I've Moved My Blog Site!

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I am now at

http://sites.psu.edu/brettbixler

Please update your bookmarks.

Game Mechanics and Learning Theories

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I recently came across a nice summary of how game mechanics tie to learning theories at Play With Learning. While I agreed with most of what I read there, I felt the need to modify it with some additions and tweaks of my own. So what you'll see below is mostly the work of Carlton Reeve, with some additions and changes made by yours truly.

I like this because it gives me another way to look at the use of game mechanics, and also illustrate that game mechanics are not JUST behavioristic in nature.


Mechanic

Definition

Beh

Cog

Const

Exp

Connect

Achievements

Achievements are a virtual or physical representation of having accomplished something.

X X X X X

Action Points

Action points limit or control which actions a player performs each turn.

  X   X  

Appointments

Appointment dynamic requires the player to perform some action at a predetermined time or place.

X        

Auction or Bidding

An auction or bidding system encourages players to make competitive bids in order to win some prize.

  X   X  

Behavioral Momentum

Behavioral momentum is the tendency of players to keep doing what they have been doing.

X        

Blissful Productivity

Working hard in a game is more fun than relaxing.

X X X X X

Bonuses/Modifiers

Bonuses are an "extra" reward after having completed a series of challenges or core functions.

X     X  

Cards/Tokens

Cards can act as a randomizer to affect game conditions or as tokens to track game states.

      X  

Cascading Information Theory

The theory that information should be released in the minimum possible snippets to gain the appropriate level of understanding at each point during a game narrative.

  X X X  

Catch-up

Catch up is a device that makes success more difficult the closer a player gets to it.

  X      

Challenge

Challenges have a time limit or competition.

X X X    

Community Collaboration

The game dynamic wherein an entire community is rallied to work together to solve a riddle, a problem or a challenge.

    X   X

Combos

Combos are used often in games to reward skill through doing a combination of things at nearly the same time.

  X X X  

Countdown

Players are only given a certain amount of time to do something.

X        

Discovery

Also called Exploration, players love to discover something, to be surprised.

  X   X  

Epic Meaning

Belief that efforts in the game are tied to a larger, important purpose.

  X     X

Free Lunch

Getting something for free based on the efforts of others.

  X X X X

Goals

Goals are conditions of victory or success.

X        

Infinite Gameplay

Games with no defined end, but perhaps just a continuing positive state.

      X X

Levels

Levels are a system, or "ramp," by which players are rewarded an increasing value for an accumulation of points. Levels usually correspond to individual power in the game.

X X X X  

Loss Avoidance/Aversion

Players have to avoid losing tokens, points or position.

X        

Lottery

Randomizers that determine the outcome of an interaction in a game. This creates a high level of anticipation.

  X      

Ownership

The feeling that something virtual is valued and belongs to the player.

  X      

Penalties

The negative consequence of some behavior or action.

X        

Points

A running numerical value given as a reward for actions and accomplishments.

X       X

Progression

A dynamic in which success is granularly displayed and measured through the process of completing itemized tasks.

  X X    

Puzzles

The player who successfully guesses or deduces the answer to a puzzle wins the game. Most puzzles involved logic and deductive reasoning.

  X      

Quests

Quests are a journey of obstacles a player must overcome.

  X   X  

Races

The goal of achieving a certain position first.

X        

Randomization

Randomizers that determine the outcome of an interaction in a game. May include cards, tokens, lotteries, and dice rolling.

  X      

Resource Management

The management of game resources including tokens, money, and points.

  X X X  

Reward (or chain) Schedules

Timeframe and delivery mechanisms through which rewards (points, prizes, level ups) are delivered.

X        

Risk and Reward

Risk and reward offers players extra benefits for optional actions. Usually there is a penalty for failure.

  X   X  

Role-playing

Role-playing determines the effectiveness of in game actions depending on how authentically the player acts out the role of a fictional character.

