Clif’s Notes on Education and Technology

Teaching and Learning up in the Air

Traveling with a Lawn Chair and BalloonsHere is a cool story (Read about it here and here) that could be integrated into the curriculum in so many different ways. I’ll give a few examples to start the conversation, and then you can add your ideas in the comments section.

  • There is so much math and science involved with this endeavor (weight, altitude, speed, distance, global positioning, ballasting, weather, wind currents, and much more) that it could easily be integrated into data collection and presentation, measurement, etc. activities.
  • There is the potential to make connections to geography, maps, latitude and longitude, etc. in social studies and geography.
  • This story (or video of this story) could be used to kick-off a creative writing/ podcasting/ video/ journaling/ presentation exercise in reading, writing, speech or mass communications classes.

I’m sure you have other thoughts about using this in teaching and learning, or perhaps you’d like to expound on something already mentioned. Either way, please add your thoughts and feedback by clicking on the Comments link below.

What a Lucky Day!?!?

Did you realize that today’s date is 7/7/07? I saw in the news that today was an enormously popular wedding day and that many people were trying their luck at gambling today. There are some really cool ways to tie this into the curriculum, but I’m guessing that very few were in school today because it is a Saturday and it’s July. 🙂

Wimbledon Update

Wow! Today was packed full of incredible tennis matches at Wimbledon. Thank goodness, too, because the weather has dampened most of this year’s championships (pun intended). Nadal, Federer, and Venus Williams all played excellent tennis and easily won their matches just as I’d expected. However, the really interesting storylines came from the following matches.

Djokovic def. Baghdatis 7-5 in the fifth set
Baghdatis became one of my favorite tennis players with his 2006 breakout season. Djokovic has had an impressive 2007 breakout season and I’ve been pulling for him in recent tournaments. This was a tough call, but I was pulling for Baghdatis. They played high quality tennis for over 4.5 hours and showcased their tennis talents and sportsmanship. Their behavior today is an example to athletes everywhere.

Gasquet def. Roddick 8-6 in the fifth set
Woohoo! Go home Roddick!!! Gasquet demonstrated his undying belief in himself and exploited Roddick’s lack of self-confidence. Roddick looked to be only minutes from winning this match and then he once again demonstrated that he’s never going to live up to the hype.

Bartoli def. Henin 1-6, 7-5, 6-1
Everyone had expected to see Henin vs. Venus Williams in tomorrow’s Ladies Finals. Henin seemed to have this match won and then, with nothing to lose, Bartoli began letting her strokes fly…and they fell in.

The Word Is Getting Out

Games and Simulations in Education: A Resource List for Newbies

The following is in response to the requests several of you have made for more information about games and simulations in education.

The use of games and simulations in education is increasing. There is a lot being researched, written, blogged, and talked about on this topic. There are increasing numbers of presentations and discussions on the topic at conferences. The topic is also becoming part of the curriculum in more and more educational technology courses and programs. While I believe that the use of electronic games and simulations in teaching and learning is in its infancy, there are those that have had an interest in this for quite some time, and have acquired a respectable level of expertise in this area. I suggest the following resources to help you prepare to integrate games and simulations with teaching and learning in your classroom.

  • Mark Prensky – Prensky’s provocative nature has helped him become one of the biggest names in games in education. His book Digital Game-Based Learning is a must read for anyone looking to become knowledgeable of this topic. (Warning: He likes to be shocking for the sake of being shocking.)
  • Lloyd Rieber – Dr. Rieber’s understanding of rigorous research and development combined with his ability to easily communicate with classroom teachers has made him a well respected individual in the field of instructional technology around the world. His website, Nowhere Road, is full of useful resources.
  • WWILD Team – This is an “online community of teachers, parents, students, and software developers promoting experiential learning.” Be sure to especially look over the Homemade PowerPoint Games (think, “Webquest meets PowerPoint”) section.
  • Rick van Eck – He has become known for his research in instructional games and simulations.
  • Dennis Charsky – As an emerging researcher and practitioner in the area of instructional games, Dr. Charsky has the ability to communicate his knowledge of computer programming, game development, and graphic design to educators.
  • COTS – Integrating commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) games with teaching and learning
  • It’s All Fun and Games until… – This is a partial compilation of resources (podcasts, PowerPoint files, etc.) from guest presentations given in conjunction with a special topics class I helped co-teach.

What resources would you add to this list? Please leave your suggestions (provide URLs when possible) in the comments below.

Happy Independence Day

Rubber Duckies Heading for British Coast

I find this story to be interesting for several reasons. First, the mental picture I have of these toys washing overboard and floating around the world for the past 15 years makes me chuckle. Second, our children think this story is hysterical. Third, it’s cool that technology has made it possible to track these floatees as they’ve trekked the oceans of the world.

I know of examples of students tracking the migration patterns of whales, severe weather, earthquakes, sea turtles, sports teams, things in space, etc. but these rubber ducks bring an entirely new element of fun to such an activity.

What are your thoughts about this?

Rubber Ducks

Use of Technology in Classrooms for Simple and Complex Functions

Rachel C. Lees

As educational technology stands today, there is a heavy push for the usage of technology in classrooms for both simple and complex functions.

Standpoint 1: Technology is a wonderful tool for expanding students’ grasp outside the classroom and into new worlds. It can make tasks easier and it can take a lot of the manual drudgery out of everyday tasks that can free teachers up for what really matters: the substance of the lesson and the conceptual mastery.

Standpoint 2: If we integrate technology into the “manual drudgery” of classroom tasks, isn’t there a risk that students will lose their most basic skills or, worse yet, not develop them at all? For example, why should students use the dictionary or thesaurus when they can easily find those on websites? Why should they learn spelling and grammar when the “spell check” does it for them?

For Discussion: Wouldn’t it only be dwelling on archaic, outdated lessons if we pushed for the use of “analog/book” technology? Why would teaching these skills be necessary? After all, we had to give up one-room schoolhouses at some point. If we are truly moving into the age when the computer dominates our basic skills, are we doing ourselves a service or a disservice?

About the Author
Rachel Lees recently graduated from Ithaca College with a B.A. in English and minors in Classical Studies and Art History. She’s currently earning a Master’s degree in childhood education and pursuing teaching certification in first through sixth grades. When asked to briefly describe herself Rachel stated, “I’m from a military family in New England, and I live in Ithaca now with a cat and a lot of books on my shelves.”