Given my love of gaming and my interest in the motivational value of video games, I’m surprised (baffled, really) that I’ve only recently heard of gamification. It’s not that the concept is unfamiliar to me, far from it, but this new (to me) terminology has opened the door to a whole world of people attempting to gamify education. Empowered by my new $5 word, I went on a marathon search bender to find out how people are gamifying their classrooms.
May 9, 2011 by Josh Caldwell
April 25, 2011 by Josh Caldwell
Saw this pop through on Twitter and I knew it needed a little more than just a RT. MIT has created an interactive game that combines science, anthropology, and mystery to get middle school students engaged in scientific problem-solving and critical-analysis.
“Vanished” is a two-month-long game, which debuted the week of April 4 and stems from an initial scenario revealed in recent video messages on the site. The premise is that people living in the future have contacted us in the present, to answer a question: What event occurred between our time and theirs that led to the loss of civilization’s historical records? Students must decode clues in hidden messages, and in response find and provide information about Earth’s current condition, such as temperature and species data, to help people in the future deduce what wound up happening.
I kinda want to play this myself – I just hope this is the first of many such realtime games from MIT (how about something I can use in my LA classes, please).
April 18, 2011 by Josh Caldwell
After running across the slick web-based feedback tool Socractive, I knew I had to give it a test run with my Freshmen. While Socrative is clearly designed small screen mobile devices (smart phone, iPod, etc), our district unfortunately doesn’t allow students to use their personal electronic devices on the network, so I couldn’t take advantage of all of the tiny web browsers floating around in my students’ pockets and backpacks. Instead, I took the kids to the computer lab to be my guinea pigs – since Socrative is a web app, it should work on any device with a modern web browser.
I was excited right from the start – Socrative was crazy easy to get going with, both for myself and my students. No setup, or student usernames, or navigating around to find the assignment, just a simple interface and a single “room number” to get in. I decided to go with a Short Answer question, which seemed to work a treat, right up until a student asked if he could resubmit his answer.
That’s when cracks started to appear in the veneer.
There was no apparent way to allow students to resubmit a question, so I figured I would just start a second question for the student to use. That turned out to be a Bad Idea; as soon as I opened up a new question, the old one disappeared in a puff of bits, and with it, the student responses.
Fortunately, my students are used to the guinea pig treatment and willingly, if not without frustration, tackled the question a second time. As the responses floated in, I noticed that students who had already submitted their feedback were stuck with a “Waiting for teacher to start an activity…” screen, and I couldn’t find any way to queue up a second activity for those who were waiting to move on (I certainly wasn’t going to go poking around and risk loosing all of my responses again). But the real pain came after the students had left. You see, I had intended to actually use the responses I’d gathered, but apparently responses to real-time questions aren’t saved in Socrative, so when your browser crashes because of your obsessive need to leave a hundred tabs open “just in case,” all those wonderful student responses just dissolve into the ether. Ugh.
My experience may sound bleak, but I’m not ready to throw in the towel just yet; there’s a good bit of potential there. For a class with more readily available technology access (particularly a 1:1 class) the ease of quick feedback offered by Socrative’s real-time data collection would be a godsend compared to standalone feedback devices. For those of us who have to schedule our lab time a week or more out, it’s more a question of how best to adapt. Given that I intended to keep my feedback for later evaluation, and that I wanted students to move through a set of questions at their own pace, I probably should have set up a quiz instead of using the on-demand questions (note to the folks @ Socrative, it would still be nice if the responses to on-demand activities were saved somewhere). I’d love to hear from teachers using Socrative with a class set of iPods or iPads – that’s where I see its real potential as a “clicker” killer.
April 12, 2011 by Josh Caldwell
I love space.
I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid.
I still do.
There are many reasons to be jealous of Science teachers, but the opportunity to speculate about space exploration with wide-eyed kids has got to be near the top of the list. So, in honor of the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin’s trip into the cosmos, here’s a list of the space-related web resources that I might use if I taught Science.
See What Yuri Saw – Astonishing HD video shot from the International Space Station combined with actual audio from Gagarin’s mission.
