On The Topic of Gaming in Education


While we were discussing topics in class last week we came onto the topic of Gaming in Education and in general the gamification of the world. Now, I’ve been a gamer since as far back as I can remember but even I was skeptic of the idea that gaming could be part of education and seeping slowly into our everyday lives. That is, until I did research on the topic.

Video games are shown (with substantial research found backing it up) [1] to enhance the learning experience but by providing another media to experience while also making the process less dull and boring. (I mean, who would choose to sit down and study in a library if they could also choose to learn while winning a game of CounterStrike?).

Video games offer an incentive, a reward for players to pursue, a goal that comes at the end of an arduous task. As someone with years of gaming behind me, I equate this to the same feeling after researching for hours on one of these blogs and finally complying everything I found until I’m happy to hit the “Publish” button. It’s a exhilarating feeling of completion that stems from my gaming roots.

This brings us to the idea of Gamification – our world is adapting to putting minigames everywhere. Don’t believe me? Look at your subway “free sandwich” card or your Tesco “points” cards, each one incentivizes you to collect points for the reward at the end.

This has even become a part of our school systems. Achievements are much like merits [2] some schools are introducing where you receive a stamp or some kind of token for each merit (such as good behavior). Video games are playing an increasing role in school curriculum as teachers seek to deliver core lessons such as math and reading and it is very much a tool that allows students to take a more active role in learning as they develop the technology skills they need to succeed throughout their academic and professional careers. [3]

Examples of video games being actively introduced to education are MinecraftEdu, a version of the game that teachers created for educational purposes, teaches students mathematical concepts including perimeter, area and probabilities as well as foreign languages while SimCityEDU, a version of the popular city-building game, is likewise a learning and assessment tool for middle school students that covers the English, math and other lessons.

But is it limited to just Video games which are transforming our world? I would argue Card and Board games such as Magic the Gathering and Yu-gi-Oh! have had a hand in this transmogrification of the modern world. Both are highly social games (with dedicated communities keen to meet much like study groups working on a project) and involve a lot of decision making. It forces players to use both there critical and creative thinking to outwit there opponents and defeat them in a duel. [4] Of course, one can not forget how it exercises our mathematical and long term thinking skills trying to see what our opponent is likely to do and how to react.

Overall, video games lead us to having better reactions and fore planning abilities. Our cognitive abilities are naturally enhanced as one plays video games, we learn from our mistakes and are able to apply past experiences we faced to situations presented in front of us. Video games could provide a potent training regimen for speeding up reactions in many types of real-life situations. [5]

All in all, it is evident that some video games such as “Call of Duty”, “Dead Space”, “Bioshock” greatly enhance our reaction ability while other games such as “Yu-Gi-Oh!”, “Heathstone”, “Minecraft” improve our spatial awareness and mathematical skills. It is obvious gamers have picked up a lot of relevant skills to apply to today’s world through the experiences we’ve faced in virtual worlds.

Gamers have already experienced so much that in a way, we are becoming ready to adapt to almost any situation.These experiences, we will carry them with us forever and that is without mentioning the emotional impact video games can have on us (such as “Journey”) but that is treading on the territory of video games as an art form, a topic best left to another day. I believe I have shown how games can be used in education and the advantages they can give us in this blog, and like always, until next time, this stream is going offline.

Picture: Credit to Riot Games. (Professor Ryze)

[1] – Nick Tannahill, Patrick Tissington, Carl Senior, “Video Games and Higher Education: What Can ‘Call of Duty’ Teach our Students?”, 2012http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3382412/
[2] – Elliott Bristow, “Gaming in Education: Gamification?”  – http://www.theedublogger.com/2015/01/20/gaming-in-education-gamification/
[3] – Elena Malykhina,“Fact or Fiction?: Video Games Are the Future of Education “ http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/fact-or-fiction-video-games-are-the-future-of-education/
[4] – March Gallagher, “In Praise of Yu Gi Oh” http://sudburyschool.com/content/praise-yu-gi-oh
[5] – “Video Games Lead to Faster Decisions that are No Less Accurate” http://rochester.edu/news/show.php?id=3679

