“Over the past 10 months, I have submitted 304 versions of the wonder drug paper to open-access journals. More than half of the journals accepted the paper, failing to notice its fatal flaws. Beyond that headline result, the data from this sting operation reveal the contours of an emerging Wild West in academic publishing.”—Who’s Afraid of Peer Review? (via archivalia)
Game-based learning: It's coming and you can't hide!
Last week I learned a lot about game-based learning at a fantastic EDCO Collaborative workshop at MIT. The presenter was Peter Stidwill from Playful Learning, a project of Learning Games Network at MIT and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
For years the federal government and other agencies have been focusing on educational game development and research by giving tons of grants. You can read a 2006 report from the Federation of American Scientists to see what some content experts believe about game-based learning (remember Ender’s Game?). A recent round of federal grants funded some exciting new educational gaming projects . Over the next few years, gaming will become part of more curriculums across the country.
The workshop opened with a quick quiz on Kahoot.it, a gamified quiz platform based on speed. Try it—you’ll love it. Then Stidwill moved on to identifying what gaming offers students:
Scaffold support with increasingly complex problems—zone of proximal development, pulling kids into “flow” by getting lost in the program
Introduce concepts slowly—just in time instruction
Learning through doing—participator-constructivist
Stidwill expertly identified barriers to using educational games in the classroom:
Finding quality games
Lack of experience/confidence
Pedagogy—what’s the teacher’s role? Where does the learning happen?
Finding quality support materials
Lack of peer support
Convincing administrators and parents
Timing and curriculum
This is where Playful Learning comes in. It’s a platform designed to help teachers discover the right game for the right purpose, and share the info with other teachers. It’s a collaborative platform, still being built, using clean, easy to understand design. You can start a free account and make a folder to save your favorite games. It’s a free service and doesn’t host games—it links to them, helps you discover them, find supporting materials, comments from other teachers, award info, reviews, etc.
Gaming does not equal gamification
Next we learned a bit about the history of educational gaming. We’re not talking about Grand Theft Auto, but games that have a discernable educational link (yes, we did discuss at length the physics applications of Angry Birds). Gaming is not gamification. Why? Because “gamification, which takes the least important bits of games (scores, etc.), is all about external motivation—not about finding the intruiging and fun parts of learning like game-based learning does.” (Stidwill) Gamification includes badges, which has a been a big topic in education lately (and one in which I am very interested).
There are two types of games: COTS, which stands for “commercial, off the shelf” games, and educational games. Both are divided into two categories, short form and long form. Short form games work on “a specific concept or skill, fit into a single class period” (Stidwill.) Long form games “extend to multiple sessions or weeks and focuses on developing concepts and 21st century skills” (Stidwill.) These are games like the new Sim City or Sid Meyer’s Civilization. They have a vertical learning curve, are immersive and take weeks to master.
Drill and practice
Interactive Learning Tools
Role Playing (World of Warcraft)
Action/Adventure (Lara Croft)
Simulations (Sim City, Zoo Tycoon)
In addition to developing the discovery and sharing platform described above, Learning Projects has developed high quality educational games for a variety of subjects from ELA, to Civics, to ELL learners.
Nervous? You’re not alone
None of the teachers in the room at the workshop had introduced game based learning in their classrooms—yet. I suspect it was because of a combination of factors—the instructional technologists who made up the bulk of the audience don’t have classes of their own and have to work through other teachers. Not only do they have to convince themselves to take a chance, they have to convince another teacher, too.
If you want to find out more about game-based learning and live in the Boston area, you’re in luck because Playful Learning is hosting the 2013 Media Literacy Conference in Boston on Saturday, November 2.
It’s time to give game-based learning serious consideration. The Playful Learning platform is a great place to start.
The year is almost over and I have a list a mile long of things I want to do—NEED to do. And more and more work is being discovered. Classification troubles on the shelves, training for my staff, long term projects for the year still undone. I have always had a hard time a) accepting that things take longer than I expect to finish and b) toning down my expectations.
revise Res-Tech course
finish website redesign
birth the Lib Guides
figure out how the hell we’re going to fix the crazy “organization” of the shelves
"My College Freshman is your High School Senior" Friday, May 31, Mt. Wachusett Community College
I went to this daylong conference developed by the Massachusetts Library Association expecting to hear college professors critique the information literacy skills of incoming freshman, and that I would come away with a list of ways to improve the same.
