Reaction Paper Seven: Ki Karou

The speaker we had this week was Ki Karou, who is an Educational Game Designer from the MIND Research Institute. Currently, their focus of interest is STMath Touch where they are creating apps in order to educate students, kindergarten through sixth grade. Their focus is to educate people through gaming. However, he feels that educational games are lacking in comparison to games and the growth of technology. The MIND Research Institute was the institution that did a study concluding that children who listened to Mozart had better short term performance when performing tasks. It was considered something akin to a warm-up in sports. Spatial Temporal Reasoning, which is used in all levels of mathematics is the focus in the apps. Rather than using symbols and numbers, it utilizes space and time to help the students better understand each subject. This ability is innate in all people but it can also be improved. They believe strongly in the Action Perception Cycle which leads to self-adjustment. In short, when a child gets the problem wrong, it is expected that they will adjust accordingly to correctly answer the question. These games are normally one year’s worth of curriculum, common core, not just fractions or memorization. In regards to these applications, I’m not sure that they would be successful in the public market. I see no possible way for the child to get through these puzzles if they were to get stuck on their own without becoming extremely frustrated. As I write this, I sit next to my sister explaining the difference between the “>” symbol and the “<” symbol only to watch her get frustrated and bring herself nearly to tears despite my simplified explanation of “the alligator wants the most fishes he can eat, whichever side has more.” How can a child, especially one as emotional as my younger siblings, be expected to actually complete this in a home setting? Some of these apps look too difficult for even my parents to navigate around and I believe this would be much better suited to stay in the school environment where children could receive immediate assistance from their teachers rather than struggling at home trying to figure these puzzles out and eventually leading to giving up on the application and math entirely. I’ve seen what this type of frustration can do to a student’s taste for learning and while I do agree that students shouldn’t be given the answers right when they get something wrong but I believe that explanation and “how to” is essential for learning. Sure, they should understand something is the way it is, like division and what’s actually happening but I believe that explanation can happen after the lesson. This is something that I believe is sorely missing from today’s education; for example, I only recently figured out the why behind negative exponents. I could always find the answer but I didn’t know what exactly I was doing with these numbers which was finding the reciprocal or dividing. However, a simple lesson from a good professor provided me the insight rather than a convoluted application.

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