Week 8 Reflection

This week we discussed game based play, and Minecraft in particular. I had heard of Minecraft before, but I really knew nothing about it. I now know how to play the game, or at least I understand what to do to play the game, and I’m not someone who plays video games, but I must admit all this research and discussion has intrigued me. I learned that on its own, without and educator interference, the game can help students in reading and writing and math.

The game has such a flexible platform, and because there are no missions or specific purposes, this allows educators to have a lot of freedom to adapt and use the game in whatever way they like.

In my blog, I wasn’t sure if I was creating a game correctly, or even in a way that made sense to others, but I got some really great responses on my blog, and it turned out I made a pretty good game! I made a math game because that was the closest connection I made when I started learning about the game. But after reading other blogs and after the twitter chat, I was able to see a lot of the great ways Minecraft could be used in other subjects. I was thinking that Minecraft would also be great in application to geography and history. Students can build historic places or events. Even to me that sounds like so much fun and I would love to see what students would be able to come up with and see their learning come to life in the game.

I also really appreciated the portion of the twitter chat where we talked about literacy connections to Minecraft. I think allowing students to build settings of books would be great! Also, connecting Minecraft with texts makes a lot of great sense to me because there are Minecraft books!   You can use the game to interest students in reading!


Week 8 Blog Post

Video games, both on consuls and computers are probably the facet of technology that I am furthest out of touch with.  I didn’t grow up playing video games, and because by the time I was able to get into video games on my own, at places besides my house, everyone was so much better than me already because I missed out on years of early practice and play, so I quickly lost interest.  Thousands of people are relentlessly enthralled by video games, but it’s a fascination that I was never quite able to relate too.  Because of this deficit, I had to do a bit of extra work researching on what Minecraft is and how it works and is played.

According to Minecraftopia.com the general purpose of the game is to build and create a home for your character.  As the game advances you can create a more elaborate home with more items, while at the same time protecting your home from invaders.  The game Minecraft all on its own already contains many educational benefits, including reading, writing, math and social skills (Minecraft.gamepedia.com).  But Minecraftedu is a different branch of the game the exists specifically for using the game Minecraft for educational purposes.  The game itself is pretty open and flexible. There are no specific commands a player must respond to, no missions or quests (minecraftopia.com).  So users are free to be creative and build.

Because of the nonrestrictive nature of Minecraft there are no internal games, no other things for players to engage in apart from the main objective of the game.  I’m not sure if our task is to design a game that could be a part of the Minecraft world, or to create a game that takes place outside of Minecraft, but you apply results or parts of the game to the game.  Anyways, I here is the game I came up with.

Since the essence of the game is building, I would create a game that requires players to build certain types of structures.  The game would have students practice using perimeter, area and volume.  Each player would have a certain amount of time (e.g., one ‘day’) to create a certain amount of buildings in given dimensions.  If the buildings were completed and correct, players would earn certain materials/tools.  Students could also be given a sum or product, and would need to figure out the dimensions of buildings to build by figuring out factors that multiply up to the given product.  this harder version would be for older students, or students who have demonstrated proficiency with the game.  Not only would this game be fun and engaging for students, as well as rewarding but they would also be able to see where measurement is commonly used in the real world, through construction!

Lots of other educational applications exist for Minecraft, including ratio and proportion and even reading comprehension strategies.  Kids seem to love Minecraft and many educators and some schools are already using Minecraft with their students.  Linked below is a video that shows a school in North Carolina that has been using Minecraft with its students for year.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZO_cs1DrbhA

How To Play Minecraft| Minecraftopia. (n.d.). Retrieved July 8, 2015.
Miller, A. (2012, April 13). Ideas for Using Minecraft in the Classroom. Retrieved July 8, 2015.
Minecraft in Education. (n.d.). Retrieved July 8, 2015, from http://minecraft.gamepedia.com/Minecraft_in_education

Week 7 Reflection

I did a lot of learning this week.  3D printers were one of the devices that I had heard of before I began research for the week.  I had a limited understanding of how they work though, and after getting some comments back and discussing the topic with others during the twitter chat, I have revised my thinking some what, and learned some more about the specifics and logistics of using a 3D printer.