On The Topic of Gaming in Education

On The Topic Of Openness


This week we were tasked with critically responding to one another in our Twessay on Openness. A link to it :https://storify.com/americasstudies/twessay-1-dhucctwessay-dh1001-concepts-and-collabo?utm_source=t.co&utm_campaign=&awesm=sfy.co_g1A8a&utm_medium=sfy.co-twitter&utm_content=storify-pingback

And what did I have to say on the topic? Well I said “I believe openness on the internet should be sharing info with each other with knowledge accessible to all people everywhere” (a) well of course, this was my uninformed mind talking here, with more digging I discovered that openness is a concept characterized by putting weight on transparency and freedom, unrestricted access to knowledge and information, especially in this day and age on the internet as well as collaborative or cooperative management and decision-making rather than a central authority. [1] As a Digital Humanities student, I believe openness on the internet encompasses many of our goals.

Between Moravec’s (digital humanity activist) acclaimed writing in public project and Swartz’s (a pioneer of open internet access and recognized as a martyr to some) development of creative commons as an attempt to open the knowledge of the internet up to the public, it is obvious to see technological developments have changed the way we learn. Despite these attempts however, still the collective works of the human race are stored on the internet with only a select few currently able to access them.

From Patrick O’Toole’s Twessay (c) “Transparency of data is the key to empowering governments & citizens on a global scale” to this, I discovered that the publishers, like Elsevier are making up to a $1.1 billion profit (2012) and are exploiting the original writers. How are they doing this? Well in the words of Samuel Gershman [2] “When I published these papers in Elsevier journals, I was required to hand over the copyrights”. Not only does this bar knowledge behind paywalls only universities or other huge institutions have a chance to afford buying information from, the original writers never see a penny of the profit.

Also from Arlene Murray’s Twessay (b) “Pay walling pioneering research is immoral” and I honestly could not agree with her more. So, with all this working against openness in our modern era, what can we do to tear down these “pay-walls” ? Well, Swartz made a huge attempt when he created Creative Commons, a way of easily sharing copyrighted work. While this greatly helps modern works, it does not help us with all the knowledge already hidden beneath restrictions.

Swartz, as some type of last stand against this moral injustice worth a guerrilla manifesto [3] urging people to share any information they could. He states how piracy in this regard is not really immoral, in face it’s a moral imperative. Only those blinded by greed would refuse to let the human race have access to our collaborative knowledge base.

From Andrew Wiggins’ Twessay (d) “Openness to me is the idea of unrestricted access to knowledge and no one body in charge of it,more of a cooperative structure” – So does openness actually exist in today’s world or is it just a hopeful ideal long dead because of corporate greed? Well, if one was to give just a cursory glance, then no, openness on the internet is long dead and the corrupt corporations stand victorious.

However, if one were to really search deep and uncover the “underground” revolution online, we would see it is possible to find academic sources on the web. I’m not even sure if I should mention it here on my blog for fear of the sites being taken down but http://gen.lib.rus.ec/ and http://www.academictorrents.com/ have made well over 12.27 Terabytes of academic data available to the public eye. So to all readers of this post, know that there is a mutiny taking place, we will one day soon overthrow the tyrannical likes of Elsevier and Jstor.

In Swartz words “At the end of the day, we have an economy that works for the rich by cheating the poor, and unequal schools are the result of that, not the cause.” We need to band together as community and together we will make the internet open access to everyone in the world, just as it was originally intended to be – to communicate with and share computer resources. [4]

I believe I’ve said all I can on this topic, together we will need to work together to achieve true openness on the internet, so work hard my friends! Until next time, this stream is going offline.

