[Technology 849] Re: The magic of technology for learning isoutsidethe classroom

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Gerstle, Alan Alan.Gerstle at montgomerycollege.edu
Mon Feb 12 13:39:13 EST 2007

I believe the technology in education debate has not changed much in
2,000 years. Plato's Seventh Epistle warns against using systems of
writing because Plato feared they would lead to the decay of memory.
Doesn't each technology provide something and take away something else?
And isn't the introduction of a technology into a culture have
unintended consequences simply because we cannot foresee the future?
How enthusiastic would the developers of the internal engine be if they
foresaw that automobile accidents would kill 40,000 Americans each
year--chiefly owing to human error?

Perhaps if there were a set of 'first principles' about technology, one
could begin to address their place in society and education. Among
these would be, I think,

1) Decide what is worth knowing;
2) Figure out a way of teaching technological literacy--not only the
capabilities of technology as learning tools--but the moral philosophy
behind those who encouarge the use of technology.
3) Understand the motivation of technocrats; simply because someone
avers, for example, that video games are 'good for you,' understand the
person's concept of good. The assembly line was 'good' for
manufacturers. Was it good for workers? Textbooks are good for (many)
teachers, and definitely for publishers. Are they good for students?

Moral philosophy is of particular significance in a concern raised here
regarding a 'well-made' videogame that 'excites and stimulates' vs.
poorly designed ones without any 'strategic challenge.' Al-Quaeda have
reprogrammed video games and used them as recruiting tools. Their
objective it is to destroy the American military in virtual reality.
Would anyone applaud a well-designed game of that nature?

-----Original Message-----
From: technology-bounces at nifl.gov [mailto:technology-bounces at nifl.gov]
On Behalf Of Craig Alinder
Sent: Monday, February 12, 2007 10:44 AM
To: The Technology and Literacy Discussion List
Subject: [Technology 845] Re: The magic of technology for learning
isoutsidethe classroom

I use the classic keyboarding software that incorporates games into the
learning experience Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing. It basically offers
game breaks as rewards to significant progress during the "lessons". I
realize this is not exactly what you are referring to when you mention
games as a dynamic and challenging experience when designed correctly.

Regarding the book by James Paul Gee, I am intrigued and think it is
possible that games can be used to gain skills that are relevant in the
real world. I checked it out on amazon and found this:

It seems that Gee is a serious scholar who is attempting to overturn the
notion that video games are bad for children. While I do see the
potential for games as a learning tool, I have to say that I see reality
as the greatest tool for children to learn how to successfully function
in society.
They learn to immitate and function as they absorb the particular
cultural environ and the challenges therein.

Basically my main concern is this: Where do you draw the line between a
badly made game that is designed to excite and stimulate without any
strategic challenge and a well designed game? How can you tell the


Craig Alinder
info at gaming-pc.net

----- Original Message -----
From: "David Rosen" <djrosen at comcast.net>
To: "The Technology and Literacy Discussion List" <technology at nifl.gov>
Sent: Sunday, February 11, 2007 7:47 AM
Subject: [Technology 843] The magic of technology for learning is
outsidethe classroom

> Marianne, Steve, and others


> There is a magical, compelling learning technology which is almost

> never used in the classroom, neither in K-12 or adult education. It

> is widely used at home, however, and in "computer cafes" around the

> world , mostly by male "digital natives" under 30. It is not usually

> designed to teach anything that instructors would recognize as basic

> skills or academic content, yet it incorporates some principles of

> learning that at least one author has argued at length, are far

> superior to what is found in most classrooms. It is capable of

> teaching content -- any content -- in ways that are more engaging than

> most classrooms.


> I am referring to well-designed video games, and to the book, _What

> Video Games Have to teach Us About Learning and Literacy_ by James

> Paul Gee. According to Gee, good video game designers carefully

> create games so that players learn (and improve) strategies in

> context, as they go, so that (using Lev Vygotsky's concept) each new

> scenario presents the first-person, active learner-players with

> challenges that are just outside their "zone of proximal development"

> providing difficult challenges, but within reach, and hence highly

> motivating. Gee also argues that many of these games focus on problem

> solving strategies and attitudes, sometimes those that are useful in

> the workplace such as getting information from context, getting and

> sharing information with co-workers, taking calculated risks, and

> working as a team.


> There is at least one (free) computer simulation that incorporates

> some of these good game design principles and that also has basic

> skills (reading,writing and numeracy) content, The Office, by Mike

> Hillinger. See the simulation at:


> http://www.lexiconsys.com/dswmedia/working_simulations.html


> and a description of it at:


> http://www.readingonline.org/electronic/elec_index.asp?HREF=hillinger/


> I have three questions for those on this list:


> 1. Would you (anyone on this list) be interested in having a

> discussion of James Paul Gee's book, _What Video Games Have to teach

> Us About Learning and Literacy_ , on the Technology discussion list?

> 2. Do you know of any other engaging, well-designed video games for

> adults or older youth that have adult literacy education skills and

> knowledge (including adult secondary education and ESOL) as content?

> 3. Do you use computer simulations or video games for learning

> purposes in your classroom or learning lab? If so, which ones, and

> how do you use them?


> David J. Rosen

> djrosen at comcast.net



> On Feb 7, 2007, at 1:29 PM, Mariann Fedele wrote:


>> Hello Steve and all,


>> Steve, you wrote, "staff and students now we seem to ask too much of

>> technology, expect it to be like magic."


>> I think this comment is important to consider when thinking about how

>> technology relates to the teaching and learning process and

>> integrating it in a purposeful way. To begin grappling with that

>> question a useful reference source is the report by the National

>> Research Council titled "How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience,

>> and School" (1999). Of course, there have been many advances in the

>> technology we use since the time it was published, but many of the

>> core findings I believe still hold true.

