Monthly Archives: October 2014
I totally agree with the article, http://www.wired.com/2014/10/video-game-literacy/, because if there is an interest, kids (even everybody) will read. I can’t verify the reading levels they quoted in the article, but I would pretty much bet the online educational guide sites are written higher than a 4th grade reading level. The irony with me, however, is that I have been avoiding the wiki sites or anything that gives away real secrets. Yes I have consulted the crafting guides, but other than being able to make a bed, I don’t really know why I want wool. When I was building in crafting mode for my epic build, which I am still working on, wool came in handy to soak up the miniature river I created in the middle of my store, but otherwise I am not quite sure what to do with it.
I am still spending hours just mining, and am hoping it will get boring so I’ll stop. If anything, I am starting to become motivated to read about things I have not figured out on my own. Because I want to approach Minecraft as a way of experiencing the scientific method, I’m “testing” myself to see if the hypotheses I have been making are accurate. This means that I do the research by experimenting, however, a part of the scientific process includes doing research on published materials to help me understand what my data may mean. I think I am coming close to having to seek out the published data and figure out what I can do with the animals that spontaneously show up other than scare the begeebers out of them or in the case of sheep, shear their wool.
The article mentions the short stories that have been created by teenagers. I downloaded a few of them anticipating we may be asked to read them during this class. So far we have not been asked to read one, but I may now that I have learned teenagers are writing these books. That is so cool! I keep telling myself to stop being lazy and write a book about something I know, not necessarily a Minecraft story, and here there are kids 1/4 to 1/3 my age already being published. Imagine having a student who you inspired to write Minecraft novellas being able to pay for college from what she earned by selling her books online. That would make me very happy.
I know I must come off as the crankiest person on Earth at times, but I am actually quite picky with my enthusiasm and what I am asked to do. At the moment, I’m in a quest that is asking me to analyze Chapter 2 of Communities of Play by Celia Pearce. The chapter is about virtual worlds and the characters that are in them.
At first I was excited that I’d have an opportunity to read some theory to go with all the Minecrafting I’ve been doing. After all, this is a course for graduate school. Well, I had forgotten my biases when reading published works. It drives me nuts to read something written by an author who is continuously quoting her own publications. Sure, rank up that citation count, why don’t you. Are there no other people who have found data to agree with yours? Is it because what you are doing is so new and novel nobody else has figured it out like you are able to?
So, my first negative impression was because I kept hearing “Pearce” as the citation. You see, if I can get Kindle to read to me, I do. I will also read along while it talks to me, but sometimes my eyes just don’t want to work so I listen. This is not the best chapter to listen to if you don’t want to hear the same person being cited repeatedly. Now that I can be more focused with my reading, I need to rescind this impression. She does a good job of gathering several citations that go beyond her name.
My second negative impression is using the words ludisphere and paidiaic. I’ve heard the words luddite and pedantic before. Are they related to these “new” words? I actually had to run a Google search on the words so I could get a clue what they mean. As brilliant as Pearce is, I did not find a dime store explanation of these words. That is not to say it wasn’t there. It is saying I did not decipher it. Fortunately, Rob MacDougall blogged about this in May, 2010. http://www.robmacdougall.org/blog/2010/05/toys-not-games/
He defines ludus and paidia in a way that makes sense to me! Thank you Mr. MacDougall. Simply put, ludus are serious situations where when in such a situation, a sense of humor is not necessarily an asset. Paidia, on the other hand, concerns that sense of humor. If the situation is or can be frivolous, then it has paidia characteristics.
Now that I understand this part, maybe I will be able to actually do the quest I have been asked to complete.
I made a set of slides in ppt because I was going to just submit that for the quest. Unfortunately I am required to make a video. So I used 4 of the slides and what was supposed to be a 3 min video became 7 min. I’m must not psyched to make a video at the moment. Last night I made the slides thinking I’d do the recording today. Silly me, I forgot I’m a pinhead on Tuesday nights so wearing a headset to talk is less than comfortable.
