EDTC300

Net-WORK-ed Learning

Arguably one of the largest parts of EDTC300 was our network learning project. We were tasked to interact with our peers and other professional contacts online providing support, answering and asking questions, and engaging in meaningful conversations all towards to common goal of supporting the learning of others. While challenging, this assignment introduced me to incredibly passionate humans with diverse experience and backgrounds. I found myself relishing in any opportunity to engage with professional and peers who all work towards a common goal, especially on Twitter.

We were presented with many options to engage with our peers such as by reading and commenting on their blog posts, chatting with them on Slack, and in-class chats, I found that Twitter provided the best space for me to engage meaningfully. This was shocking to me, as I have been struggling to “get into Twitter” for a significant amount of time, and found it challenging to find a way to engage with the content. It took time for me to identify how I wanted to engage utilizing twitter, so it began what felt like awkward tweets…

1

And then when I found interesting content, I had to learn how to NOT get distracted by endless scrolling.

2

AND then, I had to engage! Sometimes with peers,

I was able to ask questions and get judgement free responses

I had a pleasure (and learned SO much) participating in my first ever Twitter Chat with #SaskEdChat! This gave me the opportunity to not only learn from others but to share my experience with them as well.

Engaging in Twitter was by far my favourite. I took some time to comment on blogs, but I am going to be totally honest. I spend the majority of my workday looking at a computer engaging in long, education-based text, often providing feedback for my team. This task was very much like what I do at work, and I found it exhausting to do at the end of a workday.

With that being said, I was happy to take the time and read what my peers shared. Hannah and I both participated in the same #SaskEdChat, and her blog post, That’s All Folks, totally encompassed my feelings.

q.PNG

Sarah shared an UNREAL app that taught her how to count in Cree, and shared her experience on her NISTO (3) …NÎSO (2) …PÊYAK (1) …GO!!! post! I loved reading about how this app-enhanced her experience, and that how it makes accessing Cree language in the classroom quick and easy!

d.PNG

The opportunity to build a network of like-minded peers and spend four months critically engaging is shared content was an experience I will never take lightly. I often forget the impact that the experience of others has on my perspective, especially considering the diverse nature of the students in the class. As a student who has not done any internship(s), but has been working in an educational capacity for many years, I learned more about the classroom experience then I could ever have through my work alone. In turn, I was able to share my professional experience with peers who are just entering the workforce and make meaningful connections with people I likely will never meet.

There is a vast ocean of experience and knowledge around the world, and, I am leaving this course feeling like I have only scratched the surface. I look forward to better utilizing my digital networking skills to create more impactful relationships, or even unlikely ones, to benefit the collective learning experience of educators as a whole. I can’t imagine where education is going to go with such passionate, dedicated humans sharing their knowledge, skills, and experiences with others who are just entering the workforce.

Advertisements
DnDPowerHour, EDTC300, LearningProject

Mastery of Dungeon Mastering

The purpose of being a Dungeon Master is not to beat the adventurers. There are no winners or losers. Your challenge isn’t to kill them, or torture them. Your goal is to facilitate, bend the rules so they accomplish their goals all while finding it equally as challenging. The rules are a guideline, and are definitely meant to be broken. Overall, your purpose is to make the game fun for you, and the adventurers.

The end is here, and what have I learned. Oh boy.

When I first chose to Dungeon Master (DM) it was for a multitude of reasons.

  1. I am poor. So I needed something that I could do without investing a ton of cash in.
  2. I suck at committing. When I take on a new project, I often find I can stick with it for a short period of time, and then I get bored of work gets busy. I needed something with accountability, that can be done on a semi-regularly, and it needed to keep my interest.
  3. I wanted to learn something that I WANTED to learn. I didn’t want to take on a project for convenience, ease, or because I should. I wanted to take on a project for me.

Capture

So here we are, the end of a four-month project learning how to become a Dungeon Master, and all I really have to show for it is a bag of library books and a binder full of spent adventures. Oh, and a fire hashtag on twitter #DnDPowerHour.

In the beginning, I had only ever played Dungeons and Dragons (DnD) once before. The game itself is incredibly complex and requires a minimum of 3 players and a DM. I reached out to my fabulous group of friends to see who was able to commit to by-weekly game nights and quickly we became a party of six plus me.

