Tag Archives: Tech Task

Welcome to about.me

Our ECMP355 class was about digital citizenship this week.  For our Tech Task this week one of our options was to create an about.me page, linking my different visibilities on the internet.

Mine is here and I hope to continue to add different services to it.

http://about.me/trinacrawford

 

www.wonderville.ca: A fun place to visit!

The use of computer games in education is not a new concept.  A popular game back in 1992 was Oregon Trail, as shown as it was used on the Apple II computer:

And the Oregon Trail game is still around, even available for the iPhone, 2011:

After our presentation by Sylvia Martinez about the benefits of gaming in education and the attributes of a good, relevant learning game, our assignment was to check out the website Wonderville, try some of the games and critique them for their use in an educational setting.

Wonderville is a website developed by the Science Alberta Foundation and includes more than 30 games that teach and reinforce a variety of science concepts.  In addition to the online games, there is also a section for activities such as handouts and puzzles that can be used to supplement the topics.

Now, just to be clear:  My name is Trina Crawford and I am a terrible gamer.

I went onto the site to try some of the games but as soon as my kids (The Boss, 11.5 and The Pink Dictator, 7)  figured out that I was on the site, they were over my shoulder, giving me advice and asking, “When do WEEEEEEEEEEE get to play??!!”  So I decided to let the kids help me with my homework.  We started out doing the activities together and talking about what we were doing and why we were making the decisions that we were, but then I decided to just let them go at it and I observed their play and asked questions as they went along.  What follows are the games that we tried on the Wonderville site, observations about the kids playing and my thoughts about the games:

Top Cow:  We started playing this game together.  The object is to create either ice cream, yogurt, or cheese by moving along a conveyor belt, starting with milk and making the necessary additions to create the item you have chosen.  You have the option to add things such as live bacteria, heat or cold, flavour and stirring or pressing.  Or you can choose to skip one of those entirely if you think it will help make the product.  You are given hints as you go along, but there is still enough room that you could make mistakes and if you do, your product comes out as a pile of ‘goo’ instead.  Using common sense, information given and trial and error, you are given several attempts to ‘fix’ your process in order to come out with the item you have chosen.  This game was a hit with the kids and they learned about the addition of live bacteria to certain items and how to activate those to have a successful process.

Fission Impossible: A game based in a reactor where you are a neutron searching for Uranium 235 to create nuclear fission.  You must avoid Uranium 238 and stay within a certain area or the game will be over.  My son played this game and enjoyed maneuvering the neutron around, but after the game was played a few times and a few levels conquered, I asked him what he was doing or what he had learned but he couldn’t tell me.  He just said it was fun.  It is a good game for hand-eye coordination, but seemed to be lacking in the information/concept  area.

Airborne Experiment:  My daughter played this game.  It involved mixing bird bodies and wings and throwing them like a paper airplane to try to determine which ones would glide the best.  It was quite obvious to my daughter which sizes went with which one, but after a successful throw, there was interesting information given about the bird that was created and how, specifically, that bird flew. The information was given before moving onto the next combination.  It was a pretty quick game that resulted in a giggle-fest when the kids started with “What happens if we put the Finch wings on the Pelican body?” and watching the birds crash.

Water Treatment:  Something is wrong with the town’s water supply and the kids have to work together to make sure the water treatment plant is working correctly.  Kids learn the process and complete each step with guidance to get the amounts of additive perfect (ie: chlorine and alum)  and to ensure that the physical plant is built properly (ie: correct number of baffles).  This was a simplified model of a water treatment plant but provided much learning along the way.  We all worked together on this one and the kids enjoyed getting the water plant working and getting the message that they had saved Wonderville’s water supply!

Robot Factory:  You are charged with building a robot to complete a certain chore of your choosing (ie: vacuum the floor) and must include the correct arms and mobility items (ie: wheels, tracks) to make it work.  My daughter did this task but sadly it froze up and crashed and we never did find out how successful our robot was!

Save the World: This game taught energy generation and conservation and had the children make choices to learn the best source for energy generation for various places around the globe.  There was a considerable amount of collaboration with the kids for this one because it seemed to be very much a trial and error game and I heard more than once, “I don’t know why it’s doing that. . . maybe we should try this. . . ”  There were good descriptors of the sources of energy but the kids didn’t ever really figure out how to be successful in the game.  Good information, potential for collaboration,  but it lost their attention and the ‘fun’ factor.

So, after playing several of the games with the kids I have to say that Wonderville is an educational game site that delivers!  The kids were enthusiastic, the games were fun for them and they are already asking when they can play again.  They were exposed to several new science concepts and information and learned from the games that they played.  I would definitely recommend this site for classroom use!

Video Fun!

