Saturday, October 15, 2011

I'm in the Gaming Zone

I took a little advice from the comments section and Aric left a website that gave a lot of "gaming" options. I am a fan of puzzles and card games, but since those are off limits I decided to go for a killing one! I played Kingdom Rush for a long time, my other homework was not impressed. The strategy behind this game is to protect your kingdom. I tried and tried, but failed to be good at the game. I pushed past this fact though, and reflected some of the other qualities of the game.

One thing that I enjoyed about the game was that it was really easy to understand. Now this doesn't mean it was easy, like I said above, I wasn't good at it. It was easy to do though, I think that this is important when using gaming in education. The task needs to be challenging but the object needs to be easy. Like a math problem, you want the problem to be hard but you don't want the calculator to be hard to run. One thing that turned me away from the game was the lag that it had. I'm not sure if that is because it was free? Or I was live streaming the UNI game in the background? I don't know, I do know that it bothered me.

Looking at the review the game, I found out the game at a lot to offer that I did not know. I am not a gamer so seeing that the graphics were in fact really good made me feel better. I was also amazed by the amount of levels and the details put into each one. I didn't make it very far in the game so I missed out on a bunch of these features! Although I wasn't very good at the game I was definitely in the "Flow", which Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has come up with. I will pay someone to teach me how to say that man's name, he has hit everything spot on. Why didn't I think of that first, I mean after reading and watching that you are kind of like duh! When playing the game I wasn't self conscious, I wasn't worried about looking stupid--I was worried about moving on and getting to the next level no matter what! I do agree that time also disappears, I mean I played for what seemed like a few minutes and it was about two hours!

Honestly, I am not sure about how playing this game affected me. I don't really get into gaming. I will have to play some more games throughout the week, and maybe even search for more educational games. I can't see myself using this in my class so I am struggling to see how this really affected me. It was a fun game, it was challenging, and free (which is always a benefit). I do think that it allowed me to think critically about something that would in all other situations be fairly trivial. In most gaming situations I am not thinking about how it is changing me as a person, but today I was put that that challenge. I challenge you all to help me out, what types of games would you use in your classrooms?

Monday, October 10, 2011

It's a Flat, Flat World We Live In

"The global economic playing field is being leveled....American's are not ready"--quoted by a man he interviewed. I thought this was one of the most powerful things in his speech, of course this lead to the book completely so that is probably why. How many of us believe that because we are from America we will be "safe." Safe from competing jobs, safe from being stripped of the dominating world power, and safe from being too far behind in technology. Friedman's speech proved this wrong, people everyday around the world have the opportunity, advantage, and the means to pull ahead in the global market and (gasp) BEAT the US in something. How dare they?!

This is going to change our world, of course. I think that the "flattening" of the world will be a major event in history. What defined the Industrial Revolution? Inventions, technology, making things available to everyday people. This is what the Flat World is doing, we are giving more people the opportunity to have technology in their possession; which leads to more people having jobs in technology advancement which leads to more technology. I'm a social science major, I love processes like these, we are LEARNING from history people! There are updates from Apple all the time, just last week they announced the iPhone 4s....not the 5 everyone expected--was it a disappointment? Yes, it was for people who wanted the iPhone 5, but will millions of people still buy it? Of course, it's new and shiny--everyone wants to have the next big thing.

I love that Friedman referred to traveling East. As a future history teacher I think this is significant, people in my generation are less likely to have a negative view of the East but in our history the East has not excelled in things. I mean there are jokes about Russia being slow at everything right? Except for that darn space thing...we'll never be able to let that one down. This can't be the case anymore, they have the access to the same things we do--the playing field has been leveled. People we wouldn't expect are competing with the US and the Western countries.

As an educator it is important to remember this for my students. Not only will we be able to access things easier, so will the students. It is so easy to Google a topic and get to see the topic from the perspective of a student in that area. In my field experience I just taught a lesson the Islamic faith, I'm a Christian--I have very limited knowledge about the Islamic faith. It is important for my students to understand different cultures, I need to break down those barriers because they could be working with these types of culture in the future. Breaking down the barriers, flattening their world to make it easier for them to transition into the real world. They need to see us using the resources that are available to them. Don't waste the projector and Internet connection sitting in our classrooms, Skype with someone, get online and research a topic together, do the process with them!

