Monday, October 15, 2012

Serious Games: Third World Farmer

A serious game is a game designed for a primary purpose other than pure entertainment. The "serious" adjective is generally prepended to refer to products used by industries like defense, education, scientific exploration, health care, emergency management, city planning, engineering, religion, and politics.( Wikipedia: Serious Games.)

Serious Games usually have to balance between being "educational" and being "fun". Third World Farmer presents itself as a greatly educational game, promising to teach the player the hardships of maintaining a family in a world full of corruption, war and diseases. But once played, it turns out that it's fairly easy to be successful. And that's exactly why this game is actually pretty fun for an "educational" game.

In the game, the player gets to manage an African farm and is soon confronted with the difficult choices that poverty and conflict can cause.I played it third times in small hours during a day, it really saved many trivial minutes!

The game rules are very simple and could be learned by students at almost any level. Students need to buy crops and other items from the left hand menu. Then they need to place them in the fields. Once they are done buying items, they press the play button and a year of game-play will pass by with flashing months. Then, with whatever money and resources are left, the player repeats the process until the player and his family die, or until the player becomes a successful farmer.

As an ESL teacher, I'll use the game to encourage students read background articles and watch videos, such as Third World: An Introduction in Youtube,and require students take part into discussion about related issues in class twitter. The learning objective is students could recite the information about third world issues in their own organized language. The way to access students' achivements is raising corresponding questions in classroom, such as such as "the story behind Third World Farmer" and  "how could developed countries help third world countries".

Escape the Room Game

Gamification in education involves applying game design thinking to classroom and out of classroom to make teaching more fun and engaging."Gamification is the application of game elements in nongaming situations, often to motivate or influence behavior.In academe, gamification typically employs elements such as points, badges, or progress bars to engage or motivate students in the learning process. " ( 7 Things YouShould Know About Gamification )

Why we want to use games in language teaching and learning? Language learning is not an easy work, learners have to maintain hard work over a long period of time,.Games could help and encourage many learners to sustain their interest and work. Games also help the teacher to create contexts in which the language is useful and meaningful. Even the most shy students could be drew into playing, learning, and collaboration.

Personally, I'm willing to choose Heart of TOTA, a flash game to support my ESL teaching. I played this escape room game four times and find it benefits the accumulation of vocabularies, speaking and writing practice.The language learning objectives would be students should remember those key vocabularies such as anchor,crowbar, stump, and know how use them in speaking and writing. At the beginning of class, teacher need to do some preparation: 1.divide students into three groups for competition; 2. list the key vocabularies in class twitter at least three days before. 3. prepare the walk through hint. After that, students will be required to remember those key vocabularies before class and review them with group members. Then, students could learn some walk through from teacher and recite it to their cooperators, each member is responsible for each play level. Three groups try to pass each play level as soon as possible. After the game, students will be required to talk about the game in classroom use the key vocabularies as much as possible and write reflection concerned in specific topics in class blogs. The winner would be the group which can pass the game in shortest time and use most key vocabularies in their talking. Teacher is the organizer and facilitator in the whole process, and also the technical supporter. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

How Use Twitter In and Out of the Classroom

Twitter, one of the well-known social media sites, could be a surprisingly useful educational tool. It gives students and teachers an easy way to communicate besides office hours and classrooms. With the use of hashtags (#), it becomes incredibly easy to find any interesting topic discussion or related information in twitter. Recently, more and more teachers create Twitter accounts or lists specific to a course, making it easy for students to follow and find each other on Twitter.

Social media in general can completely change the way that students submit and receive their assignments, using tools such as Flickr, YouTube and a blogging platform, like WordPress or Blogspot. Twitter can also replace many tools you already use such as mailing lists for announcements and discussion board for class content.

Send reminders

Twitter can be used to remind students about homework and assignments, and provide relevant information for their next class. Using Twitter on a smartphone ensures that students receive notifications and can keep pace with the latest class news. For example, teachers can use twitter as attendance reminder: for students who have trouble making it to class on time, send reminders before school to get them in the door earlier ( 60 Inspiring Examples of Twitter in the Classroom ).