The Epic Build is finally done. Here’s a video of it:
What is written here is somewhat of a diary of the process.
I am building a store called Purse-n-Boots as my epic build in MC. It may not be as amazing as others’ will be, but I want to take an approach that is not conventional. I’m still convinced that not enough girls are playing MC because it is a boy thing. The skills in MC really don’t require a gender.
As I build the quest, I’m taking snapshots. I want to start loading them so it won’t be a menace later once I’m really ready to post.
I am not sure where my words will land because this is a WordPress site that I haven’t figured out how to fully control, or how to put in a carriage return after the last image. So my description and narrations may go in random places.
I did a videotape of quickly putting in wooden floors. ht
I don’t know how to get text to align with the images, so please bear with me while I add commentary and more pics.
After cleaning up the water spill, I worked on the walls. Here are some shots of putting up walls and putting blocks that glow in the letters of the name of the store.
I created a video to show a fast way to put in floors. Essentially it involves chopping up the line of blocks you want to replace, and then hit the S (backwards) button and your drop button quickly one right after the other and the row will fill easily. It works best if you have blocks on either side of you while you do this so that you don’t go off course.
Quest: Full Immersion
I actually have to make a video response to what I learn in this quest. Being me, however, I will also be taking notes here so that when I go to make the video, I remember what was important to me.
I wrote a paper on the Community of Inquiry for a class a couple years ago. Chris Dede’s paper starts off talking about an Immersive Presence. Although he has citations for explaining the immersive presence, it is new to me. Cognitive, social and teaching presences make sense to m,e and I have often tried to find them happening in discussions I have with classmates. Sometimes I even ask questions to try to stimulate a teaching presence. Now I’m thinking, though, about an immersive presence. It goes beyond a social presence. A social presence validates that a person is a person who has something to offer the group. In contrast, the immersive presence is the feeling of physically being in the alternative environment. (I wrote about this, too, in a paper for the Edutainment class.)
The immersive presence uses tools that allow for sensory information to be transmitted to the player. It is being able to feel resistance when trying to push or pull on an object. The sound is in stereo as if you are among the noise. Actional immersion translates the player’s actions into real life happening in the virtual world. If my character can fly, then somehow I get a perspective that is commensurate to a person who is flying. The creators of the virtual world also utilize symbolic immersion which is designed to evoke emotional responses from the participants. In many cases, they are creatures or features that stimulate fear.
I am glad I’m doing this quest after having spent a few weeks being addicted to Minecraft because I can relate to what is being said in the paper. While Minecraft is not fully immersive, it uses sounds to warn me of danger, and I really do feel anxiety when I’m chopping blocks above a possible lava pit. It is strange how I can experience fear in a game where the worst thing that happens is I die, lose all of my possessions, and then have to start over if I choose to respawn.
I liken the exocentric and egocentric descriptions to being outdoors in Minecraft, wandering around the land in daylight being exocentric, and falling into a pit and exploring the inside of a mountain or cave being egocentric. I’m not sure they intended this parallel to be created when they wrote the paper, especially since the paper was written before Minecraft existed, but I can relate much easier to Minecraft examples than I can the ones provided in the paper. I can’t really tell from the perspectives that one is outside Newton’s world and the other one is inside it. Maybe it is that spatial thing again? I like how he goes on to relate the exocentric perspective as seeing the forest instead of the trees because that is a component of Minecraft. Now I’m thinking about how the distant biomes that show up do contribute to my motivation. I find part of my addiction is being curious about what I will find if I…
They mention Second Life in the article. Maybe it is not as old as I first thought. The paper discusses how they used River City to gather data. I’ve actually heard of River City, but can’t place it at the moment. This also sounds a bit like IMMEX, which I was remotely involved with about 15 years ago. I don’t know what has come of IMMEX. (KIE became something else- need to look that up, too.)