    X X X

Status

The rank or level of a player. Players are motivated by attempts to reach a higher level or status.

        X

Structure Building

The goal of acquiring and assembling a set of game resources into a predefined structure or one that is better than that of the other players.

  X X    

Territory Control

The goal of controlling the most area on playing surface.

    X X  

Turns

Turns allow players to act or respond in sequence.

X   X    

Urgent Optimization

The desire to act immediately to tackle an obstacle combined with the belief that you have a reasonable hope of success.

  X   X  

Virality

A game element that requires multiple people to play (or that can be played better with multiple people).

        X


Behaviorism

Learning is an observable change in behavior. Behaviors are modified by rewards and punishment (the carrot and the stick).

Cognitivism

Learning occurs within the mind (the black box) and cannot be directly observed. Mental processes such as thinking, memory, knowing, and problem-solving must be explored. Knowledge can be seen as schema or symbolic mental constructions. Learning is defined as change in a learner's schemata.

Constructivism

The learner is an active information and knowledge constructor and reflective thinker, creating their own subjective representations of objective reality. New information is linked to prior knowledge, thus all mental representations are subjective.

Experiential

Learning via a cycle of experiences, reflection, conceptualization, and experimentation in new situations. Learners have to do something, think about it, pull out its key points and apply them to work or life.

Connectivism

Learning occurs within a group of people via their interactions with each other and various sources of information, not just within the individual. Learning can be mapped to a network of nodes and connections between those nodes. Nodes may be people, information, feelings, media, etc.

Sources

Digital Badges - How Do They Work?

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I realized that I have not blogged here for some time. Penn State is now using Yammer for many communications & group projects, so most of my efforts are now in that space. To my two loyal readers - I'll do better.

I'm now working on a sorta kinda "White Paper" on digital badges. I write sorta because it will be more than a traditional white paper - it will include a forward-moving plan for Penn State. Others are involved - it's not just me, and I have strong hopes that it will serve as the foundation of great things to come.

As part of the paper, I've created several diagrams detailing the badging process. I started with one diagram that turned out to be a colossal mess - too much info. So today I broke it up into three diagrams that may be slightly redundant, but hopefully far easier to understand. First is the overall badging process.


The Overall Badging Process


  1. BadgeEarnExample.jpgAn earner is given an assignment or task. In this example, the assignment is to demonstrate competency in creative writing via completion of one or more writing tasks.
  2. Using a given set of criteria created by an issuer, the earner then completes the assignment.
  3. The issuer critiques the completed assignment against the criteria, and then makes a decision to award the badge (or not).
  4. The earner then receives the badge.

The badge contains web links back to the issuer, the criteria, and the evidence, allowing anyone clicking on the badge to view all three components.

Badges Process Flow

This is a bit redundant with the first image, but I've included it here as the linear flow of badging is clearer.


BadgeFlowchart.jpgDisplaying Badges via Mozilla's Open Badge Infrastructure


BadgeDisplay.jpg
Finally,
most badging systems have the ability to display an earned badge within the system itself. Many badging systems also have the ability to export the badge to Mozilla's Open Badge Infrastructure (OBI). To display a badge using Mozilla's OBI, the earner must first put their badge in their badge backpack, a cloud-based repository. Then, the earner can display the badge in the backpack or nearly any online environment that either accepts data from Mozilla's OBI or can accept links and/or embed codes. In this example, the earner is displaying a badge in an e-Portfolio, using embed codes. Once embedded, anyone viewing the e-Portfolio can click on the badge and link back to the issuer, the criteria under which the badge was earned, and the evidence that the criteria was met and thus the badge was properly earned. If a link is used, the link will talk one back to the backpack page where the badges are displayed.

For example, if you participate in a creative writing seminar, write a paper (or perhaps several), are assessed on your writing, and then earn a badge for creative writing, when someone clicks on that badge, it will contain a link back to the instructor/course/program description, a link back to the assignment criteria, and a link to the paper you wrote.

