Dean Groom on Poekemon Go:

Teachers should care about Pokémon Go! – after from the initial network effects (craze) as it is a good way for kids to develop socially. It isn’t designed for education and certainly presents the all too common accessibility issues of commercial games – but THIS game leads you to start thinking about why games, play and learning are important – and how they can be connected with helping children deal with saturated media cultures – Great!

from: Should teachers care about Pokémon Go? | Playable

There is a lot more to think about in that post.

As usual with games, my mind wander and my eyes glaze, I’ve never caught the game bug (although I am interested when I read something like the above).

My first though was it is a wee bit like golf, a good walk spoiled. I am now wondering if some of my own behaviour fits the pattern.

fr_593_size640

  1. I wander about outside, searching, looking at the map on my phone
  2. I capture images
  3. Share and store online, socially, flickr, instagram.

Featured image my own, IMG_5868 | John Johnston | Flickr CC-BY, sort of hunting idea. The kind of Pokemon I look for.


I’ve been aware of the Primary Games Arena 1 for a while. I only noticed yesterday that it had an API The api lets you search for games and returns some xml. XML makes me think of Glow 2. Glow handle xml quite nicely, unfortunately for most teachers this needs a knowledge of XSL, which I do not think is common. I’ve managed in the past to figure out way of displaying RSS using XLS so though I’d try to do the same with the Primary Games search results. It turned out to be pretty straightforward as the xml returned by Primary Games is nice and simple.

Displaying a set of Primary Games in Glow

Glow xml Webpart Empty

You use the xml webpart. This part has 4 main fields: xml link, xml editor, xsl link and xsl editor, of these you only use 2, using either the link the direct editor field for both xml or xsl.

The way it work is that the xml is loaded and modified by the XSL. The XML webpart can be usefully used to display any html fragment without any XSL at all, but in the case of RSS or xml from the primary games arena it need to be formatted.

For example the url:
http://primarygamesarena.com/
searchapi.php?q=money

in the XML Link field produces an XML list of games tagged money. Clicking that link will show you what you would get in glow if you do not use XSL, not pupil friendly at the moment. We can use XSL to transform this. As a first test I used this xsl in the XSL Editor field.

This produces this: (click for flickr page):

primary games in glow

On the glow page the images launch the Primary games page with the game in an iFrame.

It then becomes simple to repeat this for other searches and give pupils sets of games, just replace money in the xml link with another word.

We can also pass around webparts already loaded with the xml address and the xsl and these can be imported onto a glow page. Here is a the money one. You could import that onto a glow page and just change the search string at the end of the url to get a different set of games to display.

Taking it a bit further

After doing the above brief test with glow I asked @johnmclear, one of the folk behind Primary Games, if there were any other parameters that could be used on the search, this is what I got back:

johnmclear
John McLear

@johnjohnston can add it. Email me an ideal request/response
Sat Jul 09 12:19:28 +0000 2011 from HootSuite captured: Mon, 11 Jul 11 16:11:04 +0100

A few hours, a couple of email and some tweets later John had updated the Primary Games API to include subject, year, keystage, topic, unit and gametype!

This man we can now use, for example: ?q=money&y=3&g=Strategy as a query and get all the money games suitable for year 3 (=primary 4 in Scotland) that are categorised as Strategy games.

Of course the API can also be used outside Glow on the web via php. Here is a page that lets you search and display games: Primary Games Arena API and here is the Source.

I’ve extended this a little to create a page that can search and display games in the same way but also supplies an embed code to embed the code on webpages, blogs or glow.

Primary Games API with Embed codes

To embed in a blog you just need to switch to the html view in the editor and paste in the code. In Glow you can use an XML webpart and past into the xml editor field.

Simulation

Can you organise the planets in our solar system?

The embed code here was edited to make the background yellow.

Of course you could simply create a screenshot of a game page, upload it and make it a link, but this is quicker and loads the games inside the Primary Games ecosystem this has a nice wee toolbar allowing pupils to gain achievements by playing games, rate games anonymously and get links to other games. You also get the advantage of the folk at Primary games having already categorised a huge range of games suitable for primary aged pupils. Many thanks to @johnmclear for the extremely quick additions ot the API.

