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Posts tagged ‘video games’

Explore Like a Pirate: #gbl & game-based course design

I’ve gotten to know Michael Matera over the last few years as we both went down the path of using games in the classroom. We read each other’s stuff and chatted once a while via social media. He’s connected with some of my good friends and colleagues like Kevin Honeycutt and Wes Fryer.

As a classroom teacher, Michael spent a ton of time perfecting the concept of game-based learning in the trenches with his middle school students. All while sharing his ideas and thoughts via mrmatera.com and @mrmatera.

And just so you know – if you haven’t seen his stuff – Michael’s got the juice. He’s a guy who believes in #gbl and is pulling it off with a ton of success with actual, real live kids.

So if he ever writes a book that describes how teachers can use game-based learning and gamification in the classroom, buy the book. Seriously. You’re gonna get smarter and your kids will learn more.

You already know where this is heading, don’t you? Yup. Read more

Tip of the Week: Social Studies Simulations for Sharing list

I’m not exactly clear on how and where I ran across the Social Studies Simulations for Sharing Google Doc. I’m pretty sure that Shawn McCusker, one of the original founders of the awesome #sschat hashtag / website and social studies edtech guru, created the document back in 2012. The list splashed back on the interwebs just before the 2015 holiday break and, after apparently spending the last few years watching reruns of the West Wing, I finally became aware of it.

The research behind the use of engaging learning activities such as video games and online simulations is pretty clear. More and more teachers are using these types of tools as part of their instructional design. Read more

50+ interactive sites for social studies

Karen Ogen gets the credit for creating an easy to use, visually appealing list of interactive sites aligned by content area. Larry Felazzo gets the credit for sharing Karen’s work. You get the credit for using the list with your kids.

Pretty simple.

Head over to Larry’s site to get Karen’s link and be sure check out some of Larry’s other interactive site links.

Still not enough? Try some of these: Read more

Hacking #iste2015: Subversive teaching and video games

Back in the day, during my high school and college journalism period, every advisor I ever had always said the same thing.

“Never bury the lead.”

Greg Toppo, author of The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter, during an #iste2015 Playground session:

“Think of the havoc you can wreak in your classroom, good havoc, with a really good iPad game.”

I love that. During his 30 minutes, Toppo shared a preso he called To the Moon and Back in Five Minutes: Technology as a Subversive Force. And while he did talk about video games, his main point was that technology can be a way for educators to have a huge impact on learning. 

Toppo asked us to think about Moore’s Law, the idea that computers continue to get faster while costing less. If applied to the automobile, he suggested, using a 1970 car as the starting point, a current car would cost nine dollars, be as large as a match head, be able to travel across the country on a half cup of gas, and make it to the moon and back in five minutes.’

Yet education continues to be satisfied with a culture that seems stuck in the past. As educators, we can use video games and gaming theory to subvert that culture. Some teachers and administrators are afraid of games and technology because they see control of the process slipping from their fingers.

His example?

The Photomath app makes teacher both harder and easier. The app uses the cell phone camera to view any math problem. It then solves the problem for the user and provides the steps. It shows the work.

So is that good or bad? It is very subversive – taking the role of teacher by showing the answer and the steps needed to solve the problem. In a traditional classroom with the teacher in charge of all learning, this sort of tool is a threat. “What is the role of the teacher?” But if we see Photomath as a way for kids to think more about process and problem solving then teachers can spend more time helping students understand the steps, showing uses for formulas, and discussing the why of math. Higher level thinking becomes the focus rather than simply memorizing formulas.

Toppo did share some games. If you’ve read the book, the list is familiar. But he did say his current favorite game is Monument Valley.

Get a sense of the book and Greg’s ideas by viewing an earlier conversation.

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Just before Greg spoke, Matt Farber of Gamify Your Classroom fame spent his 30 minutes sharing characteristics of a good game. He talked about chocolate covered broccoli to describe many ed-related games. They look delicious on the outside but really aren’t that tasty once you get past the outer shell. 

I hate broccoli so Matt’s analogy . . . pretty spot on.

The important parts of a good game?

  • goal – may not be winning
  • rules – working within constraints
  • Space – “magic circle” where play happens, a field, chess board, the classroom
  • core mechanics – repeated actions that happen in a game. “actions of play”
  • components – avatars, dice, etc
  • interconnected systems – means understanding a system

Find Matt’s preso here. It’s got some interesting things to say about how and why games can be engaging for learners. Find out more of what Matt does here and here.

Matt also suggested a few games that I need to look at more closely:

A great 60 minutes, filled with helpful ideas and thoughtful conversation.

The Game Believes in You – Using video games as instructional tools

During an extensive spring cleaning binge over the weekend, I had the chance to sort through a ton of memories and personal primary sources. And I ran across some ancient artifacts. Yup. Five and quarter floppy disks.

Actual floppy disks.

Yes, I am that old.

I know many of you have never seen such a thing. So a quick overview. Think of an app that you install on your phone. Same basic idea. Except the size of the file on the floppy is smaller than most of the images in your phone’s camera roll, it has minimal graphics or none at all, you have to reinstall it every time you want to use it, and you need a special disk drive attached to your computer to access the software.

I’m not sure why I saved them. Obviously I can’t use them. Even if I could find a 5 1/4 disk drive, there’s not an operating system around that would run the program. Part of it, I’m sure, is that the history nerd in me wanted to save them for . . . I don’t know. It’s just cool saving old stuff.

But the teacher in me flashed back to a couple of classrooms when those floppies did some pretty amazing things. Read more

Explorable explanations and 4 ways to encourage active reading

I love Sylvia Duckworth’s version of the SAMR tech integration model. The whole idea of any ed tech is to support student learning. And the SAMR is a nice way to think about the tech you’re using or planning to use. Is this just substituting for paper and pencil or is this true redefinition? Something that we couldn’t have done without the tech?

One level in the SAMR model is not necessarily better or worse than another. But it can help help us stop and think about appropriate usage. And a spat of reading over the weekend about a recent edtech idea had me flashing back to Sylvia’s version.

First called “explorable explanations” by a guy named Bret Victor, the idea can take reading to high levels of modification and redefinition. Victor, in his 2011 article, starts with a question: Read more

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