Friday, December 28, 2007

RSS Guide: Why syndication is important to Globaloria and Learning

RSS or Really Simple Syndication is a way to allow information to come to you. It eliminates a lot of time consuming web surfing. Before you read on watch this great video.

As you can see, setting up a connection with the websites that you are interested in is a powerful way to save time and makes it much easier for you to stay connected to the online communities that you are interested in. (Note: I should now see the number of RSS subscriptions to this blog go up!)

So how will this help you be a part of the MyGLife project? First it will allow you to have changes to your class wiki be delivered to you. To do this go to your project wiki from the main site.

Then click on Recent Changes in the left hand navigation box. Go to the bottom of this page and look for the RSS link in the lower left hand corner.

Click on the link and copy the address into your RSS Aggregator (i.e. Google Reader). If you use Firefox then right-click the link and select "copy link location" and you can paste it to Add Subscription in Google Reader.

Once you have the RSS feed in the Reader you can easily track all the wiki changes without ever going to the wiki again!

In this picture the wiki subscriptions are on the left and the changes are provided to you on the right in realtime. So this means you can monitor the wiki activity of your school and every other school in the project by going to this one location and you can read this blog.

Creating a Learning-Centered Learning Environment: More then a dream?

Read this quote from Will's blog post today.

All of which started me thinking, about a different model, one that is built on really small groups of students that meet in physical space studying and learning about the topics they are passionate about and who are also connected to other small groups of students with like minded passions from anywhere in the world via the Live Web, where long term collaborations and research and learning can happen over extended periods, all of it real work for real audiences, published and reviewed by engaged readers participants acting as mentors from global audiences. The adults in the room are co-learners with the students but also educators who can model and navigate the skills and competencies, the “network literacies” (sorry, Tom) that the kids in the room need to have to leverage the connections they help facilitate. And there might be some high-level, virtual administration in there somewhere, to make sure the connections and logistics are working. And there might be parents learning alongside their students, and others who are involved at different levels of the process. Regardless, it’s a place where learning is at the heart of everything. Not grades. Not tests. Not college acceptances.I know, I know. I’m dreaming here. But heck, it’s the New Year. It’s a time for dreaming…

Weblogg-ed » Some New Year’s Dreaming

Does this sound a little familiar? Go read the entire post and the associated links that he references. Do you think that the has these characteristics? If you could create a learning environment of your dreams, what would it look like? Maybe this isn't happening (yet) what do we need to do to get this kind of environment working? Any thoughts? Leave a comment.

Globaloria In 2008

We here at Globaloria hope that you have a "happy" 2008. We are really excited about all the opportunities that we have to work with you. We hope that bey the end of 2008 we will have a real sense of community throughout the state and those contributing to our online community. Stay tuned, there is a lot more to come!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Teen Use of the Internet: Growing According to Pew/Internet Report

Link to Full Report

The Pew Internet & American Life Project has found that 64% of online teens ages 12-17 have participated in one or more among a wide range of content-creating activities on the internet, up from 57% of online teens in a similar survey at the end of 2004.

  • 39% of online teens share their own artistic creations online, such as artwork, photos, stories, or videos, up from 33% in 2004.
  • 33% create or work on webpages or blogs for others, including those for groups they belong to, friends, or school assignments, basically unchanged from 2004 (32%).
  • 28% have created their own online journal or blog, up from 19% in 2004.
  • 27% maintain their own personal webpage, up from 22% in 2004.
  • 26% remix content they find online into their own creations, up from 19% in 2004
These stats are really interesting. Do you see the same trends in your environment?

Causes of Wiki Errors

We had an Internal Server Error show up on one of the wikis yesterday. It was not the first time this week we have had this happen. In both cases the issue has been with File Upload activity. The first issue was file size. Large images can cause problems for the wiki. We are working on a technical solution for that issue.

Here is a description of the other issue. It is about using brackets when you name a file. This is an explanation of one example that caused the error.

On her PC the file name was "file1-[1].swf" . When she uploaded it to the wiki it changed to "File1-1-.swf"

That is done because wiki used the chars "[" and "]" for LINKS.

