October 17, 2011

Gaming - flow? addiction?

To be honest, it’s a challenge for me to figure out how video games can be used in classrooms because I grew up in a pretty strict and conventional education environment in which video games are always treated as plague. Maybe there are some certain type of educational games can help low-grade students to reinforce what they have learned in classrooms (like the games on AcademicSkill Builders ).  I played for a little while about the Multiplication games . Kids can compete with others by answering to the multiplication questions, the more correct answers they make, the sooner their race cars run. They can either work in a team or play alone. And the names of winners will be published on the main page of the website. It’s pretty motivated. But I think this kind of game is just aimed at certain subjects and low-level studies. Like a dessert won’t make a starving people satisfied, it won’t help a lot in classrooms.

I like gaming and I was a big fan of video game when I was an undergraduate student. I quite understand how addictive video games would be, especially to those people who quickly focus on challenges. I used to play some kinds of games like MMORPG (Ragnarok Online, FF Online), SIM (The Sims 3 ), EDU (Tokimemo),AVG (Super Mario)  and various web games (Zombie VS Plants, angry birds). I liked to work together with others to complete tasks in the games, and enjoyed the sense of achievement by achieving the short-term goal and long-term goal in the games. Admittedly, I gained a lot enjoyment from gaming. I was in flow. However, I barely can tell how the games benefit me. Actually, most of time when I finished gaming, I felt guilty because I totally lost myself in games and could not control the gaming time.

I tried out the games that Dr.Z recommended, FarmVille and Mafia Wars on Facebook. I spend 3 hours on them. And I found FarmVille is similar to a game in China called 开心农场(Happy Farm) which had been extremely popular in China from 2007 to 2010. Almost everyone in China played and talked about this game from 5-year-old to 80-year-old. It’s a commercial success or even a miracle. If the flow can be turned to classroom learning, how successful our education could be!

However, children and adolescence are typically not mature enough and lack of self-control, how can we distinguish flow from addiction? If the game gives them an exaggerated idea of their own importance and ability, they may crumble when tough real life challenges appear.
Finally, I do think proper gaming time should be encouraged in classrooms. A healthy learning environment should be fun and stimulating. Including flow into teaching method is a good way to stimulate students intrinsic motivation. But to what degree and what situation games could be used in classroom, I need more real teaching experiences from veteran teachers.

October 9, 2011

Online collaboration- Flat classroom Project

Friedman explains to us how ten forces created today’s level playing field and how this ten forces work together resulting a web-enable global platform for multiple forms of collaboration and sharing of knowledge regardless of geography and distance.

 According to Christensen, disruption is often a two-stage process. In the first stage, the new product is affordable and simpler to use but complicated and expensive to make. In the second stage, technology makes it simpler and inexpensive to build and upgrade the products.  This is also the case in education. We are living in globalization 3.0. The world is flat. Internet is very quick platform that immediately get users’ feedback. It allows us to experiment and try with almost no cost and is getting cheaper and cheaper to build things on internet, with open source and cloud platform.

Flat classroom is a project based on internet interaction and collaboration that empowers students with ability to design the educational projects that would address the global social issue and allow them access to any online community networking tools. It’s the second stage of disruption, student-centric online technology as well as a level playing field for teacher to student and student to teacher interaction.

Christensen states, “Introducing student-centric learning through facilitated networks, instead of through the VAP system of curriculum adoption, satisfies the litmus tests of competing against non-consumption. Teachers, parents, and students, who previously could not develop or market these learning tools, will now be about to do these things. Rather than expecting that in one fell swoop computers will be in and textbooks out, the user-generated tools will be used independently as tutorial tools.” (p143)

The follwing is the flat classroom project reflection (Hong Kong)

We can see from the video that Flat Classroom Project provides these students a global cooperative authentic learning experience. They also learn to use emerging technologies tools for interaction and collaboration. Each group has a team leader. The leadership role in education practice will help students develop leadership skills for their future career.

