The primary goal of GBL and PBL is to restore scholarship

What if the primary goal of PBL or GBL for that matter wasn’t improved academic performance?

What if I’m yelling about them because they are essential components of experience, but have been removed by small minds who find thinking somewhat challenging? Well, they are not completely banned, they have just been reduced or rebadged to make them easier to deal with. For example, school camps and college field trips are allowed, as is a weekly dose of competitive gaming outside in shorts. How did these things sneak inside the hallowed halls of academic improvement. They didn’t, the improved academic performance line is simply a an effective way to avoid improved academic performance improvement. It’s sort of brilliant. Like using the weight of the attacker against themselves to win.

What people actually want is stable academic results which show organisational improvement over time, thus reflecting the billiance of those who are running it all. Has nothing to do with well-being, social inclusion, self-efficacy and so on – those are things which the factory worker’s mind never needed.

To all those ‘getting to it’ or ‘getting around to it’, please pay particular attention to research that has been around for over 25 years.

Motivational and self-regulated learning components are essential to the classroom.

This means of course classrooms without them (those lecturing students then giving them a task being the opposite) will never improve under the direction of the regime – yet will of course make easy targets (poor teachers, crap students and so on). The entire ‘learning’ experience is still diffective and incompatible with the world as it exists today – yet this is normal and tolerated. PBL and GBL are ways to take up Civil Rights if nothing else, and I’m not sure what could matter more to kids or parents right now.

Even worse, proven methods (not ideas) such as PBL and GBL are set aside in favour of ‘bacon-thinking’ and other unproven (yet social-media popular) tales and personalities – receiving endless attention and money. Why? Because there is no risk, no compulsion and no data to prove one way or the other.

1. Self-regulation of cognition and behavior is an important aspect of student learning and academic performance in the classroom context (Corno & Mandinach, 1983; Corno & Rohrkemper, 1985).

2. self-regulated learning includes students’ metacognitive strategies for planning, monitoring, and modifying their cognition (e.g., Brown, Bransford, Campione, & Ferrara, 1983; Corno, 1986; Zimmerman & Pons, 1986, 1988).

3. Capable students who persist at a difficult task or block out distractors (i.e., noisy classmates) maintain their cognitive engagement in the task, enabling them to perform better (Corno, 1986; Corno & Rohrkemper, 1985). Different cognitive strategies such as rehearsal, elaboration, and organizational strategies have been found to foster active cognitive engagement in learning and result in higher levels of achievement (Weinstein & Mayer, 1986).

The value component of student motivation involves students’ goals for the task and their beliefs about the importance and interest of the task. Although this component has been conceptualized in a variety of ways (e.g., learning vs. performance goals, intrinsic vs. extrinsic orientation, task value, and intrinsic interest), this motivational component essentially concerns students’ reasons for doing a task. In other words, what are students’ individual answers to the question, “Why am I doing this task?” The research suggests that students with a motivational orientation involving goals of mastery, learning, and challenge, as well as beliefs that the task is interesting and important, will engage in more metacognitive activity, more cognitive strategy use, and more effective effort management (e.g., Ames & Archer, 1988; Dweck & Elliott, 1983; Eccles, 1983; Meece, Blumenfeld, & Hoyle, 1988; Nolen, 1988; Paris & Oka, 1986).

All these references are 20 years old.

What exactly is Capatian Obvious telling us from the stage in 2012 that we don’t know?

My view is they should be challenged to:

1. Present some new evidence what what they say has the impact they claim

2. Present a method, framework and resources required to model/copy/implement in the everyday classroom

3. And be paid no more than a casual lecturer per hour – as that is what they are no matter how entertaining the are.

4. Not talk about or infer experience and expertise in things they have not themselves done/taught or made

In the mean time, PBL and GBL do work. I am pretty sure the last decade of conference lectures has not.

(A post celebrating Mr 11s end of primary school, 6 years of no technological improvement or benefit what-so-ever).

