World of Warcraft… a learning experience?

What do you think the future of educational games are? Can we actual study them sufficiently to determine if they can actually impact learning? Why or why not? Are these things you feel are going to be beneficial or will there be a backlash?

Reflect on your experience in WoW. What was it as a learning experience? Good? Bad? What did you learn? How? Why? Be specific.

First off, I believe there is a place for educational games in education.  I have not experienced a ton of gaming but I feel based on own personal experience, one key to using these types of learning experiences – purpose and well, expectations. I am all about using experiences to learn, but with no real foundation, my own experiences were not all that I thought they could be cracked up to be. Let me explain…

Purpose, objectives, processes… these are all important or they should be.  Having not ever even gone into a World of Warcraft area, my first challenge:  what was my objective to the game.  Sure I knew it was virtual world, but that was it.  Doing what I think any good student would do — turned to my own resources:  I looked online for hints as to how to get started, what was a world, what is an avatar, quests and more… and then well I used my best resource – my son!  He doesn’t play World of Warcraft, but other online environments so we just talked and he transferred some of his own knowledge and we talked and well… I got it!  Sort of….

It is funny watching him play these games — I think this goes back to the initial question.  Can they impact learning?  I do think in some aspects it can – let me explain.  In “normal” day to day exchanges, my son is a very quiet learner.  He takes it all in.  He watches everything.  He won’t raise his hand in classes.  He is brilliant.  He does very well on tests without studying.  These worlds provide him a way to express his views without anyone “seeing” him.  I listen though… he is conducting very deep conversations, strategizing about his next move, working together to achieve a level, collaborating.  Is this learning… sure.   Will he best “tested” on this subject – never, but will these skills be important for a worker in the next phase of his life?  Absolutely.  He is very inquisitive, but on his terms.   

Now transfer to me… I am a very different learner and these worlds… well here are some of my own observations.  I like a challenge.  I like the “social” aspect of these worlds, but as a learning experience… I was “challenged”.  From a constructivist learning theory, this article, An exploratory review of design principles in constructivist gaming learning environments (Rosario & Widmeyer, 2009) discusses “MMOGs would become an instrument to offer meaningful knowledge where students can learn, in a fun way, by doing. Additionally, constructivism can foster participation and collaboration among people through feedback from knowledge and experiences. Thus, a MMOG is the perfect place to create a visually interesting and appealing interface that supports both participation and collaboration.”

This is where I stand with learning with MMOGs.  It was interesting during the quests, as I didn’t really collaborate with anyone until I started achieving higher levels.  I guess my fighting expertise was found to be acceptable.  I was asked to join realm by another player.  If I didn’t have this assignment, I might have joined, but was warned that I would be moved into a new realm – personally, that scared me.  To this point, I knew what I was doing, could complete the quests, that appealed to me.  Another key piece to this and one that the article points out – learning principals that are prevalent and important to learning – as detailed in the designed principals for a Constructivist Gaming Learning Environment – as a few examples:

Principal 1 – Probing Principal:  Learners should be encouraged to engage in cycles of action, hypothesis building, and inquiry.  Related to my experiences of WoW – the specific quests had me engage and think about a specific direction to go and the outcome.  I am sure that at these initial levels, the hypothesis building is very basic.  My level of inquiry was very limited.

Principle 2 – Distributed Principle: Learners should find growth and knowledge in their interactions with other learners, technology, context, objects, and tools. 

There are others, but I am skipping to 

Principle 11 – On-Demand and Just-in-Time Tutorial Principle: Game tutorials should aid players in learning the game mechanics and user interface while they are playing, exploring or interacting with the environment. This way, players will learn the game mechanics as well as the user interface while they are playing the game. 

