Open to New Ideas

The Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke Law School reminds us that today is Public Domain Day. Unfortunately, the Public Domain (in America) is shrinking. Things need not be so dire, though. Anyone creating content (art, images, books, movies, music, software, etc) can and should consider choosing to license work under Creative Commons licenses.

Paradigm (Tilt) Shift

Ever heard of tilt-shift photography? By carefully manipulating a camera with special (often expensive) lenses, it’s possible to produce a photograph of a life-sized location or subject that looks remarkably like a miniature-scale model. The results of the technique are engrossing and are useful for creating compelling images. Thanks to the TiltShiftMaker site, students can generate their own tilt-shift pictures without spending a dime!

Game to Learn?

I’ve been playing Planarity (devised by the ever clever John Tantolo) for years now. Planarity is a supremely addictive game/pastime that’s based on planars and graph theory. Give it a try. Hours will disappear! In fact, I find it hard not to want to play Planarity because the game is so darned engaging. After playing the game I find myself thinking about what I should have done but didn’t do. What is it about certain games (like Snood, Sudoku and Tetris for instance) that generate a continual desire within us to play them over and over again? If only we could capture the thrill and satisfaction that games and enjoyable diversions provide and infuse the same qualities within other, more educational pursuits, our students would create a stampede to learn. Heck, we could use games with a purpose to make the world a much better place.

Marc Prensky, author of Digital Game-Based Learning and twitch speed expert, notes that most popular games:

  • focus on engaging the user,
  • encourage frequent, important decision-making in relation to the game,
  • making provisions for leveling up (providing immediate feedback that tells players when they’re getting better at the game–not,for example, unlike good assessment), and
  • allow users to embrace technology.

Why aren’t schools doing more to incorporate Prensky’s ideas within classroom settings? I wonder what might happen if we designed instruction so that is learning emotionally engaging, relevant, and possibly fun. Fulfillment and education are not mutually exclusive pursuits. Technology gives educators the means of making travel along the path to enlightenment a pleasurable, meaningful journey.

Related links:

  • Check out GWAP and get hooked on helping others.
  • Sure, you know how to fold your clothes but what do you know about folding protiens?