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Archived Posts from “Gaming”

Prensky and Digital Colonisers



Sitting here at the Duxton in Perth while Marc Prensky engages us with his ideas on the “New Paradigm”. Predicated on the notion that the majority of approaches to current education are not created with the modern learner in mind, these assumptions and assertions filter through:

  • Digital Natives - grew up in the digital world - without a guidebook and without guidance.
  • They have developed an ‘e-life’
  • Current students challenge traditional tools of education - but embrace the critical and social constructivist pedagogical assumptions.
  • Young people create as much as they consume (Q: degree and complexity is questionable)
  • “Growing up in the light” - metaphor.
  • “You have to slow down when talking with teachers” - a student quote.
  • The well known native/immigrant discussion.
  • To engage we must enagage WITH students - we must be part of the journey.

So far the description of the “New Paradigm” seems to be an iteration of Dewey and others who recognised that learning is done by learners. And that learners can include “teacher” - social constructivism and critical pedagogy… modes of input are interactive - output becomes multi-modal.

  • Evaluate quality - an essential part of the work done by teachers and students in learning - especially in a digital context.
  • About allowing learners to “DO” - set them loose on a task… where only the goal is defined.

Student panel revealed interesting (if not unfamiliar) attitudes.

I take on board some of the criticisms I heard uttered at the event today - that the oversimplification of the material is potentially harmful. It assumes a rich understanding of pedagogy and and a willingness to make a significant cultural shift that is probably not evident - the biggest risk is that studnets will be set loose without guidance.

That said, a lot of the material that Prensky offers is a digitally contextualised restatement of older studnet-centred, social constructivist approaches to teaching and learning. From my point of view it was quite refreshing to hear that the way I endeavour to teach in schools is being touted as valuable. Shifting quite comfortably to the meddler in the middle, I enjoy the processes that offer me a chance to be engage and extend my own understandings and knwledge along with the students.

One of the concerning factors, and I did pipe up quite loudly and unceremoniuously to challenge one teacher who seemed to be seeking a co-option of all of children’s play as some extension of formal learning. While Marc was talking about Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants, we saw the emergence of the Digital Coloniser

And I got to thinking about this notion of digital colonisation - a well established tradition of those with willingness to believe in their own power wanting to gain dominion over the new place they have occupied. We saw it with the great colonial nations of the past and I suggest we are beginning to see it now. While Marc was talking about becoming a learner alongside students I felt I was witnessing a very different mindset developing from some on the floor. We all know that many teachers are very conservative, often never having taken a risk… what I experienced today was someone desperately trying to maintain some sort of imagined power base. It showed a lack of respect and regard for the culture of young people, and no understanding of the iomportance of play in child development - it was rather an exercise in trying to co-opt the digital culture of young people to the existing paradigm of the teacher concerned. 

Like the colonialism of our history there is a risk that the teacher’s and education system’s control of resources for digital learning will foster a relationship of subjugation - that the lack of regard for the emergent cultures of our young people will see them pushed further and further from engaged critical pedagogies and self-direction. What is the point of giving lip service to all this technology engagement if our attitudes as tecahers remain constant. Who is willing to embrace the adage:

“Take your ideological hammer and smash your cherished values and at their foundation you will find nothing”?

Or the (allegedly) Hebrew proverb

“Do not confine your children to your own learning, for they were born to a different time”

The task undertaken with a student and 4 university academics to plan a mechanism for learning that did not allow for lecturing was engaging - our young helper was interested in a Drama approach and by unpacking a seemingly simply task to create an original performance we discovered enormous potentail to engage with virtually every learning area. I’ll unpack the program more fully elsewhere.

My evolving Second Life



Well, having solved some of my bandwidth issues (now I have 60Gb monthly limit!) I have been able to better use my time in Second Life and really started to establish a presence.  SL is a real bandwidth slurper.

