Igniting potential in families, learning, and creativity with technology

Posts tagged ‘#concept’

The Role of Technology in Learning

The design of personal mobile technologies for lifelong learning

Mike Sharples

After establishing learning theories and extrapolating the criteria necessary to support lifelong learning, Sharples observes that technology innovation is rapidly converging on these requirements. The article proposes that conversation is the basis of learning and that technology could potentially either assume the role of one of the actors in the dialogue or it may merely facilitate the conversation. For example, technology may adapt to a learner’s unique style or context by filtering and curating all the available information on a given topic or problem or technology may simply provide a virtual space in which the conversation is conducted.

This article interested me for a variety of reasons the most compelling being the view held that learning happens in conversation. Our design project seeks to continue the conversation by way of pairing young readers with more seasoned adults around the synchronous reading of an online book via a video chat. The technology in this instance serves as a conversation facilitator with rich media and real-time personal nuances.



Optimal Capacity Building: Integrating Brain-Based Learning and Educational Research into Technology-Supported Learning

In searching for a way to facilitate optimal capacity building, this article synthesizes many learning theories. Two salient ideas combine to give focus to the research. The first is Block’s finding around the superior learning one to one human tutoring holds for individuals. The second is Vygotsky’s proposition that scaffolding can assist in approaching the zone of proximal development. The ubiquity of emerging technology is the impetus for many of the statements made in this article. With ubiquity comes the opportunity to use technology as a medium to enhance the entire learning process and not just a single aspect of learning. Technology will assess, augment, adjust, and optimise educational environments to achieve optimal capacity building which is a physical change in the brain.

The brain has always fascinated me and is a main reason for my selection of this article. I find the holistic approach to education and learning very appealing and intriguing. The possibilities of ubiquitous computing seem so limitless it is almost difficult to dream up what what will happen.



Leadership in All Places

A spark of excitement always hits when I make connections between a concept manifest in various contexts.

This afternoon I was privileged to participate in an event with President Kim Clark, BYUI president and former dean of the Harvard Business School. He facilitated a wonderful discussion around defining direction as a leader. He modeled the principles proffered by both the audience and his preparation. The thoughts shared centered around cultivating an open environment, framing the context, inviting participation, and empowering others.

The spark moment did not come until I jumped on the bus to return home. A unlikely candidate surprised me by exhibiting all the leadership qualities modeled so well just a half an hour ago by a renowned business leader. The culprit behind the surprise was none other than the bus driver himself. With his heavy Hispanic accent he announced that there was a significant delay on the freeway, presented some options, solicited feedback and participation, and adjusted the route home. I felt committed and responsible because my opinion was included in the making of the final decision.

It turns out that the alternate route wasn’t much faster than the backed up freeway. I admit that I winched a little when other passengers would glance in my direction. I was one of the first to speak up in the open environment. Nevertheless, I enjoyed reflected on what was taught and observing the salient principles play out in a very ordinary occurrence.

Adventures in leadership are often wonderful journeys. Enjoy the ride!

Confusing Conversations

Confused chimpWondering why classmates get so bent out of shape when the experience teaches them exactly what is being illustrated. Pure text chat in Sakai was painful. Confusion ensued shortly after we began. The interface was difficult to interpret. Context was lost in one line of text. I thought the experience (intentional or otherwise) clearly demonstrated the critical role social presence plays in technology mediated interactions. The higher the fidelity the better.

[Aside] I was stuck on the bus home when class began. Luckily I had recently purchased an iSpot (mobile 4G hotspot) from http://clear.com. I was weaving my way through three cities while class was happening. Location really is a funny thing these days when we are constantly on the go. Tethering up with technology to be anywhere in the world is an impressive ability. I was also struck how seamless our design team collaborated across continents (North America and Eastern Europe) on our tools audition!

Feather Tread (not bed!)

Last night, as I was wrapping up a family birthday dinner I began my journey into a new semiotic domain!! (How’s that for a big confusing term? I am currently reading a fascinating book by James Paul Gee on what video games can teach us about learning. He uses this term often.)

A simple question sparked it all. My brother asked me what year my Camry was. I said it was a 2006 but also mentioned that the noise in the cabin had become so loud that it was almost unbearable to drive on the freeway. He immediately looked at the front passenger tire, rubbed his hand over it, and instantly told me what my problem was. My tires were slightly angled and were wearing unevenly. I wanted to understand what he knew and so I had him point out to me how he could identify the uneven wear on the tires.

