Archive for the ‘Games’ Category

Wii Fit

Does anyone know of any educational applications that are being developed for the Wii?


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viva la revolucion

Virtual worlds like Second Life are fun but when I show it to faculty I often hear, “I like this but what can I do with it?”  Why go through the hassle of learning a new technology if you can’t do something with it that you can’t do already?  Good question.

Two summers ago, researchers at Pennsylvania State University offered a 5-week course to a group of high school students to explore issues of identity, culture, stereotypes and prejudice first-hand.  Their findings are in the current issue of Innovate that I mentioned yesterday.  Students were asked to change their appearance in There and Second Life (for example, a boy would become a girl) and then to discuss their experiences.  The reactions are interesting.  Boys noticed that people were more courteous to them when they were girls.  One student noticed that other avatars scattered when he approached them as an uglier version of himself.

In real life, we can’t become someone else at the flick of a switch.  In avatar-based environments like Second Life, you can.  And when you do, you have endless opportunities to see the world from another point of view.  That’s one reason why virtual worlds are worth exploring.

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Game-based learning

I came across this list from Marc Prensky on the Internet Time Group’s site. It’s a list of how people learn in games.

  • Practice and feedback
  • Learning by doing
  • Learning from mistakes
  • Goal-oriented learning
  • Discovery learning and “guided discovery”
  • Task‑based learning
  • Question‑led learning
  • Role playing
  • Coaching
  • Constructivist learning
  • Accelerated (multisense) learning
  • Selecting from learning objects
  • Intelligent tutoring

Looking over the list, I wonder, where’s the facilitator?

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Games in education

The Orange County Dept. of Education gathered some pretty impressive thinkers together to talk about games in education including James Gee, Clark Aldrich & Henry Jenkins.

Games let you learn by experimenting & doing. They place you in a life-like context & they react to you the way that the real world does but without the risks. Some of the more interesting games like World of Warcraft place you in an environment where you can teach and learn from other people in the game. A friend of mine recently described games as a “series of timely and meaningful decisions.” Isn’t that what a good online course is, too?

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I just came across a Smart City Talk Radio podcast interview from last fall with Doug Thomas and Mimi Ito about learning and new media.  It made me think a bit about how we change as a result of using social media.

Thomas is the author of Hacker Culture.  He talks about teaching with social media — especially games — and how the experience helped him “unlearn” what he thought his role is as a teacher.  He also talks about the ways in which social media is a better way to learn in a complex world.  

Ito talks about what we can infer about teaching and learning by looking at the ways that kids are using social media, including how kids are motivated to learn and how kids’s learning is assessed when there’s no teacher to do it (which is more about peer-based evaluation and building your reputation).  

The podcast is definitely worth a listen.

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Joi Ito and Games

Joi Ito in World of Warcraft

Joi Ito has helped me understand gaming more than almost anyone else.  When I listen to him explain his experiences in World of Warcraft, there are a lot of “ideas that make you go hmmmm”, but there’s one in particular I like.  It’s the idea of co-presence, or always being “present” in the game by having your chat window open or teamspeak on.  Even if you’re doing something else like cooking your supper, you’re always aware of what’s happening. It reminds me a bit of what Lave & Wenger call legitimate peripheral participation, a fancy way of saying that we learn a lot just by being in the same space as people who know more than you do, listening to what they talk about, & helping them out in little ways. For Joi & his guild members, co-presence is the way they coordinate their work.

If you want to learn more, check out Joi’s speech given a few weeks ago at the Chaos Communications Congress on World of Warcraft. Also, SecondCast posted a podcast of Joi’s keynote at SD Forum from last May. Although you can’t see Joi’s slides, it’s worth a listen.

(Photo, Taking down Ragnaros, by Joi Ito.)

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Yesterday, a good & very wise friend sparked some thoughts on digital natives. If this is your first time hearing the phrase, the idea comes from Marc Prenksy. Digital natives are those people who have grown up with technology. They are the thumb people, a generation of video gamers and text messagers, and their work world looks much different from those of their predecessors, the digital immigrants. The concept is so prevelant in education now, when I attended the League of Innovations conference on IT a few months ago, it was on the tongue of all the keynote speakers and many of the presenters. It’s an idea we need to pay attention to.

So what does this new world look like?

Over the holiday, I listened to a great talk by Ryan Frietas describing about how he works with his team. If you’re interested, it’s a (hyperkinetic!) glimpse into the digital native work world. When I listened to this, part of me thought that this guy is heading for burnout (listen to how fast he talks). The other part of me was saying, ahhh, no more meetings!

Here’s another …. if you’re an immigrant & gaming is a foreign land, here’s a take from the TV show South Park (warning: language). Silliness aside, watch how the characters work as a team.

Joi Ito has suggested that digital natives will work together on the job in the same way they work together in games like World of Warcraft. Notice the similarities between the real work world that Frietas talks about & World of Warcraft? Joi Ito’s comments are not too much of a leap. Welcome to the brave new world.

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