Waraku Education

Ideas, experiments and observations as they occur [and I have time] relating to teaching and learning in a secondary school - special focus on ICT.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Deb Polson workshop/masterclass

Last Wednesday I was part of two events led by Deb Polson
  1. Mobile Learning: Student Workshop
  2. Deb Polson – Masterclass (Mobile Learning: Designing Learning Experiences for the Natural Born Cyborg!)

Game Genres
Deb talked about game genre’s which led me to find a resource that might document these. The best that I could come across was
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Video_game_genres
Unfortunately this article only focuses on video games and did not include the situational games that Deb was describing to us.

Scoot world
Scoot world, is where a number of games are hosted that require groups to navigate around an environment eg.
Explore some great Melbourne locations while on a secret SMS mission as an Agent of Scoot!
This is talking about a game made to play in Melbourne’s Federation Square.


Cipher cities
Cipher cities is like Scoot World but it is a tool where people can be the ‘dungeon master’ as Deb so nicely labelled it. It is a place where people can make our environment into a game, comment on games, rate the games and develop and online profile. Cipher Cities has not been launched yet.

Cipher Cities is a toolkit for participants (in this case, students, parents and teachers) to build creative social networks by creating and distributing dynamic mobile content to groups of people via simple web interfaces. The product provides them with simple web interfaces that give them easy access to a custom application and a dynamic database. These interfaces support users in the creation of either simple mobile narratives or complex location-based games.
Source

Deb talked about Cipher Cities leading to the development of a version specifically for the education sector. Mobile Informal Learning Kit – MILK. One of the discoveries that she talked about was that the HOTS were achieved through the students designing and creating the games (being the Dungeon Masters) not the teachers.

This was supported from my experience with the workshop that we had with students in the morning. It was interesting to reflect on the role of the teacher while creating one of these situational games.

For the students and teachers involved, this was the first time that we had created a game using this technology and we had a very short time frame to achieve it. (Grant High School’s team report of this event) So getting any game happening so that the language of the clues and so on was precise enough for another group to play it was an achievement. I have no doubt that students left to it would achieve this without the teacher but I think that there is a strong case for teachers to interfere without taking over. The teacher
  • brings a lot of knowledge about lots of different things. This can be important to challenge students to develop a higher level thinking solution. A teacher might be able to see trends and themes in an environment that students may not be able to because of their life experiences.
  • brings questioning skills. These questions were important to overcome paralysis – making a decision about where to go next for a clue, thinking about trends and themes in the environment, etc.
  • can support the students to work as a team and become productive more rapidly. The student group had not worked as a group previously. Part of the teacher’s role here was to ensure that all of the team members were included. Directing some of the decision making initially helped to move them along. Withdrawing later was possible once some momentum was achieved.
  • knows when to withdraw because they can see that the ball is rolling now. There is the chance the ball will roll off course but maintaining some checks from a distance can achieve this.
  • is important for ensuring that all students were participating and getting benefit from the experience. This participation might mean that all students get to be heard but could also mean that we ensure that there are experiences in the game that involved a range of senses other than sight.

Some of the issues of this game for schools
  • Cost and access to mobile phones
    • Get SIM cards that only allow SMS (not calls) for students to put into their phones. This requires student phones that are not locked to a particular telco.
    • Ask parents to donate old phones
    • There was some talk about being able to purchase SIM cards for $2 and then just pay for credits. I went down to our local Allphones dealer yesterday and they did not know of such an arrangement. He has taken my details to investigate further. The other issue that rural people in particular may face is that we might find that the telco that can provide such an arrangement does not have the coverage to be functional
  • History has been a subject that has struggled of late with student numbers but this subject might be able to provide an excellent context for these sorts of games
  • These situational games could provide opportunities for strangers to interact. Deb cited a situation where game players were required to enter a certain area and on return to document a conversation that they had with a person from that zone.
  • As this becomes more sophisticated in our heads we will deploy the fact that mobile devices allow us to document or be creative at the time and place that you think of it

Flash animation of building development
This was a simulated environment that reminded me of the Lemonade Stand game. It also reminded me of Sim City. Games and simulations that the teacher or others have made provide an excellent tool for facilitating the conversations that are so important in the educational processes. There is certainly a place for these things. Deb stressed that these things support the learning process and should not be considered as the sole teaching tool.

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