Pondering higher ed and the future

Scholarly Critique #6

sc 6

       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!

Ethics: Who draws the line in the sand?


Learning Reflection:  How ethics comes into play in the classroom.

For anyone who may not have read the Ward Game, here is a link to a Vimeo movie that describes it.

ethics 1I have never considered how dramatic the use of gaming in school could affect students attitudes.  As a last ditch effort to get kids to learn and stay motivated their senior year, a game came to the rescue!  This specific game was talked about extensively in Paul Darvasi’s article The Ward Game: How McMurphy, McLuhan and MacGyver Might Help Free Us from McEducation.  I was immediately taken aback when they spoke, in this article, about handing out money (to buy school supplies) to children as a reward for good behavior.  Teachers were at that point grasping at straws trying to get the students to want to learn.   I found the first half of this article to be a surprising look at an education system that had for all intents and purposes given up.  I am by no means blind to America’s failing education system, but to read this authors words in print resonated with me.

ethics 3Ethic’s has not been something that I have thought about much when it comes to education. I would attribute this to me not being in the physical walls of a school.  Working in higher education has provided me a different experience than that of a teacher.  The decisions a teacher makes on what they are “able to do” in a classroom has not been something I have had much experience with.  I have in the past worked with children with disabilities, but for the most part these were individuals who were deaf or many whom had cognitive delays.  There is enormous restrictions on physical touching but not much else.

ethics 4According to Darvasi, “In the case of The Ward Game, the inclusion of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators is also an artistic decision that expresses an important theme in the novel (p.80 2016).

Nothing can prepare you for some real world circumstances.  However, the game did an excellent job of referencing the book that was being taught taught.  In this instance, I think the teacher’s response to an obvious problem of “senoritis” was completely justified.  The teacher towards the end of his article seemed to be questioning his decisions.  I wouldn’t have even thought twice about if it was ethically okay to play this type of game with the students.  I would enjoy diving deeper into this topic as this end of this class is in sight.
ethics 2When it comes to gaming in education, who could possibility be in charge of determining what ethics lines are crossed?  I am not sure who would be the authority on this. Would it be parents, students, or administrators of school districts?  When interacting with my affinity space in Minecraft Edu, I feel I am connecting with those who could potentially weigh in on this.  Highlighting the positive results when playing games in the classroom could only be talked about among this specific group of educators who use it on a daily basis.

I am encouraged and relieved to see this Minecraft group come together to speak about something with such passion.  Not only that, they are willing to share their knowledge in what works in their specific classroom.  Although I cannot apply all of the things I learn in these Tweet chats to my direct workplace, educating people across all types of backgrounds is something I do on a daily basis.  It is because of educators like Paul Darvasi, that there is still hope to reach even those students who may struggle with staying focused.  Kudos to a job well done!

Works Cited