EDTECH 542: Week Four Reflection

This week we were tasked with creating our driving question along with sub questions. So far, this has proven to be the most difficult process in designing my PBL. My first version of the question was, “How can we create videos that make a difference in our community?” To me this sounded great, but after reviewing more material on DQs, I learned that they should avoid learning outcomes. This allows for more open-endedness and exploration of the topic. “Create videos that make a difference” sure sounded like a learning objective, so I refined my question to be, “What makes video such a powerful storytelling medium?” This actually gets to the heart of the class – visual storytelling. A good byproduct of the students learning visual storytelling is going to be their creation of videos for the community.

I also added quite a few sub-questions that are raised once you start thinking about the main driving question. These questions follow a logical (at least to me) path when learning about video production. I started mapping out the flow of the project and each driving questions is directly related to an activity. Below is the complete list of sub-questions, as well as a link to my PBL project site.


Driving Question – What makes video such a powerful storytelling medium?

  1. Why is video a good communication tool?
  2. What types of videos (styles) are out there?
  3. What are some characteristics of good videos?
  4. What stories should/could be told in the community that could benefit from a video?
  5. What are the production phases of a video?
  6. What roles/jobs do people have in a production?
  7. What makes a story good?
  8. How do you begin telling a story?
  9. How can you keep videos authentic?
  10. What makes a good interview?
  11. Does lighting and composition matter?
  12. Is audio that important?
  13. Are there any legal concerns when shooting videos?
  14. How do you put everything together into a complete project?


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EDTECH 542: Week Three Reflection

The PBL project begins. This week, we started to create a website that would feature our PBL project. The site is to be designed so that another teacher could use it to conduct the project. We were given this template to use, but were also given the freedom to use whatever web-site creation tool we desired. I checked out the new Google Sites, but decided to create my site with Weebly (I really like the customization freedom and the aesthetics. We only completed the “Overview” and “Welcome” section of our sites this week, but there will be more development coming soon.

Here is the link to my in progress PBL site.


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EDTECH 542: Week Two Reflection

PBL is starting to make sense (at least the basics). This week we researched some PBL projects and assessed them from a helpful checklist. I found an interesting project on Photojournalism. This project had students documenting a story in their community and gave them the freedom to research the problem/issue/event that they wanted. This project had younger students in mind, but I think it would translate well to any age group.

It was this project that inspired my idea for PBL. I would like to give my students the opportunity to create mini-documentaries on relevant and important stories in our community. One pillar of PBL is that the project addresses an important issue or presents a compelling challenge. A mini-documentary is plenty of a challenge in itself, but I would like to help the students develop a story that is meaningful to their life, families, and community. I currently have students create projects and I can see the benefit in giving them a lot of creative freedom. That’s a mina reason that PBL fits my teaching style. It focuses on relevant products in authentic environments. I hope that the mini-docs that the students create can be used outside of school for organizations or companies.

Another aspect of good PBL projects is student reflection. I was thinking about giving the students a few choices on how they would like to reflection on the production phases (pre-production, production, post-production). One choice could be making behind-the-scenes videos that document the process. This could also be used to share with other classes as a learning tool. I’m looking forward to actually breaking this project down, developing it using BIE’s resources,  and having the chance to use it someday.

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EDTECH 542: Week One Reflection

Week One: The beginnings

I have to admit, on the first day of class, I struggled to give a basic definition of project based learning. After the first week of class, I feel like I have a much better understand of what makes PBL work and some characteristics of good projects. We were introduced to Buck Institute for Education’s website, which contains a wealth of knowledge on PBL and we were asked to participate in a few discussions about what makes PBL work. As I worked through the materials, I began to see that PBL is much more than what I imagined (more than my normal projects in class). PBL first presents an authentic, challenging question/problem to students and asks them to collaborate and solve the problem by creating a public and usable product. This usually happens over a long period (weeks or even a whole semester) and allows students to have choice in their solutions, give feedback to one another, and reflect on their learning via a blog or other medium (Lamer & Mergendoller, 2015).

