We have a lot this week:
“Most people involved with games and learning are familiar with the work of James Paul Gee. A researcher in the field of theoretical linguistics, he argues for the consideration of multiple kinds of literacy. The notion of “New Literacies” expands the conception of literacy beyond books and reading to include visual symbols and other types of representation made possible through, among other things, current digital technologies.
At this point in the evolution of education, it’s critical that we expand our conception of literacy to include more than just words. In fact, we may need to reimagine how we nurture early literacy to make sure we provide a foundation not only for reading, but also for “New Literacies.”
In the following conversation with Gee, we discuss literacy, systems thinking, education, socio-economic inequality, and, of course, video games.”
While I do agree with the idea that we should include more in our conception of “literacy” than words, I really don’t think it’s helpful to connect schools with the word ‘prison’.
“So Long and Thanks for All the Fish
I just got off the phone with Mike Lee, the founder of Edshelf, a startup that recently announced it was closing its doors at the end of the month.
There’s been a grassroots hashtag campaign on the part of some educators to #saveedshelf, and while I understand the good intentions — Mike is a great guy, and it sucks that his startup isn’t successful — I’m not sure I understand why this particular startup should be saved. I’m not sure why we’d believe that an expression of support via social media would trump revenue. Retweets don’t pay the bills, yo. Indeed, I think the whole thing comes close to reinscribing a dangerous narrative being promoted by investors and ed-tech industry cheerleaders that scale scale scale matters and then magically the money will follow. “
Any time entrepreneurs catch wind of some field they may be able to mine for profits, you get startups popping up all over the place. Many do not survive, even though they may have one or two really good ideas. Another bunch die because they didn’t actually know anything about the field in the first place. Sadly, there are also some in the latter group who survive, so wading through what’s left after a fall is no guarantee of quality.
“Why does such a vibrant and promising industry keep losing its most veteran and celebrated developers?
By: Liam Boluk
In many ways, the video gaming industry has never looked more promising: smartphones and tablets have massively expanded the addressable market; wearables (including virtual and augmented reality devices) are enabling new interaction models and experiences; and user generated content allows studios to add depth and re-playability at little-to-no cost. In 2013, the industry generated more than $65 billion in revenue – representing a nearly 30% increase in only 5 years and totaling 82% more than the global box office and 3.2 times the size of the recorded music industry. Despite this, brand-name studios – including some of the most celebrated and commercially successful ones – continue to hemorrhage or shut down entirely.”
I think a lot of them die because they aren’t dong anything new.
“PowerPoint is a versatile application. You can use it for all sorts of things from presentations to online training programs. In previous posts I’ve shown you how to customize clip art and create your own graphics.
Today’s tip comes courtesy of blog reader, Daniel Albarrán. He sent me an email stating that once he understood the versatility of PowerPoint it opened his eyes to all sorts of possibilities—one of them being the ability to create illustrated characters.”
A handy video how-to for anyone who wants to use Powerpoint to make a cartooned image of a photo.
“But, with all appropriate respect to the coders and designers who slaved long hours to bring us all this entertainment, not all of these games are wildly original masterpieces. Just as in the worlds of film or books, there are an awful lot of ‘me too’ properties that try to expand on, improve on, or just plain rip off great games of the past.
It would be folly bordering on madness to try to pick out those rare games in history that actually did something new. The games that made the gaming industry what it is today. Guess what we’re going to do…”
Not sure I agree with all of these, but there you have it.
“If it’s true, in Sir Ken Robinson’s words, that “Creativity is not an option, it’s an absolute necessity,” then it’s that much more imperative to find ways to bring creativity to learning.
But first, we have to understand what conditions foster true creativity. One definition that scientists have agreed upon for creativity is the ability to create something that’s both novel as compared to what came before, and has value. “It’s this intersection of novelty and value, a combination of those two features that’s particularly important,” Dr. Robert Bilder, a psychiatry and psychology professor at UCLA’s Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. In any system, there are forces pushing towards organization and others introducing unpredictability. A truly creative idea straddles both of those states.
“The truly creative changes and the big shifts occur right at the edge of chaos,” Bilder said.
For educators who have embraced the notion of the tightly controlled classroom, it’s a worst-case scenario. But Bilder has a reason for this theory. He tested it by asking children what aspects of a learning environment make them feel most creative. “One of the things they found most valuable in their arts classes was the freedom not to have to seek right and wrong answers,” Bilder said. “It was that freedom to explore that led them to be increasingly engaged and allowed them to forge connections that allowed them to be more creative.””
“Competition. The word conjures images of people pushing and shoving, trash talking, the exulted winner standing above a field of downtrodden losers. Not exactly what most parents consider healthy or constructive for their kids’ development.
Po Bronson presented a very different picture of competition when he spoke with Michael Krasny on KQED’s Forum about Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing, his latest book written with co-author Ashley Merryman.
The book examines competition from all angles – physiological, psychological, historical. Their main point: competition, if done right, is a good thing. In fact, competition and team activities can drive learning and performance better than solo endeavors.”
“This intricate Maltese Falcon-like story will unfold each day, over the course of semester, as a multiplayer game at Renssalear Polytechnic Institute in New York. It is being designed as a language-learning exercise by Lee Sheldon, an associate professor in the college’s Games and Simulations Arts and Sciences Program. “Using games and storytelling to teach—it’s not that radical of a concept,” says Sheldon. “It makes them more interested in what’s going on.”
Sheldon is a pioneer in gamification, a new movement that essentially takes all the things that make video games engaging and applies them to classroom learning. Sheldon started developing the theory eight years ago. Since then, gamification now comes in all shapes and sizes and is used across educational levels, for kindergarteners through adult learners. Its practitioners range from individual teachers experimenting with game-like elements in their classrooms to entire schools that have integrated the games into their curricula. “