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Monday, March 16, 2009

Virtually teaching

I am so impressed by this course from Chalfonts Community College about designing computer games. It involved children in KS3, KS4, KS5 and some teachers. It was delivered on Thursday evenings at 7.30pm and access was from home via the internet using Adobe Connect (web conferencing software - free to Bucks Schools). The course was delivered by Roxana Hadad talking from Chicago. At the sessions Roxana brought in professional games designers from different parts of the USA.

Have a look at this session with Gary Rozenweig a designer of flash games, a company director and author of books on computer games. Gary is talking from Denver and using a simple web cam.

Here is a link to another session. The guest for this session is Gregory Trefry from New York. He is a senior games designer and shares some of his work and ideas about games and games design. This includes concepts of street games.

You will see that throughout the sessions the students are using text messaging to talk to each other and the teachers on the course. So interaction on a vareity of levels across the atlantic and the USA. The course was set up by Greg Hodgson (Chalfonts CC) and Roxana mainly using Skype which was convenient and free.

There are so many significant feature of this project. It demonstrates something that Greg and I have been talking about for some years. This provides some of the answers to our questions. Is it possible and what does it mean to use the web to have teaching/learning partners who are not teachers and may be in other parts of the world? Does it work - well yes it does. Is it expensive and dependent on high levels of technology? No it isnt. Can you develop an online course and deliver it outside the confines of the school building and timetable? Yes you can. I guess these courses show that the technology is freely available and works, the issues now are really all to do with the pedagogy. Web conferencing is no longer new but what does it mean for our schools, teachers and students to make the best use of it. Many questions still to be answered but this must be a glimpse of, at least part of, the future.

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