How to use Balance, Gimping, Campaign mode to improve assessment tasks easily

How about trying something from my  epic book “Living with games, dying with zombies” or something like that. This is how to use game-methods to improve something most students hate – getting marks and grades back from exercises and tests. No game needed, no tech either … a Zombie could do this.

Let’s assume most teachers issue marks to their class and we know from research marks and class-ranks are really de-motivating for most people. If there are 30 students, then it’s not hard to work out someone will get top and someone bottom. League tables are a common feature of games however, so how come publishing them are considered a bad educational idea, yet an almost expected in games. There’s something obviously missing then.

The game solution

Rather than avoid posting a class-rank on the wall, or handing out individual ones privately to avoid awkwardness, use Excel. I know Excel right, that old donkey which comes with Office. The funky people might use Google Docs or a database. Depends on your geek-power. You could use paper if you want to be old school.

The Method

You get excel to read each row and pick out the student name and their mark and comment on what EXACTLY they need to do in order to improve their grade in DIRECT relation to the grades of the students TWO rows immediately above them.

The easiest way to do this is to MAIL MERGE it. Select the student’s row and include the two names and marks of those immediately ABOVE them and two names and marks of those immediately BELOW. Now print that stuff out and hand it out.

Each student (if you’ve followed me) has their mark and a comment on EXACTLY what they need to do to beat the two in front of them. They also know who are their nearest academic peers. You have just generated a second thing, better ‘groups’ by clustering. Yes, some are at the top and some at the bottom, but nothing’s changed right? – that was going to happen anyway. Wrong.

The top group has to SUSTAIN itself and bottom group has everything to play for. But now the fun part – how to get them to play. You’ve just created GROUPS of 5 to power peer-learning based on EVIDENCE.

Now start cheating. Break the norm-rules! I won’t bore you with a speech about the types of rules games use – but cheating is a very valuable rule in game-theory. It’s called GIMPING, I’ll explain that later.

Give the bottom THIRD of kids things they can grind on to improve as a GROUP. Repeating, re-doing, coaching, whatever. Tell them they’ve got a WEEK to re-submit a different task which you PROMISE will be no easier or harder than the last.

Give the MIDDLE third kids nothing new to do at all.

Give the TOP third something more philiophical to deal with with the promise of a few more marks if they do it. This should be something more open, not easily answered etc.,

Here’s what has happened. You have 3 key working groups (top, middle, bottom (you do anyway). You also have a peer-assisted learning loop happening, you are allowing the middle kids to float between the bottom and the top (choice), the top are being extended (or sitting on their laurels which won’t last long). The bottom kids are repeating the task, now working in a group to improve together because they feel more trusted and valued.

What changed in terms of teacher practice?

Ultimately, there is nothing radically changed in what’s being taught or the assessment itself. The big change is to way it is being reported and the finality of it. For the most able academic students, there are being given a new opportunity to explore the metanarrative

These theories may be political, economic, social, literary, philosophical, or any other kind that claim to explain the material to be learned. Challenge the students to find the most powerful underlying idea or principle – and what example(s) they can find to explain it. This, for high-achieving students focuses them away for ‘getting the answer’ and finding what is emotionally engaging about  the topic.

Why is this Game Based Learning?

If you like, call this learning in ‘campaign mode’. It taunts you with getting content that is ‘locked out’. This is typical of how Modern Warfare or Battlefield get you to work harder, to get better gear. In the context of the top-kids, it’s called balancing (wikipedia simple version) which creates uncertainty, leading to the tension and excitement. Why do this? Because the way marks and tables are managed in the classroom is the equivalent to what gamer’s call GIMPING. Most players don’t mind ‘some’ gimping if the game is balanced, but it if’s always GIMPED, it just sucks. And players who want to be better hate it.


10 reasons game based learning isn’t so hard

I thought I’d drop a post about games-based-learning, as there seems to be total confusion about it, and where it sits with social-media. I’ll try to just make points.

