The Legend of Heroes: A Tear of Vermillion – Games – The Legend of Heroes: A Tear of Vermillion

This is the RPG I settled on for my PSP. The opening sequences were far too linear, but now that I am clear of those the game is starting to show its depth. The graphics are sharp, but decidedly “old school”.

As a fan of the old Final Fantasy games I am enjoying this as my first “interactive paperback,” as I’ve been calling it.

It also has the distinct advantage of being something I can play in bed without bothering Eva… which makes it better than either playing WoW in the other room or actually reading in the bed! Also, provided I don’t want to switch games (and don’t drop the machine or anything), I can save anytime and then I can use the instant on (and off) feature to play in very short bursts. I hope to get in more gaming this way than I have been able to with WoW, which competes for time with work and research.

Unfortunately, for my research into games and social constructivism, it’s not massively multiplayer. :)

Still, I hope to post more reflections on it (and WoW) in the future.

Jerome S. Bruner, Actual Minds, Possible Worlds, and Educational Technology

Normally, Tuesday night at the Wagners’ means watching arguably the best show on television. But, tonight Eva took her friend Nancy to a cooking class, so I had time for a long session of Walden, with time to spare for blogging…

On Saturday I completed my whirlwind tour of Bruner’s Actual minds, Possible Worlds and this evening I finshed blasting through The Culture of Education, much of which I slowed down for and read at normal speed. I enjoyed it much more than I expected, but as his newest work (and most explicitly culture related) I was not so surprised to find it may be the most significant of those I’ve read. (I also got a good deal out of The Relevance of Education, which I spent some time with tonight as well.)

Naturally, I found several excerpts in each that related to Educational Technology, particularly the read/write web and video games.

The following excerpt from Actual Minds, Possible Worlds captures a concept that should be central to the restructuring (or reinvention) of our educational systems and to the role educational technologies play in the future systems.

If [the student] fails to develop any sense of what I shall call reflective intervention in the knowledge he encounters, the young person will be operating continually from the outside in – knowledge will control and guide him. If he succeeds in developing a sense of self that is premised on his ability to penetrate knowledge for his own uses, and if he can share and negotiate the result of his penetrations, then he becomes a member of the culture creating community. (p. 132)

And later:

The language of education is the language of culture creating, not of knowledge consuming or knowledge acquisition alone.

Consider the role of the read/write web (and blogging in particular) in facilitating such “reflective intervention” as students process what they read (or experience), articulate their responses to it, and share these responses with a community of readers. More importantly, consider just how possible it is for our students to become members of a culture creating community. They are almost certainly doing that online (regardless of what we offer in schools) at places like My Space, where I’m sure a good deal of incidental learning is taking place… but as I am often advocating in my trainings, why not harness these technologies for intentional learning in formal education?

Incidentally, it’s exciting that even students who are not strong in their linguistic intelligence can now participate via audio and video podcasts… or by photocasting images they’ve captured or created. I hope that early adoptors will not try to fit all students into the mold of a writer as they explore the power of blogs and the read/write web. I suppose I’ve caught a mild case of the “blogs are not a panacea” bug lately… despite my own personal drive to continue blogging in the face of serious time constraints.

In terms of the use of video games and simulations in education… at worst, there is a danger that students left alone with a game or simulation might indeed fail to develop the “reflective intervention” Bruner describes; they might indeed be controlled by the stimuli they encounter, rather than “developing a sense of self that is premised on [the] ability to penetrate knowledge.” Aldrich and others (with Prensky being, at least at his most… humorous… a notable exception) advocate strongly for the importance of a teacher to help facilitate and mediate a student’s experience with a game or simulation. After all, as Bruner interprets Vygotsky’s work to suggest,

“conceptual learning [is] a collaborative enterprise involving an adult who enters into dialogue with the child in a fashion that provides the child with hints and props that allow him to begin a new climb, guiding the child in next steps before the child is capable of appreciating their significance on his own. It is the “loan of consciousness” that gets the child through the zone of proximal development. (p. 132)

Naturally, at best (and I think this is what Prensky is getting at when he says things like we don’t need teachers… or instructional designers), a game or simulation might actually be designed to provide some measure of this facilitation and mediation for the student-player.

Testing iWeb on the fly while podcasting at the OCDE

We just recorded a few segments for our next podcast (links to feed). Simultaneously we were recording video for an upcoming webcast on podcasting.

Meanwhile, I was testing Apple’s new iLife ’06 suite, including iWeb, a blogging and podcasting tool. I was honestly impressed and pleased with the ease of use! While paying attention to something else – podcasting with my colleagues – I was able to create a new blog, post text (w/images), photocast, podcast, and vlog (or video podcast)! All this took quite a bit less than an hour! So there is something to this, even if Apple is not exactly sticking to an industry standard RSS implementation.

You can see the results of my experiments on my new iWeb blog hosted on my personal .Mac account here.

Fwd: New book for parents and teachers interested in video games and education

Pathfinder Linden posted this to the “Educators interested in using
Second Life as a teaching platform” listserv yesterday.

