Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Governor's Press Release: Globaloria Preparing Students for Digital World

Jan. 29, 2008


Contact: Lara Ramsburg, 304-558-2000

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Students across the Mountain State are learning how to become active citizens in today’s increasingly connected and digital world through Globaloria, an innovative educational program that launched last summer with funding from the State of West Virginia and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. Today, Verizon West Virginia also demonstrated its support and vision with a grant to continue expanding the program in 2008.

The Globaloria program, established in 2006 by the World Wide Workshop Foundation, uses the latest World Wide Web and social media technology to empower young people to learn how to create interactive games and simulations, collaborate online and solve problems together. Its activities help students sharpen their communication and critical-thinking skills for leadership online and offline, bringing them closer to the participatory and collaborative nature of work in the 21st century.

In July 2007, the Office of Governor Joe Manchin invited the World Wide Workshop Foundation to partner with the State of West Virginia and Benedum Foundation to launch Globaloria. Since then, 14 educators and 65 students from six schools across the state have been learning Internet media technology and game-development skills.

West Virginia First Lady Gayle Manchin said, “I am so pleased and appreciative of Verizon joining this collaboration. Everyone on this team- Benedum, Verizon, World Wide Workshop -- brings great expertise and commitment to the table, and I am so grateful on behalf of the state of West Virginia. I am so proud to see all that is already happening through the Globaloria project in West Virginia in its short time of operations. It is 21st-Century-Skills being exemplified, and as we can all see in the field when we visit, the students are excited and engaged.”

Dr. Idit Caperton, president and founder of the World Wide Workshop Foundation, said Globaloria and its virtual learning platforms challenge students more than typical curriculum.

“Through project-based teamwork and a great deal of self-learning in a virtual space, students with no prior experience in computer programming or using Web 2.0 tools, become wiki producers and digital designers of web-based software applications for social change and educational purposes,” Caperton said. “These valuable skills prepare young people to become leaders in the digital and global marketplace .”

Globaloria’s emphasis on technology and education matches closely with Verizon’s goal to support the use of technology to improve literacy and K-12 education. Verizon West Virginia’s grant will help to further expand the program in 2008, said B. Keith Fulton, president of Verizon West Virginia.

“Globaloria gives West Virginia students a unique opportunity to develop critical 21st-century job skills,” Fulton said. “Verizon looks forward to working with our partners to expand this engaging, online learning environment for our state.”

Jim Denova, vice president of the Benedum Foundation, said, “The Benedum Foundation is very pleased to have invested in this first-year demonstration of Globaloria in West Virginia. We are always looking for innovation in education, and Globaloria is proving to be an effective instructional tool that has broad application to a number of educational settings, whether they are high schools, colleges, or community-based after-school programs.”

Program officials are currently accepting applications for more educators and students in WV high schools, community colleges and universities to join this spring, with plans to double the size of the program by end of 2008. The Globaloria program works best when implemented as a daily activity at school or a college, Caperton said. It also provides opportunities for alumni internships and employment via the Internet.

Dr. Lee Kraus, Globaloria-WV Program Manager, said, “Our participating students and educators become skilled users of the latest technology; they learn to be active contributors, collaborators, designers and programmers of the Internet. Simultaneously, they develop life and professional skills needed to be productive and globally aware – prepared to take on leadership roles in the innovation economy and the fast-changing, digital world we live in.”

For more information about the program, contact info@worldwideworkshop.org.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Kasson Middle School an Exemplar in Education

I went to make a quick pitch for Globaloria at the Barbour County Board of Education tonight and learned a lot about what a wonderful pick we have in our new partner school, Kasson Middle School. Following a series of presentations including an increase in Special Education scores of the past few years, school of excellence at Math Field Day, and finally having over a 95% attendance rate for the past three years, you can see that there is something special at Kasson. The Principal and new Globaloria Educator Michelle Barb led the presentation and was quick to point to her teachers for the credit.

This makes me feel really good about entering a new project like MyGLife with a great school. The picture above is of the presentation of the State Exemplar school, which they have received for the third year in a row. Way to go Kasson!

