gaming with javascript

16 08 2009

I was totally into two workshops – both about gaming, and in the end I chose to go to this one.

Teaching basic game programming using Javascript

Presenters: Phillip Chang and Pennsylvania Wu.chang

Need a language: why use Javascript

easy to learn, loosely design structure, cross-platform, os independent, high fault tolerance, require no installation, no complicated compilation, no initial investment – preferably open source. Javascript is a good candidate.

Advantages: loosely designed, cross platform, open source, test games immediately

Disadvantages: scripts, not self-executable programs, poor support on audio and visual efforts, poor support on 3D graphics programming, programmers have less controls on outputs.

wuJavascript browser game: structure is html page layout, css, javascript application.

Professor Wu showed examples of some games and showed their code. Games like Pacman, shooting aliens and Tetris. Games can be animation, handling user inputs, sprite programming, object movement, collision detection [motion], adding sound effects, artificial intelligence.

Javascript is easy to learn and implement, function sufficient, reduces the complexity level of teaching, motivates students by sharing their games online.

There are still problems cross-browser, but maybe we can just write a code to detect the browser first and use the programming based on it.

Javascript is not as functionable as other kinds of languages. Teaching students entry-level codes Javascript is great for that. You can also encouage the student by asking them  to upload to the web.

Remember that this is entry level for students because we see many students who are usuallydiscouraged by debugging and coding so this is a very good tool to encourage students to do gaming.

mythbusting davida with wikipedia

16 08 2009

Very interesting assignment for students with Wikipedia.

davidaMythbusting: college students as Wikipedia editors, a surprising new pathway to information literacy.

Presenter: Davida Scharf, New Jersey Institute off Technology

Many people could use this technique regardless of the subject matter. She has been working collaboratively with another professor. [watch video Colbert on Wikiality because this is really what some people think of Wikipedia]. This is where she started her journey.

Can we make peace with Wikipedia? as librarians we thought it was great to be able to go online and find it with a question and then now with Wikipedia we hate it because people believe anything that is accessible rather than anything that is factual. She wanted to teach her students how to use it. She used to look up concepts in the Encyclopedia Britannica and not necessarily using it for citation but for understanding concepts. That is what should happen with Wikipedia.

About research papers: students think that it is usually boring, difficult, irrelevant. Professor’s challenge: need motivation for engagement. Librarian’s challenge: need to encourage self-reflection about research skills and sources.

Why Wikipedia? why did she decide to use Wikipedia? because she sees it as authentic. It has motivation and high engagement level. Also the world is the audience.

“The power of the commons is to convert the person from a reader to a writer.” [quotation]

Opportunities for learning – meeting two goals: tecg communications and information literacy through the use of Wikipedia.

Wikipedia assignments:

  • evaluate web pages: the first assignment she gives students is an evaluation of web pages. They have to go through the same criteria that she uses.
  • write Wikipedia proposal
  • edit Wikipedia
  • create online multimedia report documenting your work [ppt or video]
  • make a case for your grade [what they did right and what they did wrong and students criticze each other and then themselves]

Number 1: Web page critique: access sources, judge tone. Answser questions using evaluation criteria [view UNC handout on print sources; NJIT]

Number 2: proposal: improve wikipedia. Follow W and assignment guidelines. Use sources of good quality, appropriate, tone, scope. Page must stay active until the end of the semester.There are no good or bad sources as long as the source is appropriate to your task. Also sometimes if you put up pages other people remove them or heavily edit them etc. so the page has to stay up.

  • why is your topic worthwhile?
  • what research will you conduct to verify or document your information [remember that facts are different from opinion and facts must be properly documented and cited]
  • see our assessment rubric

The rubric:

  • is content substantive?
  • well documented
  • well connected [with links to other articles such as “see such and such a link”]
  • suited to target – [understanding the audience and what segment of the world is interested in your entry]
  • demonstrates info literacy

Advice from a librarian: intro to W editing; picking a topic; finding sources; examples. They can get for example four books on Fidel Castro and add to the Fidel Castro entry with citations. That would be a contribution because not everything on him is in W.

A bit about W:

  • launched in 2001
  • many guidelines [five pillars, what it is not, perfect article]
  • back end not transparent
  • it has become a topic of study

The five pillars:

  • an encyclopedia
  • has a neutral pt of view

What it is not? there is a page on W on what it is not.

The perfect article:

  • fills a gap
  • has a good title
  • starts with a clear description
  • is not a dictionary article
  • is understandable
  • is nearly self-contained
  • branches in and out
  • is unbiased

Weaknesses are strengths: mutability, reliability, anonymity of authors, neutrality. We want students to evaluate and understand the changeability of W. Although anonymity of authors is a liability, yet it is a positive because it frees the students, especially on the discussion page.  Some students would engage and ask if they should change something in an article, so they engage with people all over the world and not only with their professor. If you find an article that is not neutral, go fix it. That could be an assignment just for students to recognize bias.