I am not sure I am pleased with the phrase “academic loser”, but I know what they are trying to say. Personally I want avatars to not have to look like people and if they do, I want to not have the pressure of feeling like I have to pick a white female to represent me. I am genetically a white female, but why do I have to be one online, too? With respect to their other “findings”, I am not convinced that the student identifies with being a scientist in the virtual environment as much as it is he is no longer himself wearing dirty clothes and possibly needing a shower. The avatar is clean (unless he chooses it not to be). In the virtual world, the student can be the image s/he has always wanted to be. Students also don’t have their peers necessarily looking directly at them like what happens in a face to face classroom. Some of my best class sessions were with the “academic losers” who did not get to go on a field trip that the college-prep students got to attend. The pressure to prove themselves or perhaps it was the fear of making mistakes, I’m not completely sure why the classroom atmosphere changed, but it did. My non-college-prep students behaved as if they could do anything on those days, and quite often they did.
While I want to see what technology can do to supplement hands-on learning, I am still skeptical that it will ever be as good as having students do real labs. There is just something about using a micropipettor for real that you can’t feel when you do it virtually, unless you can figure out how to hook up some equipment to the game that mimics a micropipettor. Feeling the spring and learning how to control it is critical to having good micropipetting techniques. Then again, with the way things are becoming automated, I don’t know if researchers will still have to do their own pipetting in the near future.
Toward the end of the paper, they pose 4 questions, of which some I share. I’m not too sure what they mean by bicentric frames of reference, so I can’t claim that question to also be a concern that I have. I also wonder if having a virtual persona enhances one in the real world or if it causes a bipolar type of personality. This is very close to their 2nd question, “To what extent can the successes of one’s virtual identity in immersive environments induce greater self-efficacy and educational progress in the real world?” Has my success in Minecraft done anything to help me feel more successful as a person?
About the video part of this assignment…
You believed so you’d belong.
As he talks about “belief” I keep thinking of how people ask me if I believe in evolution. Evolution is not a belief. It is a scientific process that is supported by data and evidence.
Where is fiction allowed to exist? When is role playing effective?
Comparing the video and the paper:
Both want to take people beyond the chair they are sitting in and have them be physically involved with the content they are learning.
The paper wanted to have students be immersed, totally surrounded, by the learning environment. They wanted to include some authentic examples in the learning process.
The video stressed suspending the disbelief we have with fiction. I am not completely sure why we are watching a video that stresses fiction whereas the paper seemed to want to make the learning process more realistic and like non-fiction.
My quest submission:
I decided to make cartoons that I’ll videotape with narration. If you’re curious about the cartoons:
The first image reflects what is said in both the video and the paper. In each situation, they want the reader or participant to be engaged to the point it feels like reality.
The second image has to do with allowing fiction to feel like reality. What can we do to fully manifest what we are experiencing in a virtual world?
The last image is a challenge to the idea of climate change. People are still arguing if it is real or not. I could have done a cartoon with evolution. During the video I kept thinking about how people think evolution is something to believe in, when it is not. Yes it is a scientific theory, but it is based on scientific evidence. You don’t “believe” in evolution. It is not a religious argument.
To accompany the climate change as a debatable theory idea, I had to capture an image of an article that came out in last week’s Nature.
The video I made: http://www.screencast.com/t/xET1pJlpzh
In 1996 I was a first year teacher for the second time (long story). Being the new teacher, I was given the classes that nobody else could teach or wanted to teach. This means I think I had 5 preps that year. One thing that I learned about the kids at this school was how thick the fear of failure was for them. They would rather fail because they did not try at all than to try even a little and fail, or possibly not fail. So many students just accepted they were going to fail no matter what they did. The system socially promoted them for 8 years so for many of them, in the 9th grade, they were actually being held accountable for their actions or inaction. I forget how many students failed the 9th grade and had to repeat it, but it was a high percentage. I did not want to see students who had been channeled into the non-college-prep track get stuck in classes with the unmotivated teachers. You see, if they failed my 9th grade physical science class, it was very unlikely I would ever see them as a chemistry student. Without taking chemistry in high school, the chances of getting into a public 4 year college in CA are very slim. Where am I going with this? I had to find a way to stop kids from giving up even before they had a clue how much cool stuff they could do, if only they would let themselves do some work.
