We first thought that learners would stay at home and the mentors would work from their workplace, but even this plan evaporated overnight. We were riddled with questions: “What now? What will we do with the learners? How will we motivate them for work? How will we motivate them to stay at home? We got the idea of preparing a prize competition and motivate them to do the assignments that we would prepare in this period so that they would remain safe and active within the confines of their own homes.
So during the second week of the isolation regime we began playing the Best Self-Isolator. The game developed and was supplemented based on the learners’ response. The idea and the goal however remained the same. The learners received points for self-isolation if they went for a walk, cooked lunch or baked pastries. We usually do not encourage them to play games and watch movies, but this seemed important to us during this time. Most of the games they play encourage (at least) virtual interactions with their peers while movies are also a good motivator for respecting self-isolation protocols. They only received points if they carried out activities on their own or with the members of their households. They also received points for playing board games, doing Sudoku, crossword puzzles, Kakuro and brain-training games as well as for helping do chores around the house, exercising and/or studying. We prepared additional points for them each day. They thus had to do rebuses, riddles, various quizzes, spot the differences in pictures, make herbariums, pick flowers for Mothers’ Day, wear different socks for the World Down Syndrome Day, write how they feel while sheltering in place, make a poster for the “climate strike”. We also prepared various sports and music challenges.
They reported on all of these activities in the FB group we had created for this very purpose or in a private message to the mentor. The photos sent represented the proof of work. Some did not want to take part in the challenges and required additional motivation. In doing so, we applied the individual work methods adapted to the virtual world.
We announced the winner every week so that they had the chance of winning the prize each week and so that we would motivate those who were not active from the beginning to nevertheless take part in the competition. Weekly prizes were provided by local companies or by the mentors as part of the programme. We found that those who are a bit more shy and do not wish to go out on a limb so to say had the opportunity to shine. The prize competition was received well by the learners.
Gabrijela Humerca (email@example.com), Radovljica PLYA