theMolisticView

A new journey in education

Archive for the ‘Future’ tag

XNA game studio at school

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Start this  at the start I guess.

Being a Play station user since the play station (one), and not into computers at the time I never really cared about the Xbox when I bought my PS2, or even early last year when I upgraded to the PS3. The first I had heard of Microsoft XNA Game Studio was in 2008 and it was totally by chance when having purchased the then new Microsoft Expression Studio. Microsoft Expression Studio came with 2005 Visual Studio. Now at the time I had only just been made a permanent teacher filling in at what is now my school and my position. I had at that time had little experience with computers except what I had to learn at University and what I had picked up during the many casual and temporary permanent positions I had, had since 2004 and had no interest in coding or  programming.

Fast forward to June 2010, I had spent the last 6 months trying to get year 10 into Flash games using their DER laptops. What a nightmare that was, the DET Lenovo’s struggle to power Flash projects, there is a constant issue with the Flash player plugin being out of date. So this quickly removed any enthusiasm the kids had. Around this time rumors of the new Windows Phone 7 started along with some of the then suggested capabilities of the phone. One of these was to play games, games that would be linked to an Xbox Live account. In one article that I read they linked to XNA Game Studio.  On arriving at that page I was amazed that this secret had been hidden away from me for so long. With a simple download you could make games for your PC or Xbox.

So immediately I download the development tools which were available at the time and then went in search of books which would help me in learning how to make games. I spent most of the school holidays reading through books and coming up with ideas for my multimedia classes.

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February 5th, 2011 at 5:23 am

Is it me or is it them

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I am struggling this year to come to terms with a proportion of my students in Construction. Since they started last year, my year 12 group has had a large group within the cohort that simply do not attempt to participate in any way, they will not even contribute to cleaning up.

This trend appears to now be starting in the new year 11 Construction cohort as well. This year the school has made all VET courses afternoon blocks instead of 3 periods week in an attempt to re-engage the students and have a more meaningful work like appeal. This on the face of it appears not to have worked for a minority of the cohort.

Now, I realise why many students choose Industrial Arts subjects for their HSC, though I have never had a classes before containing so many disengaged students.

Even workplacement and the week out of school does not engage these students. I currently have 9 out of 18 students who are yet to complete their first 35 hours of workplacement and another 6 who are not willing to complete their final 35 hours. This drives me insane, as unlike other HSC subjects there is not a feasible way in which to N award Construction students to a constructive out come.

I am struggling to work out the best way forward for these boy’s. Is it that they are the ones who in the past would be at school until the end of year 11 and then leave in search of employment, or is it the new schooling age rules? is it a location paradigm?

I don’t know and I do not like the future direction, if students can not be bothered to engage in a course that has the ability to make them more employable after school.

Any care to shed some light on my conundrum?

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May 7th, 2010 at 7:41 am

An amazing thing happened today by chance

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Today being back at school after the SWSR inspire 2010 conference threw up a challenge and an opportunity.

To start the day, I decided to use my 3G wireless instead of the DET network for my internet so I could follow my PLN on Twitter during my HSC Multimedia class.

The challenge that arose was the printing of a previous years HSC exam had not been completed in my absence. I am not sure if I heard some one at the conference mention that electronic exams were moving forward or not but I had this idea floating around in my thoughts as soon as I knew I did not have the hard copies of the exam.

I went to class and explained to the students that their exam had not been printed on time and that I was going to give them two options to choose from.

  1. Go to the Board of Studies website and download the PDF version of the exam, then complete their answers in a Word.doc which at the end of the lesson they are to email to me. Or..
  2. Having downloaded the exam, write their answers by hand on paper.

Out of the small class of 8 students (2 of whom decided they had something better to do), only one chose to write out their answers. This choice was not a surprise to me, this particular student has never enjoyed typing on a computer. Yet if you saw her work, be it in Multimedia, Photography, Art and Music you would think she would be a natural at writing on a computer.

In a quiet classroom under exam conditions as a teacher you soon realise who is off the exam just fumbling their way through it. One of the students was this exact type, though to my surprise while observing the students, this student was focused and typing away at the answers.

Having logged on to Twitter earlier I quickly tweeted what I had done with the exam and what I was seeing happen with the students. Quickly my PLN was tweeting back at me.

@deangroom was the first: @theMolisticView which is exactly how to win the game. Read @teacherless blog on feedback. He’s a smart guy for a Horde.

He followed up with: @theMolisticView lit says that typed exams yeild better writing. It feels more important not being in your own hand.

