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Posts Tagged ‘gaming

This is my reflection about how a boy gamed an assessment system that was driven by artificial intelligence (AI). It is not about how AI drives games.

If you read the entirety of this Verge article, you will learn that a boy was disappointed with the automatic and near instant grading that an assessment tool provided. The reason why he got quick but poor grades was because his text-based answers were assessed with a vendor’s AI.

The boy soon got over his disappointment when he found out that he could add keywords to the end his answers. These keywords were seemingly disjointed or disconnected words that represented key ideas of a paragraph or article. When he included these keywords, he found out that he could get full marks.

My conclusion: Maybe the boy learnt some content, but he definitely learnt how to game the system.

A traditionalist (or a magazine wiriter in this case) might say that the boy cheated. A progressive might point out that this is how every student responds to any testing regime, i.e., they figure out the rules and how to best take advantage of them. This is why test-taking tends to reliably measure just one thing — the ability to take the test.

If the boy had really wanted to apply what he learnt, he would have persisted with answering questions the normal way. But if he did that, he would have been penalised for doing the right thing. I give him props for switching to a strategy that was gamed from the start.

This is not an attack on AI. It is a critique on human decision-making. What was poor about the decisions? For one thing, it seemed like the vendor assumed that the use of key words indicated understanding or application. If a student did not use the exact key words, the system would not detect and reward them.

It sounds like the AI was a relatively low-level matching system, not a more nuanced semantic one. If it was the latter, it would be more like a teacher who would be able to give each student credit when it was due if the same meanings were expressed.

The article did not dive into the vendor’s reasons for using that AI. I do not think the company would want to share that in any case. For me, this exhibited all the signs of a quick fix for quick returns. This is not what education stands for, so that vendor gets an F for implementation.

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This week’s episode was a continuation was of last week’s. It was less about theory and more about testing some Python code and Google Colaboratory.

My goal of watching and taking notes on this series was basic knowledge building and not actual coding. But the episode gave me insights into the processes of this form of AI training.

I also found the transfer of biological concepts like mutation and fitness particularly interesting. I also took note of how humans are currently generally better than AI at what we take for granted.

CrashCourse AI episode 13.

The next episode promises to cover some ground on how humans and AI might work together.

Pokémon Go (PoGo) celebrated its second anniversary on 6 July. The game was released in Singapore in August, so I have been playing this game for almost two years.

PoGo second anniversary Pikachu.

I have reflected on how the game was — an still is — not quite augmented reality. Today I record two thoughts about how the game technology interacts with us.

The press would like you to know that PoGo is dead. This is despite the PoGo crowds you see on Community Days and Level 5 raids.

It will also keep telling you that too much gaming is a mental illness (and cite this WHO report) despite experts saying otherwise or expressing doubt. Why? Bad news sells, never mind the facts.

My observations are less deep.

The first is that playing a game like PoGo reveals who you already are, for the worst part. If you are a kiasu or kiasi local, you will help only yourself, others be damned. The local Facebook group for PoGo features daily drama to rival national broadcaster, MediocreCorp.

However, a game like PoGo can also change you for the better. You get out of your home and wander outside to catch, hatch, or match. This means getting some exercise, meeting new people, and exploring new places.

If you take the game more seriously, you read up about trends and strategies, and watch YouTube videos for tips, tricks, and expert advice.

Even the folks who cheat by spoofing their location in-game learn how to do it and so stay one step ahead of Niantic (the company responsible for PoGo).

That last point brings me back to the first — the game just reveals who you are. If you want to cheat or take shortcuts, you will do that. If you wish to stay true to the original spirit of the game, you can do that too.

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Just over a week ago, someone asked me if I still conduct workshops on authentic and meaningful game-based learning. I have not done so in a while and would love to resume doing so. If I do, I wonder if I can work this philosophical element in. It is vital because it sends the message that game-based learning can bring out the best or worst in us.

… or do as I do?

That was my reaction when I read this article in STonline about a local school restricting mobile gaming from 7am to 2pm.

Before I explain my reaction, I should point out that the newspaper article was a report of a report. There could be information loss from translation and there definitely was selective reporting of another report. That said, I have to work only with the information at hand.

Draconian measures by HCI on mobile gaming.

The crux of the matter is this: Students cannot use their own devices for mobile games right before school starts and during breaks.

Sometimes it is logical for students to be held to different standards. Other times it is not. For example, there are dress codes for students’ uniforms and their general appearances that teachers are not subject to.

Some would argue that the adults have matured to the point of understanding socially accepted standards of decency so that they know how to dress professionally.

If you believe that, you have not sampled enough adults. That is why we have dress codes everywhere, even at a beach.

So if standards and codes of conduct are the norm, what is wrong with a partial ban on mobile gaming?

Consider this: How would you like to be told that you cannot check your Facebook feed on your commute to work because you need to psyche yourself up for work?

Or how you like to be told that you cannot nap, gossip, or surf down rabbit holes during your lunch break?

Yes, both the students and teachers are at school and schools are walled gardens separate from the real world. So what happened to bringing the real world in?

Some teachers I know do not draw that line. I know adults who are just as guilty of walking distractedly or being overly engaged with their phones. What gives these adults the right to say “do as I say and not as I do?”

As for the adults who say “do as I say because I do not do what you do”, I ask: Just how real world is that? How (dis)connected are you?

This reflection has been brought to you by the medieval workshop of Draconian Measures.

