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This course, site, and game are an experiment in a new type of education.  I am a firm believer in constructionism, the learning theory that centers around the idea that knowledge is constructed by the learner, as a result of their experience and thinking about a subject.  I also believe in connectivism, a learning theory that emphasizes the necessity of and benefit of connections in accumulating knowledge, skills and experience. Knowledge, I believe, can never really be ‘transmitted’ at all.  In these theories, the role of the educator is a coach: guiding, cheering, and prompting a learner, who must build their own understanding.

Nolat Labs is built on these ideas, using the relatively new tools and styles of gamification.  I use the framework of a game to present the content of the course.  I use the gamification engine and other online systems to help track student progress and provide feedback in a much more immediate way that I could ever provide as one teacher working with many students.

If it seems like your player…urm, student…is having too much fun for schoolwork, please take a moment to just watch.  Or chat about it with them.  I think you’ll find, as I have, that rather than just playing, they are actively exploring, trying, failing, re-trying, reflecting, sharing, asking, researching, and learning.  The game provides a nice structure, but the content covered in the class reflects the full IB Design Technology sequence.  This course prepares students for further education in a design field.  It also prepares them for a real life in which they’ll be expected to know how to teach themselves.  That’s my ultimate goal.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the course, your student, or using this site or material for your own class.  My number in Cairo is +20 (0)120 836 9543.  My email address is mmiller@cacegypt.org.  If you want to know more about my philosophy and experience, you can check out my online portfolio.

I must acknowledge a substantial debt to the many other great sites upon which some of the lessons and quests at Nolat Labs depend.  In particular, the entire site would be poorer without the work of Mike Skocko and his amazing students at The Mac Lab in Valhalla High, California.

Content relevant to the IB DT program was collected or adapted from the work of Stratford Blyth and the Diploma Design Technology site by John Zobrist, Michael Frasier, Paul Clark and Carl Waugh.  Questions in the Government Inspections (quizzes) have been contributed by IB DT teachers around the world as well as taken from the official IB question bank and previous exams.

The quest giver silhouettes came from work generously shared at Vector4free.com, Vecteezy.com, and Deviantart.com.

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