Archive for April, 2006

Grade One Students Podcasting

Saturday, April 8th, 2006

Grade One Students Podcasting (Via Teaching Hacks.com.) Eva and I are on vacation in Hawaii this week (for her spring break – and for the U2 show that was cancelled)… so there will be light posting on here for sure… but I thought I’d relax and read some of my RSS feeds when I found this. Eva and I just spent about 15 minutes looking at pictures, reading, and listening to podcasts at Kathy Cassidy’s ClassBlogMeister site – and her students’ blogs. It was inspiring.

Get Massive April 20th

Thursday, April 6th, 2006

Get Massive April 20th (Via Grand Text Auto.) This is why I skim my RSS feeds even when I don’t have time to read them… I turn up gems like this, an event right in my own backyard (at University of California, Irvine) that is directly related to my dissertation on learning in massively multiplayer online role playing games. It’s exciting to see this building traction in academia. I’ve just registered, so if you are going, I’ll see you there.

David Warlick on Video Games in Education

Tuesday, April 4th, 2006

Here is one referral (or three) for the night… It is really exciting to see David Warlick taking up the “video games in education” cause. Here are three recent posts he’s shared on the subject:

Video Game’s Impact (Via 2 Cents Worth.)

The Height of Video Gaming (Via 2 Cents Worth.)

It’s Not that they are Playing (Via 2 Cents Worth.)

Reading Feeds and Blogging

Monday, April 3rd, 2006

Not so long ago I reached a point of information saturation… I can’t believe how long it took actually. Even more recently I gave up caffeine and in turn started sleeping. The result is that for the last few weeks I’ve had to lay off the heavy feed reading and blogging. You may have noticed the referrals were cut way down. Many still languish in draft form, but I finally stopped stressing about them.

I’ve been doing a lot more offline reading and writing, for my phd, and for a few articles I’m working on. Tonight I’ve been traveling to Sacramento for a meeting tomorrow. Meanwhile, I’ve been working on an article about the read/write web in education, which I hope to post here soon – and finally got around to reading more of Will Richardson’s book on blogs, wikis, and podcasts. I had been putting off my feeds for days at a time… and with about 400 subscriptions now I’m getting about 100 unread items per day. So putting it off adds up quick. Will recommends reading once a day, though, and I’m gonna try to stick that as a balance, even if I have to blast through them all in 30 minutes or less.

Right now it feels amazingly good to catch up on feeds and to write this humble post before bed. (I finally got my quitting caffeine post up just now, too.)

This is the first time I’ve been up past midnight since I quit caffeine, though, and I’m not sure how I’ll feel in the morning… and this from a man who for years would stay up until 2 or even 4 am before stumbling off to work at 7:30 the next morning. Yikes! It’s 1 am… and it feels late.

This is a strange new frontier I’m exploring. I feel so… human.

…and Life: Drug Free for Over Two Weeks!

Monday, April 3rd, 2006

It’s not what you think, but it feels like it! Seventeen days ago I quit drinking caffeine!

And this is coming from someone who once had 17 diet cokes in one day… when studying for finals in college.

For years I’ve known it was something I would have to do. Then, when I was working at the district office in Newport-Mesa, Lainie McGann made the first inroads toward convincing me to actually change. I remember her saying, “Do you have knots in your shoulders? It’s not from stress.” I started to cut down… slowly but surely. I eventually got to smaller coffees in the morning, though I would refill them, and smaller diet cokes at lunch, though I would always leave with a refill, usually my third. I did manage the no caffeine after 2pm thing, though, and that made a big difference.

I can credit my current resolve to quit to Stacy Deeble Reynolds at the OCDE, who bravely lead the way. When she described to me that she could no longer stay up late working because she fell asleep when she was tired, I actually responded that I was afraid of that! That’s when I knew it had to stop. I recognized it as a control issue, and frankly as being a self medicating behavior symptomatic of being an adult child of an alcoholic. (There’s some new books I’ve been reading I should post about, too… when I have time.)

At any rate, since I’ve quit things have changed. Sure enough, I’ve started falling asleep when Eva does. And just like Stacy (and Ranjit) said, it’s easier to get up in the morning. The past two weeks were the first this year that I actually slept an average of 8 hours a night! (I’ve been tracking how I spend my hours since the new year.) Both weeks were about 4 hours over total… each week prior was about 4 to 8 hours under, or worse. I’m actually dreaming more. I am certainly less stressed, and I think I’m making more careful decisions during the day. It’s easier for me to let things go.

