Monday, January 2, 2012
Monday, October 25, 2010
- http://www.reinventedsolutions.com/ - It's a nice website about new ideas in education. Gaming is included in the posts. From the website:
- Al Meyers is President of Saisei Consulting, a provider of strategy and corporate development advisory services to early-stage, growth-stage and mature digital media companies around the world. Al is on the advisory board of several startups in the areas of digital media, 3D technology, online games and games for K-12 education. Al is also a sought-after speaker on such topics as disruptive innovation in education, and the role of online games outside of the "purely entertainment" arena.
- http://icannology.blogspot.com/ - A blogger (who is also the parent of a student of mine) blogs about an interesting group called ICANN or Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (http://www.icann.org/).
- ICANN was formed in 1998. It is a not-for-profit public-benefit corporation with participants from all over the world dedicated to keeping the Internet secure, stable and interoperable. It promotes competition and develops policy on the Internet’s unique identifiers.
- ICANN doesn’t control content on the Internet. It cannot stop spam and it doesn't deal with access to the Internet. But through its coordination role of the Internet's naming system, it does have an important impact on the expansion and evolution of the Internet.
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
As I said in a previous entry, video games helped develop my spatial recognition of shapes and patterns, therefore I feel it catered to improving my mathematics achievement. There is the obvious lack of direct proof of this, but I feel I know the way my brain works well enough to make that presumption.
Mauricio Buchler had written to me on the subject stating:
Skeptical of integrating video games into your classroom? Well, read my previous entry, give me some comments and let me know what you think of this topic. I hope to conduct some research, so those for or against this, please provide some links to whether or not you believe this is a substantial cause.I teach ESL, and I find that RPG-style games (from Zelda, and Fable to GTA) help learning, but they're really extra practice. I mean, the amount of English learning compared to the amount of carnage isn't really proportional, so I usually just encourage my students to play them at home.Strategy games such as Sims, Civilization, Age of Empires, etc. are better for the classroom because I can hook the PS/Box up to the projector, and we can discuss the strategy as a group, and write about the outcomes, focusing on whatever grammar topic I'm teaching that week.So, the strategy ones work well, but still, they aren't really about teaching school subjects. We just use them to decorate the process.With that in mind, I developed a prototype of an RPG that teaches ESL specifically, which I talk about in my TEDx talk.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
I spent a good four years studying music, concentrating on music history and piano performance. Through it, I’ve listened to a lot of music from various composers and I need to make a statement to any pompous parent who is trying to get your child to listen to Mozart over (who’s the newest popular music start out there?). You’re going to find parts in parenthesis – they’re not actual figures, but little bits of information that are approximate enough to help you figure out when in time I’m talking about.
The term “Classical Music” is one of the most overused words in music. The actual classical era is from about 1750 (or about when J.S. Bach died) until 1800 (or right around the death of Mozart). I like to be a bit more accurate and say that the Classic era died in 1801 when Beethoven published his Op.31 n.2, Piano sonata in d minor, “The Tempest”.
As part of the classic era, Mozart composed within the style of the time and he did it exceptionally well. Three principle foundations of the classical style are form, clarity, and balance. His music was extremely structured and equally balanced from beginning to end. The clarity aspect is quite understood when you realize that a mistake in Mozart stands out like an orange cow.
Despite how exciting that description could sound (eyes rolling), music does begin to make a turning point after Beethoven goes in and says, “wtf, this isn’t music, this is notes on a paper.” and creates the romantic era.
Why are most Romantics forgotten when it comes to those “commonly known classical composers.” I’m talking about your Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, 3B’s of music people. THERE ARE NO ROMANTICS IN THERE! Yet, the most commonly recognized classical music is romantic. Why are we calling it classical?
I asked a few people at one point, “hum me a Mozart tune” – and 0/8 successfully hummed one – They might have hummed Beethoven instead. When I asked them to hum a Beethoven, I think only 1/8 didn’t. Everybody knows Fur Elise, Moonlight Sonata Mvt. 1, Mvt.1 of the Fifth, and the Ode to Joy. Top of my head: I can think of Night Music and the Rondo Alla Turca as popular Mozart tunes – though I know more, I honestly can’t recall the melodies, and dare I say, I’ve listened to more Mozart than Beethoven in my life.
