more than games: hci students present at quest.

Students in our human-computer interaction graduate program presented several sessions at Quest, many related to video games and learning. Among them:

Dan Young showing his project to have NAO robots perform Waiting for Godot to learn more about programming robot movement and simulating human actions.

 

Randy Belcher and Dan Cutler, with help from an audience volunteer, show the large amount of data one can obtain from the Xbox Kinect. They are using it to study body language and emotion. An audience member described it as "amazing ... potentially revolutionary" in possibly helping autistic children.

Joshua Farrell discusses his research of what motivates people who play video games, with potential implications for game developers and marketers.

Kevin Graham demonstrates the Rocksmith guitar-instruction system. He also talked about how studying it could shed lighting on electronic learning aids.

You can also see a video of Graham rocking out during his presentation.

Breath, Stretch, Meditate

Recently I find myself increasingly curious about meditation, yoga and obtaining peace of mind. I am not sure if it has to do with all of the Oprah programs I am watching or more the desire to find a way to keep my mind clear enough  to write when I am up against the deadline (as I always am). Truth be told it is a fair mixture of both, I am a huge fan of Oprah’s LifeClass  any Own program and I still have a 2 page analysis paper due from before spring break(please don’t judge me). Whatever it might be that is bringing on my constant stress and cloudy mind I have found that a few things actually help to clear it.

After years of wanting to do yoga I finally took a friend up on an invitation to join her at a Sunday afternoon session. The experience was a memorable one; me struggling to balance my self on one leg or hold positions with every muscle trembling while the rest of the class seemed to flawlessly glide from position to position. I lost track of how many times I said to myself ” I thought yoga was supposed to be relaxing and calm”. But as the session was concluding , I found myself down on my yoga mat calmly breathing , mind effortlessly drifting off unaware of the macho body building men who had earlier watched me head over to the yoga mats.

When the lights finally turned on and the instructor told us she looked forward to seeing us next week, I was floating over to my friend with the surrealist feeling of serenity I had have ever experienced. I felt somewhere in between sleep and euphoria. The rest of the day and subsequently the next one as well was filled with great clarity. In the time after, I spent nights  practicing breathing exercises to help settle my thoughts enough for me to fall asleep.

Since then I have developed a weekly routine of attending a Sunday evening yoga class courtesy of Oswego’s fitness centers. What has made my yoga classes even better was learning that other SUNY schools don’t all offer classes without paying a separate fee. How lucky are we to get a yoga class that not only winds down as the sun sets over the lake but not  have to pay an additional fee?

The health benefits of yoga are substantial I am sure but I’ll leave that up to a professional or someone with more knowledge on yoga practices to tell you. I’m just here to say yoga has definitely been a great stabilizer in my life.

Practicum (Fall 2011) – Day 5

Currently at my Practicum site, students are reading Jack London’s Call of the Wild, and although I have never read it, picking it up and following again was an easy task, especially since I was lucky enough to have been there just as they were only on the second chapter. I was asked to read the first two chapters to students that had not been there the day before, in order to catch them up, and I really appreciated that opportunity. The student teacher gave the students questions to answer, and most of these questions were not beyond knowledge-based questions; in other words, they were asked to go back and find specific details from the book and answer a question such as “what happened to Curly?” and everything that I have been taught about education tells me that this doesn’t work, and I think that I was observing that, in fact. Most of the students were bored and frustrated, and it was obvious to me that they wanted to get the questions answered just so they could say that they were done and move on, not because they were interested.

I don’t know if the student teacher, however, did that of his own free will or if the Host Teacher wrote the questions and then just had him administer him. If the latter is the case, then I really hope that as a student teacher, I will not be asked to do a lot with which I don’t agree. If so, that will definitely be one of the most challenging aspects. Asking students knowledge-based questions does little to engage them, and they forget the material as soon as they “learn” it; this is why testing is not always beneficial. At the same time, though, knowledge-based questions are a part of the Regents exam, so there are going to be pills difficult to swallow, pills that I will have to swallow nonetheless. The student teacher showed them a bit of an episode of a show on the Science Channel, a show called Survivorman, and I think that that was a great idea because it could be related to Call of the Wild and keeps them engaged. First period was chatty, and once again, I heard my “f-bomb” again, but all in all, it was a pretty good day.

Practicum (Fall 2011) – Week 2

During my second day at Dennis M. Kenney Middle School in Hannibal, the class listened to the rest of “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe, which I am assuming they had begun on a day that I wasn’t there, since I only go twice a week. This led to the Host Teacher talking to the students about how a story typically plays out, starting with rising action, the climax, falling action, and finally, the resolution, or the ending, using “The Tell-Tale Heart” to exemplify this model. It was the Friday before Halloween, so needless to say, students were a bit excited, and since the Host Teacher was not going to be working the Monday after the weekend, she celebrated Halloween with them on this day.

