Aug 08

Hype Cycle and James Paul Gee “Building Worlds”

Gartner Emerging Tech Hype Cycle – August 2008

Virtual World News alerted me to Gartner’s latest “Emerging Technology” Hype Cycle analysis, and I was a bit surprised to see where they placed public virtual worlds, particularly in relation to Web 2.0 and wikis.

Gartner shows wikis far out in front of Web 2.0 generally and Web 2.0 and public virtual worlds neck and neck. I don’t think I agree with that analysis if applied to an educational context. Based on my experience in the field, I’d have put Web 2.0 and wikis much closer together and before the peak of Inflated Expectations, and put virtual worlds even further behind. I’ve added some other educational technology markers for comparison (again, this is based on my own “anecdata”).

Where would you put these markers based on your experience?

RezEd Interview with James Paul Gee

If you’re involved in education and virtual worlds and haven’t yet joined RezEd, take a minute to do so now. They’re creating not only a really terrific community, but also a very rich repository of resources, information, interviews, and best practices. SLEDcc has a group that you can join, but I’ve been very impressed with the quality of their podcasts and best practices guides.

James Paul Gee - image courtesy http://rezed.org

James Paul Gee - image courtesy http://rezed.org

This week they interviewed James Paul Gee, author of the seminal book What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy (a must read). In the interview, he discusses how video games and virtual worlds can be used to help address some of the major deficiencies in modern educational systems – letting learners produce the lesson content instead of just “taking it in” and how virtual worlds help kids develop complex literacies through experiential and situated learning. Good stuff!

Podcast is 23 minutes long, and is worth the listen.

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Jun 08

Bill Moyers: A Patriot’s Dream

I can’t recall a speech that seemed more urgent for anyone who cares about democracy to hear. This is one to listen to when you have the time to really think about what he’s saying.

I often get lazy with my blogging. It’s hard to make time for it, I’m sometimes afraid of posting what I’d like to say, I worry about posting too much or too narrowly. But with Web 2.0 and the social networks and the online communities, it seems that we’re all now responsible for telling the truth. We have no excuses for not doing it. Those who are not online, who don’t read blogs and twitter and have 51 million accounts and passwords and 1000 emails a day, are without the tools to find the information we can find, can’t share what we can share, can’t tell their truth.

Bill inspires me to be flowery, with that really magnificent oratory style that I rarely hear these days. He makes me feel ashamed for being so timid and passive. He reminds me that in the run-up to Iraq, I did a lot of objecting to my friends and family, I argued with the folks my grandpa eats breakfast with on the weekend, and I voted for the candidates that offered the most anti-war stances allowable at the time – but it wasn’t enough. Six years later, I wish I’d done more. A lot more. I don’t know what, exactly, I don’t have campaign contribution money to give and that seems to be all that the political system really cares about. But I wish I’d taken the time to figure it out.

And if being a good teacher means being a good example, I don’t think my use of this site has been very exemplary as I talk every day about online tools for teaching, learning, community building, and making positive change for us personally, and for society at large. I believe in it, my Second Life work is all inspired by that belief, but I shy away from blogging about the things that hit most close to home, that I actually care about very deeply. Things like democracy, and government, and the woeful state that we’re in. Things like, how I see these policies playing out in my own family, in my own life, in my own personal experiences. Part of the problem is that this site has become so entwined with my work life, it seems inappropriate, somehow, to mix work and politics, to mix work and personal.

I don’t know how to navigate this confusion, and indeed all the confusion that social media has brought to my life in the last couple years, but I hope I can remember this speech the next time I write a draft but don’t hit publish because I worry about how it might be perceived. It’s easy to think, sometimes, that the sense of urgency I feel is just my own personal paranoia or neuroticism of some sort, but when something manages to pierce the busy day-to-day trying to keep up fog, like this speech did, and reminds me of our higher purpose, and the message is that this urgency is real, it’s not just me, it’s not just my family…

I’ve admired and respected Bill Moyers for as long as I’ve been watching PBS, and certainly this speech is one of the reasons why. I’m glad I found it, and it came from Crabby Old Lady’s site, which I highly recommend. She also inspires me to use blogging as a tool to inform, to share, and to tell the truth, and her writing about elder issues reminds me that good citizens listen to their elders. I’m glad I had the time to listen to them both this morning. I hope you make the time, too. – Fleep

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