My brain synapses are not connecting very well; isolated ideas roam helter-skelter looking for a node to connect. All the readings I’ve done – not enough I’d venture to say – have been so random, not in order. Instead of moving from core to optional, I’ve been desperately trying to put out bush fires to cope with the numerous discussion forums (fora?). I realize I’m just bombarding my poor brain with all sorts of ideas about games, simulations and all the new vocabulary and nothing is getting ordered in any schemata. I have little islands of expertise looking to form a large continent of expertise.
I’ve read some chapters of Shaffer, flipped through Prensky & Alessi; read Dorner, Sterman, some Gredler, some on modeling – Seel, etc… explored some gaming, modeling and simulation platforms, been to SecondLife numerous times (finally getting to the point where I can teleport to some places), and now I’m frantically trying to understand Clark Aldrich’s ideas about simulations.
I want to badly be able to consolidate and synthesize these disparate ideas.
I enjoy Shaffer and realize his idea of epistemic games is very broad: games that are about learning to think in innovative ways (p. 10). And then he mentions how every game has at its core a simulation (p. 69). Later, on reading and listening to Clark Aldrich’s podcasts, I’m beginning to link Aldrich’s teaching of cyclical content to Shaffer’s epistemic games. Systems and cyclical content must be present in simulations to create epistemic games. And Shaffer mentions Dewey’s idea of the kind of learning that harnesses the power of authentic activities. So the kind of learning that takes place as students develop the Digital Zoo helps them develop knowledge that is contextualized in a particular professional setting. And Shafffer claims this kind of learning of professional knowledge, the ability to use specialized language is the biggest predictor of success in school. As in performance in tests and exams?
This really had me thinking. To what extent is this true? I am thinking of how far this is true in this course. There are so many new words, new jargon relating to games, modeling and simulations. The more I understand them, the more concepts I clarify and link together in my neural map, it appears the more sensemaking is created.
When I first entered Clark Aldrich’s blog, I was overwhelmed by all the terms there. What was it all about? How can I respond to a list of terms. Then slowly as I read them and began to connect the professional knowledge, the more I felt I had a grip on the subject. Phew!