Other classics that people don’t know who composed:
- Funeral March in b flat minor – Frederic Chopin
- Flight of the Bumblebee – Rimsky Korsakov
- Prelude in e minor – Frederic Chopin
- Yes, you know this. It was the piece that the woman played in the Notebook.
- The Revolutionary Etude – Frederic Chopin
- Once again, any gamer should know this. It’s called Kakumei in Dance Dance Revolution, was the background music in the final boss stage in King of Fighters XI and was in one of the Grand Theft Auto games.
- Also, Andre Watts performed this (and performed it very well, actually) on Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.
- Adagio Cantabile from the Pathetique – Beethoven
- Again, Youtube this – Guaranteed you know it.
- Hungarian Dance No. 5 – Brahms
- Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 – Liszt
- Tom and Jerry did a very VERY famous skit with this piece.
- Rhapsody in Blue – Gershwin
- Toccata and Fugue in d minor – J.S. Bach
- Clair de Lune – Debussy
- Carmina Burana – Carl Orff
- The Entertainer and Maple Leaf Rag – Scott Joplin
- Nocturne in E flat – Frederic Chopin
- If you listen to Muse, their last album featured this as the conclusion to the song “The United States of Eurasia".
These are a huge selection of time eras. Note about all of them – none of them are from the classical eras. Chopin and Liszt were Romantic. Beethoven is considered classic, but he really wasn’t about clarity, balance, and form at all. He changed all of the forms. Brahms was post-romantic / neo-classic, late 19th century. Bach is Baroque. Korsakov was post-romantic part of the Russian Five or Mighty Handful. Debussy was Impressionist. Gershwin was classical/jazz fusion of the 20th century. Joplin was ragtime. Orff was 20th century, died shortly before I was born.
So yes, now I’m being a technical ass indeed. Anyway, my point is this. I have a 9-year old piano student who is currently working on two pieces: Fur Elise and and Prelude N.1 from WTC1 (The Well-Tempered Clavier, book 1) by J.S. Bach. I gave him some Mozart at one point (Two early minuets, K.2 and K.6 I think) and he hated them when I played them. He loved the Bach and the Beethoven, and asked me to make him a CD with all of the music.
So I’m going to ask – Wolfgang Ama-who cares? Honestly now… Who does care? I don’t. If you want a kid to appreciate classical music over Hannah Montana, you need to expose them to it. Find out what they like. This might take time, but I’ve found a classical piece or a jazz piece for everybody. Want some jazz classics? The Tiger Rag by Art Tatum, Greensleeves done by John Coltrane, just about anything by Bix Biderbeck or Miles Davis… the list goes on.
So I advocate this advice: You cannot show somebody something with one example. If you want to show somebody something, you need to show them many examples. Boys tend to like Beethoven and Brahms. Girls tend to like Debussy and Chopin. Aspiring musicians tend to love Bach, Rachmaninoff and Scriabin.
Warning: This post will contain arrogance that you might seriously have objections to. Deal with it. With life comes opinions.
Recently (and not so recently) I’ve encountered a variety of people involved with various things in music: educators, musicians, lawyers, salesmen, producers, promoters, etc. Here’s my opinion on some.
Music salesmen. Now there are a few different types, but they’re generally applicable. When you see a young kid or an old, retired man or woman selling in a music store, that’s fine. For the kid, it might be their first job and for the older person it would be something to do. Now, there are two types of middle-aged people that sell music instruments – Your business owners and managers who are not much different than what’s found in any other business, and you have your reject musicians. The ones that cannot find work elsewhere. Don’t get me wrong, selling pianos can bring in some income, but honestly – is it a respectable career? I don’t think so, and lately, I’ve come across some very arrogant piano salesmen. I’m sorry that I can play better than you can hope to play. That’s not heavy on me. Not my fault you couldn’t make auditions and therefore is selling your favorite instrument. It’s not like you’re selling me cars or real estate.
