EdTech 531: SL Building Basics

After reviewing the building basic videos and understanding how prims (primitive objects) work together I constructed a simple lamp.  I pulled in a texture I had used in a previous course of a Tetris image to create a Tetris lamp.  Then placed it on a display block that I customized by pulling in an image created in Fireworks.

For simple objects, the process is relatively simple.  My particular item was comprised of two prims I linked together.  The tricky part was aligning them on the axis so they create a cohesive object from all angles.  Honestly, I’m not sure that I have this just right at this point, however, with practice I should be able to create more complex objects.

tetris lamp & display_001

I then tried to create a couch out of four prims. This was a much bigger challenge to construct and get to a place where I felt like it was a decent virtual object. I can’t imagine the time it takes to construct an entire structure. I found a Minecraft texture image online that I used to create my video game themed couch. This just might turn into a complete line of products with a video game theme to them.
Minecraft couch_001


EdTech 531: Minedraft

This particular assignment took a bit to problem solve what I wanted to create.  Once I had my preliminary design idea, I used Minedraft to map out what my structure would look like.  I went for a practical creation or recreation rather.  I decided to recreate the lab classroom I teach in at The Founders Academy.

The challenge as a relative newbie in this build that I ran into was creating computer monitors while still keeping the scale of he room.  Using the pictures on the wall was relatively easy.  Wherein the problem lies was in creating this same look on freestanding tables.  When all else fails, this teacher turned to the experts for this assignment.  None other than my students.  The amazing creative and resourceful individuals gave several suggestions to creating the effect I was looking for.  I settled on using glass to attach my pictures to get a sense and feel of computer monitors in a lab setting.  For the overhead lights in the room I used glow stone rather than using torch lighting.


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;.