There’s a new game in town
Mini ‘how-to’ Bluetooth/Wifi combo for Raspberry PI
Stick’em with the pointy end
Virtual and not so Virtual Space
Be Still my Bleeding Heart …
The Never-ending Privacy Battle
The Many Sides of Bitcoin
Cyber Jihadists
Hacker Gangs
The New Old War
The Sacred Executioner
Scripting Aphrodites
There’s a new game in town My first foray into role playing games (RPGs) wasn’t actually an RPG at all. Rather, it was a computer based word puzzle, “The Colossal Cave” aka “Adventure.” I stumbled upon this game during a computer job back in the late 1970s. The game was written in Basic and ran on a PDP-11. I spent hours […]
Mini ‘how-to’ Bluetooth/Wifi combo for Raspberry PI I recently purchased the Cirago USB Bluetooth/Wifi combo to use with my raspberry pi. All things considered, I am quite pleased. Being reasonably versed in google-fu, helped, of course. Since I want the freedom to do some mobile tinkering, I need to access the pi sans a lan. That, and my latest wild hair project […]
Stick’em with the pointy end Since I have been spending a great deal of my time playing in the field of 3D design and printing, I have only recently stumbled upon, and had time to read, “Privacy for Me and Not for Thee,” penned by Catherine A. Fitzpatrick, a human rights activist whom I first encountered in the virtual world […]
Virtual and not so Virtual Space Not long ago, someone asked if I liked 3D printing better than virtual worlds. The short answer is, equally but differently.
Be Still my Bleeding Heart … “Secure web servers are the equivalent of heavy armored cars. The problem is, they are being used to transfer rolls of coins and checks written in crayon by people on park benches to merchants doing business in cardboard boxes from beneath highway bridges. Further, the roads are subject to random detours, anyone with a screwdriver […]
The Never-ending Privacy Battle This brings me back to the Hundredpercent American. To some extent he is a pet of mine. I have always rather liked him, because he has some promising qualities. For instance, he has enormous hospitality. I used to feel personally complimented by the amazing warm-hearted hospitality showered on me by Americans. […] When I realized […]
The Many Sides of Bitcoin Pariah, darling, or somewhere in between. Bitcoin has continued to linger in the daily media spotlight since the shuttering of darknet’s black-market drug bazaar, Silk Road, and the subsequent announcement of the arrest of its alleged owner, Ross William Ulbricht (aka DPR), on October 2, 2013. Media mavens have long cast bitcoin as a sort […]
Cyber Jihadists “We’re facing a very great threat of loosely-coupled, organizational networks that increasingly rely on IT infrastructure to coordinate their movements and recruit young disenfranchised, apathetic guys as suicidal pawns in a sophisticated, dispersed movement. (…)” (AHM, Usenet, September 21, 2001)
Hacker Gangs Meet Jim Script Kiddie (skiddie). He is the guy (usually in his early to mid teens) who comes into a hacker forum, asking inane questions like, “how can I be a hacker?” He also tends to over-indulge in “hacker speak” making him look pretty much like a moron to seasoned (and not so) computer netizens.
The New Old War In 1956, FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover initiated a program, code-named COINTELPRO (counter intelligence program) ushering in what would become the mainstay for how intelligence communities dealt with domesitic affairs. The sole directive of this program was “to expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” the activities of various dissidents and their leaders.
The Sacred Executioner In his book, “The Sacred Executioner,” Hyam Maccoby notes: “A figure in mythology that has received little attention is that of the Sacred Executioner. […] By taking the blame for the slaying, he is performing a great service to society, for not only does he perform the deed, but he takes upon himself the blame […]
Scripting Aphrodites On Wednesday, April 13, 2006, 10-year-old Jamie Rose Bolin was reported missing by her father. Investigators thought she may have been abducted by someone she met online. Oklahoma law enforcement suspected her abductor might be heading just across the border to Texas and requested Texas issue an Amber alert.
image There’s a new game in town
image Mini ‘how-to’ Bluetooth/Wifi combo for Raspberry PI
image Stick’em with the pointy end
image Virtual and not so Virtual Space
image Be Still my Bleeding Heart …
image The Never-ending Privacy Battle
image The Many Sides of Bitcoin
image Cyber Jihadists
image Hacker Gangs
image The New Old War
image The Sacred Executioner
image Scripting Aphrodites

Grid Scholastics

If you do a quick search for “eCampus,” you will find articles wherein the writer enthusiastically proclaims, “these are the campuses of the future!” While eCourses come in a variety of forms, just how much do people learn, anyway? Moreover, how can students be measured beyond the standard regurgitation that is required for passing tests?

