Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Playing with my Wii

I have to be careful who I say that to, or it might be misinterpreted, but we have just got hold of Nintendo's Wii, and after reading about how wonderful the revolutionary control is, and not really understanding, I finally appreciate just how great it is.

We only have the basic game that came with the console (Wii Sports), but it's a hundred times better than the way the Playstation 2 Eye Toy system works as far as recognition goes. It's great fun, and I'm sure it will be a huge success.

But, what about educational uses? Well, there's nothing out there yet that might tempt me to bring it to the classroom (unlike the PS2), but I like the fact that it's nice and light. Can't understand what makes Stephen Downes say that "Stuff like Wii and mobile computing are much more important" (than Second Life). Mobile computing I can understand, but what has he seen in the Wii to make that statement? Or maybe he's just being controversial? He's not really said much about the matter, but I am intrigued as I respect a lot of what he has written about educational technology. I'll be following this one.


  1. I just looked at your blog. I'm in the British Council Office in Lithuania. I couldn't watch the video cos the computer won't let me download the latest version of QT. I'll watch it when I get home though. Here's a link to my blog:
    and you may find this interesting

  2. Anonymous2:13 pm

    Maybe you have to be a gamer to see my perspective here...

    The Second Life bit is just because it's nothing really groundbreaking - it's the same thing that has been available for years now, but with better marketing. I don't have strong views about Second Life, I'm just not that interested in it.

    The Wii, though, opens a whole new dimension of functionality. What is there after text, images, audio, video...? There's kinesthetic. The Wii engages our body in weblike interactions. Combined with wireless, combined with GPS, this could be very interesting.

    One simple silly application... urban golf. You have a controller with a small view-screen. The point of the viewscreen is to show you the 'ball'. You swing your device like a golf club. The Wii gyros pick up the motion and convert it to an action on the golf ball. Your viewscreen then shows you a map to find where your ball 'landed'.

    Sure, maybe that's a bad idea, but we haven't been able to do anything like that before.

  3. Thanks, Richard - I really like the work you are doing with web comics, and will be ttaking some time to read it more closely after Christmas. Hope you get to see the video sometime too

    Stephen, thankyou very much for your comments - I am a bit of a gamer, actually - I've spent the last couple of years writing a gmaing column for a national Spanish magazine (that's why we have all the games consoles at home)

    I suppose you could also say that's one of the reasons I love SL, although I know that many gamers are put off by it, feeling that it lacks the direction that games have. I think many find it too free-form, but that's exactly why I love it.

    I have always been attracted to games like Sim City, the Sims or Age of Empires, where creating and building are fundamental (can't wait until 'Spore' comes out btw), so that's another reason why I like SL.

    But the majority of those games just seemed too much like hard work to actually be able to use for learning- I tried exploiting some of them, but was never entirely happy with results.

    And worlds such as Quest Atlantis and Active Worlds always seemed lacking in something. Call it the X factor, whatever. That something, which is hard to define, is present in Second Life.

    I think I understand now why you're not interested in SL, but surely it is groundbreaking in one way - I don't think there's been this much attention paid by the educational community to something like SL before. Surely that counts for something?

    With so many people excited about it, even if SL dies out in the next year or so, I think this will happen if there's another virtual world that's more attractive. And I think the experience that the people in SL are going through in there won't be wasted - they can take onto the next virtual world, which will be bigger and better than SL, and hopefully, open source.

    I see your point about the Wii, and I must admit, I played Wii sports for a whole evening, thrilled by the way the control works. That was it though - The actual game wasn't engaging enough to draw me back to it, although I'm sure I'll go out and buy one of the other Wii titles, and hopefully avoid breaking my televsion set if the strap breaks!

    My point is though, that the Wii itself, just like SL is just a platform. What'll make it educationally worthwhile is if someone comes out with software that can be exploited.

    Perhaps it's early days yet, but I see more educators taking an interest in SL, and developing resources, than in the Wii, or any other console for that matter.

    Perhaps that's the problem - I was excited when I saw Nintendo's new line of DS games (such as English Training, and Brain Training), but there is so much drilling going on in those titles, that it turned me off personally, although there is one Nintendo DS game that has potential: 'Animal Crossing', which I find fascinating. Lots of interesting communication going on in there - perhaps, however, that it's because it's another virtual world that I like it so much?