On her page she wrote "file=File1-[1].swf|width=500|height=400|quality=best|scale=showall"

I posted a page here to discuss this issues in more detail.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

How to turn Frustration into Action: Search, Blog, Reflect, Repeat

One of the primary skills that we are trying teach as part of the MyGLife project, is to express yourself online. There are times when we all encounter frustration with our activities, including working with technology. If you don't have a lot of experience with using software or hardware then you might allow smaller obstacles to create a lot of frustration for you. In my early visits to our schools, I have had both students and educators tell me that they are frustrated about something on the MyGLife platform. Maybe it was the software installation, maybe it was the assignment, maybe it was the way the wiki platform makes you spell all the words in your file correctly. :)

Frustration happens. What do you do?

Old School Approach:
Wait for someone else to come and show us how to fix the problem or worse actually fix the problem for us. (Worse of course because next time you will need them to fix the problem again... the whole "teach them to fish for life thingy.")

New School Approach:
A new strategy to address this issue, we might even call it a 21st Century Strategy because we like buzz words, might be Search, Blog, Reflect, and Repeat.


If you have spent anytime at all on the web, you have learned this first step. GOOGLE IT! Right? Go on the web and look it up. Here at MyGLife we also have the option to search our wiki or other schools wikis that might have encountered the exact same problem. You could also search their blogs, because they might have reflected on this same issue you are having. This takes a little time of course and isn't a guarantee. But you have a fairly good chance that you will find your answer.

This might be a new step for you. If you don't find the answer you are looking for by searching the web or the MyGLife platform, then you can blog about your frustration. Put it out there, let people know... I hear you saying, "But Lee blogging is for geeks and besides if I blog about my problems then everyone will know I am an incompetent (student/educator) when it comes to technology!" And of course the answer to that is get over it, you are engaged in an awesome program to build games based on Flash. You are not incompetent and by blogging about the problem you are trying to overcome, you just made yourself an "advanced user of technologies" and the fact is... blogging is easier then email, but don't tell anyone, we geeks like to make it sound impressive.

So what will happen when I blog about my frustrations? You have now provided an opportunity for a whole lot of really smart people to help you out. Try it.

So this next step is one that gets overlooked or forgotten. It would be incredibly powerful if we would all reflect on our activities and solutions after resolution or even if they don't get to resolution. Reflection is a powerful tool for learning and by reflecting through your blog, you empower those who follow your path a possible quicker road to resolution. It also important to understand that you don't have to be exact or even thorough, although it helps. Just get your thoughts and ideas out there. Make it part of the conversation.

Finally, repeat. Do it often. The more you implement this strategy, the more you will learn and others around you will learn.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

How to read this blog: Subscribe via Email

This blog now has "Subscribe via Email". It is a feature offered through Feedburner. The idea is to allow you to receive posts from the blog in your in-box. Now, to be honest, I am not a big fan of getting blog posts via email. I would totally recommend that you use Google Reader for a lot of reasons, but if you happen to be someone who really just likes checking your email to get your information, this might be a good option.

It is really easy, just enter your email and click subscribe. You should get the next post sometime between 7pm and 9pm after it has been posted!

21st Century Skills in Action

So, you wonder how this 21st Century Skills "stuff" is really going to happen. Will ask Clay County. One of our students posted to his blog, that the wiki was broken and that it "stinks on ice"! Well to be honest, I told him about the "Stinks on Ice" part. So he blogged about it and we (meaning smarter people then me) fixed the site. The network is starting to have an effect!

Monday, December 17, 2007

New Techsupport Page in Educator's Wiki

Flash CS3 Box

On Friday Denise and I worked to upgrade the Flash software on her Macs and ran into some issues. (of course) I captured the issues and started a Techsupport page. Hint: the trick is a clean up script that Adobe has made to clean up their messes.

Friday, December 14, 2007

How does a wiki work?

My last post made me think about this video. If you plan to use a wiki in your classroom or if you are already in the MyGLife project you should watch it and have your students watch it. It will give you great idea of how a wiki works. CommonCraft have done a lot of great videos in this format.