I was shocked to discover that college professors are afraid they do not provide active learning experiences like students get in high school. Also, it seems like educators at every level are afraid of the tech skills of rising students.
A productive half hour. Five sophomores showed up and were surprised more people weren’t there. The kids’ main concern is getting a critical mass of 15-20 people to play which would make a fun game.
Most of our potential members are in the Anime Club which meets during activity blocks like us. We can’t move to after school because kids’ schedules are too busy.
Also, no freshmen showed up which I attribute to their being mad at me for the frustrating research and technology class I taught at the beginning of the year. I hope that that will change, but if it doesn’t there is a large group of minecrafting freshman arriving next year.
Since Minecraft is drama filled, there was discussion about barring entry to players who were likely to be trouble. The club decided everyone would be innocent until proven guilty. Also, since this server is donated by a student who has used it to play with kids in town there is a history associated with it.
We are thinking of starting with a high stakes, fast, super dangerous kind of game to get things moving.
I am charged with getting the software downloaded on three computers in the lab. I will give more details on that later.
Minecraft Club part 1: "I want to teach everyone how to make a clock."
I’m starting a Minecraft in my school. I’ve been anxious about the idea because I feel like I don’t know enough about the game. Why did I feel I had to do it? Because I’ve been reading Minecraft posts by Sarah Ludwig and I admire her practice. And, most important, there is a Minecraft club at our middle school—and I’ve got to keep up with them!
I went to the Digital Humanities: The Next Generation conference at Simmons this weekend thinking that I was reaching. After all, digital humanities happens in universities, requires super coding skills, and, really, I’m not even completely sure what digital humanities is—something to do with infographics? After two days of listening to presenters from universities and archives from all over the country, I have a much better idea of digital humanities and am excited about working DH into my high school library teaching. Bonus: meeting wonderful people doing interesting work.
Can We Talk: How school librarians discuss social media with stakeholders
by Alida Hanson
By now you should know that I’m interested in new media and how we can use it in schools. I researched and wrote an article about school librarians and social media which was published in the winter 2013 issue of Young Adult Library Services. YALS is the journal of the Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association.
The main things I learned were don’t expect perfection, be realistic, and anticipate and validate the anxieties that most stakeholders have about using social media in school.
Thanks to Linda Braun for asking me to write the article. Now I’m interested in learning more about how educators construct Acceptable Use Policies, so maybe that’s next.
I signed up for this free online Google course and took the first lesson last night. I’m sharing my notes here with you. There are five more lessons coming, I think. If I pass the midterm and final I will earn some kind of certificate. Wish me luck. Notes follow after the jump.
I played around with the free iPad app Haiku Deck tonight and think it’s an excellent way to present a short lesson. It’s also a nice summarizing tool for students. You must create presentations on the iPad but you can view them in any web based browser.
The presentations have a fresh design, and great pictures to choose from. It’s not completely intuitive, but after a few tries I got it down. I suggest making nonsense-trial slide decks until you figure out how it works. It took me about 45 minutes to figure out how to use it and make the following presentation. (Just click on the picture to advance to the next slide.)
Kamishibai, a traditional, low-tech form of Japanese storytelling, has magical effects on your audience. I fell in love with it last month thanks to Deborah Abner, my friend and wonderful librarian at Lincoln School in Brookline, which has an ELL program for its large Japanese student population. She asked me to use it for library lessons during Sakura Week when I subbed for her. It’s easy, fun, and totally engaging. Yes, that’s me up there, having a great time!
I’m always signing up for new platforms online. Sometimes it’s like shouting into the void ( Visual.ly?) but usually I learn something exciting that has applications to education.
I signed up for Vook a few months ago and heard back from them earlier this week about getting a beta tester account and taking training. I just finished the training and am impressed with the ease and flexibility of this tool.
Alida, so, I'm working on a series of interviews of blogging librarians over at my library tumblr (TheCardiganLibrarian). The point is to provide a sort of cross-pollination of library tumblrs and to give prospective librarians (of which there seem to be a lot on Tumblr) the skinny on what being a librarian is like. I was wondering if you might be interested in doing an interview; the questions are very brief. Let me know! Thanks. Katherine
Hi Katherine, I love your tumblr! And I would be happy to do a short interview. I’m currently working part time in a high school library for my practicum. I worked in an elementary library last spring. Alida
Check out the Common Core app I added to my blog. Look on the right hand side of the page, click on the tab, and you’ll get handy pull out directory of English and Math Common Core standards for grades K-12.
