10-Rep Learning ~ Teague's Tech Treks

Learning Technology & Tech Observations by Dr. Helen Teague


Happy 9th Birthday Edublogs!!!

Celebrating their last year in the single digits, Edublogs turns 9 years-old! Back in 2005, when Edublogs began, the iPhone, APPS, Twitter, and Pinterest did not exist.  YouTube, developed by three former employees of PayPal, was in its infancy.

Today, Edublogs is the premier educational blogging site with 2,425,773 blogs since 2005. Thanks for 9 great years, Edublogs! Here’s to your double-digits!!!

Happy Birthday!


Do You Know What a Festschrift Is?

Festschrift – is a word derived from the German language meaning “celebration writing.”  It is a collection of writings published in honor of a scholar. Howard Gardner has been identified by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines as one of the 100 most important public intellectuals in the world today.  His work  has fundamentally changed the way many people (and institutions) think about intelligence.

Howard Gardner turned 70 last year.  To celebrate, his wife (Ellen Winner) and one of his former students (Mindy Kornhaber) hosted a Festschrift in his honor. They invited Howard’s teachers, peers, colleagues, and former students to contribute essays inspired by his work and his relationships with them.  One hundred and sixteen of Howard’s close colleagues contributed to the two-volume work, entitled Mind, Work, and Life: A Festschrift on the Occasion of Howard Gardner’s 70th Birthday. Each contribution includes a personal note from the contributor and a personal response from Howard.  Running 605 pages in length, this is quite a remarkable work, providing a unique and intimate portrait of this extraordinary man and his profound influence on some of the people who have worked most closely with him.

Mind, Life, and Work: A Festschrift on the Occasion of Howard Gardner’s 70th Birthday

The complete two-volume Festschrift is available for free download as a PDF here, or if you prefer physical books you can buy it at cost from Amazon here.  Other options, including kindle versions of the two volumes, are listed here.

My contribution (starting on p. 223) is entitled, There’s More Than One Way to Bridge a Gap: On the Promise of Computational Neuroscience for Education.  I wrote it as a doctoral student in Education, soon after I took my first class with Howard.  At the time, I was just beginning to wrestle in earnest with the question: “How can scientific insights about the brain and mind help us make education better?”  As reflected in this essay, Howard’s teaching was instrumental in helping me frame the key issues in a new and more productive way, which I have continued to build on to this day.  If you are interested in the relationship between the brain and mind, or in how we might go about leveraging insights about the biology of learning to improve educational practice, you might find it interesting.  I look forward to reading your comments on that or anything else in the book.

Source: The Education Scientist, http://theeducationscientist.blogspot.com/2014/07/celebrating-howard-gardners.html#.U9b7M29X-uY


10 Famous Plagiarists

This picture shared by a talented teacher in the online class I teach. We’ve been discussing plagiarism and copyright. This site by Colin Purrington also contains effective strategies for teachers, administrators, and college professors for teaching copyright and plagiarism.







Picture Source: Purrington, C.B. Preventing Plagiarism. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from http://colinpurrington.com/tips/academic/preventing-plagiarism


Weekend Ed. Quote~July 26

​Play is the highest form of research

~Albert Einstein

Play is the highest form of research


Picture Source


More Weekend Ed. Quotes


Link Check Notice

Just a blog platform note that all links in the Blogroll have been checked with some added and some deleted.



Tech B.F.F.s~Adding Interactivity with Chalkup

Chalkup is a powerful tool for changing the way you teach and interact with students.  This online platform lets teachers take their classes to the next level by providing a way for teachers to engage their students.  Classes of students can collaborate on shared files to complete projects and study in groups.   Both teachers and students can track upcoming assignments and participate in discussions on course material.

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 10.39.04 AM
Chalkup is being used in classrooms across the country including Texas A&M University, UCLA, and in K-12 learning environments.  It’s a fantastic way to support students in the time they are outside of the classroom.  You’ll give them a space to work through assignments with their classmates and give you the opportunity to easily grade assignments submitted through the platform.

Check out their website and video to learn more!


This post first seen at the Class Tech Tips blog.


Weekend Ed. Quote~July 19

Like making music, telling stories, and creating images, playing games is part of what it means to be human. Games are perhaps the first designed interactive systems our species invented.

~Eric Zimmerman, Manifesto for a Ludic Century


Tech BFFs: Tiny Pocket Router

Road Warrior Router recommended by Kathy Schrock.

The Asus WL-330NUL Multi-Mode Pocket Router is cool and is a great addition to your traveling toolkit.

For $34.55, it can serve a number of purposes and help you out in a pinch!…read more


At a Glance

  • World’s smallest-sized router for easy portability and storage on the go
  • Multi-mode versatility for both wired and wireless use
  • Secure hotspot with encryption to secure public wireless hotspots
  • Ethernet port to enable ethernet connectivity to devices without it
  • USB powered for versatility in different environments
  • Multiple OS support


You Choose How to Use It
You Choose How to Use It

Choose from one of the four ways to use the WL-330NUL. Plug in an Ethernet cable and power cable to create an instant wireless hotspot. Plug it into your notebook and it will act as a powerful Wi-Fi receiver, more powerful than some integrated wireless adapters. Plug it into a power source and create an instant private LAN network. Plug it into a notebook without an Ethernet port to enable a wired Ethernet connection.


