Virtual Reality Hackathon Mini

 What could be better than a room full of tech enthusiasts and tech experts from 11 to 14 years old? Not muc according to the technology mentors who enthusiastically embrace this crowd of eager problems solvers at the middle grades level Hackathon dubbed #VRHackMini. 

  Competing teams, White House Tour vs New Arrivals Mondo, both collaborating with resources while picking the brain of one of our mentors.  New Arrivals Mondo could potentially compete for both a Futuristas prize as an all women coding group AND the Playing Mondo sponsored prize. White House Tour is using Minecraft, not a sponsored category, to create an exploratory experience using command blocks.
  Mentors and organizers conspire to make sure everyone stays fed. This event was a long time coming and we weren’t about to let a shortage of donations derail an epic event. First run of snacks may have ended but food already on the way!

  

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Have You Played Packman in Your Neighborhood?

No, seriously – you gotta play Packman on your local streets.

I stumbled onto this while looking for a store to sell my friend’s CDs. You can actually turn streets on Google Maps into the iconic arcade game. Just click the icon on your google map and it will highlight the area for your game. Big cities make for some of the most entertaining games but even small towns can be fun. I chased ghosts around the Eiffel Tower in Paris.PacMan Google If I get a chance I plan to see how mad Times Square can get and experience the Autobahn as a yellow mouth. There are also some famous traffic circles I plan to pilot. Some, like the Super Round-About, should be extremely interesting.

super_roundabout

I tried to play where I grew up but there weren’t enough streets in the extreme rural landscape. In trying to play there I was surprised at the amount of development in the region. Still, the road situation made for an unplayable Packman game according to Google Maps.

PacMan in Time Square

If I were teaching in a computer lab I might take the last fifteen minutes to have students explore far off places. Talk about a fun geography day. Someone out there is probably planning to sabotage this natural and exciting learning environment by requiring students to play and report their findings or fill in a worksheet. Please do not. Let them take what they can and simply enjoy the ways everyday technologies can be made joyful. If they happen to have excellent skills in navigating traffic in Rome as a result – well – tap them as your navigator next time you end up chaperoning on an international band trip.

 

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Short Notes of a Book: How to Stop Bullying in Classrooms and Schools

Today I spent quite a while catching up on research articles themed around LGBTQ discrimination in education. Since I am taking notes I thought I might as well share some summaries here. Besides, LinkedIn and my Blog make for easy searching compared to the vast vault of my hard drive and Google Apps accounts.

Each of the articles includes a citation at the beginning and my thoughts following in italics.

Cover of the book: How to Stop Bullying in Classrooms and Schools: Use Social Architecture to Prevent, Lessen and End Bullying.Goodstein, Phyllis Kaufman. (2013) How to Stop Bullying in Classrooms and Schools: Use Social Architecture to Prevent, Lessen and End Bullying. New York: Routledge.

In general I dislike the use of bullying as a term to describe the marginalization of a student or group of students. First I will need to ignore this categorization as most articles will use terms, like bullying, that invite excuse making (my major problem with using terms like bullying and victimization. The categorizations of the forms the bullying (read: marginalization) and outcomes in the first half of the article are actually something I would love to build an infographic on. The language would be useful and easily translatable to a variety of audiences and facilitate greater dialogue. It was the second half of the article which I really found interesting.

Goodstein describes the use of social architecture theory and social scaffolding as a method for creating social change. Actually it is more of guide for educators and others. Teachers stand as role models and set up systems for pro-social classroom behaviors. There is also a description for bystanders and upstanders. The section on encouraging bystanders to become upstanders deserves more consideration as those models may apply to the design of a game intending the same outcome. To support teachers and upstanders there are two major components described by Goodstein: incompatibility and intervention. Incompatibility means creating such an environment of kindness, expectations, service learning, projects, and other things so as to make the school climate incompatible with bullying. Intervention focusses on making sure educators and upstanders, parents, and the community, administrators, and policy all take action when marginalization occurs as inaction relates to a lack of condemnation rather that “ignoring something so it goes away.”

I really enjoyed the metaphor of a broken window. If a window is allowed to sit without repair then additional windows will be broken. The same applies to marginalizing behavior. If no one intervenes and there is not a social stigma applied to marginalizing behaviors then what can be expected to occur? Maybe the broken window would be a symbol for a video game…or graffiti on a locker.

 

Happiness Stats According to People Who Come Up With This Stuff

This is the widget that I learned how this works from.

As an experiment in web design and relating back to my prior post I thought I would put up the graphic below. This is a bit of coding that give the look, through html5 of a chart loading as you scroll down to it. Pretty dramatic and exciting for a boring old graph.

This put me in mind of ways in which games can be built for professional workshops. The drama around seeing current progress might be an effective tidbit towards motivation.  Reload the page and pan down if the chart has already shown up.

This is an ordered list of the “Happiest Nations”

 

Data from the World Happiness Report

Really Enjoy Quantitative Methods – WHAT!?

Fake figures representing a classroomMany of my colleagues in this doctoral program are interested in qualitative studies. A few are excited by the potential in a mixed methods study. We are all taking a quantitative methods course together looking at the data analysis. This is definitely an applied class and I am loving it! Our theoretical courses have been fun but this class is much less guided and I finally feel like I am enjoying a non-linear exploration of research methodology.

The way in which content is presented definitely has a huge impact on my engagement. There is a bit of linearity in this course. We work on analysis together and maintain a fairly similar pace. Simultaneously the instructor entertains extensions, independent explorations, and ad hoc communications and discussion about specific areas of interest. I try creating this space in my own teaching of educational technology and have enjoyed exploring the different ways in which our instructor accomplishes this. My one critique of this course relates to a lowered emphasis on creating a socially inclusive learning space.

In this critique I am also trying to be self-aware relating to my own work establishing a safe environment. Do I overemphasize this? Do my concerns around LGBTQ and race issues mean I forget to confront issues over able-ness, religion, or other marginalizing topics?

Just things I ponder during class.