Now, this isn’t to say that EVERY piano salesman is like this, as some could be professional musicians assisting their income. But don’t be pretentious about it. As a salesman, your primary job is to still SERVE your customer. To put it simpler, YOU’RE A SALESMAN, THEREFORE YOU’RE A SERVANT.
Musicians. I’ve found there are three types of musicians. There are those that will probably never make a career out of it, which is fine (like myself), but unlike the salesmen above, we have no animosity towards that. We play our instrument because it’s what we do and it’s how we cope with the world. Another type of musician is the type that will play with a band, ensemble, or by themselves to substantiate their income, covering Billboard Top 40s at bars and weddings. Last, there are the type that will attempt to make an income off of what they create, combining the two above. One of three things can happen from this – you revert back to being one of the two things above; you make it and become successful; you fail and become a music salesman because you can’t cope with your own mistakes.
Educators. Here’s the part that I’m going to get negative feedback from, as I don’t think most piano salesmen will ever read this. I’m finding that there is a HUGE segregation between music teachers, whether or not you believe it.
There are your generic K12 music teachers. Those that are great at sight-reading and organizing bands. The students that love these teachers are generally interested in playing their instrument, but more so involved with the activities they partake in. Some of the students make it to your Drum Corps and what have you, but most don’t and will never make a career from performance.
There are your innovative K12 music teachers that will attempt to integrate every cushion for your students to “relate” to your music, sometimes completely avoiding classical or jazz composition. Your students will like you, but when they figure out what type of music is actually appreciated in the world, they’ll hate music. Great job at making friends, poor job at music.
There are your K12 music teachers that are just amazing life-long learners and devoted teachers that will help students in every way that most other “core-subject” teachers will never be able to do (due not to the lack of caring, but the overwhelming amount of students they take under their wing). Notice: I didn’t mention they’re necessarily very good at music.
Then there are your K12 teachers that are amazing musicians, but terrible teachers. They probably took music education to have a “stable” career in music, as gigs don’t necessarily come as frequently as a paycheck.
Then there are, of course, your overall great teachers found in every field. Music is no exception to this: Great at teaching, great at mentoring, and great musicians.
Now for higher education – the rules and expectations are QUITE different here, especially depending on the TYPE of department.
In a performance degree, I want teachers to be excellent musicians that I can learn through modeling. As a performance major it is MY RESPONSIBILITY to practice and heed the advice of my professors. Not for them to spoon-feed it to me. They cannot give me talent, I need to earn it. Quite honestly, I didn’t care how good my teacher “taught” me the subject. I wanted to learn it. They gave me the information, I studied it my way. I don’t go to these professors for life advice. I go to them when I don’t know how to cope with an odd pain in my wrist or forearm.
Then you have those professors that know the material, maybe not as fluently but have a background in education. They can help you learn the material if you cannot do it on your own. The department doesn’t need to be flooded with these people – much like my alma matter is.
Now for a music education department, your professors should be modeling examples of being good music teachers. Proficient in music AND education. Why do I know so many music teachers that can’t make a note sound like anything other than a note? In fact, most music teachers I know can’t make a note sound like anything but a note. I suppose that’s just an elitist rant, but I do believe that music isn’t something everybody can do. Music is not about going to marching band festivals and partying. That’s what playing notes is about.
I want to make my point clear. Not everybody is a musician. Not everybody can be a musician. While, I believe everybody can learn the technique and how to read music, I don’t believe everybody is a musician. There’s a difference between a musician and somebody who can play an instrument or sing. There is no logical or clear definition to describe the difference. I can just tell you that the proof is in what you hear. If you can’t tell the difference, then you’re probably not a musician. K12 should have teachers who understand music. College should have musicians who understand how to teach. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be a great musician teaching K12 or an outstanding music educator in college. The world isn’t black and white. There’s a lot of grey out there, especially in education.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
I’m going to analyze and comment on some of the common arguments against gaming and invite you to give me feedback, especially if you are a person against gaming.
