David Warlick – Video Games as Learning Engines

David started by saying that he was happy that this presentation wasn’t about web 2.0 or 21st century learning, but these tools were a huge part of the presentation, which is a natural progression. His handouts and all information for this presentation are on a blog called At Your Service. We also simulated a Twitter chat that will be posted to a wiki after the presentation.

Three disruptive and converging conditions in today’s teaching and learning:

  • The future is unpredictable. We don’t know what we are preparing our students for.
  • Our students are networked.
  • We’re working in a new information environment.

What is a video game?

  • competitive
  • challenging
  • fun
  • uses a different environment
  • exceptionally tasty patterns of reality
  • have roles and rules

Games today are a whole experience – a culture. As they advance, video games don’t get simpler, they get more complex because the brain demands it. The mind at play craves complexity, so how do we put student minds at play.

The most needed skills in the workforce according to a recent study are: professionalism, teamwork, oral communications, written communications, critical thinking/problem solving.

Video games as learning tools are something that educators are just starting to explore. Our students come to us with brand new learning skills and we have to tap into them and change the assignments we give. An easy read on this topic is How Computer Games Help Children Learn by David Williamson Shaffer.

This generation of students are competitive, risk taking, sociable (even games that you play by yourself, the game is social in nature), believe in the role of luck, and self-confident.

Many games come with no manual, so kids have to figure out what the rules and roles are. They have to get past the level “boss” in order to advance. These skills are important to kids futures in the workplace. Many times kids see the teacher as the level boss who tried to stop their advancement. Teachers should be the strategy guides that give kids the “cheats” that help them move forward. The “cheats” are the curriculum or learning standards.

There is new movement towards designing games that are built around real world issues, for example, Food Force. This free game can be downloaded and asks players to help get food to hungry people.

We’ve all heard the quote about students having to power down when they go to school. Does this mean that students believe they have to stop thinking when they come to school? Playing some of these video games is more intellectually stimulating than anything done in school.

Can video games save education? What does this new research mean for educators? Video games and social networks are valuable learning experiences, but how can we harness the power of that learning and use it in the classroom? Maybe we need to look at the kinds of experiences kids have playing games and bring those same experiences into the classroom.

Side note: The digital divide between the technology haves and have nots is going to have more impact than we know right now. Other countries are working on a plan to have broadband internet access for all citizens, while we are not.

The video game culture has expanded into urban games where people are playing games in real situations. Here’s an example.

Playing the information – research as a video game. Players amass points by making responsible and effective use of information found on the internet.

Cheating in the video game culture – players try to win the game by cheating or changing the rules.

Another byproduct of the video game culture is that you can play the game through your digital editing software and make a video using the video game characters and setting. This is called machinima.

Our generation sees information as a product, but the kids now see information as raw material that they can do something with.

Do teachers need to become video game creators? Probably not, but wouldn’t it be great if we could take rules and roles concepts of video gaming and create more authentic assignments for our students? It’s definitely something to think about. We’ve been trying to use real world situations and problems with our research projects, but maybe incorporating some role-playing and rules in a more thoughtful way would help us to make research more engaging for students.

To get started:

  • start a gaming club
  • allow students to discuss gaming with you
  • connect with the serious game effort
  • recruit the digital natives on your faculty to help you
  • listen to the players around you
  • Great last thought: Education that is targeted at you, but doesn’t include you, isn’t worth sitting still for.

    Social Bookmarking Tools for Student Research Projects

    Presenter: Jodie Smith, Melissa ISD

    Social bookmarking sites allow us to share all of the great web sites that we find.

    A comparison of three bookmarking sites from this session can be found on the Melissa ISD moodle site at http://web.melissaisd.org. Login as Guest and choose Teacher Tech Tools.

    Tools discussed were Diigo, del.icio.us, and Trailfire.

    Diigo has a sticky note feature that is similar to the notes field on del.icio.us.

    Trailfire allows students to create a “trail” of resources about a particular topic. Trails can be public or private.

    Collaborative Web Based Tools – Region 10 Technology Conference

    Wes Fryer and Vicki Allen, presenters


    Assessment with Web 2.0 tools 

    This session will give practical examples of web 2.0 tools for assessing learning.

    Online Polling Tools (for getting immediate feedback on student progress)

    • SnapPoll.com – free online tools
    • Poll Everywhere – simple text message voting and web voting – Wes and Vicki created a quick poll and had audience members vote within a matter of minutes! Can be used to help students collect data or to get feedback on the lesson of the day.
    • Zoho Polls – get opinions from others

    Blogs – Blogger, LiveJournal, WordPress, other blogs listed on SupportBlogging.com
    use as reflection tool for students.

