All posts by Anastasia Salter

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2014: 5 Games to Learn From

As the year winds to a close, it’s a great time to take a look back at some of the games that stood out in serious and educational gaming. If you’re thinking about picking a new game for a class, keep an eye on the coming game awards season. There are a number of venues that showcase great educational games each year. The Serious Games Showcase & Challenge highlighted several winners this year, including National Geographic’s game The Underground Railroad: Journey to Freedom and University of …

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Hour of Code


December 8th through 14th marked Computer Science Education Week, along with a week-long push for Hour of Code, an initiative in procedural literacy through beginner-friendly tutorials with particular attention to groups that remain underrepresented in STEM. While many of the community events and initiatives are aimed at K-12, the tutorials and resources from the project and the initiative itself can be valuable for us to take a look at in higher education.

Obama kicked off the week of code by

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Open Thread Wednesday: Productivity for the Holidays

For most of us, the end of semester is either at hand or fast approaching, and with it the prospect of a couple weeks of unscheduled time. Of course, this time isn’t truly unscheduled: even if you’re lucky enough not to have any meetings, there are probably many deadlines and projects looming, possibly an annual conference, not to mention family gatherings and holiday fun and obligations. I’ve realized lately that it’s actually easier for me to schedule my life and work when classes are happeni…

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Exploring Interactive Texts through IFComp


Every year, a number of game designers and storytellers share new works through an annual Interactive Fiction Competition, IFComp. Interactive fiction is, broadly put, any type of story that allows the user to take a role or control the narrative experience. There are several interfaces for this type of narrative: parser based IF uses verbs and nouns as a way to enter commands, and parses them into action, while hypertextual IF offers links and is often compared to Choose Your Own Adventure boo…

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Open Thread Wednesday: Harvard, Attendance, and Acountability


Last week, Harvard made the news thanks to a study conducted through secret photographs of lecture halls as a way to monitor attendance. The debate over ethics in the study is ongoing, and of course the reality is that with all the course management tools dominating our education system we’re all subject to much more monitoring than we are aware of. However, this study made me think about something I’ve struggled with in my first semester at a big university: what does a great attendance policy…

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#AcWriMo, #DigiWriMo, #NaNoGenMo and November Writing Sprints


November is, for many of us, a month of deadlines, pre-final anxiety and grading, and the inevitable incursion of the holidays. It is also an incredibly popular month for writing sprints and challenges, which thoroughly embrace the spirit of “fail faster” as a way to try something new or get further in a stalled project. The spirit of November is best expressed through NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, an event that brings together a huge community of writers telling stories. The same…

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Digital Distractions: ARGs and Endgame

A new book by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton, Endgame: The Calling, launched earlier this month. The book chronicles twelve players representing ancient cultures who are trying to save their societies with the fate of the world at stake. If you picked it up without knowing the full story, it would seem like a disappointment as a book: the players are presented with clues, but the puzzles and mysteries are left unsolved. This is because Endgame isn’t so much a book as the launching point fo…

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Report from the UNF Academic Technology Innovation Symposium


Last week I joined a group of faculty, instructional designers, administrators, librarians and academic technology specialists at the University of North Florida Academic Technology Innovation Symposium. The symposium represents the type of localized exchange of best practices and pedagogical experiments that is vital to university communities, with ideas on display ranging from Google Glass to 3D printing (like the chocolate-holding keychain pictured above.) I was there to talk about extending…

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Updating Your Web Security


Web security isn’t something we tend to think of on a day-to-day basis. Usually, we only become aware of the security concerns of our accounts once something goes wrong. Recently, I’ve seen several friends fall victim to attacks on their accounts and identity, which has motivated me to take steps towards thinking about my own web security practices. We know that we should have high-security passwords and not reuse them across networks, and yet most of us don’t follow those rules.

Here are a few…

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Ello and Academic Social Networks

If you’ve been on Twitter or Facebook lately, you might have seen the first apparent signs of a migration, with users announcing their new account names on the currently invitation-only social network Ello. This isn’t the first time there’s been a new network apparently on the horizon (remember the short-lived exodus to App.net, the still-on-life-support Google Plus, and the decentralized concept of Diaspora pods? Konrad, at least, certainly appreciated Diaspora.), but it’s caught the attention…