1. Video games remove creativity in a child’s ability to create their own games.
While that argument does stand true, as a parent, you must learn to accept two things: 1. You’re the one buying your 10-year old their Playstation and 2. They’re going to play games at their friends houses if they don’t have one at home.
Now by accepting this, you must also take on the responsibility of getting to know what it is that your child is playing. While a game like Pac Man (that everybody knows – especially thanks to Google’s recent homepage!) has little room for creativity, not every game is on that level or is that simple. Let’s take the Nintendo DS for example with a game called Scribblenauts. This game requires the player to THINK and write in words for items to appear that their on-screen character can use to solve problems. A simple example of this would be the character needs to get up a tree to grab the “star,” so the player would write in “rope” to help them climb the tree or possibly “boomerang” to fetch the star for them. Unlike our Pac Man example, this DOES require creativity. The puzzles get more complex and you will need to stack levels of items and use them in conjunction with each other to achieve your goals.
2. Video games teach children nothing but violence and misbehavior.
While there are cases that this holds truth, parents MUST know that they are the ones buying a 10-year old Grand Theft Auto. Understanding ESRB ratings does help but you should be playing the games with your child, at least when you first get it to make the judgment as to whether or not they should be exposed to it. If you look at a game like Tetris and derive violent acts then you can teach me quite a few things about reality, as I have not been living in it.
3. Children do not get the social aspect of interacting with other children through video games.
Welcome to 2010. We have high-speed internet and a lot of players on MMOs.
MMO – Massively Multiplayer Online. It’s a category of gaming that according to various resources on the internet, close to 10k people play in the United States alone. There are several types of MMO games, one of the most popular being World of Warcraft, which has Fantasy Violence.
Through high speed internet, we have found a replacement to video game arcades. We do interact and discuss the games through gaming communities.
Locally, with newer gaming consoles, it’s even easier to interact as controllers are no longer wired, "Party-games” are becoming more popular (e.g.Rockband or Wii Sports), and we can connect portable systems wirelessly to each other (like the Nintendo DS)
Key: Play Wii Sports with your co-workers and I guarantee you’ll be hooked. It’s the only way to play golf in the rain! – Really – Involvement!
4. Video games will make my kids fat.
Simple answer: No, sending them to school with bologna sandwiches, potato chips and a soda, an allowance that will let them buy chicken fingers and french fries, and letting them stay inside during nice weather will.
Key: Stop being a lazy parent (aka Involvement!)
5. Video games will make my kids dumb.
The last time I’ll repeat this, you NEED TO BE INVOLVED in which games your children play. Not every game is mindless blood and gore. Growing up, after playing Mario my mom would make me draw a picture from the game or tell her what I think the story is about. At this point I was 6 or 7 years old. She didn’t need to know anything about the game other than watch me play a few times. As long as I was able to construct something at the end.
In the end, I don’t need to repeat the fifth time, you need to as a parent be involved in what your children are playing.
Psychologically, this involvement will show them that you care more about something they’re interested in and motivation will be higher. If you can spare an hour a weekend to play some games with them, you will learn about what they’re playing and you’ll be actively involved and as a result will improve relationships with your children. Who knows, you might also find a new pastime.
Some additional comments:
There are online communities of gaming for education. I remember a project that students rebuilt an acoustically sound building through Second Life. DimensionU is something similar to that (www.dimensionu.com) but geared towards younger students. Their description is:
Welcome to DimensionU, a prestigious game-based training facility for K-12 students. In DimensionU, you can access multiplayer educational video games that help you hone your skills, connect with friends, climb the ranks and have a blast.
Another recent development is Namco Bandai, the same company once responsible for Pac Man is working on an RPG textbook. Remember earlier I was mentioning Final Fantasy as a game that requires a lot of reading? That falls into a genre called Role Playing Games, or abbreviated to RPG. The news on the RPG textbook, dated May 24, 2010 can be found here - http://www.shacknews.com/onearticle.x/63949. Thank you @Tallgamer for sharing this with me.
My unprofessional advice:
- Take some time to read up about the games your children play and spend some time playing with them. Remember, Vygotsky emphasized social learning.