Footnotes:

1. Primary Games Arena run by Primary Technology an company who run a fleet of commercial and free ICT services for primary schools.

2.When Glow was introduced I was one of the many folk who were very disappointed that Glow did not have tools for handling RSS: At the Scottish Learning Festival, on RM developer was asked about RSS and answered, ‘What is RSS?’! It turns out glow did and does support RSS and XML in general.

The footnotes are a wee experiment to make my posts a little less verbose, I used a technique describe on Daring Fireball: About the Footnotes.


Technologies for Learning Workshop

Yesterday I attend the Technologies for Learning Workshop which was intended to

form part of the initial exploration work contributing to the potential development of a Scottish Government Technologies for Learning Strategy.

The invite came out of the blue a couple of weeks ago and I was unsure what to expect. As I approached the venue Twitter let me know that I would see quite a few folk from the ScotEdublog world and when I arrived It looked like a TeachMeet crowd. The event was nicely organised by the IFF folk who started off three main segments of the day. The discussion was more wide-ranging than I expected and there was less nitty gritty about the workings and interface of glow than I expected and a good deal more looking at larger questions. Thankfully there was not the expectation that conclusions were made as I left with questions rather than answers.

Fearghal Kelly, Technologies for Learning Strategy, Andrea Reid, Trust « Interim reports and Neil Winton, #ediff « If You Don’t Like Change…, have already blogged some reflections and David Gilmour has posted photos of the whiteboards on flickr Technologies for Learning Strategy Workshop

I am certainly the wrong person to try and give an overview of the day. I usually find myself focusing on trees rather than the woods and this workshop was viewing the forrest.

Tweeting

One of the trees was related to both the workshop and the wider online community. Near the end of the day a lady, whose name I didn’t catch but was someone from the government end rather than an educator, expressed doubts to the value of twitter. During the day a lot of tweeting using the #ediff had gone on. It was suggested that this was rude, to the presenters and of little real value, due to the quality of some of the tweets. Con Morris, CPDScotsman, robustly defended twitter explaining how it saved a stream of links, pass references to other participants and allowed people to join in from a distance. There were a few folk who did join in from afar so I think Con proved his point.

I didn’t tweet much during the day, but one I was struck enough by some thing Pat Kane was talking about to fire out a tweet:

johnjohnston
john johnston

@playethic hacking&play good. Facebook&gaming less so #ediff
Fri Oct 15 11:59:03 +0000 2010 from Twitter for iPad captured: Sat, 16 Oct 10 14:40:29 +0100

Pat caught my attention by talking about the difference between facebook (“relentless processes of inclusion, exclusion and meritocratic struggle”) and the hacker culture (“subverting technology till it breaks, so that better tech can be built”) which he compared with the difference between gaming and playing. Quotes from Pat Kane’s CalMerc column at Thoughtland.

This caught my attention because I’d been reading Charlie Love’s post: A social network for Education?. I liked this post so much I’d read it 3 times and nearly printed it out to take to the workshop. I’ve had a long standing dislike/distrust of facebook and a preference for a loose network (delicious, flickr, blogs, RSS) and this post started me thinking that I have missed a lot of goodness that could be gathered from a social network for Education. Pat’s points were a interesting take on this.

I am not reaching any conclusion just mulling over, so was surprised by this tweet from Derek:

@derekrobertson
Derek P Robertson

johnjohnston @playethic Please clarify what you mean by gaming not being good. In what educational context is this being framed? #ediff
Fri Oct 15 11:59:03 +0000 2010 from web captured: Sat, 16 Oct 10 15:47:40 +0100

given Derek’s role as Guardian of Games Based Learning in Scotland I suppose it was easy for him to reach the conclusion that some games bashing was going on.

