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Old 08-17-2007, 08:34 PM   #1
Frieda
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inspiration

how do you keep people/kids inspired to keep using a digital learning tool?

some suggestions:

- continous addition of new things
- element of play
- goofy features / buttons / etc
- hidden jokes

please add your own ideas
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Old 08-18-2007, 03:01 PM   #2
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Surprises are nice! Hidden jokes are one example, but it's also fun when the same command gives random/changing results.
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Old 08-18-2007, 03:59 PM   #3
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Earned status, perhaps. Leveling up in a game is an easy example. I'm also reminded of the voting system for approving new flash animations at Newgrounds.com. (There, the rating you give to a new animation helps determine whether it becomes a permanent part of the site. Members earn status points for both the quantity and quality of their votes, and are rewarded with increased vote strength.) With something like "the show," status was more abstract, judged in terms of one's visibility and participation in the community.
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Old 08-18-2007, 05:22 PM   #4
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I like games where there are no prebuilt "storylines," but your actions add up and have procedurally generated outcomes. hard to do well, but if it works it would be great.
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Old 08-18-2007, 05:24 PM   #5
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Thinking of the ORG, I like the way one can click on the map and see who's where, but it would be fun to use some of the social networks software from anthropology to look at contacts among members of a site. Rather than plotting everyone on a geographical map, you could plot everyone according to whom they had messaged, or whose personal pages were visited, who quakced each other/made each other contacts.

If it was a learning site, you could map some other variable, maybe along the lines of Aesahaettr's status ideas above ^, or who was using which portions of the site, who was collaborating with whom, etc. That's how I find some of my contacts on the org...I follow links to quackers of people who are my own quackers...and it would be fun to see all that plotted out. There are different ways to do it graphically, usually having to do with physical proximity on the graph, plus lines of varying widths or colors. This is a pretty good website on social network analysis, with info like this (you know it's good when there's jargon):

LEVELS OF ANALYSIS:
Actor level: centrality, prestige and roles such as isolates, liaisons, bridges, etc.
Dyadic level: distance and reachability, structural and other notions of equivalence, and tendencies toward reciprocity.
Triadic level: balance and transitivity
Subset level: cliques, cohesive subgroups, components
Network level: connectedness, diameter, centralization, density, prestige, etc.
(Wasserman, S. and K. Faust, 1994, Social Network Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.)

How any of this would apply would depend on the type of learning going on, and what kinds of interactions among the participants were possible.
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Old 08-18-2007, 08:26 PM   #6
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Earned Status

Earned status is good--but especially in educational environments it can be bad, as it results in competition for points or other accolades rather than education. Also, there is a big danger of people getting stuck in positions if it is a team-based project--this person does numbers, this person makes graphics, etc. which is fine in a corporate situation but not in an educational/explorational thing.

This makes me think the Scribbler--it's about learning, perhaps, how you draw, and how that relates to how "artists" draw in terms of shading, etc., and learning how to modify one's own drawing--saying "hey, I can do that." An education in methodology, if you will. I think fear of failure and not doing well is really what kills education more than anything; I know plenty of people who would pick up something new but don't want to go through the usually necessary process of being awful at it.
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Old 08-19-2007, 02:27 AM   #7
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I enjoyed the Tanga puzzles, and I think something like that could be a very useful refresh and review tool.
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Old 08-19-2007, 10:28 AM   #8
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two things suggest themselves:

1) the importance of community.
I think of classes I had at university - some were crap, because nobody participated and everyone felt isolated - and some were wonderful, because a group dynamic emerged and the learning opportunities snowballed the more we were able to interact.

how do you make that happen in a guided manner, so people aren't distracted by trivia and end up wasting "classtime"?

2) having an artifact of some kind as a result.
some of the nicest things ze has done have involved the digital equivalent of "take home prizes" - e.g. if you use the scribbler, you can save your picture to your computer, and it's yours forever. I think this has a broader appeal than something purely abstract or points-based.
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Old 08-19-2007, 01:32 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobofBobs View Post
Earned status is good--but especially in educational environments it can be bad, as it results in competition for points or other accolades rather than education.
Good point. I think what I was grasping for was general sense of identity and reputation. I'm more likely to keep using a tool if my activities help build a personal identity (and that can include, but i not limited to, earned status). This is assuming, of course, that we're talking about something community-oriented.

