I am a Marine Corps veteran pursuing my career in education. I am currently a student at Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU). I am all about positive motivation and helping others achieve their max physical and mental/intellectual potential. I love to think "outside-the-box" and believe in looking at things from different perspectives. I enjoy the many arts of life: music, film, literature, aesthetics in the art of the anatomy and physique (i.e. bodybuilding), etc.
I am always open to learning from experience, whether it be my own or others... Good or bad... We will learn regardless...
3 min read
“I’m Learning… And it’s fun!!!”
After reading and watching all the recent readings and videos on new literacy and comprehension of media, I can’t but help but reflect on my own learning through modern technology and media sources via the web. Upon transferring to Southern Connecticut State University from Housatonic Community College, I have had the pleasure in participating in a political science class called International Studies. This class requires students to participate in an online simulation called “Statecraft”. International Relations is one of the first classes I have taken (besides #edu106) that actually deals with how I interact with the media and tech; and combines that with how I interact with students in ‘real time’.
(Statecraft World Map)
Statecraft is a simulated world of multiple countries. Students are assigned to a country and get to determine its regime type. From there, students have to act as ‘leaders’ of a country and make diplomatic decisions. It is a lot fun and it is a definite example of using tech, gaming and media in literary comprehension.
Coming from a ‘gamer’ background, I am kind of verse in games like Age of Empires, Command and Conquer and other simulation style games. This has giving me advantage to some in my class and a sort of leadership position in my country (I am the National Security Advisor; in charge of my country’s military happenings and gathering intelligence on other countries. I also have to come up with “what-if” scenarios and contingency plans.
(Command & Conquer)
I can see the combination of “real-world” and simulated play having a tremendous effect in how the other students are earning in class. The gaming effect of Statecraft makes it seem like it is a game, but gives the students a set of roles and responsibilities in certain positions as leaders of a country. As quoted from another student in my 'country': “I never play video games or anything, but this is really fun!”
Statecraft is an awesome example of what was discussed in the Big Thinkers Video of Sasha Barab and the Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture reading. I recommend any student that needs a political science class as a tier requirement to take International Relations that uses Statecraft, as a class.
3 min read
Barab explains how society is at a different time and how textbook resources are, in a sense, outdated. He tells how it’s really not about getting the information, but more about using the information. Games give students a purpose from the get go. The student has to think: “What are the rules of the world?” “What laws affect the world?” and “What happens when I do this, what happens?” He gives examples of different games like:
Trauma Center ,
and Quest Atlantis
as games that require students to learn a bunch of information so they can accomplish certain goals in a game (save a life in surgery, level up a Pokémon or save a town) even better than previous attempts. In this model, failure is a motivator and not something to be avoided. An awesome quote by Barab is that if we limit students to be ignorant vessels to be filled with things, we are not creating futures for them at all. A mantra said by professor McVerry and heard multiple times in our #edu106 class.
According to Barab, we as future educators need to let parents know and have our voices heard that there are additions to the “old ways” of literacy and that this new media literacy will be determining the students’ future. Memorizing facts is old-school… We can find more information on our cell phones in 5 seconds than we can remember in our entire high school careers. Educators need to advocate for ourselves and for what students do outside of school. We can’t stay out of the “tech-game” and miss opportunities to transform the old institutions of academia into newer advance institutions where students are allowed to manipulate media and use games as a way to learn and create…
4 min read
(P.S. Shout out to Google Docs... A great tool for collaborative group work...)
