In K-12 education finding tools to teach 21st Century Skills can be expensive. There is buying the software, keeping up with minor updates, and the pressure of staying up-to-date every year or so when a new version is released. Even if you are able to obtain a computer lab with a site license of your favorite image manipulation software, what happens when students return home from school each day and do not have access to these tools?
A startup company has created Aviary.com. Aviary is an online suite of tools for artist and photo imaging enthusiasts. The Aviary Suite contains tools for editing images, screen capture, creating and editing vector images, creating visual image effects, image markups, color swatch editor, music creator, and audio editor. All of the tools are accessed via an online account. A gallery is also provided for users to proudly post their art for others to see. For educators this may not be ideal as students may stumble across images that may be considered to provocative or controversial for the classroom. This one reason why Aviary has an education version of its site.
Aviary Education (www.aviaryeducation.com) provides educators a safe environment to allow their students to freely create, edit and peruse other students’ digital art work.
• Create private student accounts
• Manage assignments and projects
• Use the image editor, vector editor, audio editor & music creator
• All content and images are 100% school safe”.
Currently Aviary Education is a free beta program that a teacher would have to request access to for her class to enjoy the the benefits it has to offer.
Recently the creators of Aviary have teamed up with Google to provide access to the aviary tools via your Google Login. Gmail users who use Google Docs to collaborate with peers and colleagues can take advantage of the image and audio editing tools, sharing their creations via Google Docs. Now students can work together on visual projects or audio mixes.
Schools who have signed up for Google Apps access can choose to have Aviary added to their Google Docs. The University of South Florida is one university that has provided access for its students to these tools. Aviary can be accessed by signing into your USF Mail account and clicking on the More link at the top.
The Aviary Tool Set (from http://www.aviary.com):
With the advancement of electronic devices gaming on these devices are increasing. There are many different types of games on different platforms and devices. There are games aimed at the casual gamer to games for the very serious gamer. Games vary in the continuum of collaboration from no collaboration in single player games to very collaborative games such as MMOs (massive multiplayer online) games, i.e. World of Warcraft. Gamers across the world spend/waste/invest (depending on your view) billions of hours weekly playing in the virtual worlds trying to solve a mission, complete a task, or WIN! These gamers enjoy playing the games so much that they do not even realize many times how much time is passed. And gamers all have the same goal: to be successful at the task.
Recently on TED.com, Jane McGonigal (Twitter page), a game designer, recently presented a talk of how Gaming can make a better world. In it she talks about the emotions that gaming does and does NOT produce. She also wants to develop away to take the emotions real people have while seriously playing collaborative games and apply them to the real world. Her them seems to be: if the energy, emotion, and sticktuitiveness of gamers in the virtual world could be applied to real world, real life issues and events, then the world could be a better place. You can view the video below.
Now apply that to education. Ms. McGonigal points out in the video that the average gamer in a strong gaming culture will have logged 10,000 hours or more by the age of 21. She states that is approximately the amount of face time teachers will have with students from 5th grade till high school graduation in the United States. During that time frame adolescent gamers are spending almost the same amount of time playing video games. Imagine if educators could tap into that extra time.
The University of South Florida (USF) is trying to do just that. How can educators harness virtual worlds to educate the k-12 students? USF has created a website of lesson plans, resources, and case studies related to education and gaming platforms. You can find these resources on the USF website. http://www.coedu.usf.edu/we/. The project is called Worlds of Education and it focuses on using virtual worlds to enhance or distribute education. The two gaming environments primarily used in the project are the World of Warcraft game by Blizzard and SecondLife. The website also has a small but growing resource of lesson plans grouped by subject area.
Should gaming be used in education?
Below is a list of free educational software that may benefit you in your classroom. It contains tools for audio, web conferencing, editing images, blogging, and other technology educational activities. This list was compiled by a staff member at the Florida Center for Instructional Technology at the University of South Florida.
The inspiration for this list came from this site http://www.c4lpt.co.uk/recommended/.