    Shared writing – collaborative workspaces where people can write together

    • Wikispaces, JotSpot, WetPaint,
    • Google notebook – requires plugin to be installed that will allow you to copy info from web sites into your notebook. Wes did a quick example of gathering information on sharks. The notebook can be shared with the teacher or other students for monitoring. Allows teacher to give immediate feedback and keep kids on track.

    E-Folios can be used to share students’ best work. A wiki is great for this and Wes and Vicki showed some examples from Vicki Davis’ (the coolcatteacher) site. The History tab also allows teachers to actually see what students have posted and when.

    Multimedia – great to use for differentiation, provides an alternative to the traditional written report

    Check Vicki’s Wiki for links to the tools discussed.

    Assessment in Our Web 2.0 World – Region 10 Technology Conference

    Wes Fryer – all of the resources in the presentation can be found at Wes’ wiki: Teach Digital

    Kids are bored in school because teachers follow their instructional “recipes” to the letter and never branch out and experiment. Tools we have today can help us vary “the menu” to make instruction a little more exciting.

    Assessment helps us determine the value of learning. Traditionally the teacher determines the value. Today Google is creating an authentic e-portfolio for everyone. Wes presents the idea that we should be helping students create things that are posted on the web, so that when future employers Google their names, they will find samples of their work.

    Using web 2.0 tools helps a teacher look directly into the mind of the student to see what they know and don’t know.

    Wes played the video I posted earlier this week, Learning to Change, and we had a brief discussion to help us process it. Although he admitted that the ideas presented might be “pie in the sky” we have to do what we can to move ourselves forward. He offers a summer of professional learning on his wiki – Teach Digital.

    Learning is still about high expectations, but also about differentiation and blended learning. When looking at using technology, decide if the tool makes the learning interactive and asynchronous.

    Some tools that can be used:

    • Find a tool that lets you tell a story online. Voicethread is one example. When we ask students to explain their learning in their own words, powerful things can happen.
    • Allan Levine’s site – 50 Web 2.0 ways to tell a story (cogdogroo.wikispaces.com/50+ways
    • Google Notebook should be used for Internet research to help kids keep track of web addresses (check acceptable use policy for minimum age to have a Google account)
    • Xtimeline – designed to create timelines with links and images
    • Open web publishing – Google yourself and encourage students to Google themselves
    • Polleverywhere allows text message voting
    • Kids have phones, phones are powerful, we don’t have enought classtime – figure out a why to use them

    Teachers are leaders and inventors and have influence. Use some of this stuff and encourage others to do the same.

    It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge. — Albert Einstein

    TLA presentation – April 17, 2008 – Joyce Valenza

    Getting Them Where They Live: Designing Virtual Library Sites for 21st Century Learners

    What a ball of fire Joyce Valenza is! She is passionate about helping students learn by using the new tools of the web and truly models lifelong learning. I have been an admirer of her library web site for several years and was anxious to hear what she would have to say about designing a virtual library site and incorporating Web 2.0 tools. Needless to say, she did not disappoint!

    Joyce started her presentation by talking about school library web sites in general. She said that since there aren’t really any models of best practice in this area, none of us are there yet. Her vision is for the library’s web site to be a knowledge management tool where all of the school’s information is collected. She sees the library site as another “door” into the library – there is a physical door and a virtual door. The library web site should allow the school library to be there anytime and anywhere a student or teacher needs information. It should be as ubiquitous as Google or Wikipedia and we should aspire to having just a tiny piece of real estate on the customized home page of all learners in the school. Joyce feels strongly about this and declares that in the shifting informational landscape, having a web presence is not optional anymore. If you don’t know how to create a web site, you web presence can be a blog or a moodle site, but you must have one!

    Having done some research in this area with her own students, Joyce shared some things she has discovered that kids like and don’t like about library web sites. They LIKE to feel a sense of ownership for the site and they like graphical organization. They also LIKE for there to be mouse-over descriptions that pop up on the links to explain what things are. They DON’T LIKE it when the language and organization used on the site don’t make sense to them, e.g., calling databases by their vendor names and/or listing resources alphabetically instead of by subject. They also DON’T LIKE to have too many choices and having to remember lots of different passwords. They really recommend that we (librarians) stop using “library” terminology and start using everyday language to describe things on our sites. Joyce referenced a great site to help us with this: Library Terms That Users Understand.

