Educators attend Machinima previews in an immersive environment.
The annual SIGVE EduMachinima Fest is unique in that it is for both students and teachers. Those who enter their work will have the opportunity to create and share their manipulation of images, sounds, music and words effectively to convey a message as it relates to the theme this year, Fiero, or to any of the categories listed on the SIGVE EduMachinima application.
Developing a machinima product is one way to demonstrate skills in media design, self-expression, critical thinking, collaboration, and knowledge of multiple academic subjects. The skills are clearly aligned to Common Core standards and our digitally connected culture. Machinima entries should be submitted to bit.ly/machinima13 by June 7, 2013 at midnight PT. The Fest will take place at the 2013 ISTE Conference in San Antonio and winners will be announced at that time.
The Categories for Machinima entries in both student and Teacher categories are:
60 Seconds and Gone (Educational Ice Breaker)
60 Second Work of Art
3 minute How-To? Instructional
60 Second – 3 minute Fiero (Show Us Your Fiero!)
No Time Limit
Mixed Media (at least 50% of submission is Machinima)
In addition to awards for those categories, there will be a People’s Choice Awards.
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Each time that I attend a professional meeting in a virtual world the question of general adoption of virtual worlds in education always comes up. Attendees at these events are the early adopters and they struggle with what is so obvious to them. The barriers are inter-related and will require time, money and effort to overcome.
Cost is often cited as a barrier. Linden Lab eliminated educational discounts on Second Life. Grids on OpenSim are significantly cheaper but do not contain the assets of SL and other more developed worlds, developing these would take time and money. Cost is a factor in multiple barriers listed.
Organizations may host their own virtual worlds, reducing some cost. OpenSim and self-hosted grids are typically limited in content but advocates contend that much of the learning lies in the development of this content. There is a growing availability of free and shared content for use in virtual worlds.
Access ( Firewall issues) are more commonly an issue with K-12 than in higher education. This barrier relates to acceptance and perception of virtual Worlds in general. Districts have concern about both student safety and the potential financial liability associated with legal action.
Control systems are necessary to protect students and prevent inappropriate access, teacher supervision coupled with policies and procedures are effective in keeping children and employees on task in an appropriate manner. Literature is mounting in favor of adjusting firewalls and access to support student learning in the 21st century.
Technology requirements of Virtual worlds, both infrastructure of Internet access (bandwidth) and device capabilities aren’t up to the requirements needed to run virtual worlds effectively. IT and support personnel may need training to adequately support staff needs.
Funding for innovation is essential to effectively prepare our students for their future. Grants may be the best solution, at this time, to fund the necessary equipment, infrastructure and training.
The Learning Curve in using the interface and acquiring the comfort to be able to manipulate an avatar and eventually more complex tasks inherent in virtual world participation can be a challenge.
A model of mentoring colleagues, prior to the expectation of working with students, can provide the confidence and skills. The use of a virtual world for professional development is a possible evolutionary step to use with students.
Change is difficult. Educators need convincing that a virtual world delivery model will be better than what currently exists.
Research demonstrating effectiveness could be the most useful in changing minds. Those who are effectively using virtual worlds for instruction should publish/share their work.
Attitudes towards gaming and virtual worlds can be negative based on some unsavory stories and misconceptions.
Marketing of research and positive examples are needed to overcome the impact of negative attitudes. There is mounting research in the area of games, student engagement and their positive influence on learning.
Telling stories across multiple platforms and formats addresses multiple learning modalities, encourages participation and motivates participants. Stories are used to teach a wide variety of concepts at all levels of education. A virtual world with a sim designed to draw students into a “game” could potentially result in a high level of learning of a literary work, historical event, or scientific phenomenon. The compelling attributes of transmedia storytelling are the capacity to engage participants and the capacity to promote creativity among the participants. Engagement is crucial to meaningful learning and creativity is identified as a 21st Century skill necessary to solve problems and be competitive in a global environment. As we look into school reform and teacher preparation for 21st Century schools it may be beneficial to ensure that teachers have some knowledge and skills in the the use of Transmedia storytelling.
Text allows you to think about what you are communicating, seeing the written word allows for some processing and editing prior to clicking the send button. Text can also be saved and referred to at a later time, always beneficial. Text is the preferred method to communicate when language translation is required and the appropriate communication with hearing impaired students. The downside of text is that it is difficult to simultaneously demonstrate while communicating in text. Another potential drawback is “text speak” and typos. Though typically understood there is potential for misunderstanding and it develops a habit of ignoring typos and using abbreviations. A class participant must be able to read and follow instructions in text. This has potential for problems depending on the audience and individual capabilities. Responding to individual questions in IM texting can be confusing (not seeing the message, having too many message boxes open, blocking view of the screen due to message boxes).
Voice allows an instructor to deliver a message the way that an instructor delivers in a real life classroom setting, a clarification is immediate and intonation is clear. The lack of visual cues requires an instructor to use other methods to engage students and to ensure the message was delivered. Ideally the students are also using voice so that 2-way communication can take place. This requires an etiquette system of watching the screen for who is speaking, listening to the spoken text and speaking at a specific pause, so as not to interrupt the speaker. It requires that the communicators listen more carefully than they may do in a real life classroom. The teacher must also be watchful of students as they are performing particular tasks in the virtual setting. The teacher needs to continuously move the camera around and watch students to ensure that students are performing tasks as directed, providing appropriate verbal direction as needed.
The ideal strategy is to use both text and voice. This addresses various learning styles and takes advantage of the pros of each method, minimizing the cons. This can be done is several ways. The instructor can:
provide notecards with vital information, in text, to supplement the spoken instruction.
type main ideas as he/she speaks.
have an assistant or student type the text as he/she speaks.
take advantage of the back channel in local chat to address questions
Teachers should practice the strategies in order to become comfortable and adept at using them, ultimately selecting which is most appropriate.