In my initial blog post I remarked on how teachers can use 3D printers make manipulatives and tools for students to use in their regular lessons, and that this will help make learning to be a lot more interactive and kinesthetic.  And while I still believe this aspect to be a benefit of 3D printing, I no longer think that it should be the main purpose of acquiring a 3D printers, maybe just a secondary use.  I think the best benefit a 3D printer can have for students is by giving them the opportunity to create and make somethings in their own.  I think using a 3D printer to give students the opportunity to be amateur engineers or designers is the best way students could access this technology.

Some detracting factors of 3D printers, like their high cost, the cost of the printing materials and the time it takes to print objects have caused me to revise my opinions and best uses for teachers.  I was really glad to participate in the twitter chat this week, it seemed like a few different people had some good experience with 3D printers and were able to share their experiences, likewise on the blogs.  It was great learning from their experience and receiving some well informed feedback.

Week 7 Blog

There are two clear ways that 3D printing will impact education.  The first way the education will be changed is that it will transfer much more from visual and auditory methods of learning into much more kinesthetic learning.  College students in design/marketing classes previously only had enough time throughout the course to design a product, but now with 3D printing, the are able to design, create, market and sell their products all in the course of one semester (Lipson & Kurman, 2013).  3D printers allow students to make/design things and see the results immediately.  There is no longer any wait time between design and creation.  Students will be able to access tangible materials and designs as soon as they are done being created.  This allows students to be able to experience their education in a hands-on way like never before.  The following graphic shows so many different ways that students can use 3D printing and shows so many ways that the products of 3D printing can make learning much more interactive and hands-on.


Another way students are being impacted by 3D printing is that the impressive abilities of the printers are captivating students.  Teachers across many different demographics are noticing their students being engaged by 3D printing and completely interested and absorbed by them.  Bas Baeten, a Dutch teacher in the testimonial video posted by Leapfrog 3D printing, explains that this technology is the future, and because of that he thinks students should have access to it in school.  He also remarks on how interested his students are, he never has to remind them to pay attention while working with the 3D printer, because they already are!  Another teacher used a 3D printer to print out different kinds of cookies for a group of 2nd graders and she saw that students who were normally not interested in technology or math were very interested when the 3D printer was being used.  This technology is attracting students of all ages and those who previously did not show too much interest in technology.  Hopefully the use of 3D printers in schools will help encourage students to pursue technology and computer science in school so they can help absorb the abundance of technological careers that will come up in the future.

Infographic: http://3dprintingsystems.com/education/

Lipson, H., & Kurman, M. (2013, June 9). Two Ways 3D Printing is Revolutionizing the Classroom | Big Think. Retrieved June 30, 2015, from http://bigthink.com/in-their-own-words/two-ways-3d-printing-is-revolutionizing-the-classroom

Reflection Week 6

This week we learned about coding!  I had limited knowledge of what coding was before this week.  I knew it was about computers and I knew it was about creating programs on the computer.  I also thought it had something to do with binary coding, where you type series of 0 and 1 to talk to the computer.  My background knowledge wasn’t too far off, but it wasn’t exactly right either.  Turns out that you can code using terms and methods other than binary code, and you can use coding to do fun things like creating games and cards!

Rachel posted a really great definition of coding, that coding is basically telling a computer what to do!  Im glad that I stumbled across her blog this week and found that definition, because it is a quick and clear way to explain coding.

I really enjoyed the Ted Talk video by Mitch Resnick.  He explained coding and its benefits really well, and his program Scratch seems so great.  That is somethings that I could really use in my classroom.  It seems easy (relatively speaking) and fun!

Unfortunately I missed the twitter chat this week, but I was able to go back and read over the conversation that took place seemed really interesting, and I was able to get a lot of insight from others in the class sharing their thoughts and opinions.

Week 6 Blog

Some proponents of the coding movement in schools made a few key points that really resonated with me.  Just like with many other technological components, coding encourages students to work together and learn collaboration skills, as explained by Mitch Resnick in the TED Talk video.  In addition to collaboration, a news story by a Minnesota news station reported that while using coding in local schools, the teachers were able to see that their students were learning and developing logic and critical thinking.  In this video it was also clear that students were proud of their work and engaged and excited to share their learning.  Now many different subjects use games to interest students in learning, but by creating their own games, students are engaged and using their brains in much deeper ways than they would be by just playing a game to learn.

