Sunday, December 04, 2011

Gaming to Learn by Learning to Game

Gaming to Learn by Learning to Game opening page
Gaming isn't about merely playing games. It's about learning through creative problem solving, social interaction, diplomacy, collaboration, and critical thinking.

On Friday, December 9 at 1:00 PM GMT (7:00 AM Central Standard Time) the K-12 Online Conference will release a 20-minute presentation that I created on Gaming. (If you haven't seen it yet, you might want to read my previous post that explains how the K-12 Online Conference works.)

You can get to the video at Gaming to Learn by Learning to Game.

 This slideshow can be found at at Gaming to Learn

Here are the resources I used in the presentation:

Bottle Bank Arcade image gaming
The Fun Theory is an international project sponsored by Volkswagen to explore how play can be used to change behavior and induce learning in a positive manner.

Jane McGonigal on stage. Gaming Games Learning
Jane McGonigal - A game designer who is researching how gaming can make a difference in the world.  She has a number of presentations that she has collected on her personal page.

  World Without Oil screen gaming
World Without Oil is an alternate reality game that was held in 2007.  The Video is quite informative about how they did it and what the results turned out to be.

Partnership for 21st Century   skills
Partnership for 21st Century Skills and Iowa Core Curriculum are two resources for identifying and promoting 21st Century skill development for our schools.

3D Game Lab  Gaming Quests
The 3D GameLab of Boise State University is the brainchild of Lisa Dawley and Chris Haskell.  This is a system that they are developing which will provide educators with an interactive system for creating learning in a gaming environment.

K-12 Online Conference - Purposeful Play

Have you heard of the K12 Online Conference?  It is a wonderful idea!

Once a year, educators submit 20-minute videos along a specific educational topic and then they release these videos throughout a 3-week virtual conference.

The website describes it as a "FREE online conference open to ANYONE organized by educators for educators around the world interested in integrating emerging technologies into classroom practice.  The goal of the conference  is to help educators make sense of and meet the needs of a continually changing learning landscape."

This year's conference topic is Purposeful Play.  It has 4 strands including:
Sandbox Play, Level Up, Story Time and Team Captains.

Each of the presentations is "released" on a blog at a specified time based upon the 2011 Presentation Schedule. They do this so that the presentations aren't released in one huge on-slaught but rather in sequence over the 3-week period (Nov 21 - Dec 13). You participate by downloading or streaming the presentations and then viewing the presentations. After (or while) you watch the presentation, you can post feedback and comments on the blog.

At the end is a culminating live event to celebrate the Afterglow on 2:00 AM GMT on Tuesday, Dec 13.

I have submitted a presentation entitled Gaming to Learn by Learning to Game. It will be released at 1:00 PM GMT (7:00 AM Central Standard Time) on Friday, December 9.

The resources that I used in the presentation will be available in my next posting on this blog, Dr. Z Reflects.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Products of Innovation

I have a bumpersticker on my car that says "Education is Innovation, Not Imitation"  
It is exciting when we see minds who "think different."  Here are a few products that I just found that exhibit innovation.  These may seem stupid, but fun.
Each of the photos are linked to the source.

Hamburger Bedding

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Digital Storytelling can be Strange.

Digital Storytelling is an instructional process where we are linking to the part of the brain that makes sense of the world from stories instead of facts. Both teachers and students will assure you that they will remember details better if they are embedded into a storyline instead of a list of Fun Facts. Digital storytelling is a process that provides students and teachers a venue for connecting stories and facts.

Back in June, 2010, I had the wonderful opportunity to take a 3-day Digital Storytelling workshop from Bernajean Porter in Denver, Colorado. We were there anyway for the ISTE 2010 conference so Bernajean opened her doors to hold one of her wonderful camps.

No, there was no horseback riding or high board diving. We didn't bang around a volleyball on a sand court or make leather pouches. We learned the essence of digital storytelling along with the skills to use a number of multimedia tools. Most importantly, however, we actually created our own digital stories. This was the true essence of project-based learning because everything I learned enabled me to create this final product.

Bernajean's emphasis in making digital stories is that they need to contain something that the creator  personally learned in the process. A video that spouts merely facts about an event is a documentary. Digital stories must contain an emotional content that personalizes the story.