The birth of 140 characters- Twitter Turns 8

Twitter was launched on this date in 2006, only it was called “Twttr,” with no vowels. The social media platform is famous for its 140-character “microblogs.”

On its launch date, the company reported 224 “tweets” for the whole day.

On its fifth birthday, users logged that many tweets in less than one-tenth of a second. In an early review of the platform, the Techcrunch website reported, “People are using it to send messages like ‘Cleaning my apartment’ and ‘Hungry.’ You can also add friends via text message, nudge friends, etc. It [is] really a social network around text messaging.”

Many countries since then have routinely shut down or blocked Twitter during times of upheaval, natural disaster, and national emergency. Clay Shirkey speaks about this in his video How Social Media Can Make History.

Happy Birthday, Twitter!

Happy Birthday Twitter



Final Academic Game Review – An Opportunity for Exploratory Play

Academic Game Review: Nanocrafter

An Opportunity for Exploratory Play

Helen Teague

EDLT 728: Game, Simulations, and Virtual Worlds for Learning

Dr. Mark Chen

Summer 2014


Research verifies the important role of exploratory play in the development of cognitive ability, creativity, and concept management (O’Rourke, et al). Nanocrafter offered in Beta, is the newest game designed experience to leverage exploratory play from the Center for Game Science at the University of Washington (CGS). Announced at the Games for Change conference in April, 2014, Nanocrafter offers progressing levels of skill-building for solo or team players as they visualize and build nanoscale representations of synthetic protein bonds. Synthetic protein bonds do not exist naturally and must be combined by scientists through synthetic biology. Synthetic biology and DNA protein bonds can be the medical solution to real-world challenges, such as disease treatment and debilitating medical conditions. Nanocrafter leverages the cognitive precepts of Fullerton’s Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games, Lave and Wenger’s situated learning, and socio-affective attributes such as peer-review and collaborative grouping. It also offers an engaging way to encourage high-school students to strengthen STEM core competencies. Nanocrafter makes learning fun.

Keywords: games, simulations, protein bonds, synthetic biology


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Figure 1: Introduction to Nanocrafter
Presentation will play automatically. Mouse over the bottom of the window to control transition time.

Science is an inquiry-based subject requiring deductive and inductive reasoning, process thinking, and patience with trial and error. (Exploration-Driven Online Science Education). Nanocrafter is a scientific discovery game about synthetic biology. Use pieces of DNA to build everything from computer circuits to nanoscale machines, and help advance scientific research with your inventions! Here is the portal page from Nanocrafter.org

nanocrafter portal page

Figure 2: Main Nanocrafter Portal Page

          Nanocrafter follows the distribution of the game Foldit from The Center for Game Design.  Foldit was originally created to facilitate innovative brainstorming among the scientific community (Chen, et al.). It’s application for classroom instruction soon became evident.

          Nanocrafter  promotes situated learning (Lave & Wenger, 1991) through trial-and-error testing in a virtual lab. Nanocrafter lets students experience the vocational life of a synthetic biologist.  Synthetic biology is “the application of engineering principles to the fundamental components of biology” (Synthetic Biology.org). Synthetic bonds do not exist naturally. They must be combined in a lab by scientists through the process of synthetic biology. Synthetic biology and DNA hold promise as solutions for medical treatment for diseases and better food production, among other problems (Minoff, 2014).

“Synthetic biology is a) the design and construction of new biological parts, devices and systems and b) the re-design of existing natural biological systems for useful purposes.” Source: Synthetic Biology.org

Figure 3-Video: Dan Rather Reports Synthetic Biology

Nanocrafter addresses Fullerton’s Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games (2008) because players must master challenges in four separate game worlds, game play promotes imaginative thinking in synthetic biology as players must navigate the challenge of life as a synthetic biologist, and players can connect with online peers via moderated chat forum and new challenges. Within Fullerton’s game matrix, game play requires skill and mental calculation, but not chance or physical dexterity beyond use of a mouse.

           Nanocrafter educational game play consists of a single player or teams. Instructional game play can include the teacher projecting one of the Nanocrafter worlds from one computer connected to an LCD screen for whole class lessons, thereby utilizing limited computer resources common in many classroom. Technical specifications for Nanocrafter include Windows or Apple platforms, Firefox, Safari, Chrome browser. Players must create a free account. Features of play include continuous chat, leaderboards, and play centered in four online “worlds” labeled Matching, Strand Displacement, Concentrations, and Toeholds & Logic.