>> What do others on the list think? How can these recommendations

>> inform our practice? Following is an excerpt from the concluding

>> chapter.




>> Tools of Technology


>> Technology has become an important instrument in education.

>> Computer-based technologies hold great promise both for increasing

>> access to knowledge and as a means of promoting learning. The public

>> imagination has been captured by the capacity of information

>> technologies to centralize and organize large bodies of knowledge;

>> people are excited by the prospect of information networks, such as

>> the Internet, for linking students around the globe into communities

>> of learners.


>> There are five ways that technology can be used to help meet the

>> challenges of establishing effective learning environments:


>> 1. Bringing real-world problems into classrooms through the use of

>> videos, demonstrations, simulations, and Internet connections to

>> concrete data and working scientists.

>> 2. Providing "scaffolding" support to augment what learners can do

>> and reason about on their path to understanding. Scaffolding allows

>> learners to participate in complex cognitive performances, such as

>> scientific visualization and model-based learning, that is more

>> difficult or impossible without technical support.


>> 3. Increasing opportunities for learners to receive feedback from

>> software tutors, teachers, and peers; to engage in reflection on

>> their own learning processes; and to receive guidance toward

>> progressive revisions that improve their learning and reasoning.


>> 4. Building local and global communities of teachers, administrators,

>> students, parents, and other interested learners.


>> 5. Expanding opportunities for teachers' learning.


>> An important function of some of the new technologies is their

>> use as tools of representation. Representational thinking is central

>> to in-depth understanding and problem representation is one of the

>> skills that distinguish subject experts from novices. Many of the

>> tools also have the potential to provide multiple contexts and

>> opportunities for learning and transfer, for both student-learners

>> and teacher-learners.

>> Technologies can be used as learning and problem-solving tools to

>> promote both independent learning and collaborative networks of

>> learners and practitioners.


>> The use of new technologies in classrooms, or the use of any

>> learning aid for that matter, is never solely a technical matter. The

>> new electronic technologies, like any other educational resource, are

>> used in a social environment and are, therefore, mediated by the

>> dialogues that students have with each other and the teacher.


>> Educational software needs to be developed and implemented with

>> a full understanding of the principles of learning and developmental

>> psychology. Many new issues arise when one considers how to educate

>> teachers to use new technologies effectively: What do they need to

>> know about learning processes? What do they need to know about the

>> technologies? What kinds of training are most effective for helping

>> teachers use high-quality instructional programs? Understanding the

>> issues that affect teachers who will be using new technologies is

>> just as pressing as questions of the learning potential and

>> developmental appropriateness of the technologies for children.


>> If you want to read the whole chapter it can found at:

>> http://books.nap.edu/html/howpeople1/ch10.html



>> Mariann Fedele

>> Associate Director,

>> NYC Regional Adult Education Network

>> Literacy Assistance Center

>> Moderator,

>> NIFL Technology and Literacy Discussion List

>> 32 Broadway 10th Floor

>> New York, New York 10004

>> 212-803-3325

>> mariannf at lacnyc.org

>> www.lacnyc.org



>> -----Original Message-----

>> From: technology-bounces at nifl.gov

>> [mailto:technology-bounces at nifl.gov]

>> On Behalf Of Steve Quann

>> Sent: Tuesday, February 06, 2007 5:41 PM

>> To: The Technology and Literacy Discussion List

>> Subject: [Technology 833] Re: Changing reading levels of text

>> questions


>> Hi Patti,

>> Haven't used this, but I came upon it last week:

>> http://www.usingenglish.com/resources/text-statistics.php


>> Sounds like you already know much of this, but here is a site that

>> might help with the creating/editing.


>> http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/healthliteracy/materials.html


>> I am finding that even though there are some things that just amaze

>> me staff and students now we seem to ask too much of technology

>> expect it to be like magic. Others?


>> Good luck,

>> Steve



>>>>> "Patti White" <prwhite at MadisonCounty.NET> 2/6/2007 4:21 PM >>>

>> I received the following request and I'm stumped. Here's the


>> ---------------------------------------------------------------------

>> -

>> --

>> --------


>> Do you know of a computer program that takes text and offers

>> suggestions for dropping the reading level.. As in maybe 10th grade

>> to 5th grade...Is there software that does that other than just using

>> the Flesch-Kincaid Readability stats and doing it by hand???


>> Next question..When you are adapting text for folks with literacy

>> issues....you know how you drop the reading level down and augment

>> with pictures...Is there a term that is used for that ..something

>> like .modified text with pictures or something like that...????


>> ---------------------------------------------------------------------

>> -

>> --

>> --------


>> The only thing I can find that might help is the Auto Summarize

>> feature in Microsoft Word, but it's not really appropriate. Does

>> anyone know of some software that will drop the reading level of

>> text? And is there a term for that process?


>> Thanks for whatever help anyone can give, Patti White


>> Patti White, M.Ed.

>> Disabilities Project Manager

>> Arkansas Adult Learning Resource Center prwhite at madisoncounty.net

>> http://aalrc.org/resources/ld/index.aspx

>> 800.569.3539 ph/fax/tty

>> ----------------------------------------------------

>> National Institute for Literacy

>> Technology and Literacy mailing list

>> Technology at nifl.gov

>> To unsubscribe or change your subscription settings, please go to

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> David J. Rosen

> djrosen at comcast.net




> ----------------------------------------------------

> National Institute for Literacy

> Technology and Literacy mailing list

> Technology at nifl.gov

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