Three days is not nearly enough time to learn the concepts, tools and create an in-depth story. Therefore, Bernajean provided us with some support by suggesting that we base our stories on the Robert Frost poem, The Road Not Taken.  We could talk about something else if we had a burning desire to do so, but this poem was to provide the general framework.

I didn't know what I was going to create when I began the workshop, but I brought along a number of photos from the year I was a visiting professor in Malaysia back in 1999.  I felt that these were some interesting visuals and it was definitely a road "less traveled."

I decided to use a few lines from Frost's poem at the beginning and the end but to author some of my own verses that would individualize the story and share what I personally learned through the experience. While I considered the photos I had with me, I wrote my poem first and then found the visuals that would support my words.

Unfortunately, there weren't any scanners that I could use to digitize my photos, so I took shots with my camera and used those. That is why it has taken me so long to post this creation. I have been hoping to find time to scan the photos and recreate the story. It hasn't made it to prime time in 17 months so I will share it with you now.

Another reason that I am posting this now is that our Educational Technology and Design students here at the University of Northern Iowa are beginning to create digital stories to support their thematic units. Thought it was time to bare my soul with my past creation. I want to emphasize the process of writing the script first and then finding the supporting imagery.

Have you created a digital story?  What is your process?
Share some links to your favorite digital stories or ones that you have created.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Making Learning Meaningful for Millennials

Today I have the opportunity to provide a session at The Way Up XXV conference in Des Moines. This is an opportunity for about 100 women from Iowa higher education to experience learning opportunities in seeking leadership. It is a wonderful opportunity for networking both professionally and personally.

I am sharing my ideas about how we can best address our Millennial students' needs.

Here are the resources that I used. If you have additional ideas, please add them to the comments below.

We will be using technology throughout the session so let's begin with some of the opening resources:

Twitter: If anyone is twittering, we will use the hashtag #WayUpXXV. When you tweet, include this hashtag in your message so that others can follow along with your ideas. If you want to see what was posted, click on the hashtag above and it will show you what has been said.

Collaborative Notes: We will also use collaborative note taking. This is a Google Doc that I created and then laid open to the world for anyone to edit.  This means that you just need to click on the link and it will take you to the Google Doc. You don't have to sign-in but you will be known as Anonymous???? when you are entering your ideas.  Go ahead and add the info that you find interesting.  Go out on the web during the session to find relevant information and add the link to the document.

Making Learning Meaningful for Millennials Slideshow.
You can review the slideshow at

Who Are the Millenials?
Readings, Watchings, Listenings and Doings
Millennial Mindset
Personal Learning Network 

I hope that this session has been useful for you. I am interested in knowing if and how this material has been useful to you. I hope that this is just the beginning of our connection.
  • Subscribe to this blog using the link in the right column.
  • Send me an email at
  • Follow me on Twitter:  @zeitz
  • Let's visit on Skype:  leighzeitz
 How else can I help you?


Sunday, October 30, 2011

iPad Glows with Magic Halloween Horror Masterpiece

He did it again!!!!

Simon Pierro brings his genius to another iPad-dish demonstration of Digital Prestidigitation. I am continually amazed by Simon's ability to find the mystical powers of his ipad and share them with eerie Halloween wonder.

When asked, Simon said that it took 10 weeks including over 100 hours of programming to complete this scary scenario.

Pay careful attention to the last part of his show. He achieves some spectacular illusions.

Thanks again, Simon.

If you like this, you should check out his Magical World of Upcoming iOS.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Can Apple TV Replace Interactive White Boards?

What does it take to project and interact with information on a large screen in a classroom? The typical answer to the projection AND interaction question has been the Interactive White Board (IWB). Special software is run on the computer and then the image is projected onto an special board.  The interactivity of the board my be controlled through a variety of technologies including InfraRed light, electromagnetic arrays, or even resistive touch-based materials.

In a previous posting, Poof, Your iPad Becomes an Interactive Whiteboard,  I discussed how you could create your own interactive board by hooking your iPad to a projector and then using Air Display and Ink2Go software to interact with your ipad screen.

