January 4, 2010 Archives

How will this class work?

I've tried to pace the course so that we're heavy on lectures, reading and short exercises in the beginning, but lighter on that stuff so there is more room for you to focus on your in-depth research projects towards the end.

In addition to submitting exercises and components of the term project, this course also asks you to participate in an online discussion of every item that the course website flags as a "Class Topic" or a "Reading." 

I'll provide you with more details on how to respond to discussion topics, but in general I am not fishing for any one specific "correct" answer -- I am asking you to practice identifying subjects that you think are worthy of discussion, to practice taking stands on debatable issues and evaluating evidence to support your position, and to seek out alternative and opposing viewponts in order to help you understand an issue broadly.

A good response to a reading or class topic might
  • start with a brief quote from the assigned material
  • continue with an explanation of why you think it is important, and
  • conclude with an open-ended question for your classmates. 
Participating fully in the online environment also includes posting 2-4 responses to what your peers had to say, and contributing promptly and thoughtfully to the ongoing discussion.

While you may carry out all your online participation simply by writing out plain text comments and URLs, once you have started blogging on your own SHU blog, I invite you also to post images, audio and video if you feel it would help you make your point.

Reminder: The last half of the "Introduction to the Course" page includes a breakdown of the first few assignments. You can also see an overview of any day's assignments by clicking the date on the calendar.
This is a discussion topic page, which is the home base for the "Fun and Games" unit. 

To complete the "Fun and Games" unit:

1) Respond individually to each assigned text for the day.

Readings for this topic (direct links are available from the "Outline" page, available from the menu at the top of this page)

  • Course syllabus
  • Jerz, "What Is Fun?"
  • Johnson, Handheld Learning 2008 Talk
  • Jerz & Jerz "Civilization Review"
  • Jerz & Jerz "Timez Attack Review"

2) Complete the unit's GriffinGate reading comprehension activity

Short, open-notes assessment questions, designed to help me evaluate your progress and focus your attention. These units are timed, so you should first familiarize yourself with the assigned text.  Complete the "Fun and Games" GriffinGate component by 4pm Tuesday. New discussion topics will be announced at that time.

3) Post a reflective response here.

After you have read and reacted to all the assigned documents, return to this page, and post a reflection that demonstrates your ability to connect the assigned materials.

(See "How to participate online", below.)

4) Contribute to an online conversation.

Until the unit closes in a few days, generate and help mantain a productive online conversation.

This topic will remain open until about 4pm Wednesday, after which I will close off the comments and update Turnitin.com with your participation grade.

How to participate online

Assigned Text:

What is Fun?

A 4-1/2 minute audio file.

What is Fun? MP3

Discussion prompts (post your answers below):
  • What is your definition of fun? 
  • What kind of video game is not fun for you?
  • How has your own definition of "fun" changed over the years?
  • What other issues did this clip raise in your mind?

If you come across an unfamiliar game-related term, please feel free to post a question asking for a clarification from me or your classmates. 

But since you are sitting in front of a computer right now...

  • What They Play -- Gaming 101
    A glossary designed for parents who don't understand what their kids are talking about.

  • Wikipedia
    Encyclopedias are never good at helping the reader assess the different opinions of individual researchers, so no encyclopedia is that useful in an academic research paper.  Nevertheless, Wikipedia offers an up-do-date compendium of popular culture; it's very useful as a starting point, but instead of citing Wikipedia directly, follow the footnotes to more credible sources.

    If your favorite game doesn't have a Wikipedia entry, or you think you can improve the existing entry, remember that Wikipedia is user-written and user-edited. If you're an expert, share that expertise.

    Here are a few game-related Wikipedia articles that you might find useful.
 Other Games-Related Glossaries

Good overview of the concepts Johnson explores in his book Everything Bad is Good for You. It's the longest video I'll ask you to watch, at about 40 minutes. It does not focus exclusively on video games, but it does do an excellent job of explaining what we can learn about ourselves when we study popular culture. 