- Don’t keep their gaming systems in their rooms, but instead in the living room. This way if they want to play while you’re watching TV, they cannot and will HAVE TO find something else to do.
- Know what games your kids are playing and know what to not let them play. If you have the attitude that they’ll play the violent games at their friends’ houses, you need to be more active and talk with their parents. If that’s not the case, then allow it and accept it, but your house, your rules. Don’t forget who the boss is.
- Allowance will let your kid trust your and discipline will let them respect you.
- Don’t let them sit around and play when it’s nice out. There are studies that show first period physical education improves overall achievement. Know that and emphasize your children to go play outside during nice weather.
- Some good games for younger children are typically found on the Nintendo systems, both Wii and Nintendo DS. Make sure you’re buying educational / problem solving (Brain Age, Professor Layton, Scribblenauts) or activity games (Wii Fit / Sports, Dance Dance Revolution) or games that promote other abilities (RPGs like Final Fantasy require a lot of reading – yes Pokemon does a good job at this for younger children or Rock Band activating some aural stimulation) I plan on writing another blog on games that promote education. It will be more professional and include citations from educational psychology studies.
Please, I would LOVE to know your opinions and suggestions about this article. Contact me directly, JScognamiglio@gmail.com – Thank you!
Friday, April 9, 2010
We have learned the importance of learning theories and their application to education. Technology is here for us to promote education, but many times teachers can easily fall into a trap, using technology for “ease-of-use” rather than for enhancing student retention. “Ease-of-use” refers to an example where a teacher may have an interactive SMART classroom at their disposal, but use it only for Power Point so they do not have to write on the board. Although this can be applicable in some situations, technology should never take the role of the teacher. The teacher should only manipulate the technology to enhance learning; therefore justifying the enormous cost technology can impose on a school’s budget.
Technology is a tool teachers can use to trigger multiple intelligences in a single classroom. Skinner argued that classrooms are inefficient places for learning because students with differences in their learning progress make it difficult for teachers to reinforce and shape behavior. With technology, you could utilize tools of Web 2.0 to create single environments conducive to multiple learning styles. These environments work with the cognitive model of information processing to create rich learning environments for students. Technology is also a tool where teachers can build a personal development scheme to become better teachers.
Technology comes in many forms, ranging from chalkboards to computers. A definition of Technology is any synthetic tool created for solving an every-day problem. The issue at hand is technology used for the benefit of the teacher rather than the student. Some examples would be a teacher that uses a computer (approximately $600), a projector ($200), and a screen ($200) for the purpose of PowerPoint in place of writing notes on the board. Another would be assigning a computer game, modeled with the behaviorist view in mind to a group of students in place of a teacher-created activity. Technology can be expensive, so is the cost outweighed by the benefit in using it.
Social constructive theorists propose that development and learning are a result of social interaction. We build upon our schemas through constructing knowledge socially, and then individually build upon it (Eggen, & Kauchak, 2010). This interpretation does not suggest that educators rescind their involvement in students’ academics, but rather suggests teachers consider questions of traditional instruction. Their focus is to facilitate students’ constructs of knowledge through social interaction. Their emphasis is to create learning environments in which learns exchange ideas and collaborate in problem solving.
A teacher must utilize the technology in the classroom constructively. Within a social constructive framework, a teacher can create intuitive group activities. For example, if a student is working on a term paper, using Google Docs, the student can interact with peers for feedback on their paper. This takes advantage of free software and does not ask the student to print and physically be in front of a peer. They are learning to write better in a social context and using technology conducive to learning. Through Google Docs, they would be able to collaborate on a project more easily than without it. Google Docs is an example of a current internet trend called Web 2.0.
Yang, Yeh, and Wong conducted a study in 2010 investigated the influence of social interaction in a virtual community, similar to those you can build with a Web 2.0 application. They found when passive factors in social interaction are weak, positive relationships in academics become stronger. Passive factors include disagreement, tension, and antagonism. While they maintain promotion of social interaction amongst writers, they emphasize the teacher’s responsibility to provide instruction on social skills through modeling and active participation, increasing motivation and cognition (Yang, Yeh, & Wong, 2010). Constructivism emphasizes the importance of context during the construction of knowledge and the role of social interaction in promoting learning.
