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Archived Posts from “Gaming”

Using games in education

29

June

The folk over at The Games Institute and Muzzy Lane are offering a 4 week online course “Using Games in Education”…

With Using Games in Education, you can bring the opportunities of digital games into your classroom. This ten unit course explores “why games”—the theories of educational gaming—and “how games”—the practical aspects of implementing educational gameplay. At the end of the course you will be prepared to integrate computer games into your students’ learning. Games will be a powerful tool in your teaching. You will:

  • Discover the principles behind the learning power of games.
  • Learn how to choose the best games for your students.
  • Understand how to prepare yourself and your students for an educational gaming experience.
  • Learn key tips from teachers and professors who teach with games.

The knowledge gained from Using Games in Education can be applied to any class environment and any grade level. Lessons are not limited to specific subject matters or games.

It looks interesting and is reasonably priced ($185USD) as far as unknown online offerings go.  I might even scratch up the necessary cash and have a go myself.

I’d like to see something more along this line develop here in WA.  CREATEC at ECU is one research centre that could certainly tap into this, CSaLT might be the other obvious organisation. 

I think it might be time to resurrect the SIG - the Special Interest Groups and take this investigation a little further.  Bring on the master of all-things SIG - and all things Numbat! 


DigiKid - archetypal ‘Digital Native’?

08

June

I was quite surprised when one of my students recommended me the DigiKid blog. This DigiKid ‘Brad’ (quite possibily with the help of his DigiDad), may very well be an archetype of one of Mark Prensky’s so called “digital natives“. One day we watched one of the Brad the Digikids vodcasts at the end of a Year 5 class. In this video DigiKid demonstrates the ability of his PSP (Portable PlayStation) to detect free and open wireless networks (these are common in the USA especially around public libraries) in his neighbourhood. While I made it clear that I didn’t condone this behaviour, some students gave up 5 minutes of their lunchtime engaged while I explained a little about how wireless networks work. On the flipside when I tried to explain the significance of this new technology in the staffroom afterwards, I lost most of my fellow “digital immigrants” within about 30 seconds - admittedly it is quite boring to the uninvolved! Check out the DigiKID PSP wardriving episode here.

Marc Prensky’s idea about “Digital Natives and Immigrants” help me clarify my suspicions about the differences between the generations:

Today’s students are Digital Natives. They are “native speakers” of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet.

So what does that make the rest of us? Those of us who were not born into the digital world but have come to it later in our lives are, compared to them, Digital Immigrants. And as we Digital Immigrants learn – like all immigrants, some better than others – to adapt to their environment, we always retain, to some degree, an “accent,” that is, our foot in the past. The “Digital Immigrant accent” can be seen in such things as turning to the Internet for information second rather than first; in reading the manual for a program rather than assuming that the program itself will teach us to use it; in printing out our emails (or having our secretary print them out for us – an even “thicker” accent); or in never changing the original ring of our cell phone. Those of us who are Digital Immigrants can, and should, laugh at ourselves and our “accent.”

But this is not just a joke. It’s very serious, because the single biggest problem facing education today is that our Digital Immigrant instructors, who speak an outdated language (that of the pre-digital age), are struggling to teach a population that speaks an entirely new language.
Source: http://www.hotlib.com/articles/show.php?t=Digital_Natives_and_Immigrants

More of Marc’s writings on the positive effects of video games can be found at www.marcprensky.com/writing/default.asp.


Game for Education

28

May

Currently I am reading broadly in areas relating to education, gaming, training simulations, performance studies, research methods, human-computer interface design, drama, theatre, process drama, virtual theatre and virtual worlds…

The educational aspects are getting me thinking about the nature of education in the future… what it is that we need to incorporate in learning/teaching processes in order to meet the demands of the changing face of society.

It seems from everything I’ve read that schools are back in the firing line, that many think that schools are failing again. Perhaps we need to look at what will be essential for living in the 21st century.

We will need to be able to quickly modify our practices to suit shifting social and personal demands. It seems very likely, as expressed by a education professor at a QUT symposium during 2005 (The Deadly Habits of Teaching), that we might need to embrace a notion of “ignorance” as a desireable trait - that is to say they at times we must be able to ignore everything we know, or more correctly everything we presume, and look at the world/situation with fresh eyes. When what we have been doing stops working it seems futile to keep doing it ad infinitum.

