Tag Archives: teaching


Korea adventure – days #6,7,8,9,11: Lectures

In my first week in Korea I explored a little bit the University and start to get to know the group of students and teachers for this summer school. So, my aim for my first weekend was to polish my lecture on what I perceived should be suitable.

Then on my first lecture, which was on Monday 8th I got a surprised. For first time I live the experience to frighten students. I say this because that is what I perceived when I was looking at their faces. Later it was confirmed my impressions as some of the students changed of course the next day. It has’t happened to me before this, so I wonder why?

  • My teaching approach is on active learning. I am not into lecturing. => This might be a new method for them. Is this scary?
  • I had been always involved in computer science (CS) or engineering department, i.e. technical fields. => At the moment the students are not really in CS. They are from other majors. Might I be too technical for them?
  • I am blessed because most of my work has been with researchers and graduate students => all students are undergrad. Am I flying too high?

Honestly, I do not have an answer yet about why I scare them. But I am working into finding out.  My main hypothesis is that I am working with undergrad students from different disciplines, so I have to talk properly to them and support them more. So I am adapting my course accordingly. On Tuesday and Thursday I have been exploring how to communicate and support the students better to achieve a successful and enjoyable learning experience in this course.  Beyond doubt the students will wonder, think and design in this lecture. The level of the course will be high, but they should not be scared about it. Unquestionably, it will be a VERY INTERESTING month!

Meanwhile I can share the lecture room facilities.

Entrance to the normal lecture room

Entrance to the normal lecture room. This is the room where I lecture.

Next is the close up to the digital device.

Closeup to the system for indicating the lecture times for the classroom. Apparently in the normal school year the students put their card here when taking the lecture.

Closeup to the system indicating the time schedule for this specific classroom. Apparently in the normal school year the students put their student cards on the reader of this device as an assistant record.

Inside the classroom

Inside the classroom

It is strange to do not have a desk and to do not stand at the same floor level than the students. On the other hand, the design of the lecturer’s computer is very handy. I really like it!

Other view of the classroom

Other view of the classroom
Computer lab.

Computer lab.

I am switching of classrooms. One hour I am in the traditional classroom and the rest of the time at the computer room. The computer room is really modern and functional.

Computer lab

Computer lab

Again, I like the computer for the presenter. Honestly very practical and functional its design!


game design course (part 2)

Week 13, 2012
Joensuu, Finland

It is amazing how fast March flew away. The last lecture of my game design course was today. Still I have two exercise sessions next week, and to finalize to qualify A LOT of essays from the participants. However, I feel the cycle of an important personal challenge is closing. I never though I could be a teacher, or instructor…. still the word sounds strange to me. 🙂 Even less I would have though I could enjoy to be an instructor, but I did.

In brief I can say that in this month:

  • My perception of teachers change. In earlier times, my opinion was fundamentally of a demanding student. Now, my opinion evolved because I was the instructor.  Teaching is not easy.  So, I confirm: it is easy to criticize, but once you have to do the things you were criticizing, one’s perception and understanding of the same event evolves. It seems to happen every single time.
  • I have the best group one can have for my first attempt as a teacher. I learn a lot from the participants of my course in different directions and topics.  I want to give them a big thank you! 🙂
  • To be a teacher is more demanding than I though it will be. I am tired. Simultaneously, I have a special fulfill feeling. I did my best in a challenging and new activity and I enjoy it. I had fun. Teaching is paradoxical, yes! 🙂 Cool!
  • Without any question, since I start to conceptualize the course I start to learn.  The whole process to exteriorize what you have learned is an intense learning experience in itself. In addition, I am aware I haven’t given justice to all the thinkers I have learned from…. yes, still is much to learn.

I hope most of the participants of the course also feel they learn something. Well the aim of the course was clear:

  • Discover something new in reference to game design
  • Do your best and take a learning experience in game design.

My interest was to make us wonder. Yes, I was included 🙂 . Thinking is a personal process. However, sharing ideas and reflections helps us to wonder and stimulate our thinking process. Additionally, designing is so stimulating, so…. I am happy!

One of the specific challenges to give lectures in UEF in computer science is: the group is divided in two campuses. Some participants are in Kuopio while others are in Joensuu and the connection is via a video. That is challenging! because it is not 100% face to face neither 100% blended learning neither 100% distance learning.  So, to promote interaction in class is harder than usual. However, I am so proud of the participants of my course because they did great. Today in special, we have presentations in Kuopio and Joensuu, and they really interact with each other (as you see on the photos below). I am so proud of my group!


