Video Games, Smartphones, Language Learning, Technology and Learning

lynnz_col2Playing High-Action Video Games May Speed Up Learning, Studies Say by Sarah D. Sparks in Education Week 11/13/14
Sparks reports on a study in the December issue of Human Movement Science that contradicts earlier research which connects extensive video game play to attention-deficit disorders and other impulsiveness disorders. The authors contend that “game playing can improve students’ attention control” and create better learners.

Smartphone addicts: A project-based learning activity by Alexandra Lowe in TESOL blog 11/5/14
Lowe describes how she used the idea of a Smartphone survey to move English language use outside the classroom. In groups students developed and conducted surveys about Smartphone use.

Learning languages is a workout for brains, both young, old by Victoria M. Infivero from Science Daily 11/12/14
Using MRI scans, researchers at Penn State have demonstrated that even the adult brain grows and changes when learning a new language. They are also using “virtual 3-D-like environments with situation-based learning to help the brain make some of those new connections more effectively.”

Report Urges Caution on Approaches Equating Technology in Schools with Personalized Learning by William J. Mathis and Noel Enyedy,  from NEPC 11/24/14
This policy brief addresses the increased use of technology in schools and questions its effectiveness. The authors point to a number of factors, including the fact that teaching practices and learning outcomes often have not changed.

Who Dat? It’s E-Learn 2014! Come, Learn, Share, Connect

By Stefanie Panke
Editor, Social Software in Education

The 19th annual international conference AACE E-Learn took place from October 27-30 in the sunny, warm and welcoming climate of the city of New Orleans. The conference attracted 670 participants from 60 different countries who enjoyed four days of workshops, keynotes, presentations, symposia, SIG meetings, posters, and, last but not least, informal discussions and networking opportunities during the session breaks.

Conference infographic by Stefanie Panke.

Conference infographic by Stefanie Panke.

AACE E-Learn Conference

What sets AACE conferences apart from other events in the educational technology community is the rigorous peer review process in the selection of presentations. Instead of simply submitting an abstract, AACE requires a full manuscript of 6-10 pages. While writing skills do not always and certainly not necessarily translate into great presentations, the quality off contributions is generally high. This also makes the conference proceedings (available in the AACE digital library EditLib) a really great resource for an up-to-date overview of the current state-of-the-art in educational technology. While access to the proceedings is generally restricted to conference participants and subscribers, several papers that were honored with an outstanding paper award are openly accessible:

The best paper awards mirror the diverse spectrum of the conference. E-Learn is a place where educational technology researchers, developers, and practitioners from higher education, K-12, nonprofit and industry sectors meet – brought together by a joint focus on leveraging technology for achieving instructional goals.

My Conference Experience

This conference report is my personal eclectic account of E-Learn 2014. My schedule was packed this year: Not only did I, in a hyperactive mood, choose to deliver three talks, but I also had a symposium and a special interest group meeting to moderate and an executive committee meeting to attend. Luckily, the overall conference atmosphere, the great discussions during the special interest group meeting, and the thoughtful feedback, ideas, encouragement and contributions by numerous conference participants made all of this fun.  Continue reading

TCC Worldwide Online Conference 2015: Call for Proposals

TCC2015A
20th Annual
TCC WORLDWIDE ONLINE CONFERENCE
March 17-19, 2015

Hawaii 2-0 : The Future is Now

Submission deadline: December 15, 2014
Submission form: http://bit.ly/tcc2015-proposal
Homepage: tcchawaii.org

CALL FOR PROPOSALS
Please consider submitting a proposal for a paper or general session relating to all aspects of educational technology, including but not limited to e-learning, open education, ICT, online communities, social media, augmented reality, educational gaming, faculty & student support, Web 2.0 tools, international education and mobile learning. We also encourage retrospective presentations, personal experiences, and forecasting the future.

FULL DETAILS
http://tcchawaii.org/call-for-proposals-2015

SUBMISSIONS
http://bit.ly/tcc2015-proposal

VENUE
Participation in the event may be entirely online or by attending on-site sessions on March 18-19 at the University of Hawaii. On-site participants are also granted access to all online sessions starting March 17. All sessions will be streamed to online participants.

MORE INFO
Bert Kimura <bert@hawaii.edu> or Curtis Ho <curtis@hawaii.edu>

TCC Hawaii, LearningTimes, & the Learning Design and Technology Department, College of Education, UH-Manoa collaborate to produce this event. Numerous volunteer faculty and staff worldwide provide additional support.

—To join our TCCOHANA-L mailing list —
http://tcchawaii.org/tccohana-l/

The iPhone 6 Plus and Tablets: A Tectonic Drift

Jim ShimabukuroBy Jim Shimabukuro
Editor

The iPhone 6 Plus arrived via USPS priority mail yesterday, so I’ve had it for a little over a day. My first impression is that it has a completely different look and feel from the iPhone 4, which I reviewed in July 2011. The 4 has a solid industrial feel that’s enhanced by sharply beveled edges. I like the way it looks and feels in my hand. The 6+, in comparison, feels fragile, perhaps because of its thinness and rounded edges. This sense of fragility, however, is gradually fading the more I handle it. My guess is that it will take a few days for a new muscle memory to replace the old.

IPhone 6+ and iPhone 4.

iPhone 6 Plus: 6.22 x 3.06 x 0.28 inches, 6.07 ounces. iPhone 4: 4.5 x 2.31 x 0.37 inches, 4.8 ounces.

The most critical factor for me is hand fit. It has to feel comfortable. It took a few hours to adjust to the size difference, especially the length, 6.22″ vs 4.5″. The width difference, 3.06″ vs 2.31″, is noticeable, but it’s surprisingly comfortable in my hand. My immediate thought was that the next version of the plus could easily be an inch wider (4″ instead of 3″) and still fit the average-sized hand.

iPhone 6+ and iPhone 4.

iPhone 6+ and iPhone 4 width: 3.06″ vs 2.31″.