Capture

First, there is Quenriel. A Dragonborn bard with a desire for riches and a passion for glory and fame. Next, our Dragonborn Paladin Baldrik. a 7 foot 5 brute who with strict beliefs and a distrustful nature. Alone, our warlock halfling with intense and wild magics. Galbaghore, a stealthy rogue gnome who can pick any lock. Glimmer, our resident elf who suffered from debilitating DBD, but can always be trusted to utilise her long bow in times of need. Finally, Christina Angel, a half orc who will stop at nothing to befriend all animals, beasts and monsters- even when this isn’t how animal friendship works. Oh ya, and me.

The first challenge was learning the rules. To this day I can tell you confidently that I do not know them very well. There are two book dedicated to general rules, and they are overwhelming. Thankfully, the Regina Public Library had the entire set that I could access for free!

a95ca6005345ace9b1a14ee5ae7fc671

The next challenge was creating adventures. I had no concept of what a challenge this would be. Characters need to fit within a world, and be able to work together. The challenges presented in the adventure need to be scaled to match the abilities of the adventurers. I needed to be able to describe each; room, town, movement, battle, puzzle, random encounter, and all the moments in between vividly and create a world picture. The first session I DM’ed, I was mentally exhausted afterwards.

The most challenging part of this was learning through online resources. DnD is a well-established game created in 1972 that has been written and rewritten since. There are hundreds upon hundreds of advice columns, YouTube videos, and websites dedicated to DnD gameplay.

While I relied heavily on the books from the library, as they were invaluable, there were a host of online resources that I utilized constantly! The following are what I recommend for any future DMs who made be reading this.

Capture

  1. Roll20: A webpage dedicated to role-playing game (RPG) community with hundreds of resources for a variety of resources. As a team, we use this website often to do quick rule checks, and make sure that our character scores are calculated correctly!
  2. DnD.Wizards: Yet another community built website where we were able to access digital editions of the character sheets and prerolled characters.
  3. Geek & SundryGeek & Sundry: Wrote an incredible article for novice DMs with expert advice on gameplay, and the role of the DM.
  4. Spell Card Generator: With magical players came magical responsibilities! About halfway through our learning adventure, we learned that spell cards were a thing, and it made spell casting so much more efficient. Having cards in front of us on the table is much quicker than shuffling through the Players Handbook.
  5. Dungeon Masters Guild (DMG): This was, by FAR, the most important resource while I learned the ropes of DMing. The DMG is a huge online community of DMs and players who come together and share their content. There are so many incredible writers who have invented time in created incredible adventures that they make accessible for DMs in a huge variety of languages. They are all accessible online, for low prices if not free. This is where I found Ashley Warren, a writer and creator. For $4, I was able to access the first three parts of A Requim of Wings. I was thrilled to find a resource that supported writers and artists!
  6. Google Drive: Is the perfect hub to collect and share resources! It allowed me to access and prepare all of my work ahead of time, from anywhere! This folder is shared with my brother and my roommate, who are both aspiring DMs. It allows up to collaborate on documents and share what we have with one another!

Overall, this was one of the coolest learning experiences I have had. I was able to come together with 6 other pals to create a vast world of mystery filled with laughs and one feisty bard. While other options may have been more practical, this learning project will continue to move forward, as I have only just begun!! There is so much more to learn, worlds to explore, and dulcimer strings to break. You can continue to follow along this now life long journey on Twitter at #DnDPowerHour.

I am so fortunate to have such amazing people to join me on this journey, even though most nights feel like this:

Capture.PNG

I am grateful for the Friday nights spent together, the learning experience shared and the laughter poured all over the table. Without this crew of adventurers, I would not have been able to do this project, and I would have been stuck learning how to make cheese or something much less fun.

To conclude this learning project, I created a short 15-minute “podcast” using Audacity where you can listen to our adventurers arrive at Magra, where a local luthier enlists them to find the Starlight relic. An ancient item that can cast a shield against both angels and demons alike, in hopes that this will stop the war of Emberez.

(follow my soundcloud)
(lol don’t)
(thanks for reading- pce ouuuut)

EDTC300

Fake News

The internet is a magical place where you can find endless amounts of information! University students no longer need to spend hours in an archive to pull up a dusty research article, there are thousands of hours of cat videos for your entertainment. It is also a place where communities of like-minded people can get together and share challenges and idea with one another. With the increase in access to information on the internet, there is also an increase in misinformation. It is increasingly important that consumers are critical of the media they are consuming. Thinking critically about the media that we are consuming is a critical skill in combat against fake news.

Critical thinking skills that we need to start teaching our youth as soon as they are accessing the internet and digital devices. Access to the internet and technology is no longer seen as a luxury but as a necessity. Because of this, more and more youth are accessing the internet earlier and earlier. As educators, we have the capacity to teach youth pertinent skills when accessing information.

There are many types of information that students are accessing daily, ranging from information, misinformation, and disinformation. By taking the time to discuss different kinds of information with our students, we can begin to encourage them to question what they are reading.

Capture

We can do this by teaching them to ask questions when they are accessing information, and having thoughtful and challenging conversations. We can do so by encouraging youth to ask questions about the information they are engaging with, such as:

  • Who is sharing this information?
  • Are they the only one sharing this information?
  • What are other people saying about the topic?
  • Are the resources I am accessing credible?
  • What are credible resources?
  • What are both sides on the arguments?
  • Am I willing to change my mind?
  • Where did this idea come from?
  • Where did I hear?

It is critical that we do not silence students when they ask challenging questions about information that they are being told, or have found on the internet. Allowing them to explore knowledge gives them the opportunity to think about it critically. When these skills are developed young, they are carried forward into adulthood when youth have the ability to incite change, pass knowledge onto impressionable youth, and affect the spaces around them. Teaching youth to ask questions and create spaces that allow for difficult questions is the best way that I can teach youth to question information that they are accessing on the internet to filter out fake news.

There are resources online for older students, such as Factitious where students can engage in new articles on their Facebook and Twitter, and then quiz themselves on what is true or false! As fake news is getting more and more difficult to detect, it goes back to the age old education proverb: practice makes perfect. By engaging in news media every day in small amounts, students will be able to think critically about conversations that they are having at home or with their peers.

EDTC300

Wizarding Schools of Coding Abilities

I have been vert fortunate to have the opportunity to work for an organization that has allowed me to learn basic coding skills. When it came to this project, I was stumped on what to use! I have invested hundreds of hours into programs like Hour of Code and Code Academy in the past, and wanted a challenge. This is where I found Make School! Make school is a college out of San Francisco that teaches computer science. Not only can you enroll, but there are hundreds of online tutorials that you can access for free! When digging through their tutorials, I found Code Wizard Castle, and felt it was totally up my alley. It is a step by step tutorial that teaches you the different components of basic programming.

At the beginning, I found this tutorial straight forward. There was a second tab I would change too with the explanations of the code I needed to interpret, and what it should have looked like. The visuals were SUPER straight forward, and very clear. My goal with each section was to not look at the answers. I wanted to be able to understand what I was typing, how I could make changes, and see it appear successfully on the right-hand side of my screen. Using Screencastify, I tracked my progress! You can see it below.

Step 1. Creating a Castle and a Wizard!

This was one of the more challenging parts, largely because I am so used to block coding. It took me to long to figure out how to get my wizard to appear on the screen. Once I figured it out, I realized I hadn’t turned on screencastify yet… oops. I decided to mirror my wizard after Ron Weasley, one of my all time favourite characters from the Harry Potter series. He is also the clutziest, so I thought it was fitting that if my code was a mess I could just blame him.

Step 2: Familiar, scroll and broom.

Once Ron was in the castle, it was time to get him a friend! I tried to create Rufus, but it was it was outside the capabilities of the tutorial. So I had to settle for a cat. Once Ron’s cat was settled, it was time to unpack his scroll and broom! Placing them in particular areas of the screen was challenging. When inputting the coordinates, I had place the items based on their middle, so it too some tweaking to get them where I wanted.

