Category: instructional methods

Epistemic Game Research

epistemic games group logoOne of most exciting educational developments in learning with technology is epistemic games largely promoted by David Williamson Shaffer and the Epistemic Game group at the University of Wisconsin.  Paul Gee (ASU), Kurt Squire (UWisc-Madison), Eric Klopfer (MIT), and David’s epistemic game group have produced a sizable body of evidence in support of using games in instruction.  David’s group, however, has focused on the epistemic game framework (see peer-reviewed studies – What’s absent in the research from a practitioner’s or designer’s standpoint is some of the more pragmatic aspects of epistemic game design such as the scalability of games they’ve designed, etc.  In the following video (compliments of Drexel University), David begins to address some of these questions.

In short, epistemic games are computer-mediated games that require students to take on fictitious roles in order to understand how to think and act like professionals such as engineers, urban planners, etc..  One of the primary differences in epistemic game curricula and traditional didactic instruction is that the tasks that epistemic game participants are often complex tasks with multiple solutions.  Game participants (students) learn to use the content in the framework of solving real-world problems as they learn to take on the identities of professionals while acting in these roles.


10 Key Suggestions for Online Instruction

Here’s my suggestion given my readings and workings with teachers developing and teaching online courses.

1.    Teachers should provide regular effective feedback and guidance to students
a.    Some course tools such as the assessment tool can provide immediate feedback on individual student performance
b.    Students can give feedback to each other on performance
c.    Some publisher site activities are designed to provide instant feedback on performance
2.    Course design should include authentic activities that are designed so that students learn to apply what they have learned to real world scenarios, i.e., anchored instruction/active learning
3.    Teachers should design activities that connect new content to be learned with students’ existing knowledge structures
a.    Pre-test students on material to be learned by creating an assessment or asking all students to answer a series of questions.  Content presented by the teacher is dependent on students’ answers
b.    Teacher summarizes what was learned in module one and explains relationship of it with material to be learned in module two
4.    Class should include a variety of collaborative (paired or small group) activities so that students develop awareness of diverse perspectives and to promote classroom community
5.    Provide course resources (scaffolds) for under-prepared students
a.    Prepare materials or locate resources to help those under-prepared students
6.    Make use of time management techniques and course tools to keep students organized and on task
a.    Create a course check-in routine that students follow every time they log into the course
b.    Make use of course tools like the calendar and get students used to checking it to alert them of pending deadlines and assessments
c.    Hide/Reveal course content to focus students’ attention on current and upcoming course activtities
7.    Online course materials should be designed to work in tandem with on ground materials, e.g., textbooks
a.    Course materials in books, textbooks, and handouts do not necessarily  need to be converted to present in your course
b.    Online course materials can act as an advance organizer to students’ on ground materials, i.e., textbooks, etc.
c.    If online materials are a duplicate of paper handouts, then students will likely read one or the other but not both
8.    Class activities should require students to make use of multiple sources of information including the Internet, library databases, etc., in completing assignments.
9.    Course should be designed so that students can easily find what work they’re supposed to be doing, when it’s due, where in the course they have to do the work, and how they’re going to be assessed on their work.
a.    See time management technqiues in number six
b.    Create a table/matrix that displays time  period, activity, due date, toolset being utilized, and method of assessment.
10.    Course should include pre-course (before course begins) and during course assessments to help students assess their readiness prior to instruction and graded activities
a.    Make use of college pre-course readiness assessment so students can determine their level of preparedness to begin the class
b.    Create readiness assessments prior to grade assessments to help students check their understanding


Authentic educational activities and Twitter…

Here’s an interesting museum blog article from about a year and a half ago on the lessons that museums can learn from Twitter as well as an article at Mashable on using Twitter in journalism.  I’m glad that the latter article’s resources have largely been compiled by journalists.  Teachers might be able to use some of these resources to connect with journalists with the hopes that students can vicariously follow and communicate with the journalists  through the process of their developing a news article.  The museum blog looks at Twitter’s functionality and how it affects communication stream and subsequently people’s thinking  and action through Twitter use.


Peer Instruction update and clickers

For those of you who remember our presentation re clickers in ITC, one of the early primary researchers in this area was Prof. Eric Mazur. He now apparently has a social networking site trying to build more interest among educators particularly when it comes to using tools in the on campus classroom to improve learning…

Here’s a short article based on his book – Peer learning. This one is at his social networking site…


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