A few Project Links for Globaloria

I wanted to take a second to post some valuable project links. From time to time, I will try and post links that might be useful or just might be interesting to be put in a list.

Globaloria West Virginia homepage: http://myglife.org/usa/wv – A clickable map that highlights and links to the current pilot sites.

Globaloria WV blog: http://globaloria-wv.blogspot.com – The globaloria blog. I try to spark conversations, provide help with technical issues and share interesting ideas that will inspire, and help program participants. Be sure to read this post -- an interview with Dr. Idit Caperton who has provided the vision of the program.

MyGLife RTC wiki: http://www.myglife.org/usa/wv/rtcwvwiki/index.php/Main_Page - See a real group of program users in action! This is the virtual space where the Randolph Technical Center pilot group (Denise’s class) work on their games and share ideas.

WV Educators’ Wiki: http://www.myglife.org/usa/wvwiki/index.php/Main_Page - This is kind of like a virtual teachers’ lounge, where all the educators and stakeholders in the program share ideas and information.

These are all good links to check out if you are new to Globaloria. I'll post more links soon.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Games for NASA: Teaching Complex Skills

For any of you game designers wondering who is using games, check this out. NASA is looking for anyone who can build an online game.


NASA Learning Technologies Request for Information: Development of a NASA-based Massively Multiplayer Online Learning Game Introduction The NASA Learning Technologies (LT) Project Office supports projects that deliver NASA relevant content through innovative applications of technologies to enhance education in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Research and development in each of the STEM areas are at the core of the LT mission. LT seeks to enhance formal and informal education in STEM fields with the goal of increasing the number of students in those fields of study. The LT is currently evaluating the development of a NASA-based massively multiplayer online educational game (MMO). Background Persistent immersive synthetic environments in the form of massive multiplayer online gaming and social virtual worlds, initially popularized as gaming and social settings, are now finding growing interest as education and training venues. There is increasing recognition that these synthetic environments can serve as powerful "hands-on" tools for teaching a range of complex subjects, including STEM-based instruction. Virtual worlds with scientifically accurate simulations could permit learners to tinker with chemical reactions in living cells, practice operating and repairing expensive equipment, and experience microgravity making it easier to grasp complex concepts and quickly transfer this understanding to practical problems. MMOs help players develop and exercise a skill set closely matching the thinking, planning, learning, and technical skills increasingly in demand by employers today. These skills include strategic thinking, interpretative analysis, problem solving, plan formulation and execution, team-building and collaboration, and adaptation to rapid change. The power of games as educational tools is rapidly gaining recognition.
This is interesting stuff. Notice that it specific talks about how games can provide "hands-on" tools for teaching complex subjects.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Interview with Dr. Randy Jones of MCTC

I was sent this conversation with Dr. Jones of Marshall Community and Technical College via email and he agreed to extend it a little with me and allow me to share it on this blog. The conversation is about his impressions of the first semester with the Globaloria game development curriculum. Dr. Jones team-taught the course this past semester, here is the wiki.

What do you feel you've learned about 21st Century teaching?

o Faculty role is more of facilitator verses disseminator of information.

o Much of the learning takes place on-line through an interactive process.

What benefits are you seeing in your students?

o Students are more interested in learning if they have more control over the learning process.

o Student interaction among their peers also allows for more learning to take place.

o Students within broad boundaries are able to move at their own pace. The final learning objective bar is a minimum. The maximums are limited only by the student.

What is fun?

o From a personal perspective, I get a great deal of satisfaction from learning new things, developing new programs, and pushing the envelope on technology.

What is challenging?

o Note above: learning new things, developing new programs, and pushing the envelope on technology.

