Living off world

As a shop owner, I would dearly love to be given a 200 cyclists every 16 weeks and not have to concern myself with how that came about. I would have their exclusive attention and time to force them to ride the electric bikes I like (and sell). If they refused I’d could ban them for every riding any kind of bike again. It would be a brilliant way to create a loyal following and establish myself as the electric bike authority for the future. I could bring in other electric bike friends in and together we could educate dumb cyclists and sell them stuff well into the future. The future of course I would claim will be so much better if everyone rode electric bikes.

While I’m doing this, I’d get them all to Tweet about left handed handlebars and how dumb cyclists are. It would be gr8. Then I’d wake up and realise that I’d need to design these bikes, know how electrics actually work and do some actual research.

What It Takes to Stand Out in a Crowded Market | Inc.com

http://www.inc.com/austin-allison/what-it-takes-to-stand-out-in-a-crowded-market.html?cid=sf01001

This is a very interesting post about being human and valuing quality over quantity. It isn’t written in educational contexts but it seems entirely relevant.

I often think those whom often theorise and seek to ensure others know their correctness are out of sync with the actual user base. Most of the time “they” are the subject of someone else’s interest and viewpoint.

Many users are not having anything like an exciting or satisfying time. They don’t have time to debate the semantics and details of this or that new technology. They don’t have the opportunity needed to get sufficient training or experience hours up before being parachuted into the techno theatre.

There are also many for whom (as this article describes) simply copying an existing idea which plenty of people have either done or knew about in a different guise or time. For example: audio and video has been used for decades to foreshadow lectures and classes. Today it takes on new cultural meaning though new representations. In popular culture. That’s an organisational memory problem.

Quality is something to strive for and quantity is only one possible measurement. Knowing 20 theorists names, 100 apps or the name of every ferry on Sydney harbour doesn’t change a thing in the minds of others. I have always avoided it. I read Game of Thrones … Before I saw it.

Being human centred means recognising that “people” (the procedural rhetorics objects) are not as advanced as the enthusiasts rhetoric can over estimate. This resolves itself as under estimating the day to day needs. Sure, shooting for more is valid, but shooting at ghosts is pointless.

More importantly, much of the social-edtech rhetoric is wrapped around corporate and individual ambition, not reality of the human experience. The more human, personal and honest the relationship, the more likely success will be. Slow down. Be okay with hearing — were not there yet.

For every person excited and adovating technology  there are ten more that are utterly fatigued by it. To get anywhere takes a lot more time than is often desired. Humans work with other humans. There is no elite technology class saving the world but it is interested in quantity (big data) — how many courses; how much data; how many apps; best blogger; biggest influencer etc.

Humans who value quality and the inherent kindness and patience of colleagues will try new things. They won’t if people simply copycat ideas or flood them with more fatiguing demands and media panic.

Happy International Happiness Day.

Fantasy Education

If you are not a qualified teacher, then please don’t insult teachers with your faux-insight into what the craft is. If you can’t write code, don’t tell the programmer what structure is. If you’re not a designer — don’t lecture others on what good design can be.  If you’ve never taken a risk with your own money — don’t talk about entrepreneurship. The Internet has become a twisted fantasy where it’s perfectly fine to ask “who the hell are you to be telling me anything”.

The Minecraft Experience at Games for Change, NYC, April 2014

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mmpIn 2011, when Mincraft was a beta-game with 100,000 players and not the 1,000,000 it has today – a small idea called Massively Minecraft took flight. It’s main activity was to enable children and adults to play on a server which attempted to allow children to develop ‘digital skills’ based loosely on ISTE’s NETs for students.  Today we’re launching a new project around Minecraft — building the right drivers in home, school and research.

I’m thrilled to be feel like I’m at the centre of it, both as a parent and now as a games researcher. Minecraft represents a unique media-phenomenon and has clearly been taken in remarkable new directions by the community. There is no one ‘best’ way to play, teach or parent around this game in particular. Unlike much of the technological determinism associated with technology and children, Minecraft has achieved what educational software and culture hasn’t. It has managed to bridge the gap between family literacy and school literacy. But all too often, the voices of parents and kids are lost. They are the subjects of research, not active researcher — and that’s what the Massively Minecraft Project is about — actively helping support autonomous research by parents, teachers and kids in to Minecraft.