Number 3: report format: post proposed topic

Number 4: oral report-content : it is not about what they put up there but about how they did it and what they learned in the process.

  • what: beofre/after
  • Who: target audience
  • why: reasoning
  • how: execution details
  • Q and A
  • Performance

Examples: Lillian Gilbert; Sustainable architecture; BMW central building; specific weight; vortex power.

Number 5: self reflection

Why do this? student engagement; they really work hard and enjoy the assignment; teaching them research skills etc.

Pitfalls: time management [students have to begin working on it early]; neutrality

teaching mathematical abstract subjects with technology

16 08 2009

Actualization of mathematical and abstract subjects using computer-based guided tutorials

porschaPorscha McRobbie – U of Michigan

  1. Revamping lectures and homework: extensive lecture notes –  new additions: in class live demonstrations/animations from exiwsting notes
  2. homework assignments – new additions: interactive/exploratory
  3. discussion problems

Challenges: finding complimentary resources: cross-disciplinary time consuming to translate; non-traditional course content; seek highly specific interactive tools.

Bringing lectures to life: example from Wolfram Mathematica for students [link].

Guided tutorial style homework is also possible.

Tool of choice: build-in manipulate and animate commands; creating interactive assignments requires little coding; students only need free MathematicaPlayer (no programming required, source code hidden).

Resources: a forum called Wolfram education group [especially Mathematica for education] to answer your questions. Also the Wolfram Demonstrations Project where people are creating those demonstrations and uploading them to that site [].

day 3: you’ve got to be kidding!

16 08 2009

That’s the name of the final ‘keynote’ or featured presentation. Very funny, extremely useful and thought-provoking –  as expected.

Recognition, reward and tenure: you’ve got to be kidding!

Carl Berger, U of Michigan, Emeritus


Presenting scholarly work: have you heard of faculty not using new media as it would decrease chances of tenure? what is the dominant form of media for presenting scholarship in your discipline? have you seen changes in how scholarship is presented? what other ways could scholarship be presented that would be more effective? if it uses more of those techniques and delivering them.

More questions: have you helped faculty present or publish? have you co-authored with faculty or searched for new venues? have you helped with new tools for presenting/publishing? how many have influenced our administration to use new publishing to be used for R,R&T.

Carnac the Magnificent or Jeopardy:

  • Easy for classroom writing or how do I get this damn thing to work? the answer is: Blackboard.
  • interesting last comment or if I lose this I’m dead! answer: Endnote.
  • a new greek restaurant or help for resources on the web. Answer is: Zotero

He encourages everyone to created Zotero because it saves the bibliography for you and you cannot lose it.

Instructor tools in the past: blackboard, chalk, resuse, syllabus, technology etc. And student tools: books, notebooks, pencil, pens, highlighter etc.

Now: blackboard, cd with books, clickers, Twitter … etc. So now we have a different kind of student: it is the digital student. There is also the millenial student. What is the difference between the two? the first was born into it, and the second is the one who has grown into it. Now there is also the Millenial faculty member. What is your expertise? we asked students, the Millenial instructors and faculty on education, research and personal and whether they are novice or expert. The Millenials have confidence that they are expert in technology and in changing students.

Barriers to using technology: instructors don’t know how, extra work, little connection, takes too much time, students don’t know how, too complicated, don’t have tech support, don’t have the skills. The Millenials and the students believed that the faculty themselves did not know how to use the technology – and faculty also believe the same thing about themselves. Faculty say there is extra work and little connection and faculty are the first to proclaim that it takes too much time. Students said they are a mile wide but one inch deep: they can use the Excel program but have no idea what to do with it. There is no depth. That is why now there is the Millenial instructor.

Faculty spend a tremendous amount on research, some time on service and little time for teaching. The Millenial instructor can do more service and more teaching and less research time.

Reward: recognition, travel, share, join, lead, fame, hopefully the right kind of fame.

Tenure: base qualification, ready for evaluating, presentaiton of work, review by pees, citation by peers, presentation of views.Technology crept in this area even in the  traditional way of acquiring tenure.

Publishing venues: a range from close to traditional to way-out. Supported by a wide variety of sources. traditionally there is expensive subscription to traditional journals, organization in house, page fees. Whereas online it can begin by getting a grant which is of course time consuming. Organization is in house or in the future we may see that even research is supported by advertisements and number of page hits [think of the Boston Globe and others].

One excellent journal to know is the Journal of Online Learning and Teaching [JOLT]. It is like old wine in new bottles. They took publishing and put it in a new venue so that it is easier to publish and review – and it makes reviews taking years, but it can be done in a month because of JOLT. Stats: 42ooo hits, 96000 pages read, 162 countries, 58 articles. This demonstrates how well it meets a need.

There is also the Virtual Center for Online Learning and Research. The Journal of Visualized Experiments [JOVE] think about presenting that to your promotional community. You can actually see the research in action but they may ask you for printouts rather than go online. There is also PLOS [Public Library of Science]. There is also IJLM []. Vectors at USC

How do we guide such folk? get out of their way? meet special needs? recognize and reward? The upsides: if it fits your research; it does that which we could not do before; integration of multiple disciplines – academic intersections. The downsides: finding that appropriate place that is accepting and critical and gives positive review; yet another format and rules; acceptance by peers – if it’s fun they think it’s play but it is not; the bottom line is the quality and veracity.

Using multimedia in peer reviewed publications: how can we help? help them find places to publish; help them enter their work; help administration find reputable reviewers and that is a tough one. In our own institutions we rarely have someone who handles these intersections together. At Merlot, they do that. Provide local reward: get that local reward out within maybe the provost office; encourage presenting with your colleagues; show how it might look and how it is done.

rep129 provided the podcast link on Twitter: click here.

collaborating with south korea

15 08 2009

A partnership session. This sounded fascinating because of the partnership aspect and collaboration across cultural bounderies.

Artful Collaboration: Crossing Cultural and Technological Borders

Presenters: Lori Brink, Shirley Penland, Barbara Cox, Becca Barniskis [Minnesota U], Lisa Thompson [Taejon Christian International School, Korea]

This session was skyped with South Korea.


Lisa : introducing the project. She was wondering what is Becca had the opportunity to connect with her students in South Korea.

Becca:  both planned and worked on the program together. Instead of documenting a project, they decided to BE the project. They coordinated together and it was a very interesting project.

Shirley: was in South Korea for a long time and her role in the school is a professional development and curriculum coordinator. S. Korea has advanced technology and therefore they are always challenged to make the curricula up to that advanced standard. In school they train faculty to use the tools as they develop their instruction. Two of their fundamental concepts are intercultural awareness and communication. They used video conferencing. The students benefited the most because they were the ones capable of producing the art.

The panelists then showed a video: descriptive review – notice, question and speculate. In the video, 6th grade students talk to a poet in Minnesota.

They facilitated a descriptive review with the audience. These are not clarifying questions. We took two minutes to describe different things that you noticed from their presentation of the project to the video. One of the audience members suggested having a voice over in the video. The poem that the children wrote was about their immediate environment. Some of the students were shy – soft spoken voices and one covered his face. It seemed like an American classroom. Interesting mix of technology and paper.

Ended with a discussion between participants in the workshop and South Korea.

threaded discussions

15 08 2009

Examining threaded discussions in online graduate courses

timmolseedTim Molseed, Black Hills State University

The context is the students doing their capstone portfolios. The purpose of the study was twofold: to better facilitate engagement as a learning community in supporting, motivating and encouraging each other in the process of developing capstone portfolios, and to better facilitate graduate students to engage as a community of learners in analyzing, critiquing and making suggestions regarding their capstone portfolios.

Study construction: examine the social and emotional respnses [opinion/evaluate, anecdotal/reflective], and to examine task responses defined as either content or style.


  1. the number of social/emotional peer review response types will differ significantly from the task oriented peer review response types
  2. of the task oriented response types that deal specifically with issues of content will differ significantly from those dealing with issues of style.

Findings: social/emotional 42%, task 51% and other 7%.

Suggestions for instruction:

  • need for the intentional building of social/emotional interactions balanced with group maturity and history
  • defining ‘meaningful responses’ to engage students in task comments
  • modeling of expectations using both public and private forums. The instructor’s role needs to be one of restrained response.  Using private responses from instructor to student is very important because we don’t want to influence other opinions. Public forum responses are only if they have significance to the group.

MELO: addressing basic skills

15 08 2009

Creating an interdisciplinary collection of learning objects to address basic skills

jayandadenaPresenters: Jay Holden and Adena Rottenstein, U of Michigan

MELO is the Michigan Education through Learning Objects.

Students come with different backgrounds. Sucess in undergraduate education demands a solid foundation ina variety of basic academic skills, eg. writing skills, working in groups, classroom presentation and study skills. Since they come from a variety of backgrounds we really don’t know which of these skills they have or don’t have and most of the time we don’t have the time for that. How then do we level the playing field?

The solution? Players: MELO

The speakers invited audience participation: break up into groups of 2-3. Introduce yourself and your academic discipline. Come up with 3 basic/foundational academic skills aht are critical for academic success, students commonly lack and apply across various disciplines.

Team Findings: generalizations, written and verbal communication skills, reading, time management [soft skills], ELS.

The process of brainstorming: in the group of 12 [the MELO group] they came up with many skills that students lack in all disciplines. Process II was searching and posting. They searched independently for LOs to address the areas of greatest need. They created a group website for posting search results and composing LO commentary. Finally they submitted LO findings. Process III Selecting: collaborate in selection [review preliminary collection]; which LOs were selected fopr the final collection? 4.25 star rated LOs and above; overlapping LOs found and posted by multiple reviewers.

Outcome: ended up with 17 LOs. Visit personal collection title: the Cross-discipline collection: basic skills. Go to Merlot website and put in the search Merlot @ Michigan and search members, or click this link: