Archive for the ‘Becoming ruminative in education’ Category

MIT to Launch “Intro to Game Design” via EdTechX Open Courseware

In Becoming ruminative in education, Not so random posts on October 16, 2014 at 6:58 PM
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By way of introducing an exciting opportunity for practitioners and other educational stakeholders to understand and learn more about game design, below is an excerpt of the description of the free-to-all open course, Introduction to Game Design.

“A practical introduction to game design and game design concepts, emphasizing the basic tools of game design: paper and digital prototyping, design iteration, and user testing.”

This course is part of the EdTechX series from the MIT Education Arcade. If you are interested in exploring other educational technology courses, please click here to see more details.  By the way, I had personally taken a series of serious game design courses at Michigan State University where I learned to work with a group of talented game artists and researchers to build board game prototypes, playtesting, and improve game play mechanics through iterative design.  That said, I am sure to be enrolling in this course, set to begin on October 22nd, to further cement my knowledge in educational game design.


I am Proudly Generation Study Abroad

In Becoming ruminative in education on June 28, 2014 at 3:31 AM



Coming fresh right off my study abroad experience in Japan which ended about a month ago, I was really pumped to see that MSU is now joining the national initiative, Generation Study Abroad, to expand study abroad participation.  For more information regarding MSU’s joining of the initiative, please click here to read more.

My 3 week stay in western Japan mainland was memorable in many ways and filled with pleasant surprises as I learned to adjust myself to the role of a tri-lingual program assistant responsible for coordinating assignment details and monitoring participants’ reactions to learning activities and perhaps more importantly tending to some participants’ roller-coasting emotions.  After all, when study abroad participants are not in the proper psyche, they won’t be able to fully avail themselves of the rare opportunity to interact meaningfully with the people/objects/environment from a different culture.  The overwhelming advantage for study abroad participants was that regardless of their triumph or frustration, they can really learn to develop mental toughness and ability to adapt while temporarily LIVING in that very culture.  The authenticity of being able to live in a foreign environment where everyone else seems quite different from you yet at times through constant communication and interaction, one could observe and sense similarities between him/herself and the otherness seems intriguing, at least to me.  In our study abroad program, our objective was to help the participants develop global competencies and awareness of multicultural education.  During the 3 weeks, I was able to witness and confirm that our MSU students changed for the better, each becoming a person who is more independent, ambiguity-tolerant, and more accepting to different ways of thinking and acting on situations.  It is my belief that the rapport built between these students from the USA and Japan will translate into lasting impressions potentially beneficial for shaping their identity as a young educator.

Serving as a 3-way translator in Chinese, English, and Japanese was challenging since I needed to navigate and code-switch between 3 language systems and all the while paying attention to pragmatics.  I enjoyed taking on the challenge and my colleagues commended me on my performance.  Effort-wise I still need to study more grammar and sentence structures to further improve my Japanese proficiency and hopefully I will have another opportunity to visit Japan sooner than later.

Once a long time ago I was a study abroad program participant in Tokyo Japan, and just last month I co-led a group of study abroad program  participants and visited different levels of schools in Matsue, Japan.  An interesting role reversal under my belt and now I think I am also proudly a member of generation study abroad.

We need video games in every classroom and here’s one of the whys

In Becoming ruminative in education on March 26, 2014 at 1:34 AM


Digital game-based learning (DGBL) had been touted for an array of benefits in the academic sense.  For instance, DGBL can supplement teaching by promoting motivation, critical thinking, problem-solving, systematic thinking, spatial reasoning, and other higher-order thinking skills.  In research, DGBL has been proved to facilitate learning in traditional subject matters as well.

While there are affordances and constraints with regard to the use of DGBL, my current research seeks to investigate teachers’ gaming experience, attitudes, self-efficacy, and perceived challenges and barriers toward the implementation of DGBL in classroom settings, in the hope of articulating a conceptual framework and typology of educational digital games with which teachers can rely on in incorporating digital games for instructional purposes.  In other words, my research and findings serve as one of the many whys educators and teacher educators should take heed of the potential educational benefits of DGBL.

I came across a talk by Dr. Shapiro of late and resonated particularly with the part where he talked about the fundamental differences between game-based learning and gamification, with the former being intrinsically motivating whereas the latter being more tied to extrinsic competition and emphasizing on commodified rewards.  To watch the half-an-hour talk to get his version of the why we need video games in every classroom, please go to the below link.


Jordan Shapiro’s talk on “Here’s why we need video games in every classroom”

eLearning Launched Right at Your Fingertips

In Becoming ruminative in education on February 28, 2014 at 6:15 PM

elearning_imageCrowdsourcing, open courseware and the increasing ubiquity of computers and mobile devices have combined to  thwart the traditional definition of learning as being taking inside brick-and-mortar classroom.  With more and more eLearning resources available to the general public at practically no expenses, learning becomes boundary-less and literally can take place anytime, anywhere nowadays.