Like many newbies I wandered aimlessly around the SL world seeing what I could see, and trying to make sense of the things I could touch.  In Second Life, as in First Life, not everything is as it appears.  I found myself falling foul of pranksters who offer freebies that have embarrassing little scripts attached.  I finally secured some land - well I have a loan of some land under the Campus: Second Life program.  I might have to look into establishing an educational consortium to buy an entire island - perhaps WUGPWA will be interested.   I wonder how long before we get an ECAWA island?

I’ve set up home on the corner of my parcel of land - I have great views and a nice work space and living area.  I have flat screen panels that stream video and news updates to me as well as great little conversation area and a huge rug on the floor to relax with friends.  Upstairs is a lounge and outdoor setting.  Way up in the sky is a Skybox where friends can meet and play with their appearance or try out new objects.   I’ve modified a couple of objects to act as teleport platforms – one as an internal lift and another between home and the skybox (although that one sometimes needs the ESC key to finalise the process!)

I’ve a big empty building that I’m hoping will be used as small auditorium for presentations (might have to reduce the number of prims in use on the parcel though).  Down the other end of my block are a nice little gazebo and a duck pond.  There are a few water features and some plant and animal life.  The weather is still unpredictable. A crackling fireplace, some music upstairs, an annoyingly chatty parrot make it seem both more peaceful and chaotic.

I’ve started to modify scripts and can play about with the appearance of existing objects - including adding scripts and new textures.  My skills in building from scratch are a bit rudimentary - but I think given time I might come to grips with it all.

Presently my SL home is quite realistic in appearance and that’s something I might want to change over time as I come to understand the possibilities of new metaphors.  Why go to a virtual world and recreate the real world - I suppose mainstream theatre and film also fall into the same pattern.

My SL home has started to come alive for me - and people are dropping by to visit.  My list of friends is growing and I’m getting more invitations to interesting events.  The purchase of my new computer recently has given me the ability to email to and from my work space in Second Life.

Kim's Corner

The basic understandings I’ve started to come to terms with in relation top education are that there are fantastic opportunities to display information in ways that require understanding and critical appraisal.  Also, the use of role can be incredibly powerful in developing a rich engagement.  I’ve found a couple of interesting educational sites and a nice little theatre - people in SL are so kind and generous, offering to share the use of their spaces and helping newcomers find their way about.  If you drop by Kim’s Corner then be sure to visit these locations:

A useful book download is “Learning Spaces” – Diana Oblinger (ed) (20Mb)

Bryce 3D free download



Funny how so many software companies are having freebie give-aways these days to get attention - but it is not often an expensive 3D world/object creation tool is released for free. Bryce 3D is available for free download until September 6. This will be of interest to high school teachers looking for a way to extend students who have a taste for 3D design through use of Gamemaker and their own gameplay. I suggest Bryce because it is the interface is relatively simple and intuitive when compared to other 3D programs like Lightwave and 3D Studio Max. A number of content packages that offer pre-built models of things like scenery and people are available, including a free starter set inBryce 3D interface conjunction with this offer.

Bryce works on both PC and Mac platforms. Getting free copies is relatively simple: download a copy from DAZ Production’s page. Then you will need to create an account or have students create them, then once you’re logged in, the registration link Bryce gives you will create your registration code.

New focus for GameMaker?



Ian Bogost over at Water Cooler Games discusses the release of a game based on the Paris riots.  He refers to an emerging genre, “documentary games” and leads us to discover a few we may not have encountered previously.

I’ve been increasingly interested in so-called documentary games (or docu-games), such as JFK Reloaded and Escape from Woomera and Waco Resurrection. In fact, Cindy Poremba and I wrote an article on documentary games that should be out in the coming months (click over to her blog for more links on the topic, to which she is devoting her Ph.D. research)

I’m really interested in the rationale and development approaches to these games - most seem to be simple single player games at this stage but I’m sure over time this will shift into multi-user environments.

I’m thinking that the use of Gamemaker could be turned to making more socially aware games - most of the discussions of Gamemaker at education conferences are about learning to make the games and the coding sequences as they relate to programming - but why not layer another level of learning upon the process?  This follows on form my recent mention of Thomas Malaby’s New Approach to Gaming and subsequent mentions over at socialstudygames.