He mentioned a term I was not familiar with (at least in this context), feathering. Rubbing the tire one way was smooth but reversing the direction produced a rough, segmented feel. It took a few tries and some specific pointers before I really clued in to what he labeled the feathering of the tread. I was grateful he took the time to answer my follow up questions.

There was a progression to the level of proficiency I gained. I started with the mainfestation of the problem, the feathering of the tread on the front tires, and moved to the conclusion that my alignment was off and causing the feathering. Had I learned this information outside of this context I doubt I would have paid much attention. I now had embodied, actionable experience and knowledge. I believe I reached the active learning level but had not breached the critical learning level.

Identity Transfer vs. Identity Growth

I’m not so sure that my tweet about gamers being able to make quicker decisions with the same accuracy as non-gamers will be true today after playing studying WoW until 1am. That silly level up experience bar somehow coaxes me to top it off before exiting the game.

David, Julie and I explored some additional features of the game together. One that I am still a little unclear on is the class training. I have noticed that I am becoming more familiar with the flow of the game (resting after engaging enemies, using items to recover health / mana, sitting). David pointed out to me that the location of the heath (sp?) stone can be moved depending on where a majority of your activity is.

With the thoughts of Dewey’s theories in mind, I recognize that to thrive in the game you have to become proficient in the lingo, symbols and principles that govern the community. Buffs, for example, are not called by that exact phrase in the game yet were understood readily among the community. Without the guidance from more seasoned players, the lessons and knowledge seem to come slowly through the school of hard knocks (if it comes at all!). After spending a little time with those who know their way around (in every sense of the phrase) you begin to see the objectives in the same light as the mature generation. It was also interesting to see that those who invest in bringing others up in levels are benefited by having more capable allies and the (small) insentive to party together for bonus experience. That’s interesting to see how Blizzard weaves this in to the gameplay.

My brother offered me his WoW account but I declined in order to get the full experience for myself. I would have looked pretty silly playing a level 80 character with no foundational grasp on the game itself. As well intentioned as my brother was, he did not see that his “experience” could not be conferred or transferred, only cultivated and curated for others.

I am so amazed by the complexity and sheer breadth and depth of this “world” in which lives and learning play out. What an interesting model to observe and investigate when pondering concepts of learning.

Together Time in World of Warcraft

Class in a virtual world like WoW was a unique experience but not without it’s own hiccups. All the cues I had indicated that I was fully present with the cadre. Yet, no one seemed to respond to anything I typed. Try as I might I could not participate and because of the limited means for communicating (text only and strange avatar body language). Had I been tipped off earlier it would have been a much more enjoyable experience.

The environment was immersive. I noticed that my attention was rivetted on what was going on. Other cadre mates were dancing or laying down, a random player came bouncing by and laughed that we were trying to have class. The ambient sounds and the occasional laugh really helped me feel a part of the exchange. Even the proximity of other cadre mates affected my emotions and reactions.

I was terribly frustrated with the chat mechanism. I had to click the chat area each time it lost focus. Frequently I would type not knowing my focus had left the chat area and the keys I hit would trigger all the other shortcut windows within WoW.

Overall, I was able to focus on the discussion at hand, truly consider my response to the intriguing questions, and appreciated the feeling that I had just spent quality time with the cadre. Now I am left to wonder how I could encourage virtual meetings among a very conservative organization. 😉

For the Alliance!

I find it fascinating that leadership principles found in Multipliers make a significant appearance in my initial experience with World of Warcraft (WoW). The first leadership concept of a multiplier is that of being a magnet for talent. This talent magnet concept is coupled with practices such as looking for talent everywhere, finding natural genius, engage individuals to the fullest, and removing roadblocks. Granted, WoW makes explicit the natural abilities of a character. But leaders can and do recognize those elements which are unique to a specific character (mage, warrior, priest, etc.) that benefit a team or quest and capitalize on that knowledge. I quickly realized in the two hours I spen with the game that I would not make it too far without the help of others. Taking on a few Kobold Tunnellers all at once would kill me. I find it clever on Blizzard’s part to introduce collaboration so early on in the game.

I want to be a multiplier by recruiting my fellow cadre members not only to enhance my overall action research project but to hone how they might best benefit and grow from their own experience in the program.

It is excitig to see games mimic real life leadership and complex social situations. Or is it real life that mimics games? There is truly an art to crafting engaging and educational games.

On a side note, I have asked my brother tough questions to get at the heart of why he dedicates so much time to WoW. His most compelling answer always centers around growth, achievement, and leveling up. He enjoys profession and becoming.

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