Friday, February 10, 2012

Solve for X: Nicholas Negroponte on learning by themselves

prof.Nicholas Negroponte founded the MIT Media Lab (1980), WiReD Magazine (1990), and One Laptop per Child. Nicholas has recently launched a reading experiment to learn whether poor and remote kids (5-10 years old) can learn to read on their own with a solar powered, tablet suitably loaded with immersive and constructionist material.
and if you think it's impossible then you simply didn't try hard enough...

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Evil Toys:3D serious game about landmines awareness

"The one who throws the stone forgets; 

the one who is hit remembers forever." Angolan proverb


Anti-tank landmines

The idea of the name came from the fact that children in countries like: Suda, Libya, Kurdistan, Western Sahara, Lebanon... 
mistake landmines, Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) as toys, and the game seek to create a 3D virtual envirement where they can safely 
recognise landmine and learn how to avoid them.Beign based on Quake 1 engine the game is designed to work on OLPC laptop and for 
older computers usually available in developping countries.

Goals of the game:
- Know where they might encounter mines .
- Avoid entering hazardous terrain.
- Recognize clues that indicate the possible presence of mines.
- Know how to behave if they suspect they have entered a minefield.
- I Can distinguish between different types of mines likely to be found.
- I Never touch a mine or unexploded ordnance.

The game start in a small village and a virtual landmine museum where he can walk and explore several models of mines and unexlploded munitions and recognize several kind of danger signs.
the game is devided into a learning stage that happend inside the museum and practice stage that happend inside the egyptian maze.
the virtual museum is used as an alternative to plastic replicas to of real mines, when they are not available or expensive to get which give the child a "feel" of the 3D object size in space and thus will be easier to recognize in real life than 2D real photos alone.
The Egyptian maze is the main game level: it was hard to choose what kind of game world is more effective a more realist real world looking level, or a fantazy maze with .
- the maze give the player several choice of roads to take to arrive at a specefic destination.
- it has the advantages of offering several puzzle with buttons on walls that need to be pressed to open doors, which aim to give the child a basic sense of Causality and understanding relationship between causes and effect, which is first step in learning that a landmine explode be cause of steping into it and if he does not touch it it won't explode/ if he don't push the door button it won't open.
- the goal of recognizing mines and UXO is to avoid them and telling other child playing with them about their danger before it would be too late specially when the child has just discovered them in an unknown area.
but the game teach also the child to recognize the danger sign to prevent them from entering into an already known minefield area, but it is hard to make children understand the concept of danger at a young age.
- Evil toys use several danger sign used aroud the world so the child can remember not a specific sign that can be different
form country to another but a general color shape and drawing of signs used in an abstract manner.
- to discourage children to go further in the direction of danger sign, they have been placed in corridors with closed end, hear anoying sound, or find landmines that will explode if the player approaches..the goal is to make the child understand through experimentation that is the wrong direction and that there is nothing interesting to explore there. while the child is rewarded when he choose to walk in the safe path.
unlike the rest of the game, the mines are exposed on table and the player can get close to them without exploding, this give the child opportunity to recognize the shape of the weapon, and also to remember them when he play the game for the second time.
peer 2 peer learning and collaboration: for more effective learning children would play the game in group were the children who played the game first/more experienced would help new oneavoid traps and exploding objects

Playing a video game is not alone the solution but it will be more effective if used in context of traditional mine risk education so when the child hear the teacher saying "when you see this sign, it mean this is a minefield area don't go there" some children will accept it, other with more critical mind or curiosity will ask why and won't have satisfing answer until they experiment, with the video game they can make mistake and learn from it but in reality one mistake will be literally fatal.
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