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Showing posts from 2014

Designing Fun: New post on Gamestar Teacher Blog

Hello friends,

It has been awhile. I do have some new posts in the editing queue for this blog, but for my most recent post, go check out:
Designing Fun: There’s more to game design than programming It is posted over at the Gamestar Mechanic Teacher Blog.
A big thanks to the folks at Eline Media for the opportunity to blog for them. 

Infographic: Cognitive Flow & Game Design

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Here's an infographic I made for my game design students and future blog posts because I didn't like any of the graphics currently available. I'm open to improvement suggestions.

I used Easel.ly


https://s3.amazonaws.com/easel.ly/all_easels/13957/Flow/image.jpg
Edtech tweeps, if you're writing about Game-Based Learning, Gamification, or Game Design, and you want to use this in a post, permission granted. If you have ideas on how it could be better, comment below or hit me up on Twitter.

STE[a]M, App Flows, and Common Sense.

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A few months back, I did a series of posts titled, "Hey computer teachers, stop wasting students' time". There I laid out the the basic premise that computer class, if it is to have value, should cover Computer Science topics.

HeyComputer Teachers, stop wasting students' time! (Part 1)HeyComputer Teachers, stop wasting students' time! (Part 2)
I wanted to follow those posts up with some really practical posts for computer teachers, particularly those of us from the BCIT certification, who tend to lack of hard-core Information Technology experience. It's easy, after all, to say we need to spend more time teaching students coding, programming, dynamic systems design & analysis, and end-user experience and less time teaching keyboarding, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, but how do we make that transition?

Today I'm going to introduce one tool that is relatively new, but growing quickly in popularity.

Common Sense Media App flows Rather than attempt an le…

Games, Gratitude, & Undergrads

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On February 17th, I made the trek across the river to Millersville University. Jenn Shettel had invited me to lead a Middle Level Game Literacy Workshop with some undergrad pre-service education block students. We spent two hours talking about games, gamification, game based learning, and game design. More importantly, we talked about kids. We talked about teaching and learning. We talked about what works and does not work in the classroom. I had an awesome morning working with these students, and I got some great feedback from my host. I must admit, though, you're never 100% sure how a group you've worked with feels.

The promise & reality of GBL in Science

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Though I am not a Science teacher, Science was by far my favorite subject in school. I enjoyed the occasional English class, but Science was awesome. I loved labs in Chemistry, Biology, and Geology. Somehow I missed Physics (probably when I took AP Biology), but I bet I would have loved that too.

The sad fact is, that due to shrinking budgets, time constraints, and, at times, facilities constraints, Science class in many schools is less and less about actual science and more and more about textbook reading and information recall. This is where games and simulations are coming in to fill the gaps. I get that a game is never going to replace real research and lab work, but it is certainly a better substitute than worksheet packets.

My school building has added two new Science teachers for next year. I would love to be able to share some great game based learning resources with them. That got me thinking, what would I recommend? What's out there? What is the current state of game ba…

Better classrooms by design

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Classroom design is a topic I just can't stop thinking about. My regular readers will know that I'm a bit obsessed with all things design. Being such a grid-loving, whitespace-promoting, typeface-discerning, color-monitoring design-nerd has caused me to begin to notice how poorly we've designed our learning spaces.

It has taken me so long to get to this topic because my primary readers are teachers. As teachers, I feel, we have the least control over how our classrooms are designed. We have no control over the size and shape of our room. We can't paint. We can't change or add lighting. We can't even pick our furniture. If you're a computer lab teacher, like me, you are even more limited, particularly if your room was designed with drop poles (Mine are rammed right in the center of my room).  There are, however, a few things we can do and can stop doing, right now, to improve the environment of our classroom.

The Problem with Classroom Design
Everything come…

Fixing Teach with Portals issues.

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I must say that when I learned abut Steam for Schools, I was totally stoked. In my classroom it has been nothing short of awesome. Unfortunately, lately the SFS initiative has looked a bit like one of the dilapidated Aperture test facilities at the start of Portal 2. Valve isn't feeling the love for those of us wandering in the wilds of Public Ed. For those of you who signed up and are experiencing multiple crash issues, connection errors, and myriad other issues, here's how I got my Portal 2 installs back up and running. If you have to do this on 30 workstations, pack an extra sandwich (or potato) and plan to stay late after school.

WoW, I'm finally giving this a try...

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It's time to get my nerd on! After reading the testimonies of countless educators, being inspired by Jane McGonigal's first TED talk, and reading "WoW in School; a hero's journey", I finally took the plunge. I am trying World of Warcraft. This shall be interesting...

I hope to get some experience with this game and perhaps con some friends (& preferably colleagues) into coming online with me.

So far, after playing for about a week, I have more questions than answers. For example, does my player need to eat? There certainly is a lot of food around but I've been fasting this whole time. I can read extensive articles on the wiki about food, food types, food preparation, and even feeding pets in the game. Nothing tells me whether my character will eventually drop dead from starvation. That would be interesting...

I'd be happy to accept any tips from you, my blogosphere peeps (& tweeps) on this one. I had to use Runescape in an online class I took (an…

Why you hate group work.

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Collaboration, it's one of the 21st century skills. There's pretty much unanimous agreement among policy-makers, academic thinkers, and business leaders that collaboration must be a crucial part of our classrooms. Incidentally, there is almost unanimous agreement among teachers and students that group work is painful, cumbersome, annoying, and largely counter-productive. Even popular reality shows rely on group assignments to weed out contestants and create unnecessary drama. Why is something that is so important and crucial to our survival, so painful and dreadful? How can we make it more awesome? What do we do with collaboration?


Part 1: Why you hate group work.
Before our winter holiday break, I informally polled students in my classes. In all of my sections but one, 100% of my students noted that they hate doing group work. In one class two students said that they love group assignments because they can usually con their group mates into doing all of the work. When I spea…