NOW it's time to consider using a wireless option. A few months ago, a friend of mine - Bridgette Wagoner suggested that she was looking into interfacing a $100 Apple TV device (connected with the projectors already in the classroom) with an iPad to create a portable interactive slate for her classroom in Waverly-Shell Rock Community School District. Turned out that she needed to wait for the iOS 5 for this to work, but she has it running in her schools now. 

Recently, Scott Meech wrote an article for EdReach entitled The iPad 2 and Apple TV . . .  Ed Tech Industry Killer?  He proposes this solution and then lists 11 reasons why it might be a useful application. I found it quite interesting and it looks like a view into the future.   

What do you think?  Are you using this solution already?
Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, October 23, 2011

How Gaming Makes a Difference in Your World (Ted Talks)

Gaming is much more than trying to shoot down Space Invaders or battling between alliances and hordes in Azeroth or teleport through Portals. Jane McGonigal believes that increased gaming can help solve the problems in the world. Stuart Brown explains the benefits and necessity of having fun to create a fully-developed person.  What do you think?  How does this apply to your concept of learning?

Gaming Can Make a Better World
Jane McGonigal
TED 1998

Dr. McGonigal has a vision for the future based upon the propagation of playing games. She has bases her future ideas on stories of the past. Conversely, her plans involve a future that provides opportunities that are now available due to today's technological opportunities.

Explore Dr. McGonigal's website and share in her visions for the future.  You will notice that her website is presented within a gaming context.

Play is More than Fun
Stuart Brown
Serious Gaming Conference, 2008

The importance of play is apparent throughout society. Dr. Brown demonstrates how it is a necessary aspect of personal development for both human and non-human species.
How does this relate to gaming? What needs to be changed in your learning environment to begin to provide this sort of fun learning experience?

A Manifesto for Play, for Bulgaria and Beyond
Steve Keil
TEDxBG Talks in Sofia, Bulgaria
Steve Keil shares his ideas on how the whole culture of Bulgaria can be improved through allowing and pursuing play. Consider the culture he is describing where fun and play were squashed through years of communistic oppression.

Do you agree with his ideas for making change? What is he doing that is making a different world in the world? How does this relate to the messages that Stuart Brown is proposing?
Check out his to review his ideas.

Look for additional resources and add them to the comments below.  What can you find that will benefit your colleagues use in their understanding of our futures' possibilities?
Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, October 22, 2011

How is Gaming Different for Boys and Girls? (TED Talks)

Games for Girls
Brenda Laurel

Brenda Laurel explores her research into designing games for girls.  She questions what games for girls need to contain and how they might be designed to benefit girls.

Do you agree with them?  How does this align with your experiences?  If you were a girl once, do these finding match your feelings?

This is a 1998 TED video. Does it still apply? Find updated information and include it in the comments section of this posting.

Gaming to Re-Engage Boys in Learning
Ali Carr-Chellman

Ali really digs into the effect of today's classrooms on boys' engagement in learning. She
shares stats that show boys have 3 time the difficulties of girls in succeeding in the typical classroom. She advocates using gaming in schools to make learning relevant to boys' learning styles. She says that gaming is not the problem but a symptom of boys trying to make life relevant.

Ali identifies 3 reasons that school cultures are out of synch with boys' cultures:
  1. Zero Tolerance
  2. Writing
  3. Fewer Male Teachers
It is a video that makes you rethink how learning should engage boys.

Saturday, October 08, 2011

We Will Miss You, Steve

Apple Logo with Steve Jobs silouette
by Jonathan Mak Long
One of our greatest visionaries, Steve Jobs, has died.

I didn't know how much I looked up to him until I heard that he had passed. I felt an incredible loss. Here was the leader who I have followed for over 3 decades . . . and he was gone. I cried.

I actually met Mr. Jobs once. It was in 1983, I think.  I had dinner with him as a matter of fact. He was at the CUE (Computer-Using Educators) conference in California to make a big announcement. There were 8 of us sitting at the dinner table and we engaged in the regular small talk. I think that was because he was saving the big stuff for after dinner.

