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Think

Three Weeks Down

…and a happy new academic year to you too!

Three weeks into the new academic year and to borrow a 90s album title, So Far So Good. This semester has brought with it some of the regular modules that I have taught previously including Introduction to Web Development, and Entrepreneurship in the Creative Industries, while the year-long, Moving Image continues into the shorter days and longer evenings. I do have one new module, Creative Media Group Project, a final-year, shared teaching experience alongside some colleagues.

To date, the Introduction to Web Development module has brought with it the basics of HTML5 tags and CSS3 styling, while the learners have been exposed to exercises in marking up text, creating links, inserting images, developing lists and tables, and this week, integrating multimedia elements. Teaching CSS alongside HTML, as opposed to separately, brings with it its own opportunities and challenges. The complexities of integrating both formed the basis for The Muddiest Point, a Classroom Assessment Technique (CAT) that I rolled out to last year’s students and which proved to be a really insightful exercise in formulating formative feedback on my teaching practices. This exercise led to some action-based teaching this semester (more on this over the coming weeks), which I ‘assume’ will lead to better learning experiences for the students.

Both the Entrepreneurship in the Creative Industries and Moving Image modules are taught as part-time, Springboard, evening courses where the former introduces theoretical and practical paradigms to the students (I’m particularly interested in how the students perform with their Paperclip Challenge (detailed below)), while the latter builds on theory and practice from the previous semester with a shift in focus this time to narrative and character that ultimately leads to the development of a story, script, and animatic. Students on the Creative Media Group Project module have been assigned the task of developing a substantial, research-based project on the theme of ‘Evolution’. At present, we are introducing the students to potential technological avenues they may wish to pursue, while the focus will shift to forming and developing groups in the coming weeks.

The Muddiest Point is one of the simplest CATs to help assess where students are having difficulties. The technique consists of asking students to jot down a quick response to one question: “What was the muddiest point in [the lecture, discussion, homework assignment, film, etc.]?” The term “muddiest” means “most unclear” or “most confusing.” (Center for Teaching at Vanderbilt University, 2018)

The Reading Challenge

At the turn of the year, the one that we’re a full gestation period into, I set myself a challenge to read one book per month. I enjoy reading, though one of the side effects of a PhD is that reading becomes something akin to an enduring experience as opposed to an enjoyable one. Endurance test aside, I took to the challenge with gusto, and an armful of books that had been gathering dust to some degree.

12 in 12.

…and to be fair, it has been enjoyable and not at all endurable, though some of the reads I have found tough going at times. At the minute, I’m at book number 16 for the year, which I’m quite chuffed with to be honest. The target is to reach 20 by year end, which is another challenge considering the academic year is soon upon us.

I’ll leave my ‘Top 5’ reads list until the festive season. Suffice to say, there are some really great reads in this pile. There’s another pile of similar size awaiting, but if you want to recommend a read, do get in touch. Book club anyone?

Last read: ‘Here Are The Young Men’

Current read: ‘The Glorious Heresies’

Hangman & Javascript

Hangman eh? Days of yore…

So the past number of weeks has seen me become one with JavaScript. Namasté.

OK, that’s stretching it a tad but the programming vocabulary has grown recently with objects, arrays, and boolean operators becoming part of everyday parlance. The accompanying text of ‘Javascript For Kids’ has become a good source for all things programming-wise, and whilst I can’t say that I am completely au fait with the code (the same can be said of my current read ‘Wuthering Heights’ – more on that at a later point), I am getting there. Where there is, is actually just one more chapter (Functions) before I’ll reverse and go back over the content one final time.

JavaScript for Kids

I’m learning JavaScript.

It’s a language I’ve never coded before although I have used/manipulated it on numerous occasions. I’m following Nick Morgan’s (skilldrick.co.uk) JavaScript for Kids as a learning guide and so far, so good.

The above (^) is my first piece of written JavaScript. Woohoo!

While I’m at it check out these impressive JavaScript creations:

http://fantasynth.com/

https://patatap.com/

https://cubeslam.com/

Check back again in a few weeks to see how me and my JS code are progressing…

 

VS Games 2018

Good news! We (Dr Bride Mallon, Dr Cornelia Connolly, and my-good-self) have had our research paper accepted for VS-GAMES 2018. Our paper focuses on the role of Assessment in Serious Alternate Reality Games.

The 10th International Conference on Virtual Worlds and Games for Serious Applications takes place from September 5th-7th in Würzburg, Germany.

The community of the VS-GAMES covers a broad variety of facets of virtual worlds and games including game design, software engineering, computer graphics, human-computer interaction techniques, pedagogical and psychological models and evaluations. The common denominator of the conference is that all of these different efforts and perspectives target serous application domains – from museum exhibitions over deep sea robotics interfaces to training and rehabilitation.

VS-GAMES 2018