Educational Apps for iPad

Despite mobile apps and tablet computing being identified as one of the technologies expected to enter mainstream education in the next twelve months (NMC, 2012), I have to admit, I’m very much an iPad novice.  However, I work in a school that has committed to a 1:1 program for all Year 6 – 8 students for 2013.  With only 15 weeks until the program begins, I trialled a number of educational apps designed to not only make my life easier, but better engage and meet the needs of the 21st century learners in my classroom.

Hanson (2011, p. 15) states that the software applications, or apps, of a mobile device are what has “taken these devices into completely new realms of functionality.” As a secondary teacher, functionality, as well as ease of use and the ability to engage and educate, formed the success criteria for the investigation of the following apps:

Source: www.appsforipads.net

Explain Everything $2.99

Explain Everything is an annotation and tutorial style app, where users can upload a document or image (or create a presentation using the blank screen) and add annotations and audio.  Presentations can be exported as mp4 files via email, Photo Roll, YouTube, Dropbox, Evernote, Box or WebDAV.

Functionality, use of ease, and student engagement

Explain Everything is easy to use.  Users can upload images and documents from a range of sources and the annotation tools are simple and responsive.  Tools provided include a marker pen, laser pointer, shape tool, and text box function.

Explain Everything can improve outcomes for both teachers and students.  One of the easiest ways to use this app is to provide students with feedback on their work.  Student work can be uploaded and the teacher can annotate it, record their comments, and then return the mp4 file to the student via email or Dropbox.  The advantage of providing students with feedback in this manner is that the student can replay feedback as many times as they need without having to decipher handwritten notes on the draft.  Students can also use this app to annotate and/or explain their understanding of key concepts or, alternatively, they could use it to provide feedback and evaluation of their peers’ work.

Explain Everything also becomes an easy tool to use for those who teach using the Flipped Classroom model.  Teachers can record videos of key concepts and ideas and upload them to their class blogs, wikis or websites.  Students are then provided with video tutorials whenever and wherever they need them.

Limitations

In using this tool, some limitations or difficulties need to be noted.  Firstly, to export the file, it must be compressed.  In some instances, this can take as long as the actual length of the video.  If a teacher was using this app to provide feedback on a whole class worth of drafts, the time required to compress the files could outweigh the time saved in recording audio feedback rather than written.  In addition to this, although the file is compressed, the file size is significant (39.9MB for a 2:39 minute video), which makes it difficult to email.  I also had trouble exporting my file to Dropbox, which meant that I had to save the file to the Photo Roll and then download the file.

Source: iTunes.apple.com

Diigo   Free

Diigo is a web highlighting, sticky note and online bookmarking tool.  Users can create shared bookmarks and connect with other users to build their personal learning network.  The Diigo for iPad app gives users the opportunity to access their bookmarked sites and to annotate and highlight webpages from the Safari browser.

Functionality, use of ease, and student engagement

Diigo for iPad is reasonably simple to use, however, users need to have an account with Diigo before they can use the app.  When researching, students can use this app to collate and manage useful web resources.  When students use the annotation and highlighting tool in safari, their annotations are automatically collated in the app, ready for review.  Students in my Modern History and Year 8 SOSE class regularly complain about having to record notes – with the Diigo for iPad app, my students can now create a set of notes straight from webpages and then comment on them through the app.

Limitations

When downloading this app, you must also bookmark the Safari annotation tool.  The instructions on how to do this are not as clear as they could be.  Novice iPad users may find it difficult to follow these instructions.

Source: itunes.apple.com

Schoology  Free

Schoology  is a social networking tool designed for educational settings.  It allows teachers to upload course content, set up assessment, manage classes, create discussions and provide classes with ‘status updates’.  The Schoology iPad app (also available on iPhone) creates a mobile classroom, where students can access class materials and discuss class content.