3. Wizard, cat, and a bubbling cauldron.

Next it was time to disspell the leg-locker curse and let Ron and his cat move around the room! This part of the code was particularly challenging, because Ron followed my house. Once I learned how to stop him from walked infinitely, I was able to hold the shift key and have him only walk when I wanted. His cat was more straight forward, and just paces the room!

Finally, it was time to light a fire under the cauldron! This part of the code had me going into the pre-written design and tweaking it. I was very afraid of breaking the code and having to start over!
4.  I should be able to do magic, right?

This was absolutely the most challenging part of the entire tutorial. I was supposed to write code that changed the spell Ron case in each room! As you can see, there is a 10-minute video dedicated to his cat walking across the screen, while I continually flipped back and forth from tab to tab troubleshooting the code.

First, Ron was supposed to say “hmm” when you clicked the mouse! Clicking the mouse triggers the spells, so we needed to activate this key. This was the first time I had to look at the solution because I just couldn’t figure out where I was going wrong.

Once the “hmm” code was up and running, Ron was able to cast Changicus! A spell that would randomly change the colour of his wand, and later his entire outfit.

5. Changicus!

 

DnDPowerHour, EDTC300, LearningProject

Book Creator

This week the tool I chose to explore was Book Creator. It is a free web program and app that allows people to create books with their own photos, media and content. I found the program itself a little confusing. To change the look of the page, you had to select the Capture. Intuitively, I thought that this would be information, like a tutorial. I did not discover that it opened up the page tools until the end.

Once I played around, I found it really straight forward to use! I created a short book describing what I learned during out last DnD session with Harvey DMed! You can read my little book by clicking on the cover below!

Capture.PNG

As an educator, I think that this will be an amazing tool for both teachers and students alike! It is easy to use, accessible and free! Educators can build books with content and share information with their students. These books can incorporate visual media such as videos to aid in students learning. Students also can build books to share what they have learned through building books and sharing them with their peers! This book took me approximately an hour to complete, which included the time it took me to learn the program.

Overall, I think this program is going to be an amazing tool to utilize in the classroom!

EDTC300

NonWhaleJonah

Jonah is a tough man to sleuth. Currently, we follow each other on twitter and are Facebook friends, so I used incognito mode in Chrome. Incognito mode is an Internet browser setting that prevents browsing history from being stored. Normally, when you visit any web page, any text, pictures, and cookies required by the page are stored locally on your computer. Incognito mode forgets this data when you close the browser window, or doesn’t store it at all. This is an awesome feature for searching for flights, sleuthing yourself, or if you forget to log out of browsers. Ultimately it means that my browser acted as if I didn’t know Jonah, taking away any of our prebuilt connections. This is what I found!

  1. Jonahs Twitter! It’s clear that Jonah isn’t very active on Twitter, as he only has 59 tweets at the time of this writing!
  2. I couldn’t find his Facebook. Dun dun.
  3. Jonah’s instagram! Again he is locked down- so no one can see his posts without following him.Capture
  4. Jonah has an account on Pictame which is also private. What I thought was interesting was that though his account in private I could see a variety of photos on Google Images.Capture
  5. I was able to find several news articles on him! First, There was an article published by Global from September 2017 about lowering the speed limit in school zones. In December 2016, another article published by the University of Regina shared how Jonah volunteered with a group of students to teach English one-on-one to dozens of new Canadians. In November, 2016 the Saskatchewan Synod also wrote an article about Jonah’s volunteering effort teaching English. 

Overall, Jonah’s digital footprint is TINY. I was shocked to find so little. It was cool to read about his work with newcomers to Canada, and I feel like for others who sleuth him will be nothing but pleasantly surprised by the incredible work he has done.

DnDPowerHour, EDTC300, LearningProject

DnD Power Hour Guest Blog: Harvey Time

Hail and well met, travellers!

You might know me as Harvey Homobabadook—Megan’s friend who plays DnD and takes over the EDTC300 hashtag every other Friday. What’s good!

In Megan’s last blog post, she talked about how I offered to DM a session during our campaign. In all honesty, prior to playing regularly with Megan and the rest of our party, I never had any interest in DMing. I have played with other DMs before and was always content to let them run the story and just be a player. However, during one of our last sessions, I got the overwhelming urge to create something myself and I offered to DM a session. Megan took me up on it, and suddenly I had a deadline to get my campaign together in two weeks.

