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Solve in Time: Gamifying the problem-solving process

Dee Lanier has been engaging in some serious and playful thinking relating to how people identify and creatively solve problems.

He recently created Solve in Time, a gamified problem-based learning activity that uses the design-thinking process to solve real-world problems. Dee believes it will take the blah out of lesson planning while it engages classrooms and communities in more creative, more empathetic approaches to addressing our challenges.

A sociologist turned technologist and currently the Dynamic Learning Project Mentor and Program Director for EdTechTeam, Dee (@deelanier) works with coaches around the country in solving problems teachers have with technology.

He created his Solve in Time card game to mash together such solid learning and planning strategies as human-centered design; the design-thinking process; authentic, passion-based projects; social and emotional learning; problem-based learning and gamification. The project was originally called Smashboard Edu because of its focus on creative applications to explain and develop solutions to relevant, real-world problems.

The open-ended card game takes any group or any individual through a design thinking process. Use it for quick brainstorming or problem solving or consider advanced uses around strategic planning. Use it with five-year-olds or with adults.

This video offers step-by-step instructions.

Solve in Time Instructions

When Dee and I chatted, he took me through the Solve in Time process with my own sample problem. After, we brainstormed some of the “use cases” for the game. They include:

  • setting goals with parent or faculty groups
  • generating Genius Hour projects
  • inspiring problem-based learning
  • connecting passion projects to community needs
  • addressing conflict resolution and restorative justice
  • supporting social and emotional learning
  • generating app-smashing recipes for addressing challenges with technology
  • polling groups for community challenges
  • planning in faculty meetings and professional development
  • identifying meaning projects for makerspaces and maker pantries
  • encouraging strategic planning in your school or library
  • creating a culture that welcomes identifying challenges for group problem solving

As with many of the games we know and love, new card sets keep us engaged and push our play forward. Dee revealed a few coming attractions.

Subscribers will soon have access to downloadable SOS Cards, a Response Sheet and a classroom issue-based Problem Pack. More packs are in the works, but I am sworn to secrecy.

Dee welcomes your questions and suggestions for future packs in this Flipgrid grid. 

So, gather some white card stock, your color printer, a pair of scissors or your paper cutter and some tape. Add a timer to gamify with some productive constraints.

And register here to receive your own free 🖨️ print and ▶️ play cards and updates.

Clearly, a larger goal of Solve in Time is teaching empathy. Dee shares:

As we teach our students through this gamified experience, my hope is that they see their world in a different light–real people that have real challenges, and that they see themselves as perennial problem-solvers.

Joyce Valenza About Joyce Valenza

Joyce is an Assistant Professor of Teaching at Rutgers University School of Information and Communication, a technology writer, speaker, blogger and learner. Follow her on Twitter: @joycevalenza

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