The WoW Factor: Cognitive Dissonance and WoWinSchool the Focus of THE Journal Article

erudIf you haven’t read the recent issue of THE Journal, be sure to take a look at the article.  It’s a great discussion of how the Cognitive Dissonance Guild is supporting educators’ explorations in the virtual world, World of Warcraft.  There’s also discussion of our very own WoWinSchool Project!

-Lucas

Waiting on WoW, Students Gaming With SIMS 3 on the iPod Touch!

It’s been a bit since my last update, so I thought I’d share what’s going on with the WoWinSchool Project and share another project that I’m working on.

I’m still waiting on the State to release EETT funds so that we can begin purchasing software and accounts for the students in the WoWinSchool Project.  As soon as that funding comes through (and it should be any day now), the project will begin moving ahead, full steam!  Keep an eye on the project Wiki for updates.  In the mean time, check out the podcast I and other WoW-playing educators did with Rik at RezEd – http://www.rezed.org/page/rezed-podcast-40-discussions.  Also, be on the lookout for an article on the project in THE Journal at some point soon.

So, let me share with you another project I’m involved in that involves students and gaming in the classroom.  One of our middle schools, Cape Fear Middle, purchased a mobile lab of iPod Touches.  It’s awesome.  An idea struck me, based on the discussion that Henry Jenkins had about the Nickel and Dimed Challenge for SIMS 2.  “Why don’t we have students play SIMS 3, and do similar project?”  So, Craig Lawson, 7th-Grade language arts teacher, is doing just that with his students.

Students are using the SIMS 3 on the iPod Touch to learn about the elements of fiction.  Their experiences playing the game are serving as a foundation and inspiration for their writing.  Students began by writing about the characteristics of their SIM:  traits, motivations, and desires.  They then switched with their partner and after playing their partner’s SIM, trying to determine that SIM’s characteristics.  Today, they began writing stories about their SIM either in 1st or 3rd-person point of view or a game manual if they drew (out of a hat) 2nd-person point of view.  We’re also planning to have students create web-comics (all on the iPod Touch) telling stories about their SIM.

Later this year, the social studies teacher will be using Civilization Revolution to teach some of the concepts in that curriculum.

All of this is being documented/shared on the wiki:  http://ipodgamesforlearning.pbworks.com.  There are lessons, hardware/software information, student videos, and more there.

Check it out!

Here’s a video of a student explaining the first assignment:

-Lucas

Teachers In World of Warcraft – Games in Education 09

Teacher Gnomes in Ironforge Today I was privileged to work with Peggy Sheehy and Marianne Malmstrom in a three-hour, hands-on workshop for educators at the Games in Education Symposium, and what an awesome group they were!  The workshop began with Peggy giving most of them their first-ever experiences in Second Life followed by Marianne’s great lessons on using the screen capture program, Jing, to capture scenes for creating machinima.  Then I led the group into World of Warcraft.  We explored character creation, basic movements, questing and leveling.  The real challenge, though, was could this group survive the journey from the starting area to Ironforge?  The group assembled and we began our exodus.  It was a journey not without peril.  Ravenous wolves, angry troggs, and the ever-present lag monster (latency) plagued our every step.  Fortunately, members of the Harbingers of Light guild (my students!) came in to escort the throng to the steps of Ironforge.  We assembled on the steps and congratulated ourselves on accomplishing our goal!

These guys were fantastic and so patient!  We had some great laughs and hopefully, everyone got just a taste of a well-designed game and a better undestanding of why it’s so engaging to our students.

-Lucas

GLS 2008 – Games and Learning in Practice: An Educator Panel on Implementing Curricula

Several educators presented this morning from a variety of levels, elementary to community college. Each of them have unique ways in which they’ve integrated gaming into their respective curricula. Kevin Jarrett described his work with teens in Second Life working with Peggy Sheehy’s kids on Ramapo Island on the Teen Grid. During the session, Peggy was able to give me a brief tour of some of the kids’ projects that had been imported into the main grid… Awesome! Kevin Jarrett’s blog is available at http://www.storyofmysecondlife.com/

GLS 2008 - Kevin Jarrett Presents His Work With Students in Second Life

Candace Barriteau Phaire showed her work with students in mathematics using popular sports games like Madden 08. Students studied athlete statistics, formed their teams, played their teams against each other and studied the underlying math. What a great integration!

Maggie Hommel explained her work with the Park Ridge Public Library in Illinois. One of the most interesting things they did is that they began to check out games for consoles like the XBox. Their board feared that book checkouts would decline and in fact, they increased. Libraries seem a promising place to integrate gaming in after school programs.

Dona Cady explained her work with community college students using World of Warcraft, Second Life, and Active Worlds to supplement her English Composition courses. Students wrote stories from the perspective of their characters. Very cool.

Tripp Robbins and Bill Chamberlain outlined their proposal for a virtual world development environment while they also demoed their work with Neverwinter Nights Two. “We can’t keep trying to fit square pegs into round holes,” Tripp said, referring to our attempts to use existing development environments like NWN2 for educational purposes. Though they do work, the man-hours needed for development and the learning curve are daunting. They’re prosing a new project at: http://newnexus.org. Great idea! Hope it flies!

GLS Conference Entry

-Lucas

GLS 2008 – USeIT – Using Squeak to Infuse Information Technology into the STEM Curriculum


GLS 2008 - The USeIT Poster

The USeIT Poster Presentation at the Games, Learning, and Society Conference for 2008 went exceptionally well. Many visitors came by to see the work that students and teachers were doing in Squeak as part of the NSF-funded project. There seemed to be a great interest in the results of the project to date and curiosity about how Squeak will be utilized in the high schools next year. Students’ work was a hit!

To learn more, visit: http://www.useitproject.org

-Lucas

GLS 2008 Educator Scholarship Recipients Get Hands-On Experience With Gaming

The 2008 Games, Learning, and Society Conference offered about fifty educators from around the world a scholarship to attend this year’s conference in Madison, Wisconsin.  Many of these educators had the opportunity to get their first hands-on experience with some of today’s top video games.  Games such as World of Warcraft, Rock Band, and Wii Fit, to name a few, were available for them to try.  It was a very exciting beginning to the conference.  To see more photos, check out my Flickr badge on the right, or click the image below.

Educators Test Drive Games at the GLS Arcade - GLS 2008

-Lucas

Sailing Into Uncharted Waters: Second Life for K12 Staff Development

Newton Apogee, my avatar in Second LifeSo, our district recently purchased an island in Second Life.  No, as of this writing, it’s not “live” yet, however, I expect that it will be in the next few weeks.  I really feel like this is a grand experiment.  How many of our teachers would be willing to invest time in the virtual world?  I imagine some will “buy-in” and others will be more resistant, and that’s OK.  I really think Second Life, which some have dubbed Web 3.0, is a more human interaction with the Web.  It’s not “flat” like many websites.  It has a more human feel to it than simply clicking through links on a static web page.

I suppose the real question is, “Is this all bells and whistles, or can it truly be an effective extension of our current staff development program?”

That’s what makes experimentation fun, right?

-Lucas