Archive for August, 2005

Clark Aldrich and Collaborative Learning

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

Here is a brief bit on collaborative learning. I think I am missing Aldrich’s thoughts on the roll of the instructor, but this is what I have done at 11pm. This practice of posting sections each night has bene highly motivating, but I still can’t escape the feeling that everything I’m doing is rushed. Anyway…

Though Aldrich (2005) quotes Will Wright as saying that “getting people to engage other people with what they learned is critical” (p. xxxii), Aldrich himself was unconvinced of the value in multiplayer games and simulations. In terms of Role Paying Games in particular, Aldrich (2004) felt that role playing “is an incredibly high-pressure environment that forces traditional, not experimental behavior” (p. 87). He debated whether or not Virtual Leader should be an MMORPG, but concluded that there were several reasons not to follow a multiplayer design. “Role playing environments are highly public… [and] people in a role play don’t act ‘normally’” (p. 101). Similarly, “groups of people act differently from one another” (p. 101) and “real people act erratically” (p. 101). He later called online multiplayer games unpredictable (Aldrich, 2005, p. 68). Some of his objections are related to the logistical expense required for getting people together at the same time and in the same place (or virtual place), issues which are avoided by single player games (Aldrich, 2004, p. 101). Also unlike single player games, multiplayer games (and certainly massively multiplayer games, especially ones in which players are actually role-playing) do not allow for repeatability of scenarios (p. 101). At one point, Aldrich even poses the following question: “why are so many teachers and trainers obsessed with multi-player computer games, especially since most have never played them?”

Ironically, given his objections to MMORGPs, Aldrich (2005) advocates live role playing as powerful learning experiences (pp. 96-105). In this vision, a computer might be used simply to facilitate the use of rules in the game (pp. 96 and 104).

Thanks for reading.

-Mark

Clark Aldrich and Inquiry-Based Learning

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

I’m cranking away on Aldrich again tonight… here is a bit on Inquiry.

Like Prensky and Gee, Aldrich discusses many ways in which computer simulations can provide learners with opportunities for inquiry. In creating Virtual Leader he was interested in creating open-ended content through the creation of virtual sets that players could explore (Aldrich, 2004, pp. 105-106). Aldrich (2005) quoted Will Wright, creator of the Sims, as saying that “the more creative the players can be, the more they like the simulation” (p. xxx) and “this might be giving them a lot of latitude” (p. xxx). Conversly, Aldrich also quoted Wright as saying “one way kills creativity” (p. xxxii). Aldrich considered computer games to be “empowering activities” because the player is the key to success (p. 136); the process of trial and error is necessary on the path to success as well (p. 136). He also acknowledged that “no single game… appeals to everybody” (p. 149), but envisioned a world where “students everywhere… truly engaged (and ultimately created) wondrous new environments” (p. 271).

Again, I think I may need to return to this… but at least for now it makes a nice digestible blog post.

-Mark

UBC Google Scholar Blog

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

UBC Google Scholar Blog

A university librarian’s blog about Google Scholar.

Games are serious business – Livewire – Technology – smh.com.au

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

Games are serious business – Livewire – Technology – smh.com.au

Looks like I will pick up some leads from this article… lots of great links to international projects.

MPG | Blog.Mac

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

MPG | Blog.Mac

This looks really cool for .Mac account users… trying it out.

Katrina Mobcast: Share Your Thoughts Now!

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

Katrina Mobcast: Share Your Thoughts Now!

Mobcasting! What a clever application of blogger!

Clark Aldrich and a Context for Learning

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005

Here is another bit I finished this evening. I’ve begun my section on Aldrich…

In the tradition of Seymour Papert’s microworlds, Aldrich (2004) is interested in the way “simulations describe small worlds” (p. 152) as a context for learning. Aldrich (2005) quotes Will Thalheimer on the role of context in simulations:

“The first thing that makes simulations work is context alignment. The performance situation is similar to the learning situation… when the learners enter a real situation, you want the environment to trigger the learning. That results in a 10 to 50 percent learning impact” (Will Thalheimer, as quoted in Aldrich, 2005, p. 84).