Figure 4: Nanocrafter Worlds

In game play, students use pieces of DNA to build computer circuits and nanoscale machines. Squire discusses concerns of researchers that the important curricular aspects will be too obscure in game play. With Nanocrafter, play commences after a short tutorial explaining various functions of DNA and the medical and scientific need for understanding synthetic bonding and protein bonds. Students learn important ideas and concepts related to genetics (e.g., DNA structure, transcription, translation, protein synthesis, mechanisms associated with heredity, and inheritance). They employ various scientific practices, such as research design, data analysis, and formulating scientific arguments using evidence as they participate in a DNA project. Curricular aspects of science are intertwined within play and meets Gee’s (2006) attributes of game-based literacy because game play includes multimodal representations and specific semiotics such as toeholds, DNA strands, covalent bonds,

           Nanocrafter meets several of the National Research Council’s 2009 Strands (p. 43). Specifically, students will:
→ Generate, understand, remember and use concept, explanations, arguments, models, and facts related to science. (Strand 2)
→ Manipulate, test, explore, predict, question, observe, and make sense of the scientific language and tools. (Strand 3)
→ Think about themselves as science learners and develop an identity as someone who knows about, uses, and sometimes contributes to science. (Strand 6)

          Nanocrafter also addresses Next Generation Science Standards for High School Biology:
→How can sequences of DNA help us understand problems related to species identification and public health?

Nanocrafter addresses the National Research Council’s (2012) science & engineering practices in Dimension 1 of their framework for science classrooms (p. 42):
→ Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
→ Developing and using models
→ Planning and carrying out investigations
→ Analyzing and interpreting data
→ Using mathematics and computational thinking
→ Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
→ Engaging in argument from evidence
→ Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

This review is the result of several episodes of game play from April – July, 2014. In this reviewer opinion, Nanocrafter communicates uses a playful, gameful conversational style devoid of gender bias or overly technical language. The infrastructure is robust and timely with continuous updates posted and and updates announced on the game board and via email update. Cartoon gimicks are limited, instructional tutorials are concise and devoid of jargon. Semiotic vocabulary is explained and then applied to module-based game play. Nanocrafter’s affordances for solo or team play offer many options for teachers: inclusion into a one-computer classroom, computer-on-wheels (COW) utilization, computer lab experience, or home-play. High-school students can begin play at school and continue at home in a variation of a flipped classroom. Nanocrafter can also anchor a high-school learning center allowing students to rotate to the website and retrieve their account credentials, points, and forum chats. Digital video resources would enhance the learning potential of Nanocrafter. Among the best and most easily included into existing curriculum are those found at the Synthetic Bonding website. Of special benefit is theLatest Inventions” section where challenge winners’ work is displayed.

Nancocrafter Latest Inventions

Figure 5 Nanocrafter Latest Invention Board

Nanocrafter is an example of game-based learning rather than gamification. One of my cadre-mates, Sandra said “it is only through direct experience with different varieties of games that you can begin to understand the potential impact of a gaming system on educational environments.” Nanocrafter is a different kind of game, one that applies new knowledge of synthetic biology concepts. Nanocrafter is not a multi-player game or a game of chance or luck. It is not a drill-and-practice game or a gamified quiz. It does not apply game theory to a non-recreational environment. Nanocrafter leverages the interactivity of social media components such as a leaderboard, chat, and challenges with prizes to enhance the embedded academics of synthetic biology. Nanocrafter successfully integrates scientific principles and encourages students toward concept mastery and for real-world problems using game-ful components.




Chen, M., Kolko, B.E., Cuddihy, E., & Medina, E. (2011). Modeling but NOT Measuring Engagement in Computer Games. In Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Games + Learning + Society (p. 55-63).

Chen, Mark, Horstman, Theresa, and Bell, Philip. (In review). Playing science with Foldit.

Dan Rather Reports, Synthetic Biology (February, 2013). Retrieved from YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lpDB_45sHr8

Exploration-Driven Online Science Education. JoAnn Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability. Retrieved from http://sustainability.asu.edu/research/project/?id=714

Finnish Innovation Fund (2014). Helsinki Design Lab. Retrieved from: www.helsinkidesignlab.org.

Fullerton, T. (2008). Chapter 9: Playtesting. Game design workshop: A playcentric approach (pp. 248-276).

Gee, J.P. (2006). What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy. Game Design Reader. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge England: Cambridge University Press.

Minoff, A. (2014). Can we game our way to better health? Science Friday podcast, April 24, 2014. Retrieved from http://www.sciencefriday.com/segment/04/25/2014/can-we-game-our-way-to-better-health.html

O’Rourke, R., Butler, E., Liu, Y., Ballweber, C. and Popovic Z. (2013). The Effects of Age on Player Behavior in Educational Games. Foundations of Digital Games. Center for Game Science Department of Computer Science & Engineering, University of Washington. Retrieved from http://homes.cs.washington.edu/~eorourke/papers/age_behavior_fdg.pdf.

Science Standards Retrieved from: http://static.educurious.org/docs/EducuriousBIOUnitSumGenetics.pdf

Squire, Kurt D. (2006). From content to context: Videogames as designed experience. Educational
Researcher, 35(8), 19-29.

Synthetic Biology Project website, Synthetic Biology.org

The Center for Game Science at the University of Washington. Retrieved from http://centerforgamescience.org/.



Previous versions of this game review:
Goggle Doc
Interim Post

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