Saturday, March 28, 2009

Gee's Chapter 5: Lara Croft's Experience

The first thing that I recalled when I read this chapter is the movie Tomb Raider. Angelina Jolie is one of my favorite actors in the film industry. I love her adventures in Cambodia and Africa. She is so cool! As a game, I like the idea of learning at the same with Lara Croft. For a beginner like me, I am guided on what to do especially with the keys but at the same time given the chance to think and decide for my own self as a player. I hope to play this game sometime in the future.

In this chapter it says, "Learners cannot do much with lots of overt information that a teacher has explicitly told them outside the context of immersion in actual practice. At the same time , learners cannot learn without some overt information; they cannot discover everything for themselves," (page 120). I totally agree with this statement. When I was in grade school, my Science teacher introduced to us the parts of microscope. However, we only saw the picture and just memorize its parts. We have not touched nor used it. We do not have any tangible experience at all. What is the use of just memorizing it? On the other hand, I eventually understand why because of the school's limited budget. However, learning does not only occur through rote memorization. It needs something to see, touch, smell, taste, and hear in order to fully grasp the whole experience.

The principle that is reflected in my RCT 3 game is Explicit Information On-Demand and Just-in-Time Principle. As a player, I am given explicit information on the goals of the game like achieving 700 guests. Also, I am informed that people are already hungry. With these scenarios, I need to make some advertisements and promotion to a national newspaper and add more burger, chicken, ice cream, and drinks stalls in order to satisfy my guests. I like this game because I am guided on what to do on what is on-demand and the things needed at a given time. As a novice, I am not lost at all.

Discovery Principle

Playing a video game - Everything is a discovery! Before I should make my own judgments about video games, I should play it first! This is what I realized in this course. First, it started with just pressing the buttons while exploring my amusement park. Eventually, I added some rides. Then, the challenging tasks came in - fixing broken facilities, taking care of the garbage, etc. It allows me to experiment what if I increase the prices of the rides and foods, add rides (then it is beyond my budget :-)), and more! In this game, I was not afraid to commit mistakes.

Transfer Learning

In the non-digital experience, I would like to consider my experience as a student leader when I was in college. I was the Vice-President of the College of Education Student Council. At the beginning of the school year, we were given seminar-workshops to prepare us with our respective tasks. Yes, there were simulations on what we are going to do with the given scenarios. These simulations helped me in making decisions when I started in the office. Indeed, our resource speakers were successful in sharing their knowledge and expertise to us. Thus, experiencing it myself somehow tested my decision-making skills. The principle of Transfer of Learning is crucial in molding future teachers, doctors, nurses, and the like for the strength of one's country. One should not only keep it to himself or herself but pass it on to the next generation.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Game Play 6: This is tough!

As I became more intense with my RCT 3, I am faced with more challenges in my game play this week. I was so glad that I finally reached the Tycoon stage. I was so happy of what I created - my amusement park. On the other hand, I got a tough experience with my business. My visitors are getting less. I could not buy a piece of land that my rides are very closed to each other. It's like so congested. I am quite worried. On the brighter side, majority of my staff are happy with their respective jobs. I believe I should find out other good strategies to win the hearts of my customers again. After the game play next week, I would also like to try other games in RCT 3 that Matt, my playmate, had introduced me.

Indeed, a challenge just like this week's reading on Aldrich. Evaluation is an important tool that one has to consider in classroom learning and even in business. As he mentioned, it is hard to evaluate simulation-based content because one cannot just simply skim simulation. Unlike books and magazines, one could just simply skim or read them quickly. In order to evaluate this technology, it needs experience through this virtual world. Just like in business too in my RCT 3, I need to evaluate on my customer's satisfaction, why are they getting lesser. This is the challenge that I need to conquer next week.

Aldrich: Face The Challenge

In providing games and simulations, we are faced with the challenges that we need to ponder upon. As Aldrich mentioned, some of these things are to see the content, evaluate, and consider the price or cost of the game and/or simulation.

Identifying Appropriate Subject-Matter Experts and Designers

As an educator, it is important to consider the content of the game and simulation before it is used in the classroom learning. However, there are times that the content does not totally fit with the kind of learners we have. Thus, we are faced on how to identify appropriate subject-matter experts and designers. For instance, the use of words in the games and simulations are of different context with the situation in my home country. Usually, we do not give directions by saying north of this street, proceed south, so on and so forth. This is what I experienced in Darfur is Dying and The Hobbit. To address this issue, I will present not only the words but accompany it with visuals so that students would understand the meaning and how or when it is used. Before we proceed, an example of a map with east, west, north, and south directions will be given to the class.


As Aldrich said, it is hard to evaluate simulation-based content because one cannot just simply skim simulation. It requires time. In my case, I had my own reservations of playing video games. However, after reading Gee's book and some articles and experiencing it myself, I realized that video games can stimulate learning because I am actively engaged with this technology. As a teacher, I should experience and evaluate it first before I will introduce it to my students.


One of the things that I also find very challenging in my institution is purchasing this technology with considerable price. With the limited budget and resources, one has to be creative and resourceful. With this, I will maximize online free games and simulations available in the web. I am also hoping to make a PowerPoint game in my final project as an alternative but at the same time a technology that is very much useful to teachers and students.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Final Project Proposals

Proposal # 1: PowerPoint Games

PowerPoint is often used as a visual aid in my country particularly in my school. I never knew that there are PowerPoint games. With this, I would like to maximize the use of this technology in language learning or other applicable areas that I could also recommend to my colleagues. I came across with the homemade PPT (PowerPoint) games of Lloyd Rieber at University of Georgia that my professor recommended to me. I also saw the names of Gretchen Thomas and Michael Barbour. My target audience are high school students (ages 12-16). I believe that in providing them with these games it can gauge their interests and enhance their classroom learning.

With the homemade PPT games that he/they created, I can freely download, adapt or modify them according to the needs of my students. I am still on the process of looking for a perfect PPT game for language learning. If there is a chance for me to modify it, I will gladly make it. So that when I get home, I can bring this new experience, share it to my colleagues, and help the high school community with its aim to an Instructional Technology university.

Proposal # 2: Bizzy´s Spelling Bee

I consider this game because of the texting phenomenon in my country. We are not fond of calling through our cell phones because it is expensive (unless it is an emergency). Texting only costs more or less 5 cents (PHP 1.00). Usually, people are saving the number of characters since there are only allowed around 160 per text. Instead of completing the English spelling, they will have shortcuts. For instance, the message is "See you," they will write it in "C u". I observe this in their write-ups. I would like to address the issue that it is okay to save but they should also learn when to use it appropriately. In taking tests and essays, they do not need to save space.

For my proposal numbers 2 and 3, this is the website

Proposal # 3: PictoWords

PictoWords is one of the educational games featured in It is a game that tests your vocabulary by quickly combining pictures and letters to create words. It says that "Each level offers fun pictures which you must blend with letters to fill out the word list." It sounds challenging especially for non-native speakers.

I would like my students to increase their vocabulary through word associations. Words are used according to their context. For instance, "bank" could mean a place where people could deposit their money. It could also mean a river bank. Another example is "well" which has a number of possible meanings -

The well is dry.
The actors performed well in Wicked.
Well, the taste is awful.
Get well soon.

I got some sample ideas on how to use "well" in this website

I can make lesson plans that integrate both the spelling bee and picture words to enhance their spelling and vocabulary.

Game Play 5: A tycoon to conquer!

Tycoon is constantly giving me a bunch of challenges. It requires more guests and impressive performance of an amusement park. For this week, I would like to acquire more lot; however, I was not given a chance. I consulted Matt, and he was also wondering why I could not do so. Instead, I looked for some strategic places to transfer my Circus tent so that my new roller coaster could fit in.

Then, I added my new roller coaster and more food stalls around my amusement park.

RCT 3 allows me to capture the four-step process: probe-hypothesis-reprobe-rethink cycle. In this virtual world, I surveyed (probe) at first my amusement park. Then I started clicking some icons - rides, benches, food stalls, staff, etc. Then, I put my shoes as a visitor - What do I want to see in an amusement park? (hypothesis). With this, I added some features that I saw in the icons. Afterward, I looked at my amusement park once again (reprobe). Finally, I listened to the feedback of my customers and staff, then, evaluated my performance. I realized that there are things that I need to fix, to improve, and to consider with the available resources that I only have. I even feel like "God" when He created the world in six days. Probably, He also did the same, the probe-hypothesis-reprobe-rethink cycle. That is probably why it took Him six days because he added more features from time to time until we came. The feedback - people are constantly whining just like some of my customers and staff. What a challenge! This reminds me of Bruce Almighty. It is tough to be a business person (like in RCT 3) but how much more in His place.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Gee's Chapter 4: Situated Meaning and Learning - An Eye Opener

Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 exemplifies an active learning environment. It says that "...comprehension is grounded in perceptual simulations that prepare agents for situated action." With this game, students are experiencing virtual simulation that prepare them to real world. They are "doing things actively because they have choices on where to go and what to do." Thus, they are not passive learners in this simulated game.

"Appreciative systems" is also present in RCT 3. It is mentioned that "children can determine what they 'like,' what is a 'good' result, only in terms of an appreciative system, that is, their set of goals, desires, feelings, and values in respect to the domain being engaged with." Indeed true! One could never achieved or realized one's goals, desires, feelings, and values unless one is engaged to a given scenario or situation. Also, it says that "the appreciative system is not only the place where the affective and cognitive merge and come together, it is the place where the social, cultural, and personal merge and come together as well." In reality whether what profession we have, we deal with people and our social, cultural and personal aspects are challenged. Sometimes we are appreciated and sometimes we are not. However, both can help us to be aware of our strengths and weaknesses. For instance, in RCT 3 I am challenged not only to satisfy my customers but also my staff. Both give appreciations and also suggestions. One could never realized "good" until one can conquer the challenges.

A learning experience in a traditional environment I have had that would have been much improved if it had been better situated was my Technology and Home Economics (THE) basic business management course in high school. Instead of having a lot of lectures on how to deal with customers and colleagues, it would have been better if students were actively engaged with games and simulations. In this way, students would have a tangible experience on how to deal with customers' satisfaction. For instance, taking a survey on the school's cafeteria services is a good idea. It is a pragmatic way in knowing how people think about their services and at the same time help the management for some areas of improvement. I have seen this in my RCT 3 video game. From time to time, these statements pop up - "People are hungry. You need to add food stalls," "People need toilet," "Security guard - bored, bored, bored...". These call for action and choices to make. Taking surveys or playing the video game gives me an idea on how to run the business. It also gauges active learning by engaging students to decision making and management skills. Most importantly, they feel it because they experience it.