Functionality, use of ease, and student engagement

With an interface and user functions similar to Facebook, Schoology is one of the most engaging educational tools I have used this year.  Firstly, the discussion forum allows students to engage with each other, and with their teacher.  Secondly, students who are absent can access class materials whenever they need them.  Due to the familiarity of the layout and format, the Schoology app is one of the easiest educational apps to use.

Limitations

To use this app, teachers will need to have a Schoology account and have set up a course.  To join the class, students require the unique course code (supplied by the teacher).  Only once they have joined the course online will they be able to use the app.  At my school, accessing Schoology via Explorer has presented problems; it is much easier to use with Firefox, however, this browser is not installed on our school computers.  In this case, students have had to first join the course at home before they can start using the app in class.  Another issue with the Schoology app is that, on iPhone, users are only able to access the discussion forums and not the course materials folder.

References

Hanson, C. (2011). Chapter 2: Mobile Devices in 2011. Library Technology Reports, 47(2), 11-23

New Media Consortium (2012, June 12). NMC Horizon Report 2012 K – 12 Edition [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8A_xMSCZ8SQ

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick is a visually stunning book detailing the heroic journey of a young boy struggling to find happiness after his father is killed in an accidental fire. This book offers students the opportunity to explore the impact which visual design has on a narrative whilst promoting positive values relevant to young people. The interplay of texts and images creates a dramatic story and combined with multimedia elements, will engage even the most reluctant reader.

Selznick has created a unique book which challenges the accepted codes of both picture books and novels. The book is an impressive 525 pages in length but cannot simply be categorised as a novel due to the inclusion of 158 different pictures. Nor can the book be described as a traditional picture book as the pictures themselves do not simply illustrate the text, but rather the two elements together create a continuous narrative.

The Invention of Hugo Cabret is a classic hero’s tale in which the main protagonist, Hugo, finds himself isolated and torn from the comfort of his home and friends. He must undergo a series of challenges before he is finally able to reunite with his friends and belong once again to a loving family. Hugo lives in secrecy within the train station after his uncle mysteriously disappears, struggling to maintain the station’s clocks and to care for himself. He believes that through hard work rewards will be received, as he works passionately and diligently to repair an automaton.

Many readers would agree that “no text is innocent: all stories are ideological” (Hourihan, 1997, p.4) and this is certainly the case with Selznick’s story. The narrative explores themes of secrecy and loss, whilst demonstrating that true happiness can only be found in following dreams. Many of the characters suffer under the burden of their own secrets and it is only when these secrets are revealed can they find true happiness. Hugo’s secrets bring him loneliness and isolation as he wonders “how could he be her friend when he had so many secrets?” (p.189-190). It is only when Hugo finally reveals his secrets and trusts Méliès and Isabelle, that he once again can find purpose to his life. The narrative values the importance of individuals following their dreams in order to find their true identity and purpose. The broken automaton symbolises the way in which the characters have lost meaning in their own lives, exemplified when Hugo muses “if you lose your purpose… it’s like you’re broken” (p.374). The films of Méliès represent the happiness which can be found by following your true passion in life and help us “understand that if our dreams are big enough, anything is possible” (p.360).

The Invention of Hugo Cabret will appeal to a wide range of young people as the visual elements are as integral to the story as the text. This text is a beautifully bound 525 page hardcover book, which is part of the book’s appeal. A film version of the novel has been created by Martin Scorsese titled Hugo. The visual elements assist and motivate young readers who struggle with reading narratives, developing confidence and a sense of achievement in tackling what only appears to be a long novel.  From a pragmatic point of view though, the size, weight and cover hinder the book’s shelf life within a school library collection. It can be difficult for students to fit the book into their bags, and due to its weight it can be easily dropped and damaged. So whilst I would highly recommend this book to motivate and interest younger readers, those physical elements which make the book most appealing, also result in significant challenges for a school library collection.

 

References

Hourihan, M. (1997). Deconstructing the Hero: literary theory and children’s literature. London: Routledge.

