The Finish Line

This week the learning project has come to a close.  I have created this video to demonstrate my improvement at speedrunning this game.  It shows five different levels of the game, with half being my first ever attempt, and half being my best attempt.

On the whole, I have thoroughly enjoyed doing this learning project.  Not only did I get to learn something I have always wanted, but I have also learned a lot about learning, and about the different tools that are out there.  If I can, I would like to implement something like this project in the classroom.  I feel that one of the most important things that I’ve gained from it is the ability t troubleshoot on my own; when I ran into a problem, I had to just figure out a solution without consulting the instructor.  This is an extremely important skill, and one that I hope to teach my students.

As far as tools are concerned, I have learned a ton through this project about video creation and editing.  I know I have said this before, but OBS and Lightworks are truly fantastic free programs that have a lot of customization.  These programs will serve me well in the future, and I never would have found them without this learning project.

I have also learned about myself through this project.  I have found that, for me, video tutorials were a very effective way to learn, much moreso than merely text-based instructions.  In this way, Youtube became an invaluable resource; most of what I learned, I learned from there.  More than anything, however, I seem to learn best by doing.  If I can actually work with what I’m learning, I tend to learn better and faster.

Aside from that, I have this little bit of proof of the fruits of my efforts:

That’s me in 135th place overall.  Not a top time certainly, but 135th in the world isn’t bad either.  Thank you very much for being with me on this journey.

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Contributions to Learning

This week, we are charged with documenting our contributions to the learning of our classmates.  While I would like to say that I excelled at this portion of the course, that is not the case.  I guess the best that could be said is that I have been improving in this respect over the course of the semester.  Coming into this semester, I had a very hard time communicating with other people, especially if it wasn’t in person, and so upon seeing this requirement I was worried.  This is reflected in particular in the early portion of the course, during which time I communicated and contributed very little.  I found myself unable to reply to tweets or comment on blogs.

As time has progressed, I have become better at this.  I have started to respond to other people’s tweets, some examples linked here, here, and here, and I have even been able to help some people on slack, one screenshot here:

Unfortunately I have still found myself unable to comment on people’s blogs, although I try to read as many as I can every week.  Aside from the one that was required for class, I did not end up participating in any other edchats, in part at least because every night of the week is taken up by a night class.

 

On the whole, I did not contribute to my fellow students’ learning as much as I would have liked to.

Summary of Learning

Here is my summary of learning:

Here is the source data for all images:

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Running with a Couch

The semester is drawing to a close , and so I wanted to try something different with my speedrun this week.  Where before I would make these attempts alone, this time I invited a group of people to watch and commentate.  The result was, quite frankly, the first video that I have posted that I recommend you watch, as it is actually entertaining.

Big thanks to those who helped me on this.  One thing that this experience has taught me is the important of prep work prior to anything involving technology.  I am so thankful that I decided to set up all of the a/v equipment prior to people arriving.  With all of the unexpected delays and problems, I ended up working on just the setup for over an hour.  Had this happened when people were there, this would have been a disaster.  Looking at teaching itself, this just stressed the importance of having all tech fully prepped prior to class starting.  I won’t be able to get everything working every time, but I can cut down on downtime in a major way.

*Update*

There was no sound in the video previously due to something on Youtube.  I have re-uploaded it with sound.

Coding a Little Game

This week, the challenge was to code something using one of several different programs.  For myself, I chose Scratch.

May I present to you: Wizard’s Dungeon Heist

I had an so much fun creating this little pacman-esque game.  I feel like, given enough time, one would be able to code a decent adventure-rpg with this engine, similar in structure to the original Legend of Zelda game.  The block coding itself is robust enough so that you can do basically whatever you want with it, and I would be curious to test out the amount that you could put into it at once.

One potential issue with this program is that not much is given to you in the way of explanation for each of the different blocks.  However, this can most certainly be seen as a positive, as it teaches and hones one’s ability to figure things out on one’s own, and to experiment.  It is likely that I have just scratches the surface of this program’s potential.  The only thing I was really missing was a “not” function, but I may have just missed it.

This experimentation and problems solving, as well as the logical thinking that coding promotes, are essential for students.  Unfortunately for my subject area (social studies), there is not a lot of ways to tie it directly to the curriculum.  Nonetheless, I think that it’s worthwhile to try and integrate it.

Teaching Digital Literacy

This week, we were tasked with discussing digital literacy, and how we would implement that in the classroom.  Teaching in high school social studies, this is extremely important, especially considering the focus on current issues; if I have my students do research, I need them to be able to identify credible sources of information and fake news.

During class, one thing really struck me about the media bias chart that we were shown, and that is the ideological distribution of news outlets.  Most of the sources, and nearly all of the major sources, ended up being either center or left-leaning.  What this means is that, given a cursory glance at the news, chances are that what you are taking in will have a left-leaning bias, and you won’t realize it.

In this way, Escape Your Bubble seems like an extremely helpful extension, and one that I am planning on using myself.  Things like this, that help you to see positions other than your own, would likely be of great benefit in lessening the backfire effect mentioned in this oatmeal comic.  In a high-school setting, teaching students to recognize both biases in the media and their own biases is extremely important.  Exposing students to viewpoints that are different from their own is the first step in this.

Flight School

For this week, unfortunately, there has been a problem with recording the full run, so that won’t be happening until next week.  Rest assured that progress has been made, and the time will hopefully drop below 40:00.

In the meantime, there is the project for this week, namely teaching the rest of the class something that is related to our learning project.  As such, I have chosen to make this video attempting to teach the most valuable skill to have when speedrunning this game: flight.

Making this video was surprisingly difficult.  While I knew all of the steps required for the different types of flight, it was harder than expected to communicate them.  I had to do several retakes to be able to get the wording right.  In addition to this, I had to redo the video several times as I would realize that I needed to explain something basic to me that other people might not know, such as the controls, and how to get up into the air in the first place.  On this whole, this was an interesting experience in breaking down a skill into its component parts.