Liveblogging the GLS Conference: Friday

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Day three of my notes from the Games, Learning, Society Conference!

After the jump: A lot of notes.
Keynote: Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology: The Digital Revolution and Schooling in America
  • Gee: "People are smart, but they are stupid once they're in institutions."
  • If you're inside the design process, you can't afford wholesale destruction.  You have to make do with what you have.  If you're outside the design process, you can give a thumbs up or thumbs down.
  • Talk goals: history of how schooling = learning.  the hopes of a technological revolution.
  • Knowledge as a rare commodity - with the ephemerality of knowledge throughout history, if you didn't pass it on, it was lost.  So we had methods for transfer of knowledge: apprenticeship and rote (repeat back) 'learning'.
  • "high schools are the weakest link - the rationale for learning in high schools is pretty shaky for the people in them, still."
  • Loose coupling model (between kindergarten, graded schools, high schools, vocational schools/apprenticeships, colleges, universities... makes the system adaptable, but resists changes to the core technologies.  (why?)
  • Burden of making people better, the hope of improvement, has shifted from churches in teh 17th century to schools in the 20th.
  • 1950s: Gardner, The Mind's New Science - computers as the source of the cognitive revolution in the 50's because you could model complex systems.
  • 1980s: Papert, etc. in 1980s *could* allow a personal version of that revolution - by allowing students to make dynamic representations.
  • Larry Cuban: Computers: Oversold and Underused.
  • The result of the 90's investment isn't the programs, the artifacts of the grants, it's GLS, the people that resulted.
  • Technology percolated, it just started to happen around school.  1.5M homeschooled students.  Virtual school, virtual charter, workplace learning,
    social networks, video games.
  • Why?
    • easy answers - lack of will, skill, or politics. too pat for institutions.
    • hard answers - technologies for learning vs. learners. (historic link to burden for improvement?)
  • public responsibility for access to schooling has become ingrained.  Brown: access to institution is not access to education.  War on poverty.  With investment comes accountability.  call for accountability became bipartisan as people want to argue and defend.  ADA.  Discussion shifts from access to schooling to outcomes.
  • NCLB: idea that standards and accountability will lead to outcomes.
  • accountability: WINSS.  NCLB has completely transformed administration - and made it conservative - only what is proven to work.
  • NCLB leads to common textbooks, common terminology (so they can compare and collaborate).  Low-risk solutions.
  • Compare: learning vs. learners.
    • schools adapt technologies to guarantee learning; out of school teck focuses on learners.
    • high-yield strategies vs. customization strategies.
    • reliable vs. eclectic
    • tested consequence of means vs. learning as a happy consequence of means.
    • (something) vs. adoptive models of implementation.
    • democratic model of learning vs. meritocratic model.
  • When you're in a game, you're defined by the rules/role of the game.  Who you are within the game and without the game becomes a topic for negotiation.
  • He's come up with a new argument against outcomes as a standard for policy success!
  • The drive for data is ambivalent: we want to understand the system; but we don't want to fetishize the data.  Response: it's about the level of customization - data enables customization, or "play", flexibility within the system.  We want to move it down the system toward the learner.
  • Do we really believe in educational system, still?  Yes: still biggest investment over roads, prisons, etc.  Look at WI data.
  • Could there be a game of being a school superintendant?  Rich is still uncomfortable with the generality of a superintendant's tools.  He's worried that a game would proliferate the bad methods rather than critique them.
  • What does a tool for learner look like?!
  • Increased documentation of high school dropouts ... his hunch is that that's directly due to NCLB.  
Session 1: Gaming the Future of Science Learning
  • AR games and science learning
    • They're thinking of "being and becoming", just like the Q2L.
    • We want to move from "effects on the learner" to meaning.  The best teachers are certain of their pedagogy and work in non-routine environments; the worst are uncertain (follow fads) in a routine environment.  Good to have teacher encouraging a 'growth mindset' at all levels.
    • That all works for good project managers, too.  ;)
    • AR game: wander the forest, meet the hawk, the cottonwood, have them all argue their case for ruling the forest?
    • Used MIT's Outdoor AR Editor (~5 yrs old) - AR Game Builder
    • Games tend to fall into "tour the town" or CYOA.  Can we get into a broader set of games?
    • Schools don't alway allow googling for images.
  • StarLogoTNG
    • StarLogo TNG website, resources
    • They want all students (not just science focused kids) to get systems, key popular issues.
    • Primary goal is a good one: Get kids to 'thnk scientifically" - use the tools of scientists and to develop the habits of mind of scientists.
    • They use a 'black box/glass box' metaphor for software.
    • Have students create a piece similar to an art piece - makes them abstract what's important.  Programming isn't the best tool for full reproduction.
    • They used game difficulty level design as performance assessment - in order to design to a specific difficulty, they have to understand the systems in play.
