Where it all began....

I started blogging in 2003 to share my lesson plans with other teachers. I'm still posting regularly!

If it’s all online, what am I going to teach?

Posted by Bill in Educational Tech on Saturday, April 29, 2006 (8 years ago) Permalink



When I was presenting in New York, a person nervously asked “if I put everything online, what am I going to teach?”

Heh. Good question.

What would I teach if I didn’t have to teach basic facts or concepts?  What would my classroom look like if my students had already reviewed my lecture notes or the lesson?  If they had already listened to podcasts, reviewed the class wiki, and read the notes from previous classes?  What would my teaching look like?

I’d say I would be doing what I love; challenging kids to really think.  If we understood the basics of the civil right movement, we could begin to debate the similarities and differences between civil rights of the 60’s and the illegal immigration movement today.  Students would be able to engage in a higher-level discourse. Classtime would be spent communicating rather than lecturing. Students would come into the class already knowing basic facts and concepts.

The prospect for many teachers is positively terrifying.  Giving up control, giving up power, and becoming a facilitator.  At a recent talk by Hall Davidson, he stated that attendance rates dropped in basic and survey-level courses. 

This question, I think, moves the very heart of adopting new technologies in the classroom; teachers are afraid of change, afraid of change, afraid of change.

As my friend Walter McKenzie is apt to say “you have to let go of the old ways”.



Subversive technology integration

Posted by Bill in Educational Tech on Friday, April 28, 2006 (8 years ago) Permalink



I’ll fix your printer and tell you about new technology.

This falls under the “whatever it takes” school of technology integration.  Teachers are often strapped for time, poorly trained for technology, and often struggle to understand how technology can work.

So when we are called into a classroom to fix an annoying technology problem, we have a temporary open door.  The teacher is focused and energized on technology.  Despite the feelings might be negative, once we have fixed the problem, we have an opportunity to introduce a new idea.

Without belaboring the point, this is also why IT IS SO IMPORTANT YOUR TECH SUPPORT PEOPLE ARE NICE.  Teachers often seek the “teachable moment” As instructional technology coordinators, we need to also find the “teachable moments” for our teachers.  When teachers encounter a mean-spirited technical support person (or a very lazy one), it does nothing but hinder, hamper, impede, and obstruct successful use of technology in your school.



Evidence, evidence!

Posted by Bill in Games in education on Tuesday, April 25, 2006 (8 years ago) Permalink



David McDivitt has some very interesting initial statistics from his world history class.

David is a results-focused educator, and his voice is valuable in the games in education space.



State of the blogosphere

Posted by Bill in Blogging on Tuesday, April 18, 2006 (8 years ago) Permalink



Leave it to good ole technorati  to come up with some fantastic statistics for their regular state of the blogosphere!

From the post…

# Technorati now tracks over 35.3 Million blogs
# The blogosphere is doubling in size every 6 months
# It is now over 60 times bigger than it was 3 years ago
# On average, a new weblog is created every second of every day
# 19.4 million bloggers (55%) are still posting 3 months after their blogs are created
# Technorati tracks about 1.2 Million new blog posts each day, about 50,000 per hour



Holiday

Posted by Bill in Personal on Monday, April 17, 2006 (8 years ago) Permalink



Hi folks!

On holiday for the next week, so posts might be few and far between. 

Warmly,

Bill



meta-analysis shows games work

Posted by Bill in Games in education on Thursday, April 13, 2006 (8 years ago) Permalink



Courtesy of the Serious Games mailing list this interesting study looks at some promising evidence for the roles of games and learning.  From the abstract…

“Empirical findings from 43 studies concerning learning, costs of learning, and transfer of learning from computer games and game-like simulations are reviewed and discussed. These findings suggest that games and simulations can improve cognitive processes and that motivation and immersion are factors in these improvements. The findings suggest positive transfer to real life tasks when the tasks required by games and simulations are similar. Cost arguments for simulations can be strengthened by the addition of game-like qualities to simulations. Limits to the generality of these conclusions, issues in research on games and simulations, and suggestions for further research are discussed.”



Richard Bartle on Games and Learning

Posted by Bill in Games in education on Monday, April 10, 2006 (8 years ago) Permalink



For those of you who don’t know Richard Bartle, I suggest you read his exceptional book, Designing Virtual Worlds.  It’s a well-earmarked favorite of mine.  Richard wrote one of the first text-based multiplayer games on the internet, MUD. 

Richard recently posted a blog entry about Games and Learning. Although he comments on “educational games” (which he seems to frown upon), he makes some good points about how games work in learning.

Richard says “Games work by teaching incidentally, that is by missing the point;”.  This is exactly what I see.  When kids play Age of Mythology, they are not memorizing Greek, Egyptian, and Norse gods. But if they know about the gods they will be more successful.  If you were playing a scenario based in the ocean, would you pray to Hades or Poseidon?  In order to be successful in a game, you need to master the skills in the game necessary to win.  I think this has also been called “stealth learning”. 