There are, of course, a number of eCampus software companies. Although, no research to date has proven this type of long-distance learning actually works, I would proffer long-distance learning is questionable at best and an abysmal failure at worst. For a number of reasons, the least of which involves ensuring the student meet the minimum criteria of viewing lecture material, submitting acceptable work, and achieving comparable test scores to those of the sister courses where such things as cheating (google anyone?) are much harder to do. Enter tomorrow’s teachers.

The instructor’s challenge, and what is arguably key to a solid learning foundation, is engaging student participation. This is where the phrase “abysmal failure” may apply to such courses. While instruction models vary, they are largely limited to the tools the eCampus software companies provide. The tools provided attempt to create a somewhat structured course-work flow, to include assignment schedules, a class roster, and a grade-book. While these are necessary tools for managing coursework and tracking student progress, the instructor is still faced with fostering interaction within and between students. For it is this free flow of communication from whence learning and even great ideas sprout.

The standard tools include everything from a web forum-ish layouts to video courses, wherein the instructor tapes the lecture for students to view at their leisure. Within this framework, most instructors will require at least one written assignment per week along with the standard mid-term and final exams. In some cases, the instructor may even throw in a pop quiz to ensure their students are at least reading the material. Even if they are not exploring material that extends beyond the lecture. The asynchronous nature of this model is undoubtedly the greatest hindrance to student engagement. Which brings us to the question of the day.

Is it possible to leverage the immersive quality of virtual worlds to address not only  synchronicity issues but to increase the degree of student participation as well?

Linden Lab seems to think so. So much so, that they have assigned Pathfinder Linden to oversee, among other things, the educational aspect of the grid. In addition to regularly weekly meetings, they also have two list serves: SL Education and SL Research List (sled and slrl, respectively), for focusing upon just such issues. And Larry Johnson, of The New Media Consortium (NMC), recently breathlessly proclaimed, “I think it’s safe to say now that nearly every college and university has some sort of project in Second Life.

Mr. Johnson’s rather bold statement aside, and ignoring the fact that the majority of these pilot programs appear to be focusing upon futuristic learning models, the old idiom, KISS, comes to mind.While the idea of game theory, instructional bots and hands on practice medical exams are certainly alluring, the very basic classroom model is certainly worth exploring.

Consider this scenario, for example. Some instructors are faced with the challenge of organizing online classroom. Within a repertoire of tools, among which is the standard eCourse ware, they also have the option of using second life.

Interesting. How might one leverage such a tool?

For starters, a classroom setting, replete with chairs and a podium, and the requirement that students “attend class” once or twice a week would be in order. In addition to coursework assignments, such as reading and perhaps even written exercises, students would be graded on attendance and participation. Reading assignments would be provided at least one week prior to the start of each class, along with a list of key subjects that will be covered during the in-world class. Students would also be required sign a waiver for recording class sessions prior to admission, as they would be required to use voice during the course. This latter is important to ensure the student is participating in the discussion as opposed to say, chatting with someone in IM.

The usefulness of this approach is self-evident. The quality of attending an online class increases due to the synchronicity brought to the equation. This in turn fosters student engagement and the very real potential for true learning. The added benefit is immediate feedback as well as a sense of camaraderie that is gained from the students sharing the experience of learning their material within the confines of the new frontier. The end result? A reified learning process as well as a solid foundation for building a network that can extend beyond the student’s time in school.

This approach brings with it another advantage. And that is introducing the student to the rich landscape of virtuality and the possibilities within. If those exploring second life as a viable venue for educational institutions will only keep in mind, you can cover a lot of territory with baby steps, then just perhaps, second life has the opportunity to truly usher the educational sector into the wonderful world of virtuality. Just perhaps…