Let me know what you think of these diagrams - how might I improve them? Thanks!

Badges and Validity

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Approved stamp
Of key interest to many right now is badge veracity - how do we know a badge is valid? What do we mean when we ask that?

In a recent lunch session hosted by Mozilla, this was the topic of discussion.

(BTW - these opens sessions are offered most every Wed. from Noon to 1 PM at https://openbadges.etherpad.mozilla.org/openbadges-community-2 . For audio, the Conference Number is: 800-503-2899, the Secondary Conference Number is: +1 303-248-0817, and the 7-Digit Access Code is: 5435555# )

Carla Casilli, the Project Manager of the Mozilla Open Badges Project, started this conversation back in May on her blog (http://carlacasilli.wordpress.com/2012/05/21/badge-system-design-what-we-talk-about-when-we-talk-about-validity/). You should read her post as it lays down some basic concepts relevant to any ongoing conversations here. However, here were her basic questions concerning validity:

  • Does a particular badge represent appropriate learning?
  • To whom is the badge meaningful?
  • Does the issuer have the authority to issue a particular badge?
  • Does the earning of a badge indicate that the learner has learned?
  • Does the earning of a badge indicate that the earner has been accurately assessed?

Added to this in the Wednesday conversation are questions about validation goals:

  • What is the goal of validation?
  • Who benefits from it?
  • What role does context play?
  • Are there standard metrics for successful validation? Should there be?
  • Who should decide the metrics?

Also included in the conversation were questions about uses, successes, failures, and challenges. Too much for this post, but under challenges are some interesting questions:

  • Is our current system something we should build on or should we rethink what validation might be?
  • Does validation need to come from a recognized source?
  • Does validation need to come from an external source or can issuing organizations provide their own internal validation?
  • What does a validator need to have/do in order to be viewed as a reputable source?
  • How do we build trust in a new system if that system challenges existing standards of recognition?
  • What challenges will new forms of validation experience?
  • Who guarantees the validity of validators, i.e., who watches the watchers?

Now I certainly do not have the answers to all this, but I do have a start on ways badges can be validated. You need the ability to:

  • view the issuer's credentials
  • view any artifacts the badge holder created to earn the badge
  • view the rubric/assessment that was used by the issuer to determine if the holder earns/does not earn the badge
  • "vote up" a badge for a particular badge holder. Example: If you hold a badge for being a good team member, people who have participated w/you on a team should be able to vote up your badge.
  • "vote up" a badge issuer, so high-quality issuers emerge over time and gain credibility.

Basically, you need to verify the issuer, verify what the badge holder did to earn the badge and how s/he was assessed for some types of badges. For other types, you may need to leverage social networks whose individuals can vote a badge up. Or perhaps you need both types of validation for some badges. Here's a best-case example:

I take a course on project management and receive a badge indicating successful completion. The badge indicates from whom I received it with a URL to their site, and URLs to the papers, planning documents, etc. that I created in the process of earning the badge. The badge is left open to voting so, after time has passed, people with whom I've worked as their project manager can vote on my ability in this area.

The viewing items are baked into the badge metadata as URLs to sites or documents that assist the viewer of the badge in determining badge validity. The ability to do this currently exists in the Mozilla Open Badges Project. The voting mechanism is not something in existence at this time within Open Badges, but really needs to be added. In theory, one could do so now with some cloud provider that is linked to the badge via a URL.

I don't think any badge can or should do more than that. At some point, it's up to the badge viewer to make a judgement call. Consider issuer validity. If Penn State were to issue a badge, I believe most people would be OK with the validity of the issuer. The same is true to a lesser degree with badges issued by an individual instructor. A badge issued by an organization/individual unknown to the academic community holds little or no validity.

Enough for now. One thing is certain - the consideration of badges in an educational setting will force us to examine our current practices surrounding assessment, credibility, and veracity of the entire teaching and learning system.