Selznick, Brian. (2007). The Invention of Hugo Cabret. New York: Scholastic Press

Meeting the needs of the 21stC student

Image http://bligbook.com/5-websites-for-free-e-books/

Image http://bligbook.com/5-websites-for-free-e-books/

I enjoy visiting Sunnybank Hills Library, it’s a place where many people feel comfortable and welcome to interact in a variety of ways. I see this site as exemplifying the ideals of a dynamic, seamless, flexible 21stC learning hubs which provide resources and services to meet the community’s needs (Hay, 2009, p.17; Kuhlthau, 2010, p.17).

This local library is larger than many of the other surrounding Brisbane City Council libraries, and obviously receives a higher level of funding to meet the needs of a greater number of members. The library provides a wide range of services and resources for young people to access and participate in. Apart from a wide collection of texts in traditional format, the library also provides students with the opportunity to access other artefacts of popular culture. Young people can borrow audio books, music CDs, DVDs of television programmes and movies, and hire computer games. The library also offers electronic books, music and audio books which can be downloaded to personal computer and eBook readers, and accessed through the library website. Members can access computers and the internet free of charge, providing significant opportunities to bridge the increasing “digital divide” (NMC, 2012 p.8), providing access for those young people who may not have access to these tools at home.

In contrast to the local public library, the local school library struggles to meet its objectives to be “an information-rich learning environment which supports the needs of the school community” (ALIA, 2004, Standard 2.1). The local school library I visited is restricted in budget, and caters for 600 primary school students. The only popular culture resources which are available to students are in traditional book formats. The Teacher Librarian is acutely aware of the deficit in the resources available in the school library, and therefore actively recommends students access and visit the public library.

The local library is a positive example of how libraries can become dynamic learning centres and hubs of activity. Public education requires a fundamental shift in thinking to ensure that school libraries keep up with the changing and diverse needs of students. Through increased funding and awareness of the value of the school library in education, school libraries can become the hub of the school community, providing access to resources and information in a multitude of formats. Students should not only be able to access resources in the library, but should feel welcomed and encouraged to engage in sharing, communicating, collaborating and demonstrating their knowledge in a dynamic and multi-modal environment.

 

References

ALIA (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. http://www.alia.org.au/policies/teacher-librarian.standards.html

Hay, Lyn. (2009). School libraries building capacity for student learning in 21C. SCAN, 28(2), 17-26.

Kuhlthau, C. C. (2010). Guided Inquiry: School Libraries in the 21st Century. School Libraries Worldwide, 16(1), 17-28.

NMC. (2012). NMC Horizon Report: 2012 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium.

“Is this my kind of space?” – Evaluation of Spaces in a School Library

When students enter a library, Williams (as cited in Mardis, 2011, p. ii) proposes they do so with three questions in mind: “Is this my kind of place; can I be successful here; and does this fit into the rest of my life?”  With Williams’ first question, “Is this my kind of place?” in mind, I visited my school library to evaluate whether its spaces and facilities create a place where students want to be.

Of critical importance when designing library spaces is the creation of an environment that “makes visitors feel welcome…and keeps them coming back (Kenney, 2008, p. 11).  Moreover, the space must appeal to the individual’s values (Mardis, 2011).  When establishing whether my school library, which caters for Prep to Year 12, was a place where students would feel welcome, I tried to imagine it from the student perspective.  Seeing as I teach in the secondary college, I focused my attention on the way in which the Resource Centre creates a space where teenagers would feel comfortable.  The first thing that caught my attention was the recently returned shelf, standing directly in front of me as I entered.  The shelf is one example of how students can identify with other library users, in that they can establish what others are reading and determine whether they would like to read it as well.  Another way students can identify and connect with other users is through the book review function on the library catalogue.

Of critical importance when designing library spaces is the creation of an environment that “makes visitors feel welcome…and keeps them coming back

The library offers a multi-purpose room, furnished with brightly coloured crescent-shaped desks on wheels that provided limitless configurations.  Students particularly enjoy using this room, as they can determine where and how they sit, facilitating collaboration.