What more do you need, by way of support from Globaloria, to help you do your best work?

o A complement, everyone has been quick to respond to any issues related to the program.

o A complement, everyone has been focused on the student's future marketability. I appreciate a willingness to support our Internship requirement for our students.

o A comment, at some point a PR campaign that would highlight the program and our college which is somewhat hidden in the shadows of the University.

o A comment, our college has been very supportive of the partnership we are establishing. All basic adobe software has been made available through MCTC. Additional tutorial software has been purchased to support this program. Additional screen-capture and presentation software is also being purchased to support remote training. If we needed additional resources that could not be supplied by existing means, it would be nice to know we could apply to an alternate source for consideration.

How might you plan to approach anything differently in the New Year?

o Each cycle of courses to be taught in the future will be over a full semester (15 weeks).

o Dual-credit remote link to a high school program.

o Implementation of pre-requisite courses in future cycles might be suggested. A key component in the initial courses is a basic knowledge of the flash interface. Programming concepts would also be beneficial.

Additional Comments: We are planning on offering the cycle of classes in the Summer of 08. It would be a good thing if we could work with the University, offer graduate credit for the courses, and encourage future teachers to sign up for the classes. This would give them the background they need to teach the courses and would also meet their continuing education requirements.

You can check out more from Dr. Jones and his co-teacher Patrick Smith on YouTube.

YouTube Interviews Dr. Caperton

Here is a great interview from Munich last week. Dr. Caperton attended the DLD Conference that address all things Digital, Life, Design (DLD). The interview is a great overview of the Globaloria program and provides some insights as to how Dr. Caperton views the implementation of the program.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

RTC Final Game Page

So I am out on the road today, but I wanted to make quick link to the final game page. It is a single page on the RTC wiki that has all of the final games. I was just there with the class and they were still trying to squeeze in the last animations, audios, and graphics.

If you are looking for great game examples, check these out.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

RTC Presentations Make the News

The local media provided coverage of the RTC presentations.

Finding students who enjoy attending a class may be a rarity. The exception is students who signed up for Game Design, taught by Denise Stalnaker at the Randolph Technical Center, who say they looked forward to their class almost every day.
Go and read the full article here. The article also appeared on the front page of the daily paper on January 16th.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Instructor Tutorials: A How to Movie on Flash

Yesterday I highlighted a tutorial developed by a Globaloria student. Today, I wanted to point out that you can also get a lot of Flash resources from the Instructors. Here is a video tutorial on how to create a button in Flash. It was built by Patrick Smith at MCTC and posted on his wiki page.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Education of the Students, For the Students, By The Students

The title might be a little hookey, but it kind of captures the idea of what we are going for here. Yeager33 at MCTC actually "jumped into" Action Script 3 for flash. He worked through the approach and decided to create his own tutorial and share it on the wiki.

This is the first one.

Displaying a Block

  • 1. Open a new Flashfile(ActionScript 3.0)
  • 2. Create a rectangle and convert it to a movieclip
   Using the Rectangle tool create a new rectangle,Use selection tool and group the rectangle together
Right click the rectangle and select Convert to Symbol..
In the Convert to Symbol dialog box Enter Block in the Name: textfield
Select the radio button for Movie Clip
Click the Advanced button
Under Linkage select the Export for ActionScript checkbox
(this will also check the Export in first frame button Leave it checked)
Click Ok
ActionScript Class warning message box will pop up Select Ok

After converting to symbol make sure your stage is clear

  • 3. ActionScript Code

Select frame 1 right click and select Actions from drop down menu or press F9 to open Actions window In the Actions window type

  import flash.display.*;
import flash.events.Event;

This basically lets flash know that we will be working with display objects and events so it can load the code to handle these things.

  • Next we want to define a variable to represent our display object in this case the block we created
  var myBlock:DisplayObject= new Block()
  • At this point we have a variable(myBlock) representing our display object

We can now use ActionScript to alter the display object properties of our variable Let us set the starting point for myBlock before we draw it to the screen

  • Now we create myBlock on screen
  • Publish preview and you should now have a block sitting on screen at the (X,Y) position that you specified.

This may not seem like much right now, however we now have the ability to change properties of our object with ActionScript code

Go check out his page for the others.