Badges at Penn State

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Wondering what badges are? Wondering what's happening with badges at Penn State? Read on!

(My thanks to Ken Layng of ITS Training Services for much of the information provided here.)


What are "Badges"?

NoTBadge.jpgBadges are like digital extensions to an identity. They help learners to establish credibility based on informal learning. They are used to "certify" information that has been consumed by badge earners. This can be assessed or non-assessed learning, ad determined by the badge issuer. For example, we might issue badges to people who are present at a workshop, but we might also require some measurement of comprehension and retention before issuing a badge. 



What are "Open" Badges?

Open Badges is a project initiated by Mozilla to create a framework for badge infrastructure. Google has a similar project underway, but it is not nearly as mature. The Mozilla framework consists of three components: 1) Issuer, 2) Earner, and 3) Displayer. An "Issuer" is an organization that can 'award certified badges to learners.' An "Earner" is an individual that can collect badges to represent an accumulation of knowledge, skill or proficiency. Badges can be placed in an online repository belonging to the user called the "Badge Backpack." With this Backpack, earners can collect, manage, and display the badges they have earned. A "Displayer" is any online presence or service provider that can display badges. Examples of displayers include the blogs, social media sites, and even resumes. An optional fourth component is the "Endorser." An endorser is any organization or individual that signs the badge with their private encryption key, thereby attesting to the badge's value.

Here is an example of a simplified badge process.


BadgusToBackpack.jpg

Someone issues me a badge. In this case, Ken Layng of ITS Training Services issued me a "Project Leader" badge, using the tools provided at http://badg.us . I receive an email informing me of this. I go to badg.us, sign in, and send the badge to my badge backpack, part of Mozilla's Open Badges infrastructure. (BTW - I previously created my backpack.) Then I sign into my backpack and accept the badge. From there, I can choose to share it publicly or not, and can send/embed a URL for others to view my badge(s).


What are the Potential Benefits to Penn State?

Enhance Digital Identity

Badges enhance one's digital identity and reputation. This is great for e-Portfolios! Badges raise your profile within the learning community and peers and allow you to aggregate identities from across other communities. Specifically:

  • Provides a more complete picture of the learner: Badges provide a more granular and complete picture of skills and learning history for potential employers, schools, peer groups and others than a traditional degree.
  • Informal certification: Learners can get credit and recognition for the learning that happens outside of school.  e.g., in after-school programs, work experience or online.
  • Third-party validation: Attesting to competency and participation, rather than self-attesting, establishes credibility, trust, and legitimacy
  • Signals achievement: Badges signal skills and achievements to peers, potential employers, educational institutions and others.
  • Recognizes new hard skills and literacies: New  literacies that are critical to success in today's digital world--like  appropriating information, judging its quality, multitasking and  networking--are not typically taught in schools and don't show up on a  transcript. Badges can recognize these new skills and literacies.
  • Recognizes soft skills: With recognition of social habits, motivation, etc. badges are able to recognize a greater diversity of soft skills than traditional programs measure or even recognize.

Enable Global Perspectives

Badges allow one to share their skill set with the world. This fosters flexibility and connections.

  • Transfer learning across spaces and contexts: Skills are made more portable across jobs, learning environments and places through badges.
  • Build community and social capital: Badges help learners find peers or mentors with similar interests. Community badges help formalize camaraderie, team synthesis and communities of practice.

Better Instruction

Badges tap into some basic learning psychological principles for the learner.

  • Motivate participation and learning outcomes:  Badges provide feedback, milestones and rewards throughout a course or  learning experience, encouraging engagement and retention.
  • Unlock privileges: A test becomes a reward. For example, students at a school computer lab might be required to earn a "Digital Safety" badge  before being allowed to surf the web.
  • Allow multiple pathways to learning: Badges encourage learners to take new paths or spend more time developing specific skills.
  • Support greater specialization and innovation: Badges can support specialized and emerging fields that are not in traditional learning environments.

