Saturday, February 25, 2006

"Neverwinter Nights" in the classroom: UMNnews: U of M. 

"Neverwinter Nights" in the classroom: UMNnews: U of M.: "NWN has another, very important feature: it is sold along with a game-building toolset that allows users to modify the game, and BioWare encourages players to design their own versions of NWN using 'tilesets'-groups of images-which are available legally and online in databases set up by NWN fans around the world. This element of the game is what allowed Hansen and Paul to modify the software for the pedagogical needs of the 3004 course: they replaced the medieval world of Forgotten Realms with the modern world of a small American city called Harperville, and transformed the rogues, wizards, and barbarians into news editors, reporters, and other modern characters.

In the modified game, the student plays the role of a rookie reporter at the Harperville Gazette. A train has derailed in town and spilled its load of anhydrous ammonia, and the rookie reporter is assigned to write a context piece to help Gazette readers understand the implications of the accident. In the game, the reporter talks to the paper's editor about a good angle for the story, such as the health effects of the ammonia, the potential environmental effects, the public safety aspects of the wreck, or issues of railroad safety, for example. Once players choose their story angle, they are free to go anywhere in the newsroom and anywhere in the city of Harperville to research the story.

Players have many options for researching their stories. Hansen and Paul--with the technical help of Matt Taylor, an interactivity developer for Allen Interactions--filled the game's 'news library' with hundreds of pages of documents and sources from online sites, and populated Harperville with dozens of characters who can be interviewed by the rookie reporter, including hospital employees, railroad executives and workers, city hall and emergency management personnel, university experts, and business people. As students move through the information-seeking process, they take notes in a reporter's notebook within the game. They then 'file' their story, get a printout of their reporter's notebook, and write a 1,000-word news story with the information they've gathered. As the class instructor, Hansen has access to the log of each student's movements through the game; students must also turn in their reporter's notebook and their stories so she can see the type of notes taken by each student, and how those notes were used in generating each story."

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Attractive Virtual Professors Draw Student Attention 

Attractive Virtual Professors Draw Student Attention: "There's a simple reason why computers have not taken over teachers' jobs: They're boring, unpersuasive, unattractive and soulless.

That may soon change if Amy Baylor can perfect the virtual professors she's working on.

'Up until now, the personal computer's potential to be a valuable teaching and learning tool has been stymied by its 'soulless' nature,' says Baylor, a professor of instructional systems at Florida State University's Research of Innovative Technologies for Learning (RITL). 'We're using computers to simulate human beings in a controlled manner so we can investigate how they affect and persuade people.'

Baylor is focusing on friendly facial expressions, soothing hand gestures, and a 'coolly intelligent voice' to create characters that are ' both disarmingly lifelike and surprisingly persuasive.'

Early tests show Baylor might be on to something.

The characters -- Baylor calls them pedagogical agents -- will ultimately be more than just 3-D animations and voices. Software will allow them to adapt to a student's skill level in a given subject and provide feedback, both cognitive and emotion"

Saturday, September 17, 2005

NYC School Chancellor: Reality Check- When does the idiocy end? 

An Educational Voyage!:
Sir, it is time for a real hard reality check for you and your administrators.

Please show NYC teachers a floor plan of an honestly functional 'typical size' NYC classroom that has:

30-35 desks and chairs - arranged in cooperative groups (remember- larger children have larger furniture)

A teacher's desk and chair

A work space for an Educational Assistant. All adults deserve a chair. You have a chair, don't you?
The Famous Rocking Chair

A Classroom Library with a little space to browse.

Usable Reading, Math, Writing, and Science 'Centers' that are not so crammed together that only one child at a time can fit at them.
A Word Wall

A Bulletin Board wall

A Chalk Board Wall

A Wall with Windows and
A Computer area

that allows a logical traffic flow that teachers and children can move around in comfortably. NYC school buildings were just not built for the class sizes we have today. 15-18 child classes are few nd far between. Ah, yes, and what about the classroom with double exposure- 2 walls of windows? That's a whole other problem. It's time for a reality check!"