Andre Reyes, Cesar Escudero
GameFAQ’s and the Bigger Picture
For those who are not aware GameFAQ’s is an online forum that provides information on today’s video games and how to progress through them with peer guided ease. GameFAQ’s fan base consists of gamers and those who are more interested what makes a game, but the majority have a common purpose to help their fellow gamer with any particular part of a game that is rather complicated. The site (Gamefaqs.com) consist of boards and forums that are utilized by gamers, and at times, non-gamers alike. Content for these forum boards are constantly being posted and updated around the clock. With so many post being added to the numerous boards the site has to offer, many gamers have a chance to read over the comments and write back positive feedback. Other than the game being played, a variety of topics are discussed such as game mechanics, story/plot, graphic engines, etc. There are also boards dedicated towards non-gaming material as well; such as anime, movies, TV, etc. These types of discussions allow for gamers and non-gamers alike to find each other and discuss their common likes and interest all while discussing their common interest in more depth.
Peer support is an essential key to the forum boards. Majority of publishers on GameFAQ’s are masters at gaming and thus they impart their wisdom onto novice players or more popularly known as ‘noobs’. The relationship is like that of a student and master; where the student tries to duplicate similar tactics of the master who is the original creator of the tricks. These types of forum discussions are filled with opinionated people who debate the quality of a game, walkthrough, tip/trick, etc. This creates two-sided debates where everyone displays their point of view to see whose resolve is stronger. These types of discussions and debates are also valuable input for game developers to try and make better games. This all stemming from GameFAQ’s original intent in having veteran gamers assist other players with in-game challenges.
When it comes to publishing content on the site there are no restrictions. Any valuable input is worth putting on the site. All comers are welcomed to GameFAQ’s and are welcomed to take advantage of all that the site has to offer. One feature GameFAQ’s offers is the ability for veteran gamers to record their gameplay and publish it for all to see. This allows for step-by-step instructions, via a visual guide, that allows for learning to occur within ‘noobs’ .
The community is also rather large. With games of today becoming rather complex, gamers need all the help they can get in defeating certain levels, bosses, goals,etc. “Squad” and “clan” based connection is an essential element towards accomplishing these gamer goals. Gamers can meet on GameFAQ’s as part of an online community where they support each other and then expand that connection onto all gaming platforms.
GameFAQ’s is the ultimate peer-to-peer, collaborative environment ! With boards directed specifically towards gaming and other boards for other interest, GameFAQ’s is a great example of how society is now conducting modern collaberative learning amongst ourselves.
5 min read
Reading Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture by Henry Jenkins revealed how teachers and educators have to adapt and confront the continuously changing scenery of the internet and technology. Jenkins explains that because of this changing landscape of the internet, participatory culture and how we perceive literacy in society is adapting and changing. He also tells of how we can also limit our use of technology if we don’t understand our own culture and how to use technology to further enhance it.
(Our forever changing tech world)
One adaptation of literacy, Jenkins explains, is how learning through the internet and technology is informal. We have always, in a sense, learned formally through institutions that are boring, bureaucratic and rigid. This new way of informal learning allows for more ‘movement’, easy access and easy to change for the better of the community. Our formal ways of the past have always been slow to adaptation and participation was almost always exclusive. We need to let youths know that they are free to participate and not only are they free to do so, but that their participation would be appropriately valued.
Hypothes.is link to passage explaining formal and informal and my own interpretation...
Robin DeRosa's (author of Working in/at Public) response to my hypothes.is annotation...
Jenkins writes about David Buckingham and how Buckingham argues that young people’s lack of interest in news and politics reflects their perception of disempowerment. Jenkins also mentions a lot in his writing about gaming ‘politics’. He uses the examples of games like The Sims and others as how youths have garnered some sort of political education through gaming. Through gaming and creating their own governments and simulated lives, youths have gained a grasp on politics and how they work. Yet, their lack of interest in ‘real’ politics has left them feeling disempowered and disconnected. I have to say that this is partly our own fault. We can’t blame society for our lackluster interest in ‘real’ politics if we don’t take the time to become somewhat literate and verse in the subject. “An illiterate country/people/society is easy to deceive…”
Although youths might feel disempowered, in one passage Jenkins explains that participatory culture offers many opportunities for youths to engage in civic debates, participate in community life and even become political leaders. With technology and the internet, we are seeing more youths becoming more involved in politics and activism. Hashtags allow for easy access and easy flow of real-time information that we, society, can chose to follow or dismiss. A grasp of our culture allows for a better deployment of the tools needed to accomplish our goals.