Wisdom from the past, knowledge of the present, guidance for the future- The world is flat

In the video, Friedman introduces the ten forces that let to globalization and flattened the world.
1.Fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and windows operating system 3.0 shipped six months later.
2.Netscape IPO gave us the Internet browser, a set of transmission protocols and triggered the dot com boom, making internet open and accessible to everyone.
3.Workflow software , which means applications can talk to applications, no matter what machine they were operating on and no matter what software they were running.
4.Outsourcing. When people can be connected anywhere, companies can move their departments to anywhere where can operate it in the most efficient and effective way.
5.Offshorting. Manufacturing’s version of outsourcing.
6.Open sourcing. A whole new form of collaboration.
7.Supply chaining. The network of retailers, distributors, transporters, storage facilities and suppliers that participate in the sale, delivery and production of particular products all over the world.
8.Insourcing. Some companies take over other companies’ internal logistics operation.
9.In-forming. Allowing people to collaborate with data all by self.
10. “The Steroids”. It means wireless, which allows people collaborate with anyone from anywhere with any device.
According to Friedman, globalization 1.0 was about countries globalizing. Globalization 2.0 was built around companies globalizing, and we entered globalization 3.0 in 2000, which was built around individuals. Our world became flat at the same time. Ten forces have broken down geographical restrictions and enhanced global connection and interaction. Globalization 3.0 provides people more conveniences as well as more challenges. When the time world was round, opportunity of success is privilege to certain people. When we entered into flattening world, the privilege was gone. Everyone around the world has opportunity to plug and play in this flattening world. That means, all our next generation have to compete with all around the world genius to get decent jobs in the future, from countries to countries, cities to cities, schools to schools. I think the definition of success in the future is not that how much people have learned, but how people can learn effectively and efficiently.  We probably do not want give education 1.0 or 2.0 to our kids when we are living in globalization 3.0.  As educators, it’s our duty to tell students how to use the easily accessible resources and make connection and collaboration globally in the world of globalization 3.0. With use of technology in Education, educators are able to make students’ learning relevance to real life, motivating them engage in what they are learning and helping students learn in ways that are customized to their type of intelligence.
Ok, I have to acknowledge that the above idea is too idealistic to be achieved in China.

Then, I’d like to show you China’s education reality.

This is China’s education system. All Chinese know that how cruel the Gao Kao is. There is a conflict between large population and limited educational resources. In order to have one bite of the cake, every student is desperate to join in the fierce competition. Althogh it seems crazy that all students' education purpose is for GaoKao, Chinese education system clearly has its benefit. It is the most effective methodology to allocate limited educational resources to the most excellent students that are identified by standard test scores. However, everyone is different. There is no one-size-fit-all in education.

I think Globalization 3.0 opens another door to those students who fail their National College Entrance Examination and those who want to pursue their own interests. In other words, flat world allows them to be different from others. When we can find alternative educational resources, GaoKao will no longer be the only way to determine a student’s success or failure. Students are able to learn high quality skill and knowledge from professionals in areas of expertise all around the world through internet. Friedman says, “when the world goes flat, we are connecting all the knowledge pools in the world together.” To many students, it’s better for them to enhance their special intelligence and strength rather than accept general education at the first beginning. As educators, the school policy implementors, we may not be able to change education system at the moment, but at least we can show students the alternative, which is better than nothing. When more students are able to engage in their own interests with  use of new technologies, more traditional educational resources can be saved to those children who don’t even have access to internet. Only after every student has opportunity to accept high quality higher education , can the customized education be taken into agenda.

October 4, 2011

A case that use web 2.0 tools to help learning

I am reading 5153 textbook teachers and machines( Cuban, 1986) this week. The first 3 chapters show us how film, radio, video and television have been brought to school by top-down policy since 1920 and why those media failure to integrate into classroom. Dr. Solis sent us this interesting blog posting Not Just the Facts, Ma'am. We can see how web2.0 tools offer our new generation an authentic active learning experience.  I think the difference between computer and its predecessors (film, radio, video, television) is that computer gives flexibility to one's learning process. It's versatile, and as portable as books. We are able to use computers in class, bedroom and somewhere else we want. It travels more easier than books.  More important, it makes instruction both productive and enriching. Students are able to acquire more information with the same or even less teacher effort.

 The above link and video are from this blog- The Fischbowl