Monthly Archives: August 2014

EDTECH 531: A Galaxy of Worlds

quest: A galaxy of worlds

We’re not actually asked to blog on this quest, but I will have to make comments in VoiceThread. To collect my thoughts as I go through the quest, I will be blogging here.

Video 1: Disaster Prep training.

I’m sorry to always be so negative, but I’ve been formally trained in disaster prep, I’m CERT certified, and this type of training sucks. Virtual training can NOT replace the hands – on learning I went through or triage or first aid. I agree with the single feedback voice we did get to hear that said maneuvering in that software is difficult. —

The avatars- The female avatars in Ji– whatever we were using a couple days ago were bad enough. The ones here are horrific. Some man is creating these female avatars and he really needs a life body woman to become familiar with so he can get an idea of reality. I want to not only become anorexic after seeing what I’m supposed to look like in a virtual world, but I think I need to get a much better bra. I really wish our avatars did not have to have a gender or look like a specific demographic. I have enough problems in my real life with having to defend my ideas, in part, merely because of what I do or do not look like. Why can’t we teach people that the skin should not matter! What our surface looks like should not be the impression we want to leave with people. Is this why Dr. Dawley’s username is shallow?

(My machine is getting really hot- I don’t know how much I’ll be able to simultaneously.)

Video 2: Economics

I like this video b/c it is being presented as a linear class at first. They are discussing graphs. I do see the potential, but I would have liked to venture around myself instead of watching a video of someone else wandering through. I understand the point of the video is to introduce me to potentials of using that software.

They can select a view option- this is a new concept to me.

That software was openWonderland

Dr. Dawley’s paper:

Figure 3, it is interesting how the teacher does not offer communication to the expert, but students can.

Again, negativity seeps through. The main problem I have with utilizing expert-based interactions is the limit of experts that are out there. I loved it when my students could have a guest speaker to explain things or to work with them, but I know this is not a feasible paradigm for all kids. While I worked my butt of to give my students these unique opportunities, not every teacher will, nor should they have to. Can we create curriculum that is not boring, involves realistic issues, but does not require a teacher by proxy?

My cynicism is starting to bother even me!  Because there are so many people who don’t understand science, yet think they have the right to teach it to students, or there are students who think they are correct when they really are not, having peers or social networks teach science is a really bad idea. I was a virtual science teacher and a virtual science content coach. In both cases I had to fix misconceptions students were currently gathering because either the “teacher” at their f2f school was telling them the wrong thing or one of my colleagues in the help room was misinforming them. While I love the idea of students constructing their own meaning and using peer interaction to do so, for things that can have really bad consequences if students learn it incorrectly, peer collaboration is not the best method. It is like learning computer programming because something feels right. If your code is wrong, it is not going to work. There may not be any iffy place in the middle. Sure you can steal code, but thieving code is not collaboration.

I finally have a definition for machinima – these are videos created in a virtual world.

From what I can gather, using SL for students can involve making virtual posters. So we’re back to poster-making, but this time because it involves technology instead of magic markers, it is now more socially acceptable. It takes me back to when I taught in SF and they had students making posters because the teachers were too lazy to understand how to make a website. I’m still a fan of having kids make interactive websites over making posters on paper or with electrons. Sure Second Life is cool, but how is it more advanced or allowing for more in depth learning? Since when is making a poster inquiry?  There is a great deal more I need to learn about Second Life.

I made the requested entry into our VoiceThread thing. I had to create a new account because VT hates me. I had to pay to reopen my account when I did my portfolio, but stopped paying for it once I passed. My history with VT goes back to 2009 and they have not figured out how to give me a courtesy account because I used to pay for one. So now I’m using a different email address and for the sake of our class, hope it will let me do VT entries.



EDTECH 531: Wandering Through Virtual Worlds (VW)

From quest: Wandering through virtual worlds

Pathfinder’s Office: where we went for our first meeting
I like that there can be a variety of rooms to go into, each one is elaborately decorated and has its own enhancements. I like seeing the variety of objects and opportunities that can exist- like the fire or the movie (that I could not figure how to turn off).

Military Spec World: another Jibe construction
So I’m getting a clue about VW environments- you need a master software package that can act like the shell where within the shell you can build environments. I like the Military Spec World because even though it has hills, it is mostly empty and linear. There is not a lot of stuff to confuse me. I like this.

OK, I figured out the circle off to the side is a small map of my territory. I don’t know how to walk up steps, though. I went right through them.
There is something burning on the bridge, but I can’t figure out how to fly up there to look at it.
I also like how this environment is relatively quiet. No screeching birds to be found here.

Kongregate: 3dgame of unity

I “had” to sign in. It already said getzedtech was taken, but it did not like me trying to sign in with that name. It gave me Melissa29, which is fine with me. I will acquiesce to any requirement I have to do to gain access to free software.

I look like I must be a construction worker in a field. Off to see what there is to explore.

OK this one is interesting because every time I turn, the entire display changes to reorient me to facing everything head-on. There is a mound reminiscent of the trash heap / mud pile in Close Encounters of the 3rd kind. I was hoping it was a volcano because I wanted to relearn the types of volcano names. Oh, crap, I’m stuck on the side of the mound I can’t defy gravity here and just keep climbing up it. I’m freaking stuck!  YAY, it must have heard me because it let me turn around and walk down the mound.

