Great games for under ten bucks?

In an effort to start collecting the use of games in the classroom, I’ve make a really short Google Form here in which I’m asking people to recommend a game for the classroom, which costs under ten dollars. The results of what people put into this are shared on this response form. We know people are using Minecraft, Portal etc., but for many schools free or cheap is an essential criteria for choosing a game.

I’m asking for simple information: the game name, a link if you have it and to choose what platform and game type best describes it from a list (or add your own). Finally, just let people know why you recommend it.

The aim is simply to start to collect what games are being used in a spreadsheet of data that you can use for your own purposes. No names or personal information please … this is anonymous crowd sourcing. Open to anyone, teachers, students and parents!

Thanks for your input

Go teach this!

There are a few people I have met in the last decade that constantly inspire and amaze me. Not because they work uber hard at self-gratifying themselves on social media, but because they work tirelessly to make great things and offer them to people in honest and reasonable ways. Adrian Bruce is one of them. He’s been GIVING AWAY really useful resources to teachers for years.  Not ‘ideas’ or pre-sales junk – actually useful stuff that thousands of teachers have used.

So now Adrian has created a portal for his work. Create a FREE account here – right now.

GoTeachThis.com will become your one stop shop for printable Math & Reading games. The resources available are pedagogically sound and student friendly. They make student learning social, visible and fun.

I know just how hard Adrian has worked on making this a reality, and why he’s so passionate about it. He’s definitely from the “maker” crowd that I have endless time for. His illustrations and graphics are delightful, as is his game-mechanics being used. In the site there are ton of FREE resources as well as VERY AFFORDABLE premium (which pay the bills and keeps the Universe ticking along). These are not ‘generic’ games either. Adrian has done crazy amounts of work in the classroom with these, and they are all next-generation resources in terms of design and development. Many will know Adrian, as he’s been part of the educational-community online as long as anyone. What you might not know is that he has this AMAZING set of resources which you SHOULD PAY FOR and subscribe to because it pwns the free junk that is online (link bait). 

To me it’s the evolution of the grass-roots movement – where people like Adrian are making NEW (not rehashed or duplicated) resource for learning and teaching – backing their passion and insight. Go on, get behind Go Teach This and get your school to subscribe! Get a free account here.

Minetest is good for schools

Currently there’s a war being fought over corporate copyright ownership. It’s not just in the courts, but in media-representation of morality. It’s vital the public believe the ideas created to keep ideas and information under limited ownership are important. For educators, I highly recommend downloading (legally) Steal this Film to gem up on what’s happening beyond your biome. This post is in part, showing how changes to how be perceive ownership lead people to different solutions many more benefit from.

This is for those who want to play Minecraft, but their computer is too old or slow to deal with that monster java power-drain.

It’s well known, Minecraft creator – Notch has strong views on the topic of software ownership such as

Trivial patents, such as for software, are counterproductive (they slown down technical advancement), evil (they sacrifice baby goats to baal), and costly (companies get tied up in pointless lawsuits).

This leads me to Minetest. It looks a lot like Minecraft and is a great example what I’m talking about here.

Take a casual look at it’s looks like a Minecraft rip-off – a clone, an infringement on copyright. How can they get away with this? Well, not everyone has bought into the ‘feed’ view of ownership of ideas – even creators of hugely popular titles such as Minecraft. In educator-brains, if Minetest isn’t copyright infringement, then it’s plagiarism! – Copying! Stealing … grab the redstone torches and get him!

You see, we’re teaching a generation that copying isn’t okay. Rubbish. It is a brilliant way to learn – especially when you’re a kid – especially if you’re a kid playing Minecraft.

Benefits for schools who won’t allocate money to ‘games’.

So if you’re looking for a way to talk to your kids about ‘copyright’ then Minetest is a great discussion point. If you just want a sandbox game, like Minecraft, that runs free and on older machines — then play Minetest. I would think that for what most classrooms might need, Minetest is a perfectly respectable way to introduce resistent schools and IT-guards to the idea. Now you don’t have to pay for it.

Why you should support the creator-verse.

But you should donate real money to Celeron55 here. Because if educators don’t get off this idea that something free this way comes eventually – very little ‘new’ things will be made at all. So support people who make stuff and give you stuff. Even if it’s a comment or a cup of coffee . Put your head out the window and wave some coin.

I promise you, education will only improve globally in exact proportion to the number of teachers who get off the free-roundabout being marketed to them at the Twitter-Bar.

Astonishing Tweet that revealed how you learn.

Astonishing, Instant, Discover, Breakthrough, Critical, Unique, Urgent, First, Innovative, Incredible, Enhanced, Revealed, Revolutionary, Pioneering, Proven, Step-By-Step, Unforgettable, In-Depth, Shows, Invaluable, Powerful, Case-Study, Shocking, Spectacular, Unlimited, How-to, YOU, Strategy, Tactics, free, tricks, tips, enhance, fact, learn

Get me some of that old time convergent thinking to go please. Include these funky keywords in your slides and the world will be at your command.

Twitter ate my brain and I liked it on Facebook

Too much information hitting you too fast? Are we pushing information at educators simply in response to the massive multiplayer game known as Twitter? Maybe so and here’s what I think is causing the potential edu-Snow Crash.