Marc Prensky (who has previously written very interesting stuff about game-based learning) has a new book coming out in a couple months.

“Don’t Bother Me Mom – I’m Learning” : How Computer and Video Games Are Preparing Your Kids For 21st Century Success

You can preorder it here:

Just thought I’d share.

Podcasting from the AUHSD in AB 75 Module 3

We were going to prepare a podcast of administrator comments, but something unusual happened… all of the participants were called out of the training for an emergency meeting for all principals and assistant principals! We still wanted to demonstrate the immediacy of podcasting when they return… so here’s this.

Moblogging at the AUHSD in AB 75 Module 3

To kick off the “Hard Fun” presentation, Michael Guerena asked AUHSD administrators, "what is interactive learning?"

Jeanie and Ronn touched on several important ideas related to interactive learning…

It’s student participation, not stand and deliver presentations.

When you’re doing labs its impossible not to be interactive.

It’s out of seat instruction.

It’s crosscurricular instruction.

It’s the home/school connection and interaction.

They will also see how moblogging can play a roll in interactive classroom discussion.

Feel free to comment on their thoughts. :)

Jerome S. Bruner, Video Games, and the Read/Write Web

I just spent much of the evening blasting through Bruner’s Toward a Theory of Instruction… before catching this week’s episode of arguably the best show on television. :)

As I got a little ahead today (I even started Actual Minds, Possible Worlds), I now have the luxury of sharing some of my thoughts on Bruner. He was much more of a psychologist, anthropologist, and linguist than I thought. Nevertheless, or perhaps on account of these things (as he might argue), much of what he wrote in the 1960’s seems prescient today.

It may well be the case that not only are we entering a period of technological maturity in which education will require constant redefinition, but that the period ahead may involve such a rapid rate of change in specific technology that narrow skills will become obsolete within a reasonably short time after their acquisition. (p. 32)

Surprisingly, he also describes the reaction this country has had to such change (think of the emphasis on math and science in his time – and the focus on standards in ours)… but he suggests something else entirely, something a lot more in keeping with my vision of Educational Technology and Life. :)

The first response of educational systems under such acceleration is to produce technicians and engineers and scientists as needed, but it is doubtful whether such a priority produces what is required to manage the enterprise. For no specific science or technology provides a metalanguage in terms of which to think about a society, its technology, its science, and the constant changes that these undergo with innovation… If this change is to be managed, it requires men with skills in sensing continuity and opportunity for continuity. (p. 33)

It might not surprise you to learn I am not at all moved by alarmist reactions to the outsourcing or off-shoring of our technical jobs. Never-mind that I think its a very ethnocentric response to globalization, but this country will be just fine without its technical and scientific jobs… if we can focus on the “metaskills for dealing with continuity in change” (p. 35). (Bruner suggests the study of social or behavioral sciences as opposed to history, p. 36, and I think these things – along with more creative pursuits – may serve us well).

I further suspect that games and simulations might be an ideal medium for teaching such skills. (In fact, I propose that they already are, but I don’t have the time to support that argument here, it will have to wait for a more formal paper, or a later time.) With respect to pedagogy, Bruner advocates the use of “games that incorporate the formal properties of the phenomena for which the game is an analogue” (p. 92-93), saying that a game can be “an artificial but often powerful representation of reality” (p. 93). Consider how much more powerful these representations can be given the technology of modern video games and computer simulations. Bruner also suggests (as does Jim Gee – and others – forty years later) that

games go a long way toward getting children involved in understanding loanguage, social organization, and the rest; they also introduce, as we have already noted, the idea of a theory of these phenomena… they provide a superb means of getting children to participate actively in the process of learning – as players rather than spectators. (p. 95)

Later he also suggests that “play must be understood as practice in coping with the environment” (p. 118).

I suppose games and the read/write web are the two primary themes of this blog, and I saw an interesting relationship between Bruner’s writing and the use of the read/write web in education today as well. When it comes to motives for learning, Bruner talked about reciprocity, or “a deep human need to respond to others and to operate jointly with them toward an objective” (p. 125). There is little doubt in my mind that technologies such as blogs, wikis, and RSS facilitate this in a way that was never possible before, both over greater distances and – in some ways – with greater intimacy. Bruner identified “the will to learn” (p. 127) as an intrinsic motive, too, and as we work to inculcate our students with this will, I can also identify it as that which keeps me blogging when I should be in bed. ;) “Promoting reflectiveness” (p. 152) was a goal of Bruner’s (concept of a) successful school, and is also the goal of blogging in education, as is “the basic skill, supporting all others… reading critically” (p. 169).

Finally, I want to finish this post with what I imagine is an oft quoted passage from Toward a Theory of Instruction: “Knowing is a process, not a product” (p. 72). That seems to encapsulate much of what my colleagues and I are trying to get across to educators in Orange County and everywhere.

The Dewey fans seemed to come out of the woodwork a few weeks ago. I wonder if there is anyone following Bruner on technorati that might drop in for a comment. Any Bruner fans among the regular readers? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

As always, thanks for reading.


Bruner, J. S. (1966). Toward a theory of instruction. Cambridge, Ma: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.