Last day presentations (1)

Last day presentations (1)

Last day presentations (2)

Last day presentations (1)

game design course

Week 10, 2012
Joensuu, Finland

One motivator that impulses me to be researching in games for learning is: I love to learn and I get bored in lectures. Actually, I confess: I am not a good student even though I am very well trained to be one. 😉

However, last year someone told me that it is time for me to share something of what I have learned. Additionally, I want to do it. So, the idea to give a lecture started to emerged. Today, it is a reality, and…… wowow! Teaching is VERY challenging!!!!

The first lecture of my game design course was yesterday, March 7, 2012 (I should remember that day). I have a chance to hear about some of the participants before the actual course started, because I requested them to email me to hear their motives to join the course. From my perspective it is an interesting group of people and VERY diverse.

The first day I gave the introduction to the course with some of my background. Then the real lecture started by introducing some history of games. I based myself on the work of Huizinga and Callois.

Today I briefly gave an insight of design thinking by Cross and Verganti. Latter I focus on games as dynamic systems of interaction, so after a brief engineering explanation of what systems are I focus my efforts on game mechanics. I used a taxonomy of game mechanics from Schell.

Honestly my feeling is: even that I am putting my best effort on preparing the lectures, I am not making justice to transmit the work of those thinkers…. Undoubtedly, I need more practice. I had been nervous, specially because I am not used to be on stage. 

The course participants are many, so the ideas that I had for an interactive lecture cannot work as I thought. In addition we have the long distance connection with Kuopio.….. If someone knows me, yes I am pushing for new ideas 😉 the technology has been very reliable so I hope it continues like this next week, because I am ready to have some fun 😉

Yes, I cannot avoid to be myself. I will keep on teaching, but maybe we can try new  methods 🙂 After the first exercise day (Monday in Joensuu and Tuesday in Kuopio), maybe the conditions for a more interactive type of lecture will emerged…. let’s see 🙂

Meanwhile a photo taken by Heikki Immonen from the very first day of the course.

my first day of lectures

my first day sharing a bit of what I have been learning


it matters what you discover

Week 6, 2012
Joensuu, Finland

Preparing a lecture is actually challenging.  For me, the defiance is also personal because I enjoy to learn and I often dislike to be sitting in a lecture room.

On Monday night, a friend of mine,  Alia,  post a link to Noam Chomsky interview:  The purpose of Education.  Often I discover something when I listening to Chomsky, and this talk is not an exception. One of the multiple things that call my attention in this talk is: the idea of education that promotes enlightenment. My own path as a learner has been a bumping process of searching, exploring, trying and reflecting.  I am also in congruence that the technology is neutral.  Oh well, better listen to the talk.

From the last comments Chomsky mention an anecdote that help me to harmonize myself on how to prepare the courses: “what it matters is what YOU discover”

intensive workshop: “working for my Dreams” (2/2) – workshop

The workshop has been VERY intensive. My nights-sleep average during the workshop period was four hrs a day approximately. I was the last one to go to bed and usually I got up before the sunrise. This gave me the opportunity to realize the night rhythm in Iringa: first relative quietness (I say relative because in warm environment it is a lot of life, e.g. it easy to hear always crickets, frogs or any other life form which I have no idea they exist). Later at night several dogs bark constantly, no idea about the reason of that barking, either a wild animal comes by and then they give alarm among themselves or just pure conversation. Anyway, the final result is: you hear A LOT of dogs barking. After the dogs, the Iringa’s hens start to make the “kikirike” song (very early ones, around 3 am they start). It follows the mosque prays to finalize with the Christian or Catholic church bells at 7am.

After the night routine, we should be ready for a work day. During the workshop, daily (except Sundays) we had some contact session with the children from two to more than four hrs depending the day. The rest of the day is for review material and prepare material + computers for next day. Prepare is literal, we charge them of electricity. We were VERY lucky that electricity at our location was always present for recharge the machines. Before the workshop there were several black out.

We needed to charge the computer to be sure next day we could work with them, the school had pre-paid electricity and there are not sockets for all the computer to be connected. Then, if we want to depend on charging them on-site each session was not a reliable solution.

