My Researcher Identity Memo

20130607-163242.jpgOver the last thirteen years I have taught or involved myself in education in a variety of non-traditional roles. Primarily I have been concerned with engaging at-risk or disadvantages youth. Simultaneously I have been an avid user of virtual environments, most notably games and especially massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPG). These dual passions eventually led to an introduction to a community of gamer educators who were passionate about taking the features of games in the classroom.

Several educators noted the rich literary opportunities. A few educators were intrigued my the opportunity to explore simulated environments that parallel the real world but did not have the costs associated with traditional labs or live action simulations. These content specialized interests have not driven my interest as much as the level of engagement that students experience in games. This particular feature of games fascinates me.

Tracking these mechanics and lifting them from the context of games and into the learning environment is one of my goals. (I do not mean this to indicate that I think these mechanics can be nakedly lifted from games and placed within education. This is a more critical and complicated interaction than I have space to describe here). I plan to form a collaboration with educators practicing game enhanced learning strategies to develop an artifact that may assist educators in implementing engaging mechanics in their curriculum in useful and timely ways. Having a group working on this is quite important due to my limitations as a researcher.

My experiences limit me in that my concepts are influenced by deep knowledge of game design mechanics. Due to this I need collaborators who lack this understanding yet still have an interest in games for learning in order to help clarify the any artifacts. My lack of “traditional” classroom experience can also be seen as limiting since a traditional classroom teacher may not find my findings generalizable. This is yet another reason for a diverse force of collaborators. I think through diversity in experimental contexts the findings might be generalizable enough for further spread and usability of the artifact.

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Emerging Leader Award is Popular at my School…

A screenshot of the article.The emerging leader award is popular at my school. They decided to feature the award in the school of ed’s blog. While the interview was fun and strange emails I am getting scare me just a titch!

Despite my embarrassment regarding the attention I am excited about the opportunity to go to Washington DC. If I can leverage this visit towards grants for my research in games for education and general leverage for curriculum design I will be happy. There is also a secondary set of interests. I have joined Portland State University’s School of Ed’s Curriculum and Instruction’s LGBTQ Advocacy Task Force. We are looking for ways to support teacher candidates, students and others in the schools who identify somewhere along the LGBT (and QIA) spectrum. Personally this is very satisfying work and I hope to hear other’s perspectives in DC and throughout the year.

 

Playing with Excel

image of a spreadsheet done as a blur with a quote about the beauty of spreadsheetsI think one of my favorite things about this week has been the use of Concatenate in excel. And split.

My boss loaned me to a couple professors who needed registration to be simplified. Hello spreadsheets and Google Forms! We built the form before I knew what level of information they expected to use. Oops. Still it was a nice start.

Some of the information was located on a visually pleasing (to the maker) spreadsheet that required some fancy Queery formulas. I am just glad Google sheets can talk to each other across documents. The “visually pleasing layout” is usually a synonym for “useless”.

Once that mess was sorted I had to combine and split names into about twenty formats. W00T!

So…it sounds bad in writing but I secretly loved this week.

Teacher’s Wallet

Hey educators! We know about donor’s choose and other funding organizations that have helped teachers with supplies, technologies, and projects. Lisa Dawley recently posted about the Gates Foundation and Digital Promise teaming up with DonorsChoose to create Teacher Wallets. This pilot program provides 300 K-8 teachers nationwide with up to $6,000 per teacher to purchase digital courseware in core content areas. Sounds awesome?!?

Check out Dr. Dawley’s post for more info!

Being Human

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I was talking with a colleague yesterday about how we find articles discussing the best ways to improve this or that social inequity in education. The research describes such artificial constructs and we were both left irritated at the lack of attention to being human. Personally, and lacking research to back this, you can employ all the constructs you want but you cannot achieve equity if people are not treated well. The secretary who smiles at everyone entering the school does more for equity than the contract with the interpreter.

Go ahead…walk into a school where you are ignored or even scowled at….see if you even want to ask about services.