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Saturday, 02 December 2017 09:36

Toondoo

Toondoo is an easy-to-use web-based application for creating comic books. That is why it is preferred by educators. It is so easy that even Elementary school children are able to use it without any issues.

Children are asked to imagine and make their own little stories by cultivating their metacognitive skills such as creativity and imagination.

Initially, it is mandatory to select a username and password in order to allow the user to enter the platform. After entering, the user is ready to begin his interaction with the world of Toondoo.

To begin with the user has to decide the structure of the comic, which is the desired number of slides and then starts the process of creating the story. The available range of characters is really enormous as the user can choose between men, women, children, birds and animals, athletes, famous faces, black and white figures and others. Next, he chooses the background image from an equally wide variety of sceneries such as exterior or interior spaces, the outer space, nature, abstract patterns, etc.). Then the story is enriched with objects such as trees, exterior or interior elements, sports items and many more. A story, however, to become a real comic needs text. The student can then add his own unique dialogues that enhance the final product. There is the whole pedagogical support as users make their own little adventure. According to the theory of cognitivism, learning is the result of the information processing element that is diffused during the process of creating a story. Within a meaningful environment, the student actively participates in discovery, experience and modeling, using the learning material, having full control over it. This way, this process is also linked with constructivist theories. The user, after completing his work, can either save it to continue it at a next stage or publishes it if he is satisfied with the result. Finally, it is important to mention that the user is able to communicate with other members of the Toondoo community, as the final sketch can be a source of feedback from third-party users.

Teachers can make whole presentations, exercises or comic books and pupils through entertainment to improve their knowledge.

Create your own comics at http://www.toondoo.com/

Published in Creativity

Duolingo

One of the most popular and well-known tools for learning a language online is Duolingo. Duolingo is completely free, easy to use and makes it a lot of fun the acquisition of a new language. There is a variety of languages you can choose from, including English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Dutch, Swedish, Turkish, Japanese, Norwegian, Danish, Polish, Hebrew, Vietnamese, Greek, Ukrainian, Welsh, Hungarian, Swahili, Korean, Romanian, Czech and Chinese.

How does it work?

Duolingo is a great example of a straightforward language app. It’s really simple to use. You set up a profile, choose your target language, set your weekly goals (only if you’re brave enough) and off you go! There is an option to ‘test out a language’ when you begin a new language. You can start with the basics or you can take an ‘entry test’ and let the app determine your fluency level.

Each course in Duolingo is made up of modules. The modules upon completion are grouped to form the student's language level. Duolingo dictates the order in which you need to complete the different modules, with new modules becoming active only once you’ve completed the previous one. This is also the case with individual lessons within each module. For example you have to complete lesson 1 in order to be able to progress to lesson 2, and so on.There are dozens of sets of lessons at Duolingo called Skills. Some of them include the following: Basics, Phrases, Food, Present, Adjectives, Plurals, Family, Questions, Numbers, Household, Colors, Comparison, Qualifiers, Measure, Clothing, Animals, Prepositions, Dates & Time, Nature, and Medical.

At the end of each lesson, you get a progress report that also shows your ‘streak’ – the number of days in a row that you’ve completed.Keep in mind that a user account isn't required to use Duolingo, but it's recommended if you want to keep track of your progress.

Interface

Pedagogical background:

The lessons include images, text, and audio, and sometimes has you speak into a microphone (if you have one) to test your speaking and pronunciation skills. New vocabulary is often taught with images, and grammar points are explained in little speech bubbles. There are also listening exercises where you need to type what you hear, and speaking exercises where you say what you hear. Duolingo recognizes that language learners need to be motivated to make sure they come back to the app and engage in some more language fun. Duolingo is a constructivistic tool that uses several different methods to keep you interested but the most useful is the Gamification .The goals a student can choose from range from ‘casual’ to ‘insane’, depending on how serious one is about learning and how quickly one wants to progress. This works well for those who are motivated by the idea of making a ‘formal arrangement’ with the app. The theory of gamification is applied since you get extra points called Lingots every time you complete one of the goals that you or the application has set, thus increasing the motivation of the learner. It can also attract visual learners due to the fact that a lot of the learning that goes on in Duolingo is visual. There are pictures for learning vocabulary, colours that indicate whether you’re right or wrong, and highlighted tapable text for new words or grammar points.

