The Epic Win

I am hugely excited about this blog post. I mean it!
The first thing I want to discuss briefly in this blog post is the integration of virtual worlds such as Second Life into the teaching toolbox of the future.

I was inspired by one of the videos in the Topic 3 resources for this week that discussed the practical uses for Virtual Worlds in Education. One of the things the guy said that stuck with me was “It’s not a game, it’s a space”. He was talking about how places such as Second World can be made into whatever it is you want to make it into and It got me thinking, aren’t classrooms just like that too?

The only reason we think that games cannot be used for educational purposes is because we think of them as places only for games. Similarly it’s like saying that you can’t play games in a classroom because classrooms are only for learning. I don’t know about the rest of you but I’ve been in many classrooms that are being used primarily for game play rather than learning!

The benefits of using Virtual Worlds for educational purposes include being able to target and develop particular skills, promoting teamwork and problem solving and getting students to use their initiative and be independent thinkers in order to create something…and you can’t forget how much awesome fun it would be for the students! It seems to me that what we as teachers need to do is think creatively and just be open to integrating new and unfamiliar methods into our pedagogy. Personally I think it is massively cool to be able to hold a virtual class!

Now, the video that really got me thinking was the TED talk by Jane McGonigal on how gaming can make a better world. About half way through the video I realised I had actually seen the exact same talk a couple of years ago… never mind, it’s even more amazing the second time through!

If you haven’t watched it go watch it now, it’s really worth the 20 minutes! It basically talks about how playing video games creates “super empowered hopeful individuals” within the virtual world and how if we can find a way to have these “super empowered hopeful individuals” in reality, we’d have a better chance at solving critical world issues such as poverty, hunger & war. McGonigal believes that video games teaches gamers to be/have –

 

1. Urgent Optimism: this is basically extreme self motivation combined with the belief that we have a reasonable hope of success. Games teach us this because we are often given quests etc. that are difficult but never too difficult. If we’re thinking with the Quality Teaching Framework in mind we could say hey, this sounds a little like high expectations.

 

2. Social Fabric: Basically playing games with someone makes you like them better because we put a lot of trust in other people when we play games with them. It’s also just an awesome way to interact and communicate with others… any QTF Elements jump out at you here???

 

3. Blissful Productivity: pretty much that gamers are happier working hard than relaxing when they play games because they are working towards something that has meaning to them. Gee, do you think this might be useful in teaching?

 

4. Epic Meaning: Gamers have a purpose when they play games, they go on awe inspiring missions and World of Warcraft is the 2nd biggest Wiki after Wikipedia. This isn’t just some game, this is a way of life. What if students attached that much meaning to learning outcomes in the classroom??

 

The thing that I loved the most was the discussion over the “epic win”. Pretty much this is when you’re about to achieve something or get something that is so great that you never even thought it was possible. What if our students in the classroom thought like this? What if we as teachers had the ability to provide students with the hope that with the right guidance and tools that they too can achieve things they didn’t think were possible?

 
To me this sums up what teaching is about. It’s not teaching kids dates or facts, it’s about trying to get them to want to change their world and giving them the support to believe that they can.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

“Tweet Tweet”

A few weeks ago as I stubbornly avoided being proactive about the ton of University assessments we’ve all been slowly sinking under I was watching some daytime TV show (It might have been The Circle?) and Charlotte Dawson was talking about Twitter trolls & how angry she was at their abuse towards one of her Twitter followers. She said something along the lines of “They can abuse me all they want but not my followers” (don’t quote me!). Not long after this Dawson attempted suicide creating a lot of media attention, in the process added fuel to the fire of debate surrounding the issue of cyber bullying in social media.

Then this morning I woke up & saw that Rugby League player Robbie Farah was calling for Julia Gillard to tighten social media laws after someone ‘trolled’ his Twitter page, making rude remarks about his late mother. Farah claimed that “the laws are piss weak and people should be accountable for their comments”.

If adults who are used to the social eye are not unable to escape the detrimental affect of cyber bullying, how are adolescent students who are naturally more inclined to bullying, supposed to avoid it? I think before any teacher uses social media in the classroom they should take a good look at some of the government resources on the subject that were the basis of some of this weeks topic. One particular website I found especially useful was the NSW Government’s Digital Citizens Website. I’m not going to get into huge detail because this is just a blog post but as I’m about to discuss a couple ways I want to use Twitter in the classroom, I think it’s a vital issue to discuss with the students prior to classroom use of Twitter. Furthermore I think teachers should have structured plan to monitor and deal with any cyber bullying that may occur. Anyway – onwards!