After you've watched the video, identify two or three passages that you find especially worthy of further attention (perhaps because the statements are surprising, or controversial, or confusing).  Identify the statement with a timestamp.

For instance, "At 11:50 he introduces the concept of 'telescoping' as his term for the difference between passive thinking the kind of active problem-solving that you need to employ when playing a game.  At 12:40, he introduces Pac-Man as a game with simple and rather uninteresting content, comparing it with the much more complex problem-solving of Zelda."

If you don't see the video loading in the window below, you can go directly to the source on the Handheld Learing 2008 website.

This game is not marketed as an educational title, but we can still meaningfully discuss what and how it teaches.

What do we talk about when we study games? One possible approach is to consider what we can learn from games.

Assigned Text:

Strongbad on Video Games

Watch this short, humorous tour through the history of computer games, featuring Strongbad from Homesterrunner.com.

After the video ends, click on the pictures of each of the games -- play each for about 5 minutes, then choose 2 to play for another 10 minutes or so.

Leave a comment with answers to the following questions:

  1. Which two do you choose to play, and why?
  2. To what extent are the Strongbad games spoofs, and to what extent are they nostalgic tributes?
  3. How does your answer to #2 affect what you gained from the experience?
  4. What question do you have after watching this animation and playing these games?

Find (or create) an online media clip or article that reflects your interest and attitude towards video games.

In a comment on this page, post the URL. Explain why you chose this item, how it reflects your attitude, and suggest a topic for further discussion.

Part 1:

Part 2:

(I'm still working on Part 3... I'll post with tomorrow's readings.)
Draw on insights you have gained from the readings so far, and comment on the social nature of "fun."  Susan noted that we still play games with children, even though according to Koster's theory of fun, we get bored by games that have taught us all they have to learn. 

While we'll read Koster's theory in depth when we get to his book, I wonder whether we can reflect on our own changing definition of fun, and see whether there is a way to salvage Koster's observation (that we lose interest in a game when it teaches us all it has to offer) with the fact that we do regularly play, in a social setting, games that would be boring to us alone

This thread will stay open until about 10am Wednesday.  Please post your initial reaction, then return several times over the next few days to keep the conversation going.  Feel free to bring in other material, such as examples from your personal experience and links to online resources.
Hello, with special appreciation for students Beth Anne, Jessie, Susan, Kevin, and Jeremy, who have already made valuable contributions to the online discussions.

Don't miss Jessie's detailed response to the "What is Fun" prompts, Beth Ann's thoughtful assessment of Koster's defintion, and Susan's thoughts on the role of games in education.  I hope that Keith will help me learn something about what makes a sports game "fun."  

  • Shortly you should get an e-mail with information on your SHU weblog password.  You'll need that to complete tomorrow's intro to the SHU weblog unit.
  • There's a GriffinGate workbook that's designed to help focus your reading of the syllabus.  Please comlete that by 5pm tomorrow.
  • I noticed that some of you haven't uploaded photos of yourself to GriffinGate. Even you prefer to upload a cartoon character or some other image besides a photo, I think it would be helpful if everyone upload something there. 
  • I'm also posting two new discussion topics.  Please post an initial reaction here, and return several times over the next few days. You can hit "reply" next to a post in order to respond specifically to that person's comment -- that might help us manage a detailed discussion. (Let's see how it works.)

The new discussion topics are:

Opening Lecture

A 30-minute narrated slideshow... it took much longer than I expected to upload to YouTube, so I've posted the first two parts, and I will extend the discussion a bit so you have all of tomorrow to look at these parts.  I'll post the third part tomorrow, along with another brief lecture, if I have the chance.

The Social Dimension of Fun

And feel free to post here with your questions, comments, and reactions about the course so far.
          1 2
03 04 05 06 07 08 9
10 11 12 13 14 15 16
17 18 19 20 21 22 23
24 25 26 27 28 29 30