Technological background:

Duolingo is an adaptive web 2.0 meaning that the program adapts to you, it learns what you know by usage and suggests what you should learn next. To achieve that it uses an algorithm that calculates data from articles found on the Internet to automatically build courses, considering it will adapt automatically as the language evolves. Duolingo is available on Personal Computers, Mobile devices (IOS and Android)

Interface

Published in Learning on the go
Sunday, 26 November 2017 17:34

Civilization Series

Main screen

The "Civilization" computer game series is a creation of Sid Meier,a well known digital video game producer and creator.

All games in the series follow the same pattern. These are strategy games in which the player is asked to take on a historical culture and develop his imaginary empire through the different periods of the past and of the future (Sakic & Varga, 2015). The player is called upon to exploit the natural resources in the game, to enter into trade agreements with other cultures, to build cities, to conduct warfare in order to show his culture as the strongest in the game (Squire, 2008).
 
The first "Civilization" was released to the public in 1991 and since then 13 different versions of the game have been released as well as many expansion packs for existing expansion packs. Although the 1991 version does not seem particularly complicated in our eyes today, it was pioneering, as at that time the resources available for developing digital computer games were limited due to the limited number of personal computer owners, making it a benchmark due to complexity in comparison with Sid Meier's Civilization (The Complete evolution Timeline, 2017).
civ 6
In 1994 and 1995 Colonization and CivNet became available respectively. It is worth mentioning this unique version of CivNet, which, when watching the internet come in tersely in the homes added the option of online game play among users (Civilization Series, 2017). As the years passed and the computers evolved in relation to the capabilities they provided so the series improved and gained more data. 1996 was the year of Civilization II, and in 2001 at the dawn of the 21st Century Civilization III was released. Now with computers being part of the public's entertainment, the need for optimal graphics and better online connectivity between players led to the creation of Civilization IV, which was distinguished by an improved system of intelligence technician (Famularo, 2016) requiring a more sophisticated perception and behavior (Wainwright, 2014). With the massive entry of smart phones into the market, there has been a need to create games that are compatible with these mobile devices. So 2009 was the first time a game of the Civilization series revolutionized, as it was developed in addition to personal computers on the Wii, Xbox 360 and mobile devices running Windows and IOS (Civilization Revolution, n.d). Then, in 2010, Civilization V came in, which introduced a large-scale three-dimensional representation of the game's objects (Civilization Series, 2017), while the battle system evolved rapidly as it demanded a more strategic and sophisticated approach by users (Famularo, 2016). The corresponding version of the Android-powered mobile game came in 2011. The latest and most complete version currently available for sale is "Civilization VI", which features detailed graphical representations, a wealth of variety of features and options, developed intelligence system, an inexpensive online gaming experience, and a host of other improvements that have come to enhance the most successful strategy game series for 25 years (Civilization Series, 2017 ).
 
Educational background
In conclusion, it is worth mentioning that various teachers, considering their potential educational potential, attempted to introduce them to the classroom first with Squire's leading researcher in the field of educational games Squire in 2005 (Sakic & Varga, 2015), efforts which ultimately led to the development of a clean "CivilizationEdu", which is expected in the end of 2017 and will include, beyond the game, instructions, tips and educational videos to teachers s to use it to enhance their teaching (Frank, 2016).
Civ Education Edition

Bibliography
Šakic, M. & Varga, V. (2015, September) VIDEO GAMES AS AN EDUCATION TOOL. Paper presented at the Sixth International Conference on e-Learning (eLearning-2015),
Sid Meier's Civilization: The Complete Evolution Timeline (2017). https://inside.worldgaming.com/sid-meiers-civilization-evolution-timeline/ ">Retrieved October 1, 2017, by https://inside.worldgaming.com/sid-meiers-civilization-evolution-timeline/

Squire, K.D. (2008). Video games and education: Designing learning systems for an interactive age. Educational Technology. 48 (20). 17-26
Familaro, J. (2016) The Evolution of 'Civilization' Over 25 Years One of the gaming's classic franchises continues to conquer. https://www.inverse.com/article/22373-civilization-">Retrieved October 1, 2017, by https://www.inverse.com/article/22373-civilization-

Published in Video Games

This article aims to compare and clarify two of the major learning theories, Constructivism and Behaviorism as well as to find out how they can contribute in designing online learning programs.

