Awards Ceremonies

In praise of Perspex pyramids

Has there ever been an autumn like it? Some have marvelled at the raspberries, some at the late profusion of the roses. But for some of us the real miracle of the season has been the fantastic crop of awards ceremonies. Across the nation this November proud new places have been found on office walls for framed documents proclaiming that the recipient has been named the Personality of the Year 2006 by the Federation of Insurance Brokers or the Outstanding Performer of the Year by the Meat Packaging Association.

Tens of thousands of shiny new trophies now stand on the sideboards of UK plc: strange crystal chacmools; clods of bronze, ideal for braining a burglar; Perspex pyramids that you might use to scrape ice off the windscreen; and even today, with Christmas almost upon us, the national orgy of prize-giving is not quite over.

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Computer Games as Therapy

Computer games as a tool for language education


When it comes to examining the diffusion of videogames, and of computer games in particular, outside of a recreational context, the use of this peculiar tool for schooling is certainly one of the most interesting subjects an educator could hope for. In fact, owing to data collected by myself and a growing number of researchers in the field of education (Egenfeldt-Nielsen, 2006; Felicia, 2009; Wastiau, Kearney & VandenBerghe, 2009; Minoli, 2009; Lombardi, 2012), teachers are actually intrigued by the educational potential of digital games, but have no idea how to harness this latent power and/or can’t work out how to accommodate the medium specificities in the school curriculum. You can also follow bubdesk where you will find curriculum that needs to be takes place for problem solving ability.

Still, the potential for learning is evident. It would not be incorrect to claim that every fraction of a second of gaming requires the player to learn something, whether hand-to-eye coordination or virtuoso-like skills of key pressing, or even game-related information: learning is definitely not a side effect while playing videogames. So far, however, the relationship between education and digital gaming has mostly been represented by edutainment titles, whose underlying pedagogical model hardly fits any learning practice in school (Gee, 2007; Egenfeldt-Nielsen, 2007), and whose gameplay is normally trivial and “primitive” (Prensky, 2006).

Parents concerned about risks can also weigh the potential benefits.

There is an ongoing controversy as to whether video games and technology are good for kids affected by autism.

On the one hand, it seems like dozens of new apps and games are being developed for kids on the spectrum every month and that these tools are being widely used in school special education programs for kids with autism. In addition, parents of kids diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders have observed how these games and technologies are a source of engagement, learning and contentment for their kids. Perhaps most important, video games are tools for digital play, and helping kids with autism learn to play is the same as helping them to learn.

On the other hand, parents report that kids affected by autism can become so focused on video game play that they refuse to do any other activity. And there are studies that support these observations that kids on the autism spectrum tend to become overly engaged in a video game play, can become inattentive as a result of extended game play, or develop obsessions (particularly with role-playing games).

Parents report that kids affected by autism can become so focused on video game play that they refuse to do any other activity.

An excellent study conducted by Micah Mazurek and Christopher Englehart found that many kids affected by autism are overly focused on video game play, experience difficulty while transitioning from video game play to other activities, and may become argumentative and oppositional, particularly when they want to play more games. Role-playing games like Pokémon that have high reward schedules and social rewards may lead to increased preoccupation or an overly intense interest in the game. These kinds of games also tend to be more time-consuming as players need to create and maintain characters, resulting in overuse or even addiction.

Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water

However, it is important for parents and educators to look for deeper meaning in these recent studies and not to simply throw all technologies out because of the risks associated with them. Perhaps the most important takeaway is that when parents allow increased access to video games as a tool for managing difficult behavior and creating a sense of calm within the household, the results may be short-lived. Parenting in the 21st century requires finding a balance, choosing the best and most appropriate technologies, and learning how to use these powerful tools to help kids with autism.

Kids affected by autism typically have three major areas of difficulty: communication and language, social skills and repetitive and inflexible behaviors. In the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) — the “bible” of psychiatric diagnosis — “autism” is refined into three levels of “Autism Spectrum Disorders”:

  • Level 1 includes the highest-functioning kids, those who need some support but are generally able to function in regular school settings.
  • Levels 2 and 3 include kids who require substantial support and often display “marked to severe deficits” in social, communication and behavioral control skills.