In a nutshell, Jenkins outlines three major concerns in his assertion that Participatory Culture should be nourished in schools:
The Participation Gap: the unequal access to the opportunities, experiences, skills, and knowledge that will prepare youth for full participation in the world of tomorrow and the world of today. Allowing for access to all and any.
The Transparency Problem: The challenges young people face in learning to see clearly the ways that media shape perceptions of the world and how media can shape their own view on society. Teaching youths to look at society from their own perspectives and not from what is pushed on them.
The Ethics Challenge: The breakdown of formal professional training and socialization that prepare young people for their increasingly public roles as media makers and community participants which are better comprehended in an informal setting. Adapting to how we teach ethics in conjuction with the amount of info accessible to youth on the web. Because the web can be a sickening and scary place...
Youths are adapting to technological advancements and the changing atmosphere of participatory culture. It is our job as educators to change the formal way we educate youths on participation and adapt to the new way information is coming at them and their screens at a rapid rate. We must teach them to utilize technology and the internet to step outside their boxed world and into the realm of the global community!
3 min read
Twitter Chat Analysis
I experienced my very first Twitter chat the other day. While perusing around in my newly created Twitter account and utilizing the Tweetdeck application I saw professor McVerry use in class, I was invited by professor McVerry to join the #ctedu chat that was occurring at 8pm on 23 Sept 15.
The Twitter chat was about integrating the arts to help student learning. The chat consisted of multiple teachers and educators with whom professor McVerry considers to be the thought leaders of the state.
— Greg McVerry (@jgmac1106) September 23, 2015
The chat was organized via the #ctedu and a google document that depicted some questions the moderator would ask. The moderator being Amy Traggianese who is co-facilitator of #ctedu and an elemntary art essentialist amongst other attributes. She would post one of the questions and the other particpates would answer them.
It looked something like this:
Many of the participates were very much expert in the dynamic of Twitter chatting. They knew how to answer each question at lighting fast speed with links to examples, videos, pretty much anything you can imagine.
— Robert Pennington (@robpennington9) September 23, 2015
I tried to participate with a "wow! How cool is that!" or an "Awesome!" every now and then. I think even professor McVerry tried to showcase the Timeline I did for #edu106, but I felt like a definite total noob...
— Greg McVerry (@jgmac1106) September 23, 2015
This doesn't mean I didn't learn anything... Examples of what these educational leaders would use in class would come at my screen rapid rate! I saw students in costumes, educational music videos, tech art vocabulary words, etc. Even the moderator talked about how crazy busy the chat was!
Wow, this #CTedu chat is crazy busy! It is hard to keep up!
— Amy Traggianese (@atragg) September 23, 2015
Other educators would also give praises to the multitude of different ideas and said they would utilize them in their own teaching techniques. They would give each other the thumbs up if they liked what the other educator brought to the table and chat.
All in all it was an exciting and new way for me to learn! The participants were very welcoming to a humble student joining their chat and observing the masters at work. The voices were both equal and diverse. Equal that everyone had a chance to be heard and diverse that everyone had something different to bring to the table. It was a very well organized chat as well. The half hour went by so quick it kind of had me wanting to observe more of, what I like to call, the beautiful chaos of the twitter chat. I will definitley search for more educational hashtags and try to participate more in these Twitter chats!
4 min read
While reading the journal by DeRosa, I couldn’t help but agree with her sentiments on how what we post on the web through social media can cause avalanches of opinion and in some cases, backlash. I also strongly agree with her opinion on how we as educators should not be only willing to work in the public, but work at it as well. Her blotter/journal shows not only a cautionary tale of working in the public, but also a means to how and why we should be willing to work with the public as well.
