Video Game Development in the Classroom

19 07 2007

I went to a fabulous workshop at necc07 held by Amanda Hefner and Caleb Gentry called Digital Game-Based Learning and Constructivist Technology Integration. Amanda presented using a program called GameMaker. Caleb taught us how to use a program called Game Factory 2.

They shared with us how students must use a whole-language approach for developing games. They must know how to write and develop a story. They have to use design and art skills. They need to use math, physics, and logic. Students learn how to trouble-shoot, diagnose, problem-solve, peer-review, collaborate and evaluate as they create and develop their own game.

According to the International Game Developers Association, (IGDA) it is a 9 billion dollar industry! I should have known that – my own children have had every kind of video game system that ever existed. We’ve spent more money on video game systems and video games for the computers than all toys ever purchased! The IGDA website is a wonderful resouce for anyone wanting to explore the gaming industry. It has a link to career paths, developer profiles, and even a list of resources.

The Entertainment Software Association has a very interesting report out called “2007 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry.” It gives all kinds of cool stats – like the average game player age is 33.

An interesting, but older article (2005) is “Working So Others Can Play: Jobs in Video Game Development” by Olivia Crosby. She describes the different types of role that a developer could have.

A couple of more resources are:   http://www.texasgames.net and  http://www.gamasutra.com/

The workshop was very enlightening. We currently have a CISCO networking program at our career tech school. A gaming development career pathway might be a good addition to our career school. It would be a natural progression to a computer science, programming or systems development degree.

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Learning About Second Life

18 07 2007

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I ordered a new book “A Beginner’s guide to Second Life” Book 1: Version 1.1 (5/2007) by v3image. I ordered it from Amazon.com. I bought it because I joined Second Life while at necc07 and I wanted to learn more about the history of Second Life and how to go beyond the basics. I also bought it because I am hoping to give a presentation to other educators at our school about Second Life and thought the book would give me a good background.

So far, so good. I am learning that when I get around, I don’t have to walk around in the dark. I found that scary and a little intimidating. I am learning about how to work with my inventory. In my first experiences I had located a lot of free stuff and I found that I have a lot of cool things. This book tought me how to go to a sandbox and freely explore my stuff.

The next step is learning how to build things. I haven’t learned how to do fun things like sky dive or ride a whale like Jennifer Wagner. (Her Second Life Photo Album Rocks!) But, I was invited to see an awesome fireworks show on her roof of her apartment. Here’s a few picts.

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I’m gaining knowledge as I slowly learn to maneuver. The best part of all, though, is the social networking – which, is what Second Life is all about. I know this will be a long journey because I have a RL (real life) in which I live. The opportunities are endless for sharing with other technology educators. I can’t wait, yet my brain can’t seem to absorb it all. I appreciate the willingness of those more experienced to share with us newbies. I am going to call it “The Great Adventure!”

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What Kind of SmartPhone?

15 07 2007

I am one of the few directors at our school who has not yet gotten a smartphone. I have a personal cell phone that I have grown accustomed to using. However, I don’t have instant messaging, or web services. I just use it for phone service.

I use my laptop to keep my calendar, check my email, etc. It seems awkward to have to do those things on a phone. However, I have decided that since my team is responsible for supporting the other smartphones, I need to get with the program. Now, the big decision is to choose one…

Kathy Shrock posted a recent blog that got me thinking further about it. I love my iPod and would seriously consider the iPhone, but I’m not sure it has the features that I would need. The most recent smartphone that the directors have received is the Treo 750. I haven’t really taken the time to do the research on this topic yet. There are two approaches.

I could compare all the models and chose the best one for me, or I could purchase the one that most of our staff has. By standardizing on a model, it is easier to support. In the end, it is a tool that I must use to do my job better. At one point we had standardized on a palm-based OS, but our boss would prefer for us to use a Windows-based OS. In about a month we will be changing over to a new mail system called Zimbra.

Any of your opinions about smartphones would be appreciated! Tina





Rich Dad, Poor Dad Changed My Life

9 07 2007

My husband and I are both educators. With that being said, of course, we are always reading books that help us grow and learn. One of the most amazing books (and series) I have ever read is Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Rober Kiyosaki. My husband and I have always had other businesses on the side. He has sold insurance, I have taught piano. He is also an artist and teaches art lessons in addition to selling his art. Together we have started buying rental houses over the past three years and now own 8 rental houses. My parents owned rental property and growing up, I did a lot of the grunt work – painting, etc. 

 Rich Dad, Poor Dad really changed the way that I thought about money. His real (poor) dad grew up working in the Hawaii school system and believed the government should support him the rest of his life. His friend’s father, who he calls his “rich dad,” was a business owner and believed that he should make his money work for him.

I have since read about 5 or 6 of Robert’s books and other recommended readings in his series. He believes that people learn by playing games and has invented several games, Cashflow 101 being his first. He has a book for parents and kids called Rich Kid, Smart Kid, which I haven’t read because my kids are grown. But, if it is anything like any of his other books, it will be great advice for parents.

The most recent book that I have read is called Why We Want You to Be Rich by Robert and Donald Trump. The book was exceptional. I have bought copies of Rich Dad Poor Dad for all of our 5 grown kids and my brother.  By putting into practice many of the principles, we have begun to build up our retirement – much more than our education system will ever provide for us.

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Blogging is Invigorating!

7 07 2007

Saturday morning 11:00am. It’s the first time I’ve slept in late. Why you ask? My husband and I were up late last night. I was sharing with him everything I learned at necc07 from David Warlick’s workshop on Advanced Blogging. I have only been blogging since that day, but I am definitely hooked. My husband is a 58 year-old art and psychology teacher. I am a 44 year-old Technology Director (former teacher). We sat by the pool with our laptops until after dark, and then sat up in our bed until midnight, side-by-side, until we were bleary-eyed, sharing and learning together. It truly was fun and invigorating! His first post was on No Child Left Behind. (http://ragonsteele.wordpress.com/) I told him some of my blogger friends might not agree with him – hee-hee, but that is the fun of blogging! We are definitely hooked!

Now we need to learn a few more things. How can we narrow searches down? We wanted to find some other blogs on art education, but we got a lot of bad stuff. How do we get our blogs out there? It seems a lot of people aren’t commenting on mine yet.

I loved what I learned in David’s workshop about how to use bloglines to manage my rss feeds. It’s like reading the paper every morning. I also learned about Technorati and that it is like a search engine, and how to ping my blog site. He also taught us about how to cut and paste the Technorati tags by going to his website (and using a handy tool to generate the tags. Thanks so much David Warlick!

It’s been great being able to share what I have learned. But, I am hungering for more. How do I put a link to an rss feed on my site for others? Any other tips or suggestions? Tina





Don’t have a mac, tell me what I’m missing, pls.

6 07 2007

Well, I’m back at work. I”m still flying high after NECC07. It’s been hard to get focused on the daily grind. Over the years I’ve gone from being in an all mac environment, to a nearly all PC environment. Over the last few years, I’ve lost touch with the mac world. After being at NECC, I saw a lot of mac users and I started missing having a mac.

Earlier this year I went to a workshop on podcasting and have been itching to buy a recorder for my ipod and try out garage band. We just got bonuses and I had just about decided to buy a new ibook, but my boss told me I could go ahead and get one if I wanted to. So, I’d like to hear what cool applications I should dive into. How is anyone using podcasting in their school or personally? Any concerns about upgrading to the new operating system? I need some suggestions and feedback so I can get focused and back up to speed. The last OS I was on was OS 9.0 or so. Anyway, back to work…..and shopping on Apple’s website!  Tina

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