Occulus Rift Review

I had the chance last night to try out Occulus Rift in my Gaming and Simulation class and thought I would share my thoughts. Keep in mind I only had the opportunity to try it one time as did each of my students. Here are my thoughts:

Its awesome, there are tons of possibilities for it, I am really excited for it, but there is still a glitch in VR tech.

So….its awesome. It has a tons of cool demos, that come with it, so that you can test the technology and its really fun to go through them. You really feel like you are in a virtual world. You can look around, move around, etc. in these virtual worlds. Some of these demos are fun and some are geared towards education.

When you first look at the goggles, you notice that there are two eyes, rather than just one screen, in the unit. You also need to put ear phones (really ear plugs) on to get a better effect. The unit is very light though, you dont even notice it is on except for the wires and I am sure they eventually come out with a wireless one.

There are tons of possibilities for the technology. I am most excited for this to use Kinect technology so that your whole body can be used with the VR screen.

There is one glitch that is slowly being solved – you can get motion sickness from it. I did after about a minute and when I took the goggles off I felt like I had just been on a roller coaster ride. Other students felt the same way after using it but I was one of the only ones that got motion sickness while using. Apparently the motion sickness goes away as you get used to the technology. This is why VR technology failed in the 90s. Apparently they are still working on this issue though and believe they have a solution. It should also be noted that I used an older version of the occulus rift – they have an even newer version out now, which solves this problem even more. This problem, in my opinion, will make or break this technology as it just wont be used on large scales if people get sick from it. But my fingers are crossed that it gets solved.

If you are interested in purchasing this, its only $300 for the developer kit, which is a beta version of the technology: http://www.oculusvr.com/

Here is a picture of me in the goggles during my class:

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Project Spark – Developing your own games is getting easier

How would you like to develop your own game? Its getting easier and easier with new technology. Many schools love minecraft because it gives students the ability to create their own worlds. Many schools lack the ability to create games due to money because games cost a lot to develop. Well project spark takes those ideas and puts them together in one game. Essentially the point of project spark is to create a world, just like minecraft, except you can make it a game that you can share and the graphics are very good. Project spark is currently in beta form and not released just yet to the public. I was lucky enough to be invited to the public beta this weekend so I will post my thoughts after playing. For now, here is the link to their website.

What is project spark:

Some example games:

Solution for snow days in K-12 eduction

No more snow days? Yes there is a solution and it sounds simple but its not as easy as it sounds. The solution: Online learning during snow days.

Why its simple and how it would work…

Students could log in during the snow day and participate in asynchronous (not live) discussion and assignments or they could participate in live virtual classrooms with their teachers. It would almost be like regular school and prevent districts from having to make up days.

Why its not simple and will cost a lot…

All students would need internet connections and computers. While this is common in wealthier districts, this is not the norm in schools that have lower income families. Also the school would need to set up and purchase an online LMS to track/teach these classes. They would also need to pay for teacher training to use them and then train the teachers to teach online.

This is an article on the topic posted by one of my Master’s degree professors Karl Kapp: http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/23/living/snow-days-virtual-schools/index.html?sr=sharebar_twitter

Titanfall Beta Review

I had a chance to play the beta version of titanfall this weekend. I was able to reach the max level offered and play for several hours, so I believe I am able to give a fair review. First off, let me say this game has gotten a ton of hype. That is usually not a good thing. I have been burned in the past by games that got so much hype and turned out to be major letdowns. However, this game has gotten hype from e3, as it won best game, and people who had played the game. So I was a little more intrigued to get my hands on it. So here is my review:

The good:

Graphics – graphics are great. I think the graphics on the 360/ps3 were great and these are just a bit better. Not that graphics make a game but they are pretty good.

Camping – finally a FPS game that people cannot camp. You can get 1-2 kills in a spot but you will be killed if you stay there.

Game time – short games. This is great for people that might only have 15 minutes to kill. Also keeps things moving if your team is just getting killed by another.

Options – tons of options. You can be a sniper, you can melee, you can shoot an automatic gun, you can be a mech, you can have your mech follow.

Mechs – Mechs are fun. Fun to use, fun to have follow you, and fun to kill.

Jumping and movement – I love the double jumping and wall running. Its cool to get up buildings and also tough to kill a pilot that is moving fast.

Sprinting – unlimited sprinting is a nice feature. Keeps the game moving.

Maps – maps are a good size and made well. You cant hide and you also will not spend the whole game getting into the gameplay if you die.

Fast pace – Very fast paced. You cannot sit still

The bad:

Loading screens – this was the only bad thing I found in the game. I thought these were pretty generic. Have some cool stats here or maybe a good picture.
stats – sometimes I could not see my stats.
Pilot vs ai – I wish I could tell who was who on the other team. Make it clear its ai/pilot.

What I would like to see in the final version:

Ranks – definitely needs a halo 3 type ranking system
Competitive playlists – definitely needs ranked vs fun playlists

Overall:

Honestly I have not felt this good about a game since I played halo 3. I believe every FPS fan should have a copy. I dont think people can say this game is bad, they might not like it because they do not like FPS games but they should recognize it as a game that is going to change a genre.

Score:

90/100 (the final game could be more or less)

Get certified to teach online!