Below is a link that leads to  a compilation of free 50 top eLearning resources, I believe, that can be helpful to teachers, students, and anyone who is keen, earnest and ready to learn!  I have personally used a few of them to learn about introductory programming and such.  After all, eLearning is at the disposal of your active-searching fingertips!

Top 50 free eLearning Courses

When East Meets West…

In Becoming ruminative in education on January 28, 2014 at 2:44 PM

3401885-east-meets-west--hot-dog-and-chopsticks-isolated-on-a-white-backgroundAs an international graduate student, I have had my fair share of cross-cultural experiences (some exuberant, some enigmatic and some frustrating) during my years of study in the USA.   When east meets west, there are bound to be sparks of conflict and also opportunities for mutual understanding.  Often times a lot of misunderstandings went unspoken because either party elected to speak up and find out why people acted the way they did.  Maybe some visualization of these cross cultural differences would help.

Visual designer, Yang Liu, did just that.   Over the past couple weeks, almost every friend of mine told me they had the chance to look at Yang Liu’s work on eastern and western cultural differences brought forth in simple shapes, symbolism and colors.  Me and my international graduate student friends pretty much resonated with every comparison of hers.  For a sneak peek, below is one example.

Picture Credit: Google Images

Picture Credit: Google Images

And the theme is “Complexity of Self-Expression” (I practically giggled upon seeing this), with blue representing the west and red the east.  The beat-around-the-bush fashion of self-expression is evident in how eastern culture people tend to talk, behave and write.  I vividly remembered being a junior undergraduate exchange student at Carleton University in Ottawa when I received written feedback from an Canadian professor who taught American literature.  His feedback was “Where’s the beef?” and I was speechless and clueless.  The matter of fact was, coming from an east Asian culture where students were commended for rote learning and trained to follow rules, I simply had no idea what “beef” was (both linguistically and figuratively in this context) and where I could find some, to enhance my writing skills.  After all, knowing how to write beef or beef up on things requires an dominant emphasis on cutting to the chase and critical thinking.  This comparison of Yang Liu’s rang some bells in me.

In my current classroom teaching to a group of young aspiring preservice teachers, I had the chance to share Yang Liu’s art work and expand on them to discuss the relevance of being open-minded, ambiguity-tolerant, and using cultural relevant pedagogy in an increasingly diverse classroom.  When east meets west, there is always a question mark but more importantly there is always room for developing understanding and reciprocity.

If you are interested in Yang Liu’s art work presented in an infographic, please click here.

Compilation of Tools and Resources for Learning about Educational Programming at Schools

In Becoming ruminative in education on November 29, 2013 at 12:23 PM

icon_programmingSchools and programming are no match?  No way.  Research had been done extensively in educational game design to show that young learners can be motivated by and guided through design-related tasks as they develop emergent digital literacy, designer mindset, and skills in collaboration, creative problem-solving, computational thinking, spatial reasoning and higher-order thinking.  I could still remember during the times when me and a team of researchers and game designers went to a charter school in Detroit to conduct game design workshops and saw the spark in boys and girls middle schoolers’ eyes when they were told they could become future game designers if they engage in serious thinking and expend effort in training and preparing themselves to become one.

There is always a start for everything, and I could see that those young boys and girls I had the opportunity to work with were excited to see a door opened for them.  They were young, aspiring, and fearless novice game player/designers who ventured into educational game design and gave it their best.  With proper administrative and technological support and incentive, I can see no reason why interested teachers should not learn how to utilize programming tools in school settings.

Below is a list of tools and resources about educational programming.  Some were suggested based on my experience in research and some were those I came across from reading other online resources (e.g., game-based learning blog).  Now please explore!

Children-friendly programming languages and tools:

  • Tynker — Drag and drop coding blocks to create digital stories or games and learn about the programming concept of looping, prototyping, and iterative game design.
  • Gamestar Mechanic — Quest-based and comic-style educational game design.
  • Microsoft Kodu — Entry level object-oriented programming tool.
  • Scratch –Drag and drop, media-rich interface.
  • Alice – Enables programmer to see real-time affects of actions.
  • EToys – Media-rich visual programming environment.
  • Waterbear – Drag and drop programming language.
  • ToonTalk – Teaches programming through puzzles.
  • Ruby – Allows beginners to create impressive games.
  • RoboMind – Learn to programme a virtual robot.

