Two programmers and two user support peeps enter a room…

A date has finally been set for when four peers will enter a room and brainstorm ideas for a project. The team comprises of two programmers and two user support peeps. With their experience combined, they are forming what at the moment is being called a brain trust [note to self…first action item: discuss name with team].

The brain trust will first brainstorm ideas about apps and sites they would like to produce. Initial discussions have alluded to the idea that team members aspire to produce a site or app that has a level of commercial appeal and be a stepping stone for bigger and better sites or apps.

Our team name is yet to be decided on.

Our goals are yet to be defined.

Our project is yet to be brainstormed.

We haven’t yet put pen to paper.


A date has been set for when two programmers and two user support peeps will enter a room…and that makes me excited!

My blog (i.e. this one) is about to transform from a student blog to an omg I am entering the big wide world of site/app development. I am looking forward to sharing the journey, the pitfalls, the exciting and happy times and most of all hints and tips for other students transitioning from University to the wide world of app and site development!

To be continued…


What is 3D Game Lab? And I want in!

“3D GameLab, the first meta-game platform to help teachers turn their classroom into a living game.” – 3D Game Lab

“Developed by Boise State University, 3D GameLab is a unique quest-based learning platform that can turn any classroom into a living game. 3D GameLab helps teachers tie innovative learning activities to standards, providing learners choice while they game their way through a competency-based curriculum.” – The NMC Horizon Report: 2012 Higher Education Edition (2012, p. 20).

The following YouTube video provides an overview of 3D Game Lab:

If you are interested in jumping into 3D Game Lab, you need to be a member of the Beta – there is a way:
Step 1: Participate in the 3D Game Lab Camp!
The 3D Game Lab Camp is an online camp/conference where you, the educator, becomes the learner. The camp is only held at certain times of the year, so in the meantime, you are able to sign up for the 3D Game Lab Newsletter, follow them on Facebook and/or Twitter – all accessible through 3D Game Lab

Step 2: During 3D Game Lab Camp…
You will be immersed in 3D Game Lab, gaining experience points as you complete quests, collaborating with other educators and participating in events throughout the month. You will have guides who will show you the way and complete short quests that build on past quests. The following is a sample of one of the guide videos:

Step 3: On completion of 3D Game Lab, you will have access to create your own learning modules in 3D Game Lab…
You will have access to the Academy Quests and these will step you thorough the admin interface and walk you through how to create a group, quests and invite people/students.

You will find there is great network of educators providing support along the way. The 3D Game Lab support team also offer a ‘Community Support’ portal powered by Get Satisfaction. The community is accessible through 3D Game Lab Community Support. 


Image: From 3D Game Lab Get Satisfaction portal

For more information on 3D Game Lab, go to:

Google Sites gets a +1 from me!

Earlier today (well yesterday as now we are in the wee hours of the morning) I posted a blog about Wikispaces and their new ‘verification’ process. The new process meant the Wikispace I created could only be ‘public’ if I became ‘verified’. As I only have a couple of days to go before my assessment is to be submitted and one of the requirements is a ‘public’ site (in order for my lecturer to be able to mark it), I decided to change where my assessment was to be housed and hoped for a good transition from Wikispaces to Google Sites.

I jumped into the world of Google Sites and created my first wiki inspired site Game Based eLearning Toolkit. There are some cool features in Google Sites, like embedding a Google Calendar, a widget for an Announcement feed (from a particular page of your site), and a little more flexibility on the formatting/layout than with Wiki sites. My only complaint is that it is not easy to embed non-Google products and you are (mostly) forced to use iFrames (that don’t always work in the way I want them to – could be a user issue – needless to say, I didn’t go with iFrames).

Overall though, Google Sites gets a +1 from me! I found it very easy to use and I am sure it has something to do with me being accustomed to Google Docs/Drive that  has very similar navigation/menu traits.

I present to you, my Game Based eLearning Toolkit:

Wikispaces now require $1 for verification? Um…

Wikispaces is advertised as a free service, primarily available for teachers and learners to create wikis where content can be shared and collaborated on in an online environment. Wikispaces was a great service and I have used it for two semesters now, however, they now require “verification” for wikis to be public.