A number of comfortable seating options are made available to students.  The fiction section houses two couches with cushions, and four tub chairs.  Another couch and pair of tub chairs are positioned closer to the loans desk.  Three carrels offer privacy for those who prefer individual study.

Access to technology is offered to students in the form of an eleven computer hub for senior students and a 25 computer hub for junior college students.  Classes can also access laptops trolleys to complete research and teachers can use interactive whiteboards in both the research space and the multipurpose room.  Technology is available to students during break times, however, access to many Web 2.0 tools and social media sites are, at this stage, largely inaccessible.

In many ways, the school library is the kind of place students might like to spend their time.  The library offers students a quiet place to engage with texts across a range of mediums.  It’s a colourful and physically user-friendly space.  However, many students do not use this space of their own accord.   When asked why, students largely respond that they don’t always feel welcome in the space; they want a space where they can interact with their peers and they want to be able to use technology without the restrictions placed upon by the school network.

It is clear then, that a school library’s success cannot simply be measured by its furniture and design of space.  Rather, these factors need to be considered in conjunction with behaviour and information technology policies.  If students were free to interact with their peers (at a reasonable volume), and/or were encouraged to explore and experiment with Web 2.0 tools (through a monitored program or set of approved sites), then the library would enjoy increased patronage, which in turn would expose a greater audience to a greater range of reading practices.

References

Kenney, B. (2008). The power of place. School Library Journal, 54(1), 11.

Mardis, M. (2011). Reflections on school library as space, school library as place. School Libraries Worldwide, 17(1), i-iii.

 

 

Mario Kart Wii

When Santa kindly gave the kids a Wii for Christmas I didn’t imagine myself willingly participating in the games. For the sake of family unity, I reluctantly tried Mario Kart Wii and finally discovered the allure of video games for the first time in my life. In fact you could say I became an addict, and for a period I awaited the time when the kids were fast asleep so that I could challenge myself on the racing track. In the end I had to practice self-regulation to limit the amount of play I would engage in as I tried desperately to beat the other racers and gain the rewards of winning. It was a satisfying learning experience which provided me with a greater insight into understanding how these games offer complex challenges which are possible to achieve but require perseverance and stamina.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!

Mario Kart Wii is not a simple racing game, but just like Grand Turismo 5 it provides complex opportunities for users to develop skills in multi-tasking and reflexive thinking. Users need to develop knowledge on the best characters and vehicles for particular race tracks, and show patience and perseverance in order to gain rewards. My daughters initially selected the characters and vehicles which they considered the ‘cutest’ or ‘prettiest’, but as they soon realised that this did not always result in rewards, they instead developed problem solving skills. They carefully investigated, consulted and trialled different characters and vehicles which provided the best advantages for the particular track they were racing on. They also established the ability to consider the racing conditions and quickly respond to obstacles which are constantly presented.  They showed a greater perseverance and patience than I did, by focusing on achieving goals, and dealing with challenges and failures.

Unlike Super Mario Bros WiiMario Kart Wii does not exhibit the same gendered stereotypes in which males actively save passive females. Both games share similar characters, yet in Mario Kart Wii they equally have advantages and disadvantages on different courses. The game is inviting to players of differing genders, interests and ages as there is a wide variety of characters to select from. As in Super Mario Bros Wii, Mario Kart Wii also contains multi-player functions which allow participants to race against each other or together in teams. This develops skills in participation and team work, and provides opportunities to share skills and knowledge. Mario Kart Wii promotes research and literacy in multiple media formats, as players can access information and insights in the game through the Nintendo website and share with friends through Facebook.

Through my experience of this game I have reconsidered my opinion on the educational value of video games. I also have a new appreciation for the benefits in interacting in activities which develop motor skills, deep levels of thinking and research, and the ability to multi-task and respond quickly to challenges. Along with this experience I have gained a better understanding too of how important it is to both teach and model self-regulation, in order to ensure that the benefits of video games aren’t outweighed by the negative effects of game playing addiction!