Technologies and games can be helpful for kids on all three levels, but those with more severe forms of Autism Spectrum Disorders usually benefit most from specialty technologies that address their severe limitations in developmental skills. Level 1 kids, however, can readily benefit from popular games and technologies that are being used by their typically developing peers.

Video games can be useful for practicing social skills

For these Level 1 kids, playing popular video games and using technology can be very useful for practicing and improving social skills. While some educators have argued that video games and technology are isolating, the fact is that more than 70 percent of all video game play and media use is now social. Though kids affected by autism tend toward less social technology use — using smartphones, for example, more for game play and less for texting and social media than their typically developing peers — it is up to parents and educators to ensure that technology use is predominantly social and not isolating. It has been proven that some video games can be used as tools for autistic and other SLP related disorders therapies, find out the best RBT jobs available.

Video games provide kids affected by autism with an opportunity for joint attention and shared interests with their peers. Studies suggest that kids with autism may have somewhat unique and unusual interest in these games that differs from their peers but nonetheless gives them a basis for shared focus on an activity. Kids affected by autism may be unaware of social cues and conventions, yet when they play massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) like Roblox, Minecraft, or World of Warcraft, they need to learn the social customs of the game world. They are expected to communicate with other players of the game, be it small talk or strategy.

The purpose of this essay is to provide a schematic overview of alternatives to edutainment for language education. Firstly, educational theories and approaches will be identified in order to find operational principles for building a ludic methodology. As the guidelines are formed, the reshaped role of the key factors (learner, teacher, object, setting) in teaching and learning processes will be discussed, as will, of course, the enrichment brought by computer games when used as educational tools. 

Behind edutainment, beyond edutainment
In the USA, the country that produces and consumes the majority of edutainment titles, the market for edutainment hit its peak during the late 1990s, and had a $495.8 million revenue in 2000, gradually dropping to $152 million in 2004 (Egenfeldt-Nielsen, 2007); meanwhile, as the Entertainment Software Association states, the real annual growth rate of entertainment digital games sales in North America has been 16.7% for the period 2005–2008 and 10.6% for the period highly affected by the economic crisis between 2005 and 2009, resulting in a contribution to the U.S. GDP of $4.9 billion (Siwek, 2010).

Statistical and economic data demonstrates that edutainment sales are dropping, while the gaming market keeps on flourishing. Egenfeldt-Nielsen (2007) ascribes this trend to a growing critical knowledge in buyers that educational games should not be focused on the needs of teachers and parents, but rather on children’s preferences as players: the play experience needs to be a genuine and fun one, as well as educational, and not just a collection of drills hidden behind an exposed façade of playfulness. Egenfeldt-Nielsen states:

children, too, are probably too smart to be cheated by the discount games that edutainment often are. If we look at the computer game titles that generally dominate the commercial hit charts, it is clear that these are not discount games, but are the result of state-of-the-art expertise in all the areas necessary to make a game . . . . [E]ducational software lacks the coolness of the games industry, the state-of-the-art technology, the constant innovation in gameplay but perhaps, most importantly, the basic desire to produce entertaining products beyond anything else. (Egenfeldt-Nielsen, 2007, p.41)

In terms of game design, edutainment titles are in fact hardly video games at all (Paciaroni, 2008), since they lack or fail to respond to the fundamental rules of gaming suggested by Crawford (1984) and Salen and Zimmerman (2004). Such an abrupt decline of popularity, though, should not be attributed to poor game design alone: at an inner level of analysis, the learning theories that constitute edutainment’s intended educative basis have proven fallacious; most educational games do not promote meaningful learning (Novak, 1998), and are instead focused on rote learning, mechanical training, drill-and-practice tasks, and instilling knowledge into the learner’s mind—practices that reveal a particularly evident reference to the core of a behaviourist theory of learning 1.