Behaviorism
The basic principle of Behaviorism is that learning is the result of a person's response to a stimulus. The student does not work independently on the environment but on the contrary his / her behavior is controlled by environmental factors, thus not having the control of the learning or the time it takes to achieve it (Technology in Education, n.d). All the objectives are predetermined, while the student is tasked with absorbing the offered knowledge so that in the final stage it may present desired - predetermined behaviors. The pupil is individually assessed and controlled if his behaviors and performances can state that he has acquired the new knowledge according to the criteria the teacher has set as the right response. (Weegar & Pacis, 2012). Thus, the teacher is at the center of learning, trying to find ways to enhance the desired behaviors by providing the appropriate stimuli without taking into account the social-cultural context of the learners as well as their needs, ultimately failing to contribute to the acquisition of a higher level of competence or those skills that require deeper processing (Technology in Education, nd; Kostaditidis, 2005).

Constructivism
On the other side, another predominant learning theory is constructivism, which asserts that learning is an active process as students enter the process of building knowledge by trying to clarify the events of the world environment (Technology in Education, n.d.). Constructivists believe that learning only happens when there is active information processing and so they ask students to create their own motifs by linking new knowledge to those with the result that they constantly undergo the cultivation of post-cognitive skills (Technology in Education, nd; Kostaditidis , 2005). Constructivists do not share the attitude of behaviorism that knowledge is independent of the mind and believe that the mind is the internal representation of the outside world, with the result that students are forced to construct their own knowledge through personal experiences and real events (Weegar & Pacis, 2012). Actions in the constructivist model enhance the ability to solve the problems of those involved, the ability to conduct research and work within a group, while the educator plays the role of assistant-supporter of the learning process and his students, encouraging them to formulate their own ideas and conclusions (Weegar & Pacis, 2012).

Which one is better to use when designing e-learning courses?

The creation and the need to adopt a technological approach to the Internet learning, stems from the theory of constructivism. In an article by Vrasidas, Zebbys & Petros (2005), Vygotski's theories of self-regulating and reflective knowledge express the inseparably linked nature of those theories with new approaches in the field of education. As a result, teaching is driven to its peak, as the teacher is now invited to combine both pedagogical approaches and technological applications and new teaching approaches, effectively designing an authentic learning environment where the learners will benefit the most. (Erben, Ban & Casta ~ neda, 2009; Medina & Alvarez, 2014)

Despite their differences, these two learning theories are well suited to the design of online learning today. Although the various technological tools are primarily designed in the context of behaviorist theories  most teachers choose to use a combination of behavioral and constructivist design patterns, perceiving the dynamics of both theories in order to satisfy of the educational peculiarities of each student(Weegar & Pacis, 2012).

learning theories

Bibliography

Βρασίδας, Χ., Ζεμπύλας, Μ., & Πέτρου, Α. (2005). Σύγχρονα παιδαγωγικά μοντέλα και ο ρόλος της εκπαιδευτικής τεχνολογίας. Στο: Σ. Ρετάλης (επιμ.) Οι προηγμένες τεχνολογίες διαδικτύου στην υπηρεσία της μάθησης. (σελ. 35- 58), Αθήνα: Εκδόσεις Καστανιώτη. 

Erben, T., Ban, R., & Casta~neda, M. (2009). Teaching English language learners through technology. New York, NY: Routledge 

Technology in Education. (n.d.) Learning Theories. https://economu.wordpress.com/εκπαιδευτικό-υλικό/θεωρίες-μάθησης ">Retrieved October 4, 2017 by https://economu.wordpress.com/ Educational-york/views

Kostantinidis, A. (2005). Learning Theories and Their Effects on Educational Software Design (Dissertation, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 2005).