DeRosa told a story of a professor whose tweet caused a backlash against her and her profession. She uses this example and others as a way of showing the risks educators take while talking on happening issues publicly through social media or just publicly at all. An educator doesn’t even have to be an activist for free speech or tenure protections when it comes to having your opinions and remarks on social media analyzed and critiqued. The irony with the Goldrick-Rab’s specific case is that she was an activist for public schools and her “public” engagement through a tweet kind of ruined her work for the public good. Her research and work pushed aside because of a tweet.
(Got that post-tweet regret)
While some participates in the Digital Pedagogy Lab were frightened by the Goldrick-Rab example in DeRosa became empowered. She explains that the challenge of being a scholar is not just in being accountable for your words to a diverse audience; it is being responsible for demanding that the diversity be preserved in the face of pressure that stems from profit driven, comfortable elitist. Her work on OER (Open Educational Resources) initiatives are trying to pave the way for more free and openly licensed content that would allow students and educators to ‘remix’ or ‘hack’ (ala Professor McVerry’s term) knowledge. One #edu106 student even brought the environmental aspect of the OER movement; explaining how digital textbooks increase the access for students and decrease the impact we have on the environment in order to make paperbacks. (This even elicited a response from DeRosa herself!)
(Trailblazing literacy comprehension!)
DeRosa explains how we must “stand-up” to oppressive structures. These exclusive digital structures are all to exclusive and oppressive and by carving out public digital space in which all have access, the public can all benefit from the open learning occurring in the carved out digital space. The OER movement is a great weapon against these structures. We need to keep the “public” a product-less environment and the digital world a place of nondominant expression.
(Standing up to the big dog!)
Working in/at public can be like walking on eggshells, but we must keep the public an accessible and open space for creativity and knowledge sharing!
(Demand a free and open web for all!!!)
1 min read
One thing I took with me from my time in the Marine Corps is the importance of physical health. While struggling during my intial transition back to civilian life, I took to the sport of bodybuilding as a form of meditation and focus training. I have come to appreciate the hard work and effort it takes to preform in this sport/work of art.
Even though I am a novice pupil in the art myself, I hope this timeline gives you a sense of some background and history into bodybuilding. This timeline also shows how competitors have learned, revised and adapteded to the sport... or as many like to consider... a work of art...
3 min read
“The Future is Now!”
Technological advancements have caused us to learn in so many different ways. It seems like pretty soon books will become absolute. The dull way we learned by having our faces in books will be eventually replaced. PDF annotations, Twitter/Facebook assignments, YouTube instructional videos, etc. will replace the old fashion way of note taking via paper and pen, research via paperback encyclopedias at local libraries and the good old VCR/DVD player the teachers would roll into class.
I for one embrace this technological changing occurring to the way we are expanding our literacy. Through knowledge comes power, but through shared knowledge comes even greater power! Technology has always been a way we have “shrunk” the globe in the sense of how we learn and exchange ideas and interests. The printing press pushed the Bible into many more hands than one could’ve imagined at that time. People needed to become literate in order to read the actual book and this spawned our interest to continue to read and learn. Newer technological advancements, like social media, have linked us globally to others with similar interest, hobbies, causes, backgrounds, etc. allowing us to learn more from each other….
But there is a catch…
What if, and it’s a big what if, technology fails us? What if the technology of the world turns on us ala Terminator or Snake Plissken pushes in the code ala Escape from L.A. (did I mention that I'm all about 80's/90's action films) and we are left with no technology? What will we do? Will we revert back to books? Can we successfully do that as a society?
(Skynet takes over in The Terminator) (Snake Plissken after punching in the code in Escape from L.A.)
For now, embrace this new way of enhancing our literacy. Follow hashtags, Google a foreign country, “Like” a Facebook page about a sport you want to learn, make a connection with someone who lives out of your Hometown.... Your State... Your country, even… Learn a new way of doing something you are already doing…
"Play Mortal Kombat with a friend in Vietnam!!!!"