@benpaddlejones tweeted: @theMolisticView there is some gr8 research showing 1:1 improves literacy because they acn write more and remodle on the hop

With these responses I decided to ask the students some questions once they had finished about the experience of completing an exam electronically.

Their responses where very positive. The only grip one student had was “looking back at the space on the exam to answer the question, I wrote far to much in my response. But I think my answer to that question and the others will be better Sir.” This particular student was the Dux of year 10 2 years ago.

Having looked briefly over their exams during a busy day, all I have to say is WOW. What an amazing transformation. Now this could be a one off fluke, but even the girl who I mentioned earlier who is normally lacking in engagement when it comes to completing theoretical work had actually answered all the questions and to a much higher standard then she has ever achieved in the past two years.

With the result from today I have decided that I am going to make year 10’s yearly exam an Acrobat PDF Form and host it on Acrobat.com (which I hope is still available through the DET). it will be interesting to see how they respond to exams held in this fashion.

What do you think of this concept. Please let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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March 25th, 2010 at 9:43 am

What would you want from a School web app

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Having bought an iPhone just before Christmas and learning its capabilities and down falls, I started to look into how it displayed websites such as those which I have developed, specifically the schools website. Without any iPhone specific changes they worked ok, using the phone network only, they took to much time to download. These sites are not big in size and download to the desktop extremely fast.

So what to do? First I thought lets find out how many of these devices are out there? Well finding information out about phones is difficult normally, the iPhone specifically even more so. After searching the web I found this little snippet…

The iPhone is selling well in Australia. Research firm IDC reports that the iPhone has taken 21% of the Australian smartphone market share in the past 12 months, putting Apple in 2nd place behind Nokia and just ahead of Blackberry.

I imagine having seen more and more iPhones and other smart phones in the hands of people over the holiday break there are even more out there then these figures suggest. Google has released the Nexus one Google phone. Although not available in Australia until some time later this year, this device will have more smart phones in the hands of people who are not keen on an Apple iPhone.

So back at the start of a new school year with an Apple announcement in a few days, I did a quick survey of my students. Who has an iPod Touch?, who surfs the net with it. More then half of 60 students answered yes to both and added that the local burger joint now has a free wireless service again.

A couple of days later Apple finally showed the world the new device, the iPad. The iPad takes your smart phone and makes it bigger. It has most of the functionality of a smart phone, minus the phone. Obviously we now have a world of smart portable devices, connected to the internet all the time. Which leads to my question.

“What would you like from a School based web app ?”

Web apps are not just for the Apple mobile devices, any mobile device that uses the Android (Google developed) system can access most of the same features which the Apple devices enjoy. These modern web apps all use the new HTML5 and CSS3 standards, unlike your Windows based desktop or mobile devices which are not compatible unless they are running the Google Chrome Web Browser. Web apps also are not like the applications you have to purchase from iTunes or the Google apps store, they are actual web sites/pages which you can download to your mobile device or desk top if compatible.

There is so much more technical detail I could go into, but if you have seen an iPhone or an Android phone in action with web apps like Flickr, Google etc…  you can see what the future holds for our students. The future is web apps, it may not be visible to all this year or the next, though when Windows and Internet Explorer become aware of the new HTML5/CSS3 standards it will be like a punch in the face.

So please, anything you would like to see easily available through a school based application for mobile devices, let me know in the comments. I would like to develop an initial web app which would portable throughout the NSW DET.

Note: Not just for Apple mobile device systems.

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February 20th, 2010 at 5:32 am

My frustration

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Today we ran another introduction to Moodle with only 4 people turning up. Extremely disappointing to say the least. From the lack of interest shown in Moodle and other educational digital technologies, what are the students going to make of their laptops if their teachers can not use the technology?

I find it so frustrating given that it is not the DET holding things up it’s the teachers yet they complain that the DET has not prepared them. So many people have sat on their hands and watched the last 20 years go by. How can anyone say they do not use email today? Email is almost 40 years old, have they used the older Fax  variant?(nearly 50 years old) My other frustration is that they have been in-serviced to the hill on how to use technology in the classroom yet so many continue to write it on a board or have it copied from a text book. Personally I only started using computers and associated technologies on starting University in 2003 (I have only been teaching since 05). No one gave me a paid in-service I had to teach myself and still do. Its about here I could go on a tangent about the pay scale, what a laugh that is.

I think I’m going to stop this rant here, because I know I am going to insult some one and thats not my intention.

The laptops started rolling out today. You should have seen the lucky kid’s at lunch laptop in hand, smiles from ear to ear keen to get to work. Only problem is their teachers are living in the 80’s.

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September 16th, 2009 at 8:48 am

Posted in Challenges

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