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Pac-Man Now Supports the iCade!!!

In an earlier blog post, I did a review of the iCade. At that time, I bemoaned the loss of iCade support in Namco's biggest hit, Pac-Man. I even went so far as to correspond with Namco and ION AUDIO asking them to provide the necessary support, so that those of us that purchased both the iCade and Pac-Man, could more fully appreciate these two products once they were married together.

Well, it appears that my requests (and those from others, I'm sure) have been answered. As of December 7th, the latest Pac-Man app for iPad is now fully iCade compatible!

If you have an iCade, download Pac-Man for iPad and prepare for an 80s-induced, non-stop episode of joystick fun!

Link to Pac-Man in the iTunes Store.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is not the BEST Solution for Education

Gary Stager titled his recent blog post, BYOD- Worst Idea of the 21st Century. While I'm not so sure that I can go THERE...I do have some very strong opinions on BYOD and why I don't feel that it is the best solution for education.

The larger point that everyone is avoiding when discussing this topic is: what is best? What is best for learning and engagement? What is best for project-based learning? What is best for a learner paradigm? What is best for an instructional paradigm? What is best for IT to monitor and protect the students in an era where lawyers are screaming for us to protect them? What is best for teachers to integrate? What is best for students to utilize? What is best for professional development to be effective? Of utmost importance, what is the best solution for leveling the playing field and eradicating the digital divide?

Let's look at one specific scenario, downtime in the classroom. Our school has to keep over 1100 laptops functioning for both students and faculty. When anyone has any issue with a laptop whatsoever, it has the potential to negatively impact the learning process for minimally 1 student. If a teacher pauses to try to help a student with a laptop issue or the issue is with a teacher laptop, then everyone's learning is negatively affected.

How will this be addressed in the classroom when students are bringing in all manner of devices with a myriad of problems? Such as:

1. I don't have a mind map program
2. I don't have a music editor
3. That piece of shareware won't run on my version of operating system X.
4. My computer doesn't have java installed on it.
5. My computer won't pull a DHCP address.
6. My phone doesn't have unlimited texting
7. I don't have a phone.
8. I don't have a laptop
9. I don't have a tablet.

I could go on, but obviously I won't. How much time will be wasted as an educator is trying to work a project through every brand/model/configuration of computer/phone/tablet brought into the classroom? Educators do NOT have time to waste when politicians are pushing standards, standards, and more standards into their classrooms.

Data:

This week, our freshman class finished up a home technology survey that I asked them to take. I'll share just a couple of the results with you.
1. Out of the 266 freshman students that responded to the survey, 17% of them told us that our school-assigned MacBook was the only working computer in their household. Most of these students come from economically challenged families. Are we going to make sure students in a BYOT initiative that can't afford their own devices are provided with the best tools that anyone else in the classroom can afford to have? More on this in a bit.
2. Out of the 266 students that responded to the survey, 17% of our students told us that they do not own a SmartPhone.

Are we just going to toss these students a $299 netbook and tell them, "this is good enough for project-based video creation" while Timmy over there brings in his MacBook Pro loaded up with Final Cut Pro, or Johnny has his Sony Vaio with Sony Vegas Pro 11 video editing suite on it? Will the learning be equal for all involved in that scenario? Is the potential there for all students to have projects of similar quality?

If we are serious about educating ALL of our students, then we MUST address the digital divide that exists in our schools and districts and remove it. Let me know when we start telling students that the school won't be providing textbooks anymore. You can bring in your own. I'm sure they will all be adequate.

Lastly, if I'm faced with BYOD, or no tech integration, obviously I'm going to support a BYOD initiative. As I posted on Twitter (which seems to have ignited a small firestorm) the bigger question is:  what best enhances student learning? Our students deserve the best solution for their technology enriched education, not the most convenient one for politicians and accountants.

I apologize for the rant if I've offended anyone. I get passionate about equality in education and see BYOD/BYOT as a major obstacle to that end.
CH

Dear Steve, Thanks for the Swag

In 2001, I was the computer teacher, music teacher, and technology coordinator for Regina Coeli, a K-8 parochial school in Toledo, OH. Apple had just released iTunes for the Macintosh and I had just begun a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction: Educational Technology. I was excited and supercharged to make my mark in education.

 

As I began to explore iTunes, one feature in particular caught my attention. The automated computer generated visualizations that iTunes creates, synced in time with the music. It was during this time that I was also introducing my music students to "programmatic" classical compositions. Programmatic music, or program music, is music specifically written in such a way that it conveys to the listener a story. A good example of program music is Aaron Copland's, Appalachian Spring.

 

I wanted to help the students more easily understand the concept of program music. I decided that the best way to do this would be to spark their imaginations as much as possible. I wrote a lesson plan that went a little something like this:

 

The students would listen to a piece of programmatic classical music that was playing in iTunes. iTunes would also be creating a visualization based upon the playing music. I asked the students to write a one page paper describing what they thought the music was about. They could either listen to the music for inspiration, or look at the visualization. 

 

The lesson was a success. The students did such a fantastic job participating and demonstrating incredible imagination and creativity, I thought that I should share the lesson with others.

 

I wrote up the lesson plan a day or two after having presented it to the students. I wanted to send it to Apple as they not only owned and published the iTunes software, but they also had a division in their company that specifically focuses on educational technology. I had heard rumors that Steve Jobs' email address was steve@apple.com so that is the address that I mailed my lesson plan to.

 

A week or two went by and soon I forgot that I had sent this email to Steve. One day, while I was cleaning up my classroom at Regina Coeli, the secretary called my room and asked me if I wanted to talk to Apple Computer. Soon after I heard a female voice tell me, "We received your lesson plan…Steve really liked it and sent it to us. He asked us to send the students in your class some Apple t-shirts and Apple pens. How many do you need?" 

