Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Playing Megaman with your Mom

Cover Art for Mega Man 2
Cover Art for Mega Man 2, from Wikipedia. Copyright by Capcom.
This article was originally posted on Esoteric Gaming.

“I’m going to play Mega Man now.”

“Ok, I’ll be free in 15 min.”

I distinctly remember this conversation from my childhood. This conversation was normal in many ways, I was a Nintendo child through and through. I was born the same year that Nintendo was released. I remember seeing the “1984” date etched in the plastic console and thinking, “Yes, this was made for me.”

And Mega Man 2, well, it was just one of those games that stuck with you. It was one of the originators of the classic Capcom formula: play a level, face a boss, get the boss’s special powers after beating them. Of course Mega Man 2 wasn’t the original or the last Mega Man, but it was the one that hooked me as a kid, so it was assumed that anytime I said I was “playing Mega Man,” it was Mega Man 2. This was normal.

But there’s a lot about the exchange that isn’t normal.

Friday, October 6, 2017

The subjective nature of truth

As a scientist, I've spent a lot of time concerning myself with how to convey scientific facts to those outside the scientific community. As a concerned U.S. citizen in the last 9 months, I've spent time trying to figure out what are the political facts of this world and how we trust them. As an educator, I'm particularly interested in how we teach our children to recognize true facts from false ones.

I think I've learned two simple concepts about fact-finding that I want to share. First, as humans, we don't trust facts as being true because the evidence is credible, but rather because we believe the source of the evidence is credible. Second, our default mode as humans is be extremely subjective about how we process information about the world.

I remember being taught about this subject in school.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

What is Immersion and does VR own it?

"Virtual Reality is great because it's so immersive." A common tagline nowadays that grates my ears every time I hear it. It implies that Virtual Reality, or VR, has some kind of special hold on the idea of Immersion. Some people have backed away from this claim recently, offered the more palatable claims of "a sense of presence," but having just walked out of the 2017 Games For Change day on VR, I can say immersion is still going strong.

I have two issues with this phrase-

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Should we teach simple things first?

In my time volunteering and working for Iridescent, I came to understand a certain model for how to teach design processes. Having read the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards, I realized that the Iridescent model of teaching is unique from the more typical and common sense teaching models, but that difference is really powerful. I'd call this model core-first teaching, and I believe it's particularly applicable to teaching topics like engineering design, coding, or the scientific method.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A nuanced look at Student Data Privacy

Student data privacy is a big concern with the proliferation of data in education. But is all data equally concerning? We tend to put all “Student Data” in one big bucket and treat it as if it’s all the same. Yet we know there are drastic differences between different schools and EdTech companies in their mission, approach, pedagogy and tools: is it really reasonable to suspect that all of their data is the same? And more importantly is all data and uses of that data equally threatening from a student privacy standpoint?

I’ll give away the punchline- my answer is no, not all student data is equal. But if it’s not all equal, what criteria can we use to distinguish student data?  Here’s some ideas.