Tag Archives: learning

Top 5 Ways to Improve the Freshman Experience with Mobile Technologies

I’m currently teaching a First Year Odyssey at the University of Georgia.  I’m working with a small group of freshman as they learn more about using mobile technologies to improve their personal and academic lives.  So far, they’re doing a great job.  Both they and I are learning a lot about what life is like with mobile technology, and how to actively pursue ways to improve learning with mobile.

In a recent activity, we hammered out a ‘Top 5’ list about the top 5 ways mobile technologies can improve or have improved their lives.  Here’s our final list:

  1. Communicate.  Using tools like IM/Text, Facebook, and GroupMe, students can easily coordinate study sessions, share study guides, and talk about course topics.
  2. Organize.  This is where many students are focused right now.  Tools like iCal, iStudiez Pro, and Google Calendar offer lots of great tools for setting up reminders, color coding events, and organizing due dates. With iCloud and Google Drive, it’s easy to sync these across devices so that you have your information at all times.
  3. Study Aids.  Study Blue allows you to take notes, make flash cards, and pull flash cards all in the cloud.  There’s lots of Flash Card apps out there that pull from sites like Quizlet and Flashcard Exchange but also allow you to build your own. Great for those classes with lots of new content and language to master!
  4. Design/Performance Tasks.  Have to design something? Try searching Pintrest for ideas about decor, architecture, or other things. Use community sites like Diigo to see what others are tagging out there.  I personally love the Diigolet that installs quickly into my Safari browser – it makes tagging on the go very easy and simple!

Ok. #4 there actually counts as two things, but the idea is similar so I grouped them. Thus, we’ve got the Top 5 things these freshmen are doing with their mobile technology.

Remember, these come straight from the students – I did not make this up!  These students have got a lot more going on, but this brief summary provides a nice overview of our work to date.  Looking forward to seeing how this semester ends with these students.  It’s been fantastic so far!

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Interactive Fiction in Action

One of my students used Interactive Fiction in his classroom and has good things to report. Read more here:

http://thefamousmredtech.blogspot.com/2008/05/of-zork-and-dorks.html

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Today’s Student — Funny (and sad) yet true

I came across this comic from Doonesbury about the digital age and the traditional classroom. Funny, poignant (as Doonesbury always is), and also true. Read it and weep — and perhaps learn a little, too:

Doonesburys Take on Todays Student

Doonesbury's Take on Today's Student

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Interactive fiction and learning (or I’m a Zork dork)

zork.jpgOk, I admit it. I’m a dork — in the kindest sense of the word. I love interactive fiction. Back in the day, I used to call them text adventures, but it appears that they have since upgraded their status. I can still remember the first time I played once of these games. I had a TI-99 4A computer (this was my second computer…my first was a Timex Sinclair 2068 – I did not remember the number until I looked up the image) and I had this game by Scott Adams called “Savage Island”. I had to load the game from a cassette recorder to the computer’s RAM to play it. Man, that game frustrated the heck out of me. I don’t think I ever made it very far in the game, but I loved playing it.

Interactive fiction is a game that contains no graphics, just text. For example, in “Savage Island” you are stranded on this island with little idea of what to do or how to do it. The game uses simple commands like ‘go volcano’ or ‘climb tree’ to interact with the world. Fun to explore and interact with. Eventually my TI-99 soon gave way to a Commodore 64, and I left “Savage Island” behind for the greener pastures of Zork, Trinity, and Leather Goddesses of Phobos. These are more complex text adventures with a form of interplay that was a bit smoother than the earlier adventures and with a bit of humor thrown in for the mix — these were made by Infocom.

Now that I’m all grown up (sortof…), I see tremendous potential for these games in education.

What I love most about these adventures is that they are similar to reading a book, but one you interact with. It is intrinsically satisfying when you figure out how to combine items to solve a problem, and when you discover new and unknown areas of the game. I think these would make a great practice, reward, or enrichment for students in middle or high school. They are free, available online, and combine reading, writing, and problem solving skills. What more could you ask for?

Below are two links for these games. There are loads of games at these sites, and they should get you and your students started. (Note that, like all online content, it is always good to play the games a little before allowing students to view them. Leather Goddesses of Phobos contains content of a sexual nature, so be forewarned on that one. The others are likely to be more innocent.)

There’s plenty here to keep a Zork dork like me happy for a long time. I’m disappointed, though, that I cannot find a game called ‘Trinity’ online yet. This one was fantastic. I’ll keep looking for it — hmm, all this hunting for an old game is like a…it’s like a real-life text adventure!

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