The next critical factor for me is pocketability. It has to fit comfortably in my pants pocket. The 4 fits in any and every pocket. The 6+ fits best in the front pockets. It’s slightly heavier than the 4, 6.07 vs 4.8 ounces, but it actually feels lighter in my pocket. This sensation is probably caused by its dimensions. It’s less dense. Taller, wider, and thinner, the weight is spread out whereas the 4 is concentrated in a smaller area.

Side View iPhones

iPhone 6+ and iPhone 4 thickness: 0.28″ vs 0.37″.

I take my iPhone with me on walks and use it as a music player with in-ear headphones. The 6+ felt comfortable in my right front pocket. I slipped it in upside down because the 1/8″ headphone jack is on the bottom edge. The +/- volume buttons are in the same place as the 4’s, and I’m able to adjust volume from outside the pocket while walking.  Continue reading

MOOCs, Skills vs. Tools, Games, Learning in the Digital World

lynnz_col2Impacts of MOOCs on Higher Education by Allison Dulin Salisbury, from Inside Higher Ed
Although she comments that they are much criticized, the author focuses on positive outcomes of MOOCs such as the increased awareness by institutions of higher education that the digital age is here to stay. Read the comments, too, because a reader takes her to task for ignoring some data and this sparked a lively discussion.

When Students Get Creative With Tech Tools, Teachers Focus on Skills by Jennifer Carey from MindShift
All students need to learn how to use reading, writing, speaking and listening skills. The skill(s) the teacher wants the students to work with should be central to any lesson, including one infused with technology. Carey reminds readers that focusing on the skills rather than the tools results in effective learning. Digital tools should be used like any other teaching strategy; identify the skills you want your students to learn then decide how they will do it.

Latest games are finally unlocking the key to making learning more fun by Emmanuel Felton from Hechinger Report
Kids learn from games without realizing they are learning. Some educational game developers assert that gaming can go beyond using games to students’ actually designing and building games, using higher order thinking skills as they work collaboratively.

What Are the Most Powerful Uses of Tech for Learning? By Katrina Schwartz  from MindShift
In order for technology to be an effective learning tool, the learner first needs access. Then they need the knowledge to go beyond just being a consumer of information to being an active participant in the digital world. Teachers can be and are at the center of this type of deeper and more meaningful learning.

‘Big Hero 6′ Delights and Challenges

picture of Harry KellerBy Harry Keller
Editor, Science Education

Only a few true nerds, such as myself, will be at all challenged with Big Hero 6. Let me explain.

Big Hero 6 is about four students at San Fransokyo Institute of Technology (SFIT), the younger brother of a fifth, and a robot. These are the “6” in Big Hero 6. The catch here is that these “super heroes” don’t have mystical powers. Their performance boosts come from technologies that they create.

The lead character is Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter) who is a wild genius youth who enjoys bot fights instead of the serious business of school. His older brother, Tadashi, tries to dissuade him from wasting all of his talent on underground bot fighting and finally breaks through. He gets Hiro hooked on being a student at SFIT. There’s a catch. SFIT is a robotics-oriented school, and you must show your ability to get in. Hiro must demonstrate his capability to the faculty of the school by showing actual robotics.

How he does so and what happens next set the course for the film. There’s just enough scariness and just sufficient levity associated with it to please school-age children. I’ll be taking my grandsons (aged five and seven) to see this movie two days after it opens and will share their reactions with you then.

The robot member of the six is the most unlikely hero you’ll ever meet. Baymax is voiced perfectly by Scott Adsit. He is a healthcare robot, a nurse, who looks like, as the script puts it, a marshmallow. He is white and squishy — inflated actually. He has a large pot belly and walks like a penguin. This robot is the legacy of Tadashi, his ultimate creation.

Besides Hiro and Baymax, the six include Go Go Tomago (Jamie Chung) who is a speed freak, Wasabi (Damon Wayons Jr.) who has terminal OCD and looks like he spends too much time in the gym, Honey Lemon (Genesis Rodriguez) who seems out of place in a robotics school because her expertise is in chemistry, and Fred (T. J. Miller) who just likes to hang out with the smart kids at SFIT.  Continue reading

Stellar Movie Fudges Science

picture of Harry KellerBy Harry Keller
Editor, Science Education

Interstellar is a great story with excellent acting, especially from Matthew McConaughey and Mackenzie Foy. For me, the three hours felt more like a normal two. Like the characters in the movie, I was asking where the time went.

In the not-to-distant future, maybe 20-30 years, the Earth is in real trouble. All efforts are now focused on food. Climate change has destroyed much of our ability to grow crops. National budgets have even eliminated defense spending.

InterstellarCooper, a former NASA test pilot, is now a farmer struggling against ever-increasing problems of drought and blight. He stumbles across strange gravity messages that direct him to the remnants of NASA run by Professor Brand (Michael Caine).

The film revolves around the relationship between Cooper and Murph (Foy and, later, Jessica Chasten, and, even later, Ellen Burstyn). This is the emotional center of the movie and the important love story. Oh, there’s another standard love story as well but one that definitely is not strongly promoted in the story.

Needless to say, there are adventures and sacrifices made, and the intrepid astronauts save the world through a combination of love, luck, and lots of fancy mental gymnastics.

If you’ve seen a trailer, you’ve seen a mountain-size ocean wave approaching people standing in calf-high water. These waves are continual on this odd planet and also are completely unexplained and irrational. What force could have moved so much water — over and over again? This is just the beginning of making this movie exciting while ignoring reality.  Continue reading

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