December 21, 2007

When training does not help...

New air controller error reported |

HELLO! As someone who flies a lot, I would like to see the FAA hire a performance or training consultant who has been through Training 101 (likely they have one who says what I say here until they are blue in the face but management is not listening).

Both controllers were taken off duty and sent for retraining, standard procedure, Molinaro said.

And then a couple of paragraphs later:

Controllers in the Chicago region have said they are weary and more error-prone after having to work repeated six-day weeks due to staffing level changes. The FAA has said that staffing levels are adequate despite controllers' complaints.

This is not a training problem. I think I am going to create a new site category called "Bad Training Stories" to begin to call these out. I am sure one intent of telling people the employees are getting "more training" is to give some assurance something is being done but it is not fixing the problem.

Posted by Rovy at 8:37 AM

December 20, 2007

Google, Android, and ARG Games

From the GLS email list (note this is not an open mailing list):

The first augmented reality games on handheld (we call them ARGH) for Google's Android is now out in Beta. 2 thoughts on this: 1) It is now easier to see how Google is beginning to pull all of their technologies together in interesting ways and 2) This is the first step in making ARGH games much more accessible.

The Local Games Lab, which is a part of the Academic ADL Co-Lab has created 8 educational ARGH games and the level of student engagement is very high. These demonstrate the power of these games as a learning tool.

I wonder how people in a mall or nice restaurant will react to people playing ARGH shooter games? When we will see the first "No ARG Shooter Games Permitted Here" signs begin to pop up?

A good description of the WiFi Army beta game can be found over at FinderMentalism.

Posted by Rovy at 1:21 PM | Comments (1)

December 19, 2007

On the other end of the "acceptance of online education" spectrum...

From this article in the NY Times this morning:

Walter H. G. Lewin, 71, a physics professor, has long had a cult following at M.I.T. And he has now emerged as an international Internet guru, thanks to the global classroom the institute created to spread knowledge through cyberspace.

Two quick points: At 71 years old, he is another reason why I dislike the term "digital natives" as a reference to the younger generation. I also admire the fact that he puts in about 25 hours of prep for each 50-minute lecture.

This is the sort of thing I would normally Furl but for some reason the auto update on my site is no longer recording new articles (though they seem to be coming through the Feedburner feed just fine). Looks like another minor project for my upcoming "vacation" time.

Posted by Rovy at 11:58 AM

More articles on the virtual school decision in WI

Here are a number of opinion articles about the recent decision to limit state funding of virtual charter schools in WI. The issue is not as simple as at might first appear and the real legal issue is the use of state funds, not the schools themselves. There are many models of virtual schools and it is not clear how broadly this ruling will apply.

What adds a twist to the picture (but might not change the legal issues) is that it is not an argument about educational outcomes. As noted in the "Blow to Innovation" article below "...the kids attending Wisconsin Virtual Academy are thriving. They score at or above the state average in most subjects at nearly every grade level."

It's a Virtual War (The New York Sun)
A Blow to Innovation (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Virtual School Was Real Solution (Wisconsin State Journal)
Virtual Schools Here to Stay (Capital Times)
Online Education Vital for Wisconsin (Badger Herald)
Wisconsin Coalition of Virtual School Families (WisPolitics - Press Release)

Thanks to Judy Brown for sending these over.

Posted by Rovy at 11:25 AM | Comments (1)

December 17, 2007

Game merger mania?

Video games | World of dealcraft |

This is a link to a recent story in the Economist about the impending merger between Activision and Vivendi (who produces World of Warcraft). The story describes the trend toward more mergers and consolidations and reasons why they are happening. I thought the following quote by Activision's leader was particularly interesting:

"World of Warcraft” is really “a social network with many entertainment components,” says Mr Kotick."
Posted by Rovy at 12:38 PM

December 13, 2007

Army games

Army Sets Up New Office of Videogames | Danger Room from

This Wired story might be old news for some but it is making the rounds today...

Posted by Rovy at 12:23 PM

December 11, 2007

Scott Leslie at SREB

I am attending the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) meeting in Atlanta this week and it seems appropriate to blog while Scott Leslie is presenting on Web 2.0. This is a group of tech folks but it is interesting to see that there is still new knowledge in the presentation for everyone.

Despite some connectivity issues, Scott did a great job and was an impressive presenter!

The presentation is a wiki:

More to come...