“The Rachel” and a show about nothing – How television shows shape our lives

Growing up as a child of the 80s and 90s, I can recall a number of television shows that shaped the way I thought, spoke, acted and interacted with my friends and family members.  In fact, there are television shows I can recall from my childhood that I would attribute my dry sense of humour to, namely Seinfeld and The Simpsons.

Although I can vaguely remember a number of television shows from the eighties, the ones that stand out for me are Neighbours and Home and Away.  Like most of my friends, these were the shows that we spoke about at school – “How cute are Scott and Charlene?”, “I can’t believe Tom died!  What will Pippa do now?”  As embarrassing as it is to admit now, at one point I even possessed Home and Away licensed clothing.  I was very clearly the coolest kid around.

Looking back on it now, I can appreciate the impact that television programs can play in our lives.  When I was in high school, Friends was at the height of its popularity.  If we look at this show as an example, it becomes clear the way in which television programs influence our lives.  How many people do you know who coveted “The Rachel”, the choppy, layered bob that typified hair in the 90s (and one that is/was so popular is has its own Wikipedia page)?  I still know people who will raise an eyebrow and say, “How you doin’?” reminiscent of Joey Tribbani’s (Matt LeBlanc) preferred pickup line.

Television shows have certainly influenced my life.  As previously mentioned, I can attribute much of my sense of humour to the television shows I watched as a teenager.  Jerry Seinfeld’s use of sarcasm and wit were captivating.  To me, there was something to be said about pointing out the obvious.  The following clip demonstrates this point nicely:

The television shows we watch certainly have an impact on our lives.  As educators, this understanding offers a number of implications.  Even in the face of a digital world, television remains a popular past time.  If teachers are aware of the television programs their students engage with, they can better understand some of the factors that influence their students’ lives.

Redesigning a school library to cater for diversity

School libraries should “engage with all of the ways students learn and to offer a variety of spaces to support these different ways of learning” (La Marca, 2010, p.3). In order to “foster an environment where learners are encouraged and empowered to read” (ALIA, 2004, Standard 2.1), the school library space should be inviting, flexible and cater for all student’s interests.

I recently visited a local primary school library which was rebuilt during the Building the Education Revolution (BER), and is a new and visually appealing environment. The centre is colourfully decorated with stickers and student artwork on the walls; high windowed ceilings provide the building with constant natural light; it is furnished with chairs and tables; and incorporates a book display stand located near the entrance of the building which promotes texts on current topics (e.g. Easter, Anzac Day, Book Fair etc). There are 6 computers located against a far wall available for staff assisting small groups with reading support. This is in essence a traditional library in which only traditional fiction and non-fiction texts are available for students to access.

A school library should promote reading by creating an equitable, diverse and inviting space for all students.

Through observations of the physical layout of the library I recognised the potential for changes which could improve the ability of the Teacher Librarian to provide an inclusive environment and inspire those students who are currently unmotivated to read. The space is dominated by a single area with tables and chairs and in order to ensure students are not disturbed, quiet reading is the only activity permitted during break times. I saw an opportunity at the site in which a redesign of the layout could create a more inclusive environment. By moving the bookshelves from the far wall, into the middle of the room, a private space could be created at the rear for quiet reading. The inclusion of bean bags or comfortable seating would further enhance a relaxed reading experience for students. The area which is currently dominated by tables and chairs could be used to allow students to interact in activities such as puzzles, board games or lego. The implementation of these changes to the school library could create a more dynamic and flexible environment which would foster and encourage reading to a diverse range of students.

 

References

ALIA (2004). Standards of professional excellence for teacher librarians. http://www.alia.org.au/policies/teacher-librarian.standards.html

La Marca, S. (2010). Designing the Learning Environment. Camberwell: ACER Press.

Has television been displaced?

Image: http://parentingpink.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/girl_watching_tv_400.jpg

I was interested in the claim made by Buckingham (2007, p.91) that new technologies rarely completely displace old technologies. I wondered if the author’s assertion was in fact true, that the ‘net generation’ still spends more time engaged in old technologies such as television. I decided to test this theory with the first young person I could find who would agree to be interviewed on the topic of popular culture. I found a willing participant in a ten year old female, named Isabelle, who actively engages in multiple forms of popular culture, and decided to see if Buckingham’s claims were true.