Social theories of learning provide a framework of the relationship between social interaction and meaningful learning. Vygotsky indicates that social interaction is essential for an individual’s acquisition of knowledge (Vygotsky, 1978). Wenger indicates that meaningful learning occurs through active communal participation (Wenger, 1998). In relation to Web 2.0, many forms of social media exist – such as social education. LiveMocha is a website that provides feedback for language students. Free language lessons are online and other users provide feedback on tests, scripts, and voice-recordings. Students learn with technology on a social level.
“Using technology doesn’t automatically produce learning, however. Teachers’ learning objectives must be clear, and teachers must also think clearly about how technology can help learners reach objectives” (Eggen, & Kauchak, 2007). It is important to emphasize that simply using technology is the same as using it in the “ease-of-use” context. If the equipment can replace a teacher, they should be. The teacher must utilize the technology in manners conducive to learning and not let the technology be a replacement. We must have the mindset to be better than the technology and use it, not have it use us.
Today, the internet is a prominent element to our lives. People are increasingly turning to social networking to build online communities. Teachers can take advantage of this as a new source of professional learning. It makes it possible for teachers to interact, learn, and access knowledge within a social space. Online communities are available at all times wherever there is an internet connection. A study conducted in 2009 (published in 2010) shows that memberships to online communities provide teachers with a rich source of professional learning. Teachers gather practical classroom strategies from other teachers (Duncan-Howell, 2010).
Implementation of technology into the classroom requires a solid understanding of learning theories. Scholarship in instructional design and technology views learning theories as the principal mechanisms for advancing research and understanding. We must keep in mind that while theory can have a significant impact on technology integration, the range of theories chosen is limited. Many designers dedicate their decisions to intuition and wisdom. Essentially, technology integration requires the ability to creatively articulate learning theories into sensible, justifiable designs derived from many factors (Yanchar S., South J., Williams D., Allen S., & Wilson, B., 2010). One cannot use intuition and wisdom if they do not know how people learn.
Implementation of technology is vital to education in the twenty-first century, as it finds its way into our lives. You cannot change evolution in its natural state, so all one can do is embrace it. Educators ill equipped for such a task will have a difficult time with integration, but with training, it is possible. The most prominent benefit to integrating technology into the classroom is preparing twenty-first century students to enter the world with those skills necessary for success. Secondly, it educates students in proper use and maintenance of such technologies.
Battelle, J, & O'Reilly, T. (2004). Opening welcome: state of the internet industry. Proceedings of the Web 2.0 conference San Francisco, CA: O'Reilly Media.
Duncan-Howell, J. (2010). Teachers making connections: online communities as a source of professional learning. British journal of educational technology, 41(2), 324-340.
Eggen, Paul, & Kauchak, Don. (2007) Educational psychology: windows on classrooms (7th edition). Ohio: Merrill.
Eggen, Paul, & Kauchak, Don. (2010). Educational psychology: windows on classrooms (8th edition). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education.
Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind in society – the development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.
Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: learning, meaning, and identity. New York: Cambridge University.
Yanchar, S., South, J., Williams, D., Allen, S., & Wilson, B. (2010). Struggling with theory? a qualitative investigation of conceptual tool use in instructional design. Educational Technology Research and Development. February 1, 2010; 58(1): 39-60.
Yang, Y., Yeh, H., & Wong, W. (2010). The Influence of Social Interaction on Meaning Construction in a Virtual Community. British journal of educational technology, 41(2), 287-306.
 Darcy DiNucci coined the term Web 2.0 in 1999, but it became popular in 2004 when O’Reilly Media and MediaLive hosted the first Web 2.0 conference. John Battelle and Tim O’Reilly outlined their definition as Web Platform, where software is web-based rather than desktop based (Battelle, J., & O’Reilly, T, 2004). This birthed a plethora of internet trends, the most popular being social media.