Pondering higher ed and the future

Scholarly Critique #6

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       According to Rani Kanthan and Jenna-Lynn Senger, “the ultimate success of digital games as a medium for learning will depend on their adoption and implementation by teachers. (p. 141 2011)”

sc 5The article I selected this week was based on my desire to read about how games and learning ties into higher education.  While participating in #MinecraftEdu chats on a weekly basis, I am constantly wondering how this type of learning translates to older individuals.

sc 4This morning I watched President Bruce Benson of the University of Colorado (CU) talk about the future of this institution.  -If anyone is interested in watching it, it was live on Facebook this morning.  The discussion, in regards to new programs, included the introduction and expansion of MOOC’s.   Soon, they will be used as credit granting classes, more than just the certificate programs that they are now.  The hope is to increase revenue (isn’t it always?).  I am all for it, but how do games and the use of technology fit into “our” future?

sc 2This study, although small in scale, analyzed midterm and final grades with first and second year under-graduate medical students in Canada.  Supplemental optional games were provided in addition to their course work.  A satisfaction survey immediately went out to determine their engagement and their feeling about the digital games after both the midterm and final exams.  What made these games unique was they were for both individual and group learning.  This would engage an even wider group of students than just choosing one or the other.  By capturing the interest of students working alone and in groups, there was more likely reliable data.

sc 1The authors of this article, succeeded at finding positive results when using games to learn. They also were able to find improved student satisfaction (based on the self-evaluation questioner).  This topic has been widely studied but pin pointing why these results occurred is more difficult to conclude.  It cannot be determined that the gaming was responsible for the improved academic performance.  There are external factors that could have been prevalent.  Also, when it comes to completing yes/no questioners, there is a certain degree of fuzzy area.  People’s opinions are subjective and at the end of the study, this is still just one piece of the puzzle.

If I were to design this game, I would attempt the make the self-evaluation questioner more robust.  Answering yes/no questions can only give you black and white answers.  I would encourage more open feedback.  I am surprised with such a small population surveyed, that the questions did not contain more options.  Expanding the survey could provide a clearer picture of the student’s perceived learning.

sc 3Based on the article highlighting the potential of supplementary game additions, I still wonder how CU plans to use technology (and specifically games) into the classroom.  I appreciate the mention of MOOC’s but I want to see a more concrete idea of its plans at the student level.  For an insider’s perspective, I know that CU has been trying to find ways to expand its online program to coincide with higher education trends.  I have not aside from the talk about MOOC’s recently, heard much about this push.  Time will tell where the University of Colorado will take us.

Works Cited


The Impact of Specially Designed Digital Games-Based Learning in Undergraduate Pathology and Medical Education  Rani Kanthan and Jenna-Lynn Senger; Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine 2011 135:1, 135-142


Say goodbye to static print materials

Flying pigs

As the weeks fly by, I am finally feeling like I am settling into my affinity space.  I cannot believe how much my opinion of Minecraft/MinecraftEdu has changed over the course of a few months.  At this point, my main interactions have been attending my weekly #MinecraftEdu chats and the occasional #games4ed involvement.  Also, the resources that I get from these provide plenty of information for me to soak up.

Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 6.25.02 PMI attended a #MinecraftEdu Tweetchat last week about Youtube Creation for Education.  I was correct in assuming this chat would talk about how to best use Youtube to leverage resources and to build your collaborative network.  Finally, I felt like I was doing something right (instead of someone directing me down the correct path several weeks later).  I have been using Youtube video’s to figure out all the Minecraft intricacies such as what to feed dogs to make them like you – raw porkchops, in case you are wondering.

The chat last week provided me a link once the Twitterchat began.  At first glance the critic in me thought it was advertising or spam.  I was surprised to see it took me to a website- participate.com.  I included a screenshot below if anyone reading this is interested in what it looks like.  Here was more of a chat friendly version of Tweetdeck.  This was MUCH easier to use than Tweetdeck when responding to people.
Screen Shot 2017-04-04 at 6.08.08 PM

I also participated in a chat yesterday that had to do with how Minecraft can visually represent ideas.  Although the concept of this seems obvious, there is so much that Minecraft has to offer that other games are not capable of.  There are physical limitations on Earth that can only be “perceived” by the use of technology.  A great example of this is traveling to space by use of virtual reality (or even in Minecraft).  The idea of a completely malleable world with pretty limited rules, can expand a student’s thought process beyond what they may have thought was possible.