Isabelle engages in multiple forms of popular culture including books, music, television, films, video games and the internet. Isabelle appears to be both literate and shows a strong interest in new technologies, yet this does not seem to have diminished her interest in old technologies such as television and films. She strongly disagreed with my point that Web 2.0 tools and the internet made television appear out-dated and irrelevant, but rather that they often complemented each other. Isabelle enjoys participating in blog sites, online games and researching information online which relates specifically to her preferred television shows. So it would follow then that Buckingham is correct in the first claim, that new technologies do no always displace old technologies. New media and technologies have simply provided more options for Isabelle (Buckingham, 2007, p.79).

New technologies can enhance the experience of old technologies, such as television.

Isabelle engages with reading, television watching, online games and Web 2.0 tools on a daily basis. Her time spent is often regulated by her parents, and is not necessarily indicative of how she would choose to spend her time. She has a keen interest in reading and viewing adventure and fantasy series such as Harry Potter and The Narnia Chronicles, and chooses to view television programmes which she describes as ‘crazy’ such as The Regular Show. She sees reading and viewing television films as passive activities and therefore prefers the storylines to be as unrealistic as possible. On the other hand she sees new technologies such as the internet and Web 2.0 tools as being participatory, and spends her time creating websites, blogging with her friends, and creating her own stories at sites such as Storybird. Isabelle is interested in both new and old technologies and views them as having differing purposes to meet her differing needs. She watches television and reads when she wants to ‘relax’ and escape, whereas she engages in Web 2.0 and the internet when she wants to actively participate, communicate and create.

While this subject does engage in all these activities daily, it is in fact reading where she spends the greatest time. The time this youth spends each day engaged in television and the internet is fairly equal. So Buckingham’s claim that the net generation spends more time watching television isn’t true for this particular child. Then I remembered that the time she spends on activities is regulated by her parents, so I asked her in an ideal world how much time she would spend on each activity. And Buckingham may have a point here, because for this child she would choose to engage more in television than in any other activity. While technology enthusiasts such as Tapscott may argue that the internet has created an active, participatory generation who are “hungry for expression” (1998, p.40), it seems that they also still like to switch off and submit to those passive activities enjoyed by their baby-boomer parents.

References

Buckingham, D. (2007). Digital childhoods? Mew media and children’s culture. Chapter 5 in Beyond technology: Children’s learning in the age of digital culture (pp. 75-98). London: Polity.

Tapscott, D. (1998). Growing up Digital: The Rise of the Net Generation. New York: McGraw Hill.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii

When I was a ‘tween’ life was made sweeter by the invention of the Nintendo Entertainment System and, more importantly, the game Super Mario Bros.  I spent hours busting bricks, stomping on Kooper Troopers and rescuing the Princess.  It’s a fascination that has stayed with me so, when Nintendo released New Super Mario Bros. Wii (2009), the Mario-obsessed tween inside me lit up with excitement.

New Super Mario Bros. Wii is a platform game where players must rescue Princess Peach from the evil Bowser.  To do so, players must complete each of the levels within the eight worlds.  At the end of each world, Mario must defeat a mini-boss in order to progress.  Each world is based on a theme and these themes provide a range of world-specific enemies and challenges.

As with most video games, there is much to learn from engaging with this text.  Firstly, like Gran Turismo 5, the player cannot progress until they have mastered the current level.  From this, players learn to try until they succeed.

It is lucky for this player that the game also includes an unlimited continue function.

Along with the goal of rescuing the princess, players are also invited to collect Star Coins.  These are often concealed so players not only have to opportunity to set and realise the goal of collecting all of the coins, but they learn to be perceptive of their environment as they look for hidden items.