    In the next section of her presentation, Joyce gave lots of examples of things to consider including on a virtual library site, organized under the three components of a 21st century library as described in Information Power.

    Under the umbrella of Program Administration you might want to have the following items:

    • Mission statements
    • Policies (materials selection, reconsideration, academic integrity, etc.)
    •  Calendar for library sign-up
    • Assignment planner form for teachers to complete and submit online
    • Surveys can be posted periodically using online survey tools such as polldaddy.com
    • A form for book purchase requests or a link to an Amazon.com wish list for your school library
    • An ILL request form that can be submitted online
    • A reading interest poll
    • A learning survey to capture what students learned during library instruction
    • PDFs of monthly newsletters and annual reports

    The Information Power component of Information Access and Delivery is probably where librarians put most of their energy. These are some things that you might want to include on your site that addresses this area:

    • A link to the library OPAC (although you DON’T want to call it that!) 😉
      As a side note Joyce asks wouldn’t it be great if we could have ONE search box for all of our library resources? Here Joyce advocated lobbying the database vendors to cooperate with each other so that this can happen – and for FREE!
    • Links to other library catalogs
    • Links to lots of different search tools
    • Links to some new search engines that use Web 2.0 technology to increase search result relevance
    • Links to some blog search tools
    • Links to subscription databases grouped by subject area
    • Links to free e-books and audio-books (e.g., The Encyclopedia of Life, Lookybook, International Children’s Digital Library)
    • Pathfinders for all research projects made on wikis – use del.icio.us to create lists of web resources for each project, create a customized library for a project using Google Book search, locate open content textbooks written by teachers on Wikijunior)
      Side note: Create a wiki pathfinder on educational research for faculty and campus administrators that includes links, images, documents, video, discussion, etc.
    • Links/RSS feeds to news resources
    • A way to connect to a librarian
    • Links to copyright friendly images and sound, such as Flickr’s Creative Commons Pool
    • Links to resources for royalty-free music and sound, such as Shambles and Podsafe Audio
    • Links to other people’s curriculum, e.g., OER Commons

    The third component of a library program according to Information Power is Learning and Teaching. These are some things that you might include in a virtual library to address this area:

    • An online research guide that is interactive
    • The research process
    • Links to bibliographic helps, such as NoodleBib, BibMe, Citation Machine
    • Links to sample papers
    • Information on how to document sources
    • Links to information about each teacher’s different projects
    • Information for parents
    • Research organizers and other documents to be downloaded
    • Information about evaluating blogs and other online sources for research purposes
    • Notetaking guidelines
    • Powerpoint presentations developed for information skills lessons (You can also save these to Slideshare and link to them there)
    • Organizers for note-taking and outlining
    • Student work – create a gallery of student art work on Flickr, post leftover yearbook photos, post video projects
    • Library orientation
    • Book trailers
    • Videos made to address learning gaps, e.g. Its vs. It’s
    • Links to student blogs of their research process (allows for early intervention and can be used as an assessment tool; the teacher and librarian can make comments on student blog posts)
    • Celebrate student life with links to book reviews trailers made by students, lots of photos, timelines, favorite web 2.0 tools, reading lists, literature circles
    • Teach students to create their own information spaces with iGoogle or Pageflakes (require that they include a sticky note with a link to the Virtual Library)

    Joyce ended the session by encouraging us to “lead from the center” and reminding us that “it’s ok to be beta.” She said that everything will not be perfect, but to try anyway.

    She also encouraged us to take the work she has already done and link to it or use it in any way that we need. She has an amazing collection of resources on her Virtual Library site and on her Information Fluency wiki.

    Texas Bluebonnet Award Luncheon – TLA, April 17, 2008

    Wow! Things have been going fast and furious since we got back from TLA last week. I can’t believe how long it is taking me to get all of these sessions posted! Sorry for the delay…

    Anyway, after the Smackdown, I went to have lunch with 2,000+ of my closest friends. We had some kind of grilled chicken salad and celebrated the with the winners of the Siddie Joe Johnson and Texas Bluebonnet awards. As always, seeing the student representatives and hearing their presentation of the Texas Bluebonnet Award are some of the most fun parts of the conference. After all, promoting good books for kids to read is one of the things we like to do best! Having them there reminds us why we spend time and effort promoting these books every year. The winning author, Lucy Nolan, told some great stories about the dogs she’s had in her life and how they have influenced her writing. Her book Down Girl and Sit: On the Road was a definite kid favorite, earning 19,000+ votes.