I admit that I was the worst physical science teacher on earth my first semester (year on a 4×4) teaching it. I have the credential for it because I took physics and chemistry in college, but at that time I completely stunk with explaining physics without equations. Physical science was pretty much non-math based physics. Putting numbers on the board shut down so many kids that I had to be very careful with how and when we did math in class. I had zero support from my teaching colleagues. They did not want me to be there, plus rarely did a science teacher last past one year so why would they want to invest any time, energy, or equipment in me. Pretty much for the first couple years of teaching, if I could find the items we needed for a lab at Home Depot or the grocery store, we were good for the lab. eBay did not exist yet.
When I was getting my teaching credential, one of my professors suggested that we do a grading system where everything was based on the lowest possible task we could ask students to do. For me, that was homework. Homework was always an effort grade. They got credit whether they did it correctly or not. It was a part of the learning process. I also put up signs celebrating mistakes, but that does not necessarily belong in this thread. For me, homework was weighted as 1x. Labs were weighted as 2x through 4x depending on how difficult they were and how much work was involved. Quizzes were usually 2x, and tests were often 8x or 10x depending on how much homework had been assigned. After about 5 years of teaching, I figured out how to map questions directly to content standards so sometimes the grading had content standards weighted instead of questions.
This sounds very confusing, doesn’t it? That was my point. I loved the way this grading system worked because the kids could not figure it out. To calculate a final grade, you add up all the points and divide by the number of x values you have. So final grades ranged from 0 to 4.0. OH, I forgot to mention, with this grading, if students did A work, they got a 4 on the assignment. B work was a 3. C work was a 2. D work was a 1. F work or nothing turned in was a 0. As long as something intelligent was turned in, the student automatically earned a 1 for the assignment. With homework, the stamp for completeness was worth 4 points. If they did not complete it on time to earn the stamp, they could earn 2 points by doing the homework and turning it in on the day of the test. Earning 2 of 4 points seemed much nicer (?) than earning a 50%. There is more to this system, but I don’t want to go off topic of the prompt too much.
Why change the numbering system? These numbers don’t look at all like percentages so the students don’t know what to do with them. They would, however, see they had a 1.7 which was a D, but because 1.7 is so close to 2, they would not automatically shut down. They still thought they could get to where they wanted to be. It was possible. On a percentage scale, the 1.7 could have been a 40%. Seeing 40% for a grade often shut down the students. Even if they only had 3 assignments turned in out of possibly 20 or 30 they would have during the quarter, seeing the 40% they decided they were failures and it would not be worth their time to even try. Going to what I referred to as a rubric based system, they were too confused to know if they should give up. Fortunately many students who otherwise would have given up seeing a 42% did not give up when they saw 1.7.
What Dr. Haskell does with quests is somewhat similar. It is a new numbering system that does not align directly to percentages. I do not know how he determines his breaking points for classification of status or for final grades, but it does not really matter. As his student, I know there have to be opportunities for me to earn more points because there are more levels of recognition I can gain. I pretty much know my status at any given time so how much I have progressed is obvious. Nothing tells me I’m at an F and have to work up to an A. I’ve been tricked into thinking I can move up the ranks as if I’m in the military. With hard work and determination, I can easily earn more points.
I have been in favor of destroying the percentage based grading system ever since I had the students who reeked with the odor of fear of failure. The logic of 60% being passing just makes no sense to me. I would love to see quest-like grading continue because the system I did is too complicated for most people to understand or accept it. Several years ago I heard Robert Marzano talk at ASCD, and was surprised to see his break offs for final grades are similar to mine. It turns out the system I developed is very close to what he promotes in his work. I can’t even take full credit for this idea because it was given to me as a student teacher. It was not my original idea.
