Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Video Games and Learning Ethics

I heard from my son, again. He sent me an email pointing to an online analysis of video game design:... A series of short videos that are really fantastic about video games, talking about games and what makes them great (or not so great)...
I responded as follows.

I've just gone through one and a half videos.
This is exciting--to me.  I want to know how people learn, and then how to make the learning process, and the teaching, to be smooth, sequential, rationalized, and effective learning.  That's exactly what the guys on the Mario Bros games, in Mark Brown's exposé seem to pull off.

This last term when I was teaching a cobbled together History of Ethics:Plato through Post-Modern-Clean-Up-the-Mess-of-The-Enlightenment, I installed online tests, short tests of about 20 questions each for each new unit (from the first chapter on).  Then with each new unit, there were 20 questions for the new and 20 questions comprehensively over the old.  

Then I set it up so that the students had unlimited retries for each exam, with each try locked into a timeframe of 60 minutes (more on Midterms and Finals).  Each exam when administered would be a new random selection from a large test bank, and the order of the answers were also to be arranged at random.  In spite of the "all-new all-different" look-and-feel of the short exams, the material covered was, in my opinion, not really all that varied.  E.g., T/F Plato came before Aristotle, and another question would be Aristotle studied under a) Kant b) Dr. Meyer c) Aquinas or d) Plato.  And so forth.

My goal was to have the student emerge from the whole course with a solid time frame of "who did what when;"
and for the student to learn one little piece at a time; 
and then to use or fit the new knowledge into the whole context of the history of ethics; 
and at the end of the course to write a short argumentative essay about some bonafide living question (e.g., for pro-choice students, argue whether restrictions are justified for end-of-term abortions; or whether restrictions on hate speech are a justifiable restriction on individual freedom or not).
It does not need to be said, but I'll say it: the execution fell short of the design.  But that's what ambitions are for--to give us something elevated to shoot for!

The end goal of any education that I would want to design would be to allow the learner to emerge at an end state with the new information and new skills fully integrated into the learners matrix of all knowledge and matrix of all skills.  This too is a very difficult thing to achieve.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Ships in a Bottle

On Christmas day in my house, one of my sons and I were talking while our other halves were talking by together somewhere else in the house.  It was a great time, talking about the mythic dimensions of video games, the cultural gaps in young people and our own cultural gaps, and so forth.  My son raised the question of what would be analogous to building a ship in a bottle for people of our generations.  We tossed around a few ideas.

The notion of building a ship in a bottle is that it's labor intensive, requires a high degree of technical skill and artistic skill,  and has a very small awareness-footprint--few people will ever see it or know of it.

I had a follow up insight into the dynamic of the metaphor of building a ship in a bottle.  The idea is that for everyone, we need a venue, an agora, in which we can display our expertise.  Those who build ships in bottles are highly skilled older men who have been relegated to the retirement track of life.  They have been removed, often against their will, from the venue in which they displayed their expertise.  So, therefore, ergo, they display their excellence in a small private venue.

In the academic field of art history, there is much ado about women being historically absent--if not forcibly excluded--from the world of fine art.  I speculate and propose that the only reason anyone, male or female, young or old, goes into fine art, at any time or place, antiquity to now, is because there is not opportunity to display one's excellence in a rewarding venue, in a way that brings cultural approbation and/or financial renumeration and/or fulfillment of life-goals.  MOMMIES in traditional stay at home venues will and did work to the point of exhaustion--as GOOD ARTISTS are wont to do.  And they would make beautiful things, elegant things, metaphorical things, while training other young artists to do the same.

When a man can make a living--or rather, Make a LIFE--by displaying his excellence at craft and artistic skill, he will--end of story.  When a man has no opportunity to present his excellence, his great skill (or his hopes to develop great skill), he will do it privately, or possibly, not at all.  Women have a biologically-advantaged venue for displaying their excellence at all things related to craft, in the domestic world.  But this is not an argument about roles, gender or otherwise.  This is an argument about why people will build ships in a bottle or analogous things.  The analogous things are displays of (even great) excellence and craft and artistry in a domestic or otherwise private world, private venue, non-commercial venue.

A young boy, 13 years old, carrying on the family business: Derek Trucks with the Allman Brothers Band.  He has a venue.  Doesn't have to play in his bedroom.  

Sometimes, we don't get to have a venue.

And then, sometimes artistic excellence finds its own venue.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

What happened? Did we go to an alternate reality?


Due to the wonders of the online world, the old entries in this titled blog disappeared.  I may recover them, using The Wayback Machine or some such, but in the meantime, this is my online home, my personal site.  I'm happy to see you, whoever may be visiting