The Minnesota news station also reported that teaching young student to code now will encourage them to pursue more computer science and technology classes as they get older in high school and also hopefully college. Apparently less than 3% of college graduates earn a computer science degree, yet as technology becomes more prevalent computer scientists will be in high demand (Zamora, 2014).  Interesting student in computer science while they are you will encourage them to pursue these kinds of careers.

Learning to code is like learning a second language, and as it has been proven before, the earlier children learn a new language the easier they can pick it up and have more success assimilating it into their knowledge set (Harrell, 2015).  Some schools want coding to be more than just an elective, and want it to count as foreign language credits.  If the class help students meet graduation requirements it may be a higher incentive for them to take it, rather than just as general elective credits (Zamora, 2014).

Programs like Scratch, presented in Resnick’s Ted Talk video seem like really relevant and practical tools for teachers and students to use in school.  However the biggest challenge of mandating code use, even in a use friendly program like Scratch, is ensuring that teachers are appropriately trained and that schools have the resources necessary, such as enough functioning computers, internet and time in the schedule for coding.  Allowing that a school had good internet and enough good computers, the only way I can really imagine mandatory coding in school working is if students do it for an hour or so each week, just like an art or music class.  This would be a great way to expose student to coding without it taking over the school’s agenda.  Coding, and most technological platforms are not a part of the state standards, and therefore it is challenging to ask teachers to take too much time away from regular instruction to do something that is not a part of the standards, yet is mandatory…it doesn’t make sense.

Also, honestly, just on a personal note, I think making something ‘mandatory’ is a great way to take the fun and uniqueness out of it, and to discourage kids to explore it on their own.  I know when I was a student, just hear the word mandatory, even if it was in conjunction with something I liked, made me disinterested.  I think schools and experts should encourage, expose and provide opportunities for teachers and students to sue coding during the school day, but I do not think they should make it mandatory.

Harrell, M. (2015, March 15). Add Coding to Your Elementary Curriculum. . . Right Now. Retrieved June 23, 2015, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/add-coding-elementary-curriculum-now-matt-harrell

Minnesota News Report:http://minnesota.cbslocal.com/2014/12/08/elementary-curriculum-emphasizing-computer-coding/

Ted Talk Video: http://www.ted.com/talks/mitch_resnick_let_s_teach_kids_to_code?language=en#t-134744

Zamora, W. (2014, April 1). Why Coding Should Be Taught in Elementary School. Retrieved June 23, 2015, from http://techblog.evan-moor.com/2014/04/01/coding-taught-elementary-school/

Week 5 Reflection

This time last week I had never heard of the term the Internet of Things before.  Now that I understand what the IoT is, I realize that it’s been all around me, and I do use some of these things in my every day life.  One example of an item I use ever day that I wasn’t aware was a part of the IoT is my phone.  It has an internet browser, texting, and numerous apps.  I use it for almost everything, I even use twitter and word press apps for this class sometimes!  Even five years ago, smartphones were not as prevalent as they are today, and are owned by millions.  The IoT is everywhere, whether we realize it or not.

This week my fiancee an I were shopping for a new TV.  Our budget was modest, and I insisted because he had a playstation we could connect to the TV, that we didn’t need a smartTV and that a regular HD TV would be enough for us.  After doing research and visiting multiple stores, it turns out that pretty much all TVs not are smartTVs!  All the models we looked at were smart, even the cheaper and smaller models.  So just as smartphones are now just phones, it seems that the same thing is happening with TVs!

Taking the time to think of a IoT device that I thought would be useful in the classroom was a really interesting exercise.  I don’t consider myself to be a very creative or imaginative person, so the opportunity to try to invent something all on my own was very interesting!  I also thought it was very interesting to see the range of devices that others came up with.  Some people create devices that would help students out in their learning, such as a digital and connected planner, while others came up with more enriching devices like the 2D-3D Hologram creator.  After this week, I have begun to make connections between the different topics we have been discussing each week.  I found that some of the devices, like the hologram maker would be a great too for students to have in a makerspace!

Lastly, I am really enjoying the twitter chats we have been having each week.  I like the flexibility and fluidity of the conversation.  I feel comfortable asking questions about things people bring up and I like how we are able to side track a little bit sometimes to expand on someone’s thinking or answer a question, and then we go right back on topic.  It’s all working out so well I feel and is helping me feel connected with all my classmates.