Writing an original campaign can be a huge undertaking because as a roleplaying game, you can do almost anything. There are limitations set by the DM, of course, but as a collaborative narrative gaming system, it’s not like video games or other board games where you are confined by the system itself. Knowing this, I decided to adapt something that already existed into a campaign, rather than struggle to write something completely original and risk not having it done by the time it was my turn to DM.

The Campaign

The party discovers a notice on a signboard at a crossroads. It reads:

If there is a warrior or adventurer brave enough among ye to face the Woodland Spirit, the cruel oppressor of the inhabitants of the village of Fayrlund, you will receive a reward that will keep you in mead for a long while. We are not rich, but we have gathered a fair bit of coin between us.

               Come to Fayrlund and ask for Sven.

The party travels to Fayrlund, where they find a crowd of people surrounding the body of a man who has been viciously killed. There are two men who are arguing more vehemently than the others: Sven, the young man who posted the notice, and Harald, the village ealdorman. Harald believes that the Woodland Spirit is a god, and it is angry that the residents of Fayrlund have strayed from the old ways, whereas Sven believes the Woodland Spirit is a monster or beast that needs to be killed.

Both Harald and Sven offer the party a reward for choosing their way to deal with the Woodland Spirit over the other’s.

As the party investigates, they have to piece together information gathered from villagers and other travelers that will tell them how to defeat the Woodland Spirit if they choose to fight it instead of sacrificing wolf hearts to it. Without solving the puzzle, they are unable to kill the Woodland Spirit, who turns out to be an ancient leshen (a type of monster) and not a god at all, for good.

You have come into another small clearing, where the crows are swirling around above you. They caw and scream and swoop at your heads, but they always pull away at the last second. A mist has settled in the clearing, low to the ground.

The Woodland Spirit emerges from the mist. It is twelve feet tall, it has a moose skull for a head, with a huge rack of antlers. The skull has intricate carvings in it. The skull is attached to a slender body with long arms that end in razor sharp claws. The body of the monster looks like flesh grafted to bark. It bellows with a deep, howling voice, and it points a claw at the party.

The Process

I am an avid gamer. I play a LOT of video games. So, what I ended up adapting was a side quest from the video game The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. The name of this side quest is In the Heart of the Woods, which is a relatively short side quest in-game. Total, it can take maybe 20 minutes to play, if you’re not too low a level to take on the monster. I needed to adapt the story so it could fill a 3 or 4 hour session. What I wrote ended up being 14 pages long.

My process for adapting In the Heart of the Woods was pretty straight forward. I played the quest myself, as luckily I was near it in my current play-through of The Witcher 3. After I played the quest and got reacquainted with the story, I found a gameplay video of someone playing through all the options of the quest. I did this because I wanted to present more than one possible ending for my DnD players. Being able to see the different options play out and to be able to rewind and pause as I wrote helped me hammer out the linear structure of the campaign.

The really fun part of DnD, though, in comparison to more linear structures like video games, is that the players don’t necessarily have to go through the story from point A to B to C to D etc, etc. The way I set up the quest was the players absolutely had to investigate the village they were in to find out how they could get rid of the monster (if that’s the route they wanted to choose at all).

A challenge that I faced with adapting this was the narrative in the original video game only made sense if you played it as Geralt, the main character in The Witcher franchise. Geralt is a witcher—a professional monster hunter. He has experience with leshens and can recognize after investigating clues in the village that the Woodland Spirit is a monster after all. Geralt also has a bestiary, which the player can check for information on leshens such as weaknesses (fire, dimeritium bombs, and relict oil). Geralt knows that leshens can mark a person and draw power from that individual.

The Woodland Spirit, an ancient leshen

So, I wrote in NPCs (non-playable characters) who had snippets of information. I named them after random characters from The Witcher 3, and scattered them throughout the village for my players to meet and hopefully interrogate or persuade to give them the vital information for the final boss fight.