This is a central idea to COTS games in education;  kids have a great time, and learn as they are playing.  So it’s not a “direct instruction” thing - it’s an “incidental learning” thing.  And with good instructional design (when a teacher reflects with children about the lessons learned) games become a particularly potent learning tool.

Thanks Richard!



Why dual booting Apple computers are a big deal in games in education

Posted by Bill in Educational Tech ,  Games in education on Wednesday, April 05, 2006 (8 years ago) Permalink



Apple has just announced boot camp, a simple dual booting utility for inte-based Macs.

As a public educator, with a school filled with Apple computers, this is very encouraging news. 

No longer are we stuck in a world of Apple OR Windows.  Now we have a fantastic opportunity to use the incredible tools which come with OS X (iLife , iTunes and all the beautiful OS X software) and the great games available on Windows.  Simply fantastic. 

This is great news.  OS X is reallly quite superior in so many ways - ease of use, available software, unix roots, iLife, etc…. However, the one area OS X has been lacking is mainstream games.  Now with dual booting, there is really no reason not to buy a Macintosh.  I would love to use Muzzy Lane’s great game Making History but alas, no luck on OS X.

With OS X’s windows-friendly Server managing the two platforms is a cinch…kids can even access their documents on a shared resource!  It’s great news for education folks who are looking for the best of both worlds! 

The only drawback?  OS X users /will/ need to be very careful of the virii and spyware on Windows boxes now!!!!

Edit: Raph Koster asks: are Mac Games going to die?  I say: probably.



Serious games conference notes available

Posted by Bill in Games in education on Tuesday, April 04, 2006 (8 years ago) Permalink



Fresh from the serious games summit at the Games Developer Conference, conference notes are now available!

These presentations represent some superb thinking in the serious games sphere.  Worth a look.



Google RSS news reader

Posted by Bill in Blogging on Monday, April 03, 2006 (8 years ago) Permalink



image


Of course Google would do something this cool.  Goolge new reader is a web-based RSS reader. Seems pretty cool.



Podcasts feed finally working!

Posted by Bill in Games in education on Sunday, April 02, 2006 (8 years ago) Permalink



Thanks to the hard work of Sue (who is a first-rate miracle maker) my RSS podcast feed is working.  I’ve only two episodes right now, but I’ll be adding more - usually weekly.  I podcast on games in education.

I suggest you use iTunes to manage your podcasts. 

URL to the podcast page is: http://www.mackenty.org/index.php/podcasts
URL to podcast feed is here: http://www.mackenty.org/index.php/podcasts/rss_podcasts

Enjoy, and thanks again Sue!



Blogging and eFolios

Posted by Bill in Blogging ,  Educational Tech on Wednesday, March 29, 2006 (8 years ago) Permalink



Got this great question about eFolio today…

I am not sure but I think your level of blog might be used with students instead of efolio?  Do you have any knowledge of these and/or suggestions? I’d like to pilot these with the 9th and 12th grade classes I teach.

For reference, here’s some stuff I’ve written about blog. Blogging is a tremendously valuable tool, but we need to deliberately design a lesson around the instructional goals…

Blogging and education part 1
Blogging and education part 2
How do I use blog in my classroom

Beginning blog does not allow for really dynamic content, which is necessary for good efolio management and presentation.  Blogger, for example, allows uploading pictures and sound, but there aren’t any galleries or file management tools.  If I wanted to add powerpoint presentations, videos, and lots of “zing”, I would be limited to simple expressions and site organization.

More advanced blog solutions (Expression Engine and Movable Type) offer tons of plug ins and extras.  These extras make blog an exceptional tool to use an eFolio.  Keep in mind it’s ease of use which really makes blogs a good choice.  If I want to add or edit to my eFolio (blog) it should be as simple and straight forward as possible.

The advantage blog hold over eFolio is RSS. Anytime my blog is updated, it is automatically propagated to aggregate sites, and to whomever is subscribed to my RSS feed.

The value of eFolio and online portfolios cannot be understated; we have a “live” constantly updated assessment record.  With multi-media, we have a tremendous opportunity to showcase learning!



Ah, Lem - Do widzenia

Posted by Bill in Personal on Tuesday, March 28, 2006 (8 years ago) Permalink



image

As an avid science fiction fan I was saddened to learn Stanislaw Lem has died.

His writing was particularly succint.  Very to the point about things, in a beautiful way.

Do widzenia == goodbye in Polish



The time has come, the danger is real.  It’s time to ban pencils

Posted by Bill in Educational Tech on Thursday, March 23, 2006 (8 years ago) Permalink



Courtesy of Education World comes this great article from Doug Johnson.

It’s a tounge-in-cheek reply to the folks who don’t want to use iPods in the classroom. 