    TLA presentations – April 17, 2008 – Alan November/Kathy Schrock

    Teaching Zach to Think: Evaluating Online Resources – Alan November

    I caught the tail end of November’s presentation after Lee Rainie’s session ended. As I entered the room, he was very excitedly demonstrating how to make your own customized Google search engine that just searches the sites you tell it to search. Sounds like a pretty nifty idea. For more on this session and the ideas it included, see Digital Deb’s post over at Plugged In.

    Wikipedia Smackdown! with Alan November and Kathy Schrock

    In this highly entertaining session, two big names in the world of instructional technology debated the pros and cons of Wikipedia, now known as the world’s largest encyclopedia. Kathy participated virtually via Skype, while Alan was there at the TLA conference. Kathy was at a little disadvantage, since Alan had control of the computer on which she appeared, but both presenters made some good points about the good and not so good aspects of Wikipedia. The back and forth banter was pretty rapid-fire, but here is a quasi-transcript of their ideas:

    Moderator: What is your overall impression of Wikipedia?

    KS says she has difficulty finding a way to validate information on Wikipedia. How do students determine if the information is correct? We can’t see the contributor’s name.

    AN takes a conceptual approach. It is not an information tool, but a publishing tool/forum for children to use

    KS agrees, but says they don’t sell themselves as that

    AN gives an example of a Wikipedia entry for the Pitot House in New Orleans that was written by a 3rd grade class researching the landmark. Says we can use the History tab to see different iterations of the article under the name of the teacher. Changes are still being made.

    KS agrees that using a wiki as a publishing tool is one of the most powerful things we can do with students

    AN says we don’t want to evaluate new tools using old thinking.  Role of the teacher is to help students evaluate new information.

    KS doesn’t like what Wikipedia does to help its articles come to the top of a Google results list. She says Google is a popularity search engine – they use the number of times a site is linked to to determine relevancy. In some articles on Wikipedia, authors provide links to other web sites that will provide additional information on the topic, but Wikipedia hides the links to those web sites from the Google search engine, So even though another site might be more authoritative on a particular topic, the Wikipedia article on that topic is going to rise to the top of the Google results list when a Google search is done. The other resources that authors are using, are not assigned their appropriate “popularity” because those links aren’t seen by Google. She calls this a “slimy practice” by Wikipedia.

    AN counters by saying that Google also looks at title of site, URL and content too when sorting and determining relevance.  Says the knowledge of the masses has validity. He believes we all have the responsibility to correct misinformation in Wikipedia.

    KS says only 17 % of the world’s population is on the Internet and that the masses aren’t correcting Wikipedia. Kids believe that using one source for research is ok.

    AN says that the power of Wikipedia is when students do good research using several sources then publish or correct an article.

    Moderator: How do you critically evaluate an entry?

    AN says that we need to read AND write on the Internet, just as we read and write on paper.  Many articles are rejected – there is academic rigor involved. What is published gets comments from all over the world. It’s hard to evaluate something you don’t know anything about. Learn about how it works. Use RSS feature to subscribe to an article and its corrections/changes.

    KS still argues that the articles should have to be signed with the author’s real name and brings up the saying “On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.” Wikipedia’s editors have no credentials. She also mentions  GoogleKnol coming as a competitor to Wikiepdia.

    Moderator: quotes The World is Flat as saying that it is too easy to slander people because there is no one accountable for the information. What keeps people from slandering others?

    AN cites a study that looked at number of errors in Britannica and Wikipedia and found that the average error rate in Britannica is 3, Wikipedia is 4. He also cites as an example that the Oxford English Dictionary began asking anyone to contribute the definition of a new word in 1863. He says that we can’t just rely on scholars to provide information.

    KS says that since there are no citations in many articles, that there is lots of plagiarism. Top 10 things looked up indicate that the most users are young people. We need to help students look at everything critically. She recommends using it as a source consulted, but not cited.

    AN says that certain controversial topic articles cannot be edited by anyone, e.g., Hilary Clinton and the campaign – authors must have clearance. Telling students not to use Wikipedia doesn’t help them learn to deal with it.

    Moderator: Does Wikipedia fill a need for pop culture information?