This week’s Tech Task was to create a short video based on one of three different themes.  I worked with Colby K. and we chose to do a short video about her journey to becoming a teacher.  Taking the video was a bit challenging for us:  nervousness played into it, the locations that we chose were fairly noisy (and being unfamiliar with the Education building for me, didn’t help!) and on short notice, without time to plan, Colby was a bit hesitant to just “wing-it” in her speaking. 🙂  She did great!  I was a bit shaky with the camera, even though I did try to brace myself.

We took about 9 short video clips and we discarded 2 of them.  We put together a quick video using Windows Live Movie Maker and after sharing that with Colby for her to edit or change, I took a try at using some different tools like trimming and adding text.  I find it easier to poke around and learn things when I have time to just ‘play’ with them, so working on the additions was something I took time to do at home, in my own head-space.  Because of this, my video will be different than the one that Colby posts on her blog.

The transitions in our video are choppy because of our changes of locations and is something that I will definitely need to work at.  The volume isn’t great; Colby is a soft-spoken person and apparently my microphone on my digital camera wasn’t great, and the locations we chose were noisy.  Noted.  We also didn’t manage to stay within 60 seconds.  Whooops, also noted.

Without further ado, here is the video that I put together based on the first draft that we put together in class.

Becoming a Teacher.  Colby’s Story.

Digital Storytelling

Our Tech-Task this week was to create a digital story using one of a plethora of different online resources as presented by Alan Levine and his site 50+ 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story.  I chose to use the tool Smilebox to create my task.  I compiled my story from the holiday that we took as a family in June.  Because the kids were missing school, we decided to make an unofficial Flat Stanley-esque project based on the book Flat Stanley,  and Corey and McKenna made their own “Flats” to take with them on the adventure.  We documented their time with us and initially put the photos into a Powerpoint presentation that we made together that they could share with their classes when they returned.  I have to say, Smilebox is a lot more fun.  You get the option to share the story online for free or for a fee of $5.99/month or less if you sign up for longer periods, you get the option to print or save your creation to DVD.  There are also options and templates for invitations, scrapbooks, collages and all kinds of things, with lots of ways to personalize your project.

Here’s my attempt at digital storytelling:

Click to play this Smilebox photo album
Create your own photo album - Powered by Smilebox
Photo album made with Smilebox

I’ve become a Blog Snob*

I have restarted and deleted this blog post five times now, thanks to David Jakes and the presentation that he made for our ECMP355 class last night. I will explain why in a minute.  Bear with me.

As a disclaimer, I am not a judgmental person by nature.  I subscribe to the ‘live and let live’ belief system.  I believe in being kind to others and accepting of differences and Karma.

So, because of that, I feel a little bit guilty about how I’ve been reading blogs lately.  After Mr. Jake’s presentation I find myself dissecting the visual integrity of each and every blog I open, including my own.

“Good lord!  She used Comic Sans!  The HORROR!” (Mental note, send her this link.)

“Red?  RED?  What was he thinking???”

I have become a judgemental Blog Snob.

Learning about the perceptual impact that various aspects of a blog’s visual space has on a reader has made me accutely aware that it isn’t just about what I am saying to people but also how I am using visual cues and imagery to convey my messages.  I’m pretty sure that at the beginning of Mr. Jake’s presentation learning about the discussion of Cognitive Load Theory and the biology of learning with visual literacy,  I looked a little like this guy:

But as the evening went on and his slideshow and lecture continued it became clear to me.  Having a blog and something to say isn’t enough to be effective.  Making it effective and well-received takes work.  This is where the five false-starts to my blog post comes in.  I know I need to work on all of those things.  And the information that I received from our presentation will help me do better.  I look forward to hearing comments on how I am doing with that.

*Blog Snob:  What we were warned we would become after our presentation.  You were right, Dean Shareski.

Results from my Blogging Comfort Survey

You can see the results from my Blogging Comfort Survey if you click HERE.

Naked in a Crowd

You know that dream?  The one where you find yourself in front of a bunch of people doing a presentation or at a party and you realize you’re naked?  If you haven’t had it, you’ve probably at least heard of it.

I realized yesterday that that’s a little bit like how I feel about blogging.  I only have a few blogs but found the nerve to post the URL on Twitter and a few minutes late I noticed that my instructor for my ECMP355 class, Dean Shareski had retweeted my post to several thousand of his followers.  I have to admit that I felt a bit nauseated.  Blogging has made me experience a new level of discomfort.  A lot of vulnerability.  Very open to judgment and criticism.  I think these are good things for me.  They are making me think things through thoroughly before hitting “Publish” and they are giving me a chance for a professional and personal audience that I haven’t ever had, opening dialogue with and inviting interaction with other people. I’ve never been a risk-taker. This is risky for me.

We were asked to start our blog as part of our ECMP355 class and all of my classmates and I have done so.  I want to know if I’m the only one who is feeling this way.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love to talk and to engage and to discuss and to debate, so this is going to be really fun, I think.  I just wonder if you ever get comfortable – like REALLY comfortable – doing it.  If you have a minute, please answer this quick survey: