Education · Minecraft · teaching · Technology

Tech Class: November 18 , 2016

Today in class was an analysis of sorts of a few different tech tools that were presented by classmates. We had a student conferencing in on the robot and a classmate had her kids here who were both very interested in the concept. We learned about the novelty effect and how students are really excited about new tools at first, but that their interest diminishes as it becomes just another tool. I hadn’t  thought about that before but it makes complete sense. I think it could be useful to try to use the tools in a  variety of ways to prolong the novelty effect, but it seems like new stimuli within tech tools is important to keep learning engaging for students.

We discussed our visit to PSII from two weeks ago, and some of the limitations people had noticed. One student had noticed he had a mixed reaction of excitement and anxiety when he arrived because the space was open and full of educational possibilities, but also because the space is small and slightly constricting. I felt the same way but couldn’t identify it, but I realized in that setting I was so apprehensive to approach students to talk to them about their work because they were all working so hard and on different things, I was hesistant to disrupt them. It’s great for the students that they are working so hard, but hard to know when is a good time to approach them. The conference rooms were small and constricting as there are limited windows in the building. This is sometimes the case when you are making the best of the location you have been provided. More windows would likely lead to more distractions from the downtown traffic and noise, so there’s two sides to that coin. The other concern that came up was that the first year is very difficult for students to adjust to the new schedule because it is so different from the model used in traditional schools. It seems like it would have been an easier transition if they had some experience with the inquiry model in elementary school, but many schools don’t seem to be offering that experience.

We talked about our upcoming minecraft class next week and I had asked if we would be playing in creative or survival mode. Our professor stated that for educational settings, playing in survival mode can be quite stressful for students because of the time sensitive monsters. She also pointed out that because of the community server, you can interact with strangers who don’t always behave in your best interest. She knew of a situation where a student had teleported to a location at a stranger’s request, only to be locked in a glass box and have hot lava poured on them so that their characters would die and this stranger would steal all their items. This is something I hadn’t thought of as an implication of survival mode. It’s easy to forget that not everyone has your best interest at heart. But i’ll get into more about Minecraft next week when I get a chance to play it in class! I’ve played before but i’m eager to learn more about how to use it in an educational setting. One of the students in our class did a brief intro to Minecraft education a website that has lesson plans, technical support, a starter kit, and training resources to help get you started in the classroom.


Wasser und Lava Loch by HomeBauer is licensed by  CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Another pair of students presented Book Creator, an app you can use to create picture books, children’s books, photo albums, respond to assignment prompts, etc. You can import video, audio, and photos from your device to make it personalized. You can even upload your story to the apple/google apps stores for other people to access, or email it to friends and family. Take a look at the link above to check out everything the app can do.

The last presentation we saw was about auditory cues used in the classroom. My classmate had the idea that class would begin by students listening to 1-2 hours of pop music, with auditory cues that would signal students that they were going to change tasks. He researched his audio cues so that every one of them had a curricular connection – Water rushing through a beaver dam linked to the concept of invasive species, Star Wars theme song related to mythic themes, static noise signified how we know about the Big Bang theory etc. I thought it was so creative that he had sounds as a transition tool, but also to signal to students what they would be studying. I thought it would be interesting if he matched the tempo of the music to the activity level related to upcoming activity, ex. slow rushing water could signify a slower paced quiet activity, whereas static could signify a more interactive lesson.

That presentation segued perfectly into our last topic of the class, learning about the audio program Audacity. I’ve used it before to record interviews, as it’s a free program that is very simple to use for basic audio recording functions. But I had no idea that it had so many tools to modify, chop, re-arrange, and add effects to the recorded audio. Through playing around and recording my voice, I played with the Wah Wah effect, speed and pitch, and my favourite – tremolo. Tremolo makes the audio sound like waves of water, by adjusting the wet frequency, which sounded like I was controlling the speed of the waves. I have a lot more to play with to feel comfortable with the tool, but it’s great to know how many possibilities there are within audacity. I’ll be using it this weekend to practice recording oral storytelling for another project I’m working on. Try it out for yourself, there’s a ton of possibilities and it’s free to download!






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