App Review – “Stutter Rapper”

In terms of educational games which are both fun and useful for younger children, it can be hard to find the correct app. Games can be too complicated, offer to many distractions, or simply not get the message across. I must immediately stress that my review of the Lucida produced game “Stutter Rapper” is to convince instructors of young children to utilize the app inside and out of the classroom. This app is not sufficient enough to be shown to older children and teens who already have a healthy grasp of the English language.

Stutter Rapper is an incredibly straightforward game that anyone can pick up and play with unparalleled ease. The game is simple; swipe letters on the screen to create sentences and advance forward as your points add up. Correct timing and the usage of longer words is key to a higher score. And that’s it, the game stays with this concept and becomes surprisingly addictive, even to older individuals such as myself.

Colors are bright, music is happy and uplifting, and the repetition of words after they have been spelled out may help some children to better recall words. A timer can allow them to experiment with phases, learning new words that they may never have thought to have existed (which certainly happened many times in my case).

Now I do have to note that the game does not feature interactive play with friends or others. Each game is basically confined to itself; no sharing of pictures, videos, or streaming directly to the internet.

However I find these attributes to be POSITIVE. Young children are prone to distraction, that much is clear to anyone. Giving them access to sharing photos, scores, and sending playthrough to the internet will only distract them from the purpose of the game: to better instruct them as to how words are spelled and ingraining that into their memories as best as possible.

For English instructors, I highly encourage you to try this game in your classroom and expose your students to a game they will enjoy playing inside and out of school.

For a brief scoring of the game, check out this document:

Somebodies Watching You – Video Cameras in Classrooms

Every mark you make every test you take, could someone be watching you? To be exact; are video cameras in the classroom unethical? Inappropriate perhaps? Maybe even useless? This question has boggled the minds of instructors for years and it’s about time we began talking about the human right to privacy and the right to take it away.

The rule of video cameras in public places is delightfully vague. It can be summed up as such:

“Cameras may not be used in an area where there is a “reasonable expectation of privacy.”

So that begs the question – is the inside of a classroom particularly private? Well while it certainly is not on par with areas such as locker rooms or bathrooms, the issue here is that students who know they are being watched can respond in very different ways. Some reacting positively, finding themselves safer thanks to the watchful eyes, while others only see it as yet another way for a school to crack down on students, restricting their freedom and privacy.

Of course there is little way to change such mindsets. But as far as legitimate facts go, it is practically undeniable (as has pointed out) that bullying and stealing will decrease dramatically as a result of cameras being present in classrooms. Not only that, but these cameras could hypothetically allow parents to look in on their kids during class, making sure they behave appropriately and that the instructor is also acting professionally in their field and teaching methods.

Ultimately, the issue of cameras in classrooms may well be never ending. Wherever there are cameras, there is technically always privacy that is being sacrificed. But it is how much appropriate data we GAIN from these cameras that truly prove their worth or lack there-of.

VGo and Student Absence in School

Every man woman and child has at one point in their lives wanted to skip school or work altogether. For any adult reading this, hoping to figure out how to pt shingles on a house without going to the work site, sorry, you’re out of luck right now. But for students, this situation is actually quite different. Their saving grace comes in the form of the VGo, a remote-controlled device capable of roaming halls and going to classes at a distance. While it’s current use mainly revolves around students such as Lyndon Baty, who can’t actively go to school (read the article listed in the links below for his interesting story) it is of my belief that schools should adopt VGo as the student of the future. Will VGo soon replace all students?

Well in the case of Lyndon Baty, mentioned above, an illness which can become increasingly dangerous for him requires the use of VGo for Lyndon to properly survey his school and continue to learn without risking his health. He can still chat with friends and instructors, as well as fill out homework with the simple use of a webcam and other minor computer technologies. With such ease filling out the day-to-day activities required of him at school, one must wonder how VGo can be integrated into everyone’s lives. Immediately issues regarding students skipping school can be rid of, with them being able to interact and learn without having to worry about driving through rough traffic on snowy or foggy days.

Providing the VGo or technology similar to it is not without it’s faults. The VGo obviously allows for students to stay distracted during class, focusing on things off-screen or causing trouble from the safety of their home. The cost for each unit is also not without it’s issues for schools not having the financial means to provide so many students with the device, meaning if and when such a trend does begin, a small school setting is key to test results of it’s continued use. And then there is the issue of physical classes or projects which require hands-on learning, a type of learning we have previously discussed to be incredibly important in the learning environment. Until these hurtles are overcome, this convenient means of education may elude our grasp.