I wonder if as adults, we are programmed to have the directions and not know how to learn while “playing”?  Have we been programmed to wait for directions as that is the way we were taught as obedient students?  I think back to me as a student and I can’t remember anything even remotely close to gaming – I know we didn’t have video games or even computers, but could the same principals have been used in face-to face type of scenarios.  Students have always developed hypotheses about things, explored and interacted with environments, and well love rewards.  I think that is a key piece of WoW.  I can’t deny it, but I loved the feeling of accomplishment when I completed a quest and was challenged to go to the next level.  As I reflect, I wish that a little more direction was given, maybe not the game itself, but I wish that I knew or could have known who my classmates were so that a little more collaboration could have taken place.  Could I have worked with someone I didn’t know?  Sure.  Is that scary to me.  YES.  How can I transfer that fear into something good?  Are these type of learning environments good for learning.  I think so.  In doing some research – there are those that disagree.  I think that it is fear.  Fear of the unknown.  Does fear interfere with learning?  Absolutely.  Do educators make choices about these types of environments because of their own fear?  I think so.  I am intrigued.  Take for example this blog…

There are some positive comments, but then there are the backlash comments.  An interesting point noted in the blog – “When I bring these to their other teachers, I am consistently told, ‘I don’t get anything like this from them,’” Sheehy said in reference to the writing her students produce. They write complex arguments because they are passionate about the game, the storyline, and the class. “When there is no passion you get dutiful, for the grade work,” she said.

“Assessment and gaming are so contradictory,” Sheehy said. “Gaming is almost like the scientific method. You get your quest, you form a hypothesis, you try it out, you encounter challenges and you draw conclusions.” She thinks that’s assessment enough and is wary that formally assessing students will take the fun and the passion out of what she considers to be a very effective education tool.

Another article linked within this article:

This is an interesting topic.  I wonder what my PLN thinks about these type of games as educational learning.  I am of the camp, that they do have a place.  I would love to explore this topic further.




Blog Week 12 – Open Source and Social Media… chasing the technology?

How useful do you find the open source tools and social media for learning? Is it your personal preference that drives this or the affordances? Would they be useful for others if you find it lacking? What would make them more useful?

I found this article to start my engine “thinking”.  As more and more educators are trying to reach their “customer” students whether or not they are in K-12 or higher ed, one particular phrase that struck me immediately is “Chasing the technology”.  Do we as educators think that we must jump on every train that stops at the station.  I think that sometimes educators do this without thinking about the ramifications, objectives or even what the problem the technology solves and is it truly “better” or do we think we need to use this new technology, just because it is…. well…. new?  

Online Learning: Trends, Potential and Challenges

Is the trend to do this… chase the technology?  I liked the twitter aspect of this weeks plan, but I think overall, it is because… well I get it.  I like the short bursts of knowledge, the ability to read 140 characters and determine whether or not I want to digest it and do something with the knowledge or just read it and pass on by.  Does this work for everyone?  Definitely not.  Do you have to always read everything on Twitter… ummmmm – no, you can’t.  The way that I approach twitter work for me. Period.  Could someone else use my approach, for sure, but they need to figure out what works for them.  Do we put twitter or even facebook in the trend category – absolutely.  I still get the question about twitter… I can tell you what works for me, but in the chapter Scott/Wakefield describe Learning as Communicative Actions – described one thing that I think more people need to figure out… choosing to commit.  I didn’t choose to commit for about 4 months on Twitter.  I didn’t understand it. Period.  I finally chose to commit and wow… I have contributed to other people’s learning, had some interesting discussions (albeit short bursts), but these lead to deeper and richer investigations and I feel I would not found otherwise – I don’t have the time to spend hours upon hours to connect and learn.  I love that learning comes to me in short bursts and I can figure out for me, whether or not I want to expend the energy.  Are there times when the conversation isn’t exactly what I want to read?  Sure, but the beauty of twitter is to look for other followers with the same interests, commonalities or more.  Same thing with Facebook – I don’t necessarily “choose to commit” to FB, but it connects me to my family, my community happenings, even to people I have not seen in quite some time.  It is a like a window — I can choose to open it up or keep it close.  I can look through other people’s windows if they open them.  That is kind of weird to think about though… I guess there are those people who keep their windows open way too much (that is my own personal belief), but the beauty of FB is that I can do that…

