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:

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


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.


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 or contact Florence Martin, Instructional Technology Program Coordinator ( 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:

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


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:


Instructional Analysis

Here is my image depiction of an instructional analysis.

Project charter – This should not be confused with the project charter in the PM process. However this may contain much of the same information. This should contain the problem, project managers, contact info, background to the problem, ROI information, Project goals, budget and schedule summary. This document will be filled in and modified throughout the whole ISD process. It is usually a 1-2 document.

Learner analysis – Who are the learners? What is their level of education? Can they use computers? smart phones? What is their age? Motivations? What are their work conditions like? What is their job like? Do they prefer a certain kind of training or are they used to a certain kind? (remember if they are not used to it then you need to go through a change process which might involve training and communication on the new process) *Note here do NOT look for learning styles as there is much research against them and they do not help with curriculum development. Learning preferences are NOT the same as learning styles.

Context analysis – What kind of conditions will the learners use these new skills? What are those skills? What kind of conditions will these learners be trained in? Computer labs? Classrooms? On the job? Really answers two questions – where/how will they use these new skills and what are the learning environments like?

Technology analysis – What technology is available? What technology are the users used to? Computer labs? Projectors? ipads? etc. This information may be included in the other analysis sections however I really like to break it down and have this section separate so that developers looking at this document do not need to read between the lines to help give input on technology solutions.

Knowledge of performance analysis (*performance analysis should be completed prior to needs analysis in the front end analysis not described here) – Is there anything else we can add to this? Document analysis? Prior project lessons learned? Results from front end analysis such as surveys/observations? All of that can go here. And if there was no front end analysis done (which is why I include this section) then make sure you have data to add here. If a front end analysis (a good thorough one was completed) then this section may be omitted.

Gap analysis – This is the section where we analysis the problem and analysis to come up with a solution.

Current state – What is the current state that needs to fixed?

Desired state – What is the end desired state? What were the companies goals and what are the new ones for this project?

Potential solutions – What are all of the potential solutions? How long will each take/cost?

Impact of those solutions – How will those solution impact the company? Which departments will those solutions impact? Are any department already doing this? What is the ROI for each of those solutions? How much will each cost? How long will each take?

Solution selected – What solution is recommended to the client?

Goals – What are the goals of this project with this solution? Can you classify them using something like Gagnes categories of learning? (this will help with your task analysis). Do learners have the skills required to complete each of these goals?

Here is a high level view of the Instructional Design process to see where analysis fits in:

To see the sections on Design and Development click the links


How a High School Teacher Is ‘Gamifying’ World News

This seems very cool:

“When I started teaching, the average ninth grader looked like a zombie in class,” Nelson toldMashable. “One night when I was lesson planning, I took a break and literally checked my Fantasy Football team and I had this realization that I was learning a lot about the NFL — things about football and the NFL I wouldn’t have otherwise learned.”

The next day Nelson proposed the idea to the class. At first, the idea was met with skepticism, mostly due to the students’ lack of familiarity with how Fantasy Football works. But after the students became familiar with the format of the game, they warmed up toFantasy Geopolitics — both as a game, and as a new way to learn.

“My students started asking to do more with [the game]. They wanted to make trades, form alliances and so I just started listening,” says Nelson. “Whatever they wanted to do to control their own learning experience, I did it. Now, they playfully trash talk about their countries and become fans of those countries, which spurs them to want to learn more. It’s almost like they are trash talking each other into learning more.”

“I’m ‘gamifying’ learning. I’m ‘gamifying’ news to get them over the hump and not see reading the news as some difficult task.”

As for the format of the game, Fantasy Geopolitics is simple. It starts with a draft session, during which students select a team of three countries (the U.S. and China are banned due to their domination of the news) and then the players track stories about those countries in the news.

Using the Times Developer Network API, provided by The New York Times’, Nelson created a website that tracks how many times a country is mentioned in the news, and students get one point for every mention.

Full Story Here