But we need to head back to the pros regarding the wide-spread use of VGo. Of which includes it’s reliable nature as it uses 4G LTE networks to carry the video consistently and reliably over wide distances between the student and the school setting. It even eliminates travel costs, increases productivity, and delivers unparalleled convenience. It’s also incredibly light-weight and easy to maneuver. It is able to last on one charge for an entire school day, with it being charged at night and ready to once again activate in the morning. With more and more school operations involving the use of technology, it stands to reason that our own physical presence will fade from the work-field. A scary thought to many, but sometimes the future can be scary. It’s how we choose to overcome the issues of the future that we can begin to grow as people. And so I say, let’s welcome the VGo with open arms, help it grow, and introduce it to fields which can benefit from it’s presence even more.

Phones in School – A Solution

They are with you when you sleep, they are with you when you wake, they sit in your pockets and in the palms of your hands. We gaze at them day-in and day-out. They are cellphones; magical bricks of learning bestowed to us by the heavens. Nomophobia is an interesting fear in the modern age. It is the fear of losing your phone or it’s signal; and chances are, just about all of us have it, because all of us have cellphones. It is now known that around the globe, more people have mobile phones than they do toilets! And lastly, the fact to surpass all facts; the average person unlocks his/her phone over 110 times each day. These are modern problems which can highly effect a person’s attention span in a school setting. I don’t need to go into that, it is just a fact that wherever there are cellphones, there will be people who are, in turn, distracted by those cellphones. And in school settings, cellphones are panned by instructors. They believe the cellphone to be a cancer, but it’s time we ask ourselves an important question; can cellphones and schools ever get along?

If you were to research such an idea, you’ll be bombarded by multiple results where former instructors simply write off the phone as nothing but a inappropriate distraction in the classroom, but I do believe that there can still be ways to make it’s use more substantial and beneficial. puts it all quite well. Cellphones are nolonger the tool of a single person, they are everywhere. Hardly any high-end job does not involve the use of cellphones in their process to survive into the future. If schools truly wish to prepare students for life in the outside world, then they need to make it clear that cellphones are a vital tool in spreading and learning information on the fly. Ignoring them altogether in schools only to then use them in professional jobs seems ironic to put it best.

In the bjupress article “Cellphones at School: The Debate of Legitimacy”, it is stated well that cellphones are not going away. They provide easy communication to parents in times of emergency and also provide a wealth of knowledge that students are comfortable with. Then there are apps for multiple learning programs integrating a variety of subjects, making students much more likely to finish a project if it involves a phone, due to the fact that they do not have to waste time digging through books and papers to find an assignment. It is streamlined. Students no longer have to search for their work, it is with them all along, notifying them and keeping them up-to-date on new projects.

My point is this. If instructors really want students to fulfill projects, then they best be prepared to expose those students to the projects as much as possible. And we are exposed to nothing more often than those little blocks of information. Students can carry their homework in their pockets, constantly aware that starting/finishing their work is a mere click away. The convenience is like nothing we have ever seen before and if it is integrated correctly, then I can predict homework and school projects to be streamlined in upcoming years. Cellphones will be the gateway in which this process can take shape.

Instructor Knowledge in Technological Learning

When we think of teachers and technology, our minds tend to envision a group of elderly men and women huddled around a Chromebook, poking at it with a stick as they hang on tightly to some dusty old textbooks. In previous posts I’ve mentioned whether or not students are ready to learn with certain technological devices and mediums, but that was all overlooking a key issue: Are instructors well-versed enough to handle technological means of teaching?

Well first thing’s first, if we refer to Benjamin Herold’s blog post concerning instructors and technology, he mentions that contrary to popular beliefs, instructors were found to actually bare more extensive knowledge on technology than even their students. That being said, the ways to implement that technology into their teaching field was limited to many degrees.

This is what brings about the misconception of teachers having no clue how technology works. It isn’t so much as they simply do not understand the material, but rather the fact that implementing the technology correctly is so incredibly difficult. And this was the purpose of my previous posts, offering the ideas of 3D printing and games to assist in the learning process, but obviously this isn’t enough.

Now we need the help of “Teachers’ Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge and Learning Activity Types: Curriculum-based Technology Integration Reframed” a detailed report regarding this exact issue. The report puts it bluntly; for instructors to better implement technology into their different respective fields, they need to be briefed on just what is available. Just like how they had to be taught how to teach kids via books, notes, homework, and reading; instructors now need to be taught about just how many incredible options are available once technology is introduced.