References :
Twessays Referenced :
Andrew Douglas (a), Arlene Murray (b) , Patrick O’Toole (c) , Andrew Wiggins (d)

[1] Michael A. Peters ; The Idea of Openness : Open Education and Education for Openness – http://eepat.net/doku.php?id=open_education_and_education_for_openness
[2] Samuel Gershman : The Exploitative Economics of Academic Publishing – http://footnote1.com/the-exploitative-economics-of-academic-publishing/
[3] Aaron Swartz Guerrilla Manifesto : https://archive.org/stream/GuerillaOpenAccessManifesto/Goamjuly2008_djvu.txt
[4] Arpanet Definition : http://searchnetworking.techtarget.com/definition/ARPANET

On The Topic Of Openness

On The Topic of Creative Commons


Recently, we were tasked to watch a documentary on the life of Aaron Swartz in our course. (Link Below) It was noted in the video that Swartz was one of the first architects of creative commons, a different type of copyright on the internet. Swartz believed information should be more open and free to the world, and while in the beginning of the internet this was very much the case, today almost all major nations follow the Berne copyright convention. [1]

The © (Copyright) symbol has so much power today. It can completely disallowed someone from interacting with a wealth of human knowledge or using pictures from sources. In general, if you unknowingly took something from a copyrighted source it could cause massive uproar such as copyright infringement charges and a en-slew of legal charges for accidentally using a copyrighted piece in your work

While there was the concept of “Fair Use” on the internet for copyright law was created to allow things such as commentary, parody, news reporting, research and education about copyrighted works without the permission of the author. [2] Basically, In reproducing an article, it would only be deemed fair usage if you were to use it to criticize or highlight the quality of said article. If it was used because you couldn’t find time to write your own story, or didn’t want your readers to have to register at a web site it would most likely not be deemed fair use.

Swartz aimed to change this with the concept of Creative Commons and liberate copyrighted data. You might be asking, well what IS Creative Commons? Well, Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools. He hated how copyright felt like an iron-clad lock against the distribution of knowledge. Creative Commons is helping to realize the full potential of the Internet, allowing universal access to research and education, full participation in culture and is trying to drive the world into a new era of development growth, and productivity. [3]

The (cc) (Creative Commons) logo in contrast to copyright allows a publisher to options on how there content is used. There are six contracts (as seen in the image above) which allow a publisher to control the access the public has to their content. Not only does Creative Commons allow more control for the publisher, usually it gives more access to the reviewer, researcher, etc. who are using the publisher’s work. It refines your copyright and streamlines how you give permission.

There are several symbols (or rules) to every creative commons contract. A link to a great video for understanding Creative Commons can be found here : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YkbeycRa2A

-Attribution : The original source must be Acknowledged
-Non-Commercial : Only the original source may make money from the content
-No Derivatives : The image, video, etc. can not be altered from original publication
-Share Alike : New creations that use the original source must follow the same license as the original.

It’s evident to see that Creative Commons allows more diverse control for the publisher and is shown to increase sales (as the work can be used by the buyer) if the original source is to be monetized. [4] Remember, Creative Commons is actually a license that is applied to a work that is protected by copyright. It’s not separate from copyright, but instead is a way of easily sharing copyrighted work. Creative Commons allows us to use works on the internet even through copyright protection. So remember, next time you’re using a source to check it’s creative commons license and if your using it correctly.

I believe this sums up the majority of what I needed to say on the concept of creative commons and how it improves on current copyright laws. My next post should be Thursday, on the topic of Openness, which will combined elements from our classes’ recent Twessay. Until then, This stream is going offline.

References :

[1] – Current Berne Convention text : http://www.wipo.int/treaties/en/ip/berne/index.html
[2] – Notes of Fair Use Copyright Law – https://w2.eff.org/IP/eff_fair_use_faq.php
[3] – Creative Commons’ Goals – http://creativecommons.org/
[4] – Publishing a Commercial Book with Creative Commons – http://www.technollama.co.uk/publishing-a-commercial-book-with-creative-commons
Image used from : http://ohda.matrix.msu.edu
Aaron Swartz Documentary – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QL182y-5iIY

On The Topic of Creative Commons