I think that the effects of a flattened world are things we cannot even imagine. We are preparing our students for jobs that don't exist, how much pressure is that?! The students we are teaching today will be the next innovators in technology, and these kids are digital natives. They won't understand the impact that they are going to have on the world. I think of the Braid Paisley song, "Welcome to the Future" and how it is "no, big deal" to have these fancy things now, but really it is a big deal!

Friday, October 7, 2011

The World isn't Round? How am I Going to Explain This One?

When I think about the immensity of the Flat Classroom Project and all that it had to entail to create it and make it function I become......awed! The time and effort that went into this project really shows the dedication that it's founders have for education, and their efforts to prove that the world is indeed FLAT. Vicki Davis and Julie Lindsay deserve a medal, or a shiny plaque to put in their office--from every person involved in the project!

The idea that the world is flat will really disrupt my history classroom, it disproves so many factual things!!!!!! Just kidding, it will disrupt my classroom in a great way. The Flat Classroom Project is allowing our students to break down barriers that NO one else has thought to do before, how awesome would it be to be a student that is apart of this project. The students are changing the structure of a classroom, the availability of using the wiki allows students to work on the project whenever. School hours need not apply, ANYTIME, many teachers wouldn't want their students working on homework at home and being excited about it. Everyone in my group is really excited to participate.

The networking opportunities are just amazing. Students are not only working on a project about outsourcing together, but they could be working on this project with someone from India. How neat would it be to be discussing the American side of outsourcing and then seeing how the Indians are viewing outsourcing. The networking can go on outside of the project as well. I gave a lesson today on the Islamic faith and culture, I have never met a Muslim person before so my content knowledge was limited. Questions arose and I wasn't completely sure on the answer, how neat would it be to jump on the discussion board and message a fellow Flat Classroomer and ask them about their daily life as a Muslim student in Saudi Arabia?

I thought that Christensen's section on preparing students to meet the demands that society has now was really relevant to the Flat Classroom Project. So many people are traveling abroad, either coming to the United States or our citizens are traveling abroad to work. It would be silly to prepare our students to be ethnocentric snotty Americans. We need to be preparing them to work with people who are not like them. We are teaching our students to be ready to work in fields that are not even CREATED yet, how do we do that? Easy, teach them to adapt, teach them to understand and utilize technology, and teach them to grow in this changing world....not so easy right? What are some broad ideas to do some of these things?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

How to Utilize the "Old' and Make it "New"

Google Docs has been around for awhile now, and I won't lie--I don't use them very often. I've used the program for group projects and things like that, but not for the every day. I don't think the intention of Google Docs was to replace Microsoft Word though, but there are so many opportunities to use this simple but effective tool. I think a lot of people focus on what's new and has that WOW factor when thinking about incorporating technology in our classrooms. As we have seen with the many changes of Facebook, sometimes new isn't better. Google Docs, PowerPoint, Movie Maker, iMovie, etc. have all been around for awhile, but why not use them? All of these things are free and beyond user friendly (I mean if little kids can make a movie on iMovie so can you).

The problem is that so many teachers are overthinking their use of technology or even just everything. I know that when I come up with a lesson plan, it generally makes no sense, needs a lot of work, and will probably have to be rewritten because I often overthink everything. Sometimes a great idea needs to just happen, who cares if it completely fails--that's why you have another class next year (just kidding). Secondary education kids are a little more forgiving; you will be able to tell if they like the lesson or not by their feedback (also known as complaining). Updating or just reinventing the type of activity you are using the tools for are great ways to make icky old stuff seem new. Prezi is a fantastic update from PowerPoint if you or your students are tired of PowerPoint. Google Docs is a great tool to use not only for group projects but also cross-curricular assignments in high school and junior highs. My mom is amazed by Google Docs (she is a secretary at a high school), they are in the process of whole-grade sharing with another school; it is a great tool to use between the buildings.

Just because PowerPoint is an ancient program doesn't mean we can't use it--as long as we are using it in NEW and effective ways. What are some of your ideas about old products that are still useful?

Here is a link to a video about how to use Prezi, when embedding the video it brought up two videos and I didn't like that so sorry for the extra step--I know it will be extremely time consuming for you to click the link. I get car sick easily, so I don't like Prezi very much (unless it's used properly, so learn how to use it correctly).