tech-ucation reformation

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Video Pros and Cons July 20, 2014

This week in my Multimedia in Technology Applications class, we are exploring designing instruction with video.  Because video is not something I typically work with, I have been reflecting on the experience from two perspectives:  as a teacher and as an instructional technologist. Each point of view offers differing pros and cons considering how each would interact with the form of media.

Teacher:  Creating a video is time-consuming; it could take a full-day to create a five-minute lesson.  Few teachers can afford to spend that much preparation time for just five minutes of class time.  Sure, anything a teacher makes could be used repeatedly, but standards change every few years, so some videos may no longer be applicable requiring the teacher to create something new.  Do not assume that I avoid video in my lessons.  In actuality, I rely on them heavily.  The Internet is a vast goldmine of information in video form, and between my school resources such as United Streaming, free resources such as YouTube, and teacher-created content such as what is found on Teachers Pay Teachers, I really have had no reason to create my own video content.  However, now that I feel more comfortable with the form of media, I am entertaining other ways video could be used in the classroom other than direct teacher instruction.  That means, how would my students use it?  I’ve been a science teacher for the past three years, and much of what my students do is observation of before and after or collections of examples.  In laboratory investigations, we draw before and after pictures, then write down an explanation for what happened.  Why not achieve the same thing with video?  The students could take a five-second before shot, then an after shot of the same length, then a 30 second explanation.  They have actually saved themselves valuable class time while achieving the same objective.  Because I am moving into an ESL position next year, I have been considering uses for video with this high-need population.  Rarely do students notice their own progress over time, so what about filming short question-and-answer sessions or oral-reading exercises at specified time intervals, such as once a six weeks.  With each filming, show them what they have done before so they can view their own progress.  My point, teachers have other options other than just showing one or making one to show.  But beware when having students create their own videos; not all video editing software is the same.  I would not ask a 5th grader to use Adobe’s Premiere Pro, while an experienced high school or college student may need more functionality than what Window’s Movie Maker offers.

Instructional Technologist:  Because I see myself in an instructional technologist position in the near future, I wanted to consider why a tech-savvy teacher such as myself never creates video and how I could encourage such a teacher to embrace the media form.  Teachers often complain that the videos they find are close to what they need but either have too much unnecessary information or the video is produced for an audience unlike the teacher’s classroom composition.  Of course, teachers could create their own videos, but as already discussed, time is an issue.  But what if teachers had an easy way to collect relevant short clips together.  The vast availability of video editing software could allow the teacher to create a “mashup” of only the clips they need, add important information to support special needs or adjust for the audience, and otherwise customize unoriginal content for state standards.  I would also advise any teachers to understand copyright implications.  Creating a “mashup” of clips to show students is one thing, but uploading that video to Teachers Pay Teachers and selling it creates the need for permission and citation.  Even creating an original video portraying purchased paper-based resources will require credit to the publisher.  I would also encourage teachers to get the cameras into the hands of the students.  In addition to the ideas above, teachers could take student-created clips and edit them together into one video, or have the students edit just their section to be added to a larger work.  Or how about each student taking their own collection and creating a video portfolio at the end of the year.


Problem-Solving & Creativity in Gaming January 12, 2014

Filed under: 5300 — S. Michele Holmes @ 5:30 am
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The following is the abstract for my CECS 5300 final project – a research paper.  The full title is “Developing Effective Problem-Solving Strategies and Enhancing Creativity in Elementary School Students through Gaming.”  If you are interested in reading my final product, please contact me.

The proliferation of computer and video games in our society led to their study for educational merit. Problem-solving and creativity are two important goals of education that can be honed through gaming. The goal of this paper is to explore the research on problem-solving and creativity in gaming and present three arguments about how they help elementary students develop problem-solving skills and enhance creativity. Play is a child’s natural interaction with the world and a powerful learning tool; games are just another way for children to interact with their world, learning while playing. Games can be programmed to reflect what students will experience in the real-world allowing students to produce a plethora of products using problem-solving and creativity as they will in their professions after school. Standardized testing is not a true reflection of students’ abilities and does not allow students to express themselves creatively. Games can indicate problem-solving and creativity more accurately than standardized testing.


Educational Research or Refreshing Diversion April 20, 2013

Filed under: 5300 — S. Michele Holmes @ 3:35 am
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Our focus this week in Learning & Cognition class has been problem-solving.  This week I have been challenged to play with the following website:, reflect upon problem-solving and creativity, and spend time solving a problem or doing something creative.  This challenge could not have come at a better time because I have been writing a research paper on problem-solving, and it served as a refreshing diversion as well as opportunity to reflect upon the paper from a different perspective.