Towards an integrated approach to language education
The main principle of behaviourism is, approximately, the creation of learning habits achieved by an alteration in learners’ behaviour, thanks to practice, repetition, and reinforcement: through reiterated routines and practice, learners are eventually conditioned to respond in a determined way to a certain stimulus. It’s a kind of learning that can be defined, in reference to language especially, as parrot-like (Lombardi, in press)—mechanical, impersonal (as it does not relate with prior personal knowledge), focused on automatic reactions alone, neglecting reflection and lateral thinking, as well as parameters such as personality and affectivity.

Of course, it may work, and it surely does 2 in some respects: memorization is still a kind of learning, and a popular one in schools, which many times fails in educating pupils in critical learning. One may even argue that, in the classroom, learning by heart (too) often equals learning per se.

Still, when it comes to language education, recent literature severely criticizes behaviourist approaches or methods: effectively learning a second or foreign language does not mean putting new labels on known objects (Martinet, 1960) and memorize them, or practising linguistic notions until they become a second nature; it rather requires opening up to a whole new grammatical, socio-pragmatic, paralinguistic, extra-linguistic, and, most of all, cultural apparatus. A broader approach should then be preferable. In foreign language teaching a suitable reference model is the integrated approach (Bosisio, 2005; Lombardi, in press): a “background philosophy” in which constitutive elements—those proven to be effective in teaching practice—are selected from traditional approaches and integrated into a malleable set of teaching recommendations, thus creating a potential range of working operational instructions and classroom techniques, from which the teacher can choose, from time to time, the most appropriate.

The approach suggested by Egenfeldt-Nielsen (2006, 2007) for learning history through digital games definitely follows these dictates, and can easily, and most of all effectively, be applied to second or foreign language teaching and learning.
The theoretical principles that feed an integrated approach that includes computer games among its techniques should, first of all, be looked for in a socio-cultural educational theory (Wertsch, 1991), from which the broader process of using video games as a tool for learning, by stressing the role of context, actors (both learners and educators) and their mutual interaction, experiences, and culture ensues. A constructionist approach (Papert & Harel, 1991) should then be taken account of “the construction of knowledge, as meaningful through orientation in a social context, becomes paramount . . . . Instead of conceiving content, skills and attitudes as residing within the user, knowledge is transferred to culture, tools and communities” (Egenfeldt-Nielsen, 2007, p.88).
Computer games are also decidedly virtual locations for real situated learning (Lave & Wenger, 1991; Wenger, 1999); hence, abstract and de-contextualized learning objects are again thrown aside in favour of cooperation and co-construction of knowledge, usually within a community of practice.

Key elements of affective humanistic approaches to education, as well as communicative and constructivist approaches, will also be taken account of in building a coherent methodology, that is the fulfilment of the integrated “philosophy”.

Principles of a ludic methodology
As previously stated, in order to come into effect, an approach has to take shape within an appropriate methodology. A methodology can be defined as a collection of principles and actions that intend a didactic purpose (Balboni, 1999; Bosisio, 2005). Besides being coherent with the reference approach, it has to constitute a guideline for teaching techniques—in this case, techniques that use computer games as an effective tool for (language) learning.

It should consequently not come as a surprise that the most suitable methodology for reaching such objectives is usually referred to as ludic methodology. Ludic here is a key adjective: it does not merely mean “playful”, it also involves the philosophical and anthropological concept of ludicity (Caon & Rutka, 2004; ConceiçãoLopes, 2005, 2008; Rutka, 2006; Lombardi, in press), that is the social phenomenon—“indicating a quality and a state that are not just characteristic of childhood, but that are shared by all age groups” (Conceição Lopes, 2005, p.3) — derived by a play situation (Huizinga,1939), an intrinsic attitude characterized by gratuitousness, liberty, enjoyment, creativity, and a relationship with the world around oneself.
Learning, therefore, should not be fun(if it is actually fun, as in games, much the better): learning should respect this fundamental stateof humankind, which since the early childhood stands up as the main resource for discovering, experiencing, growingup (Bruner, 1983) — the cornerstones of education in its broadest sense.

