Virtual Presentations, Science Reading, and Will Wright

Me presenting through Skype to educators in CanadaI guess I was missing the conference I was supposed to be working yesterday, because I and dozens of other folks were watching Dean Shareski’s presentation at a conference in Saskatchewan, “Are You Published?” As he started talking about on-demand publishing, I became inspired to knock on his Skype door and was invited in to talk for a few minutes about my experiences publishing with To the right is a picture that Dean took from the back of the room — and yes, most of the folks were asleep during this part of the session. That’s one big head!

Earlier in the day, I was catching up on some reading, leafing through some science magazines that I’d picked up last month at the ScienceBloggers conference in Research Triangle Park. One of the articles that I read was about how scientists are starting to question the demise of the Minoan Civilization around 1500 BC. It was an interesting tour through what scientists learned about Tsunamis as a result of data gathered from the December 26, 2004 event, the Asian Tsunami. It was especially fascinating to me because Minoan Crete was one of my favorite topics when I was teaching history.

One thing that struck my World is Flat funny bone, was that among the many scientists mentioned in the story, none were from the U.S. They were from Greece, Canada, The Netherlands, Israel, and Belgium. It’s a theme that came through in many (most) of all of the articles in this U.S. published magazine. Maybe we should be teaching some science to our students while we’re teaching them to read. ..and better yet, inspire them to be curious about the AMAZING world that they live in.

I shared yesterday from some other readings, that one reason why girls are not pursuing computer science studies is that the introductory courses are so uninspiring. My son is experiencing frustration right now with his first classes of computer science. He says, “I don’t what to do this for a living.” I think that inspiring students about their future should be a part (a core part) of the job of teaching.

Earlier in the morning, I spent a little time watching parts of several Poptech videos, and jotted down just a few comments. For instance, I’ll have to remember this one for when people say in my presentations, “Yeah, well, technology is great, but what about people.” Somebody in one of the panels, which was not introduced, said,

If humans weren’t important in education, libraries would never have evolved into universities.

I’ve heard this one before, but it was shared again by Will Wright, creator of The SIMS, and I wrote it down word by word.

There was a professor who went into a kindergarten class one day and asked students to raise their hands if they could dance. Of course they all raised their hands. Draw? Sing? Again, they all raised their hands.

Then he went into a college class and asked the same questions of students there, and of course, no one raised their hands.

He concluded that education is the process of teaching us what we can’t do.

Content developers vs Programmers
This is a slide from Will Wright's presentation, where he compares the content developers to the code developers with each of his game projects.
Will’s presentation was cut off by network difficulties, but the parts I saw were about user-generated content, as it relates to video games. He showed a graph showing the number of people involved in the development of Robb (1984), SimCity (1989), SimCity2000 (1994), The Sims (2000), The Sims (2004). The portion of the workers who are involved in content development, as opposed to programmers, has been increasing. He says that it the current rate, by 2050, it will take 2,500,000 people to produce a single game and $500,000,000,000. That won’t work, so it’s why he’s looking at game design that depends on users to generate the content of the game.

It’s just another reason why it is so important, that as we continue to do the job we’ve done for decades of helping students learn to be good consumers of content — readers and learners, that we need to be doing just as much, today, to help them become effective and responsible producers of content — and it’s not just for the games.

2¢ Worth!

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.