Screen Shot 2017-04-11 at 6.49.43 PMNot only was the chat yesterday easier to engage in because I was able to use Participate, I also found a great new place to store resources.  There was even a side bar that track notifications.  Anytime someone tweeted me or reposted something I said, it would show up on the side.  This for me cut down on the hassle of trying to keep up with who responded to who.  Why, oh why, did I not discover this little gem weeks ago?!

I thought Tweetdeck was great, until I discovered Participate.  I learned by asking my fellow Tweeter’s how they track resources and they suggested getting a transcript of the conversation (clearly that have thought of everything).  You can even pick a certain time frame in which to track to chat.  All of these resources are living breathing documents.  I have come to appreciate the constant evolution of information out there.  It is a refreshing change to my current work environment where people are scared and resistant to change.

Mine 1Also, I was told I can get the options mentioned earlier (Participate) on my phone as well.  It would be even easier for me to participate on my cell phone in the future.  Previous to this, I have been using my Mac only.  While it has been difficult for me to learn so many different programs, it seems like each time I find one, it builds on another one I use and it is completely integrated.  Ah, the sweet ease of technology!

I am excited to be able to present this to the class in a week!

Minecraft the unknown world

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Engaging in Minecraft:  From excited to feeling out of my league.

For me, Minecraft has been a steep learning curve.  Right off the bat I was completely clueless how to play.  I suppose I was under the assumption that I could jump head first and play.  I downloaded the game on my Mac from Amazon for about 27$.  It was not intuitive downloading the game for a first timer.  I didn’t realize I was actually only getting a code to play the game.  I had to then take this code and register the game on Minecraft’s website (Mojang I believe).

MC 5The world of Minecraft began in a random blocky world.  This is probably one of the most boring and confusing starts to a game that I have ever played.  I apologize in advance if this offends any Minecraft gamers.  I think my lack of enthusiasm is mostly due downloading on a Mac computer, in hindsight. I figured this newer Mac would have good graphics and would be portable.  Unfortunately, I do not have a mouse or controller.  Warning: avoid this game for Mac’s if you are not a professional gamer!!!

After attempting to play this game for the second time, I realized there were tutorials on Mojang’s website.  The tutorials were not as helpful as I imagined but I did warm up to playing the game.  I can see how addicting this game can be.

MC 1Interacting with the Minecraft community may be even more fun than actually playing this game (for me).  I participated in my first #MinecraftEdu chat two nights ago.  Keep in mind this is my second Tweet chat ever.

Because of me misreading the time zone I was a bit late to the party.  Instead of just jumping into chat, I paged back to the beginning of the Tweet chat.  Okay, again for all of the newbies out there, this is NOT a great idea.  I spent so much time trying to catch up with the chat I missed out on a lot of the participation. { Insert Sigh }

MC 2I was behind was because I wasn’t exactly sure what the chat was about.  While attending next week’s #MinecraftEdu chat, I am logging on early and connecting more with people.  The chat this week pertained to use the use of narratives in teaching Minecraft.  I guess I wasn’t sure what to expect.  Speaking with individuals who are well versed in Minecraft Education can put things in perspective. week I am hoping to be able to participate more, until then I still feel completely out of place.

I have been searching for ways to connect with people are are experts in this game.  I found an article  “The top 10 @MinecraftEdu Educators to Follow”.  I was SO excited when I found out that a few of them were in the chat I was in.  This might not sound like the most exciting thing to the average person I realize (this is probably the nerd inside getting pumped up).

When I was told to find an affinity space to “join” I guess I was thinking I was going to be highly engaged in a game.  I find myself way more interested in this Minecraft Education side of it.  To me, this is where the magic is.  Here lies the sweet spot where learning and game play merge.  As for playing the game, I guess time will tell if it grows on me.

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