The new verification is said to be due to spam – see their blogpost Taking a Stand Against Spam and costs $1 to be “verified”. In the world wide space, verification is usually in the form of confirming ones email address, so I was interested to know why the $1 fee was being charged. I was happy to pay it, until, the only payment option provided is Google Wallet. There is no Paypal option, nor BPay option or send a cheque (OK so that would be a little outrageous for $1 cheque, but not everyone wants to provide their credit card details online). What’s more, the Google Wallet payment page has no information about who I would be paying, their contact details or what the payment is for. I even had to check that I was logged in to Google as I was concerned I was redirected to a pretend log in page due to the lack of information on the page! In addition, I don’t want to have another online payment service having my credit card details as I already have a PayPal account.

Anyhow, having used Wikispaces for over two semesters now and not having completed any ‘spam’ activities, I would have thought I would be on the verification list that is spoken of in their blog post. A sweep was done of members and some were automatically verified. I was not one of them.

Image: My Wiki for eLearning Technologies in Wikispaces

So here I am. Assessment due in 2 days and I am not able to provide a link to my Wikispace for my lecturer to mark………………you are allowed up to 5 people to view the wiki, but the purpose of mine is to create a toolkit for academic staff members – I think there are more than 4 of them in the world!

Where to now? One of the comments in the Wikispace blogpost Taking a Stand Against Spam was about creating a free Google Site – so here goes…I have two days to move my site and two days to add those last minute things to get a great mark!

Watch this space for Amy’s adventures in creating a Google Site – the following video states I can get started in ‘just a few clicks’ so here goes!

My inspiration…

Squire on Game-Based Learning

There are some key points and quotes from Squire (2008), the primary one is the “…important question is not whether educators can use games to support learning, but how we can use games most effectively as educational tools.” (p. 1).

Squire (2008) discusses the concept of motivation within game-based learning and questions the thought that  “…games create intrinsic motivation through fantasy, control, challenge, curiosity, and competition (Malone 1981; Cordova and Lepper 1996, as cited Squire, 2008, p. 2). Squire (2008) considers the differences in learners and states that “roughly 25% of students in school situations complained that the game was too hard, complicated, and uninteresting, and they elected to withdraw from the gaming unit and participate in reading groups instead” (p. 2).

The practice of game play opposes the constructivist ideology within contemporary pedagogical practice where problems are broken into “bite-sized, easy-to-learn pieces” (p. 3). “Games, on the other hand, present players with complex holistic problems” (Gee 2005, as cited Squire, 2008, p. 3). Games provide a simulated environment where “…for many, gameplay involves social transgression. Games allow us to bend or temporarily dismiss social rules in order to try new ideas and identities” (Squire, 2008, p. 4). The learner is faced with failure (see Squire, 2005, p. 4) in a simulated world and problem solves, acts on feedback and changes paths to overcome the failure.

Similar to other readings this semester, Squire (2008) focuses on the current nature of learning and teaching as being one that is ‘traditional’ and ‘unchanged’ even though the educator and learners have changed. “The real challenge is not so much in bringing games—or any technology—into our schools but rather changing the cultures of our schools to be organized around learning instead of the current form of social control” that was derived from the industrial era (Squire, 2008, p. 5).


Second Life Case Studies

Two key uses of Second Life as a learning tool in higher education are
  1. Online Teaching and Student Campuses – focus in on ‘online’ learning
  2. Simulations in a ‘Safe’ Environment – focus is on ‘e-learning’

Examples of Online Teaching and Student Campuses 

  • The Institute for Digital Intermedia Arts has linked Second Life and Blackboard to create a “unified, secure and fluid hybrid learning experience” for students. Find out more through the IDIA Project page 
  • Ball State University, a leader in using Second Life within higher education, offers students courses, completely through Second Life in how to be an active participant within the multiuser online world. Refer to the article Ball State offers class teaching people Second Life for more information. 
  • The first video shows Coastline College Virtual Second Life Campus and the second video Deakin University Second Life Campus. Each are from different higher education disciplines, the first mathematics and the second is a selection of creative disciplines. These two videos provide examples of the two extremes available in campus development within Second Life. The first is more of a transitional style where the campus looks as though it could be a real campus, they even have a receptionist! The second is a true virtual campus that goes beyond the realm of reality.

Examples of Simulations in a Safe Environment

  • Doctoral candidates of Indiana University of Pennyslvania created a “Virtual World Simulation – Demonstrating their ability to rapidly build an Immersive Learning Simulation using the Preso-Matic Game Kit” – watch their video below:
  • Simulations are popular in Second Life and the following video shows some of the features and functionality that is possible within Second Life for Nursing students: 
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