Saturday, January 31, 2009

Short Video for Parents

This is just a short video about using parental controls on Windows machines. There is so much out there for parents to get educated about keeping their children safe and I will post my own list of resources for parents, but this video is a great start.

Parental Control Video

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

This Video Game in my classrooms

Quest-Atlantis is the best educational video game for grades 3-7 that I have ever seen. It encompasses social action, with content area knowledge, with cultural diversity, compassion and citizenship in a 3D virtual environment. It encourages critical thinking and artistic license in the same space.

I was introduced to QA about 2 years ago at a district level showcase of technology. At that time, it was already an internationally used game, small in nature, basic in its look. However in the time since I first viewed the game until now the evolution has been extraordinary. The game is now a polished looking 3D interactive game with high level visuals and a deep storyline. While these qualities make the game look like many of the high level, popular games on the market, QA has an edge.

The Edge that I am talking about is "EDUCATION". The QA team, housed at the University of Indiana has infused solid pedegogy into its quests. Students will participate in a huge array of single quests or integrated missions and units that will take them through an adventure in science, math, social studies, literature or any other number of content areas. All of this is done by the student making choices, reading, writing and communicating with characters in the game and other players. This is a huge amount to pack into a game, but the QA team does this with finesse!

Now, this all might sound very good, but the question that comes to my mind and the minds of many others is, "what about security"? QA is a closed space that is open only for students and their "trained" teachers. Before students can log in, teachers must go through a training with a QA team member and all students must have a permission slip signed by a parent. Once this is done, students can log in and use the game by participating and completing an introductory mission that will familiarize them with the game and the purpose for them being there.

I have used this game first hand, and recommend it higher than other similar educational video games. The QA team is constantly pushing the envelope of what is possible in the game and always encouraging the evolution of the game itself. You can find me in the QA world as jepstein. Hope to see you there!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Starting the New Year 2009 with failure?

How important is failing? This might seem like a strange question, but the reality is, if we don't fail, how will we know how to rebound when it does happen? In society today we are constantly insulating our children from failure. We have the "everyone wins" school of thought or the "winning is everything" mantra, but what happens when everyone does not win, or when a child does fail at something?

I am in the school of thought that children need to learn how to fail and how to recover and try again. I was reading a blog of one person in educational technology who points out that some of the fear in using technology is that people don't know what to do if it does not work, if it fails. Well, we need to try again! The greatest minds of our world rarely get the right answer or the life changing discovery on the first try. Rather it is how they have learned from their failures and were able to build upon them. The same blog referenced this video of Michael Jordan, and it is quite poetic.

Thinking ahead, I am looking forward to my failures as well as my successes and what may come of them both.