Griefing - bullying - the IT connection.



This is becoming quite an interest of mine over the past few months and has also taken centre stage as the focal theme of my online drama work.  There are emerging more and more stories about griefing across the entire web - in games, virtual communities, online worlds… etc….

Mark Wallace over at 3pointD and from Second Life Herald has reported on some new cases and provides the start of a commentary on this phenomenon.  He warns that when we encounter such behaviours we are really seeing a reflection of our offline society.  The world is changing and Second Life is the petri dish that shows us the trends… or so he speculates.  There might be some truth to that… either way the speculation and discussion is engaging.

Mark mentions a story reported in the Detroit News that states:

Someone is using the Internet to tease and humiliate her 16-year-old daughter, and whoever is behind the cruel open attacks is also hiding anonymously somewhere in cyberspace.
“They put up a phony Web site for her on MySpace,” said Leon. “I think it’s people who know her, because some of it is true and some of it is making fun of her.”

This phenomenon is also a type of ““>”cyberbullying” and is being reported more and more within school communities.  It seems the new tools also provide new means of attack.
I’m looking forward to exploring these ideas as my second phase of creative development ventures into a MOO environment to playout some scenaros around similar issues.  The consequences of online/offline transgressions is really fascinating- and I think a drama classroom is great place to explore some of the humanity of the situations.  My process drama in a MOO will provide a platform for students to examine some of these developing social behaviours.