  1. Games based learning could be just like a MOOC, given that games operate similarly, except there’s no time table limit, no prescribed readings in a folder and they have way better reputation systems.
  2. Game operate best when players are dialed into the ‘social graph’, so games based learning could be on Twitter, if Twitter was ‘seen’ as a text based game (which it is). You can use it, we did, no one died.
  3. Seeing a long list of who’s better than you is de-motivating to MOST people. This is why class scores suck. However leader boards are useful. Game Based Learning just re-casts better leader boards
  4. Badges work. As long as the loop they are connected to adds personal and social value as an experience.
  5. Games Based Learning is more likely to appeal to multiple personality types than using social media in learning, which has little appeal to ‘explorers’ for example, but bias towards socialisers. In the mean time, school likes ‘killers’ those who thrive on competition, rank and so on. GBL can then be differentiators, even levellers. You still get the top 1,2, 3 – but they might finally not be just the academic kids and be more socially inclusive. OMG.
  6. In Games Based Learning, the priorities are to influence learner behavior – to use them to get people to do what you want. So the ‘outcomes’ sit front and centre as they always have. Put down the chair, it’s okay. Other priorities are diminished by degrees of importance – but hey, at least you can assess them.
  7. Social games can revolve around a points system. This doesn’t mean you have to declare every point. It not like collecting stupid coins (marks) for no reason. Think of it as formative assessment and error checking. Points are not aligned only to academic ‘yes’ and ‘no’, they are used against social and academic work – useful to the student and the teacher. Again, nothing changes as far as reporting goes – except maybe it gets better.
  8. Games ‘inside’ social media friendly platforms are the most common use-factor – which means games occupy more of people’s time that Tweeting of updating Facebook. Go look at the top 25 iOS apps and figure it out.
  9. There is no lesson, topic, subject that cannot be made playable – even Maths.
  10. Social Media (in many common educational rationales) represents one component of the experience loop. Yes it’s multi-layered and complex, but there are at least 3 more BIG elements being ignored. For example, why do people play a game when the reward for solving a problem is just another problem. It’s not learning how to follow people on Twitter and ping questions to get a quick answer or a high-5.

What games quietly whisper (when done well) is KEY (Keep Educating Yourself). That’s the art of listening, learning, sharing and undertaking meaningful work. Finally, Game Based Learning does not mean computer and video games. It means being able to sustain an experience loop towards a goal with a satisfactory conclusion. This means you can run a perfectly respectable game in EduBlogs.

Here’s a counter intutive scenario:

“The secrets of the Bayaux Tapestry”

It’s a heroic game (there are types of game-narratives).  It uses a piece of wallpaper and a wiki and a video I didn’t have to make, just to illustrate the point – the stuff is out there, use it, don’t remake it.

All games have rules, so here are mine:

The student(s) are players in the game. They have to overcome problems for which they are rewarded with more problems. Some are more interesting than others, some easier than others. The game has a goal, and everyone has to work through levels to get to the goal. There is NO teaching needed. The teacher is the game-maker (way more fun), they can leave clues, offer some guidance, a few lies, but they can’t explain everything – else the hero will never find the extremes of reality, and make less sense of the ‘real world’ because of it.

Anyway, I thought I’d put up a 10 things post as they are all the rage in social media I hear.

Massively Minecraft – Eco Award, unpacked.

Maybe I was too quick in my last post about how we’re designing our game-world. I probably lacked detail (again). So here’s an example – in a sort of school like – presentation of how our adventures work. Kids choose these things, we don’t mandate them at all. This one’s about the environment, and here is a really brief sketch of how it works. You have to imagine that this mission is something the kid is curious and has chosen to do from a really simple description. If you like we use a kind of elevator pitch to get their attention. They are rewarded in the game for their work – there is no pass/fail or score. The kid will usually go off and make something – and ask questions. We look for chances to discuss these things, but we don’t interrogate the kids along the way, and accept that the rhythm is set by the kids, not us. Ultimately they know that in order to get the award, they will have to satisfy the evaluation in the game and in the guild.