When Aldrich (2004) discussed the objectives of designing an interface system for a simulation, his most important points were that a simulation interface should “represent the actual activity at some level” (p. 173) and “be a part of the learning” (p. 174) in the sense that simply learning the interface would help a user learn about the subject being learned. Though he advocated for keeping a simulation interface simple and streamlined (p. 175), he was interested in fidelity where it impacted learning. He suggested that a simulation interface should operate in real time such that “all options are available all the time”(p. 175). Similarly, he called for simulation design that, like the real world, included all three types of content, linear, cyclical, and open-ended (p. 99). He also opposed simulations that presented the world as it should be rather than as it is, even if this is done in the name of political correctness (p. 215).

I may need to revisit this to strengthen this section… but I expect my writing on Aldrich will be more brief than what I’ve written about the others… he spends a lot of time discussing development issues I am not concerned with.

Thanks for reading.

-Mark

Prensky, Gee, and Aldrich

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005

I don’t think I already shared this bit that serves as a transition from my section on Presnky to my section on Gee.

In his review of James Paul Gee’s What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, Marc Prensky (2003a) wrote that Gee “did something that is extremely unusual, courageous, admirable, and potentially quite helpful to a great many [of his readers]” (p. 3). Though he criticized Gee’s use of jargon, Prensky was “a very big supporter of Gee’s overall message that games are powerful learning tools” (p. 3). Gee, like Prensky, was also interested in the concept of “hard fun” perpetuated by Seymour Papert (p. 165) and his work provided a rich discussion focused on principles of learning which good video games often exemplify, but which many classrooms do not.

Tonight, I’ve written the following transition from Gee to Aldrich, which recalls Prensky again.

In Digital Game-Based Learning, Marc Prensky (2001) shared a phone conversation in which Clark Aldrich pointed out that “the online gaming world… is a self-generated, well-served, highly active, thriving community of learners “ (p. 222). Prensky, like Aldrich, was concerned with whether simulations might be useful for game based learning, but questioned whether simulations were actually games (p. 210). After discussing the relationship between the two, Prensky offered advice on how to make a simulation a game (p. 215). Prensky also quoted Aldrich as consistently telling clients to “get more gamelike” in their simulation designs (p. 286). Four years later, Aldrich (2004) wrote Simulations and the Future of Learning, in which he in turn cited Marc Prensky’s metaphor of digital natives and digital immigrants (p. 218). In the introduction of his following book, Learn by Doing, Aldrich (2005) was still drawing on Prensky’s ideas in his discussion of how “students are changing” (p. xxix).

In contrast, Aldrich (2005) seemed more critical of James Gee’s “wide-ranging hypotheses, organized pre-proof, established by reason… WHOPPERs for short” (p. xxxiv), though he did not mention Gee by name. Aldrich himself was not an academic and proudly declared his lack of desire to ever be one (p. 91). Still, as an experienced practitioner and researcher he offered a powerful vision of what the world would be like “if e-learning truly worked” (Aldrich, 2004, p. 1-2) described the conception, design, building, and marketing of “a new-generation educational simulation” (p. 9), and advocated for new genres computer games and simulations, such as the interpersonal genre typified by The Sims and Virtual Leader, in order to present cyclical, linear, and systems content (p. 64). Considering the games or simulations debate, he suggested that “it is more productive to think about the distinct elements, namely: Simulation elements, Game elements, [and] Pedagogical elements” (Aldrich, 2005, p. 80)

Perhaps a reader will find these connections valuable. :)

-Mark

This is a demo for LBUSD Teachers

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005

We’re learning about blogs today.

An iPod Cellphone Said to Be Imminent

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005

An iPod Cellphone Said to Be Imminent

I was just talking about this some of the folks at the N-MUSD, and now here is another article handing for FURLing.