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Education Arcade :: The Future of Videogames in Education 

The Education Arcade :: The Future of Videogames in Education: "The Education Arcade's 2005 Games in Education Conference was organized by MIT Comparative Media Studies, the MIT Teacher Education Program, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison with support from the Entertainment Software Association and E3Expo and sponsorship from LeapFrog Enterprises and BellSouth Corporation. Video archives and supporting materials from the conference sessions are available"

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Tall, Dark, and Mysterious » Dispatches from the library 

Tall, Dark, and Mysterious » Dispatches from the library
i don’t quite know what to do about the calculator problem: the strong students know when to use it to amplify their understanding, while the weaker students use it as a substitute for their lack of understanding. yet it’s exactly the weaker students who might need calculator skills later in life if they run across a real-world problem (oh, the horror!) that they can’t remember how to do.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Slashdot | GLS Conference In Retrospect 

Slashdot | GLS Conference In Retrospect: Posted by Zonk on 01:49 PM -- Sunday July 03 2005
from the learning-is-fun dept.
Late last month the Games Learning Society conference came to town in Madison, WI. The assembled big thinkers discussed many different aspects of gaming as it interacts with education, socialization, and main-stream culture. Terra Nova has a great big breakdown thread with commentary from some of the presenters. The Shifted Librarian has a firsthand account of the conference, and PsychoChild's blog features musings on the MMO presentations. From PyschoChild's blog: 'Stephen Gillett, a Senior Director at Yahoo! Inc., gave an excellent presentation at the GLS conference entitled Guild Building is Skill Building where he argues that you can learn important skills from playing online games. In his case, he says he learned important management skills from leading a guild. Stephen argued that the act of forming and running a guild is similar to what an entrepreneur does. An entrepreneur has to raise capital, incorporate, find talent, etc. Similarly, a guild master (GM) has to get together funds, form the guild, recruit good members, etc. Given Stephen's history as an entrepreneur he knows what he's talking about.'"

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Chalkboards With Brains 

Chalkboards With Brains: "Been using one for most of the last year... (Score:2, Insightful)
by Kemanorel (127835) on 12:01 PM -- Saturday June 11 2005 (#12789108)

I teach algebra in Orange County, CA, and have been using one of these for most of the last school year. My school has probably 85% of the classrooms equipped with these, with the remaining 15% due to get them early next year. I use a Smart Board [smarttech.com] with a 12' PowerBook and an Epson LCD projector*. It is front projection, which can be a pain (especially when my clueless 7th and 8th graders look directly into the beam), but I do enjoy using it. With the Smart Board and a PowerPoint** presentation, I can cover more information in a class period than I can by just sitting at an overhead projector. This also allows me to have the full text of what I'm saying on the screen as I'm saying it, which allows both my auditory and visual learners to acquire more of the imformation. I craft the presentations in such a way that the example problems show every step of work on each click of my wireless presentation remote/laser pointer. If I need to highlight/underline/circle/do anything by hand, there is a selection of pens at the ready, just as if I was working at a chalkboard or whiteboard. However, I find being able to walk around the room while I explain how to factor trinomials does wonders for keeping my students on task.

Does the tech make me a better teacher? No, but it does allow me to keep the attention of my 180 hormonal 7th and 8th graders on a bright and sunny June day where you can smell the ocean on the breeze."

note - there's much more to this comment, click above link

What to do if your computer won't recognize a FireWire device 

What to do if your computer won't recognize a FireWire device: "In rare cases, a computer's built-in FireWire ports and third-party FireWire devices no longer work correctly. The computer may no longer recognize the device(s).

Try these tips and tricks:

Make sure the FireWire connector is aligned with the port before you insert it.

Insert the FireWire connector straight and completely into the FireWire port.

Make sure the FireWire connector is not reversed and being forcefully inserted into the port.

Check the cable connector. Is it dirty, dusty, or 'contaminated'?

Look at the FireWire port. Does it look OK?

Disconnect any noncompliant FireWire devices or cables that are not in use.

If a device does not work when connected through a second FireWire device, try connecting it directly to the computer.

Use a FireWire cable or device you're sure works well.

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