 

I was flabbergasted. I never really thought that he would actually read my email, much less act upon it. Here I was, a brand new doctoral student in educational technology, truly unsure and insecure about the decision that I had made to leave music and focus on education, and I just had a life changing experience with one of the most powerful, dynamic, forward looking human beings on the planet.

 

We are not made in one day or in one year. We are not made in one moment or in one event, but there are certain key happenings in our lives that have the unbelievable power to move us, validate us, or act as catalysts to enlighten us, encourage us, or inspire us. If Steve can read this blog post, I hope that he realizes that this one small thing that he did, was one huge moment in my life.

 

Thank you Steve.

 

Chris Hamady

OCEA Presentation

All of the materials mentioned in the OCEA presentation can be found here:

http://www.chrishamady.com/journal/2011/4/27/ncea-presentation-materials.html

 

Poll results:

Poll Everywhere

Poll Everywhere

Poll Everywhere

Poll Everywhere

 

Please contact me if you have any questions. I would be glad to answer them.

CH

ION AUDIO iCade- The Review!

My wife and I took the children recently to Sam's Club to pick up a few items. No sooner had we gotten in the front door when we were confronted with a large display for the ION AUDIO iCade. This thing is a BlueTooth joystick/arcade cabinet controller for the Apple iPad. My children and I really wanted to buy and experience it so we made a deal with my wife in order to get it! ;)

The short story: it really does a fantastic job of replicating the feel and atmosphere of a 1980s arcade game machine. My children and my wife played the iCade for hours the first day we had it, and now I've finally been able to get my hands on it. Here's a link if you want to check it out.

http://www.ionaudio.com/products/details/icade

You'll see from this photo and this photo that the iCade comes unassembled. Putting it together should have been an easy task that included using an allen wrench and a number of allen-headed machine screws to screw the different pieces together. The nut portion of the fastener was embedded in the wooden iCade pieces. I had a serious issue connecting one of the machine screws to one of the embedded nuts. It literally took me 15 minutes of working diligently to get those pieces together.

Once the iCade was fully assembled, the lid lifts up off of the iCade and one slides the iPad into the assembled body of the game system. Here is a photo of what the iCade looks like fully assembled with the iPad inserted into it.

The first thing I noticed about it was that the joystick and the buttons had a very authentic feel and response like the old-school controls of the 80s arcade systems. The gameplay was very similiar if not nearly identical to the way I remember them from decades ago. Speaking of games, there is one serious negative with the iCade: No PacMan!!!!

The iCade instructions tell the purchaser to go to the App store and download Atari's Greatest Hits. Within that free download, one has the ability for in-app purchases of games. I purchased a single game for 99 cents intially. After seeing how fun and well the iCade worked, we opted to purchase the entire Atari set of 100 games for $14.99. The complete set includes famous titles such as Milipede, Centipede, Pong, Asteroids, Tempest, Missle Command, and many others.

Now for the bad news. Pac Man is not an Atari game. It is made by Namco. The iCade website had detailed instructions for developers to customize their games to include the ability to correctly function with the iCade's controls. I took a chance and purchased Pac Man for iPad. No love....it does not have iCade capabilities.

Next, I emailed both Namco and ION AUDIO asking them to expedite the process of getting Pac Man on the iCade.

Here is my email to them (only showing version sent to Namco):

"I just purchased Pac Man for iPad. Please add iCade (http://www.ionaudio.com/products/details/icade ) support for their bluetooth controller. Your game really lacks the 80s fun I used to have without it. I'm about to write reviews of iCade and Pac Man and publish them... Will you commit to supporting the iCade in the future so that I can publish that info?
Thank you.
Chris"

ION AUDIO's response:

"Hi Chris,
Thank you for your interest in Ion Audio!
The application you are referring to is not currently supported on the iCade. We would all love more games to be supported though!

In order to have it supported, the App developer would need to contact us so that we could work together to create the settings so that the app will work correctly with the iCade. If you would like this to happen, please contact the developer of the specific Pac-Man app you purchased and let them know. We would love to have more games work with the iCade!

Best Regards,
Gregory Holmes"

Namco's response:

"Hello Chris,

Thank you for contacting Namco Bandai Games America Inc. Customer Support.

We are considering supporting this device in our future game releases where it makes sense. Please note that our retro arcade titles, such as PAC-MAN, are handled by our Japanese office. We have passed along our interest to support this device for the retro arcade games but the decision will be theirs to make. We can't promise you anything at this point but we are at least looking into supporting the iCADE.

Thanks again for taking the time to reach out to us. We hope you continue to enjoy our games.

Regards,
Namco Bandai Games America Inc. Customer Support"

Pac Man for iPad is a fun game, although the on-screen joystick is a bit wonky to control. It really does not come close to the fun that could be experienced if Namco would use the available developer information found at ION AUDIO's website and customize Pac Man for the iCade. I'm hoping that Namco takes advantage of this opportunity to both enhance their game, as well as create an avenue to sell more copies of it. I am grateful that Namco took the time to forward my request on to the division that handles Pac Man. Thank you to both ION AUDIO and Namco for their prompt responses to my emails.

Other than this one negative (not ION AUDIO's fault), the ION AUDIO iCade is a fun, well designed, and fully functional old-school arcade system. If I had to rate it I would give it an 8 out of 10 star rating.

CH

UPDATE- I'm changing my rating to 10 out of 10. Pac-Man is now an iCade-supported application!!! See Pac-Man Now Supports the iCade.

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