26 September 2007
22 September 2007
Teachers on Neverwinter Nights
Labels: game authoring
19 September 2007
Scottish Learning Festival : Tall tales about mind and brain
- Myth: there is iron in spinach and it makes you strong. This came from a typo (decimal point error) in a scientific paper 130 years ago.
- Myth: We only use 15% of the brain. There is actually not spare capacity.
- Myth: playing Mozart to babies in the womb makes them more intelligent. There was an inconclusive small study which found a tiny effect which got magnified in the media.
- Myth: There are left and right hemispheres: one creative, the other logical. Hah! I knew we would get there. So don't bother trying to breathe through your left nostril to stimulate the creativity of your right brain. It won't work. Right-brain techniques for drawing or writing are based on an over simplification over split brain. There are some differences between left and right hemisphere but they are more symmetrical than you might have been led to believe. Right hemisphere enables us to direct attention (lesions here lead to neglect to things on the left part of the visual field) but doesn't have mysterious magical powers of creativity.
- Myth: your mind remembers everything which happened to you; memories are held in a filing system. Your brain reconstructs events according to belief systems or plausible associations. The mind is not a video camera.
- Myth: the full moon influences human behaviour. Policemen, nurses and teachers believe this but it ain't true.
The talk concludes on this lunar note. My opinion: entertaining, informative but not very much depth. I guess the take home message is for people to be more skeptical about neuroscience claims in education, but it would have been good to see specific claims debunked in more depth. Mind you, he freely admits that he doesn't have anything to contribute to educationalists - neuroscientists can learn from practicing teachers.Questions: a teacher asks about brain gym. The speaker has found no evidence to support it (compares it to acupunture), comes from mis-interpretation of the literature. Another teacher asks whether dyslexics are right brained. The speaker answers that there are many forms of dyslexia, and there is no particular link with the right hemisphere. Another teacher asks about thinking positive thoughts to make positive neural pathways, and that people should drink more water as the brain is 70% water. The speaker expresses his incredulity that people can believe the more bizarre claims. Sure, kids should drink more water he says but how much depends on how many toilets the school has. Hehe.
Learner Generated Contexts
Scottish Learning Festival
28 May 2007
Google Zeitgeist Europe: Digital Youth
Learner centred design: a grumpy view
BECTA Enhancing Learning Seminar
27 April 2007
Alice and the Sims
20 April 2007
Interaction Design and Children 2007 Keynote
14 April 2007
Making games is for everyone (Women in Games blog)
Labels: Women games
05 April 2007
Jargon of the week
- Creative disobedience. (From Inga Paterson at Abertay) It's a term used to describe what architects do when they defy the conventions of architectural space. Does it mean disobedience by not staying within the creative "rules" for generating new architecture? Or might it mean that the architects are being disobedient in some way, but at least they are doing so creatively? I'm not sure. I bet schools are just brimming with creative disobedience in the latter sense, but we need plenty more of it in the first sense. we should encourage the little children to explore and break design rules, and generally be inquisitive about them.
- Ontological innovation. (From Yishay Mor and Niall Winters). Ontology is the study of existence, the study of what is, and how things in the world can be categorised. How very grand! Ontological innovation is about discovering new categories of things in the world, which might explain better how the world works. Of course, educational research- particularly design-based research - is about discovering frameworks which help us better understand how people learn. (That's what I do). Imagine the conversation at the proverbial cocktail party:
"What do you do, Judy?"
"I am an ontological innovater"
"My,my. That must be an interesting line of work. What do you do?"
"I play with lego all day".
And, dear reader, if you happen to be one of my students, I would like to assure you that this is mere fancy. I am, naturally, marking your assignments with great diligence and pleasure. Not playing with lego. No, indeed.
19 March 2007
What would you ask Susan Greenfield?
Labels: shallow learning
05 March 2007
Monkeys and militant eggs: thinking about creativity at university
- The MSc student who bought a monkey costume in order to make "Return of the Ninja Monkeys" with members of his kung fu club;
- The 4th year student who persauded his friends to be front and hind legs of a pantomime cow for his touching tale of a cow who goes to live in the big city;
- The MSc student who spent hours blue-tacking eggs into position to make an animation about a gang of eggs who make pancakes;
- The 4th year student who taught himself flash animation and created a new sheepy superhero: "The wooley wonder".
- The MSc student who had never played a computer game before she came here but who spent her weekends learning how to play the Sims in order to make a family story about a girl and her grandfather.
- The students needed to find the assignment personally meaningful and fun. You would be surprised how hard university students find it to believe that they can have fun with their assignments. I wanted them to relax and take their work less seriously, particularly the MSc students. The older students get, the more uptight about assessments they get. Doubtless this is because the stakes get higher when you have a family to support, or a job to hold down as well as being a student. Yet, such stress and striving and worry about whether they will pass the exam occupies so much of the students' attention that get distracted from real learning. It's hard to be creative when you're stressed so I wanted a task which was engaging and chosen by the students themselves.
- The students needed encouragement in independent learning. I wanted them to take responsibility for teaching themselves skills which they needed for their portfolio work as and when the need arose. Curiously the 4th years turned out to be much better at this than the MSc students, who often expected me to tell them exactly what to do and how to do it.
- The students needed to understand the flexibility and changeability of the creative process, and needed reassurance that it was Ok to change their ideas or try something new.
09 February 2007
Computational thinking, or why it's good to be a computer scientist
Labels: computational thinking
A visit from Oz
- Literacy - story making and dialogue
- Collaboration and communication
- Hypothesis testing
- Audience awareness
- Independent learning
The project in Sydney extends our work in quite an important way, which is by giving the children a global audience for their work. They have a class blog (which I must get hold of) where they post their experiences of game design. Now they have an international following of fans who like to play their games (including children in Glasgow, Scotland, where I grew up). Gone are the days when pupils wrote essays on "What I did during the summer" just for their teacher! Blogs and wikis gives kids a genuine reason for writing: to share their lives with other people. I suppose what I mean is "gone should be the days..". I don't think we're there yet.