On the Cutting Edge - Professional Development for Geoscience Faculty
New Worlds for Geoscience Teaching: Using Online Games and Environments
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Melinda (Mel) Huff


Department of Physical Science, NEO A&M College

Lake Superior, Duluth-Superior

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS:

What is your experience with on-line games or environments?
I have limited experience with online games, but I am familiar with using online environments as teaching supplements (such as using WebCT).

What do you hope to learn from the workshop experience?
To make it a fun environment for learning or reviewing for exams.

What specific aspects of on-line games and environments in geoscience education are you interested in discussing with other workshop participants?
I am interested in any experience other faculty have had with on-line games. In addition, those who have participated in using games to aid in learning are great resources because they know what does/doesn't work.

TECHNOLOGY INTERESTS:

I am looking for ways to engage my students (in the tech world in which they live) in as many ways as possible. I have been using a Computer Preformance System (CPS) this year, and my students love it. This workshop intrigued me. I would love to get students playing an engaging game that is educating them about geology! I do not have the technical expertise to develop a game, but I have a lot of ideas pertaining to topics for games or interactive simulations that students could use outside of class to aid in their understanding of a particular topic.




Melinda Huff --Discussion  

Mel- How have you been using clickers? Cathy

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Hi Mel,
I think there are a lot of puzzle or "treasure hunt "mapping" online games out there for geology and environmental science students. Check out my pal Steve Reynolds site:

http://reynolds.asu.edu/

Most of his pieces are thoughtful puzzle style simulations made into games through the use of questions posed to students. There are many kinds of games - and often we (me) can mistake a simulator for a game, although these distinctions are now blurring. So - "the Sims" is a game but a program that simulates simple shear on a cylinder is a simulator. Alan Levine in this group made a cool game that pitted two teams of students against each other using an "ideal gas behavior" virtual apparatus (a simulator). It turned into a game when each team was given control over the device but had very different final states to achieve.

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Cathy - I have been using the Clickers in several ways:
1. I interject questions in my powerpoint lectures to see how well students are comprehending the material that I'm presenting. Rather than just have a few students always answer the questions, this way I reach everyone. And, in turn, the students get quick feedback for themselves (for those that care) about how well they are processing the information. I generally don't have very many definitions as exam questions. I like to ask application questions (which my students hate), but I know they understand it well if they can take that definition and apply it to answer a question. I use the clickers to help students learn how to process the questions. I'm trying to take them to that next level of learning rather than just regergitating information. I think the clickers help with that because they see the question and try it out, then we discuss the options after everyone has voted.

2. I use the system for review for exams. I present the questions to them, and then discuss why each answer is write/wrong. I do both multiple choise and short answer (for the math and chemistry questions).

3. I use it for exams. Basically it works as an electronic scan tron, but I give students (on a post-it note) their grade when they turn in their exam (excluding the short answer portion).

I get very positive feedback from the system, and we are looking into using this for all science faculty for the fall, then potentially expanding campus wide. One other faculty here also uses it. I have not explored the group game option in it yet. I was planning to play around with it this summer, especially in light of this class.

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Hi Melinda ---
I am like you, interested in some s[ecific applications, but not much experience. Sam

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Glad to hear that Sam! I was beginning to think I was the only one :o)

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Mel-
Jim Myers is a clicker expert in my mind- so be sure to chat with him. He uses them to structure the blocks of time in his class and as a way of managing the class/doing just in time instruction (in addition to a variety of other things). So one thing we could talk/think about is how clickers can be used to transform data analysis activities into games in large classes -- I'm thinking that these are group activities with either competitive or collaborative goals and the clickers are used as a way of either competing or promoting sharing of info at particular points in the class. Not a well formed idea yet.

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I'd think tapping into current climate concerns might be a good avenue to discuss paleoclimates, whether it is some game/experience to test out the various claims that people make about climate fluctuations.

Maybe there can be a Google earth that slides back through time, with contents moving, etc.

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With regard to climate/paleoclimate, the "EdGCM" software from Columbia University (really the NASA/GISS model) is supposed to allow you to run honest-to-goodness climate simulations without a lot of fuss. I haven't used it yet, but plan to in the near future. See

http://edgcm.columbia.edu/

It's simulation software rather than a game per se, but I thought I should mention it.

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