Digital Leaders Project

On the mid year school holidays I was a part of the wonderful CEGSA Conference in Adelaide. As a committee member this year and seeing all of the organisation falling into place was a wonderful experience for me. Personally I was involved in getting “The Ed Tech Crew” Podcast team to attend and broadcast many interviews with presenters and delegates.

Often when we attend such large conferences as delegates we are excited about the possibilities. We return to the classroom invigorated and inspired to make change and implement all for the wonderful ideas we have been presented with. Unfortunately although, all too often we keep up the “new and shiny ideas” for the short term but resort back to tradition and our old habits.

This year, one of the key note presentations was by Nick Jackson (Online Educational Designer at University of South Australia). His presentation on the Digital Leaders Project he initiated at his previous school in the UK.

This, like many presentations, lit a spark in the hearts and minds of several delegates, and at the end of the presentation Nick invited everyone to contact him for more information if they are interested.

Days later, as I trawled through my local hang-out place – Twitter, I noticed a conversation involving some delegates and Nick (@largerama) about an upcoming hangout. I got myself involved and began my journey.

Since then I have participated in the hangouts to discuss the porgress and projects of school’s programs. I have also had Nick visit our College to support me in my launch process. We discussed several ideas and after discussing with the students their interests I found the common thread for most was Minecraft. When this was offered to the students as an alternative lunchtime activity Minecraft Monday’s was born. Since this there has been a core group of students who attend each week with several coming intermittently. These students range from year 4-7 at the moment.

Minecraft

Minecraft

What I have observed from these students is that they are always working to improve through self monitoring, motivating and encouragement of all players. The students are working together to achieve a goal and share knowledge. Since this I decided to persue an offer to host a Minecraft camp at our College. This camp provides players the opportunity to paritcipate in a community of Minecraft players from within our College and beyond.  They will be explosed to curriculum learnign without even knowing.

My hopes as a result of hosting this camp is that the Minecrafters at Ocean View College are able to begin usign their time to develop and demonstrate digital resources using Minecraft to teachers. As this goal develops I will present the idea of participating as a Digital Leader at the ACEC2014 National Conference in October next year.

For more information about the Digital Leaders Project you can contact me through the messages below or watch the Google Hangouts at the links below.

Oz Digital Leaders Hangout 1 – 23 July 2013

Oz Digital Leaders Hangout 2 – 13 August 2013

Oz Digital Leaders Hangout 3 – 27 August 2013 with Michael French

Oz Digital Leaders Hangout 4 – 3 September 2013

Oz Digital Leaders Hangout 5 – 22 October 2013 with Amber Wurst (Year 9 Digital Leader Participant)

Games for Education

The title games can include console, the add-ons at the side of our Facebook or Google+ pages, Apps; and if we think really hard we might even remember outdoor games and board-games. I think it is safe to say we all enjoy playing games in one or more of these formats.

Why do we love games?

The love of games comes from the mechanics that draw us in to play them to start with. If we look at any game and it’s features we will always find they have engaging activities, we feel safe and motivated even if we don’t succeed initially, scaffolded levels encourage us to achieve goals. We are rewarded and continually challenged. You may notice that all the highlighted word used to describe games are also those that as educators we try to incorporate and embrace in our classroom. So why don’t we include more games into our curriculum? Don’t get me wrong, I recognise the fact that many junior primary classes include and incorporate games into their daily activity. I am questioning them being used as an in-depth learning or revision tool for students in the upper primary and secondary classes. Why is it that once we hit a certain age all games stop and we have to start “real” learning? I know the number of educational games increased daily. The platforms they can be played on are becoming more portable and accessible. We need to analise what games can teach us and how this can be integrated in to the curriculum. ACMA released a report titled “Media and Communications in Australian Families 2007 On page 33 of this report, the author indicates:

The main benefit of video/computer games identified by parents is their capacity to help children develop hand-eye coordination. Other benefits include learning through education games, development of cognitive and computer skills, and entertainment.

This perception, I believe, is not just isolated to parent’s. The community in general would make the same assumptions, and for teacher to actively and openly promote the fact that they use computer games to teach could be frowned upon. As with any innovative curriculum there is sure to be push-back. This is the opportunity to inform and educate others on the benefits of games beyond those stated in this research.

I have a simple analysis tool to help look at games and analyze their educational value and ways to incorporate them into the classroom curriculum. In this I am particularly focussing on electronic games.

Analyzing games model

Click for a larger image

This give a complete overview of all games and their educational value and application. If you wish to find out more about how I am implementing games into the primary curriculum please feel free to contact me on twitter at @rachbath.