The Host Teacher played Halloween music for the students, and she did a Halloween-themed Mad Lib with them. I don’t think that they all understood the idea of a Mad Lib, because they were filling in words that were fitting to the context of the story (which she provided them, even though I think that the exercise would have been more fun and funnier for them had she not, since usually, you don’t). Reasons such as these are why this Host Teacher really makes me feel excited to teach. She, like me, stresses good writing and discourages the use of words such as bad, sad, mad, and so forth, encouraging her students to use more descriptive words. I do, however, firmly believe that I would enjoy my Practicum experience without a student teacher sharing the room with me, but that, perhaps, is a story for another time. I was writing a blog entry for my third week at the school, and my computer decided to sign me out without my consent, and I lost the entire blog, which isn’t saved as a draft for some reason.

The 411

One summer class down and the swan song on math in undergrad. Not too shabby huh? What have I been doing in this past week since class ended absolutely nothing. This is the first true break for me since the spring semester began, yeah travel back that far.

Alright, I may not have been being a complete summer bum, I just took out three books on loan from Penifield. Two by James Baldwin and one by David Benioff writer of the 25th Hour famously turned into a Spike Lee directed Movie, he also wrote the screen play for The Kite Runner and Troy. I figure three books is a enough to keep me pleasantly busy while allowing my mind to recuperate for the way I repeatedly put it through the grinder over these last 5 months. I’ve also been trying to make my way down to the lake as often as I can while the weather is nice and at the risk of this sounding like a match.com profile , I’ve been doing some bike riding around town as well.

At this point I may be enjoying summer days more than my friends. Everyday feels like a gift. One part of Oswego that is so underrated is the summer . We always hear about the snow, the strong wind gust and of course the sunset but summer is the town’s best kept secret. I have made it a goal of mine to share all of the different things that can be done for fun during the summer but I need to be selfish just a while longer.  Think of it as a finders fee.

Anyway I need to resume to this summer relaxation but don’t fret you’ll be seeing (hint hint) somethings from me pretty soon. Until then as Rob would say ” let that boy cook!”

Enjoy your summer day everyone,

Kwame

Let’s Catch Up

Wow

It has been a while since I’ve really gotten into the flow of  things. Not to worry I am back and fully functioning. Took a much needed break. You know how hectic things can get for a college student. Hopefully to the demise of you the reader (just admit you miss me). With so much time passing , comes so much news.

This past semester I went through a lot. I grew a lot , I experienced a lot. I am grateful for it all , maybe not while it occurred or soon after, and truthfly there are issues I am still trying to resolve. However my new outlook has led me to be grateful for it all. Rain, sleet, Oswego sized snow days and sun. Whatever the problem I may be experiencing in the end will be worth the journey.

Success has found its way to me this year. This past spring semester I was inducted into the Lambda  Pi Eta National Honor Society of Communications. It was a pleasant surprise because although it has been my goal since day one of Oswego to receive academic recognition I never set out for this one in particular. Which made the induction and initial nomination that much more of an honor. I learned that when you take care of your business , stay focused on the goal at hand, the blessings will come. Also it never hurts to be able to send your parents a quick picture of you holding a Honor Society Certificate , all dressed up, with a great big smile with the caption “Hey mom just in case you thought I was going to Thirsty Thursdays every week.”

So all in all there has been a lot to occur. My birthday was exactly a month ago to the date( old & gray) , I received stitches for the first time (a lesson learned from that!), celebrated BSR (woop woop!), became Mr. BSU(check me out), My niece is 7 months and teething (poor baby sister).

As hectic as that may seem. I am still busy at work up here in Oswego. I’m taking summer classes, looking for employment, working on a possible intership/shadow position, and experiencing all that Oswego has to offer in the summer time (besides allergies and a sinus infection).

Rest assure though , we will be in touch!

-Kwame

Constructive Criticism

I think they truly have. See  I am student writer. One in the process of learning this craft, learning the mechanics and on a simpler note just learning how to write period. There is a difference between having good thoughts and articulating them in an efficient manner. My major says journalism but it also says student. Hence there must be a learning curve. Every post I write will not have a disclaimer to this fact. I will not make known the fact that everyday I learn new rules or find more habits that need to be broken. The point is to learn on the go and put what you learn into practice. The best piece of advice given to me when I told a mentor of mine at a previous school I wanted to write , was to do so everyday. Make it a daily habit. That’s kind of what this is about. That and to be truthful I have an unique perspective that I wanted to share with others. My college experiences are CRAZY.

HOWEVER what has annoyed me the most since starting this blog. Have been the comments. Not those by my peers I love them . Good and bad I love when people post comments on a post. It lets me know that you are alive , you are part of this little writer and reader relationship. Of course I see the amount of people that read my post and that always amazes me that so many people would read the blog. My issue however is with the Alumni. They kind of disgust me to be honest. As I write this someone is saying there goes his networking out the window( it was in my head as well) but to be truthful in edu domain friendly words “I don’t care”.