    KS says everything can be found easily which makes it popular. It is larger than any print encyclopedia. Some articles contain opinion which can influence students not ready to determine the difference from fact and opinion.

    AN references Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything. Wikipedia can tell you what people think about things, not necessarily what the facts are. Collaboration is expected in 21st century – a wiki is a tool for collaboration.

    No solutions were found, but both sides gave the audience much to think about regarding Wikipedia and its place in the Web 2.0 world.

    TLA presentation – Thursday, April 17 – Lee Rainie

    Beyond Books and Bytes: The Role of Libraries in a Networked World
    Presenter: Lee Rainie

    Lee Rainie is the director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project. This organization does original research to determine how the Internet impacts people in their daily lives. His presentation was fast-moving and full of research findings about how information and communication are changing and the role that libraries can play in the digital age.

    When Rainie first started this research in 1999, he was surprised to find that librarians were some of the most avid consumers of Internet content. Since that time, however, librarians have been identified as the #1 stakeholder in the work of the Project. His latest studies have found that with the advent of Web 2.0 (the “social” web), there has been a major shift in the social lives of Americans today that has big implications for libraries and they way that they serve their communities.

    Rainie discussed 8 hallmarks of the Internet today:
    1. Media and gadgets – Everyone uses media and has technology gadgets.  97% of computer users use the Internet. The web itself has become a storage device that allows people to access the information they want via whatever device they have access to.

    2. Broadband access – More than ½ the population now have broadband Internet access at home. The web has become the central information center and the first place people go for answers to questions.

    3. Wireless connectivity – allows access anywhere. This connectivity has changed the way we have to think about the digital divide and the importance of e-mail.

    4. Content creation – Ordinary people are now publishers and creators of their own content. These new content creators post photos, create social networking profiles, blog (either on a blog site or on their social networking profile), create their own web sites and help others create sites, take other online content and use it to make something new (mashup), and create avatars, or online identities. 

    5. Many different audiences – All of these new content creators have some sort of audience that uses video sharing sites, reads blogs, uses wiki sites for information, downloads podcasts, etc.

    6. Sharing knowledge and feelings – People are using these new web tools to share what they know and what they feel. By doing this they are creating online conversations and communities. There are many services that allow users to rate people, products or services and communicate their feelings about them. Other users tag online content or make comments on videos, photos, blog posts.

    7. Customization of the web – People are customizing their Internet experience with web 2.0 tools, e.g., iGoogle and myYahoo pages.  Others use RSS feeds to get the news/information they want.

    8. Different people use technology in different ways. Rainie’s findings have identified three tiers of Internet users:

    High tier users

    • OMNIVORES have the most info gadgets and participate voraciously in content creation
    • CONNECTORS are more into e-mail cell phones and the social networking aspect of the Internet
    • LACKLUSTER VETERANS are frequent internet users of the Internet, but don’t really love it
    • PRODUCTIVITY ENHANCERS are positive about technology and the way it helps them do their jobs

    Middle tier users

    • MOBILE CENTRICS – embrace the cell phone and its capabilities; includes a high share of African-Americans and Latinos
    • CONNECTED BUT HASSLED – have a lot of technology but don’t like how it intrudes into their lives

    Low tier users:

    • INEXPERIENCED EXPERIMENTERS – occasionally take advantage of online connectivity and can use it if they are shown how to do it
    • LIGHT BUT SATISFIED – use technology but it does not play a central role in their lives. These are the people you have to call and say “Did you get my e-mail?”
    • INDIFFERENTS – have some technology, but don’t like it
    • OFF THE NETWORK – do not have cell phones or use the Internet at all. These people tend to be older or without the resources to buy technology

    All this connectivity changes our relationship to information and to each other. We are living life in a “continuous state of partial attention.” The validating of information becomes more social.

    Libraries need to plug into people’s social networks as a source of information. People perceive the Internet as a “node” on their social network to fill in gaps when friends can’t help them solve a problem.  Libraries should be one of the sources that they can turn to easily.

    Libraries should also help teach new literacies. Rainie ended his presentation with a reference to a post by Pam Berger in her InfoSearcher blog. In her post, Pam identifies the new literacies required by the digital age:

    graphic literacy – the language of the screen

    navigation literacy – the transition to nonlinear formats

    context literacy – the importance of seeing connections

    focus – the value of reflection

    skepticism – the capacity to evaluate

    ethical behavior – the will to be responsible

    Overall, an excellent presentation that was worth getting up for the 8:00 start time! 😉