Thursday, May 28, 2009


Monday, May 18, 2009

Glogster - Poster Yourself.

I found the really neat site today called Glogster. A glog is a digital poster that can contain images, video and sound. Creators can share them with other people via their social network or website and say what is special to them about their lives.

Brenda at Education World notes, "Glogster goes beyond being just another “scrapbbooky" tool -- it introduces students to 3-D communication skills, requiring them to merge the left and right sides of the brain as they seek to communicate and evaluate both information and meaning. The visual, audio, and textual capacity of Glogster not only will appeal to digital learners, it has the potential to support the visual literacy skills that are becoming essential skill sets for 21st century learners."

Glogster recently launched an educational version for teachers at Glogster has tried to make this tool as teacher-friendly as possible by making it easy to set up a class account, which provides a private account for each student (and generates passwords and e-mails them to the teacher). Traci Blazosky has developed a Glogster Tutorial page. Can you imagine how Glogster could change the face of book reports, biographies, creative writing? Below is a glog on Web 2.0 tools. It includes hyperlinks and interaction.

A Vision of K-12 Students Today

I came across this video on TeacherTube. It's a reconfiguration of a couple of YouTube videos I've seen with the focus now on K-12. I really like the fact that Nesbitt got 16 digital natives to help with the production of the video.

One comment asked, "At what point did students transition from "I am engaged in learning because I value education" to "Engage me and make me learn?" It is scary to think that current educational philosophy puts ALL of the onus on teachers to MAKE their students learn, rather than on students." I'm wondering if the majority of students were ever involved in education simply because they valued learning--whether that is a myth we tell ourselves. What is it about today's education that students should value? Are we teaching them the skills that they can use to get a job, to be productive citizens? If they are using technology daily, then it is our responsibility to teach them how to use it appropriately, ethically, efficiently, effectively.

I don't think that technology puts all the onus on the teachers. I think technology allows teachers to be co-learners, to provide learning opportunities that have never been available to the majority of people before. My students can now sit in the Globe Theater and participate in an Elizabethan production in Second Life. Using i3D technology, they can go into a cell and see protein synthesis occurring--and even manipulate DNA to create mutations. They can tour the Louvre without leaving the United States. On the other hand, they can also be creators of knowledge. They can collaborate on a group project using wikis or publish essays previously only seen by the teacher in their blogs for the whole world to see. They can participate in peer-reviews, share research, and meet experts--all on the Internet.

It is our job as teachers to move out of the Industrial model of "sage on the stage" and dispensing of knowledge into "empty containers." We must realize that not only has our world changed, but our students have also changed. They have different expectations--and the business world has different expectations also. We have a responsibility to produce technologically literate citizens, which means that we HAVE to use technology and have our students use technology in their learning activities.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Games, Simulations, and MUVEs

Educational (or serious) games, simulations and multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs) range from games that require simple, repetitive actions, such as Tetris, to complex digital worlds such as Second Life. Interactive 3D learning objects currently being developed at Fayetteville Technical Community College provide a tiered approach: simple demonstration, demonstration and narration, practice, and evaluation/self-assessment.

Games, simulations, MUVEs, or i3D learning objects designed for the educational community embed tasks or problems within a virtual context. Users can explore the environment and examine digital objects. In simulations, they can operate machines, perform experiments, and test hypotheses. With all this media, whether game, simulation, MUVE, or i3D learning object, a primary advantage is the interaction--the user participation. One additional advantage of the MUVE, is there is also a means to communicate with other users and online experts.

Chemsense provides software that simulates an environment in which students can explore chemical processes and see the effects of changes. Students also can collaborate on their work in this environment.


Froguts is subscription-based software that students can use to simulate dissecting several different animals, including frogs, fetal pigs, squids, and starfish.

Rabbits and Wolves

Shodor's mission is to advance science and math education through the use of computational science, modeling and technology. With the Rabbits and Wolves simulation developed by Shodor, students explore how nature keeps balance by varying the number of rabbits and wolves that live in a defined space. It includes directions and activities for students as well as background information for teachers.