Countless amount of times my post has been featured on the school Facebook page. Whenever that happens I get more pedestrian views than usual. I sometimes don’t realize till a few days after. Usually when I see the numbers shoot off the chart. So I then take my little web stroll over to the school page and see it for myself. That’s when it always happens. Never fails that I see some Alum go ” ahhhhhh grammar grammar grammar” or “this shouldn’t be posted there are way to many mistakes” I can go on but I’m sure by now you get the point. Probably even have seen such. I then look at that comment and see about 5 “likes” . That is when I stew. Not only because that is about the only time that the alum is probably getting “likes” which some probably are still struggling to understand, but because for one the comments are never left on MY post. Which to me says “ego driven” . There is no reason I should have to go on the school page to read the criticism of my post. When I have a comment section! It’s senseless to me! That leads me to believe you are “like hunting”. More importantly is this. If I know or become aware of a typo or mistake, I fix them. After all the point is to be able to fix and correct. This is why we have the ability to edit articles already published.

The biggest issue I have with this stems from the above image. I could be wrong but I thought alum were here to uplift , encourage and be of help to current students. Simply telling the world but not the student writer of the problem will not fix or solve the current “ahhhh grammar grammar grammar” problem. I one time got so upset. That an English major graduate would take to Facebook to cry over the mistakes. Yet he didn’t think to help a current journalism major student right his wrongs or steer him in the right direction. Do you see how that sounds? What good came out of his comments. I didn’t see them until a week later and still didn’t even know what he was talking about 0_0 .This is all with out me adding in the fact that this is a BLOG. A BLOG! Not the New York Times. I am speaking to my peers: current students and soon to be’s . Where as you are still trying to remember how to change your current system preferences. I cld tlk like ths 2 my ppl nd still every1 wld get me, things like gifs, u dnt undrstnd but we do. u call it social media we use wrds like web , online, “goin on the computer during library hrs. So u c its not alwys bout wat u like but wat we like. Aii.

Moral of the story. If you are going to criticize or critique make sure that it’s function is to help and not to tear down. After all who we become or what we learn is a direct reflection of what you didn’t teach us.

p.s. Nobody likes a troll.Troll and get troll’d . Srsly

The Triangle of Life

Man, this may be the most accurate portrayal of school college. When I use to play the “you only get 2 games” I always got fustrated because I could never decide which I wanted. Yet here I am , again always stuck trying to decide between the three. Could this have been the source of my recent frustrations?

Maybe, but chances are it has more to do with these 4 major classes I am taking and trying to stay afloat in. Whatever the reason , it all leads back to this triangle. There has been a lack of consistency on my part this semester. At times, I’ve laid under the covers and said “rest!” then only but a few times, I have decided to go out and party and or drink(soda) all night long. Truest in its location however right at the top, hanging over my head has been the reminder that I want those great grades (not good). At times this has meant I went beast. Just running all around, staying up till all times of night, making a home of the library. Mostly though I have stressed myself to miserable levels and abandoned my promise to self to make sure I am taking time to enjoy life a little.

The sad truth (to me at least) about this triangle is that there is no one right way to approach it. In my eyes there is only room for one other choice. Getting good grades are not an option, nor should it be optional . But again to each their own, “Live let Live”. This leaves the conundrum of choosing between sleep and social life. For a couple of weeks I decided to choose sleep but that did me no good. It left me tense and ready to blow over like a pressure cooker. You see if you do what is required of you academically, you owe it to yourself to take a few moments if not hours to just enjoy the simpler or more carefree parts of life. Beware however it comes with a price, that price being precious time outside of your twin size bed  and head under the covers.

So I guess there is no way to truly win or to come out successful is there? I’m lost and still trying to figure it out. Maybe you have the answer though. If so , don’t act stingy share it with the rest of the world!!! Me 0_0!

Journalists: be prepared to get your world rocked…

That’s what they should warn journalism majors before they start their program.

Be prepared to get your world rocked, because you will write something that you think is really good and then your editor will rip it to shreds.

I’m still getting used to having my work torn apart by editors, and I’m a graduating journalism senior. Such fun!

I suppose getting harsh reviews is supposed to help you do better and build up your work as well as strengthen your skin against criticism, but sometimes I’m a big softy.

I just wrote a blog post for my internship, and I thought it was pretty good. It was about new bills on the floor of the House of Representatives that seek to cut off funding for family planning and reproductive health. I sent my blog to my supervisor, who proceeded to strikethrough nearly everything I wrote. Case in point:

Talk about rocking my world. She told me my writing was still good, and it laid a framework for what she edited into the new blog post. But still, less than 10 percent of what I originally wrote was intact! I survived an editorial run-in.

It just goes to show you that no matter what sort of confidence you may have about a piece, it is still subject to the editor’s appeal. Just a reminder that I shouldn’t get overconfident in my writing, as well as I should prepare myself more for constructive criticism.

Real life 101 note: you may think what you wrote as a journalist is the cat’s meow, but just remember, you’re writing for an audience, and if your editor doesn’t like what you wrote – don’t take it personal when they completely scrap your work. It’s just the life as a journalist after all.