@derekrobertson
Derek P Robertson

johnjohnston Yes hopefully. Disconcerting to see such tweets from this event. Clarification would be very helpfu as gbl good in Scottish ed 15 Oct

to which I replied:

johnjohnston
john johnston

@derekrobertson sorry to disconcert. Struck me as interesting pt. Game are subset of play?
Fri Oct 15 14:23:10 +0000 2010 from Twitter for iPad captured: Sat, 16 Oct 10 17:27:59 +0100

The conversation then continued through the evening:

theplayethic
pat kane

@ewanmcintosh @johnjohnston @derekrobertson Play‚?Game. Play’s more than contestation/teamwork. It’s mess, mocking, mimicry, free ideation
Fri Oct 15 20:17:56 +0000 2010 from Twitter for iPhone captured: Sat, 16 Oct 10 17:30:00 +0100

@derekrobertson
Derek P Robertson

@theplayethic @ewanmcintosh @johnjohnston Agreed but contestation can be with oneself and not with others – a self-improvement agenda.

and again this morning:

fkelly
Fearghal Kelly

The message I took from it [not sure if intended one] was that we need to think carefully about the learning not just the game? #gbldebate
Sat Oct 16 09:47:16 +0000 2010 from web captured: Sat, 16 Oct 10 17:35:07 +0100

And many more.

Interesting (to me) points about twitter:

  • Even experienced tweeters can misunderstand each other/
  • I probably got a better discussion than I intended by my tweet being seen a critical of games (it was not intended to be).
  • Tweets can really stimulate discussion and thought.
  • As the conversation goes on, loses tags and become more distributed it is harder to follow, I stopped getting included in replies and the gag dropped off.

At the meeting yesterday one of the ideas was to challenge all preconceptions, eg does Scotland need an intranet?, will we need classrooms and more. Having Pat Kane speak and Ewan take part provided some vital/interesting disruption. Challenging games based learning or any other type of learning went with the flow of the day. I can see how it might be if you look at it through a games visor. Pat’s idea of play gives us an ideal of learning that we will almost always fall short of.

Some Gaming Thoughts

A lot of games in school is used for drill & practise and there is a place for that, other uses embed gaming in a more complex learning scene (Endless Ocean using the Wii for example). Derek has provided us with lots of examples of all sorts.

The other aspect of gaming that I’ve found more interesting is game making, this might give more opportunity for Pat’s play than playing games. Derek’s consolerium team have been providing a ton of resources for this It could be seen as hacking (in Pat’s positive sense) which I find compelling. In own learning the things I’ve enjoyed most (? most productive) have been amateur attempts at hacking.

An amateur hack

While thinking about this post I realised that I wanted to quote quite a few tweets. Twitter provides a tool to do this: Blackbird Pie – Twitter Media I was under the (wrong) impression that this used iframes (I was wrong) and the live tweet and I wanted static html, so I made my own I also figured out how to make a javascript bookmarklet for the first time.

To my mind spontaneous self directed play is an ideal to keep in the back of our minds while we do a bit of drill & practice and muddle towards CfE.

Thoughts from the day

Important questions raised:

  1. Do we need an intranet/use google apps
  2. Security (a lot of the current came from LAs) can we have a sliding scale. IMO the recent additions to glow are addressing this
  3. How does Scotland organise training/CPD

Questions I though could have done with more coverage:

There was talk of the need for better broadband across Scotland, but I feel hardware is more of a problem. until recently I would have agreed with the general opinion in the room that we will end up using the pupils own devices, but I’ve recently read: Fraser Speirs – Blog – Run What Ya Brung which raises a lot of questions perhaps the most important being: It (the idea of pupils using their own devices) assumes that teachers will be aware of the differences between devices and able and willing to plan around or overcome them. . I’ve seen examples of ‘byo’ working, but wonder if it is scalable in the light of the varying skills of teachers.

There was the assumption that glow 2 would work better than glow 1, I would have liked to discuss how this would be done. not necessarily in nit picking detail (I’ve done a bit of that ) but on how the nit picking would be organised. with glow one there was no mechanism for feedback to be taken into account quickly, or for detailed beta testing. I hope glow 2 will have perpetual beta built in.

Links

I am afraid the above is a bit of a muddle that does not reflect much of Friday. I’d recommend interested folk to read:

and check the #ediff twitter search.

Update 18 Oct 2010

Talking about it isn’t good enough / But quoting from linking to it at least demonstrates / The virtue of an art that knows its mind. // Seamus Heaney : Squarings (edited for post;))