Game Based Learning

 

Integrating game based learning is something that I have struggled with this year.  While I have integrated Quizziz, Quizlet, and Kahoot!, I feel like those do not really count as game based learning. While game based learning is simply described as an approach to teaching where students use games to explore relevant topics (“What is GBL?”), it seems like it should be much more than simple definition matching.  Most teachers in my building use GBL only for test reviews.  Game based learning can be so much more than that.  Game based learning includes both games and interactives that can be used in the classroom.

One reason I have struggled with this is because I have trouble finding games that fit in my high school English curriculum.  Most of the games I found on the list worked well for grade school level learners.  It was only once I changed my mindset that I was able to see how some of the games would fit in my curriculum.  For example, I found a great game called Pandemic.  This is not a game one associates with high school English; however, it hits on a number of other important skills that can transfer to my classroom.  Students work in teams to solve a problem.  This is not unlike trying to analyze a character or discover a theme.  They all require collaboration and cooperation.  The game teaches those very important skills.

Another example is Popplet.  While Popplet may not be the game many are thinking, it can be used to work collaboratively to solve a problem.  In the end, that is exactly what an online game does.  It is no different with Popplet.  Although, instead of saving the world from a deadly virus, they are exploring a theme in To Kill a Mockingbird.  I find the skills of team work and cooperation are necessary for both.

Integrating game based learning is something that I have scoffed at for years; however, I am starting to realize the value of the games and interactives in the classroom curriculum.  I realize that there are many lessons taught in game based learning that can transfer to every day life skills.


 

References:

“Game-Based Learning: Resource Roundup.” Edutopia. N.p., 11 July 2011. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.

“Small, Safe Steps for Introducing Games to the Classroom.” Edutopia. N.p., 08 Oct. 2014. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.

“What Is GBL (Game-Based Learning)?” EdTechReview. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Mar. 2016.

Acceptable Use Policy

An acceptable use policy (from here on out referred to as an AUP) is a policy that explicitly states how the school and/or district expects its students, staff, and any other members of the school and/or district to behave with respect to technology (Common Sense Media).  This policy is typically given to members of the school and/or district in written form.  The AUP can be downloaded by any member of the community as it outlines the expectations of acceptable behavior for users within the community.  The AUP is an incredibly important document that does not typically receive the respect that it deserves.

Unfortunately, for many in education, an AUP has become as meaningless as the terms of agreement when signing up for iTunes.  No one reads the AUP because he or she fails to understand the importance of the document. Unfortunately, lack of understanding the AUP can lead to negative consequences down the road.  Many students in my school district have had consequences for violating the AUP when, they claim, they had no idea they were breaking any rules.  The school shows the student and the parent the AUP that they signed at the beginning of the school year.  Most parents and students say they did not actually read the AUP.

In order to alleviate this, the AUP has to be thorough without being overly wordy.  This can be difficult to achieve as the AUP needs to predict most situations that will arise from the community using the technology; however, if the AUP is too wordy, many individuals will not sign it.  A great way to combat that would be to have the AUP in list format.  Additionally, as my school district does, it is helpful to have a list of terms defined so all stakeholders have common definitions for the terms.  It is very difficult to disseminate all of the necessary information without being too wordy and redundant.

An AUP should address all aspects of Internet usage.  This includes, but is not limited to:searching, downloading, publishing a school website, browsing websites, all electronic communication (including social media), etc. (National Centre for Technology in Education 2012).  The Webwise AUP guidelines give a very detailed account of how to draft an AUP.  It is important for drafters of an AUP to research guidelines to make sure every aspect is covered.  Following these guidelines will assist in composing an effective AUP.

Following are four examples of AUPs used in school districts.  The final AUP is the one given to families in the school district where I work.

http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2005/tech_suite/app_a.asp#H1

http://lrs.ed.uiuc.edu/students/rtrieger/charterschoolpolicydraft.htm

http://jburroughs.org/acceptable-use-policy

https://sites.google.com/a/d428.org/1to1/acceptable-use-policy

These four examples all give very different examples of AUP.  Some of the examples are more thorough, and some give fewer details.  The problem with being too vague is that it leaves too much room for interpretation.  While I am against making it too wordy, it appears that a more thorough AUP is necessary in order to keep all members of the community informed of what is and is not allowed while using technology.


 

References

National Centre for Technology in Education. (2012). Webwise AUP Guidelines: Developing internet policy in your school.

No author given. (2016). 1-to-1 essentials-acceptable use policies. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/1to1/aups.

Code of Professional Ethics in Educational Technology

The world of technology is every changing, and, as such, so is the definition of professional ethics.  The AECT Standards give wonderful insight into the world of professional ethics.  I wrote a paper for class about an incident that happened in my school district a few years ago.  In brief, we had a substitute teacher looking at pornography while subbing.  This led to him being banned from the building.  What it did not do was keep him from being elected to the School Board.  Feel free to read my paper for more details and my reaction.

I find it very difficult to come up with a solid definition as ethics vary from person to person.  Students today are on information overload!  They have so many answers that they do not know what questions to ask.  Additionally, instant access to anything can create blurred lines on what is acceptable and what is not.  It is my belief that districts need to come up with very clear (and perhaps overly explicit) guidelines for parents, students, and staff to see that can be modified as technology changes.  This will help guide any unethical issues that may arise over time. To be honest, I’m not exactly sure what the right answer is to some of the ethical situation questions. That is why I feel it is so important to have the Code of Ethics spelled out for employees.