Kongregate has ads, which is fine with me. I could pay to have no ads.

I actually don’t know what game I was playing. I’m trying to switch over to Flash Freekicks. This is a soccer game. It uses the mouse to change direction of the kick, and you get to curve the way you send the ball. Level 1 was very easy. Getting a clue on level 2- need to set up the direction and curve so the ball will go in the goal- the curve seems to be literal and not after some time has passed- like it immediately starts curving and does not change the curve to match the distance of ground that needs to be covered.  As expected, as you progress through levels, objects get put in the path that I have to ignore. The ball bounces back, away from the objects.  The ball goes really slow if I don’t put in a curve. Not sure what is up with that. I lose a life each time I miss a goal.  Level 6 beat me. I am not used to the physics of the initial angle and the curve. Nice game, though.

EDTECH 531: Impressions of Avatars

In the first week of EDTECH 531, we watch a video from a Stanford professor about avatars and how the avatar’s presence and actions can influence student involvement and behavior. One of the points of his presentation was to incorporate the listener’s image into the 2d representation of the speaker. So kids watching me would see a speaker who looks like a blend of them and me. The research seems to indicate students are more attentive when the person speaking to them looks like them. This topic broadened out another way is very close to one of my personal challenges. I did not go into teaching to teach kids who look like me. No matter how I say it, it will sound racist so I’ve pretty much given up on being over-polite and just want to say things as I see them. If I could change my exterior so that I look like my kids, would more of them have been successful?  According to the little bit of research and reading I’ve done, one reason black males don’t take my advanced classes is because they don’t like the interaction with white women and will avoid it if they can. That, however, is not the point of this post.

In our post, we are supposed to address:

  •  Your impression of the statistics (7:30) about the use of avatars.
  • Your thoughts of how tools like Avatar Kinect creates a “Transformed Social Interaction.”
  • Do you see an educatuion value for avatar mimicry?
  • Thoughts on the pursuasive power of simitiry (voting behavior) in tracking.

The statistics say overwhelmingly that kids aged 6 – 16 spend a large number of hours engaged with computer-like equipment. I agree with the stats based on the few days I spent with my nephews who are ages 13 and 7, in June. They made fun of me because I did not have a Smart phone. They made fun of me for any ignorance I had about electronic devices. Little do they know that I’ve done the summer camp of 3DGameLab where I made apps, that I sat in on Dr. Wolber’s class at USF to learn from the person who created the text on App Inventor, or that I’ve taken courses on how to use Articulate’s Storyline so that I can create interactive tutorials. I even had the MET at that point and my brother made a point to make fun of me because I supposedly had a Master’s degree in technology, yet I did not have a Smart phone. I just have to say that  I have one now, and I do love what I can do with it. In the recent past, I did not have a Smart phone because I was unemployed and did not see the usefulness of paying an additional $40 or $50 a month just to have a Smart phone that required a data plan. Verizon changed their policies, so now I can share a data plan with my husband, Pete. Only because it is economically sensible now did I change phones, not because of the peer pressure.

Peer pressure from a 7 yr old and 13 yr old?  Is that possible? I recall being in middle school and having to talk to my best friend every night. I don’t know if that is when my parents put in another phone line in our house, or if it was a year or so later when they ultimately got frustrated with me always being on the phone. Is the continuous use of electronic devices much different? I do not know how many people my nephews interact with when they’re using their device, so I don’t know if there is a social component to what they are doing. I imagine, though, that even if their friends can’t directly see their progress on a game, if they are successful, everybody who needs to hear about it, will.

Avatar Kinect, if I am recalling correctly, is a program that has people interact with each other using full body avatars, not just floating heads. What is unique about Kinect, though, is that the avatar actually looks like you and not a face you want to create to represent you. Like with my picture and username in 3Dgamelab, it is supposed to not automatically indicate my age and gender. Choosing a flower may indicate I’m female, but there may still be some hesitancy with being 100% confident I’m female (until you read my posts). With Avatar Kinect, I would be going away from what I enjoy most about my persona online- people only know about my genetic composition and me what I tell them about me. I actually hope Avatar Kinect is not how virtual teaching is going to be in the future because I still want to teach students who don’t look like me. If I could create an avatar that matches each student’s demographic, it would be amazing. If each student could be learning from someone who looked like them, then Avatar Kinect would make sense. To create a 3D image of me is a waste of time and technology. I don’t want to exclude people because I don’t look like them.

I totally see an education value for avatar mimicry IF the avatar being mimicked is the student, not me. Maybe this is what the video was stressing and I’m being my typical misunderstanding self and not seeing the obvious until someone tells me what I was supposed to get out of the video.

While I realize Web 3.0 is a nickname of the technology that allows Google or Facebook to target me with specific ads, I really don’t want my avatar to show up on billboards to sell me objects. We actually just fought putting up a digital billboard in our city. Imagine if a digital billboard’s images changed every time a car drove by. Yeah, that would not be distracting…. The movie with Tom Cruise, Minority Report I think it is, may very well become a reality. It is with respect to ads that show up online and we just act like it is normal. If ads that change as I walk by becomes the norm, will I still be so opposed to it?