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STEM Needs a New Letter

Creativity alone does not foster innovation, nor do abstract scientific or mathematical concepts. Innovators also need to know how to render those creative ideas into working products that can be put into use. In order to bridge the chasm between abstract idea and utility, some educators are advocating for an expansion of the popular STEM acronym—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, the list of skills many experts believe more students need.…

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What You Get When 30 People Draw a World Map From Memory

Tasked with creating “a piece of art that would reveal something unseen” as part of a pre-college fine arts program, Ziebell approached 29 strangers on the University of Michigan’s campus, handed them a pen and half a sheet of paper, and asked them, on the spot, to draw a map of the world. Ziebell, who recently posted his findings to Reddit, then completed the task himself and digitally merged the…

The Text Adventures That Never Were: Assassin’s Creed III

Ever wonder what the PC games of 2012 would be like if they were text adventures? Of course not, no one in their right mind would ever wonder that. In related news: I wondered that! So, rip out your GeForce GTX 680, plug in your dusty 10″ CRT monitor, and stuff your programmable eight-button mouse in a stocking, because this week we’re going to imagine five of this year’s games…

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Games as Text and K12 Social Studies

Rather than training students to identify and practice the strategies of rhetoric through reading and writing, what if a media existed (and the students regularly engaged in it) that communicated ideas, arguments, and points of view through its procedure, rather than in a linear set of carefully structured arguments? In this case, learning is at least 3D- it includes the dimensions of experience, agency, and action. What if these “procedural”…

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Jerz and Daughter Teach Scratch (Digital Storytelling Tutorial)

In the past I have posted tutorials for how to use Scratch to create a ball-and paddle computer game, but I let Carolyn create what she wanted to create. Rather than targets to shoot or puzzles to solve, she chose to tour a virtual environment, via a self-paced storybook. You move ahead by clicking the screen, and invisible buttons trigger animations.

This tutorial is a good introduction to how easy it is to make something interactive in Scratch.

Carolyn started with photos she had already taken of her Lego hobbit hole, added some simple programming to make a click advance to the next screen, and to make an invisible button trigger some animation.

In the video, she’s careful to run the program after every couple of steps, and she catches a few mistakes. When I point out that an interactive detail she coded would be hidden from a player who didn’t know where to click, she added a label that made sure her players wouldn’t miss the interactive bits.

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My Tween Preps to Program a Lego Hobbit Game

As part of a course I’m teaching on “Digital Storytelling,” I’m going to make a video in which I show my students how to code a branching story in Scratch. My daughter will provide the visuals. Here she is photographing her model of Bag End. We bought just a few actual Lord of the Rings sets, but between the handful of Harry Potter and Star Wars, and the much larger…

Theory Trading Cards

This set of 21 Theory Trading Cards, published by AltaMira Press, is based upon the online trading cards which have been so popular at David Gauntletts website www.theory.org.uk. Being actual cards, these are two-sided and contain more information; and whereas the online cards were only an official set of 12, for the published version, 21 new cards have been created based on a careful selection of top figures in cultural, media…

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A Word About Group Projects

Okay, students… who loves group projects! Let’s hear it for group projects! (Crickets… crickets…) Okay employers… who puts “Ability to work in a team” at the top of a Forbes Magazine list of 10 skills employers say they seek in new hires? Employers: (cheering wildly) We do! We do! Here are the 10 skills employers say they seek, in order of importance: 1. Ability to work in a team 2. Ability to make…