Again, this is just an example! – it’s not at all trying to explain how this is facilitated and led in the game other than to say, the is never any direct instruction or lectures – it all happens though play and feedback. For parents, the invlovement comes though helping answer their kid’s questions and perhaps to show them or talk to them about these issues – it’s sort of opportunity driven (gamers will get what I mean). For example, a new report might come on and they want to talk about it or perhaps Dad points out rubbish left on the kerbside. When parents are aware of what kids are doing in the game, they are far more likely to discuss these things – using their own story, examples and particular style of teaching their kids. Parents are teachers too, and do a pretty good job when they are actually aware of what their kids are learning/curious about.

Think of this as a kind of invisible frame, it’s up to the moderator to show that they kids can do this – and to do that they also have to know the kid. I’m avoiding writing swathes on this – suffice to say – it’s not teaching as we might imagine from our Tyler-ist heritage and belief. This is the world of Notch.

The Eco-Builders Award

Importance: The world is made of natural and man made materials, some materials are less environmentally friendly than others.

Emotional Engagement: The world is easily polluted with man made rubbish, and man likes to use natural materials to make things that become this rubbish.

Binary Opposites: A world that we can/cannot live in

Content: Green groups, youtube videos, news, newspapers, the world outside our door.

Shaping: What happens when we can’t get access to man made products? Can we still live?

[possible ideas for parents/teachers as discussion raisers]

Putting all our waste in a bin, keeping a log.
Counting up the natural materials in our home.
Talking about something on the news
Watching a video documentary
Imagining a world where only natural/sustainable items are allowed
Building something that we can talk about.

Conclusion: What is the best way of showing we know how to create a world that is sustainable for us and other life. What is the compromise – what do we have to give up, have to acquire, what will be gain – what will we lose?

Evaluation: How do we know we understand the problem – how can we show we’ve grasped it’s importance, what content is useful to help us learn it – what content wasn’t useful. How does the thing you make/show/talk about/describe/play-with show this?

Eat, Prey, Rez

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” according to Peter Druckler, who’s writings were marked by a focus on the relationships among human beings, as opposed to crunching numbers. Among the many great ideas, he saw de-centralisation as a key way to bring out the best in people, find a sense of community and dignity in modern society.

The problem with this appears to be dogged centralization of decision making, financial control and policy within top-down structures. Occasional pilot schemes and experiments are awarded only to a chosen few , yet give a public impression of a socially inclusive, progressive approach to education – yet are under lock and key. Almost no funding goes to social-enterprise, yet these are some of the most innovative and dynamic innovators, who see their work as more than a task, it’s a mission. Those with power, never give it up without a struggle, yet de-centralised approaches are rapidly draining the long-held internalised intellectual property once assumed proptery of the central system. It probably doesn’t even notice, but is arguably unsustainable in light of the depth of resources, support networks and research that is happening in lounge rooms every night.

“Personal infrastructure eats institutional infrastructure for lunch”

3G and portable devices have killed the imperative to connect to one organisation channel. Competition in the marketplace is a race to zero which makes BYOD (Bring your own device) only semi-useful unless it is also connected to BYON (Bring your own network). It’s not the Internet that we want, it’s the ability to connect to people who can help us realise whatever we are trying to do – anytime we like and to make choices based on advice from those we trust most – the network.

“Process networks eat organizational networks for dinner”

If we take Kolb’s learning conjectural cycles – Concrete experience, reflection & observation, abstract concepualisation and active experimentation, it is vividly characterised through networks of people (PLN) who come together to solve problems, regardless of their partisan alliances or social status. I grant you, there are some co-opting opportunists here, but in the years I’ve been hacking away at this, most move on or fade as process networks require effort. If the person above you or next to you isn’t doing this, then it’s a sure sign it will be a long winter, requiring fortitude and resilience to stay motivated.  If the person below you is doing it (and you’re not) – then they have no need of you and won’t bother to tell as much either. The Internet and the media carried though it simply doesn’t care about idealism or conservatism. Innovation hinges on invention, and invention is the name of the game online as it leads to reputation within these process networks. Someone who gets things done, is willing to help others and don’t assume they have all the answers.

