30 01 2012

2 weeks without news….ouch. Well, this has been such an incredibly busy month. I have been helping setting up some activities on EDTEC Island, host of the SITE Virtual presentations (http://sitecitylimits.wordpress.com, http://site.aace.org/conf). Here is Dr. Lisa Dawley welcoming you to drop by anytime:

ARVEL is co-hosting SITE Virtual and is providing the Livestream solution for all virtual events during SITE: http://arvelsig.ning.com/page/livestream. At 10 AM PT on 03/07, ARVEL will present CLIVE by Dr. Jonathon Richter, an ARVEL Inworld Discussion/SITE special virtual events series (Bookmark this page for other events: http://arvelsig.ning.com/events)

ARVEL is also hosting VWBPE 2012. Expect to see LOTS of really cool exhibitions and traffic on the CAVE Island common grounds. Similarly to SITE Virtual, VWBPE 2012 will be using the dual-sim presentation space (EDTEC and CAVE Islands) to welcome up to 100 simultaneous avatars.

So bookmark your calendars for March: 03/04 to 03/09 SITE; 03/15 to 03/17 VWBPE; and all ARVEL Inworld Discussions are listed in the ARVEL Event Calendar (We’ve had a discussion EVERY week since we came back from the winter break!)

I’ve also been quite busy with the ARVEL SuperNews Winter 2012. The theme of this issue is Engagement and Renewal. We still have a lot of room for picture submissions for the Club Photo page, questions for Dr. Chris Dede for his ‘Dear Abby’-like open letter, blog and twitter suggestions, etc. We already have some great reviews of softwares and apps for augmented reality and video games. I know that a few ARVEL colleagues will be sending more suggestions based on their own trials, errors and usage. What a great community of practice we are building.

Last by not least, Jonathon Richter, Patrick O’Shea and I are busy setting up a really (and I mean, REALLY) cool member experience that we will open for the 2012 AERA Annual Meeting. Called The Scholar Journey, this quest-based experience will include AR, 3D GameLab, and onsite events. BYOMD!!!! (Bring Your Own Mobile Device!!!!!)

Please twitter this post (#educedge). This will help get the word out regarding all the cool events coming up in SL and in real life. Cheers!


Mechanics of Game-Based Learning

11 08 2011

This is a 3DGameLab -related quest. In my GameLab group, we reflect on why many kids like games more than school and read about the core game elements that experts have identified that engage and attend to learning: Choice, Failure, Progress Bars, Multiple short and long term aims, reward all successful efforts, prompt & meaningful feedback, elements of uncertainty/awards, socialization.

I want to take 2 minutes to share the names of experts that we were provided on our quest, because I truly believe that you all need to be looking them up if you have not done so yet: Mark Prensky, Dave Munger, Katrin Becker, Chris Dede, Jim Gee, Jane McGonigal, Tom Chatfield, David Gibson, Clark Aldrich, Raph Koster, Albert Bandura, Rubin Puentedura, among others.

In this Edutopia video, Jim Gee provides us with a great analysis of games, manual, schools and technology. The concept of approaching manuals and other textbooks for on-demand learning is, as Gee mentions, not that revolutionary. After all, the words chosen in manuals are context-relevant. They make sense within the situation in which individuals use them to solve the problem at hand. Hence they make more sense once you are dealing with the problem and going back to the manual to understand better your problem. Not before. “Words are t0ols for problem solving” (Jim Gee). Let’s apply this concept to education. Jim Gee provides a great history example with the game Civilization. Players will learn about Egypt when they choose to and when they’ve reached a certain level to understand how to better “conquer the world”. Indeed, games are not THE solution to the making school more motivating, more interesting and more self-rewarding, but they are part of the solution (also Jim Gee. Have you watched that video yet? A badge for you if you do and tell me about it in comment! :-D)

These are the 3 questions I could choose from to complete my quest:

  1. How might a teacher apply even ONE characteristic of games and game environments (choice, progress bars, etc.)  to a typical unit or module of instruction?
  2. What reflections or thoughts do you have about Jim Gee’s notion of the paradigm shift?  How will it change your school or institution?
  3. What unique insight can you take away from this discussion?

Quite frankly, they are all 3 great conversation starters! I will choose 1) because I just recently read about UDL. While I read about Universal Design for Learning, I remembered thinking that game-based learning could be used in designing methods in a UDL curriculum. Also, if you have watched the previous 2 videos I posted on this blog, you should have a few characteristics of game and game environments quite fresh in your mind. And so, Progress Bars, for example, are the first game characteristic that pops to mind when asked about ONE characteristic a teacher might apply. It seems the easiest function to add to a course. Instead of keeping ones teacher’s gradebook inaccessible to all and provide only the final grade after all ‘redemption” is even possible, the progress bar would provide each student with a clear understanding of how much they’ve accomplished and how far they still need to go to complete their class, at all time, throughout the period of the module being taught. Seeing the bar go up is motivating. It is effort rewarding. It could be added to whatever LMS the teacher uses. If the teacher does not have access to an LMS, the template of the school’s fundraising thermometer scaled down to the pupil’s notebook and customized to the specific quest/unit/module would do just fine.



Did you watch the video? Yes? Well, let me know here in the comments what you think and I’ll give you this badge!

