Wanna learn languages? Go online!

November 25, 2006

Have you ever wanted to learn languages but never found the time nor the right place to do it? Well, here’s your shot!  

All you have to do is get your I-pod, download all the foreign music you like and download the lyrics of the songs you’re listening to. That’s how, experts say, you’ll easily learn and enjoy at the same time! There’s no need for teachers, books or tests! You’ll find yourself speaking different languages in no time!   However, if you like a more traditional approach, you’ll find many interactive programs online to help you. Some of which are: 

1)    Practice English online! (http://www.1-language.com/ ). In this page you’ll find different tools for learning such as flash games, grammar quizzes and more. You can also get info for studying abroad and (here’s the best part) there are also other languages available such as Italian, Spanish and more!  

Roaring tiger killing a crocodile, photo from: Jardin des Tuileries, Paris

2)    Learn French online! (http://www.frenchassistant.com/default.asp). Here, you’ll get practice online French language lessons and question generator. And it’s free!!  

International penpals free and online

3)    Learn German online! (http://www.deutsch-lernen.com/). You’ll find 10 German lessons for total beginners and 24 German grammar lessons for advanced learners are complemented by numerous interactive German exercises, an introduction to new German orthography and 2 online German tests to improve and to evaluate your German proficiency. You’ll be able to study tips, famous quotations, an online dictionary to translate German terms into over 70 languages and international pen pals!!! 

4)    Learn Italian Online! (http://www.iluss.it/). Wanna test your Italian language level, learn Italian with our online courses, build your Italian language vocabulary, listen to Italian texts and dialogues, read Italian short stories, learn Italian verbs? Here’s the right place!   So, once you make up your mind, tell us about it!Any comments? Suggestions? Leave them here!!!!

Already speak Spanish, check Edutainment in Spanish 

Stay tuned…

KIKI


Japanese Edutainment: Space Trends

November 19, 2006

I would like to share a very intresting article from our friend Michael Keferl:

Leave it to the Japanese to make learning cool. Say what you will about the educational system, because outside of school there’s a lot of learning going on. From “brain trainers” to manga that visually demonstrate the Theory of Relativity or how to repair a motorcycle, entertainment is quite often merged with education.

One of the biggest trends in the last year has been space. While it’s basically impossible to view the stars clearly in a big city like Tokyo, products like the Homestar Planetarium from Sega bring it all right into your living room with amazingly bright detail for 10,000 stars (with the occasional shooting star blasting through), all projected on your ceiling or wall. The popularity for the Homestar has been overwhelming for Sega, and the release of the upcoming Homestar Pro (integrating color!) will solidify that.

Citizen’s Astrodea series of watches are not only cool looking, but highly functional tools for measuring time with space coordinates. The newly updated Celestial watch series comes in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres for stars, a Moon Age version for lunar time, and even a cool celestial wall clock that glows in the dark.
Astrodea celestial watch
Out last month, the Homestar Planetarium has even gone mobile, with cool PSP software. While not a game per se, the Homestar Portable is the gateway to five million stars and astrological phenomena from location specific areas, and even by date or time. Users can navigate, zoom in, and otherwise explore the universe with detailed information about constellations, planets, and everything else that makes up infinite space. Homestar Portable also recreates events such as Aurora Borealis and eclipses, while also giving a fifteen chapter guided tour of space in Fantasy Theater mode.

Sega-homestar-portable

However, the coolest part of Homestar Portable will come in December when Sony releases the GPS adapter for the PSP, which will make it the best space reference in the…umm…Universe?

What do you think!?
Please post your comments!

Until next time!

Cheers,

Questor


Save me from my toddler!!!!!!

November 13, 2006

Our friends at http://www.lifehacker.com/ give us some advice on How to handle a strong-willed toddler

Got yourself a strong-willed toddler? Parenting Hacks suggests that you tell ’em what to do, rather than what NOT to do:Instead, we’ve started to tell her what TO DO. For instance, when she’s about to pick up a cigarette butt on the ground, we say “Yucky. Step on it.”. It redirects her action and becomes something she does every time she sees trash on the ground. Same for throwing food on the floor, “Put it on your tray.” It sounds so simple, but it has changed our lives. 