The report; “Teachers in a World of Change: Teachers’ Knowledge and Attitudes towards the Implementation of Innovative Technologies in Schools” immediately identifies the problem; instructors are entering a world of change, one in which they must implement technological skills not only in their personal lives, but also in their academic roles. This creates a heavy burden on instructors, giving them more to worry about, more to focus on, and more to learn. But despite this difficulty, instructors cannot continue to hide under their heavy textbooks and stacks of paper, they need to be exposed to technology in the school environment, taught how it works and how it can help in education. Only then can we see a true rise in technology’s positive effects on students.

The Use of Games in Learning

Since the dawn of pong, mankind has found itself infatuated with games, to a point in which just about every genre has been released to the public. Action games, fantasy games, RPGs, mysteries, point-and-clicks, tactical espionage action, tactical massage action, and just plain weird games that are in a category all their own. But what about education? Can games be used successfully to teach students? And perhaps more importantly; should they?

Well let’s first make it clear that not all games are designed to help kids learn. You’re not likely to learn the alphabet from Silent Hill and I have yet to solve a single rational equation in Clash of Clans. Games like that are for entertainment purposes only. But there are still a wide array of games that do inspire such learning elements, but are they really useful? The answer is actually pretty simple. Yes. Yes they are. And here’s why. Learning processes for many students can become dull or boring over time. And learning is more than simply taking notes or memorizing an equation until your brain feels numb. Learning revolves around actually understanding and acquiring skills, understanding when and how to apply them in and out of school. Games can ease this dull feel, engaging students and stimulating their brains to a point in which they actually feel as if they are a part of the learning process, not just a pawn. This is another classic case of learning by doing.

But now we need to go back to the root of the question. We know that games CAN help students. But SHOULD they? Should college students be playing video games in their classes? Pointing and clicking all day long as they attempt to learn how to market a brand of cereal they just customized? Or should games be tossed out when students reach a certain age? What would that age even be? Well it ultimately comes down to each individual student. While some kids respond to games, there will still always be those who prefer to silently read or to hear the instructor give the orders, not an automated voice in a game. Student’s minds work so differently that in the end, we cannot simply ask: “SHOULD games be used to teach kids?” We should actually be asking: “HOW many ways can kids learn? And how can we reach them all in ways they are comfortable with?”

In the world of education, comfort is key. And we shall never agree that one technique surpasses another, nor should we ever try. Instead of fighting off the new, we need to embrace it; understand why it works or how it could work in the future.–what-it-is-why-it-works-and-where-its-going.html

Should Schools Adopt Chromebooks?

In today’s hustling bustling world of electronics, where our eardrums stay bombarded by ear-bud spewed tunes, and thin rectangular bricks of knowledge sit firmly in the palms of our hands and pockets, it’s difficult to imagine a school that does not adopt such technologies to teach. It’s easy to brush these sort of schools off as cave-men-ridden buildings; teaching kids that the Earth is flat and the sun revolves around it. But are they really wrong for avoiding the rise of the chromebook? Should all schools adopt chromebooks?

Well let’s slow down for a minute and focus on what makes a chromebook so attractive for schools. It comes in with a sleek body, cheapness, high running speeds, quick charging and powering on, as well as many other implements which allows for the chromebook to excel at delivering information in a timely manner.

Oh but wait. What about the teachers and students? The actual PEOPLE behind the learning process? Well a big issue right now is that many teachers do not understand chromebooks or any new-ish technology in general for that matter. Many of them were raised exclusively with books, learning information straight from the teacher’s mouth. And chromebooks certainly face a myriad of issues that would never plague a book. For example, your history book is not likely to receive a virus, or not turn on upon being left to charge. In fact, books hardly need to be charged at all. I can’t even remember the last time I charged by Algebra book. And when I open those books, I don’t see distracting ads for “Farmville” or some random guy named “Bob Smith” who keeps asking for my credit card number. Nor does a book break if you drop it on the floor. Your foot is in more danger at that point.

Ultimately, chromebooks suffer from the same issue as any electronic device. For every bit of good they do, they do just as much bad. One could argue that the pros cannot outweigh the cons, or that in the end, the chromebook only slightly enhances a student’s experience and understanding of topic, to a point in which it isn’t even necessary.

In my opinion, no technology is ready for learning purposes. Not yet anyways, or at least not exclusively. Sure the students can use the occasional computer or metaphorically surf the web, but in the end, using chromebooks every hour of every day just doesn’t add enough to a student’s knowledge to truly make a difference. Not yet.