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Recent Comments
  • Melanie: Thank you Kim! I will definitely check out this link and see the developments for higher education on the SLED.
  • Kim Flintoff: We have been using Second Life in a range of situations. Built a Wound Care Clinic with Curtin University for training nurses about wound care and the relationship between hand-washing and infection in a...
  • Melanie: Hello Paul, I am wondering, have continued to utilize SecondLife? Do you find that it has better user-friendly features? Do you find that your courses are easier to teach in this format? Is the VLC classroom a...
  • Melanie: We may agree to disagree on the instant gratification society term, however when you look at new social network devices that are connected to mobile devices – there is an urgency that is attached to those...
  • Kim Flintoff: "instant gratification society" - I'm not sure I'm part of that society. Educational institutions do not make decisions - people do. Which people in educational institutions will cling dearly to email? Email...
  • Melanie: I agree that email is outdated in most settings. However, many educational institutions will cling dearly to email due to the aspect of "waiting before sending." Email is still a resource and an appropriate tool...
  • Maryjane: This is incredible and we need to spread it to school districts. It was posted two years ago and I've not seen new policies or classroom innovations happen since then. People are afraid of what the kids might do....
  • Suzanne: I cannot help but think that this trend, while reflecting archetypal youth rejection of all things "adult," is also related to the digital immigrant/digital native thing. The young are very flexible, very willing...
  • Maryjane: This made me laugh outloud. School districts are still discussing whether they'll give access to students for email; do all their business by email instead of walking next door and talking to someone; and wonder...
  • Nick Smith: This video was exactly what I needed/wanted to hear. As a student working towards being a teacher, I find it great to not only revolutionize teaching, but to re-invent it all together. One woman mentioned...
  • Scott Merrick: Hey there, feel free to unpublish this comment--it's more or less for your own info: This is to let you know that Digital Chalkie has been nominated for Blog-o-the-Month at the Blogger's Hut on Second Life...
  • Laura Seabrook: I have one other question, which I can't find answer to on the Murku wiki (no doubt the answer is right there and I keep missing it) - where/how does one get it?
  • Laura Seabrook: Murku looks really interesting (and I shall definitely try it), though the examples could do with some improvement, as per my comments above. Positioning can be important - see the Blambot article at...
  • Kim Flintoff: Murku is designed to facilitate the construction of comics based on content in a Second Life TM, ie SL, environment. Murku will be of interest to those who have always dreamt of creating their own comics but...
  • Laura Seabrook: Actually there was a typo in my previous comment. I meant to write wouldn't be, not would as far as being the first to do an SL comic. I discovered Plywood shortly after starting my own, which can be found...
  • Kim Flintoff: Hi Laura, The example in the article wasn't intended to be a highly refined product - it literally took me 60 seconds to create with some random images grabbed from my hard drive. The points you make about...
  • Laura Seabrook: I started doing Second Life comics late in 2007 ( though I didn't use Comic Life - rather I drew bits, used screenshots and put it together using PaintShopPro and Fireworks (for speech balloons etc). I knew...
  • michael chalk: Great stuff Paul .. lots of good points here. You are right about the ABC - they're really leading the charge into the new era of digital participation aren't they! My favourite thing they do is the way they...
  • Ken Allan: Kia ora Kim! I don't think it is anything to do with HOW we communicate. It is more to do with how kids see email. It is simply to do with the age-old feature of youngsters avoiding ANYTHING that is associated...
  • Aaron Fisher: This is very cool! It is amazing how those principles from long ago are relevant today, just in different forms. Students do learn better by doing, no matter the subject. We teachers need to do a better job...
  • Julie Carney: Thanks for this post, and for posters like Paul who have linked and commented on resources for educators to use. As is the case with most things, it seems the right combination of educator/program/developer...
  • Debbie: I, too am upset that this website has been taken off-line. My special education students loved it, and I knew I could always find an activity geared their levels and abilities. I hope that it will soon be running...
  • Andrew Westerman: Each LO costs $20 000. So, if 20 students use that learning object for 0.1 of an hour (6 minutes), that's 2 student / hours @ $10 000 per hour. If 2000 students use that LO for 0.2 of an hour (12...
  • Cathy Nash: Learning Objects are one of the tools in a good teacher's toolbox. It is simplistic to lay them aside as past it. A poor teacher can make a pencil look dull and a great teacher may just achieve great things...
  • Suzanne: I am so upset that this site has been removed, however I fully understand why. My Year One children and my pre-primary children loved using the site and it catered for all ability levels in my class. i do hope...
  • Julie: I am sorry that Rainbow Maths has been forced off the web. My daughter loved it so it is missed. Any idea when Jenny may put it back on the web with added security measures to prevent it being copied etc?
  • Jen Zupp: I totally agree with Jenny's reason to take it off. I have spent thousands of hours keeping my website up which is pretty much a directory of quality websites I find online. If I had created a masterpiece like...
  • Kristy Dickson: I agree with Paul, $20 000, $80 000, or whatever they cost, kids are losing interest. I think they have their place for a bit of drill and practice occasionally, but I wouldn't pay for them. Motivation and...
  • Ingrid: I'm distraught that rain forest maths is not available. My 3/4 kids loved it. My kids loved it and it is so easy to cater for their abilities with the different levels. Anyone know if there's a chance it will be up...
  • Azam Ali: my kids love this site, they come on rainforest to learn. Anyone trying to stop kids education is playing with our future. Shame on people who are greedy for money and dont care for the future.
  • Bryn Jones: Channel 4 in the UK has £50million to develop new media content. Ewan McIntosh has some role in it as Digital Commissioner for Scotland. Jobs open now!
  • Thomas Goodwin: Paul Reid has pointed educators in the right direction (create and collaborate) however he started from an incorrect premise; The Learning Federation's Digital Resources are completely different from the...
  • Patricia Corby: Phew, what a terrific wealth of useful info here! Thanks Paul. In reference to this comment "They need to move from static to dynamic in form" as an overall comment it is relevant but being fair some are...
  • Paul Reid: If everyone's Math is correct the Teaching & Learning Federation pays $20k for jpeg pictures Learning Objects! eg these ones shown here http://www.thelearningfederati
  • Janice Millard: its not fair that my class can't go on rain forest maths because of other people copying we were going to do a test on it but it was closed down my class was very upset not very happy!