PBL began looking more complex and interesting than the standard projects I originally perceived it to use. At various sources, I read that PBL doesn’t work well to teach students basic knowledge and skills, but it better suited for students that already have the foundational knowledge and can implement it in new and creative ways. This sounds great, but I need more clarification on when in the students’ learning it is appropriate to introduce PBL. I teach an intro to video production class (where I teach basic and foundational knowledge) and I’m wondering if PBL would be a good fit. I already do plenty of projects in my class – but I’m learning that PLB is a little different than standard projects. Either way, I still hope that throughout the rest of the semester, I can find effective and creative ways to use PBL in my classroom.

Larmer, J., & Mergendoller, J. R. (2015, April 21). Gold Standard PBL: Essential Project Design Elements. Retrieved June 3, 2017, from http://www.bie.org/blog/gold_standard_pbl_essential_project_design_elements

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The Gamification of Education

For this post, I’ll be commenting and reflecting on the infographic linked below.

This graphic shows a timeline of the progression of video games and education. It starts in 1985 with Carmen Sandiego and wraps up around 2011 with the growing popularity of Minecraft. My gaming history began towards the beginning with The Legend of Zelda. I wasn’t on the Earth yet when the game was released in 1986, but it is one of the earliest games I can remember playing. Its strengths were a sense of discovery and exploration. I can also remember renting out a Playstation in grade school to play educational games. While I can’t remember the games specifically, I do remember thinking that they weren’t as “cool” as the commercial games I would read about in magazines.

There are some well-developed, serious educational games out there (Oregon Trail), but I think that commercial games have excelled at the “fun-factor.” It’s this reason that has led me to use contextual transposition, or applying educational contexts to commercial games, in many of my projects for this class. Games are expensive to make, so it’s in the developer’s best interest to keep the dopamine drip dripping. If we, as educational specialists, can harness that “fun-factor”, but apply some valuable learning experiences to the game, deep and meaningful learning will occur.

The graphics reveals a few elements of games that we can harness for educational value. Progression is a real motivator (we’re using 3D game lab for this course) and watching a progress bar grow helps me stick with the course in ways that traditional motivators simply do not. Discovery is also listed as a potential benefit. This speaks to that feeling in the original Zelda of being the first person to look in that nook, or find something in that cranny. If we can transpose a valuable learning experience onto a game that conveys discovery, students will truly play to learn. There is also a section of the graphic that lists games as authoring platforms. For my final project, I’ll be using Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor as a photo composition tool. The game contains a powerful photo-mode, giving the players some DSLR-like controls. This allows them to discover the world through the “lens” and practice their composition. It’s applications like this that get me excited to use commercial games in the classroom.

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Ticking Time-Bomb Quest

This is a reflection on the synchronous and collaborative activity that took place within Second Life.

The mission started off fairly simple. Spyker and his team were experimenting with a newly discovered power-source on the space station Isis Tempus. Things went bad, and their reactor cores are going to explode in around 2 hours. Our class mission is to extract Spyker (maybe some of his team), shut down the reactor, and return to the Prometheus. As part of the flight team, our job was to transport the security and command team to the Tempus so they can complete their goals (shutting down the reactor and rescuing Spyker).

The flight team met in the hanger on the Prometheus at the beginning of the mission. We got news from command that we should split up; one team use the Arrows to take out bad droids and one team use shuttles to transport security. This was interesting because at first, no one knew how to split the teams up. It took a second, but then we started talking about our strengths as pilots. Myself and Josh were decent at flight mode (shooting), so we took the arrows. Other members had flying down, so they decided to be transport.

Upon entering the “black orb”, where the Tempus is located, the Arrow pilots were greeted by two small droid on the top and bottom of the station. Josh and I took the bottom droid and another member took the top robot. The droids are small, but not weak! It took probably at least a half an hour to destroy the bottom droid. Josh and I worked together to shoot the droid, but it’s HP would barely deplete. Luckily, one of the security members (who were transported by flight to the Tempus) found a better handheld gun. Once the security member exited and station and helped Josh and I, the droid finally was defeated. I think this is how the upper droid was defeated also – a collaboration between flight and security forces.