When Steve walked up to the podium, he began to share with us his dreams. He told us about how he dreamed of the day when he would be able to talk with Aristotle through his computer. He dreamed of capturing the essence of Aristotle through his works and teachings and using that information to create a virtual intellectual likeness of the philosopher. This would allow students to actually discuss concepts with this ancient thinker.

Along with his Aristotelian dream, Jobs dreamed of having computers in classrooms for students to use. He wanted to enable learners by making computing accessible to all.

His big announcement for that evening was a step towards this end. He announced that over the next year, Apple Computer would be donating 1 Apple IIe computer to each and every school in California. It was called the 1 Apple per School program . . . and it actually happened. Each school in California received an Apple IIe computer. This was quite altruistic, but it had a marketing slant to it as well. Apple marketing had determined that if a school gets a computer the first year, they would purchase 5 the second year and typically outfit a computer lab with 15 computer the third year.  You might say that Steve Jobs was playing Johnny Appleseed as he seeded the landscape.

This anecdote happened almost 3 decades ago but it shows the vision that Steve Jobs nurtured. He had visions but he turned his visions into action. You can read all about the great things he accomplished somewhere else. Here I just want to remember him as a man who changed the world by making his ideas and dreams come to life.

I can only hope that I can follow in such footsteps.


Friday, September 30, 2011

VideoAnt Enables You to Annotate Videos

VideoANT from the University of Minnesota is an online tool that allows you to annotate videos. This system allows you to identify significant parts in the video and then make synchronized annotations.

It's not complicated but it can be quite useful.

Imagine that you have a video that you would like to have your students watch on their own, but you would like to include your own notes as they progress through the video.  This will enable you to do that.

Imagine that one of your students have just made a recording of a lesson that they taught in their student teaching.  She has posted it in her digital portfolio and then shared the link with you.  You have the opportunity to provide time-line based feedback.

VideoAnt is limited to working with files that are online. The only way that you can specify a video is to provide the URL for it. These videos must be .mov, .flv and YouTube files.  

How to Use VideoAnt

The actual process of using VideoAnt is quite well document through the University of Minnesota website.  They have a website which provides steps for the overall process.  


How do you think that you could use VideoAnt in your daily activities?  Could you use this with your students?

There is also a video tutorial

Saturday, September 10, 2011

3 Excellent FREE 9/11 iPad Apps

The anniversary for 9/11 is here. It is not a celebration but a recognition that an event happened one decade ago what has changed the world forever.  I thought that it would be interesting to see what is available as apps for your iPad.

The 911 Memorial: Past, Present and Future  
(Free 9/1-9/12 $9.99 after)

This impressive app explores the construction of the Twin Towers, the disaster of 9/11 and the development of the Memorial Plaza and twin Pools.

This app includes 40 videos (including the 9/11 attack) along with site tours, museum updates, animations and original content. Over 400 high-res photos are used to enhance the story. Links are used to expand the resource to include an ever-current set of resources. This app provides a depth of experience that is beyond anything else I have seen.

Here is the website for 911 Memorial app.

Explore 9/11 - Free

This is the official 9/11 Memorial application has been created by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum as a guide to understanding 9/11 through the eyes of who witnessed the events. This can be used to learn about what happened and what can be found or it can be used to assist a group who is exploring the site. (Given the sensitivity surrounding the events of 9/11, viewer discretion is advised. )Here is a demo of the free Explore 9/11 iPad/iPhone app.  It is short but the site includes a number of resources that you can find useful.

9/11 Memorial Guide - Free

This app will bring the 9/11 Memorial to life for you. Along the bottom it allows you to Search for Names of victims. Once you select a name, it provides you with information and a photo. It will also point you to the panel in the memorial where the person's name is posted. In some cases, there are audio stories about victims told by their loved ones.

Here is a demo of the free 9/11 Memorial Guide iPad/iPhone app.

These iPad apps are educational and intriguing. I learned a great deal about the 9/11 Memorial and about 9/11 that I never knew before.

What are your resources for teaching/learning about 9/11?  What can you share with others about your experience in teaching 9/11?

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Digital Portfolio Resources for You!

I have the privilege this week to participate in the University of Northern Iowa's all-day seminar on portfolios, The Learning Portfolio: A Tool for Student Engagement and Inquiry. They have invited John Zubizarreta, author of The Learning Portfolio: Reflective Practice for Improving Student Learning, to share his idea about how portfolios can be used for assessment and support of students' learning.

