Category Archives: Life

History of Ed Tech for lay people

Audrey Watters recently posted a really good, concise explanation about ed tech and how it seems to keep reinforcing content-delivery systems rather than project-based learning initiatives. She wrote it as a blog post since it seemed too long for an individual email response to a question she got.

I tweeted it out yesterday, and, as it happens, my mom reads my tweets and wrote me asking what this paragraph by Audrey Watters means:

Ed-tech has always been more Thorndike than Dewey because education has been more Thorndike than Dewey. That means more instructivism than constructionism. That means more multiple choice tests than projects. That means more surveillance than justice.

As I was writing a response, it seemed like maybe I should also blog the answer in case it’s useful for other people wholly unfamiliar with what Audrey was talking about:

 

The field of educational technology is always treated as new in academia, but it’s actually grounded in the history of education in general. In the US in the early 20th century, there were two main philosophers whose work informed how the US could head towards national policy.

Thorndike based his theories on psychology and behaviorism, which is focused on memorizing facts and getting people to do and learn things by simple cause and effect mechanics. His model focused on a teacher standing in front of the classroom and doing a lecture, pouring knowledge into students’ minds.

Dewey, in contrast, was much more about a Montesorri style way of doing things. Have kids engage in projects, ask them to solve problems, let them explore and see the connections between phenomena.

Thorndike = instruction

Dewey = project=based learning

So, a lot of people keep saying that educational technology has great potential as a site for project-based learning, but a lot of what we see ends up being more efficient ways of delivering content. This mirrors the overall trend in education in the US to focus on content and not learning by doing.

The last part… since we are so focused on assessing whether people know things, we surveil them. We tabulate and measure. We don’t empower and let them do things and enact change. Education is about instilling shit rather than empowering.

ANNOUNCING 1st issue of Esoteric Gaming!

I am extremely pleased to announce the first collection of stories for Esoteric Gaming, a new website/book project that features accounts of diverse and niche player practice.

This is not an academic journal and doesn’t necessarily include deep thoughts, conclusions, or research. Instead, it’s a bevy of detail–a space for us to share extreme, nuanced, amazing, arcane, and totally rad things that players and communities do to play the perfect game and to make life meaningful.

I started this project (initially a coffee table art book idea) to give games scholars a venue to be creative and to not stress about deadlines or worry about our CV. This is for us to celebrate why we love games and the people who play them.

Please take a moment to read about the first issue, learn more about the mission, and submit your own stories!

Thanks for any interest and HUGE thanks to the first round of authors: Matt Bouchard, Andy Keenan, Johansen Quijano, Bjorn Shrijen, Osvaldo Jimenez, and Shannon Mortimore-Smith!

Just some updates coming in

As you can probably tell, I’m finally posting to this blog again. The last post was way back in January.

I’ve got about half a dozen drafts that I’ll finish up this week and next.

I might have news to share by then, too.

Playing the Witcher 3 again

So, I got a new graphics card (970 GTX) to play through the Witcher 3 again with higher graphics qualities…

But upon installing it, I was reminded that I could import my save game from The Witcher 2:

Screenshot 2015-08-27 15.06.57

Having played through 3 once already, I know there’s a simulated save game import through a barber shaving interrogation scene, but I thought… ah hell… I should prob just replay 2 so I can remind myself what the story was about and have a more meaningful experience with 3. I remember thinking that there’s all this mention of Yennefer that really didn’t make sense to me when I played 2 way back when, but now having played 3, I could appreciate mention of her like people who’ve read the source books…

I don’t have much space on my HD, though, so I had to uninstall 3 to make room for 2. Then I got this:

witcher 2 decision

 

Jeez. Ok. What the hell… Might as well uninstall The Witcher 2, install The Witcher, and start completely over!

I do remember The Witcher relatively well, having done a review of it for E-Learning, but I never played through the Enhanced Edition.

But, you know, then I thought: there’s probably some good mods that’ve come out since The Witcher was first released… And lo and behold:

witcher.rise of the white wolfHurrah!

So, last week, I finished The Witcher with Rise of the White Wolf. The Enhanced Edition seemed like an improvement, but it was still pretty clunky. Combat takes some getting used to, characters clip and stutter like crazy in cutscenes, and there’s something seriously wrong with how Zoltan looks…

Anyway, this week and next and maybe longer, I’ll be playing The Witcher 2 (with mods). And hopefully in October I can finally do my second comprehensive playthrough of The Witcher 3. Maybe by then there’ll be some good mods for it, too.

