Brandon Timothy's Fan Box

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Playing With Aviary's Myna Software

Flash under the covers . . . Protools meets EC2 . . . Thursday awesome!!!

mr. live love learn

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tally One for Mobile Learning

So I picked up the November issue of Fast Company Magazine today and I was put up on a pretty interesting (and inspiring) method of teaching. I read about an initiative called Project K Nect, a project that helps kids learn math by infusing mobile phones (usually SMART phones) into the curriculum. You may be asking yourself, "Phones + Math . . . yeah so, what's the big deal?" I was skeptical too but here's how Qualcomm and Southwest High School (in Jacksonville, NC) boosted both student interest and proficiency in mathematics.

So Project K Nect requires each kid who is enrolled in a math class to have a cell phone. The same old dry math content that we all learned as kids is still dictated to the students. The difference is in the assignment: the kids are given the challenge of mastering the concepts and then documenting their mastery via mobile video. All mobile phones are required to have video recording capabilities in addition to the traditional voice and text capability. A free digital toy, coupled with new (more interesting) expectations seem to have done the trick for these high school students. Their proficiency scores and their interest in the subject to skyrocketed with the introduction of this new curriculum format.

This gets me to thinking, is there a link between successful mastery of an unfamiliar subject and the expectation of explanation? I thought about it and I think that if you know you will be expected to explain what you are supposed to have mastered then you will put more pressure on yourself to make sure that what you present is up to snuff. When I took math in high school, I was rarely put in a position where I had to explain myself or defend my assumed mastery of the subject. Only tests showed how good (or not good) I was for any given topic.

The video explanation component is even more pressure in this age of critiquing user generated content. But students shine under pressure when they are able to infuse their creativity on top of their mastery. This might even be more of an incentive to master a subject; kids may want to sprinkle their unique flair onto something MORE than they actually care about mastering that something. But if mastering that thing is what it takes to permit the opportunity to be creative then so be it. Just a theory but I think this is the case in these days in times where everybody wants to be witty, flashy, funny, hot, cool, on camera.

So to conclude, I would like to thank Elizabeth Svoboda for blessing me with this article. I think that this method of learn stuff --> prepare presentation --> exhibit mastery is a very powerful way to get kids to really learn and retain information. I'm gonna be playing with this for a little while and will be back with the my findings. Stay tuned.

mr. live love learn

Sunday, October 4, 2009

TicTacToeTen, Education, & Learning Pt. 2

I am keeping the research ball rolling on this project and this time we'll dive into real world implementations of Chess curricula. We will then see how many of these concepts might be able to be ported over to my game of Tic Tac Toe Ten.

So to start it off I used a couple more articles as reference: one from the New York Times and one from Chess For Education.

In the last post, I convinced myself (and you too hopefully) that a game like Tic Tac Toe Ten could do positive things for students if adopted by their school districts. I'm using the fact that Tic Tac Toe Ten parallels Chess in many ways and the fact that Chess has been tied to raised IQ, better concentration, improved critical thinking, and a number of other things for people who play (especially kids). So now that we're convinced that it can positively impact our audience what do we do?

Well the New York Times article pointed out how the state of Idaho implemented Chess education programming for their 2nd and 3rd graders state wide. The state's education budget for this particular year (2008) was $1.5 billion dollars. It was estimated that it would take $250,000 to deploy the program statewide to the 40,000 2nd and 3rd graders. First Move, a program provided by America's Foundation for Chess, was used to give instructional materials (chess boards and pieces, DVDs, online manuals and resources, etc.) and training to classroom teachers on how to deliver this to their students.

I imagine that a 1 or 2 day conference was delivered and that the necessary knowledge transfer happened pretty quickly. Classroom teachers need to know how the new information integrates with the existing objectives and also how to troubleshoot when roadblocks come up (e.g. language barriers) The materials were then handed off and the teachers were empowered to go out and change their classrooms. So for Tic Tac Toe Ten to be embedded into curriculum from a 2nd-8th grade level, I'd need to put together the board sets (board, pieces, clocks, instructions) an instructional DVD, an online manual, and a small support team. I'd have to get in touch with heads of state education departments to broker deals on the materials and trainings as well. After that it would be all about creating new goods and services on top of the existing platform to enhance the learning that was already going on.

With Idaho being such a small state, the dollars that could be made if this should get approved by larger states would be pretty big. The challenges ahead have to do with differentiating content across grades. Targeting products according to grade level would take a little more research, but should be doable. We could break into 3 categories for 2nd-8th grades (2-3, 4-5, 6-8) and work on special content that would be relevant to each of these categories in logic, math and vocabulary.

that's all for this episode but stay tuned for more soon,


TicTacToeTen, Education, & Learning Pt. 1

I am beginning a quest to figure out how I can tie the principles of my game Tic Tac Toe Ten to education and learning. The end goal is two-fold: to encourage students to play Tic Tac Toe Ten and also to prove to their teachers that this game is contributing to their development as students. I believe that elements of the game introduce and reinforce concepts (memory, pattern recognition, decision making, etc.) that are necessary for a successful K-12 educational experience.

So today I start with the game of Chess and look at what it has to offer and why it can be (and should be) used as an educational tool and not just a game. I hope to take some of these truths and apply them to Tic Tac Toe Ten as I defend my hypothesis that Tic Tac Toe Ten should be used in schools (embedded into curriculum, used in refreshment exercises, etc.) as a learning tool to help students develop skills needed to have successful educational experiences.

The first article I looked at was called "Chess and Education" by John Artise. I was struck by a couple of things in this article.

First, the notion that chess conditions players to be extremely observant, analytical, and calculating. The importance of this is that these skills are necessary for success in everyday life. To have a concept (learned via a game) at your disposal to use in a challenging life situation is very valuable. It helps to shape and inform the decision making process, even outside of the domain of Chess. I found this very interesting.

Second, the notion of operant conditioning is a huge player. To quote the article, ". . . operant conditioning involves the learner actually doing, observing and responding to the stimuli presented to him." So the fact that you can be an active participant and learn (in real time) from your good moves and from your not so good moves is a big plus. Perhaps this is why children prefer video games as opposed to memorizing the fundamental theorem of calculus. The difference is that you can see and feel your impact immediately, you're learning by doing instead of being made to memorize something (without meaningful application).

So like Chess, Tic Tac Toe Ten has elements that would make it a perfect play for the school district who is trying to instill principles of memory improvement, logic, observation, analysis and operant conditioning in their students. This is very encouraging as I move forward with the research for this project. The next entry will continue looking at Chess and ask/answer questions about how to practically roll something like Tic Tac Toe Ten out for consumption.

stay tuned :)


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