The nature of the game encourages players to calculate risks.  Every level requires players to jump over obstacles or enemies.  To do this successfully, the player must calculate their timing and consider the correct jumping sequence to be able to successfully negotiate the space.

A new feature of the New Super Mario Bros. Wii is the multi-player function which allows up to four players to play simultaneously.  This presents a number of advantages and disadvantages.  Players must learn to work together and time their play more precisely compared to playing individually.  When I played this function with my partner, I found myself teaching him how to play and explaining the best way for him complete the level.  Therefore, the advantage is that it encourages interaction and develops team work.  The disadvantage is that it frustrating waiting for a less experienced player to catch up and even more frustrating when one character breaks the momentum of another, causing that player to falter.

Video games have the potential for players to connect outside the realm of the game, and New Super Mario Bros. Wii is no anomaly.  The New Super Mario Bros. Wii Wiki allows members to contribute to the information about the game and IGN’s New Super Mario Bros. Wii Wiki Guide provides users with walkthroughs to help them through the game.  Users can comment on the walkthroughs or connect with it via Facebook, Twitter or Google+.  Alternatively, players can seek advice from YouTube members who post video walkthroughs.

The fairy tale ideology present throughout the game is the only concerning aspect of New Super Mario Bros. Wii and it previous versions.  Although Nintendo tried to address this issue in Super Mario Bros. 2 (1988), where players could select to play as the princess, this issue has remained largely untouched.  The game continues to support traditional gender roles in society, where the male is strong and successful and the female is weak and in need of rescuing.

Grand Turismo 5 – Learning Experiences Observed

Grand Turismo 5 is a video game which engages players in controlling a car around tracks graded in a number of levels and series within each level. Each level and series must be mastered before progress can be made to the next level. The player at the initial level had no choice of car he could use to master the track. Mastery of the track depended on completing the track within first, second or third position playing against game generated competition. If a track was not mastered the player was placed in a position to repeat the track.

Controlling the car around the track necessitated multi-tasking. The player used the hardware controls to manage speed, steering and gear changing of the car. Simultaneously, the player, to enhance success must watch not only the driving track but a track provided of the complete circuit to determine position of corners within the track, steepness of the corners as well as his position in relation to the video generated players. Observing dashboard dials indicating speed, rpm and gearing indicators assisted in maintaining optimal speed particularly for cornering aspects of the track. The player, to maintain maximum speed, was at an advantage if he listened to sound provided for indicators of skidding on the road or observed oversteering and responded with appropriate steering or speed adjustments.

Success at a level provided the player with prize money. Prize money allowed the player to make pragmatic choices. He was now able to go to a car dealership and buy cars. Appropriate car selection in accordance with the track conditions would enhance success. Prize money also allowed the player to make modifications to the car that would enhance its performance on a particular track. Different gear ratios were more advantageous on particular tracks. Consideration needed to be given to the track construction; were there many straights on the track or was cornering a major feature, when modifications were made. Additionally, consideration needed to be given to road surface when making modifications to the car. Entering into modifications allowed access to a specialised knowledge of terms such as: stiff suspension, anti-roll bars, camber angle, breaking balance, slip differential, shocks and car tuning.

Choices could be made by the player as to weather conditions as well as track adjustments. These choices then fed back into the need for further pragmatic decisions within the car modifications as well as controls within the driving process such as acceleration and steering.

The player was able to imprint his own identity into the game by personalising his name as a competitor within the game system.

Some applications to the driving skills learnt may be applicable to everyday life applications such as: the relationship between acceleration and turning a car, steering and speed adjustments on adverse road conditions. However the player, a beginner driverdid not consider the game gave a completely realistic experience of what driving was  like on the road he noted:

“The game could give a false impression of what driving is really like on  the road”.

Essential values within society are also embedded within the game structure. Firstly, choice is only made available after success. Failure necessitated trying again until success was achieved. Further, the ability of the game to provide an online connection through the PlayStation provided experience with community values. The player was able to communicate with online players by sending messages to online players he connected with. He could also provide online players with gifts as well as swap cars online.