The Internet was created to connect people, media, mentors and institutions in one dynamic space designed to inspire collaboration and creativity. That was what Berners Lee set out to do, so who is hasn’t kept up? When you think about it, institutions had at least a decade head start, and has spend the last one agonizing over what it all means – not that anyone knows really.

By working both in process networks and as individuals (life long learners and researchers) people have an opportunity to engage in online projects that promote critical thinking, creativity, and skill-building. So many projects in fact there is something for everyone. The role of process networks (YouTube, Xbox, Twitter, Facebook etc.,) is to connect physical and online spaces to support people in participating with digital media to get things done faster – and that is fueled by diversity, not conformity.

Professor Mizuko Ito (2008) produced a report called “Living and Learning with Digital Media. This ethnographic study of more than 700 youth found that young people participate with digital media in three ways: (1) they “hang out” with friends in social spaces such as Facebook; (2) they “mess around” or tinker with digital media, making simple videos, playing online games, or posting pictures in Flickr; and (3) they “geek out” in online groups that facilitate exploration of their core interests.

Why? Well, look at the world outside. There is a shortage of authentic, engaging physical and virtual spaces for teens in public space (unless you want to play sport). There is a lack of meaningful opportunities for teens to learn digital media skills while also gaining relevant new entry points into public space.

Public space has to be as dynamic as virtual space if it want’s to be relevant. That means buildings not laptops. it means immersive social worlds, not content-portals. For a generation online, virtual space now eats physical space for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is not optimal, but it is very adaptive. It is full of mentors, interest based research and partnerships – and is now so de-centralised, that continuing to arguing over which parts should or should not be allowed into buildings (by the high authorities) – largely says more about the failure to innovate in learning spaces as it does about curriculum reform.

If we can’t change physical space, why not use virtual space? If you don’t like virtual space – then innovate the physical. Standing still isn’t a strategy, it’s an excuse. Do one or the other.

Something wicked this way doesn’t come

In the debate about which technologies are more or less important in the lifecycle of classroom learning, it’s worth pointing out that the introduction of Internet based tools and practices also introduces digital-culture. Games will introduce game-culture. Are we ready for either? are we rushing into games simply because we’ve rage-quitted the digital-culture debate.

Digital-culture has strong ties to identity, it is un-surprising that while on on hand students are told to write a blog, they also must accept that Facebook is outlawed. No real explanation is given, no real discussion – as discussing it serious will amplify how facile the ban-solution is.

For example, how many students post “I’m blogging about the villains of the Roman Empire” on their Facebook wall? when they must constantly annexe their academic ‘me’ from their digital ‘me’. The fact this wall-post might reach a wider audience, perhaps even a valid authentic one and lead to additional blog-readers and comments is negated and therefore separated – both by the teacher and the student.

Facebook is not for school, it’s for the rest of your life …. hmmm, which one do kids think is more important?

The more we do, the more complex it gets. Today’s leet-users of Web2.0 are radically more experienced and dynamic than 2006. In short we exasperate the problem simply by talking about it.

Games present a further dilemma. They are not only emerging from digital-culture, but from game-culture. If you’re not arriving at ‘games would be good’ from that culture, it’s a problem, just as not approaching Web2.0 from a digital culture has proven to be.

While the digital-teachers might be toying with the idea of gamification, they also need to consider what that culture will release into the classroom.

Seymour Papert commented “game designers have a better take on the nature of learning than curriculum designers” and that in reference to eLearning games that it is “downright immoral to trick children into learning and doing math when they think they are just playing an innocent game.” 

How exactly are these level ups, achievement badges and XP points lowering risk. From what I can tell, games are the next biggest risk after porn – go on type in games and see what the filter says.  I have some questions about these ‘gamified’ classrooms …

James Gee suggests “Good video games lower the consequences of failure; players can start from the last saved game when they fail. Players are thereby encouraged to take risks, explore, and try new things. In fact, in a game, failure is a good thing. Facing a boss, the player uses initial failures as ways to find the boss’s pattern and to gain feedback about the progress being made. School often allows much less space for risk, exploration, and failure.”