Journey to the Moon – Snagfilm video
A New View of the Galaxy – Exclusive Kepler data visualization by Jer Thorp
Extreme Planet Makeover – Interactive planet builder
Celestia – Free Open Source space simulation app that runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux
WorldWide Telescope – Virtual telescope that runs as a desktop app on Windows or in the browser via Silverlight
We Choose the Moon – Interactive history of the Apollo 11 launch
Ascent – Video commemorating 29 years of shuttle launches
Go for Launch – Time lapse video of the preparation and launch of the Discovery
NASA for Education – A vast expanse of resources, straight from the horses mouth
April 5, 2011 by Josh Caldwell
One of the great promises of educational technology is to “expand learning beyond the classroom walls.” Now, that can mean a lot of things, but I’ve long thought of it as a way to transform my paltry 55 minutes a day into a 24/7, full access, virtual learning extravaganza (okay, that may be a bit of a naïve exaggeration).
To that end, I’ve tried all manner of tools to serve as my digital extension of my classroom, anything from full-fledged VLEs like Moodle, to wikis, blogs, and forums before finally discovering Edmodo. All have been successful to some extent, but nothing has come as close to my ideal of a true boundless learning environment as Edmodo; I’m regularly astonished by how much of their free-time my students are willing to spend on there! (more…)
April 4, 2011 by Josh Caldwell
It’s time we start reevaluating our personal technology use policies in school (see the Speak Up 2010 report for some interesting stats). In the past, I’ve tried sites like Text the Mob to use student devices for realtime classroom feedback. Texting works fine, but setting up a question and getting kids to text the right number is cumbersome, at best.
Socrative is a site that both simplifies the process and expands the feature set of mobile device feedback. Teachers can ask multiple choice, true/false or short answer questions as well as assigning quizzes, games and exit tickets. Students don’t need an account, they just plug in the teacher’s room number to login. Because it’s a web app, Socrative can be used from any device with a web browser and internet access. This opens up access to students with iPods/iPads (assuming your district allows them network access, which mine does not) but doesn’t provide access to normal (non-smart) phones. I definitely plan on kicking the tires when I get back from Spring Break, and I’ll post back here when I do.
January 20, 2010 by David
What happens when you grow up playing video games? Well, for one you think of them as just another part of your life and secondly, if you start having kids you probably make video games that your little ones will enjoy.
From ABC News:
“There’s a big open hole in the market,” said Russell Arons, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment senior vice president of marketing. “This is the first generation of parents who grew up as gamers. Unlike prior generations where people weren’t sure of the value of video games, these are people who know there’s value and fun for the whole family.”
So maybe all it’s going to take for more big name educational video games to be made is for gamers to grow up and have kids.
[Article on ABC News.com]
[Image from Family-123]
January 10, 2010 by David
Kids need help with proportions, variables & equations, or numbers and operations? Try Lure of the Labyrinth. Play the game where your pet has disappeared and you’re in a world full of monsters trying to rescue it or skip straight to the puzzles.
Lure of the Labyrinth is a digital game for middle-school pre-algebra students. It includes a wealth of intriguing math-based puzzles wrapped into an exciting narrative game in which students work to find their lost pet – and save the world from monsters! Linked to both national and state mathematics standards, the game gives students a chance to actually think like mathematicians.
Put out by a group at MIT you know that this material is no slouch. There’s even a professional development video for prealgebra teachers. It is also a flash game so no download needed!
January 10, 2010 by David
You know those maddening puzzles where the puzzle is made up of tiles the same size but there is one missing so you can rearrange the tiles in order to put everything back the right way? Well, what if the answer to the puzzle wasn’t obvious since it didn’t show a picture when it was finished but you had to figure out how to power certain items by attaching cogs in a certain order?
That’s the game Cogs by Lazy 8 Studios in a nutshell. Download the demo for PC and give it a try wait a little bit for it on the iPhone. From the site:
Cogs is an innovative new puzzle game where players build an incredible variety of machines from sliding tiles. Immersed in a steampunk world with stunning visual design, Cogs is pure eye candy. And with 50 unique levels and three gameplay modes, we’ve packed in hours of entertaining, addictive fun.
Challenge a friend to beat your time or finish in fewer moves or try to beat your own record.