Online courses/tutorials:

  • Hackety Hack – Teaches Ruby, ideal for teens.
  • LearnStreet – Courses in JavaScript, Ruby, Python, HTML, and CSS where students can practice coding in their browsers.
  • – A collection of video tutorials covering a wide variety of formal coding languages.
  • Udemy – Covers a wide range of programming languages including: Java, Ruby, C++, PHP, HTML, CSS, and more.
  • Crunchzilla Code Monster – 59 hands-on lessons to teach JavaScript.
  • Codecademy – Courses in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python, Ruby, and PHP.
  • Code School – Courses in JavaScript, HTML, CSS, Ruby, and iOS.

Programming hardware:

  • Arduino – Hands-on code that interacts with the real world.
  • Lego Mindstorms – Create and programme physical robots through a visual programming language.
  • Raspberry Pi – Designed specifically to help kids learn to program like their parents may have done on computers like the Spectrum ZX and Commodore 64.
  • Brick Pi – Raspberry Pi programming Lego.


Meeting Students Where They are

In Becoming ruminative in education on October 20, 2013 at 2:38 PM

crossroadUndoubtedly with the advent and increasing ubiquity of information and communication technologies, E-learning has gained momentum and taken on a variety of forms involving use of different hardware and software for teachers interested in educational technology.  Since teaching is an act where you will always need a audience, it bears relevance to consider in what ways your students are actually using technologies outside classroom walls.

Ultimately, teaching is about meeting where your students are and explore from there, what you can to facilitate and promote among students the emergent development of self-directed learning.  So why not take a look at how students are using technologies in their own innovative ways and maybe start thinking about how to incorporate educational technologies to assist learning from there.


12 Ed Tech Concepts in Video Explication

In Becoming ruminative in education on October 4, 2013 at 9:21 AM
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Picture Credit:

The world and pace of new media technologies have been vastly changing for the last decade and the rate of change will only seem to stay acute or even accelerate.   During my years of study at Michigan State University, I have been inquired multiple times about what do I study and I would say educational technology.  Then more than likely the ensuing question would emerge, “what is educational technology?’  It was a question that seemed awkward because defining educational technology required contemplation and my answer to the posed question would be time-sensitive, given that a slew of technologies would become less prevalent and maybe retired (e.g., RSS readers or MySpace) when new waves of information or communication technologies were invented and marketed to the general public, some making inroads to classroom teaching learning.   What are educational technologies?  In a nut shell, educational technologies tend to be tech devices or software REPURPOSED to further ends of educational goals, accompanied by appropriate online pedagogy.  That said, my interests in researching the effects and mechanisms of digital games would transform video games into a sort of ed tech when applied in formal and informal educational contexts.

The below link will serve to clarify 12 buzzing concepts in the world of educational technology nowadays and I am sure these video explanations would help, you and me, understand quite a bit more about ed tech.  Buckle up and enjoy the ride!

12 Buzzing Ed Tech Concepts Teachers Should Know About

Games + Moms = Gamer Moms

In Becoming ruminative in education on September 26, 2013 at 10:46 PM
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Picture Credit:

A recent ESA (Entertainment Software Association) research report shows an acute increment of otaku gamer moms.  A stats company NPD surveyed 2,500 moms with children under the age of 18.  Here are a few pointers based on what they found:

*  75% of the survey respondents reported playing games at least one time per week.

*  38% of the moms surveyed said that they play games everyday.

*  The type of games that appealed to gamer moms are mobile phone casual games because they are easy to download and only involves simple play mechanics.

*  65% of gamer moms are advocates of mobile phone games.

ESA representative Michael D. Gallagher claimed that playing games can alleviate moms from pressure dealing with chores in their daily life, help strengthen family bonding, communicate naturally and easily with children, and establish mutual trust.  And the stats backed up his claim.

*  30% of gamer moms reported playing games being a common interest between them and their children, making games a great conversation starter.

*  56% of gamer moms said that playing games with the whole family is the ideal activity for entertainment.

*  32% of gamer moms acknowledged that playing games can promote children’s brain function and cognitive abilities.

In addition to establishing affinity with children, a good proportion of gamer moms deemed “collaborative gaming” an effective way to monitor children’s game play.  That is, collaborative game play can prevent children from coming into contact with inappropriate game contents while avoiding misunderstandings.  To parents who try to track children’s web-browsing history or chat messages, instead of prohibiting children from things including game play, why not occasionally learn to play along with them?

30 Ways to Go Innovative with Google Glass

In Becoming ruminative in education on August 20, 2013 at 11:25 PM

2013-08-20_2301I had the chance to wear the long-awaited technology Google Glass a couple weeks ago because one of my cohort in the PhD program won it with exceptional propositions.  Though dark cloud lingers over possible faulty use of Google Glass especially involving piracy issues, let us not deny that it has potential to innovate how things get done in a variety of fields.

For educational uses of Google Glass, an Australia-based online learning site Open Colleges devised a infographic that showcases 30 ways to use Google Glass in the classroom.  Please have a peek and better yet, you should download the image and zoom in for scrutiny!




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