From the article:

  1. A student might use a pencil to poke out the eye of another student.
  2. A student might write a dirty word or, worse yet, a threatening note to another student, with a pencil.
  3. One student might have a mechanical pencil, making those with wooden ones feel bad.
  4. The pencil might get stolen.
  5. Pencils break and need repairing all the time.
  6. Kids who have pencils might doodle instead of working on their assignments or listening to the teacher.

Great stuff.  We should be teaching our kids how to use technology, not building a wall around technology! Doug asks this sterling question:

When are we going to learn to use the kids’ devices for their benefit rather than invent excuses to outlaw them?



Want a great blog?  do this…

Posted by Bill in Blogging on Thursday, March 23, 2006 (8 years ago) Permalink



I’ll be accepting an award tommorrow for my blog.  Thanks again to eSchool news. 

I wanted to include the criteria the team used to evaluate a good blog. I don’t know who thought of these, but these are truly exceptional criteria fir running an efective blog:

1. Personality: Is there a clear personality? Do
you feel like you know the writer? Is there a feel-
ing of intimacy that might be missing from main-
stream media or other forms of communication?

2. Usefulness: Is the information useful or enjoy-
able to read? Did it make you think, or laugh, or
click? Are there handy links to other places?

3. Writing style: Is the writing in the blog snappy,
crisp, and engaging to read? Or is it long-winded,
dull, convoluted, or sloppy? Worse, is it a sales
pitch disguised as a blog? Or just news briefs or
bullet-point items without any fresh perspective,
analysis, or insight?

4. Usability and design: Is the typeface easy
to read? Can you find links to archives? Is the
writing concise and easily skimmable?

5. Frequency: Is the blog updated regularly, and
with sufficient frequency? Or are there long, ran-
dom periods of inactivity between posts?

6. Relevancy: Does the blog stay on topic, and
is it relevant to the category in which it is being
judged? Or is it all over the map in terms of
content?

7. Interactivity: Does the blog incorporate video
or audio in an engaging, interactive way? Does it
offer a forum for readers to respond, or use other
features to help develop a sense of community?

8. Fulfillment of purpose:How well does the
blog fulfill its intended mission?

9. Appropriateness: Does the blogger use lan-
guage and etiquette that is appropriate to a pro-
fessional educational setting? (i.e., no inappropri-
ate personal references, etc.)

10. Would you revisit: Is it useful or engaging
enough for you to visit it again someday? Or will
you forget it the minute after you vote?



Time Magazine: are kids too wired for their own good?

Posted by Bill in Educational Tech on Wednesday, March 22, 2006 (8 years ago) Permalink



Great article in Time magazine (March 27 2006) about how media-saturated kids might not be such a good thing….

...as an instructional technology guy, I often wonder, how much is too much?  I see a place for technology in kids lives, and I also see the value of curling up with a good book.  The article, written by Wendy Cole, Sonja Steptoe, and Sarah Sturmon, is full of great quotes and observations.  some of my favorites:

“Decades of research ...indicate that the quality of one’s output and depth of thought deteriorate as one attends to ever more tasks…”  - In other words, we do better when we focus on one thing. But in todays world, how often do we need depth? I think when we we have acces to so much broad and deep information, we are more focused on how we use information wisely.  This is the great teaching challenge we face in 2006.

“Koonz and Turkle believe that todays students are less tolerant of ambiguity than the students they taught in the past. ‘They demand clarity’ says Koontz.  They want identifiable good guys and bad guys, which she finds problematic in teaching complex topics…”

As a self-confessed “extreme moderate” this worries me quite a bit.  There is quite a bit of grey in the world - we need young people to understand nuanced situations and be comfortable in ambiguity (this is why I love the Episcopal church, by the way).

“For all the handwringing about Generation M, technology is not really the problem…the problem…is what you are not doing if the electronic movement grows to large…”

In classic Time magazine fashion,  there are some wonderful, hands-on tips for parents (taken from Dr. Edward Hallowell’s great book CrazyBusy : Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap! Strategies for Coping in a World Gone ADD)

Parents should:

See for yourself what it’s all about. Get on IM. Download an MP3, Play a video game. Create a MYspace account, let your kids be your guide, but talk to them about how to use these technologies wisely. 

Set limits, monitor content and teach “techno manners”.  For everyone:  no cell phones at the dinner table. No playing video games while someone is trying to talk to you.  Np ignoring mom and dad when they come home because they are glued to a video screen.

Look for the good.  Search for what’s positive and innovative in the ways in which your children are using and adapting o the new technology.  Try to imagine how it could be used to enhance relationships and learning. 

Take time to hangout with your kids.  DO mundane, non-technological things .  Wash the car together, play ping-pong, debate politics, take them out for ice-cream (no ipods or cell phones).  Spend time together with eyes and ears available to them. 

All in all a great article, and a good treatment of the subject.



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I'm the director of technology at the American School of Warsaw. I support the effective use of technology in schools and classrooms. I am also keen on the role of games in education. More than you ever wanted to know about Bill

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