I watched this YouTube Video on a program called DigMe in the United States about how Twitter is being used in a high school English class to engage students. The teacher running the class said something along the lines of “the students use social media to communicate outside of the classroom so it only makes sense to get them to use it to communicate inside the classroom”. As we know some kids are in our classrooms ready to learn, engaged, excited…but some aren’t. I want to work in disadvantaged areas so for me, using social media and ICT to try and encourage student participation in the classroom is a tool that will form an integral part of my teachers toolkit.

History is one of those subjects that is a heck of a lot more fun when the students in the class are engaged and communicating with one another & with the teacher. It’s also a subject that really opens itself up to great discussions & debates. Giving students (and I mean all students here, not just the ones who are confident enough to be involved in a traditional hand raising/speak out loud classroom) the ability to become involved with the direction of the class is one of the QT Framework qualities of student-direction and lets be honest, who doesn’t like knowing they have a voice if they want to use it?

I found this awesome website about the uses for Twitter & from number 38 until 54, the “uses for Twitter” are specifically related to educational uses. My favourite use is actually number 25 – “Keep your tweets under 140 characters. Twitter already forces you to be succinct, but you should keep things under the limit for a reason: when you shorten your tweets, it leaves room for others to chime in and retweet”. In history students are encouraged to be succinct because they only have a limited amount of words to use and being clear and to the point shows a deep understanding of the topic. A way I might use this is to pose a question to the students and get them to give a one sentence “tweet” answering it.

I’m going to leave the blog post here for today, but personally I know that for me Twitter has it’s pro’s and its con’s. It’s use in the classroom could greatly enhance learning but only if there is a system in place to ensure students behave respectfully through it. I don’t see why this cannot happen, teachers have found ways to create respectful classrooms face-face so the internet should be no different – we just have to figure out what works!

Topic 1: Learning Spaces

I sent a text message to a friend taking this subject this afternoon after looking through Module One for this topic and it read something like this –

 

“Technology is INSANE”

 

… but in a good way.

 

I am no digital native, I grew up just computers started to become more common. I remember playing minesweeper as a kid, and I remember when we first got the internet and I we used AOL and had virtual pen pals, and damn, it was brilliant. I don’t know about anybody else but for me I feel as though technology has advanced so quickly that it’s overwhelming to see how many options there are to use in teaching. 

 

I’m really excited by the idea that learning environments are now not restricted to the traditional classroom, library or study in the home. Incorporating learning experiences in day to day life, through the use of technology, doesn’t just encourage greater enthusiasm for meeting specific outcomes for school subjects, but promotes an intrinsic desire to learn within individuals – which to me seems to be a more desirable long term goal than simply learning to meet certain outcomes.

 

I get this image in my mind of teenagers sitting at bus stops using their iPhones to comment on a blog post, reading school material on iPads and using social media networks such as Edmodo or facebook to actually discuss school work and assessments with their peers. Gone are the days of telling teachers you didn’t do the assessment because you “lost” the assignment sheet or because you forgot.

 

To me the greatest benefit of these technologies seems to be that by expanding our learning space we are giving students the tools to really succeed in whatever it is they want to succeed in. Having everything online and a method to discuss/ask questions outside of the classroom means that students who may have struggled in a traditional classroom can find their own way of learning suited to their particular way of learning.

 

To conclude, and back to my earlier mention of not being a digital native, I think the most practical way for me to look at the use of technology in the creation of a teaching and learning environment is to pick one program, for example wikis, and focus on using those in the classroom. It won’t help me grow as a teacher, or my students learn, if I only gain a superficial knowledge of how to make use of technology.

 

I’m going to look at my classroom learning environment as a deflated balloon. Slowly, over time and through perseverance, the goal is to inflate the balloon so it grows to be a spacious and inclusive learning environment for all students.

Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress.com! This is your very first post. Click the Edit link to modify or delete it, or start a new post. If you like, use this post to tell readers why you started this blog and what you plan to do with it.

Happy blogging!