12 februari 2015

Gamify your teaching

The other day one of my colleagues came by and asked me how good I'm doing apps. She had such an awesome idea how an app could help her gamify her teaching. A simple basic idea: hide clues everywhere and anywhere in the school, when the students finds them, put them together and earn some electro coins to cash in with for a reward.

And her ideas got into my head and I couldn't stop thinking of it. Such a good idea ought to go to be solved!

Do we really need an app?
No, not really.
Keep It Simple Stupid

I came up with a solution and she thought it would be so fun (and interesting) so we have to test it. We use Google Drive, add-ons and QR-codes.

We create one (1) quiz about diagnoses with ten (10) check questions and six (6) different answers (one for ADD, one for ADHD, one for autism and so on). We copy that one Google form, use the add-on Flubaroo and create a correct answer for all separate quizzes. With the Flubaroo add-on we can email each participant directly with feedback. We use our schools testimonials N1, G2 and B3 and they earn the same amount of "electro coins".
  • N1: 70% correct answers = 1 coin
  • G2: 80% correct answers = 2 coins
  • B3: 90% correct answers = 3 coins
  • B3+: 100% correct answers = 4 coins

To each form we use a QR-code and that code can be hidden everywhere and anywhere, in a pdf-document or in a classroom. The QR code links to the quiz and some information who can take it.

  • First price: you can skip one examination or if you have done all examinations we don't count the one you screw up.
  • Second price: normally they have three tries for an examination but now they will have one extra try.
  • Third price: during examination, you will have one answer for free (from the teacher)

We still have to discuss the amount of coins for each price, but maybe it could be 3xG2+3xB3, 3x2+3x3=6+9=15 coins as the lowest level and 4xB3+2xB3+, 4x3+2x4=20 coins as the highest level. So you win the first price if you score between 15-20 coins.

Yeah, and with that thinking you'll have a bonus price as well, but we have to figure out something.

Our thought is to challenge our students to learn more with a minimal resources of us teachers, therefor check questions and auto correction add-on.

And finally, there's an actual working idea of gamification taking place and even though I've come up with the solution myself I doubt I'll be the first one to try it :D

10 februari 2015

Technical drawing

I'm on my second week of my "Technical drawing" course, 30 lessons in total. My colleague have had his group to make a lot of blueprints on paper. Unsurprisingly I have another approach: Minecraft and Lego, more particularly architect Lego from the early 1960's. I run the course on a vanilla creative server as mods, in my experience, mix up the students proportions. They are so busy cut a block into pieces that they forget what they suppose to build. 

So why Minecraft?
Well, even though I sometimes doubt I still believe students of today learn in another way than we're used to and my goals, with this course can be summarized in three points
  • scale, 
  • proportion and 
  • 3D models

I also want to encourage creativity, problem solving and collaboration.

We have practiced to convert 2D projections to 3D models and now practice how to scale something, like (minecraft) Steves head in 1:1, 1:5 and 2:1 and just because you're allowed to use a game it won't necessary be the best way to solve the problem. But when doing it in the sandbox it becomes more apparent when you make a mistake in your thoughts.

I have not had to moderate the server ever even though it been up for 1,5 years and even if I have had 4-5 classes there and a permanent population of teachers and their kids (all under 7 years) but with this group of students and technical drawing there have been lots of problems within a week. Why do you have to kill something? Or blow away whatever you want with TNT?

We tackle problems in different ways and we solve problems in different ways, I don't want to change that but I'd like 16-18 year old students behave mature and adult and not as they are rascals :P

So I had to have a talk with them today. I did show them a picture of a classroom from the 1950's and another one from the 21st century. I asked which one they preferred, and all wanted the future classroom. Fact: teachers don't like to step out of their comfort zone, they don't like changes, they rather want the 1950's classroom so I told my students, when I try to bring the teaching into the 21st century, try to respect my attempts to change it.

I think they understood, they stopped complaining about the vanilla server and started doing tasks. 

So, is it really the facts that teachers do not like the changes?
If we generalize, most are reluctant to leave the comfort zone.

