Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Module #5 - Gaming in Education

It's NOT about the Games.  It's about the Gaming.

Did you know that in 2011:
  • 65% of US households played video games?
  • Almost 1/2 of the video gamers were adults < 49 years old?
  • The average gamer was 32?
  • 2 out of 5 gamers were women.?
Gaming is not a fad. Video gaming is a way of life. Gaming is an activity that provides sufficient positive feedback to cause players to exclude all else. It is challenging enough to entice gamers to continually attempt to beat their last score.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if school was like gaming? Where students would be so motivated by their learning activities that they would get up early and stay up late to engage themselves in the learning process.

Our understanding of learning has taken a HUGE leap forward in recent years.  It is time that we were Rethinking Learning with the 21st Century Learner.

Is it about playing the game or getting involved in something that is rewarding and challenging.  Maybe it has something to do with "getting into the flow of things . . . "

Flow - The Psychology of the Optimal Experience 
Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Chick-sent-me-hi) has studied states of "optimal experience" for over two decades. He is exploring the conditions and attitudes that engage people's concentration and attention to the point of total absorption. He calls this state of consciousness Flow.  In this state of attention, learners are at their most receptive level.

Dr. Csikszentmihalyi discusses his theory of Flow in this 5-minute video. 
It is the primary introduction to the Flow concept. He further explains its application to education in this short interview on  Motivating People to Learn.

9 Characteristics of Flow have been identified. Learn these characteristics so that you can later relate them to the apparent aspects of gaming and learning.
Pay careful attention to this concept of Flow because while it may seem like "good common sense," it is an underlying principle of learning.

Gaming's Elements Make for Good Learning
Gaming is a directional process where the player is guided towards a selected goal through positive and negative reinforcement. Isn't that similar to a good learning situation? How does that relate to the 9 characteristics of Flow?

Read this posting which discusses a list of 8 characteristics of Gaming. Relate these to those of Flow. What similarities do you see? What distinctions?  You will also find a video of a leading gaming researcher, Dr. James Paul Gee.  Watch this video and correlate it with the connections we have been discussing.

Gaming in Your REAL Life
Gaming is the basis of living and learning.  When you do something correctly, you are rewarded.  When you faultier, you fail.  It's about how you interact with the world. Before you can explore how you would do this in the classroom, you need to know something about how it works in your life.  Seth Priebatsch and Jesse Schell share some interesting ideas about how Gaming appears as a layer in your real life.  Read this posting and watch these two videos to get a new perspective on how you are gaming on a daily basis. 

If you are interested in really applying gaming to your real life, Explore Chore Wars.  It is a quest game where you can claim experience points for housework.

Consider your present concepts about gaming. Have they changed in the past 24 hours? If so, what have you realized?  How does this affect your perspective as a trainer, teacher, educator?

Using Gaming Practices to Improve Learning
In this 10-minute video, Paul Anderson explains how he reinvented his course to make it a gaming learning experience. Pay attention to the insights that he shares about the elements of active student-centered learning environments.


Week 2

Time for Gaming
You have read and watched about gaming. Now it is time for you to play games of your own.

Read the assignment sheet and you will see that AFTER YOU HAVE REVIEWED ALL OF THIS INFORMATION, your assignment is to play Kingdom Rush for 3 hours in the next week.

Kingdom Rush is available for your phone and your computer.
  • iPhone - Go to the App Store and search for "Kingdom Rush Free"
  • Android - Google "kingdom rush free android"
  • Chrome - Go to the Web Store and search for "Kingdom Rush Free"
  • Web - Google "kingdom rush free" There are some sites where you can play it for free but you have to look at some advertising.
GAMERS!!!  Help your classmates.  I have created a BB9 discussion forum where you can connect with your classmates. Ask questions. Supply advice. Share sites that provide assistance.  Learn from each other.  Play simultaneously and talk with each other through Google Hangout while you do it.

You must play for at least 3 hours. Begin by reviewing all of the lists of characteristics that we have explored so far. Consider these as you learn the game and play it throughout the next 180 minutes. Reflect on your learning process (these just thought provokers.)
  • What helped?  What hindered?  
  • What were the good learning experiences? 
  • Were you in The Flow? Why or why didn't you reach the Flow? 
  • How has this affected you as a teacher or student or human?
Submission: Reflect about this on your blog. Refer to the Assignment sheet about what you need to say.

BTW, Dr. Z has been playing this game for months and this is what he has accomplished.  He has is at level 106 but it has been quite a journey.  ;-/

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Our Badging System

We have developed a badging system for our UNI Instructional Technology Masters Program.   This was a project that Dr. Gao, Dr, Herring and I worked on over the summer.

This badging program is designed to create a means of acknowledging success using a mini-credentialling system.

