Category Archives: Serious Games

Almost forgot my password

It has been quite some time since I have even logged on to my blog.  That does not mean I have not been active in the world of technology and education.  Most recently I have been using a game I learned about while visiting West Lafayette last summer.  Do I Have a Right? This game puts players in the role of managing partner at a law firm.  All cases that come through the elevator for consultation are based on the idea of do I have a right….according to the U. S. Constitution.  After playing this game for two class periods this week, it has become somewhat of a viral game at Oak Hill High School.  Boys, Girls, Gifted, and not….all are playing this game.  Kids not even in my Government class have heard and have started playing.  In the next week or so I will be giving my 27 Amendment Test and we will see if some knowledge has transferred from game play to memory.

http://www.icivics.org/games/do-i-have-right

Trouble in Paradise

Greetings…

It has been quite some time since I have blogged about the use of games in education.  It is hard to believe the amount of time that has passed since I first met the people from Muzzy Lane in Washington D.C. at NCSS years ago.  Since then I have done many things promoting the  use of games in education.  But the winds of change have come to Oak Hill High School.  We have recently completed an upgrade in our technology which included a change in servers and systems.  I often describe myself and tech friendly but not tech literate.  I have never been interested in the nuts and bolts of technology….just what can I do with it.

We now have some nice equipment at Oak Hill.  However, it is not compatible with my ancient version of Making History.  I have always used the oldest version.  It is the one that was more targeted for education.  The newer versions of the game are much more “gamer” friendly but not so much for the classroom.  So my continued use of MH The Calm and Storm is now in serious doubt.  Other changes this year…..I have not had a class blog to this point.  This may be more of a timing issue than anything.  When our school year started our computer labs were down.  No access at all.  So I didn’t set blogs up with students.  And now that the year is rolling and I have defaulted back to pen and paper for writing it is hard to stop the wheels of education.

I am teaching sociology again for the first time in a couple of years.  However, I have yet to play The Sims.  Again, when I was playing before I used a laptop and a portable projector.  I now have a projector mounted in my room that runs through a splitter for my desktop, sat tv and dvd player.  I now have some issue trying to hook up my laptop to the projector and my desktop is as old as father time.  So the logistics of The Sims have not come together.

Anyway….I could go on but I have really not been using games this year.  I do miss it.  I will return to it.  I will have to change with the new system.  Now that football is over for the season I will have some additional time to work out the details of some of these things.

Cluster Maps and Sociology

Always a little sad yet somewhat exciting to see my cluster map get archived and start fresh!

It is also now official.  I will be teaching Sociology again this year.  It has been a couple of years so it will be fun to get back into social norms, birth order etc…  The only drawback of this new plan is my AP World History course has grown to 29 students.  Which is great!  However, I would love to see those 29 split up into two sections but that is just not going to happen.  Budget restraints don’t give us the ability at this point to divide the class up.  It really is too bad.  I think 29 in an AP class is a mistake….but something I will just have to deal with.

Exciting News

I wanted to post a link and inform all those interested in games in education that Purdue University (just an hour or so away from Oak Hill) has opened the Purdue Center for Serious Games and Virtual Learning Environment.  The Center is headed by Dr. Bill Watson.  I met bill at The Ackerman Colloquium a couple years ago.  Dr. Watson then spent several days in my classroom while we were playing Making History.  It is exciting to see what Purdue, Dr. Watson, and Dr. VanFossen (Ackerman Center) are doing with games and virtual learning.

http://seriousgames.education.purdue.edu/People/index.html

Summer Update

It really has been quite some time since I have blogged and in all honesty I really feel like I don’t have much more to say about Games in Education that I haven’t already said.   I am still a huge fan of games and still use them when I can.  I just feels like every time I think about posting it seems redundent to me. 

I did use Muzzy Lane’s Making History again this year.  As like every year I have used this game the kids loved it.  They always ask for more.  I now have kids taking my classes at the high school because they know I use games.  This is a double edged sword.  First, it is always nice for kids to desire to take my classes.  But I always want that popularity to really be based upon learning not just gaming.  Second, I really spend very little time during the course of a year in games.  Sometimes kids are a bit let down by that….but with the lack of gaming titles that translate well for educational use I do what I can.