 Medina, L. C., & Alvarez, C. P. (2014). Fostering Collaboration in CALL: Benefits and Challenges of Using Virtual Language Resource Centres.

Weegar, M.A. & Pacis, D. (2012). A Comparison of Two Theories of Learning - Behaviorism and Constructivism as applied to Face-to-Face and Online Learning. Presented at the E-Leader Conference. Manila, Philippines.

Published in Articles
Friday, 24 November 2017 12:23

Minecraft

Create magnificent scenes

Minecraft is a building game in which the user is called within its virtual world to place and customize bricks (or as they are called in this game, Blocks) and materials to build constructions that can be functional or not. The user also has to choose from a series of playable scenarios that are distinguished in creative, adventure and survival modes and can also chose to play alone or with others in the multiplayer mode (Nebel, Schneider & Rey, 2015). The particularly useful scenario of creativity is one that provides the greatest potential for educational use as players have unlimited materials to develop the constructions they desire, without being limited by drawbacks such as slow movement from one place to another or the risk their virtual character experiences death, like it happens in the survival mode (Overby & Jones, 2015).

The nature of the game that involves the player in problems with various objects that interact with his decisions, the plethora of choices the user allows, the freedom of movement and choices from the creation of the character to the development of the constructions, puts him in the place of the creator and not just the consumer, resulting in Minecraft being a tool that contains many of the elements of constructivism theories (Overby & Jones, 2015; Nebel, Schneider & Rey, 2015), redefining it as a highly lucrative and benefitial application to any class (Petrov, 2014).

The game is extremely easy to install and can even work on computer systems or mobile devices with low limited infrastructure, although the multiplayer mode obviously requires internet access (Overby & Jones, 2015; Nebel, Schneider & Rey , 2015). The offered actions that can be implemented in the world are varied and can be used to enhance various teaching subjects such as arts, environmental sensitivity, architecture, mechanics, physics, mathematics and history. (Petrov , 2014; Overby & Jones, 2015).

Minecraft is linked to many different learning theories

The benefits associated with the use of Minecraft for educational purposes are a lot. The most important are that Minecraft is linked with the development of students' critical thinking, enhancing creativity, and fostering digital literacy in an environment with increased motivation (Petrov, 2014 (Nebel, Schneider & Rey, 2015). If used in an online environment that allows multi-player involvement, it increases student collaboration and teamwork since it operates as a tool of social constructivism (Nebel, Schneider & Rey, 2015).

In conclusion, it is worth mentioning that there is also an educational version of Minecraft available, MinecraftEDU, which provides the appropriate tools for teachers to evaluate student-player moves, easier game management, and a range of other objects to smoothly adapt to the learning process (Nebel, Schneider & Rey, 2015).

Find more at https://minecraft.net/

Bibliography

Nebel, S., Schneider, S., & Rey, G. D. (2016). Mining Learning and Crafting Scientific Experiments: A Literature Review on the Use of Minecraft in Education and Research. Educational Technology & Society, 19 (2): 355-366.

Overby, A. & Jones, B. L. (2015). Virtual LEGOs: Incorporating Minecraft Into the Art Education Curriculum. Art Education, 68 (1), 21-27.

Petrov, A. (2014). Using Minecraft in Education: A Qualitative Study on the Benefits and Challenges of Game-Based Education (Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation). University of Toronto, Canada.

Published in Video Games
Wednesday, 22 November 2017 10:16

Vocaroo

Help your EFL-ESL learners improve their pronunciation and accent with Vocaroo

 

Vocaroo is a free service that allows users to create audio recordings without the need to install any software. You don't even have to create an account to use Vocaroo. All you need to provide is a microphone

Vocaroo is a particularly useful tool especially for educators that teach teach foreign languages. It is available at no cost and allows the voice of the user to be recorded, allowing him to download the soundtrack to his computer, send it as an e-mail or share it directly on a social network (Charles & Dickens, 2012).

Its possible uses in the learning process are many, ranging from creating Podcasts, transmitting messages between students and teachers, reading short stories, and providing feedback to third parties (Charles & Dickens, 2012; TeachersFirst, n.d.). 

