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Why Games Won’t Cure the Common Cold, but They Will Solve a Lot of Other Problems

by Rich Mesch

Welcome to the next stop on the blog tour for Karl Kapp’s new book, The Gamification of Learning and Instruction! Hop off that blog bus and shake the dust off.

When reading Karl Kapp’s new book, I was pleased to see reference to Jesse Schell, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center. I remember seeing Jesse deliver the keynote at last year’s Learning 3.0 conference where he, too, discussed gaming and learning. One of the points that Jesse made was you don’t need to “gamify” learning—games have inherent properties that lead to knowledge, growth and behavior change.  So to gamify learning, what we really need to do is identify what makes games such effective tools, and incorporate that into our design.

His point was that games are good, but applying games to every kind of learning won’t automatically make them better. And to drive his point home, he asked: what if we focused on Chocofication—adding chocolate to everything? Chocolate is tasty, so wouldn’t it make everything better? And to illustrate, he offered many things you could dip in chocolate—some delightful, some unusual, and some downright disgusting.

 

You can see Jesse’s presentation from Learning 3.0 here: 

http://www.slideshare.net/jesseschell/when-games-invade-real-life

It won’t have much impact without Jesse’s narration (like most good presentations, it’s mostly pictures with very few words), but you can enjoy looking at all the things that Jesse wanted to dip in chocolate (including his stapler).

Schell briefly made many of the same points that Kapp makes in-depth. Gaming isn’t for every learning experience. Simply dipping learning in game sauce does not automatically make it better;  in fact, randomly applying vaguely game-ish attributes to learning (like points, badges, and levels) can trivialize the content.

So why all this talk of gamification? Like most aspects of learning, it comes down to motivation, engagement, and behavior change. There’s a reason we’ve been playing games for thousands of years. They engage us, they draw us in, they make us want to gain skills and improve our performance.

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Simple Steps to Help you Think Like a Genius by Michael Crosson

Inspired by the bestselling book “How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci” by Michael J. Gelb

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.”   –   John Muir (1838 –1914) – Scottish-born American naturalist, author, and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States.

Not too long ago, I watched the new “Sherlock Holmes” movie starring Robert Downey Jr. as the famous detective and Jude Law as his faithful side-kick, Dr. John Watson. Before I saw the movie, I watched the trailers and commercials that preceded its release. They portrayed an action-packed film loaded with fights and explosions. I was quite relieved – when I finally saw the film – that the one thing I found most interesting about the Holmes mythos, the power of deduction, was firmly in place with this re-telling. Sherlock’s ability to implement his keen senses, harness his formidable knowledge and compose a logical conclusion from seemingly unrelated data has always fascinated me. Holmes is a master of Connessione (connections); one of the “Seven Da Vincian Principles”.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation marks the beginning of the familiar genre of crime solving via clue collection. Today, the theme is played out on a high-tech frontier on popular shows such as “CSI.”. While the time, tools and techniques have changed, the basic premise of discovering clues and making connections remains intact. The essence lies in opening yourself up to the relations of all things in our world. When we open our mind to the possibilities, the connections present themselves.

Da Vinci was very aware of the interconnections between everything in his world. How shape, form and structure were affiliated on a micro and macro level. Da Vinci’s principle of Connessione is really “system thinking;” appreciating and recognizing the alliance of all things and phenomena.

By tapping into the possibilities of connections, I’ve been able to improve my day-to-day operations in the office. (more…)

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by Rich Mesch

Please join Reni Gorman and I at mLearnCon 2011 in San Jose, CA from June 20-23. Reni and I will be speaking on June 21; our topic is “Mobile Learning is SO 10 Minutes Ago… Mobile Performance is NOW!” Here’s a summary of our session; we hope to see you there!

Imagine going out and buying a shiny new sports car. Now imagine hitching up a horse to it, and having the horse drag your car to work every day.

Sound crazy? Sure it does. So why are people still using mobile devices to deliver e-learning courses?

Years ago, Nicholas Negroponte insisted that in the not-too-distant future, we would all be wearing our computers. He was envisioning complex eyepieces and finger sensors with wires running up your sleeves. He had the right idea but the wrong form factor; he didn’t foresee that we’d be carrying our computers in our pockets and calling them “phones.”