How can we identify the learning processes that occur during game play and does this help us establish what is being learnt?

Van Eck warns “we run the risk of creating the impression that all games are good for all learners and for all learning outcomes, which is categorically not the case”.

Is this particularly true of gamification where there is no actual game being played, (apart from the that pretends innovation happens when you say ‘level up’ not’ well done’)?

My point is that just because a game uses levels or badges to reward players, simply adding these to a Blooms progression and renaming scores as achievements neither honors digital-culture or game-culture. In fact it might have a negative effect in that students who play games will *roll-eyes* and be further de-motivated. If you are going to use game based learning – then start with using a game, not a metaphor for a game.

X-School in Newcastle?

Patterns and routines follow education as surely high tide follows low. A hundred years of mass education, sounded out by the bell of inevitability. The pattern and routines are rarely broken, but reinforced with each passing day.

Smart-kids know how to game the system. I recently spoke to a young woman, now doing a PhD, who said she went to a North Shore Sydney private school. She struggled to break the top 10 student list in grades, due to fierce competition. Rather than pay the fees and risk not getting into the Uni subject she wanted, her parents rented a flat for her in Western Sydney. She went to what she called a “band 3 school” instead. She aced every class, the teachers welcomed their ‘band 6 girl’ and lavished attention on her as she romped to first place in every class and the rest is history.

Smart-students know how to play the system. The patterns of study are repeated with marginal change, year in year out. Content get’s updated, but the mechanic stays almost the same. Those teachers who manage to break this cycle do it by creating new patterns of learning that defeat these mechanics. So why force them to find exploits, and just imagine for a moment that someone handed over some loot, and with that we created a learning center, were teachers were mentors,experts on learning design for the gamer generation.

Let’s call it X-School to be trendy. Why is no one brave enough to hand over the swag to make it happen? It makes perfect sense.

Answer: Because that would break the rules. We might have to ditch some current ideas, such as “ICT Integrators”, who are yet to find the right potion for the 21st Century. The rule is, thy shalt have but one ICT Manager and an Integrator and forsake all other options. We are so reluctant to even change job descriptions, we are hardly likely to open X-School in Newcastle. But I think we should. Part of the funding comes of course, from it being a model school and in that offering professional development to other schools. It’s a model that has worked elsewhere, so why not in Australia, why not Newcastle?

The plain fact that no one’s willing to try or fund it. Yet it’s within every systems grasp. Yes it might look strange, but strange isn’t a reason to pretend it’s not possible.

Take an office space, make it a learning space, teach half a dozen teachers in the ways of virtual goodness and allow them to create learning episodes that resonate with students for whom ‘regular’ school doesn’t work.

At the same time, open this is a hub to mentor teachers where they creating new learning episodes to re-connect students with the idea that they are good at life. It stands a good chance of breaking the cycle that will, without doubt, perpetuate another decade of anecdotal Power Points telling us about how technology will change lives if only we adopted Web2.0.

The total cost, is probably less that will be wasted on trying to secure an old building from vandals and following up kids who wag school.

Its high time social development replaced professional development and virtual teachers became as accessible as school counselors and geography teachers, so that students and teachers in classrooms everywhere have access to the same projects, specifically designed to do two things.

  1.  To address the real concerns teachers have ranging from low concern (I don’t care about technology), to high concern (my innovation ideas are ignored) and
  2.  Engage students for whom school does not and will not work as it is now – in ways that makes them feel good about themselves.

This might not be for all students, or for all parents. It might not appeal to all teachers either. However, if we want real reasons to use technology to build a learning community and so some serious social good, this is one easy way to do it.

It is not beyond the realms of immediate reason to connect schools and teachers to a centre like this, or to allow students and parents to choose an alternative. It might be for an hour a week, it might be for the kids who are suspended from school or kids who are scared to go to school … but without the will to make an attempt to build a space that extends into virtual space, we’re likely to keep putting lipstick on a pig.

I suggest giving me the money. I’m even happy to call it the CISCO-Pearson-Dick Smith School of blah, if that brings in new ideas.