A Globaloria First From Man WV

I have to share this, because it is so cool and it happened yesterday and I wanted to blog about it then, and I got so busy today....... anyway... check this out.

Aleigha who is participating in Man WV, loaded a digital image and has started to build a game around this interface. As far as I know, and I would love for someone to point it out if I am wrong, this is our first instance of using existing digital photography for the game interface.

Way to go... I hope that others begin to explore this option for game interfaces as well.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Student Presentations in one word: AWESOME

We attended the student presentations at RTC yesterday and they were awesome. They students were so passionate and engaged about their games. There were seven groups and it took us two and half hours to get through everyone. One young lady even explained how she wished they hadn't had so many snow days, so they could have spent more time on the game.

How great is that?

The students all spoke well and were dressed very professional. They took their presentations very serious and all their hard work was obvious. I will try to show some examples and share more pictures soon. We even took some video, so maybe we can show a clip or two from that.

Finally I want to take a moment to congratulate the students who worked so hard and to Denise Stalnaker who did such a wonderful job being a facilitator, mentor, and co-learner to the group. Way to go Denise!

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

BBS Interviews Dr. Caperton

Dr. Idit Caperton was interviewed by the BBC about Globaloria. Here are the details.

BBC's "CULTURE SHOCK" -- Philip Dodd and Martin Raymond of the Future Laboratory discuss new ideas, inventions and trends.

In this edition (27 minutes-long):

1. Canaries for the Age of Terror
Using cockroaches and genetically modified fish as biosensors to guard our homes against chemical and biological agents: Austrian designer Marei Wollersberger explains why she designed a bio-safe home.

2. Internet Reputation Defenders
Worried that what’s written about you on the internet might put off potential employers? Don’t want your new partner to see those embarrassing pictures of you and your previous girlfriend on Facebook? Michael Fertik’s Reputation Defender offers to spruce-up your internet image.

3. 21st Century Games (last segment, starts at about 16 minutes into the show)
Forget computer games for kids. What they really want – and what might also give them a chance to get a decent job - are computer games that they design themselves. Idit Caperton's new internet project MyGLife teaches kids from deprived backgrounds how to build web 2.0 games and the value of collaborating online with people from other countries.

It will be broadcast live from Monday 14th January worldwide. Here is a tool to find out how you can listen wherever you are http://www.bbc.co.uk/cgi-bin/worldservice/psims/ScheduleSDT.cgi

You can listen online for seven days after the 14th ( and download it ) : http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/programmes/culture_shock.shtml

Game Developers Conference

The Game Developers Conference or gdc is an annual conference for the gaming industry held at the new Moscone Center West, in the heart of San Francisco's SOMA district. The event brings together over 12,000 people who design, develop, and sale games for computers, consoles, or over the internet.

For Globaloria, this represents the more formal gaming industry. An industry took in about USD$7.4 billion in the US in 2006 (ESA annual report). That's Billion with a B. While the knowledge and skills we are learning can certainly apply to almost any industry today, there is a gaming industry and they are looking for talented people to bring energy, creativity, and talent to the next generation of games.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Excitement About Game Presentations

I am really excited about the next two days for Globaloria. I will be visiting sites and actually watching presentations from our students. There has been a lot of effort in design, planning, and producing games and I am going to be able to check out the fruit of that labor, effort, and creativity.

Hopefully, I will have some things to share when we get back.

Friday, January 11, 2008

What does a Globaloria Classroom Look Like?

So if you are considering joining the Globaloria program, you may be wondering what the environment looks like. So when I was in Elkins this week I grab a photo and short video with my poor quality cell phone. So check them out.

Take note of the sweet iMacs. Wow. I want one so bad.

Now check out this video. The students are trying to wrap up their games for their presentation next week on the 15th. They are needing to add audio. As you will note in this video, there was a long script that had to be written and actors were hired and of course there is always some danger involved in game development. You will see the observers move to a safer location.