I would also say that my teaching with Making History this year was by far the worst I have ever done.  More due to illness factors than anything else.  I had to leave school during the middle of the day during our game action.  I was at that point with my illness that I had to concentrate in order not to throw up.  After two class periods of that agony I informed the principal that I had to leave.   I didn’t think I could make the day like I felt.  So I got in my car to drive home and I had to stop for gas on the way home because I was running on fumes.  I was fairly certain I was going to puke at the gas station but I made it through.  I jumped back in my car for the 20 minute drive home.  Well, I made it about 3 minutes before I pulled over in a panic and barffed all over the road.  I just stood on my breaks, openend my door and let it go.

Anyway, I missed one and a half days of game play and when I returned to school I tried to salvage what lessons I could from the game play.  I know it was mediocre but it was better than me blowing chunks all over the USSR team as they invaded Latvia!!

I also used The InQuizitor this year as well.  I did post about that experience earlier.  But just to recap my students loved this quiz game.  More than I thought they ever would.  They asked for the InQuizitor more than I was cabable of putting quizzes together.  I would highly reccomend buying either of these two games if your budget has the funds. 

www. muzzylane.com  and www.3mrt.com

Finally, we are in the midst of planning our next student trip to Europe.  We will be traveling from Rome to Munich on Spring Break 2010.  Student travel is one of the most rewarding things I have done as a teacher.  Sure, it can be a tremendous pain but the rewards that come to students is incredible.  We started these trips 11 years ago and I have talked to many former students who traveled with us and they have expressed the positives of the trips to me.   Some students have studied over seas, some have majored in foreign language in college, and some have traveled on their own back to the areas we first visited.  It is a nice thing to see the fruits of our labor!

It has been a while…

Well, it has been quite some time since I sat and blogged my happenings as a teacher and coach so before the New Year hits I thought I should post an update.  During this school year I have starting teaching AP World History which has been great fun.  I love the challenges that teaching a classroom full of motivated studetns provides.  I also continue to teach my regular world history survey course. 

In my daily activites of teaching there are a couple of activites that have become common.  First is that of blogging.  I have talked before about the value of blogging with students and I continue to be a large supporting of this outlet and tool for self expression and educational reflection.  Blogging has become a steady source of activity in my classroom and I feel it offers incredible benefits.  It also saves a couple of trees here and there.  Second, I continue to be a large supporter of the use of games.  The InQuizitor is a game developed by 3MRT that I have recently started using.  I also continue to be a supported of Making History by Muzzy Lane.  Both games are mainstays in my courses.  Making History has become something that kids expect to play when they enroll in world history.  It no longer is “new” ….it is just what we do.  The expectations are different but students still enjoy the fact that their aging teacher likes a good computer game.  Who can’t enjoy a good round of Civ or Age of Empires?  I also am becoming  firm believe in web based games.  I know Muzzy Lane is working on this aspect and has been for some time.  I do think this avenue has potential.  It will be much easier on the classroom teacher to use games in the class if the game is web based versus installation of games on individual machines/servers and then the tech problems that sometimes come with that.  Textbook companies are getting much better with their use of technology to aid instruction and a lot of what publishers are offering is web based. 

I have mentioned in this blog about the pace of change in education….or better the lack of a pace of change.  That issue still plagues us.  Since I started using games in my classroom nearly four years ago, there has been some growth.  However, the growth has not been what I would have expected in our digital world.  What are the causes?  Cost, hardware, software, inexperience?  I don’t really know for certain only time will tell what form games in education will take…..Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

InQuizitor

Right now my classes are starting Ancient Greece in world history.  One thing we have been working on is designing a quiz for the InQuizitor.  Having students write questions is always a difficult task.  I normally find that the questions that kids write are way to simple but we tried anyway.  We now have constructed a 40 question quiz over ancient Greece.  Most questions are ok….I did do some editing but I essentially wanted the quiz to be theirs.  Tomorrow we will play The InQuizitor and our ancient Greece quiz. 

Once we have done that our plan is to share the quiz with our 6th grade world civilization teacher.  She is going to cover ancient Greece in a couple of weeks.  I certainly hope the quiz is good enough for her kids to use and is beneficial to her class.