Instructionally, I think it is a shame that an instructor won’t use or even offer the opportunity to explore a particular tool because they feel it isn’t sound or they don’t like it.  As I started out… even if it is a trend, if the goals and objectives of the instruction support the use, why should I as the instructional designer prohibit the use?  It is like me and math… it isn’t my greatest subject, nor am I excited about it, but I do it.  I have to facilitate sessions that incorporate some tools which are heavily math based… I don’t just pass over them or exclude them.  I embrace them, learn them even at a level which I can speak to reasonably and then let the others who are more passionate for the tools, drive the discussion.  What is wrong with that?  

As far as open source tools which contribute to an even deeper/broader scope, I don’t think at this point, changing the dynamics or the flow of the “space” will change the outcome – yet.  As a community of learners, and even though online learning has been around now for a while, I don’t think we as designers and learners have totally embraced what can be with online learning.  We don’t totally understand what it means to collaborate, to share, to converse, to have a presence in an online environment.  I am not really talking Twitter or Facebook here, but LMS – Blackboard, Schoology, Canvas, Edmodo… an instructor or even the student needs to choose to commit.  What that looks like… it could be different for everyone, but there are some solid foundational elements.  As an instructional designer, finding the balance of what is good for the objectives vs what is just “fluff” could be a challenge if the right set of exeptations and the right tools are not thought about and placed in the right context.  With online learning and the use of these tools, I find it extremely detrimental to my own learning if the scope and sequence doesn’t make sense.  I don’t want to spend tons of time trying to figure out a sequence… and make sure the sequence works.  Putting content somewhere because it is “easy” for the instructor… not good.  I like canvas, but things are intertwined and connected.  I am not sure whether or not the LMS does this or it was just good pre-planning by the instructor.  It is like a flow map of objectives… I have to have a curriculum map of where I am and where do I want to be.  If I spend all of my time lost, no one gets anywhere.  Open source is great.  Chasing the technology for the sake of just using it – not so great.  Making sure I meet goals and objectives is a good thing and there are great tools that provide this.  




Making a dent…

Hmmmm… making a dent. We all can make a dent somewhere, sometime, someplace and with someone.  Immediately when I read this, it made me think of this (this is how I have to remember what I am doing and why…) it is the dent that is important.

Image which is part of a post found here: 

Watching the #educon conference from afar (I would love to be there f2f, but the second best way is connecting virtually).  Thanks to SLA for providing the live streams!

Can’t wait to digest some of the things I am absorbing.  Manifestos?  Of Course… Educon Wonder Manifestos.  Hopefully, I can catch more of the conference today, but I have to go make a dent!

Interesting article – Academic Discourse and PBL

Key takeaways and key considerations when developing curriculum – “Academic discourse is not something that comes easily to most students; rather, it is something that needs to be taught, modeled and recognized by both teachers and students.”

When thinking about specifically our design project for K-2, I think that modeling will be really important.  The maturity of at this level, will be limited and it might be that the reflection that we have included can grow and adapt with the students as they begin from a general reflection or group to more of a self-directed, self-initiated reflection.  The key will be to get the students to dialogue and verbalize what they are thinking, feeling and understanding and feel comfortable with these self-reflections among their peers.  This will be a growing process and if the teacher develops the understanding of “trust” from the beginning, the ease of transition from teacher directed to student initiated should come easy.  

Writing this curriculum has been somewhat challenging… problem based, project based learning along with this environment is interesting.  I have written curriculum a number of times and felt that I was completely confident in doing this.  I look forward to the next phase.   

Mindfulness… Meditation… how does a child learn these skills/practice?

In preparation for creating curriculum for our design project, I have been researching articles and journals that relate to the idea of meditation for children/students.  I want to better understand how a young child really views this act and how it is perceived. 