Depending on the activity that will be requested by the student, the tool can function as either constructivist or behavioral, but  the widest range of exploitable activities can be found under the "behaviourism umbrella"

Several studies have shown that using Vocaroo as a means of enhancing students' oral speech has ultimately led not only to the improvement of this but to the general perception and expressiveness of its users (Kim, 2014). Students' language skills also improve as pupils can repeat the activity as they wish and as many times as they want, while promoting self-assessment building on new knowledge, giving them learning autonomy (Kim, 2014; Budaghyan, 2015).

One of the great advantages of Vocaroo is its ease of use as it does not even need to create an account to use the service, making it extremely easy to be used even by the most inexperienced person(Charles & Dickens, 2012; TeachersFirst, n.d.).

Use Vocaroo at https://vocaroo.com/

Bibliography

 

Budaghyan, S. (2015). Technology Teacher Training in a Remote Region of Armenia. Procedure - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 197 (7th World Conference on Educational Sciences), 197-200. doi: 10.1016 / j.sbspro.2015.07.12

Charles, K.J., & Dickens, V. (2012). Closing the Communication Gap. Teaching Exceptional Children, 45 (2), 24-32.

Kim, S. H. (2014). Developing autonomous learning for oral proficiency using digital storytelling. Language Learning & Technology 18 (2), 20-35. Retrieved from http://llt.msu.edu/issues/june2014/action1.pdf

TeachersFirst. (n.d.) Vocaroo. Retrieved Oct 15, 2017 by https://teachersfirst.com/single.cfm?id=9921

 

Published in Creativity
Tuesday, 21 November 2017 12:16

This War of Mine

This War of Mine is an electronic video game developed by the 11 bit studios. The game’s background is inspired by the Yugoslav civil war and the siege of Sarajevo, which lasted four years in which approximately 5,000 mainly civilian civilians were killed (Kirkpatrick & Schiltz, 2016).

What makes it special is that, unlike the other games that put the user in the position of warrior, this game puts him in the position of a citizen and the way he experiences a warring conflict having survival as his main concern (Noack, 2014). The player is called upon to manage the survival of a group of citizens through organizing the distribution of available resources such as fuel, food, water and medicine in particularly difficult situations that affect the mood and vitality of each member until a ceasefire is declared.

The interaction required by the player does not stop only in pure survival and in finding resources, as he is asked to explore his / her own moral framework, being in charge of decisions and moves that affect the psychological situation and consequently the needs of the group handled. For example, he may decide to rob a couple of elderly people to save a member of his own team, but some of its members are so negatively affected by this choice to the point that the group can not function properly, leading some of up to suicide. The player is asked to walk in a stretched rope of balance and survival, experiencing horror, despair and the needs of people in war conditions.


Pedagogical background of the game:

the player is called upon to develop his / her ability to make decisions in the light of the ethical issues that arise. It creates practices interacting with the environment of the game and learns through its own actions by remodeling its choices according to the mistakes it makes (Auberger, n.d.). This War of Mine promotes reflection through the impact of achieving the goal of surviving, creating a sense of despair as the player's choices don’t affect the outcome of the war,  as he is only tasked with the wellbeing of his team, a feeling experienced by any civilian who finds himself in the midst of a war (Toma, 2015). No matter what he does, people will lose their lives, and he is called upon to explore the point where the need for survival overlaps his moral and psyche.

The game is available for personal Computers, IOS and Android devices.

Bibliography
Auberger. (n.d.) This War of Mine. Retrieved November 7, 2017, by http://www.playful-pedagogy.org/this-war-of-mine.html

Kirkpatrick, J. & amp; Schiltz, S. (2016). Review - this War of Mine. Retrieved November 7, 2017, by http://www.e-ir.info/2016/02/07/review-this-war-of-mine/

Noack, R. (2014) This war video game is not about the shooters. It's about the victims.Washington Post. November 21.

Toma, E. (2015) Self-reflection and morality in critical games. Who is to be blamed for war? Journal of Comparative Research in Anthropology and Sociology. 6 (1), 209-224.

 

 

Published in Video Games