River City Project

The River City Project, developed by Harvard under an National Science Foundation (NSF) grant, provides a virtual nineteenth century American town plagued by disease. Students work in teams to develop a hypothesis regarding the disease’s cause. They can interview citizens of River City, read relevant documents, visit the hospital, and review photographs. Research indicated that users showed greater improvement in their inquiry skills and a better understanding of the science content than did control students who used a paper-based curriculum. Unfortunately, support for the River City Research Project will end this summer (2009). It seems unlikely that River City will be available in the next school year.

Quest Atlantis (through Indiana University) is an international learning and teaching project that uses a 3D multi-user environment to immerse children, ages 9-15, in educational tasks. QA combines strategies used in the commercial gaming environment with lessons from educational research on learning and motivation. It allows users to travel to virtual places to perform educational activities (known as Quests), talk with other users and mentors, and build virtual personae. Over the last four years, more than 10,000 children on five continents have participated in the project. Research has demonstrated learning gains in science, language arts, and social studies.

The Education Arcade was established by leading scholars of digital games and education. Researchers at MIT explored key issues in the use of a wide variety of media in teaching and learning through the Games-to-Teach Project, a Microsoft-funded initiative with MIT Comparative Media Studies that ran between 2001 and 2003. The project resulted in a suite of conceptual frameworks designed to support learning across math, science, engineering, and humanities curricula. Working with top game designers from industry and with faculty across MIT's five schools, researchers produced 15 game concepts with supporting pedagogy that showed how advanced math, science and humanities content could be uniquely blended with state-of-the-art game play.
  • One of those projects was Revolution, a multiplayer role playing game where students experience history and the American Revolution by participating in a virtual community set in Williamsburg, VA on the eve of the American Revolution. Revolution is designed to be played in a 45-minute classroom session in a networked environment. Revolution is a modification (or "mod") of the game Neverwinter Nights Gold, and users will need to acquire that game and install it (Windows only) first. The game is offered as a free download.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Virtual Learning in Second Life

Interactive 3D Learning

Traditional education primarily relies on books and lectures. Such methods of teaching facts, concepts, and structure rely on “two dimensional” lectures and textbooks to convey material that is inherently three-dimensional and dynamic, creating for many people gaps in understanding. i3D visual learning objects (VLOs) allow for the visualization of information that is difficult to describe textually. In addition, today’s student is a multi-channel, multi-tasking receiving entity. Lecture represents a single-channel, single-mode of distributing information. Interactivity provides the means to make knowledge “come alive”, facilitating comprehension and interest. Studies have shown that employing such visualization techniques will help the learner understand the message 33% faster, remember the message 37% longer, and make decisions 48% quicker. The queue time in effective knowledge transfer is reduced through the more natural medium: i3D.

Immersive and simulation learning offers intense experiences that are difficult to obtain in real life. Learners can address multiple different aspects of cognitive and psychomotor skills, including knowledge, tasks and skills, decision-making/problem-solving.

“Simulation” refers to a set of techniques that replace or augment real experiences with planned experiences. Often immersive in nature, they seek to replicate substantial aspects of the real world in a fully interactive fashion. “Interactivity” is important because it allows the user to navigate, communicate, and perform various activities. “Immersive” conveys the sense that participants have of being completing engaged in a task or setting as they would if it were the real world. While seamless immersion is not currently possible, research shows that participants in immersive simulations easily suspend disbelief and speak and act much as they do in their real jobs. Applications of simulations relate the intended goals of the activity to specific target populations of participants and to specific types of simulation and curricula.

Interactive simulation learning provides a bridge between students’ theoretical knowledge and the actual practices and decisions entailed in real-world situations. Using simulation technologies, learners are free to build on their current knowledge base and develop important skills before they work in real-world settings. They are able to make and learn from their mistakes prior to the real-world experience. i3D simulations enhance training or demonstrate concepts that can’t adequately be taught in the real world . Students are also able to participate in procedures or diagnose ailments not evident on a frequent basis in the real world. In addition, because any situation can be portrayed at will, these learning activities can be scheduled whenever convenient and repeated as often as necessary.