From this website:

The value of meditation is getting children familiar with the feeling of being still and quiet, if even for a moment, until it becomes a habit. As Renee told me: “Children don’t need to have a meditation practice. They’re already in that ‘present state’ that we work so hard for. They’re there—they just need to be guided.“

This statement resonates with me because as someone who does not practice meditation, I foresee problems with a teacher who is trying to provide offer this time and understand the value who doesn’t understand the practices themselves. 

I found a few resources that I will delve into deeper to better understand the implications of helping a teacher/adult the hows/whys of meditation:

I am little nervous, not so much about having to write the curriculum, but to actually convey the message – noble paths, etc. 

We will see… planning a visit to the school this week, maybe this will help me really understand the process.



Instructional design – group project: Koan School curriculum

Our group members – Beth, Heather B and James chose to work together to create K-2 curriculum for the Koan School.  This school really intrigues me as I love the overall concept, goals/objectives and most importantly the backbone of project/problem based learning.  Our group chose this ID due to the goals and objectives of the school.

When thinking about project based learning I think that although many teachers can understand the idea behind this type of instructional design, the end result isn’t really what was intended.  Thinking about public school – ultimately, teachers are getting students prepared for a test. Why can’t a teacher employ the basic tenants of PBL?  Student backgrounds? Class-size? Benchmarks? A good teacher should be able to allow students to think deeper, drive their own learning and still master the objectives.  I really think that what causes the most level of disconnect is that this is not an accepted practice.  How do you really measure what a student thinks or more importantly can you measure this in a fast paced, driven classroom that is working towards that magic date of a summative assessment?

Well, I think you can, but it takes creativity, flexibility, more than the surface level objectives.  This is why I am very intrigued by the Koan school.  This is the way I was as an educator.  Although I was not the norm and did have those teachers question my practices, I had “those” students, but I provided opportunity, we dug deeper for more understanding, asked more questions, students learned concepts that they wanted to and had the vested interest in… even when staying with the objectives.

Our curriculum is going to focus on the first 6 weeks or first session beginning with “me” – at this level (K-2) we really need to think about me and how “me” relates to the rest of “we”.  In our group, Beth and Heather will act as SMEs since we both have experience in the classroom and have written curriculum for this level.  James will add value with his ID experiences as a SME in this area.  Heather B is our advisor since she is associated with the school, but is also supporting our efforts with the group paper on PBL.

In looking for resources for our curriculum, I like the Buck Institute’s information and found this rubric to include many of the key compenents of our project and will probably incorporate/reference this information.

I really wanted to visit the school and had some travel woes with my GPS — maybe this week!



Instructional design… is everywhere!

Catching up on some of my posts, but I have really taken notice to instructional design models in places that I would normally just acknowledge and move on!  In my “day job” as an education consultant, my team is currently looking at some PD models.  Someone in my group mentioned TPACK… I was able to ask some additional questions based on the presentations, conversations, readings from our classes.

Another instance – having a discussion about PBL or PrBL or Project Based… seems that there is a large contingency of teachers who cross over and are really doing a hybrid model — kind of Project based… kind of Problem based.  Beth’s presentation about PBL provided me some information to add to the discussion.  Maybe the terms are being used interchangeability?  Are they actually not even doing either one, but just adding a level of inquiry and calling it PBL?  Teachers seem to try this model, but constraints that they possibly don’t have control over could be contributing to the mixing?

Speaking of Beth’s presentation — it was a good model to help those that possibility are just as confused as many.  One piece of information that I found looking into this a little deeper is that Problem (PBL) seems to be more process oriented – the conversations about getting to the end could be more important than the actual “product”.  What I want/need to know, how I am getting there and finally the conversations about being able to defend my information is pretty important.  In the other model PrBL (Project) has some of the same characteristics, but the project is where the focus seems to have a heavier implication.  Looking at the resources – I found the descriptions here to really help me wrap my head around PBL –

“Voice and Choice” vs. just providing instruction and adding a project at the end as means to assess.

