Welcome to ‘the zone of optimal challenge’

Futuelab Logo

Last week Merlin John (@merlinjohn) published an article (through FutureLab) titled: “Welcome to ‘the zone of optimal challenge’.” The article is about the Online Games Design course that I was involved with and have tweeted about often using the hash tag #cmdgames. Merlin asked me to provide a quote for the article and I was more than happy to oblige.

He followed up the FutureLAb article with an additional piece on his own blog: Merlin John Online titled: “Chalfonts scores high with Games Design Workshop”.

You can find out more about both the Online Games Design course and the Creative Media Diploma on the Chalfonts Community College ‘Creative Media Diploma Blog’‘. Working to a “real”, “creative” brief, the students collaborated in groups to produce a game related to the 2010 paralympics. The finished work is fabulous and links to play the games can be found here.

The online course was a tremendous success, breaking new ground for online learning and providing further proof of the value that video based conferencing tools (Adobe Connect) can have within education.

The brainchild of Greg Hodgson (@greghodgson) and Roxana Hadad (@rhadad), the online course lasted for 10 weeks and was supported by classroom teaching and a dedicated Moodle course – used to help the students remain organised as they worked on developing their skills as both game designers and game makers.

The students thoroughly enjoyed taking part and the level of progress they made was fantastic. Alongside Greg and Roxana there were a wide variety of people involved in making the course happen including myself, Hannah Stower (@hstower) – Leader for the Creative Media Diploma, Ian Usher (@iusher) – Buckinghamshire E-Learning Co-ordinator, and a sleugh of games designers (who spoke on the course) including Colin Maxwell (@camaxwell) and Josh Diaz (@dizzyjosh).

Thanks to Merlin for writing the articles. I really enjoyed being involved in delivering the course and look forward to helping to improve and deliver it next year.

If you would like to know more about the online course or about our use of Adobe Connect please contact me by email or send me a tweet @jamesmichie.

New Blog! New iPod! An Update!

Since this whole blogging thing started with my new iPod touch I thought that it would be fitting to make my final post for week one of “James Michie…a 21st Century Educator” an update on my progress learning to use it, the apps I’ve added/deleted and my first game download.

apps 19.02.10

The image above is my current set of apps and the layout that I am currently working with, since my last post I have done the following.

  1. I realised that apart from “Tasks” there was no major benefit to me having each Google feature as a separate button – I can access them all from within the “Google Mobile App” and once I am in I usually leave them loaded up so that I can simply return to them at leisure within Safari.
  2. Instapaper is even more useful to me now that I have access to it on a mobile device.  I have been reading even more, increasing my productivity and in turn filling up more of the free space in my “brain-attic“.
  3. Having moved from WordPress to Blogger I have installed but not used the “BlogPressLite App” – it has gained mixed reviews but I will try it out sometime in the near future.
  4. I have read two whole books, downloaded with “Stanza“.
  5. I have used the Notes App twice when asked to go pick up some odds n’ ends from the shops.
  6. I have gotten somewhat annoyed by the fact that if I check my mail using the Mail App that it leaves a copy of the message in the All Mail folder after I have deleted it from the Inbox.
  7. I have watched bits of programmes on both BBC iPlayer and through “TVCatchUp“.  Although, I have not settled with myself the idea of watching a whole show on such a small screen – after all I am at home and have a 17” Macbook Pro that serves my online viewing pleasure very well.
  8. I deleted “Wikipanion” after I realised that learning the touch-screen finger swipes to move, zoom in/out, select all, copy+paste was not that hard, using Wikipedia on Safari was not that difficult after all.
  9. I am going to stick with “TweetDeck” – it is working as well for me on the iPod as it is on my desktop.
  10. Finally, I downloaded my first iPod touch game.  I have not really played a computer game since university so this was a treat.  My first computer when I was just five years old was a “ZX Spectrum 128k” (the one with the built in tape deck) – its bread and butter was platform games.  So I went for “Ghosts’n Zombies” a single player-platform game with plenty of shooting, lots of bleeps and squeeps and nice cartoon-styled graphics.  It makes good use of iPod touch’s “accelerometer” and I have enjoyed playing it – while it’s a new game to me and the input method is very different to using a joystick or joypad it was an almost nostalgic experience.

Well, that is all for this week.  I have enjoyed exploring and learning to use my new iPod.  Being back at school next week will give me the opportunity to push one or two of its features further inside the classroom and during meetings.  It is my hope that it goes someway to furthering my efforts to be paper-free!  I can’t really call myself “…a 21st Century Educator” if I’m still reliant on pen and paper, now can I?