Have You Played Packman in Your Neighborhood?

No, seriously – you gotta play┬áPackman 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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Google Apps Qualified Trainer!

GoogleApps

One of my favorite tools for collaboration resides in the massive online giant called Google. Tonight I finally finished taking (and passing) the six exams required to call oneself a “Google Apps for Education Qualified Trainer.”

Even if you have no plans to use a certification of this sort – if your school uses Google Apps for Education taking these exams really forces you to think about and explore the power of these tools. As I took the exams this time I thought of new ways to engage students with immediate feedback using forms, quick ways to simplify my QR codes using a function in spreadsheets, and interesting collaborative research projects using docs and presentations. Definitely worth the time though the $90 might be a bit steep when you can just force yourself to review the modules on your own. (I tend to do better at reviewing the modules after I have paid for the exams for some reason).

The next step is to achieve certified trainer status. To this end I am working hard to provide training and support to educators out in the field and coming up with the other required items for this status.

OETC – Take Aways

Yarn Connection: Life via technology.

Opening activity including a yarn led interaction that involved Google Presentation tools.

At a recent OETC event I had the chance to meet a great bunch of educators. This event celebrated the achievements of the Title IID EdTech Grants. There were three consecutive sessions as well as an opening activity using yarn that progressed to the building of some interesting Google presentations as well as a great closing keynote which I missed.

Before the event began Yolanda Ramos from ISTE sat at my table and shared some information about an upcoming grant related to mobile learning. Apparently Verizon has put together a grant directed towards education. This is exciting news and I look forward to seeing what direction that heads in. With any luck I can get involved as a member of the SIG or in other ways.

The sessions contained too much information to share here so I encourage everyone to look up the presentations themselves at the OETC website: http://teach.oetc.org/arra/celebration

Orientation Meeting for Ed.D at PSU – and a seriously meta post…

Education Building at PSU

My new home - the education building at Portland State University.

Getting my undergraduate degree took me five years. Five years of flailing about trying to find myself and more or less missing the mark. In the process I had the chance to explore fields of study denied to me during my K12 years like geology, modern physics, poetry, eastern religions, and coffee slinging. I believe the last one was actually what paid for the rest along with providing respite care by watching a boy with autism (or more precisely – following him on long nature hikes), working in a book store, and even infusing my skin with the scent of fried foods for a total of fourteen miserable hours.

My master’s degree only took two years. Instead of slaving away at multiple minimum wage jobs I parleyed my earlier degree into a string of freelance and staff positions with educational and community service organizations as a sign language interpreter. Truly a riveting experience. Combined with the full amount of loans the federal government would give me, a grant that mortgaged my soul to education twice over, living with my parents (who still love me at the end of this), and driving two to three hours a day to get to work and school (lots of books on tape) I somehow walked across a stage last June to get a hood which looks nothing like the hoodie I had hoped for and a degree that actually had to be mailed to me later.

Now I am heading into a strange new round of education: the doctorate. Actually my future degree has a special name which in some circles mean I am not nerdy enough: Education Doctorate or Ed.D for short. The nay-sayers can go eat nerd juice though – I am seriously going to geek out at Portland State University. The head of my program seemed to really like my vague dissertation idea and with my extreme tech-geek-chic my past fellow grad-student friend, Kae Novak, thinks I am like a sexy foreign exchange student. Kae plans to become a doctoral student as well so I won’t lose her or Chris Luchs through degree snobbery. They both have vague ideas relating to doctoral programs and further geeking out. They may actually go the nerd route which means they may have the right to shun me via the PhD vs EdD snobbery treaty of 1995.

Why am I sharing all this? Before the ISTE Conference in San Diego wipes all ability to think logically about my educational future I wanted to put down my thoughts on the doctoral learning curve. I am sure after May 10th (orientation) my perspective will change. Right now I am super-excited and hoping to meet some geek-tastic education gurus and wanna-be gurus.

Educators I hang out with in person tend to have less interest in the minutiae of education politics, future directions and shifts in pedagogy, and game-based or quest-based learning frameworks. I can get the word “constructivism” out edge-wise as long as I avoid saying things like context driven literacy gains and asking how their exam provides useable formative data. Hopefully the educators I meet as part of the 2012 cohort will respond in the same way my interviewers for the program did. I half wonder if they met their obligation to interview me as we were easily drawn into tangents.

*Note to self – always go into an interview prepared with the other party’s research interests and pedagogy.*

Also I have high hopes that I can network with some of these folks and develop relationships with area schools. Nationally and internationally I am stepping into the political side of educational technology (baby-steps granted). Locally I have made little progress. Through this doctoral program and the people I continue to meet locally I want to plow new fields of connections and educational political capital. Hopefully I can sow the seeds of education loan payback through all that.

So while I dream big and imagine paying off student loans before I expire of old age I thought I would share an image of the building I will be spending the next several years haunting and my new commute.

On the side of educational tools – try using the 3D Google Earth route planner in a lesson – students love this and if you add stops with interesting information bytes and links to mini presentations you might wow a colleague or two.


View Bicycling to PDX for Ed. Building in a larger map

Pop this open in a new tab (especially useful with Google Chrome) to explore my notes on this route.