Week 7: Digital Blurring

Digital blurring‘ is a term used to describe the blurring of boundaries between the physical and digital world. The common theme often referenced in digital blurring is the concept of storytelling, which often ensues two-way communication between the physical (the human participant) and the digital content (game, movies or videos). For example, gamers strategize ways to unlock stages according to the narrative story of an online game or children singing along and mimicking dance moves of a Sesame Street episode. In a simple and effective way, Stackhouse (2013) explained the power of storytelling in a digital world through games and social media and how this affects us in our physical world. Check out his video below:

This week’s task involves creating a game using Sploder, a free online gaming software that allows your to create your own game using five pre-existing themes. These themes are Retro Arcade, Platform Creator, Physics Puzzle Maker, Classic Shooter and the Algorithm Crew. Each theme contains elements that allows game-makers to create multiple stages by increasing difficulty of the game. Sploder also has a YouTube channel containing video tutorials and examples.

Here is the link to my game: http://www.sploder.com/?s=d004blk6 

I spend approximately two hours creating my game and only reached Level 2 within that space of time. The majority of this time was spent on understanding what the features and functions are for each element. I believe that the more time I spend on practising, the easier and quicker it would be to create my game. However, I do have some reservations when considering the appropriateness in introducing arcade-like game activities in a classroom environment.

I fully support the use of blogs, pinterest, videos and presentation tools in the classroom environment and that these resources have been tried and tested by educators around the world. However,  I may have a biased opinion about the use of computer games such as Sploder in education. I personally do not find computer games fun at all and I spent most of my childhood playing outdoors, toys and reading books. I do enjoy playing Wii as it involved more physicality than just using a console. Howell (2012) suggest that Wii games help promote sporting skills and techniques but selection of games require careful consideration to ensure that the desired learning outcomes are achieved.

In saying that, some of the features in Sploder does promote critical thinking in building the game such as understanding physics, gravity, springs, direction, friction and material types. I also used skills like drag and drop, resize, and customising. In two separate TedTalk videos, MacGonigal (2010) and Chatfield (2010) conveyed strong messages on why computer games should be implemented in education. Both speakers emphasised the pleasurable feeling of being rewarded encourages continued participation and team efforts. This concept of reward and encouragement is equally applied in non-technological teaching environment.

By the end of this week, I felt that I should reconsider my initial uncertainty of introducing computer games in the classroom environment. The amount of time spent in understanding elements within Sploder and designing my game led me to feel slightly frustrated and afraid of using this game. Therefore, I will continue to research further on the use of Sploder or other emerging games and consider incorporation of games into my digital pedagogy.

References

Chatfield, T. (2010, July). Tom Chatfield: 7 ways games reward the brain [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/tom_chatfield_7_ways_games_reward_the_brain

Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT: Digital pedagogies for collaboration and creativity. South Melbourne, Australia : Oxford University Press.

MacGonigal, J. (2010, February). Jane MacGonigal: Gaming can make a better world [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world

Adam Stakhouse (2013, May 21). Blurring the Lines: Storytelling in a Digital World [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9c0bEZS1jC4

Week 6: Digital Fluency

images

About Scratch

This week, we learnt to use the program Scratch to create a story, game or animation. Scratch is a free programming software developed by the MIT Scratch Team and is designed to “help young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively”.

My first impressions of the Scratch website is that it is user-friendly and attractive. The main page contains ‘featured projects’ and other animations which the ‘community is loving’ and current animation themes. It drew me to click on one of the ‘featured projects’ to have a first look at what Scratch is about. This page reminds me of the YouTube homepage where users can easily access ‘suggested’ videos with just one click.

Browsing through the Scratch website, I was highly impressed that Scratch has established an online community platform for educators, researchers and parents to share their Scratch stories and experiences called ScratchEd. There is a wide range of resources shared by community members which are categorised under educational level, content type, curricular area and language. Of particular interest, there are approximately 600+ videos available under the preschool, kindergarten and elementary levels.

