Great Teacher’s Conference Book Discussion

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On 11/10/18 at 8:55am, I attended the Great Teacher’s Conference after-lunch session at the Rizzo Center in Chapel Hill, NC presented by Alison Consol of Wake Technical Community College.

Get In The Mood

We started the session off with a stretching session and some breathing and visaullization exercises. This was great.  🙂

Phase One: Book Discussions

Phase one started on a brief discussion regarding the books we’ve brought. I thought this was great, because I had only had a chance to look at three of the books, and once while I was taking some notes on one, I had to hustle to the next meeting, so it was nice to have some show and tell.

We were asked to discuss the books and why we brought them, specifically, what someone could find from that material.

Option B by Sheryl Sandburg and Adam Grant was the first book discussed, so I’ll give it a little bit of extra space and wording for being first. It gave plenty of options on how to talk to someone who is having a hard time and talk to someone who’s going though a traumatic event. This can be very useful to teachers who are also advisors. For example: What basic things can you say or do to lead them through their troubles or encourage them to seek counsellors if needed?

At this point, we discussed several great books, and quite a few stood out.

1,001 Great Thoughts On Teaching- This was a book that one teacher kept in their work area, and on “down” days, she used 1-2 to get herself up for the classroom.

How the Brain Works- studies and practical suggestions on how to approach the classroom to help students drink in the materials and retain it. The teacher mentioned that they used this to double-check themselves with new material: AM I being realistic? How can they use the time?

Teaching STEM- The point of a great teacher is not to lift the D and F students, it is to convert the C students to B and A students. You will always have D and F students. Studies inside this book were very helpful. Learning off a screen for students was deeply preferred, but written materials are retained more readily. Writing is more important than typing.

Six Easy Pieces- by Richard Feynman. It teaches physics easily without watering down the content.

The English Book- This was a nice amalgam book, with teachers from across the country each showcasing their compositions and describes their lessons as well as how it was approached in literature. As it was described by the teacher: “We are all taught english, but we are expected to know how to teach items in practice while focusing on the mechanics of the situation. Everyone communicates if you connect- direct connection to why the world needs to communicate. IF they are quiet, nothing good comes in the teaching environment, especially speaking between the lines- they may not ask the right questions because the quiestion could be “not right” and pares down the fluff of the questions and pieces how to get directly involved with communications.”

How To Be A Graphic Designer Without Losing Your Soul- This book was one I brought. It had sections from different famous graphic designers that talked about how important it was to bring the important things into account when discussing your job in the workplace. It isn’t all about the money, it can’t be, or you’ll leave everything you value behind.

Before Phase two, we noted that the classes were funded by whiting turner. We were told if we’d like, we can write letters, and we’ll have them delivered together. Or we can think on it for a while, and have the materials delivered at a later date.

Phase Two: Discussing Our Problems

Phase two was talking about our solutions. Just to reiterate Our rules:

  1. Define the problem briefly.
  2. Do not justify it. If its a problem, its legit.
  3. No problem can be solved with the thinking that created it.
  4. If it is said here, it needs to stay here.
  5. Define what cannot be changed.
  6. Reality is real. We are here to solve some problems, but not all problems should be solved. THink about the problem with the priest, drunkard, and engineer.

    A priest, a drunkard, and an engineer are taken to the guillotine…

    On a beautiful Sunday afternoon in the midst of the French Revolution the revolting citizens led a priest, a drunkard and an engineer to the guillotine. They ask the priest if he wants to face up or down when he meets his fate. The priest says he would like to face up so he will be looking towards heaven when he dies. They raise the blade of the guillotine and release it. It comes speeding down and suddenly stops just inches from his neck. The authorities take this as divine intervention and release the priest.

    The drunkard comes to the guillotine next. He also decides to die face up, hoping that he will be as fortunate as the priest. They raise the blade of the guillotine and release it. It comes speeding down and suddenly stops just inches from his neck. Again, the authorities take this as a sign of divine intervention, and they release the drunkard as well.

