Trash or treasure: Developing a game for youth about recycling, trash and community health.

A short presentation about a recent student project in Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua. Our first attempt at creating an educational game, and an opportunity to learn a lot of lessons about what it takes to do such a thing successfully. As we are thinking about our next class and projects we will be integrating some of the lessons learned so that future projects can be even more fun, educational and appropriate.

One of our challenges comes from straddling three languages and understanding how we can best prepare students and our collaborators to effectively facilitate the experience. There is also an opportunity to use the project to evoke learning across cultures in order to let everyone learn, bending rules and roles to make both game and cultural boundaries porous. Which leads to thoughts about games creating temporary communities – which may not be at all durable or long term but which open up spaces for leveling relationships.

Should there be random events or some elements or randomness or surprise built into the play in order to unsettle us? Would that in any way equalize relationships? It might be more relevant to educational games designed for adults? This unsettling process? Anyways, a lot to consider going forward.

As an unsolicited aside - I refuse the term gamification (for many reasons) and prefer to refer the process this as gameful learning. Just an opinion, but strongly dislike the word gamefication.

Raising funds to support technology workshops in Nicaragua

michael-kids-smallerThis January (2015) I’ll be heading off to Nicaragua for two weeks. During my time there I will be conducting several technology workshops with youth. While I am still in the planning process I do know that I will be using littleBits as the core tool set for these workshops. Right now I am hoping to run 4 workshops – 2 on the Atlantic Coast (Puerto Cabezas) and two inland in Matagalpa. While littleBits is donating some modules I am hoping to raise funds to purchase additional modules and possible a few other components. I am not used to asking folks for money like this but as I am self-funding I find that it is necessary if I hope to have a full range of flexibility in the workshop activities and outcomes.

This past summer I used littleBits in a workshop for 4-H here on campus and had very good results. You can learn more about that work here:

As always I am more than happy to talk about this work and answer questions, so please feel free to drop a comment here and I’ll respond.



Presentation proposal – “Re-presenting” the world through technology. Digital literacy practices in cross-cultural contexts

Drawn from projects involving youth working in the United States and Latin America, three case studies will focus on technology as mediator for the “re-presentation” of the world by learner-teachers, and the facilitation of that process by the teacher-learner. Project work with digital photography and video as tools for digital literacy development will be highlighted.

Using a method of digital literacy development that is grounded in the lived situation of the learners shifts the focus from technology as subject to that of technology as a means of expression and communication. Embedding technical learning in a larger social context provides an approach to digital literacy learning that places the instructor in a position of peer – with each participant engaging in teaching and learning. The instructor holds the concrete practices that will enable learners to fully utilize technology for dialog and creation. The learners hold the as yet articulated “re-presentation” of subject that will flow through the tools.  In this way the disequilibrium present in traditional teacher learner relationships can be unseated and new ways of working and learning become possible.

Each of the three presented case studies will expand on this vision and illustrate effective practices for approaching digital literacy training in this way. By exploring a variety of learning contexts and a diversity of participants the underlying principles will be illustrated.  The range of technologies employed as tools for the organized, systematized and developed “re-presentation” of topics and materials rising from the learners will be discussed.

Gratitude and generosity in cross-cultural exchanges – revision 2

Resources/References used:
Buber, M. (1958). I and Thou. New York: Scribner.
Burbules, N. C. (1993). Dialogue in teaching: Theory and practice. New York: Teachers College Press.
Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum.
Garrison, J. (1996), A DEWEYAN THEORY OF DEMOCRATIC LISTENING. Educational Theory, 46: 429–451. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-5446.1996.00429.x
Guilherme,A. & Morgan, W.J. (2009) Martin Buber’s philosophy of education and its implications for adult non‐formal education. International Journal of Lifelong Education 28 (5) p. 565-581
Palmer, P. J. (1983). To know as we are known: A spirituality of education. San Francisco: Harper & Row.
 Smith, M. K. (2001) ‘Dialogue and conversation’, the encyclopaedia of informal