Awesome Art/Social Commentary Game Designer

Today I have spent roughly three hours playing with the games and multi-media social commentary gadgets created by Nick Case.Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 10.57.53 PM

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I think you absolutely must check out the coming out story and the parable of polygons. I spent the most time with the parable simply because I enjoyed the way it made me think. There was also the temptation to pull data from different cities and try out the simulation. Case’s work is strongly influencing my own game design ideas. The slew of little projects share is also a bit of a wake-up call. My production certainly lacks.Screen Shot 2015-02-19 at 10.58.57 PM


Explore Social Media – Non-Educationally

Thinking in text today.Recently I have begun encouraging my students and consultancy to explore social media tools for fun. To use them for the same purposes they imagine their students using social media. One of the major benefits of this exercise is that folks tend to delve more deeply into the features of a tool. Already I am hearing back from individuals about affordances that they did not realize were available. Youtube is a prime example. Now that I have a few students using it socially they are seeing how they might leverage a simple YouTube channel and Google Plus page as their entire portfolio. Sure there are more sophisticated and professional ways to package this material but at this point they are still developing the content. That is another thing, content developed in one form of media can often be easily converted and shared in another format.

I think this all goes back to one of my main tenants regarding using technology. Technology education must be approached with a playful mindset. If the goal is all business you miss the frivolous yet revolutionary possibilities.

Presenting at ISTE 2014

iste2014badgeHurrah! Presenting at ISTE 2014!


Once again I have the opportunity to present at ISTE this year. Last year was San Antonio and this year is Atlanta Georgia….a bit sweltering after 2012 in San Diego but I have a blast irregardless.

This year I am working with a colleague at Portland State University on faculty technological professional development. We are using the ISTE NETS*T as our guide and 3DGameLab as our portal. At the conference come by our poster session and we’ll let you know how it goes. Right now we are in the midst of promoting NETS*T IV amongst the university faculty!

While there I also hope to spend some quality time with the Young Educators Network, the games for learning people, and several SIGs. I am especially excited to reconnect with SIGML! I feel completely out of touch this year and desperately want to reconnect with folks. Doctoral work seems to magically sneak my time whenever I am not looking.

Online Learning: Class Size Matters

  In regular classrooms teachers and administrators have long struggled with issues of class size. Teachers feel they can provide better instruction and individualization in smaller class environments and administrators appreciate the efficiency of resource use that occurs in larger classes. Both groups can draw on a variety of research studies to back themselves up but generally smaller class sizes win out in face to face instruction as the preferred learning environment. Feel free to find your own research studies to support your position – my position is this – a class between 10 and 23 students tends to work really well for me.

Recently I posted concerning my view that online learning needs some serious revamping in some cases. Today I picked up the September issue of the International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning and found a study that supports one of the things I argue for in online learning – smaller class sizes.

Check out Mingshu Qiu, Jim Hewitt, and Clare Brett’s research study, “Online class size, note reading, note writing, and collaborative discourse” for more information. This group from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto provides evidence of how class size impact learning online. Their findings suggest 13 to 15 students as the optimal class size for graduate level course work.

While I do not know how this correlates with K12 learning environments I find the numbers extremely appealing as a constructivist online educator. If I worked with even 15 to 20 students per section in a course I can see many opportunities to increase student interactions that would allow for greater social construction of knowledge. As with any group collaborative experience the greater the number the more likely you are to have students who become overwhelmed and quietly hide themselves from participating. On the other hand, 15 students can construct a courteous community of learners much more easily.

Contrast this with courses where I had upwards of 50 students assigned to one section. In one course the quality of student writing and my own responses devolved dramatically from those courses where I worked with twenty students or less. I actually had one course of 160 students, another of 60+ students and four courses of between 25 and 45 students as well as four courses of 18 or fewer students. I should have taken better data on my larger classes but their size alone led to a dramatic reduction in my ability to quantify, even subjectively, their progress.

The study suggested minimizing overload effects by dividing students into small groups for larger classes. This works fairly well but exists as a function of the learning environment (LMS) and whether or not this tool supports discussion groups of this type. Often I found the user-interface confused students and led to even less success though this is a topic for another post. Still – when it worked it really helped positive student outcomes.

The best thing about this study was the pedagogical recommendations at the end. I use many of the items discussed in all my online classes but I feel that a teacher new to online learning would benefit from reviewing these items before planning their course. Of course teachers already teaching online would benefit as well – probably even more than the new-to-online instructors.

Check out the full article:

Online class size, note reading, note writing and collaborative discourse

Science Idea: Using Forms!

What drives some students to study science and some not?

Science Idea: Google Forms as a Pre-Course Survey

For the last several months I have been playing with Google Forms as a way to get quick assessment data, engage participants in a little teambuilding, and a student creation tool for data gathering. These have worked out extremely well in each case. During a presentation I did on Google Apps for Education I shared a Google Form that took a choice-based approach on which questions the participants asked. If they chose social studies as their area of teaching they came to a screen asking which three areas they found most interesting. Clicking an answer there further refined their choices. Same for science, computers, math, and the arts.

Today I realized that also gave me a perfect tool for starting out the school year. To that end I am going to create a “choice-based” or “choose-your-own-adventure” form for my science students. Based on previous responses they will have the opportunity to answer very different questions and help me get to know them and their learning preferences in new and interesting ways! Yea Google Forms!

I have not designed the form for that yet but will post it here once I have a better idea of the types of answers I hope to get.

Google Apps Qualified Trainer!


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.