Monthly Archives: October 2015

Discussion Notes for October 22, 2015 Whole Class Meeting

Here are two more questions to think about after reading this article:

Liu, X., Bonk, C. J., Magjuka, R. J., Lee, S. & Su, B.   Four dimensions of online instructor roles:  A program level case study.  

–Regarding pedagogy, identify some ways online instructors weave their knowledge into discussions.  How can these methods be done in a natural way?  (p.37)
–What are some ways an online instructor can manage the time spent juggling their role as organizer, planner, facilitator (including giving student feedback), and building rapport with students?

Below is the question we discussed and notes I took from our group’s responses:

Craig, A., Goold, A., Caldwell  J. & Mustard, J. (2008).  Perceptions of roles and responsibilities in online learning:  A case study.  Interdisciplinary Journal of E-Learning and Learning Objectives, 4, 205-223.

The activity we are participating in for class tonight is productively student-centered.  What are some specific ways students learn in a student-centered environment vs. an autocratic teacher-directed (sage on the stage) environment?

–you don’t have a group of kids getting one opinion from just one teacher. I never thought of doing it that way. Allow kids to work together. Breakout rooms then come back into the whole group.

Give kids a couple of minutes of their own think time and read on the board.

Relating article to what I do and what in that article is relevant to me vs. steering everyone to reach a predetermined conclusion for the topic taught in a Teacher Centered way.   Studens can only relate to what they have; that is what they have in their own life experience. Then students’ perceptions, even when they may appear to be off topic, circle back and return to the topic, into the whole conversation–

Why MinecraftEdu for Children’s Literature?

There are advantages that are unique to Minecraft gaming in the classroom, as opposed to other types of gaming that involve pressure to continuously defeat a foe or to participate in pre-set role/character play. For example, Minecraft is self-directed with opportunity to explore.

As noted in the article by Overby & Jones (2015), it is imperative that the administrator and technology team be informed about, or even permission sought for, plans to use Minecraft. In dimension 2 of a study about the use of MinecraftEdu in the classroom, students, parents, and teachers were surveyed to carefully investigate values and attitudes about the use of classroom time to create scenarios or worlds that represent what students are reading or learning about in the classroom, Saez-Lopec, Miller, Vazquez-Cano, & Dominguez-Garrido (2015). The findings say to me that as teachers, we need to be ready to show the connections of what we are doing in Minecraft to what students are learning and to the standards.

As shown by the quote below, some authors have had a concern that there is little or no theoretical basis in the area of game-based learning. “I challenge anyone to show me a literature review of empirical studies about game-based learning. There are none. We are charging headlong into game-based learning without knowing if it works or not. We need studies” (Cannon-Bowers, 2006, p. 2). The current study is an answer to that concern. I think it is difficult to empirically prove the level of higher-order thinking skills that are developed while problem solving, making inferences, predicting, or visually conceptualizing to organize thinking about what is read. The value of cooperating with students; either in a student’s own school or from another part of the state; to plan for building an environment, to make trades that are valued by each to build their separate respective scenarios, or to write to each other to a common prompt about their experience within a common Wiki blog environment, can only be truly appreciated when adults observe and consider the social skills being used to create that indeed translate to the digital age their students/children are growing up in.

So far I have to agree with “fifty-five percent of teachers use video games in the classroom on a weekly basis, and many find these games to be an effective tool to motivate low-performing students. . . “(Meyer, 2015). Although I have not specifically used a complete video game environment to teach, I have used reading and math programs that have game features embedded within them to motivate learning. What I have seen was students who struggled with learning specific basic and comprehension reading skills in the context of teacher directed environments, or even in the bi-lingual partner design of reading pairs, become completely transfixed with the computer screen and delve deeply into the computer environment. Conversely, I have noticed that these same programs can present video clips that speak too fast for English Language Learners (ELLs), or presume a certain foundation of background knowledge that may not exist for that group of students. What I like about using Minecraft is that learners of all ages and skill levels work together to create environments related to the story they are reading. When students create separate areas/worlds, they have the opportunity to fly over different regions to view another student’s interpretation of a chapter concept (Lorence, 2015). How could this be less desirable than participating in a discussion group with roles assigned to students to get them to communicate?


Cannon-Bowers, J. (2006, March). The state of gaming and simulation. Paper

presented at the Training 2006 Conference and Expo, Orlando, FL.

Lorence, M. (2015, Apr.). School of minecraft. School Library Journal, 61(4), 1-5.

Meyer, L. (2015, Aug./Sept.). 4 innovative ways to teach with video games.

T H E Journal, 42(5), 20-24.

Overby, A., Jones, B. L. (2015, Jan.). Virtual legos: Incorporating minecraft into

the art education curriculum. Art Education.