After the droids were defeated, flight took on what I called the “professional chauffeur” part of the job – we waited. After that, we waited some more. To pass the time, we flew around the station and where there were windows, we observed. People were jumping and running around like crazy. What were they doing in there? And what was science doing back on the Prometheus? Our questions needed answered, so I jumped into the security and science chat rooms. Security was looking for Spyker (who I think was acting a little unstable). The science chat seemed chaotic as they were trying to piece together clues, so I promptly jumped out and back into the flight chat. At least everyone else seemed to be working towards the goal.

It wasn’t long before we got news that security retrieved Spyker, so flight transported him back to the Prometheus. There was a slight mishap (Spyker fell out of the ship), but eventually we made it back safely. Once back in the med-bay, I started mentally reflecting on all that had happened.

First, it felt great to be part of a successful team. My part seemed quick, but I knew it was essential. It was also manageable. I wasn’t overwhelmed with the unknowns or the scale of the overall mission. I could just concentrate on fighting droids. I also realized the creativity the Arrow pilots experimented with while fighting the droids. At one point, I tried distracting a droid, while another pilot shot it from behind (I’m not sure if that improved our damage, but it was fun). I learned that this wasn’t simply a jig-saw type activity, but rather a group mission where each team has it’s own goals and is also reliant on the other teams. If one team wasn’t successful, the mission would be a failure. Luckily, that wasn’t the case and the night ended with Spyker safely on the Prometheus.

The name of the mission was also discussed. Admittedly, I seemed to forget about the name, “Ticking Time Bomb”, as I was engrossed in the tasks at hand, but others felt a sense of pressure just because of the name. This opens up an interesting discussion on influencing expectations and emotions just by naming an activity. If my goal is to elicit a certain emotion, say relaxation, I could name my activity appropriately, even if it’s not reflective of the activity. Another student mentioned that an actual time limit, or ticking clock, would add immersion to the experience. I could see this going two ways. First, it would add a sense of immersion and immediacy to the experience and the teams might work more efficiently. Or, it could hamper the time spent creatively solving and absorbing the problems and just add stress to the experience.

Overall, this was a good team relient experience that gives me some creative starting points for designing activities in my classroom. I’m curious if there will be more activities like this in the future. The main takeaways were: jigsaw with reliance on teams, creatively solving problems through constructive collaboration, and influencing emotions based on expectations.

Posted in 1.3 Assessing/Evaluating, 2.3 Assessing/Evaluating, 3.2 Using, 3.3 Assessing/Evaluating, 4.1 Collaborative Practice, 4.3 Reflection on Practice, AECT Standard 1 (Content Knowledge), AECT Standard 2 (Content Pedagogy), AECT Standard 3 (Learning Environments), AECT Standard 4 (Professional Knowledge and Skills), EDTECH 532 Reflection | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Learning Theory Mashup

Key Questions/Concerns:

  • Do you think the control of the instructor over the information/learning could get in the way of learners constructing their knowledge?
  • If the instructor controls the multimedia (auditory,visual) and every student sees and hears the same things at the same time, will their learning experiences truly be unique?


Davey K., “Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning (Mayer),” in Learning Theories, September 10, 2015, https://www.learning-theories.com/cognitive-theory-of-multimedia-learning-mayer.html.

Davey K., “Constructivism,” in Learning Theories, June 20, 2015, https://www.learning-theories.com/constructivism.html.

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Type 6 Shuttle Adventures

shuttle shot

For this quest, I familiarized myself with the Type 6 Shuttle. I’ve already become good with flying ships in hover mode, so I really wanted to improve my flight mode skills for this quest. Unlike the smaller ships, the shuttle has the capacity to carry passengers – something I’ve already done a few times during the synchronous class time.

Like I said, hover mode is a breeze. Flight mode can be a wind storm…unless you know the correct order of operations. Here is what works for me.

  • Sit in the ship and start flying in hover mode.
  • Click the ship to reveal the menu and click flight mode
  • Quickly press the “m” key on your keyboard to enter mouse look mode (your mouse movement controls the camera and direction of the ship).