    Next is the engineer. He, too, decides to die facing up. As they slowly raise the blade of the guillotine, the engineer suddenly says, “Hey, I see what your problem is …”


We’ll use the same format as before, and continuing around in a circle, responding more than once if time allows. We use the same rules with whining, griping, and telling war stories. Add to this that all parties are involved, but we should keep the arguments from back and forth between 2 parties.

This part of the process is really covered by part 4 in our discussion rules: If it is said here, it needs to stay here. I won’t be writing any of these issues or solutions down…

ECGC Conference: Quality Assurance: QA Practices and their role within the gaming industry

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At a 3:15pm session in the East Coast Gaming Conference held in the Raleigh Convention Center, Ken Turner spoke to the Serious Games Track audience about Quality Assurance: QA Practices and their role within the gaming industry.

ECGC Conference: Quality Assurance: QA Practices and their role within the gaming industry

What is quality assurance? Quality assurance is the testing portion of the development cycle. One of the biggest assets of being a QA Professional. Flexibility. CHanges occur day-to-day, hour to hour minute to minute. You’ll need a plan b, c, and d.

What else beside play games does QA do? I made “such-and-such” game. You may not create the pieces but you help to make it better by pointing out successes and failures. A certain level of quality must exist in the game. to obtain this is where the group comes in. QA makes sure that the game runs well.

Testing if a game works in black and white. but there are functioning grey areas as in which QA does the majority of their work. Does multiplayer work? does that mean can I get IN to a multiplayer game. Do the characters spawn in? can they see each other? can I win/lose the game? will I have a report after the game? can the players interact with one another? How well does it work? to what extent does it work? Thats the QA Dilemma.

Sometimes QA is looked down on because there isn’t much of a postive effect. More artists makes great art. More programming is adding features. Adding QA only finds more bugs. So when should it be used and when not? its the most expensive portion of dev process.

Should QA happen at the beginning or the end? Beginning is nice, becasue iterations can be effected agile fashion. however, its expensive because you’ll be running at the beginning and end. At the end, many bugs will exist, and may cause massive reworks or rewrites. Its cheaper at the end though, because you only test one lump.

Often, the QA job is to focus on budget and throw red flags up. It means checking the budget, knowing the types of programmers you have, the features and quality that you need, and what you have the time to do.

Students seem to want to test only at Beta Stage, because they seem to fear that they won’t like the game at alpha. The tech definition of Alpha is that all features should be present. Beta should be near shippable quality. if you had a gun to your head.

Most materials in programming with a game company stops automation because proprietary software would not allow it. IOS based automation tools do exist, but the best testing and the best tools are made by humans and humans make mistakes. So don’t forget to test and test your testing device. Don’t forget that partners will not share their software.

Does it work, and does it work well. Get those testers. Gameplay testing. Interview them and feel them out to decide whether they like the game. Its scary because the majority of the work is done. Again, this comes back to the idea of testing early or testing later.

For smaller companies, QA test as often as possible.

QA testing needs to test AFTER the product ships. On release, everyone goes on vacation except QA. Cartridge had no chance to fix bugs. Now with broadband, that info is pushed directly to you and you cannot play without it. Updates are certainly patchable.

Now, release dates are vague: “fall”, because QA is no longer in control of when the game drops. Marketing has been telling people when the game will drop, and the public needs to get the materials on the dates/times promised. QA’s job is to get the product out in quality. Marketing wants it out on time. In the end, decisions need to be made and priorities must be made.

QA is great to get in. It is the gateway department because you get to interact with every other department. YOu have to explain the bugs to them, and they’ll tell you why it happened. QA is hard work. Start there, ask for advice, work hard, and you have a great chance to move into the company by taking the initiative. QA role is to enforce that level of quality and let the other departments understand.

Ken Turner is a Faculty member of the Simulation and Video Game Development team at Wake Tech Community College