BattleDecks (Queensland Rules)

cc licensed flickr photo shared by bionicteaching

Way back when, I really, really wanted to do something with this whole BattleDecks idea. Two years or so later and I finally step up to the plate.

These were the rules my students got when they came in.

Your group will be assigned to one of the following topics.

1. Internet safety
2. 21st century skills
3. Technology integration
4. The future of education


* Your presentation will last between 2 and 3 minutes
* You can only choose from these 20 pictures
* You must use 10 of the provided images
* You can add no more than 10 written words in the entire slide show2

You have 30 minutes to prepare.

So it’s not exactly like the BattleDecks setup but it’s close enough and I think the rule changes made allow for more processing and a little less improv/comedy talent being necessary. The students had a lot of fun and the presentations were pretty decent. I think they’d improve the more we did this sort of thing.

My plan for next semester is to do this weekly or every two weeks as a review of the previous class. I’m kicking around a few additional ideas to keep it interesting.

  • having the students pick the images for the next group
  • giving less options on the photos
  • adding a required phrase or series of words
  • allowing for one wild card image

I like this activity for all sorts of reasons. It allows for a lot processing, creativity and gets people thinking about presenting in a different way. It also works for all sorts of content.

1 The images were chosen fairly randomly from a selection I had taken that happened to be on my computer. I tried to pick images that were interesting and open to multiple interpretations.

2 I need to come up with a better way to say this. i had to explain it multiple times.

16 thoughts on “BattleDecks (Queensland Rules)

  1. I’d probably try to say it: “You can put words on the slides if you want, but you don’t have to. If you do, don’t put more than 10 words in the whole show.” Would that work? Would it not?

  2. This is a great idea- I’m new to the interactive educational world, but this is a great way to get the students thinking creatively and out of the box. It also gives them outlets to work on issues such as speaking in public, etc.


  3. Thanks for this, Tom. I applied it to a review of Reconstruction today and the class was engaged and making great connections. If it can work with that era of US history you could probably apply it to just about any topic. Great stuff!!!

  4. Jeff-

    That’s awesome. Reconstruction would be a tough one.

    It kills me I don’t have a history class in the wings somewhere to try some of this stuff on. I’ll have to make do with adults for now.

    I really appreciate you giving it a shot and letting me know how it went.

  5. Hi Tom, I am a communications adjunct at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan. I am also a doctoral student in education at Walden University online. I am focusing on new technology and its availability to teachers on my thesis. We have a blogging assignment this semester and your blog seem to catch my eye on bionic teaching and new technology. If you have any suggestions on narrowing my focus in new technology?

  6. Hi John-

    That’s a wide open topic. I might think about some of these things-

    • the impact of PLNs on teacher professional development
    • IWB’s as reinforcers of teacher centered delivery
    • building and sustaining community online
    • building and sustaining online professional networks
    • what makes a successful OER
    • what are the technology skills necessary for teachers today? where do they overlap with pedagogy?
    • I’d love to see some research on how PD on technology looks in k12 or how poorly most schools of ed prepare teachers
    • it’d also be interesting to look at most ed college courses and their use of technology
  7. Hi Tom,

    You made some excellent suggestions to narrow my focus on my dissertation topic. However, you have some abbreviations I don’t understand. What are PLN’s, IWB’s, OER’s, and PD? Thanks for your clarification and hope you had a great memorial day weekend.

    1. PLN – personal learning networks
      IWB – interactive white boards (promethean, smart etc.)
      OER – open educational repositories
      PD – professional development

      You’ll probably be fine googling them to find out more but that ought to strain out some of the odder results. Good luck.

  8. I love reading your blog–wish I could do it more often. I love the Battledecks idea and will have to think about how to use it, but it has rattled my brain…which is a good thing. Thanks!

      1. Believe it or not, five years later I still use this activity. Two weeks ago I gave it out as extra credit and we witnessed a presentation on the buildup to the American revolution. I had forgotten where the original idea came from until I got these updated comments. Thought you might like to know!

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