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EdTech Cheat Sheet

Ever wonder what the latest acronyms and terms used in edtech mean? Check out the infographic below the jump for a quick summary.

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EdTech Magazine Interviews Director of UWBLT, Andreas Brockhaus

Last month, we received the fantastic news that the UWB Learning Technologies Blog was named one of 50 “Must-Read” educational technology blogs by EdTech Magazine.

As a follow-up to that, EdTech Magazine’s Jimmy Daly interviewed director of UWB Learning Technologies, Andreas Brockhaus. In the interview, Andreas discusses different aspects of technology in higher education: cloud computing, learning analytics, EDUCAUSE, hybrid/online courses, and technology on our campus.

The full interview can be found here. For more Q&As from other “Must-Read” edtech bloggers, check out Karine Joly and Eric Stoller‘s interviews.

Media & Communication Students’ Projects are Great Examples of Blogs/Sites in Education

Last quarter, I completed BISMCS 333: Media and Communication Studies, the core class for the UWB Media & Communication studies major. Taught by Amoshaun Toft, the class covered many different aspects of communications, media, and policy, all while putting them in a 21st-century context. As part of our final project, each group created a communication object to share with the rest of the class, also to be showcased to the public in a way of our choosing. Initially, groups were assigned to research and discuss topics of gender, race or class within the media. The research turned to analysis, which then turned into the object, presentation and reflection. Communication objects groups chose to create included Twitter accounts, memes, informational/satirical posters, and web sites–which I’d like to take a moment to discuss.

All of the student work was creative, impressive and fantastically put together. Although, working in Learning Technologies made me automatically pay close attention to the sites some groups created using WordPress and Wix. Usually whenever these sites appear in the classroom, they are being used as the course website (a great example of this is Professor Toft’s site for that class). Using these sites and others like it for student projects is a bit less common. However, all of these groups pulled it off and created some great sites. If you are wondering how to use blog hosting sites in your classroom, or if you just want to be inspired by awesome student work, read on:

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Immune Attack Review

After reading my introduction to learning and video games, it is quite appropriate that I follow up with a short review of a game. Below is a trailer of Immune Attack, a game that teaches players about basic immunology. The game puts the player in the role of a nanobot traveling within the body of a person who is afflicted with disease. The player’s vehicle allows them to attack bacterial/viral infections as well exploring the different cells and their functions. The game itself is a bit dated but it does integrate elements of the learning principles such as probing and exploring areas of the body to complete objectives as well as actively learning about the various functions of the cells that the player encounters. It is also a great way to reinforce certain concepts that players have learned in class. The game, produced with collaboration between the NSF, the FAS, and several universities  is available to download for free.

Teaching and Learning with Video Games

When you think of video games what comes to mind? For many, video games are often thought of as purely for entertainment purposes. However, more in depth analysis by researchers such as James Paul Gee into how video games teach players and how educators can adapt these techniques are changing the common perception of video games as only for entertainment. In his book What Video Games have to Teach us about Learning and Literacy, Gee describes how all successful games incorporate specific learning principles regardless of the genre. GMU has published a list of the 36 learning principles along with short descriptions of each of these principles.

By utilizing these learning principles, games can disseminate  a large of amount of information in a relatively short period of time to the players. Players then filter out or absorb information based on cues given in the game along with some repetition in order to find the best solution to reaching the objectives of the game. Gee’s book provides much more information and examples of each of these learning principles using games not traditional thought off as “educational” such as shooter or adventure games.

Perhaps the most important point that Gee is stressing in the book is that learning is something that should be interactive and engaging rather than the dull, monotonous task of rote memorization. Video games are good models for this because they encompass many aspects of this. They provide a virtual environment where the  player can learn and practice techniques without major consequences (tutorials or beginning levels) as well as repetition in certain instances to help reinforce concepts (losing and restarting a level) that are important to winning the game.

While the idea of using interaction to engage students is not new, the use of video games in teaching and learning is an emerging area that is accumulating a large amount of interest from educators precisely because it works. Instead of viewing video games as a disruptive activity that discourages learning, educators should look at video games as a way to provide the interactive learning experience that many traditional teaching methods cannot offer.