Dr. Zubizarreta will speak in the morning and then there will be a portfolio panel of UNI faculty. These faculty members include:
  • April Chatham-Carpenter, Communication Studies
  • David Grant, Languages and Literature
  • Patrick Pease, Geography
  • Donna Vinton, Office of Academic Assessment
  • Leigh Zeitz, Curriculum and Instruction
While I only have 5 minutes to describe how we have been using portfolios in Curriculum and Instruction, I have a number of resources that you should find useful to learn more about using digital portfolios.
How do you use digital portfolios? What additional support materials would you recommend for our readers?  

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, August 13, 2011

You are Significant and YOU MATTER - Angela Maiers

Angela Maiers is an amazing person. She travels Iowa, the nation and the world working with educators and students. Her message is one of personal empowerment. She recently spoke at the TEDx - Des Moines where she delivered an inspirational talk about the importance of paying attention to others and validating their importance.

I have seen Angela speak and count her as a friend but this talk is quite moving and YOU MUST take 20-minutes to watch it. She shares stories of working with students and motivating them to do their best by acknowledging their genius. This is what we need to do every day to empower others and ultimately make the world a better place.

Thank you, Angela.

What are your reactions to watching this video?  Please watch it and share.
Your opinion MATTERS!!!

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

TED Talks About Gaming in Our Daily Lives

I was just reviewing the gaming videos on TED Talks and found some jewels. These are videos by leaders in the field that included some observations that opened my eyes.

The Game Layer on Real Life
Seth Priebatsch

Seth talks about building a Game Layer on the world. The game layer is already there. He points out that credit card schemes and airline reward programs are prime examples of a gaming format where citizens/players are rewarded for performing the desired behavior (i.e., spending money using credit cards.)  They are there, but not very well designed.

He says that the past decade has been spent building the Social Layer which is a framework for connections. This framework is done and it is called Facebook.   Now that we have the framework, it is necessary to build the Game Layer.  It is about using dynamics to influence how we behave.

He talks about 4 important gaming dynamics:
  1. Appointment Dynamic - in order to succeed, the player must do something at a specific time.
  2. Influence in Status - reward actions that will provide a specific level of status.
  3. Progression Dynamics - success is displayed and measured through itemized tasks.
  4. Communal Discovery - people working together to find a specific set of information.

When Games Invade Real Life
Jesse Schell

Jesse talks about "Beyond Facebook."

He takes us on a long journey which uncovers a number of changes in our world that have been caused by the new gaming culture. He even talks about how gaming can be used to modify our behavior. He even talks about earning points while we brush our teeth in the morning. This supports Priebatsch's idea of layering gaming over our real lives.  It's difficult to explain his presentation but it is a real eye-opener and you should watch it.

These videos really made me thing about what gaming means to our lives.  It isn't necessarily about jamming on Guitar Hero. It's about the ubiquitous reward system that is possible in today's digital world.

What do you think about this? Is gaming changing your life? Do you agree that we are on the threshold of the Gaming Age?


Sunday, August 07, 2011

Gaming's Elements Make for Good Learning
"What is gaming but an on-going assessment? "  These words by James Paul Gee in his Edutopia interview on Grading with Games caused me to take a moment's notice. He's right, you know. Gaming is a directional process where a player eyes an ultimate goal and then exhibits the behavior that will result in attaining that final goal. Along the way, the player's success is evaluated by the game and feedback is provided in the form of success (or lack there of.)

A gaming environment can provide a great number of opportunities to improve learning. A 3D GameLab write-up aggregates the list of these characteristics. These characteristics are specifically collected in reference to games but the value comes when we consider how this can be applied to learning situations:

1. Choice
Provide students with an opportunity to select their path through the game/learning situation. This may mean which quests to complete or which media are used to complete them.

2. Failure
Failing is learning. Try something new and see if it works. The key is to create a situation where failure doesn't have long-lasting penalties. Immediate feedback to the success of a new tactic will provide the formative guidance that the player/learner needs to master the skill.