There are some great old buildings in Newcastle, just begging to be occupied. Why not open one as a virtual school? Create some project ideas with the local community and start to engage kids.

Connect it to regular schools everywhere and get on with connecting a physical building a virtual, project based school that reconnects kids. They’ll still do the tests, still follow the syllabus, no one needs to panic, it’s not de-schooling, it’s re-schooling. Not distance education, immersive learning.

I think I post one of these virtual school posts every year. Maybe next year, it will be a different story. I’d enroll my kid day one. He’s playing tank.

How to teach with Minecraft in an hour

Somewhere around midnight yesterday, I updated and revisted Minecraft after reading about the latest updates. I’ve been there before, and to be honest, didn’t put enough time into it.

Let me explain why Minecraft is a breakthough moment in gaming. Firstly it’s really simple, block based, lego-like and very 8 bit nostalgia. Secondly, it’s not just a game, it’s a virtual world where, if you learn to make things (from zero instructions), you can create almost anything in an open world.

But this world is a game, so you can get killed, have to solve problems and receive rewards. When night draws in the world is filled with zombies and other creatures with the single-minded purpose of killing you.

Secondly, it’s multi-player and requires a community to fill the game with meaning. How it works will probably defeat most adults in under a minute. If anything, Minecraft demonstrates, more than any other game – the gulf between how kids (and gamers) solve problems and how the rest do (or can’t).

He’res the thread from Twitter today – there’s no doubt that Minecraft is being seen as a useful game, and perhaps a great way for those on the edge of  “do I?” to jump in.

So Mr5 started playing and was eaten by a zombie. Mr10 informs him, he didn’t build a shelter. I had no idea Mr10 even knew about Minecraft. It turns out Mr10 knows a lot about it, despite never playing it. A salient reminder, kids have declarative knowledge that’s useful.

So Mr 5 asks “whats a shelter”, but Mr10 struggles to describe it in a way Mr5 needs, resorting to grabbing the mouse and showing him. Yet more evidence, that despite never playing the game, he’s sees showing others as the solution, not talking about it.

Mr5 is still a bit lost on the idea, but really keen to avenge his earlier death on a zombie or two. So Mr10 grabs the lego and demonstrates the concept of a shelter. (see illustrations). Now before I sign off this post, let’s look at what just happened. I read something I knew something of and downloaded the game around midnight. Between breakfast and soccer (about an hour) there’s a Twitter conversation. During soccer a bunch of other people have more conversations. When I get back, Mr10 makes a model in a few minutes and Mr5 is zombie proof and asking more questions.

It really makes me wonder how a physical space can ever hope to be as relevant – if what people are doing is attempting to solve problems. Essentially in this case – making sense of what will no doubt appear to most teachers to be ‘stupid’. More importantly, going from ‘what’s this’ to massively productive took less than an hour. Remind me again why people is offices spend months and years debating what it is we all need to do to teach and learn?

Zombie Proof Shelter

Non-Zombie Proof Shelter

Update to this morning’s post: It’s not 4.00pm and I’ve been Crafting most of the day. Getting bored of single player, I’m not hosting the game as a world in a VPN Network of a Mac, so the kids are can now collaborate in one game, not two single players. So after about 4 hours play, Mr10 and Mr5 are now in the same world.

It was pretty easy to set up, the server .jar is pretty easy to run on OSX from Terminal, but you’ll need to port map if you’re using a router to the mac you’re using.

Code of Everand

This is an interesting, and nicely styled browser MMO called Everand. It has been developed by the Department for Transport in the UK, to engage children making the transition from Primary to Secondary school, on the topic of road safety. The aim is that players will improve their road safety behaviour and apply what they have learned in the game, to the real world as a learned response. Maybe it is just me, but the UK and Scotland seem to be kicking some great game based learning initiatives right now. This one is free play with a ‘chat’ style system that is well thought out, with mini-games and friend-system. There is a level system, rep system, spells, powers and abilities … all the ingredients needed for for engaged learning, not content shoveling. Just image how easy it would have been for them to make an eLearning blah … instead this.