Archive for February, 2006

Make’em Laugh!

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

Make’em Laugh! (Via A Difference.) I haven’t written nearly enough about the importance of laughter in learning, and in professional development… especially when it comes to dealing with new technologies. :) Darren Kuropatwa, though, has put together a good brief post with several links to supporting thoughts. This needs to become more of a conscious part of my PD repertoire.

Neverwinter Nights: an update

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

Neverwinter Nights: an update (Via Silversprite.) As I discussed in my “Introduction to Games in Education” class last night, Neverwinter Nights is a game that allows players (read: teachers and students) to modify (or “mod”) game content. This is the system used for MIT’s Revolution. It is still too technical and time consuming for most educators, but Revolution is a proof of concept, and the links in this Silversprite post will lead you to a few similar projects.

Do Podcasts Justify the Lecture Method of Teaching?

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

Do Podcasts Justify the Lecture Method of Teaching? Here’s the thing… I believe quite the opposite. Podcasts make it absolutely inexcusable to lecture in a classroom. Students can get the linear content in an on-demand replayable format via podcast. Face to face time should be used for interactive purposes. I wrote a good post about this nearly a year ago. :)

Lev Vygotsky and Blogging as a Process to Manage Memory

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

The title is a mouthful (as is the quote), but the idea is simple. Here is the excerpt (from a text on Vygotsky’s philosophies) that got me thinking.

The simplest example of the transition from direct to mediated functions may be the transition from involuntary remembering and remembering that is guided by the sign. Primitive man, having first made some kind of external sign in order to remember some event passed in this way into a new form of memory. He introduced external, artificial means with which he began to manage the process of his own remembering. Study shows that the whole path of historical development of man’s behavior consists of a continuous perfecting of such means and of the development of new devices and forms of mastering his own mental operations, and here the internal system of one operation or another also changed and sustained profound changes. … We shall … say that the cultural development of the behavior of the child and the adolescent is basically of the same type. (Rieber & Robinson, 2004, p. 472 )

In my mind I can trace our historical development (as a race) from scratches on a cave wall all the way to blogging in the 21st century. :) This blog is absolutely an effort to manage the process of my own memory… a “new form of memory” even. And as edubloggers like Will Richardson have often pointed out, it is also a process to facilitate and manage my thinking as well. Even more importantly, the processes – the memories and the thinking – are shared with readers of the blog


Rieber, R. W. & Robinson, D. K. (Eds.). (2004). The essential Vygotsky. New York: Kluwer Academic / Plenum Publishers.

Educators Go Hands-On with Food Force!

Monday, February 27th, 2006

Tonight is the second run of my “Introduction to Games in Education” class at the Orange County Department of Education. The class began with each participant introducing themselves, what got them excited about learning when they were younger, and what they think their students might be excited about now. I suggested, of course, that for many of them, this might be video games. After listening to me go on (in a very Education 1.0 manner) about Piaget, Papert, Prensky, Gee, Aldrich, and other graduate students, the teachers finally got to go hands-on with Food Force, a serious game (for change) developed by the UN’s World Food Program.

This is the magic moment where I stop doing the heavy lifting at the front of the class, and the action moves to the participants! Then I can make sure everyone is getting started ok, snap a few pictures, and blog in the back. ;)

Despite all the quality academic “ammunition” I give them to take back to their administrators in the first hour, the game playing undoubtedly the most powerful segment of the session.

An Introduction to Games in Education

Monday, February 27th, 2006

I’m thrilled to share that 18 people are signed up for this evening’s “Introduction to Games in Education” at the Orange County Department of Education. Here is the course description from our announcement:

Computer and video games show a great deal of potential as teaching and learning tools. They provide a context for learning, opportunities for inquiry, and frameworks for cooperative learning. They are also deeply motivating and engaging. There is little doubt that a good deal of incidental learning is taking place when students play these games, but why not harness this powerful new media for intentional learning in formal education? Participants in this session will be introduced to cutting edge theories on digital game-based learning, including the benefits, drawbacks, and controversial issues. The course will also offer hands-on experience with games that have been used in education, and participants will leave with ideas that can be implemented in their classes.

So that the participants can follow along at their station, and for the benefit of any readers who might be interested, here are the presentation slides as well. This is very similar to the last time I offered the class, but there is a part two coming up on May 9th, which will cover social constructivist theories, serious games, and games for change. If you are in the Orange County area, visit to register.

Now class, take out your computer games

Monday, February 27th, 2006

Now class, take out your computer games – The Age (Via Google News – Games Education.) From New Zealand to Australia… here is an article about students learning with games, and blogging about it to boot! Margaret Meijers, head of ICT at New Town High, a Hobart state boys’ school, says:

Children also draw their characters “and I get students to ‘blog’ about them, which involves writing”.

Her students, of various ages, are also making games. The brief article is worth a quick read. :)

Video games helping kids learn

Monday, February 27th, 2006

Video games helping kids learn – (Via Google News – Games Education.) Here is another article on Marc Prensky’s talk in New Zealand. This seems slightly more accurate… and its a brief coverage of important points. This quote is a very Prensky highlight:

To date, however, developers have found it hard to put in educational content “without sucking the fun out”.

There are many more posts in my queue tonight, but I want to get a few of these “games in education” related referrals up before my “Introduction to Games in Education” class tonight. :)

Promising Practices: Summer 2006 – Call for Sumissions

Monday, February 27th, 2006

Promising Practices: Summer 2006 – Call for Sumissions I don’t know if anyone in Orange County reads this blog and not the OCDE Ed Tech homepage or news feed, but just incase… here is a link to the call for submissions. I’m hoping our summer edition will be an innovative and inspiring newsletter. If you are an Orange County educator, please consider submitting an article. :)

Feedburner Feed Updated

Sunday, February 26th, 2006

This is just a housekeeping post. Thanks to Doug Belshaw for his comment reminding me I could update my old Feedburner feed to point to this site. I had offered Feedburner as an option when I was using blogger (in order to offer an RSS 2.0 feed for podcasts instead of teh default ATOM feed). It turns out there were still quite a few people subscribed, so they should have something of a surprise in store by the time they read this post.

Although some, myself included, may have moved over and just not deleted the old feed from their aggregator, welcome to those of you who are only just now joining us again. :)

The downside is the rest of us will now have to unsubscribe to avoid duplication in our aggregators. UPDATE: Wow. Apparently NetNewsWire, my aggregator of choice, is smart enough to count the items as read in the feedburner feed after I’ve read them in the default feed. Cool. Note also, that my default feed now is RSS 2.0 and is perfectly good for podcasts.