The class started at six in the afternoon as usual. Jorge and I had had an intense couple of weeks. We can imagine that Yoselyn too, since she has recently moved to the United States and we all know that moving can be a hassle. We talked about our week with the professor, who is always interested in knowing if we are doing well and understanding what has been established for the course.
One of the agreements we reached in our previous class was to use an application called Hypothesis. It’s an open and free app that gets downloaded into your browser tool bar so that you can annotate and have conversations with anyone in Blogs, web pages and PDF documents. I thought it was a very handy tool. We put it to use when reading Cole Clamplese’s article, My Internet. One Course at a Time and made some comments throughout it. The professor highlighted some of the most important aspects of the article and mainly focused his attention on the following two points: closed vs. open software architecture with facebook as the main example of a clearly closed and controled virtual enviroment, and secondly the possibilities offered by an enviroment for users to produce meaningful content.
We tooked our time talking about facebook. Its obviuosly under a lot of controversy due to the most recent news about the leaking of personal data used for coorporate and political means. This discussion really interested me. I went home afterwards, searched for more info about this; couldn’t believe the magnitude of the problem. This whole thing made me think about the importance of creating safe learning enviroments for students and faculty. I asked myself, can learning enviroments be free from the media manipulation and data filtering to which we are subjected as Web users? To what extent can we control and keep out of our learning enviroments every dangerous aspect of the Web? Should we control our learning enviroments even more? I think we should provide tools to make students, astute Web users. Data filtering and profile manipulation is an ethical dilema that needs to be considered by Web users and educational institutions. The professor said, “the privacy of the students, that’s the price you pay when having a google account, for example, in your institution”. That’s definetly something to think about.
Another interesting discussion we had was about informal learning enviroments where learning experiences occur that could also be used in formal learning settings. Jorge mentioned a game called Eveonline, a spatial simulation game and the professor talked about World of Warcraft as another example of this. With World of Warcraft we have another massively multiplayer online role-playing type of game that allows thousands of players to enter a virtual world simultaneously through the internet and interact with each other. Players control an avatar within a world exploring the enviroment, fighting against various monsters and players, completing missions and interacting with non-player characters or other players. Completing missions will help players to level up and in this way, they can get equipment that will help them later to fight the different creatures that appear in their path.
These games have many followers, amongs them people of all ages, which means that the motivational element is really working for them. The immersion aspect has a big influence as well in terms of captivating the player, I think, and the fact that they offer diverse enviroments within the game in itself, and so many possiblities in terms of what the players can choose to do. About this, we could emphasize the fact that these games have certain characteristics we could put to use in our learning enviroments. We want motivated and delighted learners in our courses and institutions; learners that feel they can work in unison to achieve established goals, that feel the drive to do more. Well crafted games have that ability, they make people feel that way. Plus, with these type of games such as World of Warcraft, you could easily exemplify what a state of government is, what constitutes a society, you could teach the basics of economics, and many other things teachers could bring into their classrooms.
Next, we jumped right into discussing the first draft of our final class proyect. We were supposed to begin working collaboratively on a chart in which we show what are the criteria and the must-do’s of a design of a learning enviroment according to the different learning theories. We worked on this: Primera tabla trabajo final.docx . Jorge and I read everything to the professor and explained every criteria of design chosen for each of the theories. The professor told us we needed more specific examples of the types of learning enviroments you must design in order to accomplish each theories fundamentals. For example, if you’re working with a constructivist approach, you must-do a Lab type of design or even a workshop stations type of design. That’s why we are adding another column to the chart. We must add the learning enviroment example column and provide space in the chart to distinguish between virtual spaces and physical learning spaces.
Based on all this, Jorge and I will make a tour of the university and visit different physical learning enviroments. The aim will be to reach some conclusions about the learning enviroments that exist in campus. We will make observations and document our rounds for the study with photos and videos. Yoselyn could make the corresponding inquiries about the virtual enviroments of the university.
The three of us should have a second draft of the chart with the new data collected from the physical and virtual campus by April 3, 2018. We’ll have the week of the 9th to revise and finish everything. We no longer have to summit a paper, but instead we’ll have the chart already prepared with a summary of the most important aspects of it all and with our final remarks. This will be due Thursday, April 19, 2018; the day of our final class.
The next thing to see will be our documentation on learning enviroments in the university. Do not miss it because it intends to be didactic and entertaining.