We will need to “unlearn” it is suggested… I tend to think that a better description is something like the dramatic convention of suspending disbelief. We need to hold all that we know in one hand and also recognise that we might need to construct new frames.

John Hartley has reported on several trends in education.. that the process of learning will be closely aligned with commerical providers developing and selling “educational resources” (learning objects, systems, programs, online study, etc)… and that successful members of the “creative economy” will demonstrate a “yearning for learning”…

It seems that schools are not seen as sites where this transformation will occur. Schools will remain, and we will read more and more about how they struggle to cope and teachers will be subjected to more and more accountability to external standards… what will get lost in the bureaucratic shift to excellence in teaching is LEARNING.

It falls to all educators to examine these assertions and reflect on how they will shape the future. I had a supervisor at uni recently say, teachers are becoming too expensive… in a world of economic rationalism teachers will be seen as expendable. For a time, at least… it is my belief that teachers of quality and excellence will be sought after outside the school system and outside formal education…. and many will go there… because it will be more rewarding on so many levels… and these teachers will be modelled - computer systems will analyse what they do and programmers will attempt to recreate the processes, so teachers will become replicable… no need to train thousands each year… just train a few very good teachers and find a way to reproduce them… sounds highly speculative and possibly specious… already hackles are rising saying that machines will never be able to do what teachers do. I reserve judgement.

As I look around me I wonder where the necessary levels of motivation and engagement will come from, if we are to ensure that learning is “meaningful” and more than just adding value to people as economic spare parts.

One area of human activity draws my attention… I see people, mainly younger people, but not entirely, turning to their computers. They fire up their favourite game, or they install a new game… they attend LAN parties, Sunday mornings at The Bunker in Brisbane often sees 50 or 60 sweaty tired people crammed into the Queen Street mall basement gaming cafe… apparently they have been there all night… playing computer games - CounterStrike seems to be one of the favourites… teams have formed, alliances forged, trust betrayed, some have survived and others have suffered or died, in a virtual character they have invested time and effort in creating.

There is a definite buzz in the air… newbies have come to watch and learn, and to ally with more experienced players - knowing all the while they will be sacrificed if the game play heads in that direction. The interaction occurs on several levels - players engrossed in game play, other screaming across the actual room, others congregating in a corner chatting about how things went, phones ring, messenger systemes work overtime and the focus is the game… or is it??

Is there something else going one here? These people are here because on some level it is engaging, in a way that some other life activities are not… and I don’t believe for a second that everyone in the room is a social misfit. I don’t see all this as inherently unhealthy… sure in a physical sense some of these people might be better taking a walk in the sunshine… but my guess is that they do that sort of thing as well. There may be the occasional person who has developed an “internet gaming addiction” but the vast majority see it as only a part of their life… my own father may have been labelled a “golf addict” in the current climate… but there is balance.

These people, gamers, choose to engage in this activity in a social setting. They each could sit at home and play remotely… but they decide to go out, and to meet with others. That sounds quite healthy to me.

It also suggests some of the factors that I think are missing from our way of thinking about teaching and learning. Gaming offer us:

  • inherent motivation to engage
  • skill is not assumed, it is acquired over time and individual investment
  • it is a social activity at the application level and at the higher order learning level
  • it is distributed over a range of networks - social and virtual
  • it relies on action and story (narrative) on a range of levels - it is both “real” and metaphorical simultaneously…
  • ambiguity is accepted and uncertainty about the outcome helps drive it
  • it can be and is engaged with by an audience - it has a performative aspect.

I’m wondering now, how do we create a system that incorporates these underpinnings to improve and expand teaching and learning?? Lifelong learning is a harsh sentence if we have to endure the same archaic practices that students across the globe are experiencing right now. I don’t dismiss those who are getting the benefit of a wonderful experience and effective learning… in many cases they’ll be doing it in spite of the teachers and education system they are exposed to.

Therein lies my journey for te next few years and beyond… I am an educator… if I am to do my job better I think I need to make myself redundant at some level… luckily teacher is just a part of my self-image… there’s plenty else there to offer the world!!


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  • 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! http://www.4ip.org.uk/
  • 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 on.edu.au/for_teachers/what...
  • 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!