Posted by Rovy at 12:51 PM | Comments (3)

December 7, 2007

A great blog for game/learning research

Spotlight blogging Digital Media and Learning

Perhaps many of you already subscribe but the last few weeks on the MacArthur blog have been outstanding with posts from the GLS faculty related to games and identity development.

Posted by Rovy at 12:49 PM

December 6, 2007

And so it begins in earnest...

WISCONSIN STATE JOURNAL: Virtual schools dealt blow

We are now seeing the battles begin to heat up over virtual schools. this story today here in Wisconsin shows how contentious this issue is now becoming. I predicted these battles almost two years ago on this blog but they are now happening.

"Virtual schools allow students to learn over the Internet under the direction of their parents. Students from any district can enroll in them under Wisconsin 's open enrollment policy.

Supporters say they are more effective for some students, less expensive than traditional schools and popular with families who prefer to home-school their children. The schools are growing quickly across the country and in Wisconsin.

But teachers unions and other critics say the schools take away money from traditional ones and lack state oversight."

This ruling is specifically targets at the particular format of virtual schools that are led by parents with certified teacher support, versus states with a much higher level of direct instructor involvement. I have asked a few people whether this ruling will impact all forms of online education in Wisconsin and there is no clear answer.

It is clear from the article, however, that there are those who have found value and benefit from the virtual schools:

"I 've been on the phone and e-mail all day with a number of parents who are just scared to death about what 's going to happen, " she said. "Many have kids who are thriving for the first time. This is a real kick in the teeth to us."

I am not going to say that we know all of the answers right now in terms of how online education should be utilized for K-12 students, but it will certainly play a role and pulling the plug completely is unlikely to benefit anyone.

Posted by Rovy at 12:24 PM | Comments (1)

December 4, 2007

Creating a "culture" of simulation

After attending I/ITSEC last week, I returned to snowy Wisconsin and headed to a meeting with the innovative folks at the Marshfield Clinic. Marshfield is located in north central Wisconsin and is internationally recognized for its work in telemedicine. After our meeting, I had the opportunity to see their new simulation training center. The center currently has three "patients" that are remarkably life-like and incredibly sophisticated. In addition to simulating a number of emergencies and conditions, the actions taken by trainees is recorded and played back for debrief. Real IVs can even be inserted in to "veins" in the patients.

Patient Simulator

As we discussed the lab capabilities with the instructor, she made an interesting comment about the challenge of using simulations. She said that it was sometimes hard to orient people to take the simulation itself as seriously as they should. This often disappears after the scenario is underway but she said it would be beneficial to have a culture that is more accepting of simulation.

A brief video and more thoughts in the extended entry:

A short video of the infant simulator. The lips even turn blue if the infant is unable to breathe.

I noted that when designing a more action oriented form of learning, students are often resistant. We have been so well-conditioned to sit in a classroom or conference session and be passive that active learning is often seen as a chore. In some of the corporate training I developed, I found it was critical to prepare the learners for a new type of learning experience prior to starting the event. This expectation setting is especially important when mixing formal and informal learning activities.

When attending I/ITSEC last week, it was evident that the military has a very strong culture of active learning and simulation. Commercial airlines also have a strong simulation culture (the first flight simulator was built in 1929). How do we build these cultures in other areas? K-12, higher education, or medical education are all areas where simulation/games are not aswell-accepted. Does the culture only develop when the tasks have life-threatening or -saving implications?

Posted by Rovy at 11:00 AM

December 2, 2007

Virtual Reality Driving at I/ITSEC

Virtual Hummer
Originally uploaded by Situativity
I got the chance to try out some of the latest in VR gear at I/ITSEC. While most of the conference focused on military customers, there were many potential crossover points. This particular photo shows me in a driving simulator. It is used more in high school and driving school settings than in military settings. The simulator has many scenarios to allow students to test their skills under varying conditions.

If I look a little happy in the picture, it is because I had just consumed six virtual alcoholic drinks and was attempting to navigate my hummer through some tricky construction areas. Seriously, the simulator had a scenario that slowed your reaction time, gave you tunnel vision, and made driving very difficult based on the number of virtual drinks you consumed, your build, and how long it had been since you consumed the drinks. I set the simulation to six drinks, medium build, and less than one hour since consuming the drinks. I could not keep this thing on the road but the actual effect was relatively subtle until you needed a quick reaction time. Such simulations provide a more effective learning experience than the lectures and scare-tactic movies I saw in driver's ed.
Posted by Rovy at 11:31 PM