Don’t think of the “w” and “s” keys as 1:1 accelerator and brake, like it works in hover mode. One press of the “w” key and it’s a constant slow acceleration. Hit “w” twice and it’s a faster constant acceleration. Hit it three times and you get the idea. The “S” key works the same, but is the reverse control. This was the trickiest part for me, but once I understood that it is a constant movement, things were much easier.

Weapons work the same as in the other ships (as long as the system is turned on) and there is an option to open and close the rear hatch. I experience heavy lag, but soon realized that was because I was uploading a Youtube video while playing. Another useful thing I learned is that if you hold “shift” and your left or right keys, you perform a strafe movement. This ship doesn’t look as fast as the other, but it has already proven it’s worth when crew members need a lift.


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Gamification: Star-Trek Science

This guy really is a Trekkie! I liked that his research for incorporating storylines was reading Star Trek novels during the summer. That’s similar to me playing videogames for “homework”, which is becoming a favorite response of mine. During his introduction to his class, you can see the students progressively getting more interested in the experience as Mr. Gonzalez reveals more Star Trek lure and game mechanics.

From my experience with 3D game lab so far in EDTECH 632, this seems like the perfect tool to disperse sci-fi missions and keep track of experience points. I like that Mr. Gonzalez sets up the storylines by “incoming transmissions” and places QR codes throughout his room as intel drops. When Mr. Gonzalez tells the students QR codes are around the room and they can use their own smart-phones, you can see their excitement (he also has iPads for the class). I would be curious to see if student like the BYOD approach, or would rather use the school’s iPads.

The idea of creating this type of gamified learning experience seems intimidating. Yet, as Mr. Gonzalez explains the systems, it seems genuinely fun for both the instructor and the students. I followed the 12 Endeavour quest that Mr. Gonzalez set up in Google Docs and it actually doesn’t seem as intimidating as one might think. It’s essentially a choose-your-own adventure novel, but with linked Google Docs. This is also a great money saver as Docs and QR codes are free. It’s refreshing and encouraging to see a learning experience like this actually working. I keep thinking about how fun this seems for everyone involved. This serves as a useful example for instructors and designers on how to effectively incorporate narratives and game systems into a class – and keep things fun for everyone.



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Gamers Saving the World

For this post, I’ll be commenting on the video below.

The video presents some lofty goals, namely, making it just as easy to save the world in real-life as it is in video games. Jane McGonigal presents an interesting idea that the same emotions and motivations gamers experience while in a virtual world can be harnessed to solve problems in reality. Jane mentioned World of Warcraft often in her presentation and makes some good points about how it fosters a collaborative environment that gives players challenges they actually can complete. This could be a good mix of challenge and team-work if applied in real-world contexts. In a learning context, if we’re using games to teach, it’s important to allow collaboration between students and to balance the difficulty between what is too hard and what is too easy.

It’s also pointed out that gamers are spending around 10,000 hours in games by the age of 21. Jane mentions that anyone who spends that amount of time with something should become virtuosos with it: meaning they are masters. But what are they really mastering? Jane claims four things: urgent optimism, social fabric, blissful productivity, and epic meaning. Urgent optimism is the idea that gamers feel the need to progress, solve problems, and believe they can succeed. Social fabric mastery means that gamers are essentially bonding with each other through games. Blissful productivity is simply that gamers like to work hard and enjoy the work. Epic meaning speaks to the scope at which players are creating stories and how they feel about their games. If any one of these four skills could be applied to real world problems, or educational contexts, society could really benefit. If all four skills could be applied, then significant progress could really be expected. If I were to design a game for learning, I would want to tap into each one of those four skills. I would present problems that motivate and can be solved. I would allow players to play in the world together and work as a team. I would use good game design (controls, level design, game-play) so that it encourages blissful play. I would also encourage players to build a knowledgebase/wiki around the game and connect it to curriculum and the real-world.

Jane mentioned that these 10,000 hours spent gaming parallel a student’s time from 5th grade to high-school graduation. At first, this really does seem alarming. Kids are gaming too much! But, if we take the skills that Jane claims gamers are mastering and transpose them onto other contexts like education or world-problems, gamers might actually be training for something more important.

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