went in way more than 15 hours required.
  • Layout – Mind map of flipped PD (link out) –
  • “On the fly” engagement – keep it fresh with “pop” quests
  • Our current tools – 3D GameLab, Google Docs & Tools for Education, EdModo (for engagement)

How We Scored On District PD Rubric

Rubric – Published in Learning Forward Journal in 2012

  • Plan
  • Implement
  • Evaluate

This looks at how effective the PDs are. When he looks back on how he scored on the rubric, planning was great, implementation and evaluation is advanced.

Math Team Interview

Video of math team answering the question “How has Quest Based PD helped you understand the course topic of Flipped Learning”?

From chat notes: Motivator – Development and achievement (See Octalysis Gamification Framework)

Quest Based PD: The Learner’s Perspective

  • Face to face PD – instructor only shares main topic
  • Questing is used to dig deeper – make the choices on the concepts that applied to her situation/classroom
  • Self-directed learning – she was able to own her learning. She’s very competitive and found it satisfying to check things off, log points, see who’s on the leaderboard.
  • timing – this was a summertime PD, could do it when she wanted to do each component
  • Application – As she completed each quest, she thought about she wanted to apply it in the classroom by making videos and then editing them. Received feedback from Corey and fix it or move forward.
    • Corey – he likes using 3D Gamelab because he could return something with feedback. They can offer evidence of learning, rather than sit n’ git.

What I Have Learned So Far

  • unlock new quests slowly – unlock 3 to 5 at a time.
    • Use prerequisites
    • Use repeatable quests – a generic quest, like create a video, but they can do it once a  week.
  • Create a collaboration space and live opportunities
    • could have used the Edmodo group a lot more, pointing the quests there so people were collaborating in that space
  • Badges, Achievements, and Awards
    • definitely need some badges and awards to add to competitive nature, particularly with adults
    • make these focused on tools, it’s really good. Your achievement or award gives you an “edge in the game” which is true in PD as well.
  • Narrative is important even for adults
    • He’ll add a story narrative, even if its a total fantasy, so it gets people involved so they have something to talk about. Help with engagement.

What Is Next for Us?

  • Game based Learning/Gamification PD – using narrative, for next January
  • S.A.L.T Instructional Strategies Questing – build a system in which leadership team or anyone in district can submit quests for district or school depending on goals. Those become available and open/flexible.
  • Student created quests for peer tutoring – high school is doing peer tutoring after school club and they will create quests for other students.
  • Flipped Staff Meetings
    • Required Quests (like background information) + Teacher Choice Quests
  • More of our teachers using questing strategies in the classroom

Example of student created quests in peer tutoring

Look at what standards we have that we need to create support or more content for that standard. The after school club will create quests, live action or lab, and hand those into the instructor. For example, practice the scientific method and can practice that by using a few different choices (quests).

What’s Next for the World?

  • Industry starts using quest based PD – creating more engaging PD or training where the learner has choice
  • Gifts of challenging and rewarding work – refer to Jane McGonigal book Reality is Broken.
  • Online badges are verifiable evidence
  • Problems take on a new, more positive, reputation

A Five Minute Quest

Gift Challenging and Rewarding Work

  • Compose an email to a peer, friend or family member OR social media post.
  • Think of something specific you would like to accomplish in the next week.
  • Ask the recipient of the email or post to learn something that will help you accomplish your goal.
  • Ask them to report back in the next 2 days sharing what they have learned.
  • Explain in your email/post how you will use this information.
  • If possible, invite them to join you in accomplishing your goal.


Where are good resources for badges? GameLab has an export to Mozilla Badges.

How to get admin buyin? Good question! Look at the data you can get on PD (through GameLab). When you report back to board, you have hard numbers to show for the work and improvement.

Did you just wing it in the design? Or did you based it on a framework or other guide? He winged it but did see other frameworks in the Academy within the GameLab. He’s been a D&Der for a long time, so he knows how to make quests.

Do you see any trends in circumstance with regards to who is early adopter, those who are reluctant, etc? Most of his PDers are early adopters.  He’ll have more information from teacher made quests after this year.

How do PD trainers collect those artifacts of proof of learning? They did it through Google Docs or where posted video content.

What would you say are your “gold” resources? Those things that really work are videos from conferences, videos on specific topics, things he’s found through ISTE (flipped learning network), Twitter hashtag searches.

How do kids adopt this? Are they quick to jump on the bandwagon or does the novelty wear off? He’s seen it briefly in students because MS teacher uses QB learning, the kids love it because they have choice. They can create website, prezi, or any number of ways to reach the same goal (goal is to share ideas digitally).

How long does this PD program run? It ran through the summer.



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