Remembering The Team Who Taught Me So Much

by Beth Knittle on June 27, 2015

Once upon a time in a land far away I met an incredible group of people. We created, collaborated and learned together. Our time together changed me forever.

From 2007 to 2011 I was part of a very effective and productive team, we met and worked virtually. At first only through text and later voice as technology and tools improved. We worked in a digital platform, created digital products and laid the groundwork to foster a growing community of learners. In essence I had the opportunity to learn and model the teaming that is necessary in today’s modern work force (see previous post). It changed my way of working, thinking and ways of learning forever.

Professionally I have been thinking about how to bring the teaming experiences to K-12 education. I am at ISTE now and it is bringing back memories of the people and experiences of my first ISTE (then NECC) when this incredible team met for the first time when shared our experiences of teaming and creating in a presentation we planned without ever meeting face to face.

I though I would take the opportunity to thank them for helping me to be the educator and learner I am today.

This team was primarily the DEN in SL leadership council that met in Second Life as well at the DEN Guides, and the many educators who came to chat, share ideas and learn together. I am going to list a few names here I know I will leave out somebody it has been a while and I often get real life names and avatar names mixed up, so please forgive.

To my old teammates; Steve Dembo, Fred Delventhal, Nancy Sharoff, Lori Abrahams, Anne Truger, Elaine Plybon thanks for teaching me so much.

 

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Game Design and the High School Curriculum

by Beth Knittle on June 26, 2015

Game Design has come up a lot in these last few years in both my professional and personal lives. My youngest will attend college next year to study game design. My eldest will be a college senior looking forward to a career in the game industry. Both are interested in different areas of the process and are taking vastly different roads to get there. Each road requires a very broad and diverse skill set (see below).

Game design to me is the perfect example of the new careers that are coming online and a reason to revisit how and what we teach in school. In either career path you need expertise; be it specific programs, applications or coding languages – a technical education. At the same time you need a very well rounded knowledge base in the math, history, architecture, environments, anatomy, physics, mythology, language and story telling – a liberal arts education. You won’t be working in isolation; you need people and professional skills such as flexibility with strong collaborative, organizational, communication and teaming skills – a ???? education.

What do we call this type of education: experiential learning? We can list these soft or foundational skills, we recognize their necessity to be career ready but how do we fit them in into schools. How to do we help students develop these skills? I am not really sure how to classify and quantify this type of teaching and learning.

I had a conversation with a colleague of mine (who helps connect students to work and internship experience). She spoke about the importance of those experiences in helping students build these skills. But not everyone has the ability of having an internship during his or her high school years. The project based learning approach does help facilitate the development of theses skills in a school setting but it is not a widely adopted model in many schools.

She shared with me the idea of T-shaped people and careers, those that have expertise in a particular area (pillar) and board knowledge, collaborative and teaming skills (horizontal). In my mind it is not a T but more of an H.   One pillar is a broad range of content knowledge from a variety of disciplines. The other pillar is a particular expertise or technical knowledge. The connector is the professional, teaming and communication skill sets.

In technology fields in general and game design in particular people need all three strands of knowledge. Innovation comes from out of the box thinking, from making connections outside the main stream or a particular area of expertise. That ‘aha moment’ comes from making unexpected connections. If one is singularly focused innovation is not likely to occur.

Bringing Game Design courses to schools helps to facilitate growth in all three areas. Bringing in such a program is not just about developing technical skills, but broadens and connects to content areas and provides a rich opportunity for teaming and development of professional skills. There are some pretty well developed programs out there that are almost turnkey opportunities for brining game design to schools I have listed a few below.

Skill Sets
Game Artist
From Gamasutra 
From Creative Skillset
Game Designer
From Creative Skillset
Curriculum options
Game Spark
GG Interactive
Globaloria
Zulama

 

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Updating the Diploma

by Beth Knittle on April 15, 2015

Updating the curriculum is grounded in preparing students for today’s job market and the elusive future economy.  It is also about providing students an opportunity to explore their passions, develop a love of learning not to mention the skills a learner needs to keep on learning.   When developing curriculum we often ask two questions (1) what do we want the student to be able to do (2) how do we know they know it?   The ultimate proof of completing a course of study, that says to the world the students know what we what them to know, is the diploma.  If the current job market is calling for change in school curriculum maybe the diploma needs a makeover as well.

In the past a diploma seemed to mean something, it carried a weight all it is own.  Now as students migrate from high school to college or college to career the diploma in only one of the items they need to move forward.  Many colleges and employers want to see beyond the diploma.  They want a portfolio of work that demonstrates their skills and proficiency in certain applications.  How much experience do you have with Maya? Are you Photoshop certified?  So you have a diploma but what can you do?

I have seen this in my own children. My son who is interested in game design learned that he needed to submit a portfolio of related work with his college applications.  As his high school has no course to support this endeavor he took a community college course and several online tutorials to learn the skills needed and prepared his portfolio for the application process.  (Good thing we started looking several years out.)  A high school diploma, good SAT and IB scores were not sufficient for the path he has chosen.

My daughter, with another year of college to go, has an internship for job experience and is reading lots of job ads to discover what employers are looking for, what skills she’ll need, and how can she prove she has them. It is not just a diploma she needs and it certainly will be more than a portfolio.  She will need certificates.  Through Lynda and Adobe Certification she is working to obtain those most sought in her desired career path.

As a parent and educator it is clear to me that schools today do not adequately prepare students to enter certain college and career tracks particularly those in the technology field.  Things need to change; how we educate, what we learn and maybe how we demonstrate to others our skills and knowledge.

 

Recommended Reading:

Disrupting the Diploma by Reid Hoffman

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Updating the Curriculum

March 22, 2015

Many school curricula have remained pretty much unchanged for decades some could argue centuries. The basic common elements of English, Math, Science and History are constants, it is the other curricular options that seem to come and go over time. When I was in middle school/ high school we had a choice of home economics […]

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Missing in Action

March 22, 2015

I had pledge to myself when I started this blog so many years ago that I would post at least twice a month.  I was not able to keep that commitment and did not make a single post in February.  The crazy New England winter and family matters played a role. It is now March […]

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Making the Most of the New Year

January 6, 2015

A new year means a time for reflection and a new start, as educators we get two every year.  We start fresh each school year and get a boost mid-way through with the start of a new calendar year.  I take the winter break to reflect on how the year is going and what type […]

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Happy New Year!

December 29, 2014

I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for reading my thoughts over the course of the year and sharing yours as we continue to learn. I wish you all a Joyous New Year may it be filled grace, peace and love.

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