One thing we have to keep in mind is the nature of the environment our tool will occupy. For example, are we shooting for something tied directly to an education setting, or something extracurricular? Learning for learning's sake is definitely good, but does that reflect the values of wherever we're pitching our tents? If not, do we bring along our values anyway and hope they take root, or do we try to work with the values already in place, or a combination of both?
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Old 08-19-2007, 03:41 PM   #10
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^If it's school-age kids and regular grade school curriculum we're talking, I'd vote for extracurricular.
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Old 08-20-2007, 02:28 AM   #11
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oh shoot I should have been using this all along.

Comments. They can address all levels. Think of the ORG again and then add the opportunity/requirement for substantive commentary like here.
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Old 08-20-2007, 01:09 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aesahaettr View Post
Learning for learning's sake is definitely good, but does that reflect the values of wherever we're pitching our tents?
Good question.

Learning for learning's sake can be a big turn-off for kids - think of whatever class you were forced to take in high school that you just knew you'd never use in adult life, and how much you hated it, and what a big waste of time it felt like. Chances are, you are using that learning in your adult life, but in ways you didn't expect and that weren't explained or shown to you.
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Old 08-20-2007, 01:28 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobofBobs View Post
Earned status is good--but especially in educational environments it can be bad, as it results in competition for points or other accolades rather than education. Also, there is a big danger of people getting stuck in positions if it is a team-based project--this person does numbers, this person makes graphics, etc. which is fine in a corporate situation but not in an educational/explorational thing.
Yes. Maybe it would be better if the 'earned status'/'# of points' is awarded by more / better tools / features (or additional informations --> educational effect).

Edit: And for the community effect maybe one could share (part of one) earned attributes? With one's team, if there are teams for example.

Last edited by Stephi_B : 08-20-2007 at 01:31 PM.
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Old 08-20-2007, 02:02 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lukkucairi View Post
Good question.

Learning for learning's sake can be a big turn-off for kids - think of whatever class you were forced to take in high school that you just knew you'd never use in adult life, and how much you hated it, and what a big waste of time it felt like. Chances are, you are using that learning in your adult life, but in ways you didn't expect and that weren't explained or shown to you.
Yes. Kids hate things they learn only because the interest level and application of the learning is perceived to be low. (Studied and proven.) Adults hate this too. But even given standard school curricula there has until recently been only the limitation of a teacher's creativity to make the learning quality. Recent attempts at measuring outcomes with national and state tests have led to a clamp on much of the creativity that did exist in education. Teach to the test is about it and kids do not like.

But that actually address some of the guidelines of what they will and won't fund. Learning, in order to prove it is there needs some form of progress assessment of that learning. So you have to define what the desired learning is, those typically are called standards or outcomes or objectives. They are measured on standardized tests currently, this project could open up a whole new set of standards (they actually use some of that type of language) as well as forms of measurement of those standards.

They will not fund a project without a learning component, so defining the objectives is important when constructing content but also and the part that is proof of learning is the assessment of it. Creating that can be something that allows for you to ensure that learning is applicable and enjoyable. The traditional bitter pill at the end of the lesson need not be (nor a typical end). You can assess learning with something like this by writing and applying a rubric that contains your objectives and describes levels of mastery.

Rubrics for the new landscape can be fierce and fun and wholly applicable to student lives.
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Old 08-20-2007, 02:49 PM   #15
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I think there is really no such thing as "learning for learning's sake." Ultimately, it all comes down to learning different philosophies of thought that makes study of multiple disciplines worthwhile. So if I'm planning to do an MBA, then why should I study, say, geometry? Well, because it gives the learner another tool, another algorithm to hack away at whatever problem they encounter. Problems in the real world aren't simple, or confined to one zone. They are multi-part and multi-discipline. Too often we show kids the methods without the real applications. Kids are inspired when something that's hard, but doable comes along.

Perhaps we have the kids digitally help other communities, a kind of mutual benefits thing. This would tie everything together: linguistics and culture on the direct/interaction level, history/social science on understanding the causes of a society's problem, and then (assuming it's applicable) hard science on a solution, for, say, getting people in impoverished regions clean water. Kids can work on this together, and it makes a difference in people's lives.

As an example, for my sophomore year History of the Middle East class, we once had to write a Palestine-Israel peace proposal. Yes, lofty work. But everyone in the class afterwards had a very good grasp of the tensions in the regions and an understanding of the difficulties occurring in present negotiations. If we give kids an explicit chance to make a difference, I think they'll do it.

Apologies for the massive amount of text.
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