Mobile learning is on everybody’s to-do list, and why not? Who wouldn’t want learning that could follow an employee no matter where she went? But like so many emerging technologies, we need to look past the gloss of the possible to the reality of the useful. Today’s smart phones have nearly as many capabilities as our desktop computers, but that doesn’t mean we use them the same way. And when we try to deliver learning to a mobile device the same way we deliver it to a desktop computer, we miss the point of having a mobile device to begin with. (more…)

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Simple Steps to Help you Think Like a Genius by Michael Crosson

Inspired by the bestselling book “How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci” by Michael J. Gelb

 “The only real failure in life is the failure to try.”  – Anonymous

 “Do or do not. There is no try.” – Yoda

I have an eight-year-old daughter. Like most eight-year-olds, she is at an innocent age of discovery. Often times I find myself telling her “Don’t do that because…” or “Not that way; you should do this.” All the time, trying to provide experienced instruction; trying to help her learn how to do things “The Right Way.”

 More often than not, she will ignore my direction and push forward with whatever she was doing. This usually leads to me getting a dustpan & brush to clean up the situation.

Recently, I applied a little bit of “Curiosità” (curiosity) to this situation. Why did she do what I told her not to do? Was she being disobedient? Did she not understand the outcome I explained? Does she have a special hearing problem that prevents her from hearing my voice specifically?

 I’ve come to the conclusion that she is employing one of Da Vinci’s life principles: Demonstration.

When I warned her not to balance the four cat food bowls (yes…we have four cats) one-on-top-of-the-other, brimming with food, because they may fall…

…she wanted to see them fall. She wanted to see what would happen.

And how did I know they would fall? Perhaps a similar situation in my youth? Did I learn something from it?

Thus is the power of Demonstration.

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Simple Steps to Help You Think Like a Genius, by Michael Crosson

Inspired by the bestselling book “How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci” by Michael J. Gelb

cu·ri·os·i·ty  (kyoor-ee-os-i-tee) 

 –noun,

1. the desire to learn or know about anything; inquisitiveness.

Have you ever stopped and said to yourself “Gosh, I wish I knew a lil’ something about everything.”?

I have. About 30 years ago. I guess that would put me in the “naturally curious” category.

Take a moment and think about all the things that you know about in life:

  • cooking
  • cleaning
  • working a computer
  • driving a car
  • building a paper airplane
  • playing a musical instrument
  • finding the right place to scratch behind your cat’s ear
  • knowing the wrong thing to say when your significant-other is in a bad mood

 

The list could easily go on and on and on….and you wouldn’t even scratch the surface of what we could learn in the span of a lifetime.

When Da Vinci lay on his death bed, he asked for forgiveness from God and man “for leaving so much undone.” This coming from a man whose combined life work and contributions have never come close to being replicated. Even at the end of his days, Da Vinici’s insatiable curiosity for everything drove him on.

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by Paula Jayne White, Ph.D.

A few months ago, I received a video featuring a fictional conversation between Philadelphia Phillies greats Cliff Lee and Jayson Werth.  Unlike most joke emails, this one made me stop and watch, despite my normal instinct to skip or delete.  (Because of strong language, I don’t include the clip here, but interested adults can easily find it on YouTube.) 

I knew instantly that I was hooked.  The more videos like this that I found – with their lego-like characters and flat computer voices—the more I wanted to watch—no matter the content.  This one, for example, gives new meaning to the concept of the home makeover show:

http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/4851011/

Even insurance giant Geico uses them in their ads:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3vTNJ7Ym6Y

The text-to-video technology enabling these videos, created by xtranormal.com, is simple—“if you know how to type, you can make movies!”  Intriguing and fun, but not really a learning tool, right? 

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by Michael Crosson

 Inspired by the bestselling book “How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci” by Michael J. Gelb

In 1994, Tony Buzan and Raymond Keene put together an objective list to rank history’s greatest geniuses. They based their ratings on categories such as “Originality”, “Versatility”, “Vision”, “Strength”, “Energy” and “Dominance in their Field.”

The final list is, of course, an assortment of well-known minds: Einstein (#10), Thomas Jefferson (#7), Michelangelo (#5) and William Shakespeare (#2).

At the top of the list is a man who was simultaneously one of the greatest thinkers, scientists, artists and inventors that the world has ever known: Leonardo da Vinci.

Da Vinci lived his life as a gigantic quest. He never shied away from asking questions and embraced his natural inquisitiveness. He never accepted “conventional wisdom” as the only answer. Simply put, he always wanted to know more.

Author Michael J. Gelb has analyzed and dissected Leonardo’s thought process and methods. From his research, he has devised the “Seven Da Vincian Principles” – principles that guided Da Vinci’s life and can easily be applied to your own. The seven principles are: (more…)

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