Better Instructional Management

Badges enable a better understanding of the individual.

  • Capture the learning path and history: With  degrees or cumulative grades, much of the learning path -- the set of steps  and milestones that led to the degree -- is lost or hard to see. Badges can capture a more specific set of skills and qualities as they occur  along the way, along with issue dates for each. This means we can track  the set of steps the most successful learners take to gain their  skills -- and potentially replicate that experience for others.
  • Assist in Accreditation: By capturing the learning path, meeting the documentation needs of accreditation agencies will be eased.

Badges at Penn State

Well, they don't really exist -- yet. Ken Layng of ITS Training Services began investigating badges several months ago, and I've been following the data stream on them for some time. Most of what you've read above comes from Ken's work, so kudos to Ken! Ken organized a Yammer group to invite interested folks in to start looking at this in April 2012, and once we had some preliminary groundwork down, we initiated a meeting with Chris Millet and Chris Stubbs of Education Technology Services, with the hopes we could work together to investigate this from an "all-PSU" perspective. As an aside, this aligns nicely with a desire from ITS senior leadership to approach new opportunities like this from a matrixed organizational view, as opposed to our traditional siloed approach.

At Training Services, we're investigating two potential ways to serve badges. One is via a company named BadgeStack. They offer a complete, nearly turnkey solution that includes a humble content-management system. The other is via a cloud provider (http://badg.us) that offers a simple interface to serve badges. Both have potential, but it's just too soon to draw any conclusions or recommendations.

ETS is working on a meeting with folks both inside and outside of ITS to gather perspectives, and Training Services will be part of that conversation. Hopefully we'll come away from the meeting with a better perspective on directions to pursue with this great opportunity. 


Moving Forward...

There are no conclusions yet, just plenty of questions and investigations. So stay tuned all - this is an exciting new way to capture your learning (and assessment of it), validate it, and display it to the world!

NMC Summer Conference 2012 Notes

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The New Media Consortium always hosts a great summer conference, and this year was no exception. I think it's the combination of education technologists, learning designers, librarians, and artists that makes this conference unique. The conference setting was the Hyatt Regency in Cambridge, MA.

NMC12Logo.jpg
The opening keynote was by Joichi "Joey" Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab. In his own words, he "is a man interested in everything." Read his blog at http://joi.ito.com/ and you'll probably agree.

Ito.jpg

Like other keynotes I've seen the past year, Joey is concerned with a lack of creativity "out there." He believes we have created a system that makes us think we are less creative than we are. Add to that the Internet has changed the world from set complex processes with sequential steps into a web of interconnections where processes emerge as needed in a decentralized way. Small pieces, loosely joined. We are in a state of just trying things to see what happens, as opposed to carefully planning everything before execution.

This made me ponder, is development of instruction going the same way? What role, then, does the learner play in the dev. of instructions? Can we design things in a way that they can be used in ways we didn't anticipate?

It's not just the web that is changing, it's the lowering cost of developing physical products that fosters risk, trial, experimentation, and new stuff.

Here's Joey's list on how things are changing:

Now -> Then
Resilience->  Strength
Pull ->  Push
Compass ->  Maps
Practice ->  Theory
Disobedience (respectful) ->  Compliance
Crowds ->  Experts
Learning ->  Education

It's pretty amazing how the simple change of one word to another has profound effects on how we view the landscape of education. From experts to crowds is a great example. I've blogged before about the power of the mass mind. As more and more well-respected leaders allude to that, I'm convinced I'm on the right track. Lone experts won't solve the problems of today, but crowds will.

My presentation was titled "20+ Ways to Add Game-like Elements to Your Learning Designs." I had a packed room; they even had to bring in extra chairs. Everyone wants my slides from the presentation, so word to the wise: Always have your presentation online before you present and just announce how to get it at the end of the presentation. Now I have 45 hand-written emails to whom I need to send the link. Auughh!