One colleague, almost 10 years younger than me, said: 
"Games in teaching and everything like that, it's certainly good but ... what do you do if two students (of 20) ain't interested in your way of teaching???"

And that piss me off!
Just because they do not dare themselves, they do not have to shoot us down before we tried. There is only another question, which in turn are greeted by silence and teeth grinding...
"How do you resolve it yourself when you have two students who listens and 18 who play games, watch YouTube or just chill out?"

5 februari 2015

What is Minecraft?

In the ongoing MOOC, Minecraft for educators, we've been asked to identify the different platforms that you can play Minecraft on (Console, Tablet, PC etc) and produce a comparison describing the differences and limitations of each. This first task to show our understanding and knowledge of the different platforms that Minecraft comes on and clearly show what each version is capable of or its limitations. Therefor, here we go.

Minecraft PE
The first version of Minecraft I bought and played, where I saw the light and also understood this ain't enough! We need multiplayer, we need collaboration and we need an easier way to control our character.

But there's some cool features as when it comes to crafting, it's enough to have one piece of wood in your inventory to see what you can craft from that. There's also a separate workbench for stones.

Above: another workbench (sort of) for the stones (to the left). 
Below: Just a quick look to show how Minecraft look inside PE and where you find the controls.

  • Built in craft recieps
  • Cheap
  • Can't change character skin
  • Can't connect to a server
  • Difficult to move around
  • No redstones
  • Limited worlds

Minecraft PC / MAC
Even though I'm an old WASD-gamer I had some issues moving around and do/undo blocks the first sessions. Luckily I both had students and a 5 yo daughter who started to help and teach me. With the PC version my educator eyes opened and I saw the possibilities how to use Minecraft in education.

Comparing with the other plattforms PC has the easiest controls, the worlds are almost unlimited and it's easy to get an exactly position (XYZ). Redstones gives a new dimension what to use Minecraft to.

It's also a flexible plattform as you can mod it free of choice.

Above: how the PC version will look like with the amazing texturepack Dragondance. 

  • Controls
  • Redstone
  • Unlimited worlds (almost)
  • Mod-able
  • Console commands
  • Skins
  • Controls

MinecraftEDU brings features that really help you in the classroom, as you easily can manage your class, mute or freeze them, teleport, give items and more. These things has turned out to be much valuable when you use Minecraft with older kids as they seek up the mobs instead of avoid them. It's very hard to keep them on track and you have to put up lots of quests to have their focus.

Above: so the MinecraftEDU adds a teacher panel down to the left, otherwise it looks the same as ordinary Minecraft.

  • ComputerCraftEDU, drag and drop code
  • Teacher admin panel
  • Cheaper than usual Minecraft

  • Controls? ;)

Minecraft Xbox, PS and more
I have no experience of the xbox version (or the other ones). I find myself have some difficulties with the control pads when I play other games, there's too many bottoms and also very hard to focus where to aim.

What comes to pos / cons, this is what I figured out after reading this comparison made by Sgt Merrell.

Above: so here's the Minecraft Xbox view and down to the left there's some kind of "meny", buttons you need in game. The inventory bar is also a bit higher up than in the other versions.

  • Redstones
  • Mods
  • Easy to host games online
  • Easy to host games local
  • Controls
  • Limited worlds
  • Limited chance to change skins
Minecraft Pi edition
Last one out is the Pi Edition which I heard about when I bought the book "Adventures in Minecraft" and what I understand Pi is based on the Alpha pocket edition but sort of designed to more easy add programming in Python to the game. Minecraft Pi feels like the nerd version of the game as it requires Rasberry pi :D

Above: how the game looks like in Rasperry Pi and if you want to compare ;)

However, don't forget
No matter what platform, be aware of your student will find other things to do no matter what you have planned. Allow some creativity, they will anyway learn the key competences of lifelong learning, a goal which is difficult to reach usually. MinecraftEDU is to prefer as you can freeze your students and also easily control the class and classroom, as shown in the picture below.

Look as that's the biggest issue many has of the game. Use a texturepack and you will get the look you want ;)