3. Progress Bars
Players/learners need to have feedback on their progress. Tom Chatfield suggests that using something like a progress bar to share advancement with the player/learner can build engagement and motivation. An example of a system that does this most effectively is the Aleks Math System.

4. Multiple Long and Short Aims
Successful games contain both long and short-term goals. I just finished playing Army of Darkness. It is a game with 50 levels. The long-term goal is to ultimately win by "leveling out" (beating all 50 levels.) Each level is its own short term goal and provides on-going feedback about my success in using the warriors and weaponry at my disposal. This holds true with learning situations. The end goal needs to be in mind to provide relevance but the sequential formative goals provide the feedback that makes it interesting.

5. Rewarding ALL Successful Efforts
While the goal of a learning situation is to master the material/skills, getting there is full of failure. Gamers/learners need to receive some recognition for the work they have completed even if it hasn't lead to total success. This can be a difficult thing to design for the typical learning experience but it needs to be considered.

6. Prompt and Meaningful Feedback

All of these characteristics are connected with prompt and meaningful feedback. It should be immediate and provide some sort of direction as to how a failed attempt can be improved.

7. Elements of Uncertainty/Awards
This is an interesting quality. In experimental psychology, we call this intermittent reinforcement. There is no specific "number of times" that something must be correct to receive an award. This can be quite appealing to the human psyche. That is why casinos are filled with humans playing slot machines because there is no certainty when they will "pay off" but the reward is enough to make it interesting.

Games provide such intermittent rewards by having periodic benefits (i.e., helpful wizards or increasing the treasure chest by 5%) occur to help the player. Teachers provide this sort of untimed reward with gold stars or classroom currency that are distributed to good workers at the whim of the teacher.

8. Socialization
 Learning is a social event. It can be an opportunity for like learners to collaborate with peers and mold responses together. When you are working with collaborators, you are receiving the constant feedback and support that we have described as so important to successful gaming/learning.

What do you think is important?  I think that the most important item that can be taken from this list is feedback. Gaming is a self-correcting journey to an identified goal and it is all based upon immediate and helpful feedback so that the gamer can modify his/her behavior to best achieve success.

What is your idea on this? 

*This posting was prompted by an assignment from 3D GameLab.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, August 06, 2011

FINALLY S&P Dropped U.S. Credit Rating from AAA to AA+

It FINALLY happened.

An outside organization has finally spoken out to tell our elected officials in Washington that their infantile battling is leading our country into poverty. Yesterday Standard and Poor's dropped the United States of America's long-term rating from AAA to AA+. (Now our rating matches that of Belgium) They were reviewing our country's administration as they would any company's leadership and they found us wanting.

Their decision and their rationale for this decision was posted in the public domain in an 8-page report. Here it is:

US Downgraded AA+

The problem is that very few people will read this short but informative document. Pundits and politicians are already spinning this into a political decision that is the result of poor administration.  It is your responsibility as an American citizen to read this report to know why this change was made.

Let's take a look at some of the reasons they have become disenchanted with how our politicians are administering our country.  All of these quotes come from S&P's document above. 

S&P says "Our lowering of the rating was prompted by our view on the rising public debt burden and our perception of greater policymaking uncertainty, consistent with our criteria . . . Nevertheless, we view the U.S. federal government's other economic, external, and monetary credit attributes, which form the basis for the sovereign rating, as broadly unchanged."

They were disappointed in our politicians' unwillingness to work together to effect the necessary changes that can deliver us from our fiscal servitude. "Our opinion is that elected officials remain wary of tackling the structural issues required to effectively address the rising U.S. public debt burden."

"The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America's governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed. The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy. Despite this year's wide-ranging debate, in our view, the differences between political parties have proven to be extraordinarily difficult to bridge, and, as we see it, the resulting agreement fell well short of the comprehensive fiscal consolidation program that some proponents had envisaged until quite recently."

