Thursday, 10 October 2013

Video Games and Learning MOOC - Wk1

I started my first foray into the new world of the MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) through Coursera and what we (few fellow UNSWers) chose was Video Games and Learning run out of the University of Wisconsin - Madison by Constance Steinkuehler and Kurt Squire. UNSW has joined Coursera as well and I believe will have its first course/s running in the first half of next year.

For those who dont know what a MOOC could possibly be, it is a university course, well generally a shortened version, that is available to anyone online for free. So some of these courses have tens of thousands of students enrolled - not all participate or 'complete' but the raw numbers of active students are extremely high. So anyone can have a taste of a course from best unis in the world alongside a truly broad spectrum of participants from all over the world, all ages and backgrounds.

Onto the Course itself. We are at the end of week 1 - well this course has a long week 1 that goes for 2 weeks it seems - but anyhow we got a quick look around the Coursera interface before the Week 1 lectures were posted, esp as we early timezone folk were up and ready. The interface is neat and tidy, though not exciting in any way with the usual forum and announcement type pages. The structure chosen for the course looks like a Weekly Topic logic and the forums themselves are quite good (just be wary about subscribing to a topic like 'introduce yourselves' :-)

The week 1 lectures were nicely shot videos which did a nice job of introducing the material. We got a nice conversational video with Constance and Kurt, then some more lecturish snippets and some supporting videos from James Paul Gee. The week 1 assignment was to find a game we hadn't played before, preferably in a genre we weren't familiar with and to play it for at least 30 mins. We then had to reflect on how the game informed/structured our learning to play. The preference was for a 60 second video, though you could do 250 words if that was problematic.

Here is my video for League of Legends where I used Ezvid to capture my gameplay. That turned out to be a silly idea as it saves straight to youtube and I wanted to speed things up to squeeze more of the play into that 60 secs. So I uploaded the video then downloaded it again with keepvid and brought it into Premiere. After a quick audio capture I sped the video up 10x, made a few tweaks and hey presto assignment 1. I will need to work on the audio quality for the next one. One of the greatest challenges (that lots of people struggled with) is getting something good through in just 60 seconds when there can be a heap to cover...

With so many people doing the course there are an armada of submissions and it can be work to mine them for interesting ones - and there are some great little videos people have done. There is lots of interesting discussion about learning and games across a suite of threads. Some of the discussion is closely tied to the game in question, while other threads are dealing with more general questions of what we might learn from games that can apply to education. The pattern so far is that those intro lectures were very prominent at the start, but as the submissions started to come and the discussion forums took over. Now the lectures are very much in the background and the course is living and breathing through the discussions and student interaction.

Fellow BuiltEnvironmenter Dean Utian has become something of a celebrity already in the course and is waaay out in front of the Forum Leaderboard thingo. Here is Deano's video as well...

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