Setting the Stage

We began by identifying a series of standards to which we could align.  It was decided that the Transformative Learning model would be used as our primary alignment system.  This is a set of Outcomes that describe Transformative Learning as being composed of 4 areas including: 

  1. Global Citizenship
  2. Leadership, Collaboration, and Advocacy
  3. Rapidly Changing Content
  4. Multiple Ways of Learning and Teaching

These 4 areas in this conceptual framework are composed of a variety of characteristics.   Here is a link chart that describes what you see in the star above. 

Reviewing Our Courses

We reviewed our courses and then aligned them with the Transformational Learning framework.

Aligning with ISTE Standards

Once we had made this alignment, we decided to align them with the ISTE Standards for Teachers and Coaches.  This resulted with an in-depth chart of this alignment.      This sort of alignment could be completed with any other sort of standards that might better align with a student's profession or professional goals (i.e., commercial training.)

Identifying Badges

Having completed these alignments, we decided to identify the types of roles or badges that our students would be able to attain while progressing through our UNI Instructional Technology Masters program.

Each of these badges has a specific set of requirements for completion.

 Digital Presence Badge requirements

This badging process is still a work in progress, but as you complete your 2 year cohort you will be earning badges along the way.

Way to Go!!!!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Module #4 - Connecting Through Your PLN
The networked teacher is a successful teacher.

This graphic depicts the myriad of resources our educators have at their fingertips.  These aren't just Wikipedia, Google, and Flickr. The networked teacher is connected to the world of education through a plethora of social media including Twitter, Blogger, and Pinterest.

It's not about the tools, it's about using tools to access the wisdom, creativity and experience of your worldwide colleagues to enrich your students' learning experiences and make your life easier.

PLN is an acronym that has many meanings and connotations. Primarily, it is a network of people and resources that we use in our everyday lives both personally and professionally.

Personal (Professional) Learning Network - This is the set of connections that you use in your personal or professional life.  With most educators, there is a drastic overlap between their personal and professional lives so making the distinction is not necessarily important. What is important is how we build our PLN and what we do to grow it as needed.  What is important is how we contribute to our PLN so that others can benefit from our experiences as much as we benefit from theirs.

Why are PLNs important?  Here are a couple of educators who share the true meaning of using PLNs in their personal and professional lives. The first video is an elementary school teacher explaining how integral his PLN is in his life.  The second is a technology coordinator who explains his strategy for growing his PLN over the year.

Almost makes you want to pop open your Tweetdeck to see what has appeared over the past hour, doesn't it?

Sure, your PLN can include a collection of Twitter pals, favorite Bloggers and interesting Flickr collections, but this is just the beginning.  Kathy Schrock, one of the leading educational technology specialists, has created a 25-minute webinar about how to use and build your PLN.

Students Use PLNs Too
Creating PLNs isn't just for teachers.  Students can find opportunity in organizing their resources. This next video was produced by a 7th grade science student who is taking you on a tour of her PLE (Personal Learning Environment).  She has used Symbaloo as a simple way to create a page of resources that she can use for her research all year long.  Notice that she is even connecting with scientists around to world as part of her research. Can you see how this tool could be useful for your students? (Notice that she has over 85,000 views - someone thinks this is important.)

There you have it, you have reviewed how PLNs can change your personal/professional life and what you can include in your own PLN. Let's return to our UNI elearning page and see what we can do with your own PLN.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Module 3: Social Networking

This RWLD for Social Networking covers Blogging and Tweeting.  Each section discusses how to read the social media tool and then how to write using the utility. 

Blogging is today's newspaper, book, magazine, and thinking pad all rolled into one.  The beauty of a blog is that it provides the creator with a true freedom of expression.  It allows us to create freely and express ourselves in ways that weren't available 20 years ago.

This form of expression is ripe for the classroom:  
  • Many teachers at all levels use blogs to provide a painting easel for students to create. 
  • Some teachers use them to share information about what is happening in their classrooms (a much more direct form of communication than sending newsletters home each week. 
  • Many teachers use blogs to share their projects or ask advice of other educators.   The opportunities are endless.
I thought that I would share a few of the blogs that I like.  I have tried to break these into the three categories that I have just listed.  PLEASE share your favorites with us by inserting a link in one of the comments below. (It may say "no comments:" now, but click on it and add your thoughts.)

Student Creations

Sharing What's Happening in the Classroom

Sharing Ideas with Other Educators


The best way to learn about blogging is to read blogs. Select at least 3 blogs concerning your educational interests to follow throughout this class. You can select from the list above, or you could look for suggestions at 52 Education Blogs You Should Follow ( or you could Google it by entering the term, Blog, and then your area of interest, Universal Design for Learning.

Following Blogs

Once you have found the blogs you want to follow, you need to find a way to get to them easily.  Yes, you could bookmark them in your browser and then click on them daily.  BUT, there IS a simpler way. 

It is possible to use a Feed Reader to check your blogs daily and inform you when something new has been added.  There are many of these feed readers, but to make it simple, I am going to suggest using Feedly.  