So as you can see, a Globaloria classroom is a little bit different then a 'traditional" classroom. They are engaged, talking it out, working together, and some of them have really cool iMacs.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Games that Rock: RTC kids make incredible Flash Games

OK. I don't have time for a long post tonight and I don't want to give away a lot before there final presentations, but I had a chance to see the RTC games today and they were amazing. Interaction, story, gaming, the works. It's all there. I am going to be watching their final presentations on Jan 15th. I can't wait. If you can't wait either head over to their wiki and check out current progress.

Much more soon!

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Kids are Back in Town

My RSS Reader has indicated the game developers are back at it. That's right. I saw in my Globaloria folder the RTC and Capital High students are back at work reading through tutorials and making comments on the wiki.

How cool is that.

Just a note for those of you who are new to RSS. I subscribed to the changes in the wiki as I described here. So I wasn't out surfing the students wikis, with over 8 in the project now that would be CRAZY. I was just checkin' my feeds.

A Comment on Comments

So, why would I want to comment on a post in this blog?

1. Ask a question.
2. Get a clarification.
3. Check on your own understanding.
4. Correct a fact.
5. Have an opinion.
6. Vent.
7. Introduce yourself.
8. Point out an error or omission. (I think I am getting insurance for that.)
9. Provide a new resource.
10. Promote your own blog. (BUT DON'T SPAM)
11. Declare the authors obvious authority. (You might want to.)
12. Post a link to your new Flash file that has nothing to do with the post on this blog. (Go ahead it's OK.)
13. Tell everyone how special your kids are.
14. (Finally) To express your delight in the hiring of Coach Stew and your dismay in how Georgia could be #2 after beating Hawaii and WVU is #6 after beating Oklahoma.

Any comments?

Monday, January 7, 2008

Collaborative Documents

I was asked this question via email today...

Do you recommend google documents or wikispaces or another free service? I would like this website to enable us to upload documents to share and collaborate on, revise with most recent version available, see a history of saved documents, organize documents into folders...actually sounds like what the Globaloria Wiki site enables us to do.

My Reply...

There are a couple of options. Google Docs and Zoho.com allow collaborative documents. They are not in Office format by default, but you can "save as" into a Word file. Both keep a copy of every version, organize by folder.

They both require that you have an account with their service i.e. a gmail or Zoho account.

I recommend Google Docs (I use it for most things.)

A wiki will allow you to collaborate on an html page in a public or private space. It is meant for public or open editing and maintaining artifacts. It is probably less functional for collaboration on word processing documents, although can be used for that.
Does anyone else have any specific thoughts on a service they use?

Welcome Back and Creative Kick Start

I realize that many of you involved in the MyGLife project are just getting back from the holiday break and from the winter storm that passed through last week. I just wanted to say welcome back and I will be watching for those new and creative game ideas that I can spotlight on this blog. If any of you know of some great work that is happening that I haven't shared on this blog, LET ME KNOW!

Also, I just had to share these two videos... A few years back was privileged to be a participant in a workshop by Ben Zander. It was totally incredible. When I found these videos I thought it would be great to share with anyone looking for a creative jumpstart to the new year.

Working with Youth

Presenting on Transformation

Friday, January 4, 2008

The Line Game: It is so cool!

You have got to try this Flash-based game. Check out the interface and the controls.

Nine Questions with Dr. Idit Harel Caperton

As the new Program Manager of Globaloria-WV, I have the wonderful opportunity to build an online community to support our project. I thought it would be great to interview my new (boss) colleague and get some answers to just what Globaloria is and how it is going to impact education in West Virginia. For those of you who are not familiar with Dr. Caperton I provided a brief bio on her incredible career.

Dr. Caperton is a pioneer in the utilization of new-media technology for promoting creative learning, democracy and globalization through Constructionist Learning theory. She founded the World Wide Workshop for Children’s Media Technology & Learning in 2004 to leverage her unique blend of award-winning research, business acumen and leadership in

new-media projects around the world. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Dr. Caperton conducted breakthrough research as a Research Scientist at the MIT Media Lab. In 1995, she implemented her research when she founded MaMaMedia Inc. and launched MaMaMedia.com, ConnectedFamily.com, and Papert.org. Dr. Caperton was honored by the Network of Educators in Science and Technology and MIT in 2002 “for devotion, innovation, and imagination in science and technology on behalf of children and youth around the world.”