The Minecraft Experience – at Games for Change, April 2014, New York City.

Today we are pleased to put up the first of a series of projects in this space, reviving the “Massively Minecraft” research and practice agenda. The International “Games for Change” has accepted our panel discussion with leading Industry experts on the “Minecraft Experience” as game, media, educational and cultural artefact. We’re provoking the panel and audience discussion by inviting you (and people you know) to share your road-story (good or bad) with us. This takes place in April 2014 in New York.

Here’s Bron’s open call for participation … please share it widely so that the panel discussion in April (In New York City) takes in as much as possible!

You can read all about it here http://www.minecraftexperience.net and we really want you to spread the word!

This project is a chance to have your say about Minecraft. We want to be able to describe Minecraft is all its different experiences and to do that through the eyes of those most experienced with it – youth, teachers, parents and designers.

You can add content to the wiki or point to fab content you have already online (stories, blogs, photos, videos etc). Contribute to a page or design a page of your own. Take this space in whatever direction you feel it needs to go to describe Minecraft well!

Those wanting to contribute will have to join the wiki. We have chosen to not have this a completely open wiki in order to monitor and protect any of our young contributors. And we would love them to contribute and sign their contributions with their username and identifying whether they are ‪#‎youth‬‪#‎teacher‬‪#‎parent‬‪#‎designer‬ or other. This will be very useful data as time goes on.

We want this to be a global project with the widest ownership possible, so don’t be shy or feel that your contribution will not count because this crowd sourcing stuff is only powerful if every voice is heard.

Are you in? Let me know if you need any further info or advice.

Bron Stuckey & Dean Groom
The Massively Minecraft Project

Don’t be a twork.

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This post is reactionary. No offence, none taken. Its about why I don’t Twork and why you should consider both avoiding it — and be aware of people who do. I think they used to call it Twittetiquette or something. I’m going with “Don’t be a twork”.

One of my all time favourite posts is Alan Lavines “fear of a Googled past“. It’s followed closely by Endorse is the new like. I think Alan’s blog is my go to place. For me, Alan has an enviable balance of creativity, hardcore tech skills, insight and humour. I know that sounds like a suck-up, but seriously, he practically invented the Internet as far as teaching goes — and remains true to the ‘open and non commercial’ agenda that was so attractive to many people ‘back in the day’.

I never feared posting things online. I don’t Twork (Tweeting about work or colleagues) and what I’ve posted I stand by — and on balance I think it’s helped people make a jump, try a new thing or consider an alternative view (even if it’s counter to their own or deliberately inciting).

Twitter today isn’t simply about content or sharing — it encompasses power relations which each person is left to mediate. In the literature we’re talking about patient zero (you) when it comes to knowing what this means.

All I can offer is how I see it now — by thinking about how it was then. I believe you can and should connect, collaborate and share — but do it in a way that doesn’t cloud your ‘human’ side as the cyborg takes over and attack someone because you can – no offence.

In the grand tradition of lists posts — here are 7 things I think are important.

  1. Don’t assume that people who seem ‘usually’ positive are not attempting to manipulate you. If they are not lashing out at something, then they may already by cyborgs. [Personally, I'd keep well away from the happy-clappers with their motivational posters].
  2. I don’t advocate following anyone. I support the idea you need to find a diverse number of people to follow. [I don't actually know who follows me, I pay no attention to it, but I'm aware some people fixate on it. I don't have time and unless you can time travel, don't get addicted to 'the feed'].
  3. Following hashtags and topics such as #gbl and #minecraft so that you get a diverse taste of opinion (positive and negative). Don’t just follow #edu or your discipline.
  4. From your hashtag observations, create new lists which are meaningful to you.
  5. Mediate your own consumption using your lists. Here’s the thing  – don’t tune in to the happy-clapper channel everyday. Live dangerously … spend time looking at what the opposites are, what the counter-narrative is saying and find new groups. For example if you’re in education and not following startups — then you’re missing out on what will come next.
  6. Consider why people are positive or negative (at that moment in time) — what is it they want?, what is it the fear?, why are they saying this? and why now? This is help protect you from being sold to as well as getting too wound up about one issue. The world is full of issues — head in the sand doesn’t work for those who most need you to pay attention. Of course you can — but I tend to pay attention to the rebels, especially the ones who do it for the love of it.
  7. Think before you endorse any Tweet with a re-tweet. If you appreciate a link, a joke, an observation — anything — just FAVOURITE it. The author knows about it, you did the hat-tip, it’s all you need to do.