Here is a short video on how to install Feedly as a Chrome Extension.*
* I am recommending using Chrome as a standard - for simplicity sake.

Once you have added Feedly, add at least the three blogs that you have decided to follow.

Getting Into the Blog-o-sphere

You have already entered the blog-o-sphere by beginning to follow some bloggers.  What did you learn?  What comments did you leave on the bloggers' postings?  Did you get any responses back from anyone? 

Now that you have reviewed the postings of accomplished bloggers, what do you think?  Was it useful? How could you make blogging useful to you?

It is time for you to create your own blog-o-sphere identity. You will begin by creating a blog and then begin to share your ideas, experiences and resources. In the past we have said that blogging involves Reading, Commenting, and Writing/Creating.  You have already had the opportunity to read and comment.  Let's hope that you continue with this enthusiasm as you embark on your blog writing/creating experience.

Writing is the key to it all. This is where you can share your ideas with world. It is where you have to confront your thoughts. I once had a professor (Dr. David Moursund) who told me that he didn't know how he felt about a topic until he had written about it. Writing requires you to organize your ideas so that you can express them in a clear and cogent manner.

1. First thing you must do is create a blog. Do you already have a blog?  If so, review these steps and then move on. The easiest blog to create is in Blogger.  Some of you have created blogs using other tools like WordPress or Kidblog.

WordPress is a powerful blogging tool that is used by many of the leading bloggers.  I know of a number of them who have even moved their Blogger blogs over to WordPress because of the additional advantages.  If you are interested in continuing your blogging after this class, you may want to open a blog on WordPress.

If you haven't heard of Kidblog., you might consider it for your students.  It has many advantages
  • It is easy to use. 
  • Each student has his/her own blog.
  • All of the student posts can be directed to appear in the class blog. 
  • All postings and comments can be moderated by the teacher
There are probably many other pros and cons for KidBlog so if you have experience using it or like to explore new software, please inform all of us about what you find.

Here is a 5-minute video by Adam Bellow on how to use KidBlog.  They allow you to have one free active blog.  If you want more, it will cost you $5/month.

2. Your blog will be enhanced if you add a few gadgets to it. KidBlog has some interesting widgets that you can add to your individual blogs but I haven't figured them out yet.  Why don't you explore and Whack Out your blog.  It can be the basis of a posting for you to share with your classmates.

3) Now that you have the easel, it is time for you to share your ideas.  You have been reading blogs for a couple of weeks. What are the topics that you found interesting? Maybe you can compare and contrast what you have found.  Do some additional research to add to your postings.  How does/will this apply to your present/future teaching situation?
    REMEMBER!!!  This is NOT in an enclosed eLearning discussion group that ONLY Dr. Z will read.  It is in the public. All of your classmates will be reading it. People in the public may read it.  DON'T write it like you are answering writing prompts on a test.  Write it in a manner that will interest your colleagues.  

    What to write?  Sometimes it's tough to find what to write.  The MOST important part of blogging is to be PASSIONATE about what you write.  Here is a collaborative list of ideas for writing prompts.  Look there for inspiration but share your own ideas and sources for inspiration as well.

    Once you have an idea, here are some hints for making effective postings.  You may have found some other ideas about what makes a posting interesting.
    • Begin with an active title. (i.e., Making Your Blog Postings More Interesting; 5 Ways to Extend Your Summer Vacation; How Blogs Changed the Writing Process in my 10th Grade English Class; or ????)
    • Include an image or photo of some sort.  You can find a wealth of photos you can use (as long as you cite them as I have done below) at Flickr/CreativeCommons  (
    • Always include at least 2 links to something relevant on the web. This means that when you discuss the Dr. Z Reflects and Clif's Notes blogs, you must have links to those websites so that your reader can examine them.  It is similar to the APA citations you have to do in your research papers, only it is MUCH easier to include. Include links to your classmates' postings.  Build community.
    • Your postings must have depth and that is more than can be captured on the single page.  Writing a post can be a small research project that will provide readers a deeper understanding of the topic.  This depth is provided by the additional links you provide your readers.
    • End your postings with questions to elicit responses from your readers.
    Here are some blog postings on how/why to create good blog postings.

      So how do you see yourself using blogs in your future teaching/training careers?

      Tuesday, August 30, 2016

      Module #2 - App Smashing

      What is App Activities

      Maybe it is something that you have been doing for years and didn't know that there was a cool title like "App Smashing" to name it.

      **Smore - This embedded flier was created using Smore. It has a free version or you can subscribe for $59/yr.  Check it out.

      You have been introduced to App Smashing and learned about a number of useful apps for creating.  Engage in the following Google Presentation, Welcome to App Smash! 101. Kristi Druvenga of Oelwein Community Schools provides some background about App Smashing, steps for app smashing and then examples.  The interesting part is that she describes them in the form of an equation.

      Did you get some ideas?  This is where it gets interesting.  Return to the App Smashing Instructions in BB9 and create your own.