February 17th, 2014 By colingally Categories: Minechat, Minecraft

The most obvious question a teacher could ask about Minecraft in education is: “Well, what can you do with it?”. I always found that the answer would be ever-changing due to who was asking the question! With that in mind, I wanted to create a living and breathing archive of what has been done with Minecraft in education so teachers could find out for themselves and see some real-life examples that were relevant to their subject area.

So Minechat was born!

Just a quick reflection on the Minechat journey so far. When I thought about doing this around a year ago, what I wanted was to create an online depository for teachers to see, actually SEE, what is being done with Minecraft in Education. Talking in Skype and screencasting myself and the guests walking around their Minecraft world was the most obvious method to use. I knew as a by-product of that I would be learning something too, and making meaningful connections with like-minded individuals. I’m pretty happy with how it has gone and long may I find teachers (and students) willing to share what they are doing. Episode 23 and 24 are on their way!

So with that being said, it’s about time I caught up with my Minechat playlist on Edutechniques! The last episode I blogged about being Episode 17 and there have been 5 episodes since then!

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Episode 18:

My guests Liam O’Donnell, Denise Colby, and Diana Maliszewski have a great space created in Minecraft where teachers and students alike drop by, play, and create teaching and learning spaces. I enjoyed this episode immensely; it’s always easier when there are more voices to learn from!

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Episode 19:

Always nice to chat with Adam Clarke and see what shenanigans he is up to! In this episode he showed me some basic Redstone programming and then unveiled a massive scanned in human torso!! Oh and this was the episode where I lightened the main text on the intro screen to make it stand out more and changed the colors of the lower font!

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Episode 20:

This episode I chatted with Maria Cipollone and Rick Moffat. We were in a world that Maria used with some students about structures. This episode was really interesting as we got into a wide-ranging conversation covering games in education, stereotypes about gaming, and education in general. Very enjoyable.

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Episode 21:

This was a great little episode (maybe the shortest!) in which Dan Bloom showed me around his single player world in which students go through the process of extracting DNA from a cell! Not knowing anything about this, I could tell right away the way in which this would help students grasp some complex subject matter.

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Episode 22:

It all started off way back in Episode 1 with Joel Levin so when I saw that he was involved in setting up a MinecraftEdu world using QCraft I had to get him back on to explain what it was all about. Katya Hott also joined us. Quantum Physics is not something that is easily grasped but having gone through the QCraft mod with Joel and Katya I actually did come away with a fundamental knowledge of some aspects of quantum physics. I wonder what Joel will get up to next…?

December 9th, 2013 By colingally Categories: Digital Safety, Procrastination

Every year I do a workshop/presentation to parents on living in a digital home with tech savvy children. The first year was a sell out and what I took away from it was that I needed to give parents more time to speak and share stories and strategies. The second year I planned for just that and…3 parents showed up. We still had a good conversation but we were very disappointed.

This year we publicized our workshop well in advance, put the poster up on our classroom blogs, and on our campus TV. We also sent, I believe, 2 email reminders to all parents. This year about 12 showed up. Both my principal and I were disappointed but it went very well and the parents that showed up were very appreciative.

So in the run up to the presentation I shared my vision with our principal that the majority of the workshop would be led by parents and she agreed. I would organize the presentation around CommonSense Media’s 10 Rules Of The Road For Parents In A Digital Age. For each rule, each table of parents would discuss amongst themselves and then we would open it up to the floor.

Here’s my Google Presentation I used to guide our workshop:

Because we didn’t get the numbers we wanted we just had an open discussion after each point and that worked well.

I wanted the parents to be provoked and to react to each prompt. I didn’t want arguments. It would be a total failure if there was ONE argument.

I started off with the two quotes; one from The Shawshank Redemption because it resonated with how the world has changed in a hurry and some parents/adults are struggling to keep up and to stay informed. I added Louis C.K’s quote because he’s awesome and even though he’s saying it to make people laugh it’s got something to it. Why do children (and adults!) act differently online than face to face?

Just this week I had a Grade 5 incident where digital communication between two Grade 5 students was blown out of proportion and misunderstood and warped by the online media they were using. This was all done at home. What we are trying to get through to the parents is that school is the most monitored and moderated place when it comes to their child’s interaction with technology. We can learn together, we can monitor behavior, and we can moderate the exposure. This needs to be mirrored at home.

December 6th, 2013 By colingally Categories: Hardware, Procrastination

I kickstarted the 3Doodler probably about a year ago and finally received the gadget this week!

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I made sure I got a lot of the ABS plastic rods so I could  be comfortable making mistakes!

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From the start, you realize you are dealing with something you’ve never done before. The learning curve starts out really steep. I’ve been doodling in 2d all my life. To start thinking about creating 3D doodles is a bit of a mind warp at the start and you get results like this:

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But you slowly realize the nuances and tricks involved and you start getting results like this:

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Then you get to the point of knowing how to create solid bases and building on that and you can let your creative juices flow!

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So after about 3 days of trying out a couple of 3Doodles a day, I can do something like this:

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You start to learn the basics of 3Doodling, and you learn the things you need to do with the pen to ensure a steady flow of plastic (one thing that I had major trouble with at the start).

Education Implications:

Students love the little creations I have made and I definitely want  to give some students a try at it. The major problem is the heat the 3Doodler emanates from its nib and lower body. It gets really hot and I wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving students alone with it.

Thoughts on Improvements:

I would love for them to sort out the heat problem. Of course it’s going to get hot, it needs to heat the plastic! But how about using a non heat conductive casing? Another thing is not knowing how much of the plastic rod is left to use. Perhaps a transparent element to the pen body so that I can see how much is left of the current color?

Here are two videos I made documenting my first few 3Doodles:

Watch this space for more 3Doodles!

 

December 4th, 2013 By colingally Categories: Minechat, Minecraft

Another Minechat under my belt and another example of how much work teachers around the world are putting into creating an online and immersive learning environment for their students.

This week Shane Asselstine in Hawaii showed me around his humongous Minecraft world. I barely scratched the surface and I know I’ll be back to visit him in the near future. Highlight for me is his use of horse racing to teach decimals in Math (although I had bad lag with my nag)!

Thanks Shane for showing me around!

 

November 25th, 2013 By colingally Categories: Minechat, Minecraft

Minechat Episode 16!

I took a trip to James York’s Minecraft world to see how his immersive Japanese language learning world is coming along.

I love James’ approach and where he is going with his Minecraft world. James is a big advocate of a holistic approach to teaching Japanese. Thinking of the connections to the world at large and creating areas in Minecraft for his students to interact and immerse themselves in the Japanese language is what his Minecraft world is all about.

I mention in the video that I’m a little bitter that after 18 years of learning Irish in a rote memorization curriculum I remember about 5% of the Irish language (at a stretch). If only in my time at school I was taught in the same way James teaches his students. What did I really need to learn when learning Irish? In what context? Minecraft wasn’t around in those days but I should have been immersed in the language in the context of everyday life (role-playing, skits, how-to demonstrations). All those things are being transformed in modern day activities within Minecraft by James.

I look forward to re-visiting James at a later date.

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