John Chambers of S&P says that they evaluate countries' strengths in 5 areas: Political Setting, Fiscal Profile, Real Economy, External Situation, and Monetary Policy. The two areas where the U.S. was weak were Political Setting and Fiscal Profile. Their explanatory report identifies upside and downside scenarios. The Upside Scenario projects that the net public debt burden "would rise from an estimated 74% of GDP by the end of 2011 to 77% in 2015 and to 78% by 2021." The Downside Scenario projects that "the net public debt burden would rise from 74% of GDP in 2011 to 90% in 2015 and to 101% by 2021."  Even in the best of projections, this means that in ten years for every $10 in the US GDP (market value of all final goods and services produced in our country) we will have borrowed $8 to help that happen.

Yes, there was a $2 trillion error in S&P's calculations but that doesn't make the difference. It's about leadership. It's about the Political Setting. Please remember that U.S. leadership is not just the President. It involves the House and Senate working with the President in a bipartisan manner that is directed towards the betterment of our country. Roadblocking plans just for either party's benefit in future elections is the type of irresponsible leadership that leads to this loss of confidence.

We have spent the last decade overspending our budget and not paying attention to balancing income and expenditures. We have been in 2+ wars since 2002 and there have been no increases in revenue (taxes, closing tax loopholes, etc.). The cost of the wars weren't even included in Bush's budgets. We have a $14,000,000,000,000 debt ceiling and our leaders believe that we just need to raise the debt ceiling to take care of things? I don't think so.

While I don't look forward to the consequences of this monumental drop in the U.S. Credit rating, I hope that it will finally catch the attention of the irresponsible blockage on Capitol Hill.

What do you think?


Friday, August 05, 2011

Is Gaming "As Real As Your Life?"

David Perry                      Michael Perry via WikipediaOnce again, TED comes through with a video that made me think about the future. This isn't just any future, but it is the future brought to us by David Perry where he suggests that our perception and interaction with the world will be moderated or at least affected by simulation gaming. David Perry is a game designer who has created games like Enter Matrix, The Terminator, Aladdin, and Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles,

Perry does a stupendous job of taking us through the evolution of various types of games including game boarding, basketball (from stick figures to life-like player where you can see the sweat rolling off his brow), boxing, StarWars, and 1st-person shooter games. It's easy to see how things on the screen can be mistaken for reality.

The most effective part of the talk was the excerpt he played from Michael Highland's film, As Real As Your Life. Highland explains that he was born in 1984 (the beginning of the Millennial Generation) and his constant involvement with video games has changed his life. The border between his real world and video world have blurred. His interaction in the virtual world is helping mold who he is in the real world. He has driven over 32,000 miles in virtual cars while he has only put 25,000 miles on his real car. 

How will this affect our learning? It has a dramatic effect in who we are and what we do. Does it make us a better or worse person? No. Learning through video games is no different than learning through real life except the learner/teacher has some control over the situations where the learner is learning. This can provide a much richer and more skilled learner because s/he can be experienced beyond his/her years. Look at how this is used with astronauts, pilots, police officers, soldiers and doctors. They have learned to react or proact in situations they have never before experienced in real life. At least when they experience it in the virtual world, there are few repercussions from mistakes that they may experience.

The gaming world can provide a rich experience for learners inside and outside of the classroom. The only problem is that it can be quite complex and more difficult to create such an environment. It is much easier to simply create a lecture with a few poorly-made PowerPoints.  The advantage is that once the gaming environment has been created, it can  reused without much more work on the part of the teacher. It should be continually reviewed and updated as necessary, but it is not like creating a whole new learning situation.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Is THIS Fully Digitalized Classroom Better?

Recently, the Learning Matters blog posted a 9-minute piece that they filmed about a school district in Mooresville, North Carolina that went "completely digital."  All of the students and teachers from grades 4 - 12 have laptops (over 5,000).  This project began 3 years ago and the teachers are describing big differences in their teaching and the students' learning.

Is this any different then other 1-to-1 experiences? Is it really about the computers? What changes do you see in the pedagogy of the school?  It is difficult to answer these questions in 9 minutes, but what do you think?

Watch the video and see what you think? They have had reductions in school problems. They have an active filtering system on the information accessible. They blog YouTube, FaceBook and MySpace.

What do you think?


Tuesday, August 02, 2011

7 Ways Games Reward the Brain

On August 1, I began a 3-week class through Boise State University entitled 3D GameLab.
This online experience is designed to provide an opportunity where an educator/learner can become involved in a game-based learning situation first-hand. It's a personal journey through the gaming theory that is purveyed by Gee and Prensky.

