Category Archives: Teaching and learning

ThingLink Teacher Challenge, Week 1

I recently stumbled across a tool called ThingLink. It basically allows you to tag images with interactive pushpins. ThingLink’s use of the word “tag” is a little nonstandard here, as “tag” usually implies “keyword.” Here the tags are text and links that appear in pop-ups, like oversized tooltips.

Just at about the same time I learned of ThingLink’s existence, ThingLink launched its Teacher Summer Challenge for 2015, so I decided to give it a spin as a way to learn ThingLink. The specific task for Week 1 has been “design your digital self.” Follow the Summer Challenge link to read the full description. The result of Week 1 is supposed to be an annotated ThingLink image by which you introduce yourself to other Challenge participants (and the whole world, I guess). Here’s the result of my work.

By way of brief review, I’ll just say that ThingLink is fun, but funky (and mean that in the sense of “funky smell,” not “Funky Kong” or “Funky Town”). The biggest headache is aligning the tag boxes on the image. I would really appreciate some alignment/grid/snap tools in future updates.

Character-izing my classes? A request for comment

Larry Croft and Deanna Jones can’t find the lost ark, no matter how many tombs they raid.I’ve been weighing the pros and cons of reskinning some of my assignments and classroom resources to feature fictional characters who would guide students through various activities. I “piloted” one such assignment  in my first-year Old Testament course, and it seemed to go over well. But I’m curious as to what Higgaion readers might think.

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Snippets from the history of gameful learning

A collection of old gamesIs this a keyboard I see before me, its letters toward my hand? Why, it certainly is, and now I find myself writing the first Higgaion post in quite a long time. I’m working with some other Pepperdine folk on a workshop intended to encourage and support what we call “gameful learning.” We use this term to describe everything from using games and simulations in class to structuring entire courses like alternate reality games.

While typing an e-mail to one of my colleagues, I noticed that my Mac’s built-in dictionary doesn’t recognize the word gameful, so I decided to investigate the word using Google’s Ngram Viewer. I found a few interesting snippets.

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Searching the scriptures (without Google’s help)

This post takes its name from the title of my presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, coming up November 23–26 in Baltimore. I will present in the Academic Teaching and Biblical Studies section in the 9:00 AM session on Monday, November 25 (Hilton Baltimore, Key 1). Here’s the abstract:

In many colleges and universities, we have already reached the point where a student’s (or professor’s!) first impulse when confronted with a desire for new information is to “Google it.” With the increasing power of small mobile computing devices like smartphones and tablets, students are rarely more than a few taps away from whatever online information sources they choose to access. The ubiquity of Google searches poses at least two specific challenges for biblical studies courses: (i) it enables students to rely more heavily than ever on secondary sources rather than primary sources, and (ii) it conditions students to rely less on memory and more on quick access to indexed information. Using a digital Bible instead of a paper Bible can accommodate and even “redeem” the second challenge while somewhat counterbalancing the first. In this presentation, I will describe how I have leveraged the ubiquity of smart devices to teach and test digital Bible search skills in “Religion 101: The History and Religion of Israel.” I will share specific apps and exercises used to help students climb the “scaffold” from Bible search novices to more skilled navigators of digital Bibles.

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Gamifying higher education: is it BS?

Ian Bogost, professor of interactive computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, made waves a couple of years ago by bluntly characterizing gamification as bovine excrement. (That’s as profane as it gets here, folks. Deal.) Bogost had actually made the same points, in more detail but without the splashy hook, several months earlier in a column for Gamasutra.

In that May 2011 column, Bogost characterized “gamification” as “exploitationware.” Bogost’s chief target in the essay is gamification as a marketing gimmick, but some of his criticisms may have application to higher ed as well. Indeed, he begins the column with an anecdote from a higher ed conference:

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