I even put Geralt as a character in the campaign—a failsafe for if my players got stuck. I used his background as a monster hunter to help move the narrative along when the party got bogged down in the puzzles or needed clues. I didn’t have to use Geralt often, which was really heartening as I was afraid of taking over the narrative from the players. That was the last thing I wanted as a new/guest DM!

A big part of me being able to write this campaign was resources given to me by Megan. We have a shared drive on Google Drive where we have dropped our resources so we can both access them. Because I guest DMed on Megan’s overall campaign, I wanted to stay as close to the guidelines she had put together for herself as possible so I didn’t mess up things like how many experience points the party got, and how difficult to make the final battles, or how much loot the players could get as a reward.

I also borrowed many books from Megan, such as the Dungeon Master’s Guide and the Monster Manual. Because the Woodland Spirit, a leshen, doesn’t exist in the Dungeons and Dragons world, I had to make up stats for it myself. I chose a monster from the Monster Manual (a dryad) that closely resembled it in terms of abilities, and then beefed it up so it would be a harder battle.

Gameplay

I ran the session completely digitally. I had some print outs of maps that I had made with Inkarnate (a website that my youngest brother who is a DM recommended to me) and then forgot the print outs at work. Luckily, I had the digital copies saved and I dropped them into our DnD group chat when it was relevant so the players could look at the terrain if they needed.

I also had the whole campaign written out in a text document with a table of contents and headings so I could skip back and forth to whatever section was needed because I knew the players wouldn’t go through the narrative the way I wrote it. I also had my character sheets for the NPCs up, a digital copy of the monster manual, a cheat sheet of spells for my magic user NPCs, website links for the stats on smaller monsters (like the wolves), and a notepad app so I could keep track of things like the NPC hit points and the order that players were going in during battles. Oh, and I had my phone out so I could record audio of the game and had my calculator out to do quick calculations on damage during battle.

Something I found difficult as a DM was letting go of my control/perception of the narrative and where it should go. At one point, the players began discussing the possibility that Sven was the monster, and it took a lot of restraint not to correct them. Just because I knew that didn’t mean anything. The players had to figure it out themselves. If they chose to face off against Sven and kill him, I would have to let them do it because that was where they were driving the game.

Another thing that ended up being difficult was the players SPLIT THE PARTY. It is common for DnD players to say “Never split the party!” because A) it leaves the party vulnerable to attack if there are enemies and B) it makes it hell for the DM. The party ended up splitting twice, and I had to run short scenes between each group. At one point, each individual had gone off to do something else. That meant I was running short vignettes between Tana, Galbaghore, Baldrick, Alone, and Glimmer and Geralt. To combat this challenge, I ran each short scene as if we were in battle. One a player took a big action, I would jump to the next scene, and we played a few rounds that way until the party reunited again.

In the end, I probably forgot and fudged a lot of rules of DnD, but that doesn’t really matter in my opinion. The collaborative gameplay of DnD where everyone can contribute is what makes it so special and getting bogged down in the rules, within reason, doesn’t foster that type of gameplay that I enjoy. My youngest brother, who has DMed for me a lot (actually one of my Christmas presents from him this past December was being able to play the module that The Adventure Zone played for their first big arc) gave me the best tip on DMing for the first time.

EDTC300

Power of Participatory Culture

I love the participatory culture that social websites. At any point in time, you can collaborate with classrooms and professionals from across the country without concerning yourself with timezones, oceans, or language barriers. Sharing sites like YouTube allow for content to be shared in an instant, worldwide. This gives nearly everyone with an internet connection and a device the ability to learn, anything.

There is so much power in participatory culture. For example, Mother Teresa Middle School here in Regina Saskatchewan participated in a #CraftReconciliation Challenge, where they collectively built a world in Minecraft, defining what reconciliation meant to them. It partnered Indigenious schools with non-indigenious schools across the country, and encouraged them to participate in active dialogue in what reconciliation meant to them. Mother Teresa Middle school was partnered with St. Bonaventure’s in Newfoundland. You can view their final project below.

Without participatory culture, a project like this would never exist. We would not be able to have school across the country collaborate in such meaningful conversations, and build such an impactful project.

Though caution is encouraged, I am an educator who believes in the power of technology and media. I truly feel that we have an amazing power at our fingertips, and used correctly could change the face of education.