I don’t Twork. I never Tweet about they thing I do at work, nor the people at work who I work with. I may talk to people I work with, but that is entirely social – hey @edugnome!. I don’t spy on workmates, I don’t follow people based on work-status and in fact in all the places I’ve worked, most have no interest in using it, and I’m not interested in Tworking about them. I don’t Twork in a manner that suggests I am some always positive rock of authority to impress customers, or to be a banner-man for the organisation. It’s part of not fearing my Googled past and having a clean feed – which takes in much more than ‘good times’ users.

The Machine’s still using us.

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In 2007, this video hit the emerging “blogosphere” like a wrecking ball. It was the video which accompanied several books which claimed education faced such radical upheaval and unimaginable change that school would fail children and teachers needed to grab hold of the “read/write” web with urgency and not ‘wait’.

Although this may have been true, it certainly wasn’t based on fact or particularly mindful of decades of work in the potential for using the Internet and Computers in education. In fact, it was Ronald Reagan who first held the first ‘online discussion’ about the potential for the Internet in education in 1975. Ironically waiting for Jane Fonda to join the chat but she never did.

It marked an epoch, a moment in time where the topic of ‘educational technology’ moved out from journals and academic publishing and onto blogs and the then embryonic micro-blog platform. It appeared in thousands of ‘edtech’ posts and powerpoint presentations to a new audience. Technology was moving out the computer lab and into every classroom. It no longer required experts, it required everyone to show up and participate … the wisdom of the crowd.

Now, 7 years later, this moment has passed into history. Society has welcomed the new domesticated and mobilised technology offerings of mega-corporations who make billions of dollars. Now billions of people publish media on a daily basis in a new economy of micro-payments though data transmission and receipt.

Parents mediate technology, communicate with their children and seemingly trust them to access the Internet with little or no supervision — or specialist instruction, while schools appear to be increasingly divided on how to fund, manage and use technology.

One question that needs to be asked is just how relevant is this video today?

MI’d love to hear what you think.

Minecraft and over parenting

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One reason to allow children to play Minecraft is to redress control issues associated with modern parenting and dare I say it … teaching.

Whether parents and teachers use positive rewards or negative punishment to get children to comply with a demand, its not allowing them agency over their own choices. Its a huge problem and one I’ve been guilty of for a good while.

Minecraft (and other games) give kids a sense of autonomy which is becoming a rare experience for many kids suffering from over parenting.

But its not enough to let them play, they need parent support and encouragement. They are learning about their own agency against fierce odds and parents focused on control (all be it well meaning).

There’s something to balk at.

Last post – My fave site of 2013

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In what is the last post here for 2013, and to again mention I’m moving to Dean Groom dot com (please come over and subscribe). The reason for the move is really to start to focus on the research work I’m doing towards parents and video games — and also the reboot of Massively Minecraft with my good friend Dr. Bron Stuckey in 2014. I’ll still post here from time to time — and anything here — get’s cross posted there care of the magic that is the website IFTTT.

I thought I’d post two things. The first is a link to a website that I constantly dip into for ideas, rest and curiosity called Ironic Sans. It really is the site I’ve been too more often this year than any other.

This is a great idea – life in 60 seconds.

Next check out this great video about the father of game consoles. In my view, Berners Lee would still be writing on post it notes without this guy having the idea to turn the TV-set into a home computer monitor. Without him, there would have been no 80s micro computer revolution in my view.

