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Game Theory

When we consider video games, it is important to check our bias' at the door.  There has long been evidence of game playing benefits.  Now, with a culture of young people deeply entrenched it is time to do a better job harnessing this promising approach to learning.

Gamification and GBL Presentation to Unitec from Paul Pivec
Recent posts

A Sense of Place

"A Sense of Place" is an audio discussion based on the experience of two students (Tannis Eamonn and Jeff Tang) and two instructors (Dr. Wilson and Dr. Schwier) in the University of Saskatchewan's ETAD program.  This piece examines the idea of disappearing space in education as online and blended learning remove the geographic necessity from organised education.  Is place still important?


Charter Schools

A telling quotation from the 2004 program evaluation on charter schools in the United States.  The failure to offer something comprehensively different to that which already exists can probably be held as the number one failure of the structure.  If there is no quantifiable difference in instructional strategies between Charater Schools and traditional forms of schooling then why support the the higher cost model during economic downturns?

"Instructional Strategies. While charter schools have the opportunity to use alternative instructional strategies (e.g., distance learning), 91 percent of the charter schools surveyed in 2001-02 used classroom based instruction as their primary instructional delivery method"

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Soft Skills?

“What we’re moving toward,” Horn says, “is the realization that if our expectation is to educate every single child successfully, then we need structures that can individualize and personalize, and there’s no way to do it in the way we have historically approached this.” (Davis)We need options.  It seems that digital access offers learners the freedom and resources they need to maximize their learning potential.  But, what about those among us for whom the digital age symbolizes a loss of the tactile and a disconnect with the real world around us? Aside from the reams of information and entertainment offered by Internet access, the increasingly sedentary lifestyle partly attributable to our global addiction to the screen – what about the learner who just doesn’t connect with computers?  What about the notion of Nature Deficit Disorder?  What about all of the research and writing that went into books like Nabhan and Trimble’s The Geography of Childhood: Why Children Need Wild Places, R…

'Entourage' and Blended Learning

For decades educators have been searching for ways to individualize education, researching methods for students to explore their own interests at their own pace. Unfortunately, our traditional structure of education makes this difficult. Even Vinny Chase from Entourage understands that we do not all learn the same, nor do we all have the same learning objectives,      Vince: So, how’s it look?     E: Your grammar’s horrible.     Vince: Who cares?     E: We were in the same class since we were six,        it’s shocking to me that you can’t punctuate.     Vince: E – it’s all stream of consciousness.     Turtle: You can’t really spell either Vinn.                 Faithful is f-a-i-t-h-f-E-l.
     E: No, it isn’t.     Johnny: It’s O-l     E: No, it isn’t     Johnny: So says you.     E: Are you guys all illiterate? Mrs. Carbonne would         shoot herself if she could hear this.Although traditional schooling worked for E., apparently Mrs. Carbonne’s English class was not able to address th…

Film, Theatre and the Classroom

It is often accepted that the advent of film led to a decline in the popularity of theatre.

The movies and the stage are vastly different mediums, often identified by film’s ability to transcend time and place versus the physical presence of the actors in theatre.  It would be hard to argue against the success of film over the past century.  The talkies have become an unbelievably lucrative business while theatre, with few exceptions, relies on philanthropy for its survival.
Could it be that online learning and the traditional classroom hold a similar relationship?
As the Fringe Festival gestures on and the tents of Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan continue their white summer silhouettes by the riverside, the question seems timely.  The classroom may soon attain the nostalgic status of live theatre.  Like the writers who moved from New York to Hollywood, teachers will shift from schools to laptops, complaining as their predecessors did in theatre about the dumbing down of their professio…

Gatto and the MOOC

Consider the MOOC.  No, not Douglas Rushkoff’s Mook from Jackass - the MOOC.  Massive Online Open Course.  Less obnoxious, less male.

In 1991 John Taylor Gatto published an article titled “The Six-Lesson Schoolteacher”.  The piece outlined six tenants of schooling that Gatto claimed were universal in traditional schooling.  If you haven’t read it - please do.  Click on the hyperlink.  Trust me.  You’ll laugh.

Now, we know from Craig Watkins that to successfully master technology, access is not enough - scaffolding, mentoring and modelling are all necessary to increase learning potential.  And, one of the great travesties in education is the hierarchical access to learning around the globe.   Since this hierarchy leads to less mentorship for lower income learners, we need an alternative.  

If we agree that the alternative also has to respond to Gatto’s six lessons - we must consider the MOOC: 

1) Stay in the class where you belong MOOCs do not classify by age and ability.  They are open spa…