    • Give students a level with parameters, and ask them to balance the level.  The player will be a bunny that needs to meet others and get to safety; balancing factors in the fire's spread determines the difficulty of the level.
  • Programming and Game-building and Game-play
    • How to design a course where game-building occurs throughout the year?
    • Shout-out to diSessa, A (2000).  Changing Minds: Computers, Learning and Literacy. Cambridge MA: MIT Press
    • First challenge - program ducks to seek high ground in a small environment.
    • Another challenge - observe agents to see whether you can figure out their rules.
    • After showing kids how in the virtual world a set of rules (code) can direct the motion of an object/agent, bring it back to physics - how the set of rules (laws of motion) can describe and explain motion in the physical world.
    • Engineering Design vs. Scientific method of play vs. science in play
      • play/start
      • design vs. observe vs. observe/collect data
      • build vs. generate strategies vs. generate questions/ideas
    • The game ends up working as an excellent context for the science learning. They need to know how acceleration works.
    • Okay, seriously, folks: just make your screen the projector's screen.  Print your notes if you need to.
    • They have the kids make blogs throughout the units. !!!
    • Frustration + motivation = incorporation of analysis and reasoning into a process of trial and error
    • Takes a week to really bring the teachers in ... and its often the second year before they really do more than dip their toe into the water with the activity
  • This session was a really good set of case studies for all of this games/learning stuff in real classrooms.
  • OTB: On the Backchannel
    • This was just the awards for the game, and I was helping to video record and take photos, so I'll need to write up my thoughts more fully soon.
  • Grand Theft Childhood? Making Sense of Teenagers' Responses to Violent Videogames  - Lawrece Kutner, Ph.D.
    • Credit Mobilier scandal of 1873, when Comstock led raids on pornography. Comstock went after the "dime novel" (which often focused on independent women).
    • Horatio Alger as the next example.  Then gangster movies and the Hays Code.  Then crime and horror comics in the 40s and 50s (nevermind the Tales from the Crypt stories about victimized people rising from the dead for retribution). What Parents Don't Know About Comic Books by Frederic Wertham.
    • Nice quote from Bill O'Reilly perfectly paralleling Wertham.
    • 1200 surveys, 500 kids. Surveys were opt-out (everyone unless requested).  Assessed exposure: "list 5 games you've played a lot in the past 6 months".  Over half the games listed were played by only one child. (LONG Tail!)  Not a single kid listed 'thin' violent games like Manhunt or _______. 
    • Boys played: GTA: 44%, Madden: 34, Halo 3: 22.  Girls played: Sims, then GTA, then Supermario, Solitaire, and Tycoon games.  One finding: boys go on missions in GTA, girls use it as a sandbox.
    • Few (5-6%) play with parents a lot; 11-19% with strangers over the internet.  Boys were more likely to play with friends than girls... contrary to pundits or gender stereotype.
    • Why?  Over half said creative activities.  Kids listed plot - pure violence wasn't in it.
    • Emotional management - 62% of boys play to relax; ~23% for emotional regulation - forget problems, get anger out, feel less lonely.  These kids were much more likely to play a lot, defining an at-risk group who use games to self-medicate.
    • FBI figures show that youth violence has *declined* over the last 20 years while coverage has increased greatly.
    • ESRB ratings don't mention the *goal* of the violence in games
    • Kids who played M rated games (at 12-14 yrs old) were much more likely to play alone.  A console or computer in the bedroom correllated to the M rating players.
    • There's no evidence for links between games and major violence; but link for low-grade common violence.  There is a correlation (not a causal relationship) with low-grade violence: more M-rated titles corresponds to more incidents of violence.  For girls, those who play daily were more likely to bully and fight.
    • Statistical prediction cannot show causation - but it's a marker of risk, especially among girls.
    • Boys enjoyed fantasies of power, fame, and respect, but were clear on fantasy vs. reality.
    • What appealed to boys (action, challenge, variety, realistic environments, tests of behavior and consequence) were more common in violent games.
    • Boys would give same concerns about younger siblings playing violent games that parents give about them.  Boys were most concerned not about violence but 'swears'.
    • "What shouldn't you play at 13?" "The Sims, because ...." awkwardness "... they kiss."
    • "What's more terrifying to boys at age 13 than kissing a girl?  Zombies are easy."
    • Another marker: feeling worse after playing.  Most kids feel more relaxed when done with a game.
    • Major potential benefits of games: inspire new interests.
    • Proven benefits w/ computers and games for kids with disabilities (empowerment) and kids with ADD/ADHD (hypothesis: non-judgemental).
    • Virginia shooter: mentioned twice in police report: kid *didnt* play, only played Sonic in high school.
    • Couch potato factor: kids who play realistic sports games actually get more exercise than others.  Not true for other games, either pos. or neg.
    • Wonderful 'listening for" anecdote.

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This page contains a single entry by Scott Price published on June 12, 2009 10:18 AM.

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