I don’t know what type of system I will develop with my quests. For continuity sake, I may adopt a hierarchy similar to what Dr. Haskell does. On the other hand, maybe I will come up with science critters to represent various levels of evolving through a course. I’m not at that point yet with my thinking, so you’ll have to keep track of me to see what I eventually end out doing.
As for how quest based grading or my grading system would mesh with PowerSchool or any of those parent-friendly technology-based communication systems, I have no clue.
This was a fun quest which was actually quite enjoyable to do. I’m tempted to redo the virus particle because there are a few flaws, but I don’t know if I have to be a perfectionist with this activity. I did the sketch in Minedraft:
So just a few things I learned with Minedraft- be sure where you start your image is where you want it to be. You can’t scroll so if your image happens to go off the screen, then it goes off the screen. On my computer the difference between zoom and out was one choice either way and the zooming out was really small.
So what we have here in the drawing are proteins that make up the capsid, proteins that give the nucleic acid a place to sit, and nucleic acid in the center. The stuff on the edges are receptor molecules which viruses often have so they can be recognized by their host cell.
Moving into Minecraft I learned that I can’t put grass on the edge of water. Well, I could not find a block for water so I first tried the translucent blue glass, and ultimately went with blue wool, I think. So the materials list I gathered from Minedraft proved to be useless.
The cactus would not stick. I could not find wheat or the reeds. At least Minedraft gave me a sketch with colors and features I wanted to put in my build in Minecraft. It was very useful and was on my screen as I was building because I wanted to align the squares like they were in the drawing.
Now Minecraft images:
Yes, I know there are some flaws, but this is not too bad for going from a 2 dimensional drawing to a 3 dimensional object. For me, this is amazing. Spatial thinking is not my specialty so I’m actually very excited with how this turned out. Enjoy!
If you can’t get the 3d idea from these images, just let me know and I’ll take a few more. Thank you for taking time to check out my 3D construct.
I don’t think this actually matches with any quest in our class, but I wanted to put this up in case anybody wants to read about my dysfunction. Two summers ago I played Minecraft for the first time. I did not realize until recently that it was in survival mode, not creative mode. So if you read this thread when it was titled creative mode, my first set of images are wrong.
I did not get engaged with it because it was just a flat piece of land, no trees, no water, and not even any deeper than 3 blocks. I have no clue why my world was created this way. I did the quest through 3dGameLab in summer 2012 and here are pictures of the landscape I was allowed to play with. The “town” has people who give me glances and grumble.
The images are dark because it was night and I have too many other things to do than wait for daylight. I tried to set it to daylight, but was told I did not have that permission. This reinforces me thinking that I was in a setting that was not like normal Minecraft. I’ve been able to do commands in other worlds.
I also apologize for the untrimmed images. I changed the forward key from W to alt because hitting the alt key is much more comfortable. Well, alt-printscreen has me slamming forward in every pic I take that way. Plus, I think all you can see in the background is MC stuff.
Some screenshots of the land I don’t use:
3 layers of land
Update of images- these were taken in daylight.
Shots of the village:
So that was my first experience with Minecraft. Can you blame me for not wanting to do any more with it. Here I am 2 years later and am having a completely different experience. I wish I had had the experience I’m having now 2 years ago. I would be so much further along with my learning. I hope my “instructor” from summer camp does see this post because s/he needs to change the way that course was designed. If I find something that I can hook on to explore or have fun doing, I will. For the most part, the adventures I can have lately involve the computer so learning how to play a game is something I’d gladly do, unless it makes me motion sick.
That leads into my next revelation: at the moment, creative mode is too challenging for me to do it comfortably. I want to barf when I do creative mode. I have not figured out how to handle the perspective when dropping blocks and the motion makes me queasy. I was all happy because I was expecting all of the virtual worlds to make me motion sick because in the past they have. I’ve been addicted to the peaceful version of survival mode for nearly 2 weeks now and have not felt ill at all. I was doubting my previous inclinations to just wanting to go to sleep instead of continuing with the required chore of the game. I was actually having fun exploring and posing hypotheses to see if I can predict when something is going to show up and when. I attended a second life informal session and did not feel nauseous. What a joy! I may be able to participate in Second Life after all, without getting too cranky. Optimism abounds.