Share articles and videos

We all know how share interesting links with our followers on Twitter. Teachers can use this to their advantage by tweeting interesting educational materials for their students to read or watch. Sending out a tweet to give students a reading assignment or videos is an instantaneous way to keep them prepared for their class ahead of time.
Twit TV is a useful tool  to share videos with students on twitter. Med Kharbach mentioned it in his blog: "this is a cool web tool that automatically plays trending videos shared on Twitter. It also provides some practical tools such as being able to search for videos based on region and topic or even skip the ones you don't like." ( Great Twitter Tools For Your Professional Development ). Teachers can raise questions and trigger discussion based on reading and watching assignment.

Teachers can collaborate

Teachers can easily collaborate with each other on Twitter too, exchanging ideas and teaching tools. With the use of a hashtag, it’s easy for any group of people to connect on Twitter so why not teachers? The search of related hashtags, such as #edtech, gives you instant access to links, thoughts and tweets from educators from all over the world.

Encourage creativity

Twitter can be used as a means to encourage students creativity in writing short article such as the micropeom. Twitter is the perfect tool to convey a concept or story with as few words as possible. It can also be a great way to put collaborative creativity to work. Students can create a story taking turns to contribute one line each.

Keep the discussion going

In a classroom setting, Twitter can be used to contribute to a discussion, and also gives students and teachers a way to keep the conversation going long after the class is over.

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Social Networking Group: Learning with Computers

Social Networking websites provide the chances for any group member to exchange and update knowledge in a familiar way. Both students and teachers could do benefit from social networking online.

From my own self, I really want to take part into the group from Yahoo, Learning with Computers for several reasons. Firstly, this is a user-friendly group on website, people just need to have Yahoo ID can be easily join in it, no complicated operation and unfamiliar technology.I compared this group with another social networking website called Ning then consider Yahoo group is more feasible and convenient. Secondly, as an famous education group, Learning with Computers has attracted many language teachers and other educators, so that it provides a professional platform for teachers who are of differnet demands: fresh teachers can communicate with other experienced teachers; Chinese bilingual teacher can find TESOL resources from the forum-like group; Japanese teacher can have conversation with others from diversities cultures. Thirdly, there are some really effective links about educational technology could be found in Learning with Computers such as the blog for bi-monthly reflections and Diigo groups which are full of useful and essential scholar bookmarks. So based on there reasons, I am unable to hold myself back from this group!

A connected world

A learner is like a tree,why do I say that?

In general speaking, a learner has many common points with a tree. Firstly, the most important things for a tree are the root system and soil, a tree couldn't survive without them; in like manner,for a learner who need to build his/her knowledge system, learning would be the root and knowledge would be the broad earth. A learner could be called as "learner" because they must keep learning knowledge for a lifetime to follow and adapt to the change of the information age. A tree has to experience four seasons and born new branches and leaves, so does a learn who need to update their information and knowledge, because "Learning is a continual process, lasting for a lifetime, learning and work related activities are no longer separate;and many learners will move into a variety of different, possibly unrelated fields over the course of their lifetime." (Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age, George Siemens, 2005).

Secondly, like the tree will live better in a forest which has abundant trees and richer soil, a learner always lives in a diversified environment and his/her learning is not entirely under the control of the individual. A tree in forest always coexists with other plants and some animals like vines and bees, similarly, "a learner is always learning with a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources."(Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age, George Siemens, 2005). Through a Youtube video also made by Siemens, we know that "people use blogs, wikis and other social software to share information and connect with others, we could see connections between fields, ideas, and concepts through technologies. Different kinds of conversations make learning and knowledge rests in diversity of opinions."(The Impact of Social Software on Learning, George Siemens, 2007).

As the technologies are updating so quickly, we are all living in a connected world. So we have be a tree to find ways learn more from both circumstance and soil.