20+Ways.jpg




















I also co-presented a poster with Emily Rimland from the PSU Libraries on a mini-game the Educational Gaming Commons developed with her for use in her classes on optimizing your web searches. Titled "Smoke that Search," the mini-game added some team competition elements to an otherwise standard lecture. Emily plans on using the mini-game for future runs of her class. The poster was well received and many folks took the instructions with them so they can try it with their students. Click on the image below to view a larger version.

SmokeThatSearch.jpg
BTW - The cloud in the middle is where we projected the LionSearch search engine to demo the mini-game.

I won't bore you will individual session details. Suffice it to say there wasn't one I didn't appreciate, and you can visit http://nmc.org for details on most of the conference.

One final thought was on the mini-plenaries run for the first time at this conference. Instead of giving one person an hour, they gave four people 15 minutes back to back. This was great! The talk was focused, and if someone was talking on a subject you found less than thrilling, it was quickly over. A nice format we should consider for our offerings in future TLT events. 'Nuff said.

Are MOOCs the Next Staff Development "Thing?"

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MOOCs - Massive Online Open Course - are becoming readily available. I recently completed a MOOC titled "Instructional Ideas and Technology Tools for Online Success" run by Dr. Curtis Bonk, Professor at Indiana University. The five-week course consisted of mainly of readings, live video presentations, and blog and discussion board posts. It was a fun course that I could poke away at in my spare time. Even the live video presentations were recorded so if I missed one, it was nearly immediately available to me. I also earned participation badges - more on that in a moment.

BonkMOOC.jpg

The Inside Higher Ed site recently posted an article on MOOCs. It appears that Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor will all be offering MOOCs in the near future. What's in it for them to offer free courses? Increased awareness for potential future students who will pay for credits and a degree. So it's advertising.

What's in it for staff development? Lots. Tons. Provided there is a way to prove you took the course and met the minimal requirements (if any). If there are requirements and you can prove you met them, well heck, what's better than that for professional development? It's free and you can do it from your desk.

So how does one prove they took a course and "passed?" One way is the up and coming Open Badges system from Mozilla.

Badge-diagram-2.2.jpg

With badges, you have an external (to yourself) validation of course completion. You can display your earned badges for all to see, and others can see who issued the badges. Since the badge system is designed to be universal and thus sits outside any particular online course management system, you can collect badges from a variety of MOOCs without any technological hassles. Sounds like a great combo to me, and I hope MOOC offerers pick up on this.



Discover PSU!

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For the past several years, I've been kicking around an idea for a multi-year game that you could start playing as a prospective PSU student, continue playing during your time at PSU, and optionally continue as an alumni.

The main problem is conceptualizing a game of this scope. How do you build a game that has such a long life? We can take clues from several existing casual games out there that do have an infinite play life, like Kingdom of Loathing or Shakes and Fidget. In both examples, you have limited play time per day, dictated via a limited number of turns or adventures per day. For KoL, you can finish the game, "ascend," and play again. And again, And again. Each time you ascend you get to keep one skill you learned in that game run. This, in turn, enables you to accomplish things in later ascensions that you simply could not do earlier.

So, there are ways to conceptualize a game with a very long play life. Now, what about content? Do we have a game area for each college? How do we populate it? How do we bring in people from each college to build out that area? How do we maintain that area, change it over time to both reflect changes in the college itself and to increase replay-ability? This is a tougher challenge. Maybe badges are part of the solution.

My colleague Ken Layng and I are investigating Mozilla's Open Badges for possible use in ITS Training Services. A badge is a symbol or indicator of an accomplishment, skill, quality or interest. Badges can be used to represent achievements, communicate successes, set goals, and motivate behaviors,. They can  support learning that happens in new ways and new spaces beyond the  traditional classroom. These include online courses, after-school  programs, work and life experiences. By providing a more complete  picture of learners' skills and competencies, badges can signal  achievement to a variety of communities and institutions including  potential employers, educational organizations and social groups. One opts to display their earned badges via the web.

