Games Can Teach!

25 03 2014

Nicole and I just returned from an excellent training/conference in Orlando. One speaker who really resonated with both of us was Karl Kapp and his presentation “Game Elements for Learning, Engagement and Fun” (we even purchased several copies of his books to share with faculty at iTeach). We’ll let you know when they arrive on campus and you can check one out. Gamification isn’t just the newest buzzword.

Now, don’t get me wrong, neither of us are particularly thrilled about mixing games and education. Neither of us were sitting between sessions playing Angry Birds on our phone. That said, Karl Kapp’s research really did make us believers in the sense that there are better ways to look at your course, to make it appealing, to incorporate some of the elements from addictive games and figure out how your students might engage with your content more effectively if we learn from these popular gaming activities.

Karl Kapp Article on GamingHere is an article that he wrote in 2013 that links some gaming elements to educational strategies. I think, if you take a look, you won’t find this too far off the mark.

Additionally, during his Orlando presentation he took a close look at learning objectives. He told us basically, “Games start with action. Instructional designers and online courses start with learning objectives.” Hmmnm, from our student’s perspective, that doesn’t sound nearly as interesting, does it?

Instead of listing learning objectives for a course bullet by bullet, point by point, ASK A QUESTION. That’s right. Ask an intriguing question. Grab the interest of your student right away by presenting a scenario or choice — do they know the answer? No? Enter the learning module and find out. Or, ask a series of questions letting the student know that if they continue, they will find the answers. You want the learner primed to learn, excited to move on.

His take home message in the article is pretty compelling: The debate should not be whether games teach; instead, the debate should be how we leverage the best elements of games to create the best instruction for learners.

What do you think?

 





Some Things I Learned at ASTE 2013

27 02 2013

I just returned from the ASTE 2013 Conference in Anchorage and thought I might share a few things that I took away. First, one of the keynote speakers, Cara Heitz showcased her k12 classroom that was based on using blogs and wikis. She stressed that teachers today need to design their own professional development to fit their needs. I believe that she is right. We have to actively stress to stay relevant and find the tools that help us to be more efficient and effective learners and teachers.

Steven Moss gave us some great lessons learned from research. One thing that he stressed was that there is NO research to support the claim that our “digital native” students, brought up with technology, learn differently from older people. NONE. He says that the brains of this ‘net’ generation have not suddenly developed new neurological pathways, or morphed. They are not innately better at technology or multi-tasking! They may have better attitudes and enjoy change more than older people/students, but don’t believe the hype that their brains are remapping to better use technology. He also gave us these three pearls:

  1. Information-understanding-knowledge are not synonymous. We must figure out ways to have our students use the information and turn it into knowledge
  2. There is NO proven relationship between increased time on task and learning – in other words, don’t mistake engagement with learning.
  3. The Everest Fallacy – don’t just use technology “because it’s there”

While we’re on the subject of technologies that are “there” – I learned about some pretty cool apps and programs that I am not currently using, but may try. Something I’ve learned over the years is that you can’t really incorporate something into your personal learning environment without trying it out, without giving it a trial period before you accept or reject it. And, rarely do I add more than one thing at a time. Well, here are some interesting places that you might enjoy checking out: Read the rest of this entry »





The First Google in Education Alaska Summit!

14 02 2013

Google in Education Alaska Summit

A new exciting opportunity for Alaskan educators! Jim Sill, who presented a two day Google workshop for Sitka faculty and staff last year, is coming to Anchorage for the first Google in Education Alaska Summit. This high intensity, two day event in April (6-7) at the University of Alaska Anchorage focuses on deploying, integrating, and using Google Apps for Education and other Google Tools to promote student learning in K-12 and higher education. The program features Google Certified Teachers, Google Apps for Education Certified Trainers, practicing administrators, solution providers, Google engineers, and representatives from the Google education teams. For more information and to register visit the event’s Registration Page.

For those of you who have engaged in Title III sponsored professional development activities in the past year, you may apply for travel funds for this summit. If you are interested, send Mary Purvis an email prior to March 15, 2013 stating the following:

  1. Why you want to attend.
  2. What Title III activities have you engaged in in the last year?

If you are a seasoned Google tool user and would like to present at the summit sharing your expertise, please contact us for information on how to present at this conference.








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