Are Games Better than Life?

8 08 2011

A GameLab guild quest post. (See http://wp.me/p1yhVZ-2c for explanation of 3D GameLab)

Another thought provoking TED Talk. Game designer David Perry also talks about technology evolution but his presentation addresses the emotional impact on players beyond the dopamine physiological effects.

The short video piece that showed the evolution of game through the evolution of technology is quite incredible. The punch line is highly emotional. The graphics are getting more real. Scary real. Players experience life changing events in adventures that they choose. And they go back to it because those experiences -albeit virtual- fulfill them emotionally.

The most powerful section of Perry’s presentation is the viewing of Michael Highland’s film, As Real As Your Life. Highland provokes our conception of the game addict. I heard an interesting contradiction: From the addict point of view, reality has become boring, unrewarding, mundane, grey – “Reality is almost as pretty as his games.” However, I also heard Highland states that his worry is not that games are becoming more violent and more like reality, his worry is that reality becomes more like a game. So my question to Highland is: If you enjoy the feeling of power in your hands, having such control over your environment in the game, having life changing experiences in the game, why would addicts want to escape reality is this is the ONE safe place for them (where boring means that you won’t get shot in an ambush). What I take away from Highland’s powerful video is that game addicts can’t unplug from the adrenaline (if war games for example) or other emotion generating neurochemical BECAUSE however “reality-like” the game is, it is still a game and therefore safe.

Although familiar with the emotional aspect of games (I research Presence in 3D, including facial expressions, body gestures and other paralanguage behaviors), i am simply stunned at the importance given to it by Highland. So how better than life are games? Highland and Perry list graphics, audio, emotion, purpose, meaning, understanding, and feeling.

I think that question is valid if we assume that Life is like a game. But the problem with some players is that there are as many preferences as there are players. Even within game types, there are preferences, as well as in game species. Life can be compared more to a social virtual environment than a game. Purpose, meaning, understanding, and feeling are provided by the game’s genre, context, and self-selecting playing community. As graphics are concerned, well, reality is starting to look quite augmented. Car windshields are created with an augmented layer to provide the driver added info on the world around him, including the mechanics of his car; vision glasses are created to provide handfree information layers to the world that the person has in front of her (AR glasses), not to mention the current AR app for handhelds.

and here is the post about it

“Game designer David Perry says tomorrow’s videogames will be more than mere fun to the next generation of gamers. They’ll be lush, complex, emotional experiences — more involving and meaningful to some than real life.” As Highland’s video demonstrates, they already are.

Incidentally, I am quite happy that life is not like games (considering that almost all life went through at least five major cycles of extinction, I am glad that the reset button is not as easily accessible by everyone in RL). Although I understand that necessity is the mother of all inventions, how would you live if you were stuck by a download bug (see video below)…LOL, just kidding.


I’ve got this cute birdie award for you if you tweet this post using #Educedge. Just to say Thank You!

7 Ways to Reward the Brain

8 08 2011

3D GameLab is an innovative seminar for teachers to learn game-based learning and transform their own pedagogy with the help of this new race of learning management system. Read more here: http://news.boisestate.edu/update/2011/04/18/3d-gamelab-summer-camp-turns-learning-into-a-game/

In my GameLab guild, we were asked to watch this TED talk by Tom Chatfield and reflect on it. Chatfield discusses the power of virtuality and wonders at videogames’ power to motivate and transfix us. So, what can we learn about learning through games? What do developers do -how do they do it- to create such compelling games that people are spending $50billions in 2010? and the trend seems to be exponential.

As Chatfield skims on the biology of learning and points to the importance of dopamine in the learning process, we begin to think about how the human species has evolved and take notice of the role of technology in our evolution. Of course, i am immediately reminded of the debate between Clark and Kosma (a great summary here: Hastings, N., & Tracey, M. (2004). Does Media Affect Learning: Where Are We Now? TechTrends 49(2), 28-30. ).

I am more particularly reminded of “Homo Evolutis, Please meet the next human species,” a TED eBook by Juan Enriquez and Steve Gullans (2010)…and that book itself reminds me of “The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects“, co-created by Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore (1967). McLuhan adopted the term “massage” to denote the effect each medium has on the human sensorium, taking inventory of the “effects” of numerous media in terms of how they “massage” the sensorium.

In “Homo Evolutis,” Enriquez and Gullans discuss the scientific fact of a new human species and how various technologies and concepts have enabled the rise of the new humanoid.

So back to Chatfield. Chatfield proceeds by discussing the wanting and the liking of players that games attend to in order to promote engagement. Games developers do so by:

  1. Experience bars measuring progress: access to your growth stage> control, power.
  2. Short and long term aims: breaking the goal into multiple tasks.
  3. Reward efforts: mistakes are incomplete learning processes. Don’t stop the learning process by punishing mistakes. Implement a reward schedule.
  4. Rapid and frequent feedback: to link action to consequences.
  5. Element of uncertainty: neurological gold mine > excitement
  6. Windows of enhanced memory: memory and confidence
  7. Other people: We are social animals afterall. Peer collaboration leading sophisticated player behaviors.

Of course the thought that algorithms predict player behaviors and plays a part in the addictive potential of the games is a bit scary. I think the question is, what’s taking us so long to do the same thing with the educational system?

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