Lucasfilm’s Habitat was one of (if not the) first graphic-based virtual worlds. I was too busy playing Curse of the Azure Bonds to notice it. Shame.
“With summer jobs in short supply, more young people are pursuing money-making opportunities in Web fantasy worlds.” Another reason why teaching 21st century skills to teens is so important.
A few months ago, I asked if I was the only one troubled by Doodle 4 Google, the in-school marketing campaign art competition put on by the good folks at Google. Since then, over 16, 000 K – 12 students across the United States have spent valuable class time helping Google redesign their logo, just like Dennis Hwang does for special occasions and holidays. Unlike Mr. Hwang, the thousands of students working to “re-design” Google’s logo aren’t paid employees of the corporation. They’re just unpaid labour in Google’s latest marketing campaign to establish brand loyalty in young students, take over the learning and become the curriculum.
Check out the classroom product placement and unquestioning student/teacher adoration for the Google logo in the video below.
Yesterday was the Joan Ganz Cooney Center Inaugural Symposium, Logging Into the Playground: How Digital Media Are Shaping Children’s Learning, in New York City and thanks to the wonders of streaming media and virtual worlds like Second Life, I was able to take part in the action.
The site’s blurb described the event as:
Key leaders from the fields of research, industry, policy, philanthropy, and education will convene to examine how recent research and experimentation with interactive media such as games, mobile technologies, and other platforms can accelerate children’s literacy learning. We will also be releasing recent research and reports from the Center, including a national survey conducted with Common Sense Media that examines parents’ and educators’ attitudes regarding digital media use in young children. Another highlight is the early release of a white paper by noted games expert, James Paul Gee.
The whole day was packed with great speakers, from PBS, EA Games and many NGOs, each outlining their plans for engaging learners with digital technology from virtual worlds to talking books and everything in between.
For me, however, the most important part of the day was release of some great papers on digital learning, including James Paul Gee’s “Getting Over the Slump: Innovation Strategies to Promote Children’s Learning.” [pdf]
In the paper, Gee calls for the American education system to wake up and start some serious action to engage learners and prepare them for the digital future. In addition to calling for more funding of school programs and a revamping of how kids are assessed, Gee outlines a vision for “Digital Teacher’s Corp”, where teachers are “trained to help students learn to transform information for discovery and problem solving, not leave it inert in storage.” Gee also sees a role for the community in the learning of students through centres not unlike the Boys & Girls Club, where children can go to learn and build on their digital literacy skills. Personally, I see these centres working like the literacy tutoring centres, Once Upon a School Dave Eggers has helped create (and outlines in this fantastic TED Talk), but instead of magazine editors and writers, the place is filled with game designers who take the afternoon off to teach kids how to make video games.
Although the conference and the reports are all from US educators and based in the current education climate in the states, Canadian educators have the same lessons to learn. As our education system begins to move toward standardized testing, now is the time for provinces and school boards across the country to increase their funding of technology in schools and create innovative programming that is rooted in sound pedagogical theory but also designed for the future and the learners who will make that future.
Check out more about the symposium here.
Reluctant media king, author, blogger and web host of the Liam O’Donnell online empire, Jim Munroe is holding a very special screening of his lo-fi classic-to-be, Infest Wisely, to celebrate the release of the DVD of the movie.
Update: the screening is May 15th, not May 8th as I previously thought due to a severe lack of coffee and posting – always a bad combination.
Check out the trailer below:
Jim is one of those unique writers that is able to distill the hype, horror and humor of our evolving tech-obsessed culture and boil it down to reveal the civil liberty erasing bones beneath the glossy 2.0 surface. And he does it with little or no money and with a completely open source and creative commons powered agenda that makes a creative like me stand back in wonder. The route he’s taken to produce and release Infest Wisely is only the latest example.