Then I work on my “creative” project and my vision gets really ticked off. That must have been what I tried to do in the past because I get nauseous now when I attempt to build in that mode. It is a combination of vertigo, dizziness, queasiness, and just plain disgust. I have at least one more required quest that involves creating or building my own image so we’ll see how things go.
Oct 9, 2014, update to creative mode projects
I am getting better at controlling creative mode. I have to be careful because I am still having spatial challenges, but the visual / vertigo side effects don’t seem to be very prevalent. I hope I can continue to not get motion sick at every opportunity. Fingers crossed!
There are two videos of my first night with monsters!
The first video is just to show how I set up the space. It is evidence I set it up to have monsters, even though I did not have any the first night. No monsters, but I spawned in the ocean! What?!?
The second video was almost an hour long. I used Adobe Premiere Pro to shorten it to 5 minutes. I did have a 3 minute version, but you really could not tell that not only did I have one monster during the second day, but I had TWO! I blew up my first monsters and got it recorded on tape. I’m so proud of myself :-).
Other things I want to point out:
The first island I swam to after practically drowning had nothing other than sandstone and sugar cane. Even though I ground up some sugar, I could not figure out how to eat the plain sugar. I think the second island I swam to did not have any trees so I kept on swimming. I know I need trees.
So the third island had trees, but in the day I was there, I could not find any coal. So I figured out how to make charcoal from wood to then make torches.
A couple things that may not be obvious- I did manage to practically drown a pig. I swiped one with an apple or sugar that I was trying to give to it. I was able to kill one pig, but was not able to kill the cow. I ate pork to sustain my life strength things.
At 3:25:01 you can see the remnants of a monster blowing up. If you pause the video and go back to 3:24:26, you can see a little green critter that blends in well with the ground. I’m sorry the sound effects did not transfer with the video when I shortened it. Monster #2 shows up at 3:28:16. He is another little green thing that I blow up with my pickaxe. Woohoo! Monster guts at 3:28:25. How’s that for a Noobie?
At 3:39:26 I’m trying to offer sugar to the pig. I obviously need to read up on what can be fed to the animals. I was feeling bad because I killed its comrade and don’t know if this is the one I practically tossed in the water or not. I was just trying to make friends with the random wild pigs. Yeah, you can see at 3:41:20 I ended out knocking down the pig to a lower level. Oops. I guess what I did was not the way to give sugar to a pig.
At the end, I went through my little island collecting as much stuff that seemed reasonable to carry, reclaimed my crafting table and furnace, and called it quits for the night. I anticipate swimming to a different island when I log back in to see what happened while I was “gone”.
Survival overnight with Monsters the next day- Sorry, this does not actually work. I’m trying to process it again. Temporary FAIL.
Mischief remodeled. I did a video of the video. It is now a 5 min video and lives at screencast so it should play properly.
I also want to thank Dr. Snelson who in her YouTube for Educators class has us learn multiple ways to work with videos. With the knowledge I learned in her class and help tutorials at Adobe, I was able to shorten the nearly one hour video to five minutes. It involved using Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Multimedia Encoder, and ultimately Screencast Desktop Uploader because Dreamweaver could not handle it. The video itself was created using Camtasia, but I don’t think Camtasia can shorten video length yet. It is nearly a 1 Gb file. If I go over my Screencast quota, I’ll have to find a new location.
Update to video process information. The 1 Gb file up at Screencast did not work. It needed a video player embedded with it, which I could not figure out. But the 5 min wmv video did work on my computer so I recorded the 5 min video in Camtasia. That 5 min video uploaded easily to Screencast and that is what you will see if you click on the link to the shortened video. What a long trip this has been…