Dimension U: A Letter to Parents

Dear concerned Parent.

Do not deny your concern, most of us would be if our child’s teacher came waltzing in telling you that one of the most powerful teaching tools he or she used was a video game. However, that is exactly what I am proposing. In this case the game is called Dimension U and there are four games. I have been combing this game for a weak link that brings it down. There are few complaints to be found.

What is Dimension U? That is a bit tricky; it is a game, a teaching tool and an assessment tool. It engages students and encourages them to improve. It can be played in multiplayer or as a single used. The content of each game contest can be pre-set by the teacher, other students or your own child. If a student really is having difficulty with a concept they can read up about it in the “codes” section of the game. For example I was completing a game based on “Language Conventions”; within the game I did well, however, I wanted to see what help was available and selected the “code” tab between games. This opened up a window with a short lesson (in text form) explaining the rules for capitalizing organizations and titles. I then returned to the game and practiced these skills.

So you might think great a fun pseudo educational game for after school with a little educational value, right? Wrong, there is an exceptional opportunity here. Through Dimension U (I was using the Literacy portion, the Math portion is equally impressive) students can have a selective or broad curriculum tested. A student’s teacher may access a report and see patterns related to student success. If a student is doing well spelling words but struggling with capitalization rules; the teacher will be able to see that. This allows for specific correction and instruction to develop student learning. The topics available at the Middle High level (I am planning for grade Seven) include:

Language Conventions

· Capitalization rules

· Punctuation

· Grade level spelling practice

Parts of Speech

· Compaitive and Superlative

· Conjunctions

· Pronouns

· Phrases and clauses

· Prepositional phrases

· Subject / verb agreement

· Verb and participles

Reading

· Cause and Effect

· Fact and opinion

· Main idea and supporting details

· Denote and connote meaning

· Summarize, paraphrase and inference

Vocabulary

· Dictionary entries

· Analogies

· Words and phrases with a foreign heritage

· Words with multiple meanings

· Words to know

Writing

· Sequence of events

· Coherent transitions

· Complete sentences

· Paragraph clarity

· Combining sentences

Wow right? So you might be thinking… this is great no other resource needed, this is it. Well hold on now. While this is a great resource it is sort of like a drill for math facts and processes. Yes, there is a resource within Dimension U where students can get an explanation in regards to weak areas. However, they need to go there and apply what they see. Not all students will pay close attention to what they are getting wrong while playing as they are focused on winning. Further, not all students will read the explanation and understand it. They may, and likely will need help. Finally while this is a great resource it does not replace a novel, poem or play in terms of literary appreciation or the rich quality of story and experience available through such texts.

So what is Dimension U? It is a teaching tool that engages students in learning Language and Math facts and rules (the boring stuff they tend not to like). Students practice and apply these to achieve and win contests of skill. Dimension U is also a lot of fun. Students are engaged and desire success and are thus more willing to gain the skill they need to meet their goals. I hope you choose to engage in Dimension U as well. I look forward to practicing my skills with or against you.

Let the games begin!

Ryan Titley

Welcome to Immersive Technology with HCOS

Link

Welcome to the Immersive Technology (IMT) program of Heritage Christian Online School, where the learning goes beyond the text in books and on webpages. IMT encourages students to “experience” the learning, whether in real life or 3D virtual learning environments. Does it work? For most children it does a fabulous job of matching up with how their brains learn best.

What does this look like? To learn about wolves you might “virtually” become one. Running free in Yellowstone National Park you’ll soon discover facts about the food web and the challenges that wolves must overcome in order to survive. Think you’d be capable of raising a pack of wolf cubs? You’ll discover that being a parent is not easy!

Faced with a potential disaster with the drinking water of a community, you’ll become an environmental biologist sampling and examining the water for macro-invertebrates. Riding on your conclusions are the health of individuals, and whether or not the town’s main industry continues to provide income for local families.

Other role-playing adventures are augmented by meeting with real-life specialists as well to gain their perspective on the problems you are tasked with studying. These dilemmas are authentic ones requiring thoughtful and personal responses. You will learn that most important questions seldom have black or white solutions. Your options will not be the usual T/F or multiple choice solutions.

And yes, registered students in IMT 5-8 will meet ALL the BC Curricular Competencies for Language Arts, Applied Skills, Bible, and either Science (grades 5 & 6) or Social Studies (grades 7 & 8). In IMT 8, students will also be challenged to create an historical narrative to be placed in our time-travel resource called “The Chronicles of Entanglement.” Those so inclined can even begin building out these adventures, sharing what you are learning with your teacher(s) and other students. You can do this by taking the IMT Art 8 (grades 6-8) and AMT 10 (grades 8-10) courses with Mr. Titley and Scott Miller. They will take you far beyond what other platforms can offer. Mrs. Nimchuk will do the same with her IMT VBS (Simulations) course for experienced builders in grade 9 and above. In this course you’ll learn how to build business-ready and education-ready simulations.

For students who have Special Needs, we also have an SE specialist who works solely in IMT SE. April McLeod has dedicated herself to maximizing the transformational effects of this program with 12 students. Please contact her at april.mcleod@onlineschool.ca to hear more about the amazing results and/or visit her blog at http://imtechse.blogspot.ca/

The most exciting development this last past year has been the development of IMT French – level 1 and level 2. Set in a French-Canadian town, students will own their own 3D virtual homes, attend classes with Mrs. Hadley at a school, and then go out on field trips that range from skiing, to visiting a French Art museum, swimming with the sharks, or watching a French movie. There they will get the opportunity to put what they’ve learned into practice. This program was so popular and successful with both students and their parents that we have added and hired Jacquie Chelini to teach IMT Spanish – level 1 this fall.

As online courses, teachers are available Monday to Friday, to support and help ensure student success. Indeed, “others” in this learning community will be constantly available for consultation, feedback, and sometimes just plain old fun.

Welcome to the Immersive Technology Program at HCOS. Enjoy!

Click HERE for the latest IMT Brochure.