Saez-Lopec, J. M., Miller, J., Vazquez-Cano, E., & Dominguez-Garrido, M. C. (2015).

Exploring application, attitudes and integration of video games: MinecraftEdu

in middle school. Educational Technology & Society, 18(3), 114-128.


The Beginning of a Very New and Exciting Journey

EDET 694: Practicum in Virtual Teaching and Learning

Instructor: Dr. Lee Graham

Blog 1

The Beginning of a Very New and Exciting Journey

by Aleta May, M.S. Ed., and M.A. Ed.

So far on my journey in this practicum class, I notice how different a practicum for instructional technology is than it was for special education teaching and reading specialist training. However, it seems to me that these three are inextricably entwined. For many, this is a well-traveled path, but for me I am just now exploring. This path is gamification in education. Also, I am creating blended learning environments in my own small group instruction. I will blog about these along the way as well, but for now I stick with the topic at hand. More specifically, using the game that has been organized into a Givercraft environment.

The first thing I did was to read the book, The Giver by Lois Lowry. Although this was originally written in 1994, it is a revitalized fantasy, science fiction that is now used as a part of meeting literature (reading, writing, and speaking) standards in a manner that utilizes technology to deeply engage students into the meaning of the book. One way this will occur during my group’s adventure is that we will lead a group of teachers as they lead students as a community of learners who build scenarios to fit their interpretations, inferences, predictions and even alternate endings to demonstrate comprehension. What I will contribute to this team remains to be seen. However, I obtained principal permission to download The Giver onto ipads just today and to make an official request to our technology department to allow our school access to the UAS Givercraft server for three weeks. This means I will be a teacher who is both learning from and teaching teachers as I delve into this new experience with six of my own students—all boys. Sounds so fun—a bit scary, but hey, I have so much support, what could go wrong? I know, this is a very dangerous question to ask.

For many years, I have watched over the shoulders of family members as they play various video games. Yet I have played very little personally. The place to start for someone like me is to buy a Minecraft for teachers book, referenced at the end of this blog. Another place is to visit a Youtube site where a child used Screencast-o-matic to teach about how to use the mouse to make different moves in the game.

During one of our group meetings, Mia and Scott took me to the game. My husband joined in and I watched him play and listened as he and Mia were troubleshooting, at which time Dan was given teacher access. I will earn that in time; for the time being, it is too risky to allow me access to certain buttons as I am a “try this button” experimental type of learner in a game.

To gain a better understanding of why other educators use gamification in the classroom, I found a site where the author of the book I purchased interviews a variety of educators who use Minecraft in the classroom. Below are notes I took from just one 45 minute episode of 33 interview episodes at this site.

Minechat Episode 1: Joel Leven by Colin Gallagher—February 14, 2013

Joel teaches in Singapore in an elementary school Colin interview/discusses Joel’s use of Minecraft from New York with a 13 hour time difference.

Digital citizenship. There are teachable opportunities. For example, working as a community where the players don’t horde items, work together and under the supervision of teachers, they learn to talk to each other kindly rather than mean (inappropriately) as in some of the common X-Box games.

This is an international program. Colin used this elementary in Singapore and hopes to bring Minecraft across subject areas and grade levels. An example would be to enter this into problem solving for disaster relief. Joel was asked by the CEO of Mojang to join them as a teacher to create the software program. History, language teachers saw the potential. Now they are in more than 1,000 schools in six different continents. Pre-K through college; people are using the game in ways Joel could have imagined.

Minecraft students, when supervised by teachers and parents, can learn to be involved in a game without being overtaken by a game. Parents can become engaged with the kid while he/she is creating. They can model balance for their children. They can learn about the creative outlet part of gaming while using Minecraft.

Students in an afterschool program may be creating a story. Minecraft is a template for students to express themselves. They can also create games for each other. There are other games coming on. Minecraft is all about squares. Another game is coming on that is all about patterns, with triangles. There are program developers, however, presently working on the next stages of Minecraft. Likely we will be playing Minecraft for a long time to come.

Joel pointed out that he personally only plays the game when he is with his students. This is a collaborative game. Though it can be played in the same room with other students, the internet feature brings a whole new layer of excitement to the challenge of learning from other students in other places. Joel also noted that when he does go in and play on his own, he learns about the updates within the game. Joel mentioned in closing that the students, as they become adults, will have the experience of this game together and that it will likely be the one they talk about the most because they created together as opposed to alternative violent gaming experiences.


Gallagher, C. Ed. (2015). Minecraft in the classroom: Ideas, inspiration, and student

projects for teachers. Peachpit Press (division of Pearson Education); Chandler, AZ: Pearson

Lowry, L. (1993). The giver. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


Minecraft Colin Gallegher

Minechat by Colin Gallagher updated January 2015

A kid teaches the basic directional keys.