The Nine Questions

Let’s start with your current organization. Tell us a little bit about the World Wide Workshop?

Well, first let me thank you for your efforts on the new Globaloria-WV blog. The World Wide Workshop is an educational organization dedicated to conceptualizing and developing applications of Internet media technology to enhance learning, creativity and understanding among children and youth in developing communities around the world. We invent and demonstrate new ways of using Internet media technologies and online communities to put young people in charge of their own learning -- in and outside the classroom. We are based in New York, but working on projects throughout the world. You can learn more at our website. (http://www.worldwideworkshop.org)

As the Founder and creator of the vision, what was your inspiration for Globaloria and the MyGLife Project?

Well, since the summer of 2006 we have been developing the Globaloria program, and testing an innovative open-source Web 2.0 platform and curriculum called MyGlobalLife.org. We had in mind to create a powerful social network for teaching and learning, based on research and practice about the benefits of youth-led learning through game design and programming. We also wanted our social network’s members to be super-focused on learning how to create interactive games for educational purposes and social change.

The background on Globaloria is that it is based on a rich history of field building in the area of Digital Media and Learning. Its foundation is my earlier work with Seymour Papert at MIT Media Lab in the 1980's where we established the value for ‘children as software designers’ for educational purposes. Then we leveraged the work we did in the 1990's during the 'first Internet era' to launch MaMaMedia (www.MaMaMedia.com). It was the first creative website for young children that won numerous awards for its participatory approach to media (children were educated to use the Internet for making media and being imaginative and not simply consuming media and information). In the first decade of the 21st century, we are aiming once again to establish a new sub-field in Digital Media and Learning. We are creating an open-source online studio, a virtual community of practice, for youth to become members of a virtual network of young designers of software applications and web-games for social change and educational purposes. This time around, we are using the most contemporary Web 2.0 networked media technology to make this happen.

Given that Globaloria is “global” project why did you choose West Virginia?

We chose West Virginia based on the opportunity presented by its people. Last year, the Governor and the First Lady (with the help of their advisor Nancy Sturm) looked for innovative programs that integrate the newest technologies into innovative learning. They were also interested in the role of games in education. Our program was different because it is not just about how to use existing games for education (games for science or mathematics learning), but rather – how the making of games, designing and programming games, can be in itself an educational process of the best kind. The First Lady who is an excellent educator and knows a great deal about learning theory got all excited. She got it. It’s an experiment with a huge vision. I admire that a Governor and First Lady have the vision and courage to try something like this on a state-wide scale.

West Virginia needs to figure out how to improve its education and engage its students and use technology smartly, as well as how to grow new capabilities in the state for its economic development and finally how to keep its youngsters in the state. We hope that a program like Globaloria will provide an answer to all that – 1) engage WV youth in the most advanced form of learning, 2) provide opportunities for internships and employment via then Internet which is getting very popular worldwide, 3) contribute to the state’s economic development in the long term, and 4) provide young citizens jobs that allow them to stay in the state. Why should we hire game developers and software developers and creative digital designers from India or China if we can employ thousands of brilliant and dedicated West Virginians?

How is MyGLife any different then other project-based learning initiatives?

The value of MyGLife starts with having people buy into the theory first – the constructionist learning theory. We want educators to think and reflect on their own personal learning experiences – instances of their own creativity and personal histories. They should ask themselves, “What have been my best learning experiences?” The answer is usually a teacher or a parent that made them active learners, where they created something of their own, worked on a complex project, worked on something they invented and were passionate about. This is what MyGLife is based on and why it is a model for developing meaningful learning opportunities. But we add to this theory the new world of the so called ‘social networking and Web2.0.’ As students work on their games, they are also connected in a network and can share ideas and exchange media. The learning theory is not new. But executing it on a state-wide and global network, that’s new.