And, given the reading about caffeine I’ve been doing on line, this is only the beginning of the benefits to my body… it’s amazing the chemical parallels between caffeine and heroine.

Unfortunately, this does mean I’m doing less in a day… and I’m quite a bit less motivated to work long hours. Working in my cubicle at work or trying to write at home are both hard… I get tired and want coffee. Shoot, leading a training is hard because coffee is a prop for me… and a stimulant of course. Sitting in a training, or a meeting, is hard too, and I miss the camaraderie of the coffee culture at work, too. Even Sunday breakfast with Eva is hard. I used to love getting a coffee when we went out… and getting a refill to go.

I have a feeling I’m going to be a different kind of educational technologist.

Still, I think this is yet another small but significant change in my path to finding a more healthy balance in my life.

So, thank you, Lainie, and thank you, Stacy.

GarageGames at Tech Ed 2006

Sunday, April 2nd, 2006

On Wednesday I drove up to the Tech Ed 2006 conference just to chat with the guys from GarageGames. It was well worth my visit. I met and got to speak with several gentlemen who were very generous with their time… Jay Moore, whose card gives his title as “Evangelist”, Davey Jackson, their Educational Sales Director, and Stephen Zepp, whose card hails him as “Commander, Torque Bootcamp.”

I went to speak with them because I’m exploring options for teachers to create games for or with their students. So, they gave me a tour of their entry level Torque Game Builder, which is the only realistic option, and even then requires some scripting knowledge to create a game from scratch. They also showed off the more sophisticated Torque Game Engine and the professional level Torque Shader Engine. I love their philosophy of supporting indie game development, and their educational pricing is phenomenal. Thankfully, it also seems they are interested in working with me and with OCDE, and I hope to include them in the upcoming “Video Games in Education” class on May 9th and the summer institute I have planned for August 8th, 9th, and 10th at the OCDE. If you are in Orange County, you can register for these at http://register.ocde.us if you are interested.

While at their booth I also had the opportunity to meet Dave Dunlap of Coccinella Development in person and to see a demo of his 3D Language: Spain! simulation for teaching Spanish, which was built on the Torque engine. Dave has an amazing story about being a pilot “flying the only flight from Boston to LA not to get hijacked” on 9/11. I suppose this acted as a catalyst for him to reevaluate his life and head into something he’d wanted to do for quite a while… combine games/sims with learning a language. Thankfully, Dave seems open to collaboration with me and with the OCDE, too.

I also discovered that TABULA DIGITA‘s game for teaching Algebra, Dimenxian (taglines: “homework just got harder” and “learn math or die trying”), was also built on the Torque engine.

The guys at GarageGames are doing, and supporting, good work. After nearly two years of studying this stuff, I’m glad to have finally discovered them. :)

“MMOGs as Learning Environments: An Ecological Journey into Quest Atlantis and The Sims Online” by Michael Young, P. G. Schrader, and Dongping Zheng (Volume 2, Issue 4, April/May 2006)

Saturday, April 1st, 2006

“MMOGs as Learning Environments: An Ecological Journey into Quest Atlantis and The Sims Online” by Michael Young, P. G. Schrader, and Dongping Zheng (Volume 2, Issue 4, April/May 2006) (Via Innovate.) I discovered Innovate back in August, when they focused “on the role of video game technology in current and future educational settings.” This article I will definitely need to come back to:

Michael Young, P. G. Schrader, and Dongping Zheng use the concepts of ecological psychology to examine how massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) promote specific learning processes in their players. In their analysis they identify and define nine principles of learning that allow such games to have valuable potential as tools for educators: the perception-action cycle, embodied cognition, social attributes of situated learning, boundary constraints on behavioral trajectories, affordance-effectivity duals, goal-directed action, contextualized learning, repetition, and detection of the raison d’être. They then provide examples of these principles in the case of two MMOGs–The Sims Online and Quest Atlantis–in order to illustrate the potential of this technology to enhance student learning in educational contexts.

But for now, I’ve got many hours of writing to do this weekend.

Cool Tablet PC school

Saturday, April 1st, 2006

Cool Tablet PC school (Via Scobleizer – Microsoft Geek Blogger.) This is an interesting topic to discover Microsoft’s A-List blogger Robert Scoble writing about. Perhaps you can answer his call: “By the way, we’re looking for other educators who are using technology in interesting ways in their schools. Do you know someone?”