3DGameLab:Play This, Learn That: What is Making History II

After reviewing various media on Making History II, it is clear that there is educational value to this game if presented in the right way.  I can see students using Intel’s Visual Ranking prior to playing the game to determine or think about what factors will influence success during World War II.

Pitch for use:

Students will take on the role of a nation during the WWII era.  The decisions that students make bout the economy, military, and allies will determine their nation’s success in the simulation.  This virtual look at real world situations will aid students in really understanding the role that the economy played in leading up to major world events of the time.  Their decisions may even change the outcomes of these events in a virtual space.

EdTech 531 – Wandering Through Virtual Worlds

After spending some time exploring the virtual spaces for this weeks quest assignment, I am inspired to find ways to integrate these spaces into my instruction.  The Pathfinders Office in the Jibe micro worlds is a collection of spaces that have wonderful interactive features.  Personally, I liked the memory game in the landing space.  I can see using a similar feature with word definition cards in a virtual world as a study resource.  Being able to explore prior to our class meeting was helpful in learning how to navigate in the virtual world.  It also gave me the opportunity to really take my time and look at the virtual spaces.  The serenity of the lake and waterfall area to the more fantastical elements in the landing area were like something out of Alice in Wonderland.  In the warehouse location, I could see additional applications for creating a space where students could be inside a computer and the parts would spin enabling students to view it from all sides much like the elements in this space.  Once we met as a group in the virtual space, it was fun to explore with others and experience the world with a populous actively in play.  Using the virtual space for virtual PE of a game of sardines was amazing.  I still would like to know where my classmates hide during our game.  Using the space to take a look at the parts of a space shuttle was pretty amazing as well.  From an identity point of view, I love the ability to customize the avatar, in this program you don’t have as many options as in Second Life, it still allows for customization in creating a virtual identity.

The Kongregate World world was particularly impressive from a graphics point of view.  This particular virtual space was creating using Unity.  Unity is a program that has been used to create one of my favorite game apps, The Room.  This program allows for the creation of a detailed 3-D immersive virtual space.  In the case of Kongregate World, I love the way the grass sways in the breeze and appears so realistic.  Personally, I liked the navigation features better in the Jibe micro world.  I found the speed at which the avatar move to be rather slow.  I didn’t sign up for the full version; rather I choose to explore the free space.  There may be more customization in the full version when you sign up for an account.

I’m looking forward to continuing the adventure into exploring more virtual spaces as I venture into Minecraft this week as a collaborative space.

EdTech 531: Blowing Up The Gradebook

By no means am I new to this notion of “Blowing Up the Gradebook” presented by Dr. Chris Haskell in the video.  Over time the concept of learning of the sake of learning has intrigued me more as an educational philosophy then the first time I heard this concept presented.  As Rick Wormeli has discussed in several of his education books, the concept of what is fair for one student doesn’t mean that it is equal or the same path that his or her peers need to follow.  Students should get what they need when they need it in order to be successful.  However, the current educational system that many teachers are “encouraged” to function in doesn’t always accommodate that model in a fashion that is manageable or accessible for all students.

I agree with Dr. Haskell to a degree with the concept of at home practice being a challenge for many students.  The home environment can greatly impact a student’s ability to be successful in at home practice without access to teacher assistance.  With stated in the ideal world where there was no digital divide, this would be an excellent opportunity to utilize the concept of a flipped classroom.  Where students can view teacher instruction, modeling, or acquire background information from a video in order to prepare them for in class practice with access to the classroom teacher while they are working on academic practice activities.

I have found that in a quest based model students that have choice of assignments and point goals strive to achieve greater than if they just had paper and pencil homework.  In fact, the first time I launched 3D Game Lab in my social studies classes I couldn’t stop students from completing practice work.  The concept of choice and unlocking new pathways had students addicted to something new – Learning.  Instead of struggling with students to practice social studies concepts, they were asking for more work and even giving suggestions of assignments that could be incorporated into the quest based system.  Empower students to aid in exploring their interests and even letting them aid in the quest based assignment creation lead to amazing Ziggurats of Ancient Mesopotamia recreated in Minecraft with video tours.  Even when I switched my position mid-year to become the computer science teacher, students continued to quest despite the fact that my replacement wasn’t running the quest based model.
I agree that the metrics of schools needs to change.  However, the change game in education is a slow process.  There is a mentality among people that education they way it was for the previous generation worked fine so there isn’t a need to change it.  I know as a parent that I am perpetually leveraging choice for my own children.  They feel more empowered when there are options.  There is a greater sense of ownership when you choose the path to the outcomes.  The path of the learning can still be carefully crafted with prerequisites prior to unlocking new learning opportunities and challenges.  We want our students to be lifelong learners that continue to learn beyond their school years.  We need to find ways to maximize engagement in the learning process and student choice is a very powerful component as is flipping classroom instruction.

“IP11: Chris Haskell – Blowing up the Grade Book.” YouTube. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Aug. 2015. <http://youtu.be/atMlkVgzx-Y&gt;.


What an excellent idea! Using Google Forms to make a quiz that provides instant feedback to students.  I love that if they select the incorrect answer it takes them to the correct answer.  There is such unlimited potential for this in the classroom.  The only thing I found to be a challenge with this assignment was that I wanted to make the answer choices pictures and was unable to.  As a teacher in an elementary school, we have several students that are struggling readers.  I wanted to try to make the quiz as visual as possible having students select the picture of the state flower rather than the word sequence.  However, I was unable to make this option work.  I intent upon expanding the quiz to add more content to it.  Right now, it is just a brief 3 question assessment practice.  As the computer teacher, I actually am thinking of having students create the quiz from the content they are learning in their social studies class.  They can that do each other’s quizzes to see how they all do.

Check out the quiz and give it a try.

3DGL – Toys that Make Worlds: Will Wright – Quest Reflection


After viewing the above Ted Talk I have drawn several conclusions.  Games are a revolutionary in their potential to provide the user with continuous feedback.  When we give students creative license to create their own planet in a digital environment we open up so many possibilities for learning.  In the case of the Spores by Will Wright he not only creates a simulation game but he gives the players amazing customization.  He allows students to create their game characters or sprites in order to create new species.  The players in Spores can see the effects of overpopulation and changes in environment happen over time.  Granted in the game the time span is more rapid than real world scenarios, however, if the player wants their plants to survive over time they will adjust their schema of successful game play to create new meaning from the feedback the game provides.

Individuals that play games are constantly evaluating their environment, data, and player interactions.  Players learn from their mistakes or failures and persevere to work towards winning the game.   They do this despite failures that may occur during game play of creating their own worlds, creatures, and playing with environmental elements.