First, I followed the link to the website and read the directions on how to play the game.  It’s basically a website hyperlink maze taking you from one page to another, but the goal is to make your way from the 1st page to the 45th page and back in 16 moves.  It reminds me a lot of the text-based MUDs from my bachelor degree days having to type every movement you want to make.  Although the directions said to read the story for each room because it could give you clues to the next move, I found this to be of no help to me whatsoever, so I decided this problem needed to be solved in a different way.  It made sense to me that if it’s just 45 websites and they all have links to other sites, what if I just mapped it out to find the best path.  I remember having to take notes and make maps on video games I’d played in the past – particularly the Gabriel Knight games, Frankenstein:  Through the Eyes of the Monster, and Myst.  So I started mapping the rooms and how they link together on a piece of paper.  After quite a while, I found that some rooms can immediately link back to where you had come from, while others did not.  At this point, I felt as though this might be important to finding the most efficient route to room 45 and back, and perhaps the path may not be a perfect round-trip.  So I started my map over again, this time indicating what I had learned.  The result is pictured here.


Well, I must have messed up somewhere or it just became too complicated, because I could never find room 45.  I then realized this was a maze, and as a child, I would often solve mazes backwards – it just seemed faster sometimes.  I noticed the website addresses have the room number in them, so I simply changed the number to 45 and my hypothesis worked!  From there, I tried to map backwards using the same methods as before (you can see this in the upper right corner.  Although I found all the rooms this way, I never could find the connection.  However, I did find what might be an error in the links – I’m not sure if it’s intentional or a mistake:  when in room 44, the player is given two choices room 18 and room 21, and when room 18 is selected, it takes the player to room 11.  At this point, I had to give up and return to the research paper.  My interest in methodically mapping out the maze gave me a break from working on the research paper for at least two days, which gave me personal insight into many of the topics I was researching:  well-defined vs. ill-defined problems, approaches to problem-solving such as methodical strategies and simple trial and error, time constraints, and reflections periods.  I felt the creative activity of writing was enhanced by the activity.  But then again . . . perhaps I just wanted to procrastinate!


CECS 5300 Paper Proposal February 15, 2013

Filed under: 5300 — S. Michele Holmes @ 9:10 pm
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Working Title:  Developing Effective Problem-Solving Strategies and Enhancing Creativity Through Video-Gaming

Main Topic:  The goal of this paper is to review the existing research on how using Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs) and other collaborative video-gaming platforms could be utilized as a means to develop problem-solving strategies and enhance creativity in the elementary classroom setting.  Another goal is to provide examples of currently available software and applications that promote creativity and problem solving.


As the amount information available to humans increases exponentially, students will not only be required to learn more at younger ages but also understand how to access and manipulate information rather than just memorize facts.  Because of this, students will need to develop creative solutions to complete the task at hand while they absorb the required content.

An education system which requires children to meet the minimum qualifications on an objective-based assessment is producing children who cannot develop solutions on their own because the answers are given to them and their job is to pick the correct one out of the available options.  What if the best solution is not any of the answers provided?  Children are being evaluated and judged based upon the results of these assessments when this is not at all what they will experience in the real world after they have finished school.

Elementary education must transform to reflect what people will experience as adults:  creation of products and collaboration with peers.  Some growing trends in education are product-based learning and small-group learning, and these can both be enhanced with technology, especially through video-gaming.

Taking ownership of learning processes which requires critical thinking and the creation of final products can result in a deeper understanding of the content.  Combining these ideas with a high-level of collaboration and motivation can result in the learning process seeming more like playing and having fun rather than just learning.

Accessibility to a multitude of non-technology-based creative outlets is not always possible fiscally, so technology can allow the impossible due to lack of resources to transform into a world of creative experimentation on a global scale.

Audience:  My intended audience is educators and instructional designers interested in developing product-based-learning software and applications requiring a combination of problem-solving skills and creative processes while learning content.

Point of View:  Teachers have an unwillingness to move away from the tried and true teaching methods they have been using for years, but technology is changing at such a rapid pace that it will inundate our lives so much in the future we must be willing to allow technology to teach critical thinking and creativity more and more.  We must become facilitators rather than instructors.  I often say that I am preparing my students for jobs that don’t even exist yet but I do know they will involve technology.  Why not use technology now to create graduates who will know how to develop creative solutions because that is exactly what they have been doing in school.  My goal is to find research to support that teaching problem-solving and creativity through video-gaming is not only possible but necessary.  I also want to show educators and instructional designers practical examples of video games as well as both empirical and anecdotal evidence to support them.

Problems:  I fear my vision of “playing to learn” will be too difficult or costly to program, which could be why so few programs are available, so I may have difficulty finding examples much less research to support my thesis.  Aside from preschool and kindergarten, adults appear to be unwilling to allow children to “play,” which is exactly what is necessary to develop problem-solving abilities and creativity.  I also fear the research I do find may be too critical and unsupportive to substantiate my thesis.

Addressing the Problems:  While I’m sure I can find research on developing problem solving skills and separate research on using gaming in the educational setting, I may not be able to find research that combines these ideas, so I may have to make some major leaps in the available research.  I will also need to spend some time seeking examples of technology already in use that teaches problem-solving and allows for creativity.  I must also take any criticism of using video-gaming in the classroom in stride as well as address those criticisms.

Questions:  Can any of my classmates offer examples of games or research on this topic? Do any of my classmates have children in elementary school?



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