Another resource that also seems to confirm what Beth discussed is the New Tech network…

From the Buck institute reference previously, this is a good definition and visual.

“In Project Based Learning (PBL), students go through an extended process of inquiry in response to a complex question, problem, or challenge. While allowing for some degree of student “voice and choice,” rigorous projects are carefully planned, managed, and assessed to help students learn key academic content, practice 21st Century Skills (such as collaboration, communication & critical thinking), and create high-quality, authentic products & presentations.”


Going to continue thinking about this… how a teacher design the lesson is very important.  Can a teacher provide voice and choice in deeper ways?



Advanced Instructional Design… figuring it out… or not?

Q: Write a reflection about the advanced instructional designs that were presented in class. Which ones made sense? Which would you use? Why? Which did you have problems with and what problems?

Because of a conflict with me being out of town, I was able to Skype in to the class… special thanks to Jenny, but it was a little tricky for sure to really be part of the learning.  It made me start to think about online learning and the boundaries, learning curves, technology needs and even the learner. 

My reflections are going to be a little scattered because unfortunately, that was my experience.  My internet in the hotel dropped a few times and I had to connect with other students (thanks to social media) to try and acknowledge Jenny to reconnect me.

As far as the presentations – Kim, William and Matt, I think they did a good job of providing information as to the ID as foundation of why they felt they were examples of advanced ID.  Given I was not “in the moment” and in the room, I don’t think I actually captured the total essence of the presentation.  Could this also be a problem with online/distance learning?  I was really just passively listening.  Knowing my learning style, I am really not a great auditory learner… thank goodness for the website where I was able to connect my learning and what I captured from the presentations. 

Some of takeaways –

I missed the first part of Kim’s presentation, but took away that it was looking at computer assisted instruction.  One interesting point is that in another class we were to have an online (interactive?) session.  We waited… and waited… and waited.  Kim commented that this is one of the frustrations with computer assisted instruction.  Can we rely too much on the technology? 

Dick and Carey Model:
 This looks to be a pretty comprehensive model.  Looking at the whole and taking into consideration the parts and how they interact with each other for the learning outcomes.  I can see this model utilized in classrooms because of the nature of the ID. 

Dick Carey.png\

As for Matt’s presentation… another technology road block.  Although he did a great job of just jumping in, he did it without any visuals.  I think he did a great job of presenting the information, but as I mentioned, not a auditory learner… I kind of got distracted.  Could this be a problem with instructional design and online learning as well?  How do we capture our students interest? 

Thinking back to my first online learning classes… I think one of my professors really “got it”.  This was a class at UNT in library science.  We didn’t just interact passively and regurgitate information.  She had us chat frequently, but would play “devil’s advocate”.  Really deepening our thought process with our groups.  I think Dr. Warren does this but in a face to face model.  He lets the class drive the discussion and dig deeper for understanding.  He will chime in and provide another level/layer to make me go “hmmmm?”  Unfortunately, I wanted this same model in my summer class – does a reading a powerpoint really mean that I will understand the content? What is more unfortunate was that this particular class was from the education department… what are we teaching future educators about learning styles and more importantly instructional design? 

My interests, what do I understand and a model

Q: What do you understand about instructional design from what you have read so far? What model will you present for class? Why? What interests you about it?

Instructional design is changing.  The way that we communicate, build our networks of learning and how we learn from our connections shifts the way that we must approach the design elements.   Learning takes place beyond four walls and can be just in time or even virtually on a 24/7 schedule.  This does present an even deeper meaning to instructional design.  The environment in which you learn or even design needs to be evaluated when thinking about instructional design. 

I did a little digging on the web and came up with an instruction Kolb’s Learning Styles and Experiential Learning model that I am intrigued about…

Kolb's Experiential Learning Cycle