Rule of Law

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One law for the rich, another for Mr Bhatt and his baseball bat

That’s what we all love about our country. It’s the rule of law, innit. No one is above the law. Everyone is equal under the law. No one can take the law into his own hands. However, understanding bail bonds can be difficult. That’s why there will be at least a handful of reasonable people who think that the police did the right thing when they cracked down on my friend the newsagent Harendra Bhatt. Have you anytime encountered with situation where you have experienced any arrest by the cops in the country or else with any other charges in the society? If so how did you try to overcome the situation?

The most important thing you must have in your mind while encountering with any such situation is regarding the level of patience. This is something that is not seen among many people. It is natural that such situation can really cause great tension in atmosphere and it is very difficult to remain calm. If you are calm about the charges even if you know you have not committed any mistakes, there are lots of advantages that can be derived out of the process. You will get the presence of mind to approach a criminal attorney Orlando in order to deal the situation in more logical way. Here you can find more information about criminal defense lawyer.

It is always better to check for opinions from your friends and family while deciding on the attorney to deal with the case. You should try your level best to get hold of the best attorney in the city as you cannot take chance with this issue. Internet can be considered as the best source where you can check for the available attorneys and you can fix an appointment for initial consultation.

A personal injury attorney is always available to assist you in any sort of accident that happens to you. If you unfortunately become the victim of an accident and get yourself injured, a personal injury attorney is the most capable individual who can assist you to take necessary steps against the person responsible for that accident, as well as, to get remuneration.

A personal injury attorney is a specialized lawyer who is well equipped with the knowledge of both injury laws and civil rights. An experienced personal injury attorney can easily categorize the severity of the injury of the victim along with the severity of the case. Thus, they can take necessary steps against the party for whose negligence the mishap happened. click here to read more about Anderson Personal Injury Attorney.

Again, if someone’s carelessness led to the victim’s injury, then the attorney takes steps accordingly. Whatever the reason may be and whoever may be responsible for the injury, the attorney tries their best to find out all of the related issues, and then take all the necessary steps against them.

A good personal injury attorney is ready to assist you if any kind of accident happens to you. You may be a victim of, for instance, a vehicle accident, car, truck, bus, or van accident. Similarly, you may become the victim of a workplace mishap, for instance, because of development site or industrial site hazards.

Whatever the type of accident may be, personal injury attorneys are prepared to assist you as needed – they are skilled in all kinds of injury cases.

Most of the firms are ready to provide free initial consultation and you should be alert enough during your discussion with the lawyer to recognize the lawyer’s interest in the case. If you find something displeasing then it is advised to check with another law firm rather than sticking with the same. At the same time you should also check with the fees charged by the law firm in checking with your case.

Once you are satisfied with an attorney you can make a background study in order to determine his efficiency in the field along with the experience in dealing with such cases. Also you can directly ask for reference and there is nothing wrong in contacting their previous clients in order to know about their experience while dealing with their issues. The attorneys will function very sincerely in order to put you out of the charges that are beaten against you and if you have committed any mistakes then the attorneys will try their level best to reduce the number of charges on you.

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The Oldie Lunch

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The Oldie Lunches

The Oldie isn’t a magazine for the old. Readers of all ages who are intelligent, lively minded and appreciative of good writing and good company find it an indispensable antidote to the triviality of the 21st century.

On Tuesday 31st October 2006, Boris spoke at the lunch in Henley-on-Thames with Sir John Mortimer and Colin Thubron.

You are invited to join any forthcoming Oldie Lunch – see here

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British Films

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promoting national culture

at every stage it will be up to some bureaucrat in the Department of Culture to decide how British you really are…

How we laughed at these comic new regulations about films

With 15 new regulations coming out of Westminster every week it is no wonder that sometimes we in the Opposition give way to the sin of despair. Sometimes we just slump back on the green benches and watch as Labour blizzards the landscape with legislation, like some out-of-control alpine snow machine. Sometimes we shut our eyes, unable to do anything to stop the avalanche of paper; and sometimes we have a peek, and we actually read something that has just been adopted by our rulers, and we feel we are in danger of going mad.

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