Other Great Videos

Zoombies in Plain English

Thursday, December 13, 2007

How to Create a New Course Curriculum in Realtime

Imagine if you will... you are teaching a class. It could be anything English, Math, Science, or even Technology. The textbook for the course has a tutorial that introduces a primary concept, however, unlike a lot of the text this first tutorial uses an instructional method that is not very effective for your classroom. It is factual, but your students don't really grasp the concept when through go through the activity. So, as their Instructor, you decide that you need to identify a new tutorial to replace that one, or at least augment or add to that instruction. So you go find one on the Internet and stick it in the text.

Well this happened, today. Except it wasn't a textbook it was a wiki.

The MyGLife students in Charleston were working on the Interaction section of the curriculum that taught them how to create a button. Their Instructor found another module that was also helpful in teaching the creation of Flash buttons and just added to the wiki (well actually a student added it to the wiki). New instruction for everyone in a matter of moments.

This is what it looked like before....

Add here it is after. Simple, easy, effective!

If you are a MyGLife Educator, make your wiki your own and maybe keep an eye on the other classes wikis as well!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Creating a Narrative Game: More Great Examples

When I was in Huntington last week I had privilege of attending a presentation of one of the MyGLife early games. It was really cool to listen to the thinking that went into the design of the game and the way the game evolved through discussion.

Here is a great screen cap of the game. This shot represents the consequences of a decision that the hero of the game made.

Go check out the entire game and give some feedback.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Games that Make a Difference

Early in the course, our students are asked to brainstorm a game that is positive, educational, and could have some type of social impact on the world. Here is an example of a game that meets all three.

Free Rice is a simple game that allows the players to learn vocabulary and donate rice to this in need. For each word you get right, we donate 20 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program. The concept is pretty simple and straight forward and the end result has been quite powerful. Just under 250 million grains of rice have been donated to date.

Can you image a simple game that could tie together the actions of the user and a positive action in society?

To see some of the games our students have proposed, check out the game proposals on the RTC wiki.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

How to Trim the Tree: In Flash

So, one of the perks of my new job as the West Virginia Program Manager, is that I get to go around and meet really cool students and their pretty cool teachers. Sorry teachers, the students really are a little cooler. So Friday I drove up to Wheeling and met with some wonderful students from Crittenton. These young lady's are becoming real Flash developers and I have proof. Here are the rocking Christmas trees that they created....

Click the trees to go see how the work in Flash.

How did they do that? You ask... well they combined the drawing tutorial and the space ship tutorial to create a cool new project for the holiday season. Considering that these students are only working two evenings a week on this project. Man, they are doing great!

Great job! I can't wait to see what they are going to come up with next!

I'll also mentioned that one young lady showed me a new Flash game she found on the web, but more about that later.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Flash Examples: The Makings of a Game

The Globaloria project is about acquiring the knowledge and skills to create a game that can make a change. To do this you have to "dig in" and start learning. There is no cramming at the end, you have to start thinking about your project and using the tools that are going to make it happen. For our students, this is about collaborating, brainstorming, working with images and designs, and about learning Flash. I am learning this really quickly as I come up to speed with our students projects. Check out this project by our student at MTC.

If you follow the link by clicking on the house you can check out the animation. There is a lot that goes into the design and animation of a small Flash project like this one. Building these smaller projects give us a basic understanding. Then we start to combine ideas, techniques, and technologies to build a game.

Stay tuned (or connected) we are going to be looking a lot more examples and ideas for all of our students that are participating in Globaloria-WV.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Welcome to Globaloria WV

This is the Globaloria WV blog. Welcome. We will be posting all about Globaloria, gaming, technology, West Virginia, and learning.

Globaloria-WV is designed to help students learn internet media technology and game-development skills, hone professional and life skills, experience positive virtual communication with other communities, and foster social change.

If you are new to Globaloria and want to learn more, go to this page and check it out. We have six sites up and running here in West Virginia.

We also have some wonderful partners in West Virginia's Governor Manchin and The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.

If you are an educator or school administrator interested in incorporating a game development curriculum that will prepare your students for the 21st Century at your school, contact us.