I’d like to thank everyone for visiting my blog this year. It’s been a VERY hard year for me on so many levels. But hey, still here — still standing. Best wishes to you and your loved ones. Catch you in 2014!

Moving to new location!

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Please bookmark and RSS my self-hosted blog for 2014 onwards! Dean Groom [dot] com.

I started writing this blog in 2007 and it’s grown and grown to be read by hundreds of thousands of people. That still freaks me out! – I have to thank Judy O’Connell for that. Without Judy, I’d wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing today.

If you know me, you’ll know that back in 2007 I was teaching high school computing. A lot has happened over the years — and most of that has been because of the amazing power of citizen-media — and people who create, curate and amplify it. These days I’m working with some equally amazing people at the UNSW and my PhD supers – Professor Catherine Lumby and Dr. Kate Highfield on some research with a the grand title “Negotiations of digital-play: how families discover, engage with and negotiate networked video games”. 

The central aim of this project is to discover family conceptions of how video games are negotiated in Australia, particularly networked video games, and to develop theories of how families acquire critical understanding of video games as a cultural literature.

I’m still keeping the day job — despite also part-owning a growing electric bike shop — and I’m still a firm believer that all stages of formal education require media-studies programmes towards student attributes and capabilities. A decade of “ed-tech” has taught me how easy it is to tack-on, but how necessary it is to be at the core of learning either formally or informally. It’s with all this in mind, that I’ve begun to move from this blog to a self-hosted blog “Dean Groom [dot] com”. For some time, I’ll cross-post — but the focus of my blog from 2014 will be towards video-games and parenting (and being a parent involved education). You might want to subscribe to it, book mark it — or just feel relieved I’m moving on.

Some very special thanks: to Jeb at Mojang who kicked my “Why won’t she get off Minecraft?” post into the the stratosphere with a single Tweet. Then there are all those who were at ISTE 2008 — most of whom I still see kicking-ass. To my friends in St. Loius — who were so kind and generous — To Kerry, Shaph, Bron and fellow game-head-educators who were doing this well before it was ‘cool’. I’d also like to thank my very special friend Jeff and his family — who constantly inspires me (and steals my Twitter ID) — I so nearly got to live in Great Falls. Then there is Derek Robertson who’s vision for gaming in schools has always been an absolute beacon for me — and for his generosity in all things gaming.

Lastly I’d like to thank everyone who’s ever bothered to leave a comment and visit my blog!

I wish everyone a happy and safe festive season and hope you get a new bike — an Air Cooled VW, an Alfa Romeo and tickets for Comic Con on Christmas morning! And yes, there will be a lot more for parents of game-kids on the revamped blog for 2014.

Go on, leave a comment – let blogging live!

Minecraft isn’t just a game

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In the 1950s, Disney hit on the idea of connecting classic folk-tales to their animation technologies, and from that creating their own books, magazine and toys. Minecraft, also started by one man with an plan — has enabled a very similar process except as a company, Mojang don’t chase down every licensing and copyright claim imaginable.

It’s another reason parents can’t compare Minecraft to other sandbox games — they are not all about the value-add sell, but of course do licence certain aspects. It must be a total nightmare to manage, but cudos to them for at least attempting it.

Online there are some amazing toys, gadgets and artwork that have emerged because of Minecraft. Mojang don’t appear to mind people adding their own creativity to their game such as this.

Crafting-1.3-Part-1-1 (1)

Now you don’t have to PLAY video games in your classroom to be able to see how this is brilliantly executed story. There is enough detail in this story for anyone who’s read a romantic story about the heroes journey to be able to figure out what is going on here.

This is simply ONE part of FIVE posted onto the website 9Minecraft. You can go read the rest yourself … and find out how it ends. That’s five comics, filled with pop-culture references that kids could EASILY relate to … and any (good) teacher could put to work.

I post this as an example of how VIDEO GAMES are part of cultural literacy. Minecraft is as embedded in today’s culture as Donald Duck was for Disney — and better still there is a massive fan-talent base producing plenty of FREE or low-cost resources that kids can relate to. Getting primary aged kids to turn their classroom into a Minecraft house would require almost zero effort on the teacher’s part. Go on, I dare you …

 

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