Every time I ask mi parent’s how I was as a toddler, they go pale. All the anecdotes they can think of are mess-related. Apparently I used to climb trees (especially when wearing light colored dresses), to play football and to touch everything at hand (especially crystal made ornaments). As far as they are concerned, teenage hood is a blessing!Do you have a toddler? How do you manage to stay sane? Are they as “messy” as people think they are? If you have any other strong-willed kid tips… please let us know your thoughts and comments. Stay tuned… 

KIKI


Serious Games

November 10, 2006

Can  games be serious?
I would like to share with you the following article from our friends at game-research.com.
Games can also be serious stuff: 😉
simon_small.jpg

These last years, we have seen the serious games area receive increased attention from a variety of places.

For those new to the field, serious games can be defined as computer games with an agenda beyond entertainment. Researchers, educators, policy markes and business people are drawn to the area which seems to hold great promise. The Serious Games Initiative has been particularly important in developing the area, although some feel the focus on military applications has been too string.

Despite the good intentions many questions still remain unanswered. There is a risk that these questions become glossed over by what must be characterized as hype. A few observations on the history of computer games should alert us to some of the current dangers. Indeed, this is not the first time that serious games have been hyped – especially the subarea of educational computer games (often referred to as edutainment).

The largest area within serious games continues to be the educational use of computer games that had its first heyday in the mid-1980s and a second boom in the late 1990s. Each time the low quality of edutainment titles led the market to a great crash. Here 10 years after the last most noticable crash in the mid-1990s the edutainment market is still second rate with little innovation, small development budgets, rehacks of old titles and simple game technologies, which all lead to a low quality of edutainment (some argue this is a general trend within educational software). There is a vicious cycle that needs to be broken.

In the vicious cycle we see how lower consumer interest leads to smaller budgets, which again leads to less innovation and lower quality resulting in even less consumer interest. Edutainment is struggling with more critical and tech-savvys students, parents and teachers who will not continue to put up with low quality titles. However, despite an increase in critical sense in the target group, publishers are not picking up on these trends. Perhaps the group of less educated parents, teachers and students just going with any product is still large enough to warrant the old wine on new bottles approach.

On the other hand, serious games is doing extremely well with the hype building. Serious games have made its way into Game Developer conference and Gamasutra as an entity in itself. This is in many regards the result of the Serious Games Initiative which has been extremely succesful in pushing serious games into the spotlight. Unfortunately, I sense that we may end up in exactly the same place wher edutainment wound up in the mid-1980s and the mid-1990s if we are not careful. Most serious games are not of a very high quality. For now, we still ride on the strong belief in the concept of serious games, and people are content with trying to get it right. Although the concept of serious games is compelling for most people there will come a time, not too far away, where people will start asking for more solid evidence.

Recently there has been attempts at engaging these problems, but it has mostly been on a high level of abstraction at conferences, and afterwards people have gone home doing what they always do. There is of course a number of very relevant issues around serious games that we should tackle such as the challenges between play and learning, getting debriefing right and including assesment. I believe that the major challenge of serious games is to really start trying to achieve the same quality as commercial mainstream game titles. Although, serious games have an extra challenge beyond entertainment we should never give up getting as exciting titles as the mainstream market. Often we hide behind the fact that we are in another business than the game business, but from my perspective this will paint us in to the edutaiment corner if we are not very careful. The major problem with this approach is on a very concrete level the considerable smaller budgets that serious games operate with. Of course, we can not expect a $1 mio. game budget to blow a AAA title with a $10 mio. game budget out of the waters. However, we should be able to compete against a A title with a similar budget. When we are able to build the A titles we can also grow the market and slowly get the necessary muscle to go into larger budgets. Of course, this also requires that schools actually begin to appreciate that using computers does not end with buying the hardware, booting up an office package, and surfing the net.