I enjoyed this personal piece by Mimi Ito, How I Bonded with My Son by Ignoring Gaming Limits.

She shared her thoughts and distilled approaches from research, expert advice, and her personal experience. I distill them further into these four bullet points.

  • Negotiate limits
  • Set clear expectations
  • Provide guidelines, not rules
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate

I wonder if Ito might agree with me that strategic and open communication is the most important element in managing a child-gamer. After all, gaming is an opportunity to teach, learn, and bond. In Ito’s own words:

Reflecting helped me realize that our good times are when my son and I respect one another’s interests and integrity, and bond over shared values. This can mean valuing genuine curiosity and learning over a single homework assignment, or respecting that family dinner is as important as gaming with friends. It has also has meant my appreciating that both of us actually understand what a healthy bedtime is, even though at times we ignore it to nerd out on something fun.

Gaming is important to child-gamers. It provides context in lieu of life experiences, shapes their experiences, dictates what they consume, and inspires what they create. Why stand in the way when we can stand beside?

I share my own perspectives that I have collected and created with image quotes.

We do not stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.

How to see possibilities Open your eyes to read. Open your hands to try. Open your mind to new ideas. Open your heart to being a kid again.

Do not confine your children to your own learning, for they were born in another time.

If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow. -- John Dewey

You can imagine parents telling their kids to stop playing video games and to do their homework instead.

These same parents will ignore the growing suspicion that schooling does not prepare kids for their futures but for their past instead.

They will ignore the increasingly loud rhetoric about preparing kids for jobs that do not exist yet. Watch the segment of the video last edited in 2012 and embedded below.

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They will certainly ignore two things I tweeted recently about the possibility of gaming as a career and the prize money it offers.

But they ignore these at their peril and to the possible detriment to their kids because they focus on what they want instead of what the kids need or might be able to do.

Ten years ago when YouTube was born, who thought that it might be possible to live off online videos by vlogging? Who even considered vlogging as a job instead of a hobby? Who thought that vloggers might get TV shows, movie deals, merchandizing, sponsorship deals, books, tour dates, etc.?

We might not have a new economy (it is still about money), but there are new players who are rewriting the rules or making up new ones.

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This video tries to answer the question: Can video games make you smarter?

This all depends on how you define smart. The video summarizes research on attention span, mental focus, visual acuity, visual tracking, brain physiology, etc.

These are not things that schools and testing agencies might look for.

But ask caregivers of those with mental disorders, ADHD, or dyslexia if these are important. Ask tuition centres how they might give their learners an edge (and provide a juicy new section in their marketing material). Ask anyone who takes care of the elderly if mental sprite is important.

A UK-based organization, Freedom from Torture, put three fake advertisements in The Guardian to increase awareness of human torture. This blogger explains why and how the organization did this.

Put in the want ads section of the paper, the ad was a novel way to bring eyeballs to the cause.

It also got me thinking about how school is supposed to prepare kids for their future work, and more specifically, the future of work.

If the kids are going to work obediently in factories, schools are doing a fine job. If they are not, then our schools are sorely lacking.

At the risk of sounding ridiculous, what if the ad above was real? How does one prepare a learner to be a torturer?

That example is not realistic given that the ad is a spoof. But it must be said that a few people are trained to do this kind of work, just not conventionally.

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What is realistic are future jobs like in-game bodyguards. Not real life bodyguards, but protectors and guides in video games like Call of Duty and Battlefield. As the linked article reveals, one such bodyguard is a 15-year-old boy from England.

Some might say that being an in-game bodyguard is the boy’s hobby and not his career. Before you pooh-pooh that idea, consider the rise of cyberathletes, the online creation and trading of in-world or game artefacts [virtual consumerism], or simply the setting up of blog shops [examples].

So how do you teach these work and life skills?

In some cases, you do not teach conventionally at all. The gamers learn the trade (and tricks of the trade) themselves. My 8-year-old son recently started playing the online version of Minecraft. Thanks to YouTube videos by CaptainSparklez and Minecraft wikis [example], he has encyclopedic knowledge of the game.

As his parent and educator, I not only showed him how to find these resources, but also helped him decide if they were worthwhile.

For example, Sparklez is a great instructor and entertainer. His game voiceovers are engaging and he does not use crude expletives. But when he plays in multiplayer mode, his kin are less disciplined with their expressions. I told my son which Sparkles videos he could watch and which he should not and why.

I facilitate, monitor, and evaluate. I take interest and listen. I question and give feedback. I do not lecture because my son already is the content expert. That is what teachers can do too.

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I tweeted this resource last week and have shared it with my ICT class as we prepare for sessions on game-based learning.

The video is not about game-based learning. Instead, its focus is on the gamers of today and tomorrow, and how they hope to see gaming evolve.

What caught my attention was the statistic that 75% of the respondents would like to see games in classrooms and for learning. Actually, this shouldn’t be too surprising given how the 2011 Horizon Report for K-12 predicts that game-based learning has a two to three year time-to-adoption period.

I am ready if they are and I am doing my best to prepare teachers who are ready too!

I spotted this ad in the digital version of our local rag:

More information about the institute and the degrees can be found at this Web site.

Look back a few years and these degrees would have been ridiculous pipe dreams. Fast forward to today and these are real and lucrative opportunities.

So who knows what the future might bring? More importantly, how might you prepare learners for a future that few (if any) can predict?

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