First, I’ve been on Twitter 97.8% longer than everyone else according to some info-mining algorithm. This must indicate I know more than all but 3% of the planet which entitles me to speak with authority. I also have a cute avatar and willing to drop a button on my shirt at a conference for the boyz. What rubbish.

Second, back in the day, blogging was kind of slow. People took time to write, time to think and time to respond in what seems today a very civil conversation between people who had the sense to learn how to search properly. So back in the days when young Will Richardson got a glimmer in his eye and wrote a book called “Blogs, Wikis and Podcasts”, people we’re already connected to a network. Then came people like Clay Shirky and added a dose of moral panic with tales of civic-technology-saves-the-princess and someone kicked off TED talks and scooped $6,000 a seat and a bucket load of ad-revenue. The “PLN” was born – and all of a sudden, it’s not cool unless you’re tweeting motivational messages or summizing Prensky on your IWB. No one got more literate, they got more distracted and a few got paid or joined the Spice Girls.

Twitter is increasingly useless on purpose. It wanted, and has manged to become, the worlds most used bookmarking service as people like @grattongirl endlessly fling link bait into the metaverse and we follow Captain Obvious to whatever bloody web conference he’s at today – RT-ing his own Tweets and telling people what we should do, before hitting the buffet. If you want to be cool, that’s the way to do it. Then we have the social climbers – those who don’t do much at work apart from Tweet, feasting on their public funded iPad until it’s home time. If you want to get ahead, get on Twitter. Bugger reality, just keep saying it and the drones will believe you. Guess what you’re still in reality. Take a look around.

A neutron walks into a bar and asks how much for a drink. The bartender replies, ‘For you, no charge.

Reality check: Twitter isn’t what it was (let’s have a beer and talk about glory days later). To put it into perspective – its the Internet equivalent of CNN’s screen-ticker. It’s designed to distract and hold your attention only long enough for you to snack on link-bait (and download Snack Games to Snack Apps) and thereby pay less attention to the big picture above which is often full of rhetoric that we’re also supposed to consume without question. And we do – as Twitter is the ultimate bar-tender, happy to listen to anyone and everyone. I wontz my MTV, Kittahs and links to Fat Kid on a Rollercoaster as long as it doesn’t stop me yelling at politicians on #qanda where I endlessly ‘top’ them with my dazzling appreciation of culture, media, politics and religion. Is that what you really want to show teachers? Yes, of course someone will pay you good money to do that in a workshop so I hear.

It’s called information fluency. Take a breath, learn from someone like Judy O’Connell. Do you think Judy is drooling over her iPhone, tapping refresh like dog trying to scratch an unreachable itch? No. Do you pay enough attention to what Judy’s been saying about the Semantic Web? – Nope. I just tap my screen and RT things, unless I’m being really cool when I RT it to #yam to impress the boss.

Judy – like many other curate their information sources, as they know how to organise it into useful collections for a purpose. I’ve been to Judy’s house – there’s no digital dumpster out the front.

If it takes a 3 seconds to read a Tweet, it takes 30 to follow the link – it takes 3 minutes to read the post and 3 hours to digest what it said (assuming it is a post intended to make you think). That is nuts, no one can process that kind of information. If however, it comes to you, behaves itself and sits in the spot you want it, then like a good dog – you are it’s master. No one wants a dog that barks and bounces around when you’re trying to think. 90% of links that get RTs are not about getting people to think – they are like information coupons offering you a discount in the knowledge isle, or about you buying into someones Top 10 hyperbole.

This would be one of those circumstances that people unfamiliar with the law of large numbers would call a coincidence.

This is the tragedy of blogging these days – people want a free coupon not a conversation – we want it now and we don’t want to work for it. It just may be that we are now more dangerously irrelevant than we’d like to admit.

I thought the the point of social media was that it could help fill the (_____) gap in thinking, and yet, just a few years on we’ve managed to invent snack-media. Yey for us … for we are many and they are n00bs. There, I said it, leave a comment in 140 characters of less  or just maybe go and blog something that tells me a story that changes everything.

And please follow and RT @massMinecraft if you notice it *wink*

Learning about the metaverse: free PD for teachers

Imagine your in a week long professional development programme. Lets see if I can sell you a seat in mine.

“Building a PLN with Web2.0”

The session runs Sunday to Sunday, and were expecting you’ll be working from 6am to 11pm, but you can choose what hours you keep entirely. In that time you need to find around 200 people in social networks that have a common interest in education, and introduce yourself. There is no room allocation, campus or learning system required to attend the course.

The assessment task-

You have analyse and decode anything they say or share in the context of your classroom – finding evidence that any of it is valid now, and prioritise that which will be needed in 5 years.

By the end of the week you must have had at least one new idea, and helped ten other people to realise theres. You must create, maintain and share a cyber-bibliography of at least 100 things, justifying why they are related to your idea, and find 100 more from everyone elses, that relates to yours, but not duplicate it.

The test-

The final test is a 300 word blog post demonstrsting media literacy and deep research over the week to answer the following question “what will online communities look like in the future”. Grades are not issued, so you can select your own (if you think they are an indicator).

There is no class list, or prescribed reading or software for the course, and class will be held entirely online, in any space you choose.

Before you take teachers into virtual worlds, think carefully about the task, so when you attempt to explain the metaverse, they have a realistic task to work on, lets not pretend otherwise.