What is the relationship between MyGLife and the 21st Century Skills that teachers have heard so much about?

There are many similarities. However, I believe we are taking it a few steps further. The Globaloria approach is driving students into greater complexity, and self-learning to create within an open-source online studio, a virtual community of practice. We literally ask youth to become digital designers of web-based software applications and games for social change and educational purposes -- using contemporary Web 2.0 networked media technology. This means there is a direct relationship with the identified 21st Century skills, but the way they called “21st Century Skills was schoolified – many teachers stop at surfing or doing research using Google.

Our Globaloria students are doing all that but also think about an original idea, that evolves into a complex, long-term project that they develop individually and in teams, over a long period of time. They learn to use media wiki and blogging and they drive the entire experience. It’s hard, because most of the support they are getting is virtual – and they complaint at first. But this is something they must learn in the 21st Century. This is the future of work too. Companies are becoming global and often employees have to learn new skills through virtual self-learning. They also have to work in global teams and publish daily progress and perform digitally. We hope that our program will help push the definition of 21st Century skills forward to be more connected to the necessities of the real professional world

A question that I know that answer to, but need to ask, do students really learn to make games?

Absolutely. They each use their own computer, and they are all connected to the Internet, it’s now possible to let kids free in a big virtual world where they can choreograph their ideas, animate and create things, and do things that are really rich in concepts. This approach leads to constructing with digital objects, playing with digital media on the computer in order to develop creativity and imagination as well as entrepreneurial skills. The MyGLife curriculum facilitates for students, the skills to design an educational game, create the digital media, and work collaboratively through the platform. We also encourage the students to design and develop games that will have a positive impact in their communities.

So much has been discussed on the web about web2.0 and learning, do you think that it is hype or do you feel it is an important to examine?

While all new technologies have some level of hype, when implemented through a research-based framework, certain web2.0 technologies can provide the tools that enable constructionist learning with in a networked context – that’s powerful. Here we are, a team of experienced professionals in NYC, connecting daily to educators and students in rural WV. To address the best way to implement these new technologies we articulated what constructionist learning is all about in simpler and more commercial terms. We emphasize over and again that the most important skills for the new millennium are “the three Xs:” eXploring, eXpressing and eXchanging ideas by using the new digital media. The first X, eXploring, takes advantage of people’s natural passion for learning and discovery. When a student discovers for herself rather than being told is when learning resonates. Games and simulations are an ideal learning environment for discovery. The second, eXpressing, is learning how to use a vast palette of tools to become designers, builders and architects of our own ideas. Youth love using digital media to become versatile and effective communicators of ideas. The third X, eXchanging, is the sharing of ideas with others. It is my belief that real learning occurs best within a networked, social context, in an environment where you can exchange ideas, ask questions and work with peers and experts. Moreover, through eXchanging, young people who are used to be rather disengaged in today’s schools, become more active participants in their learning, not passive absorbers of information.

So to re-address the question, when web2.0 technologies can be used to enable the three X’s they can be powerful learning tools. We are continually examining what the best tools and methods are for the students to learn in this style.

What is your long term vision for this project?

Our short-term goal for West Virginia is to identify several groups of educators and students (at the middle school, high school, and college level) who are willing to engage and become active, contributing members of the Globaloria community. Wes Virginia will become the flagship state, the model. Our long-term goals for the Globaloria project are many. One is to involve several other disadvantaged, underprivileged, and third-world communities both in the United States and around the world. In the next 3-5 years we will form new partnerships and raise the necessary funding for further developments and testing of our Web 2.0 platform and social network and integrate various sets of community-sensitive, virtual learning tools (e.g., websites, wikis, blogs, games, tutorials) to support further use in WV, as well as other states and nations worldwide. Eventually we hope to build multiple platforms that will be like “starter kits” and a series of discipline specific networks -- one network for youth designing global games for social change and education www.MyGLife.org; one network for science education – www.MySLife.org – where young people build simulations and games for science; and one for health – MyHLife.org - where youth can design games for learning about health-related topics from what is HIV and Malaria to the life cycle of the mosquito.