Apart from the tutorial video made available on the Blackboard, I viewed a number of tutorials and examples on YouTube to help myself familiarise with the functions on Scratch (just search ‘scratch animation tutorial‘ and you will find loads of videos!). I decided to create a game based around a hungry monkey looking for bananas in the jungle. As I was creating my game, I found Scratch easy to use in terms of its functions and user-friendliness. I could build scripts by using the ‘drag-and-drop’ gesture to place functions into the positions I want. What I found most challenging behind creating my game is determining the logic behind the game in order to achieve the intended outcome. For example, I had to work out how to make the banana change position as soon as the monkey touches the banana and making this change a random one.

My Scratch game can be found herehttp://scratch.mit.edu/projects/32264456/

My ‘Monkey and Bananas’ game is relatively simple, which is more suitable towards preschool students. It requires students to be able to demonstrate proficiency in moving the mouse-pointer towards the ‘changing’ bananas. To make this game more challenging, I could set a time limit to the game and add other ‘obstacles’ such as a tiger chasing the monkey, so scores are reduced if the monkey touches the tiger.

Overall, I found Scratch to be a great resource that can be implemented in the classroom environment. However, teachers should first familiarise themselves with the program and how this resource can be used to assist in their digital pedagogies (Howell, 2012). Teachers can create story-telling animations and games that can be applied to many subject areas. Students can develop skills and abilities depending on the level of education, such as proficiency in using mouse-pointers and keyboard words in accordance with the required response, timing, critical thinking of logical sequence as well as understanding basic terminology and meanings of the program. From simple scripts in preschool to more complex ones in primary school, teachers can also set tasks for students to create their own game with room for creativity. This is all part of the process to help students develop the skills they need to be digitally fluent.

References

Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT: Digital pedagogies for collaboration and creativity. South Melbourne, Australia : Oxford University Press.

Scratch (n.d.). About Scratch. Retrieved from http://scratch.mit.edu/about/

ScratchEd (n.d.). Resources. Retrieved from http://scratched.gse.harvard.edu/resources

Week 5: Digital Information

It would not be surprising to say that if you have encountered digital hardware at some stage in your life such as mobile phones, televisions, tablets or computers, what you see and hear from these digital devices is also known as ‘digital information’. To put simply, digital information refers to the data that you come across ‘online’, such as online news, Twitter, Facebook, emails,text message, blogs, images, games, applications, videos, music and many more. This bombardment of digital information can be overwhelming to adults, let alone young children. So, what can educators do to help children learn how to filter, organise and prioritise the information they receive?

In this week’s task, we learnt how to use Pinterest, a social scrapbook that allows users to ‘pin’ their favourite digital information on to their ‘board’. Pinterest allows users to share visual material, including images, articles, websites and videos. My experience in setting up my Pinterest board was very rewarding as I discovered an abundance of resources through my peers and across the Pinterest social network. I found Pinterst really useful to organise my ideas and allows me to return to my board at any time without having to search for the same information again.

Using Pinterest in education

Using Pinterest in education

As an educator, I see many benefits incorporating Pinterest in teaching and learning. Through collaborative projects, students get to brainstorm ideas and learn how to compile, organise and store content. At the same time, teachers can demonstrate ways to search for materials using effective keywords and how to filter information critically. Pinterest also encourages social interactions and peer feedback with students as well as teachers (BBC Active, n.d.).

Furthermore, Pinterest is a mobile application that is not limited to the confines of a classroom. Students can easily work on their project using their tablets and mobile phones. The flexibility and effectiveness of Pinterest in promoting positive social interaction and encouraging creativity is certainly appealing and I look forward to applying this resource in my future education career.

Pinterest is not the only resource available for educational use, I came across Educlipper which is designed specifically with teachers and students in mind. It has added features such as setting up ‘classes’ and allows users to upload Powerpoint presentations, word files, excel files, PDFs and many more. Check out the Educlipper website and the video tutorial below.

References

BBC Active (n.d). Using Pinterest for education. Retrieved from http://www.bbcactive.com/BBCActiveIdeasandResources/UsingPinterestfor
Education.aspx

Hopkins, D. (2012, December 18). Using Pinterest in the classroom. Retrieved from http://www.dontwasteyourtime.co.uk/social-network/using-pinterest-in-the-classroom/