Thumbnail image for Badge-diagram-2.2.jpg
The work we're doing on badges led me to think how they might fit into Discover PSU! Suppose we worked with colleges to develop a set of badges at both the major and overall college level. These badges would be earned via traditional coursework, so we wouldn't be asking for a retooling of any curriculum. Then, in the game, a player who had one of these badges would have access to a new area, gain a new skill, etc. The incentive to earn badges would come both from the desire to build up your curriculum badges for an online e-Portfolio-like display of abilities, and to better play the game. Better game play, in turn, could feed back into a more holistic understanding of your major, your college, and the entire PSU system. It would also be an incentive to continue playing the game beyond graduation and could lead to increased involvement in the future of PSU via a strong alumni base.

So how do we start? What if we reverse engineer this game? In most games, the game comes first, then a community springs up around it. What if we built the community FIRST, encouraged active participation in conceptualizing the game via tools such as Wikis, and then built the game when we reached a point where we all felt further conceptualization should wait until the game went live and run for some time?

What are your thoughts on all this? I really need some input on this concept.


Learning Solutions 2012 Conference

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Sponsored by the e-Learning Guild, this is the first time I've attend this conf. It seems to be aimed at business and industry - I was one of a handful of higher ed attendees.

Things I liked:

The Timing of Sessions
They staggered sessions of different lengths, so if you were in one and decided it wasn't for you, you could often find another one just starting.

Vendor Showcase
Vendors had opportunities to do a presentation within the showcase area, drawing people into the area and giving them the spotlight for an hour or so. Very nice.

The Art of... Keynotes

This was the theme for the keynotes - The Art of Leadership, The Art of Vision, The Art of Choosing. All keynotes were good. Eric Wahl was AMAZING. His was the best keynote I've ever seen, no contest.  We simply have to get him to PSU. He would be great as a Symposium keynote.

Morning Buzzes
These were birds-of-a-feather early morning optional meetings. Informal and discussion oriented, it was a great way to start the day. Most often I see these as an add-on, at the end of the day or in the evenings. I like the morning approach better. If it's something you are passionate about, attending such a session energizes you for the entire day.

Things I disliked:

The Page-turner Metaphor
We are still stuck in developing instruction in a paged environment. Hard to believe, isn't it? Most of the new tools I saw work under this model. Is it truly the best way to approach learning online, or is it just an easy sell? One developer, Kaspar Spiro of EasyGenerator, writes:

"eLearning courses still use the book metaphor as a standard, and that is really beginning to hinder progress because eLearning is not linear like a book ... it demands a structure that allows for more dynamic interaction. We need to find a new metaphor for eLearning that is more flexible, more engaging, and less structured. One possible solution is Learning Maps: a geographical representation of eLearning content. "

His easyGenerator tool holds promise, but he needs to beef up his web site so you can see the tool in action. Think of it as a combination concept mapper and content generator.

Learning Designers need to continue to look for alternatives like this. Page-turning for online learning is not optimal!

Lunches
The provided box lunches were adequate, just. For the price of the conference, they should have done better. People remember poor meals.

Spotty Understanding of Accessibility by the Vendors
Some get it and address accessibility, some don't. One tool I've been following for some time - ZebraZapps by Allen Interactions - is an awesome development tool, just as Authorware was at one time. They've yet to consider accessibility, so off my list it goes! Sigh.

In conclusion - a pricy conference, but worth attending every three years or so.

University of Pennsylvania's "Year of the Game"

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Wow - would I love to see this happen at Penn State!

For the University of Pennsylvania, the 2011-2012 academic year has been dubbed "The Year of the Game." The University's various departments are all encouraged to weave games into curricula. The folks at Penn Nursing School have designed several games, and have an open demo scheduled on April 19, from 3 - 5 PM.

My favorite line in the interview of Professor Nancy Hanrahan?

What are the incentives for the students to participate?

These students were just waiting for something like this.


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