What do you think will be or could be the long term impact of this project on West Virginia?

We believe that a project of this kind can greatly contribute to the future employability of youth such as in the case of West Virginia, and therefore to the economic development of the state. Our dream for Globaloria graduates is to get jobs online as wiki-based software developers, game or simulations programmers, and technical managers -- do it virtually much like we run this network and other projects we work on as professionals these days – and they will not need to leave WV! If this project succeeds as planned, West Virginia could become a model state for it’s educational innovation with technology, and at the same time a model for using technology for entrepreneurship development, economic development and for contributing to our nation’s and the world’s innovative economy at large.

Final Note: I just want to thank Idit for taking the time to share with me and create this post. If you have any questions about our project, the approach, or how it will impact WV leave a comment, email me, or engage in the community.

Overview of Flash: Technical and Creative Skills

One of the challenges opportunities of the MyGLife project is that everyone involved has to learn to Flash. If you are not familiar, Flash is a software tool that allows people to develop graphics, animations, and complex interactions that can be accessed on the web. The tool itself comes from two historical needs, 1) to add interactive content on the web and 2) to display interactive content in a "light-weight" manner. Light-wight means that you don't have to sit and wait for the content to download over the network. Flash excels at both of these.

To be a flash developer you actually have to wear a few different hats. There is a technical side and a creative side. For our conversation we will talk about the very basics of Flash and how we can start to think about creating a game in Flash.

On the technical side, you have to understand a little about the authoring environment that is the Flash software. It has a few key concepts that are important.

It has a stage. The stage is where all the information will be presented. It is what is viable to the audience or those that will view your finished content.

It has a timeline. This is the timing of the presentation on the stage. The timeline is broken into frames. The frames represent a unit of time that is defined by you. i.e. 24 frames per second.

There are keyframes. Keyframes represent a change that occurs on the stage. If you want something to move or change color or make a sound, you initiate or start that with a keyframe.

There are objects that go on the stage. The objects are the items that are placed on the stage. Flash provides some really cool ways to make objects efficient and it is important that you spend a little time learning about that.

There are buttons. Buttons allow the viewer (user, learner, gamer) to interact with an object on the stage. You can use buttons to create a branch in a story, gain insight from the user, or move throughout the timeline.

Watch this video about creating a button. It is about 9 minutes long and see if you can spot the stage, timeline, objects, and of course the botton (which will be quite easy.)

On the creative side, you have to think about what you want your content, i.e. objects on the stage, to look like, interact with the user, and with each other. You also need to create how the user navigates the game. You are basically the creator of an environment. You manipulate the objects to appear on the stage. We have seen this picture before, but it is a created environment.

Your goal as the developer is to create a game that removes the user from the "stage" and places them inside the environment. But don't worry you don't have to have Hollywood-skills to accomplish this goal. You just have to have a understanding of design.

Check out this really creative environment done in Flash. (Warning: stick people die in video.)

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Social Bookmarking: Managing information within Globaloria

Do you bookmark your favorite web sites using "Favorites" within Internet Explorer?
It is really useful, when you are in your classroom or maybe an office you mark all the websites that you want to go to or need to go to to get your work done or teach a class. Of course when you leave that computer, you no longer have access to the bookmark and what if you want to send that bookmark to a friend? You have to send an email for each bookmark?

Well, there is a solution for managing a lot of bookmarks and it can lead to a lot more then just having a list of your favorite links.

Social Bookmarks can be captured through services such as del.icio.us or others that allow you to keep your bookmarks on the web, access them from any web-connected computer, and search for sites with related topics.

Here is a link from my account with all the Globaloria-related web sites.

And just because they do such a wonderful job explaining things, here is a video explaining the concept.


Social Bookmarking in Plain English

After you check this out, let me know what you think. Remember, it is just as easy to use social bookmarking then to use favorites and you get a lot of benefits. If you are really interested, I wrote a post back in June on Social Bookmarking for Learning at my personal blog.