However, there is at least one major flaw with this approach, and that is the fact that serious games is not a global industry. Most serious games are more local than global. The needs and expectations between educational system, military and businesses seems to vary quite considerable across regions. This stands in marked contrast to the mainstream commercial computer games that must be succesful on a global scale. You cannot imagine a commercial computer game that would only work in Europe, but nevertheless you have several serious games that are only expected to work on a national level like France or Denmark. In the long run this will result in serious games gaining a bad reputation as inferior game titles because they lack the size, scope and ressources to build viable products. I therefore see the major challenge for serious games as developing serious games for a global market place.

That is the modest goal of our current title Global Conflicts: Middle East at my company Serious Games Interactive, and this is also why we hope to launch a research project in Denmark with this specific purpose. We believe that there are themes (like global conflicts) which hold universal relevance, and that at least most of the Western world will have an interest in discussing human rights, conflict resolution and the Palestine problem. Of course we might be run over; only time will tell.

I hope you enjoyed the article!
Please let us know your comments!

Cheers!
Questor


Computer Games and Edutainment

November 6, 2006

Marc Accetta suggests:

Although computer games are not as popular as an educational tool as edutainment television, educational computer games are gaining popularity. Games like ‘Transition Math K-1’ use bright graphics to draw children in and keep them interested in counting, shapes, and telling time. Using a combination of different things like text, sound, graphics and animation, edutainment through the use of computer games can enhance the process of education and make it more enjoyable than most traditional teaching methods.

Click on the link below to see how the computer game ‘The Sims’ can be transformed to use as edutainment in a foreign language classroom… http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2248657652376529907&q=edutainment+computer+games&hl=en.

It’s actually good, worth checking out!!!!

Games encouraging language learning are not uncommon these days but these one is accurate and user-friendly!

for more visit Marc Accetta’s Blog!

stay tuned…for more..

KIKI


What is the role of fun in learning?

November 6, 2006

Our friends from Marc Accetta’s Blog
Have been discussing the Role of Fun (entertainment) in Learning in this very intresting article:

What is the role fun in learning?

Most often, edutainment seeks either to tutor in one or more specific subjects, or to change behavior by engendering specific sociocultural attitudes. Whether an attempt at edutainment is successful or not, by its very nature, is determined by where the learning process becomes fun and entertaining, and that the teachers or speakers educate an audience in a manner which is both engaging and amusing to those doing the learning.

It is well understood that fun and amusement (entertainment) can be very strong motivational factors when it comes to learning.

While it is not entirely clear whether too much ‘edutainment’ can in fact become detrimental to the process of learning when the learning involves such serious, life and death matters as medicine and warfare, it is clear that when it comes to the education of both children and adults in more convention matters such as personal development and growth… fun and entertainment can be key to improved comprehension and the successful adoption of new concepts and lessons, as well as being instrumental in effecting permanent change in the individual student.

so…is edutainment a good motivational tool to achieve the ultimate goal???? In my opinion, yes. As long as traditional was of education stand, edutainment can become a successful aly to develop alternate skills in children, teenagers and even adults.

juegos.jpg

For instance, it has been widely discussed the impact of Universal Studios‘ and even Disney’s games on children. Many say that Jurassic Park has brought children closer to dinasaurs.

However, other experts are reluctant to believe in the benefits of edutainment. There is a lot to be said, but in the meantime, we should keep on experimenting with edutainment. Besides, it is fun, isn’t it?

stay tuned….

KIKI


Learning Languages while playing commercial games?!

November 2, 2006

Yes!
That sounds completely crazy…

However, the following video explains how to use commercial hits such as Sims 2 and Grim Fandango not just to play but to also learn new languages!

The key point is that this commercial games, as being sold internationally, have all the text exposed, outside the binary codes, in order to support multiple languages (where they are going to be sold). This means that with simple free tools (available on the net) one can modify all the conversations that our fictional characters have in the game.

The MIT Competive Media Group has fiddled up with this in order to re-create real world scenarios (simulation of real cities) that help the gamer -or student, haha- learn new languages.

Imagine playing Sims 2 in German where all characters help you out to figure out the words by acting the meaning of each word, along with an intresting story? This is a really new approach. Could this be really useful!?

Until next time!

Please leave your comments.

Cheers! 🙂
Questor

Speak Spanish? Check out also Edutainment in Spanish