It's VERY personal and I like it.

The explanation of how this works is rather complicated. It is complex enough to warrant it's own independent posting at another time. The main reason that I am writing this post is because it is part of the quest that I am presently trying to complete. How's THAT for motivation?

We were asked to watch the Ted Talk presentation, 7 Ways Games Reward the Brain by Tom Chatfield, and then reflect upon something that he said.  This talk is about how the complexities of gaming can be applied to motivate people in learning. Chatfield describes (both psychologically and biologically) how game-like challenges engage the human soul.

The interesting part of his analysis is how he describes the process that game designers use to capture your attention and engage your soul. It's not as much about the actual activity that you are completing (he suggested opening virtual boxes) as it is about the reward schedule that the player experiences in the process. Its about "the rate, the nature, the type, the intensity of the rewards in games that keep players engaged over long periods of time."

When I was trying to find another way to describe this, the term, relevance, popped into mind. But this wasn't the proper word. I just finished saying that the activity wasn't as important as the form of interaction that the learner has with the activity. That interaction is personal. The most successful interaction is one that has been personal-ized to meet the needs, wants and desires of the learner. It has been customized to respond often enough with rewards that are interesting enough to maintain grasp of the learner's soul.

As Chatfield explains, the onset of computing has provided a venue through which feedback can be individualized to make such activities infinitely interesting. This is nothing new. I remember first reading about it in 1982 in an article written by R. F. Bowman, A Pac-Man Theory of Motivation.

Watch the video and consider the 7 ways that games reward our brains:
  1. Use Experience Bars to Measure Progress
  2. Provide Multiple Long/Short-Term Aims
  3. Reward Effort - Don't Punish Mistakes
  4. Link Actions to Consequences
  5. Include an Element of Uncertainty
  6. Include Peer Collaboration
  7. Engage Players by Doling Out the Rewards at the Personalized Intervals.
Which one do you feel is the most powerful strategy for your learning?
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Dr. Z on Digital Portfolios - Voices of ISTE '11

I was honored to be interviewed by Wesley Fryer at the ISTE '11 conference last week. Wesley did his typical outstanding job of covering presentations at the conference, but what was most impressive was  his recording equipment which just included an iPad2, a $60 iRig mic. He recorded this interview, used iPad iMovie to edit it and insert titles, and it was posted on the web in 5 minutes.  Wes is a media genius.
Anyway, here are some comments I made on my philosophy of Digital Portfolios. You can see the rest of Wes's Voices of ISTE at his website, Speed of Creativity. He has notes and interviews with Steven Covey, Chris Lehman, Scott McLeod and others. At this point, he hasn't indexed them in a single posting so you will have to search around for them.

So what do you think?  What are your philosophical thoughts on creating portfolios for students and professional educators?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Panoramas of the Lunar Surface

Did you know that the US landed men on the moon in 6 missions flown over 41 months (July 20, 1969 - December 11, 1972.) In 1969 we landed on the moon in July and November.  I must admit that I hadn't realized that we sent rockets to the moon with that rapidity.

During that time, 12 men walked on the moon. They walked and drove the lunar landers (are they still up there?)  A little known fact is that each astronaut was fitted with a chest camera. It was a Hasselblad EDC that was specially designed for the trip.  (I wrote about another extraordinary photography tool, the Gigapan in November, 2009)

The photographs that the astronauts took on the moon have been "sewn together" to create Interactive QuickTime VR Panoramas of the moon that are available at Not only can you scan the lunar surface while sitting in your classroom, your journey is accompanied with audio tracks of what the astronauts broadcast back to Houston. Admittedly, the scanning is a little tricky and jerky but it is something to see.

You really MUST explore the website. It has panoramas a wide variety of travel destinations including the NEW 7 Wonders of the World:  
Looks like my wife, Kathy, and I have just created a new "Bucket List."

I began this posting raving about shooting men to the moon and ended telling you about my bucket list. Looking at these places in Google Earth can be a good introduction to the locales, but panoramas like these can make it real.

Have you used or created panoramas like these before?


Enhanced by Zemanta