*Knowing what I know now, it seems crazy that no one in The Witcher mentions Yennefer explicitly (though, interestingly, there are little tidbits here and there of the Wild Hunt and a tale of a witcher and a sorceress being in love, etc.). And, wow, Triss totally took advantage of Geralt’s memory loss… Making me rethink what choices I want to make in 3 next month…

 

My AirBnB experience: 9 different places in 9 weeks.

For the most part, my AirBnB experiences have been really positive. So far each one has had at least one thing wrong with it, but often getting to meet someone new or seeing a different part of the city or having other really nice amenities easily makes up for it. Better experience and/or cheaper than many hotels, and, as with hotels, if you spend more you get a nicer experience. Still, this post is a listing of those nigglings.

Once I got to LA in September, I decided that I wanted to live in a bunch of different places to check out different neighborhoods before committing to a place more permanently. My appointment at Pepperdine is for this school year, which is about 8 months, so the plan was to check out different places for 2 months and then sign a 6-month lease. At the time, this plan also made sense because I knew I was going to be gone for 3 weeks at a couple of different conferences in October, so why pay rent for those 3 weeks?

Continue reading My AirBnB experience: 9 different places in 9 weeks.

Depression Quest is the most important game I’ve ever played

[This article originally appeared on Critical Gaming Project as part of the “Critical Exemplars” features series.]

Whenever I’m defining what games are with new students, usually, someone mentions that games must be fun. I love it when this happens because it’s the perfect entryway into getting students to start thinking critically and reflectively about games and gaming. The discussion requires clarification on what “fun” means and whether games really have to be it. I usually argue that if we treat games as an expressive medium like film, we can apply the same standards of criticism on them. Not all films must be fun (think Schindler’s List), so why should all games be fun? In the last year or so, my go-to example to challenge this existing definition of games is Depression Quest (DQ) (before that it was usually Hush).

Depression Quest is an amazing game.

Continue reading Depression Quest is the most important game I’ve ever played

Announcing: Reed Summer Game Jam

rgj

Join Mark Chen ’95, game designer & researcher—and friends—for a month-long game jam on the Reed College campus this August 1—23

Part workshop, part lab, part on-going brainstorm and creation space. During the Reed Game Jam you will:

  • Gain an understanding of the game development process:
    • Idea generation;
    • Writing a game design document;
    • Testing mechanics for both digital and tabletop games.
  • Learn about current state of games in academia &
  • Participate in hands-on research activities.

The goal? Produce at least one Kickstarter-ready game.

The Jam (in Psy108) will be open from Tuesday—Saturday extended hours; closed on Sunday, and open 9—5 p.m. on Monday.

INTERESTED? Email Brooke Hunter (hunterb@reed.edu) for the application link.

Deadline to apply Tuesday, June 25, 2013

So, here’re my August plans! Huge thanks to Brooke Hunter at Reed for making this happen.

This is primarily for Reedies, but others are welcome to apply. It’s basically a Maker space kind of set up. A bunch of smart people dropping in when they can to collaborate on game-related projects. I’m taking donations for food, transportation, etc. 🙂

Ballard Writers Collective

I recently joined the Ballard Writers Collective, and now I’m webmastering for them and doing freelance web work for local authors.

They’re a great group, led by Peggy Sturdivant, who, among other things, are exploring non-traditional forms of publishing, firing ideas in my head about how to find workarounds to the semi-broken academic model.

Many of the authors need web and new tech help. It’s easy and enjoyable for me since most of the work is WordPress related, but I forget sometimes how difficult it can be to enter the digital space, having basically been a cyborg my whole life…

IAmA This guy who did his PhD on WoW

I did an AMA on Reddit about my WoW dissertation after someone found it and posted a thread about it back in 2011, but apparently I never archived it, so here you go:

IAmA This Guy who did his PhD on World of Warcraft

(the best comment: “Do you find it odd that you are still a virgin?”)

and the original thread that found my dissertation defense videos on YouTube:

This Guy did his Ph.D. dissertation on The World of Warcraft

oh wow. it’s been 10 years

since I started blogging using a blogging site. (actually hand-coded a travel blog in 2000 while my bro and I were biking across the country)