The Watson College of Education at UNCW Introduces New Online Teaching & Learning Certificate Program

Beginning this summer, the Watson College of Education will offer a post-baccalaureate certificate in Online Teaching and Learning (OT&L).  The 18-credit hour program is designed to meet growing demand from K-12 schools, colleges and universities and businesses for professionals who are interested to gain knowledge and skills to design, develop, implement, manage and evaluate effective online and blended learning programs.

WCE’s Online Teaching and Learning certificate is the first program of its kind in the state.  Courses are offered in the evening and led by faculty with real-world experience in K-12, government and corporate settings.  Full time students and working professionals who enroll in the program can participate either face-to-face or online through synchronous conferencing technology.

The Watson College of Education is now accepting applications for summer and fall 2014. For more information please see the attached flyer, visit http://uncw.edu/ed/mit/otlcertification.html or contact Florence Martin, Instructional Technology Program Coordinator (martinf@uncw.edu or 910-962-7174).

See attached brochure:  MIT_OTLCertbrochure

Play this game to help cure cancer!

This is a very cool idea. I would love to see more people doing things like this. My Gaming and Simulation class is currently evaluating this game while I am at my conference next week:

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/support-us/play-to-cure-genes-in-space

The game
The mission of Genes in Space is to collect a fictional substance dubbed Element Alpha. This represents genetic cancer data, which might underpin certain types of cancer.

As a recruit of the game’s ‘Bifrost Industries’, your mission is to collect the valuable and tradable substance Element Alpha and rise through the employee ranks by:

Mapping your route through the densest areas of Element Alpha.
Following your route as you fly through space collecting as much Element Alpha as you can, destroying asteroids along the way.
Avoiding and shooting asteroids to get to the next level of Element Alpha collection.
Upgrading your ship to become more powerful and trading your Element Alpha for more points.

Download from Apple App Store

Download from Google Play

Friendster founder in 2014

For those that remember friendster in the early 2000s, this is an interview with the founder. Pretty to read it. Friendster was the original social network before myspace and facebook. It had a lot of users and seemed promising when it was first released. If they would have pushed the marketing I think it would have been bigger.

“It was a really weird time. Friendster at the time was still a very small company,” he says. “We viewed ourselves as the David, not the Goliath. There were the Yahoos and the AOLs and we were this tiny, little startup. But the moment Friendster got the publicity, people started to copy it. Of course we were aware of all of them.” Even with all that competition, Abrams recognized early on that Facebook might pose a unique threat. On Friendster, users could set up profiles, connect with friends and family, search for new contacts (and, yes, potential dates) based on the people you were already connected to and interact with people on the social network through messages and groups. It was essentially a more pared down version of Facebook and the latter had the added benefit of quickly gaining popularity among college students.

Full article

Design

This is an overview of the design phase within ISD.

Step 1 –

task analysis – this is the instructional flow of content and can be a concept map (how your objectives will be accomplished). It should really be a visual of your learning objectives and help ensure that all of the content is going to be taught. This is where you will sort through content and figure out the order that it needs to be taught. What learning taxonomy are you using? You need to make sure you are using a learning taxonomy here. This document can be done in unison with your learning objectives.

Objectives – Each piece of content should be a learning objective. Each learning objective should have an assessment item. Each objective should be written in some format that includes the audience, behavior, condition, and degree. Each objective should be able to be seen in your task analysis. You must be using a learning taxonomy here. If you do NOT know what a taxonomy is I suggest using Merrill’s Component Display Theory.

Step 2 –

Instructional strategy – How will this content be taught? What instructional strategy are you using? You need to look at your objectives and task analysis and determine the best instructional strategies. These could include gagnes 9 events, problem base learning, etc. First determine if you solution is direct, indirect or experiential then figure out what strategy fits that methods. This is one of the most important parts of the ISD process. Most generic and bad training does NOT use an instructional strategy.

Step 3 – Development prep. Keep in mind that not all of these apply to all situations so take your case and see what fits (for example CBT will use the multimedia theories whereas instructor led training may not). These are done prior to storyboard development or in the beginning stages of storyboard development when working on a prototype. This step can be done consecutively with prototype development, which is the first stage of development. When developing these I am usually beginning to work on my interface which then gets put into the prototype in the development phase – this will involve the graphic designer and developers.

Motivation – Can you incorporate any motivation theories (ie ARCS model) into this instructional strategy? How?

Multimedia theories – Are we going to use the multimedia theories? This will apply to computer/technology based instruction. If so, which ones?

Usability (HCI) – Where are buttons going to be placed? Do we actually know where they should go or are you just making this up? Make sure someone is well versed on HCI (human computer interaction) before deciding this stuff. How does fitt’s law apply? The golden ratio? Grids? etc. How can I make this user friendly? Are my color choices good? A design document might be developed here to help the developer and other designers. This is really where interface design begins. The instructional designer should understand HCI if they are going to design an interface.

Rules – What are the rules for the user? What are the programming rules? This is why my instructional designer needs to understand programming. I need to be able to let the programmer know what constitutive rules are going to be applied here (this will only apply to CBT type instruction not face to face)

Story and Character Development – This only applies to CBT, certain instructional strategies, gaming, and simulations. Who are my main characters? Do they have an ARC? What is my story?  What is the scenery like? What are the graphics like? What are the sounds like?

At this point I move into prototype development. However, I place this in the development phase of ADDIE but it really happens just after design and before development. Many like to put it in the design category and that is fine, assuming its the last step.

For more on this here is an overview of the whole ISD process: http://raypastore.com/wordpress/2014/01/instructional-design-process/

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