As librarians and graduate students, we know that citations are the basis of scholarship. Academic careers are made and broken on the strength of citations (academics track citations of their own work, which increases their influence and value).
But what about high school students? Yes, they need to know how to cite and make bibliographies for papers, and it’s a tool to consider plagiarism. But what do students actually learn from citations?
Steve Jobs showed us what someone can achieve while being treated for cancer. He did some of his most important work after his diagnosis. I don’t offer him as an example for people with cancer to “think positive,” but for employers, friends, family and community to recognize that a cancer diagnosis does not mean it’s time to avert your eyes and start saying goodbye.
Currently have two blogs using iWeb, one for our school staff and one for our parents. Am looking to expand to another blog for an expanded audience. I'm hearing some very positive things about Tumblr. I have looked at your blog, Vicki "Cool Cat's", Will Richardson and numerous others. Why did you choose Tumblr over say Blogger? How did you come upon your template? What advice do you have for getting started with Tumblr? Thanks.
Thanks for looking at my Tumblr—I love this tool and am happy to share my experience with it.
Another piece of my efficiency plan: using Twitter lists. When I make lists according to topic, social circle, or importance, I can follow all the streams that are important to me instead of having them all mixed together in my feed.
Makes twitter less random. I follow almost 500 people and I always miss my friends’ tweets.
The more blogs I subscribe to, the fewer I actually read. It’s time to take a hard look at my Google Reader and organize it for efficiency. Categories are key: they need to reflect content and importance. Thinking of using something like:
Enhanced versions of novels and nonfiction are coming out in ebooks and ipad apps. Penguin calls their ipad app of On the Road an “amplified edition.” These apps can be preloaded in library ipads, and librarians can keep their students informed about free apps (like this one from the British Library) to download on personal devices.
Richard Byrne writes a great blog called Free Technology for Teachers, and also writes a column for School Library Journal. Byrne has put together a handy book of technologies that I’ll be taking a look at this summer. I’ll be familiar with some of them, but there’s always something new to learn. Thank you, Richard Byrne.
I’ve been exploring Flickr lately, mainly by posting pictures of recent travels and my garden. Thinking about privacy, content and permissions when opening the account, I chose a pseudonym. I decided to post images that are viewable by everyone, with an attribution/non-commercial/share-alike Creative Commons license
. I often use CC Flickr photos for projects and think it’s time I threw some images into the bank.
School librarians can display a Flickr slideshow of new books on their websites. Flickr can host a book club: upload bookshots and invite students to write reviews in the comments. A Flickr book club can be an adjunct to the catalog: tag each image with the book title so students can call up peer reviews.
The tagging of the setting of books can be handled in two different ways. The name of the city/region can be written in the tags, or the location can be geo-tagged on the new map feature.
Tried out Storify a while back and posted it to the wrong tumblr! Storify lets you search social media and aggregates posts in an attractive format that you can embed in websites, share in Twitter, post to FB. It’s a new perspective on current events, culture, and media. I made two and here they are:
David Pogue wrote an article about DAR.fm today in the Times. I allowed myself 20 minutes to explore it, and found that it allows access, storage and search for radio shows, and has a nice API that gives you a record button for your own radio shows. There is discussion about copyright violations and whether this is this really any better than podcasts.
I tried to record talk radio from Joplin, MO to post here, but after I waited 15 minutes for it to record, I was informed the station was unavailable.
How could we use this in the classroom? The site is organized in an instructive way. Look at the search page for talk shows, for example:
Gets you thinking in categories to help you evaluate the tone and content of the audio you are about to hear.
Search and save audio to compare how different radio programs treat the same topic. I tried to search by topic (“tornado”) and nothing came up. Search by date and region.
I looked up Graham Greene, one of my favorite authors, on Qwiki and am really impressed with the results. The result is a slideshow of photos and spoken text, with related Qwikis handily listed nearby. This is a fun way to get a quick overview of a topic or subject that might otherwise be difficult to penetrate.