Charging of electricity the XO at my room. I should charge usually 12 computers. I had the possibility to connect 3 at the same time, and repeat the procedure 4 times(Photo: Here charging of electricity the XO at my room. We divide the machines between Marcus and I. Usually I charged between 10 to 12 computers. I had the possibility to connect 3 at the same time, and repeat the procedure four times)

Also there were other reason why the workshop was demanding for everybody, including us researchers:

i)     The school pupils  have thirst of knowledge and they are so dedicated and intelligent that we should higher our standards in each session. Today I know, good students demand more from their teachers

ii)    The machines  that our children have (XO’s ) present different and diverse scope of challenges.

iii)     Real time situation. The idea of the workshop (and all the projects I am running) presents the challenge of quality of time and understanding in the all what is involved in the environment. If I want to work together with others, then I must listen more than the average and try to understand. This is energy taking.

iv)    I am fighting for my funding (actively).

v)     Have this responsibility sense that I want to support Latinamerica and for me Africa is a new world. As anyone who goes to a new world, it takes energy.

But I must admit that I land soft, Marcus loves Tanzania and he has something of Tanzanian inside him, then I was in very good hands. He took care of all the details of my time in here (e.g. housing, transport, communication), and he has done awesome preparations for the workshop.  Then, it was my responsibility (and my right), to give my best back to all the great people that surround me in here. In addition, each time I saw the shinning eyes of the children, there is not other excuse just DO YOUR BEST.

Then in brief, the game workshop was an iteration of clear steps:  individuals must think and express themselves. Each new iteration we looked for a higher challenge for them to think about. The cycle consisted of:

a)     Give them a question /challenge

b)    Think individually how they will solve this challenge and write it down (use their XO for this)

(Photo: Children ready to type their own reflection. They were always VERY attentive. )

c)     Discuss in groups about the answers

(Photo: Final individual reflection to be discuss in a team)

(Photo: working in pairs)

d)    Then a  performance (drama) on how this challenge should be solved (each time the groups were differently formed). The children were at charge of everything: script, media, actors, recording, etc.

(Photo: Recording one drama scene – several camera men and women 🙂 )

e)    Reflect in the final results and evaluate if we were ready for the next challenge was the next step. Then the cycle was over and ready for the next one. In the way other activites were present, support, drawing and even playing 🙂

(Photo: Some technical support, or personalize teaching-learning activity)

(Photo: Some drawings)

(Photo: Some playing)

(Photo: No ALL is digital. I brought them a “children’s map” from German. It was very useful to explain where Marcus and I are originally. We also find Finland and Tanzania, but it was a very nice tool to see the world together.)

(Photo: Bring the server to the session. Unfortunately due to security issues – the school has not a “strong or secure” room for their equipment – therefore they need to find other channels to keep their tools secure. )

Also there were different activities to make each cycle different, for example once we have a whole contest to see the knowledge of kids (solving different math and natural science questions) or making a research about what kind of games the like to play, etc.

We also make a paper prototype of each child to hear how they want her/his webpage to look like (this part of the work is very interesting, because it breaks with diverse assumptions that HCI profess ).  Photos will be published later.

The children not only reflect in their writing about the relevant subjects such as their futures, health, etc. They made their own drawings, record their own dramas, decide how they want the things to be present, they create the whole content of the application. This support another level of understanding for what it is possible to use the ICT tools, and furthermore a sense of “digital-ownership”.

For the functionality of the “game” Mikko Vinni helped us in the distance with the proper functionality in PHP. As Ilka in his visit here help to set up the local server here too. Yes, a lot of quality people and hands were involve in this workshop.  However, still the game needs a some days to polish it properly.

The game in its actual status has been tested with other children who were not in the workshop and with parents. All of the testers mentioned that they  learned from it. In a way I am not surprised  about that, because is the bottom line or the purpose of the whole workshop, and actually from my whole research: We learn  A LOT from others if we only are willing to listen. But it is great that actually that phenomena is not exclusively of any location or person 🙂  and comments such as: “I am surprise that it can be also things in Swahili in internet”, really melted my heart.

Then is mainly the workshop in VERY brief. More things will be posting (as from other activities). However I want to express my gratitude to the children, to the tutors of Tumaini (Innocence, Timothy and Miraji), to the teachers of the school, to Marcus, to Mikko, to Ilkka and the whole community too, which were so supportive in the activity.

Btw, for those who advice me to ready for unexpected events I can assure I was not expecting that we will have almost 100% assistance for the duration of the workshop (two weeks and 17 children were enrolled). The children came even in Saturdays and some days work over time. We only have 3 absences each one in three different days. I am very impress and thankful with all of them.