• Persist or Die: Learning in World of Warcraft

    Back in March 2011, I gave an invited keynote at the JISC Scotland/Consolarium Game To Learn: Take 2 conference in Dundee, Scotland. The abstract read:

    All you need to understand is everything you know is wrong.
    —Weird Al

    My mother told me cleaning toilets builds character if done repeatedly. The other night five friends spent more than three hours dying over and over again while playing World of Warcraft (WoW). She never said anything about dying. I found cleaning toilets only gets you clean toilets. Dying and playing, however, teaches you important things. Demons, dragons, dwarves, and possibly folklore, you could see, but learning, love, and leadership?

    Sounds crazy, but it’s true: World of Warcraft has something to say about learning. Prepare yourself, because everything you thought you knew is wrong.

    The talk went very well and the slides were available shortly after the talk via SlideShare, but I was somewhat remiss in preparing a version for my blogs. This version was originally posted on my WoW Learning Project site.

    You have a choice of formats:

    1. The original slides (slightly cleaned up) via SlideShare.
    2. The original slides and notes (slightly cleaned up) via SlideShare.
    3. A downloadable PDF version of this blog post (from copy at WoWLearning).
    4. This blog post.

    This post is a written version of the original talk with the more important slide graphics incorporated. It can therefore be read without the original slides. Enjoy! If you have any comments, feel free to leave them.

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  • The 2008 H810 Interview Presentation

    Title Slide

    These are my slides for my August 19th interview presentation. I was given the remit of presenting a five- to ten-minute presentation on the “Challenges Affecting Disabled in E-Learning”. The interview was for an associate lecturer position on the new H810: Accessible online learning: supporting disabled students postgraduate course, part of the M.A. in online distance education. Each slide has been annotated based on my presentation preparation notes. A downloadable version is available.

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  • [Moo! Mackie's Makes It]

    Professor James Fleck visited the IDEAs lab on June 4th, 2004 from the Management School and Economics at the University of Edinburgh, to present a talk on “Processes of Innovation and Design for Usability”.

    This was a very interesting seminar, if not immediately relevant to my own research. Not only was some of the content fascinating, but the method of presentation was also novel. Professor Flack uses mindmapping software to prepare his presentation and then uses the mindmap as a navigation tool during the presentation. By clicking on a mindmap element, a separate page would be opened where he could explore that concept in detail or perhaps an image clip launched.

    Here, belatedly, are a copy of the abstract and my notes from the seminar.


    In this seminar I will outline a range of theories of innovation within the broader context of technological development, to draw lessons about how the design process may be facilitated or constrained, especially with regard to usability. The discussion will be grounded with reflections about several empirical cases. These will include the design of a particular “smart Product” (Persona–the electronic contraceptive) and the development of a “Personal Learning Appliance” for a new e-learning initiative at Edinburgh (The Global Innovation MBA–GIMBA).

    Conclusions will address the need for practical trialling; the need for mapping the space of behavioural interactions (behavioural ergonomics?) and the need to overcome “default satisficing behaviour” among prospective users.

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  • Conceptual Change

    David Jonassen visited the IDEAs lab on May 11th from the University of Missouri to present a talk on “Model-Building for Conceptual Change (Cognitive Tools in Action)”. While this isn’t (or so I thought) related to my own research or interests in any way, we were all encouraged to attend if possible and I’m always interested in talks about learning in general. Here, belatedly, is a synopsis of my understanding of his presentation.
    The key underlying principle seemed to emphasize having people fail in their problem solving attempt at some issue because then conceptual change has a change to be engaged and then students will learn. This failure need not be catastrophic; in fact, it probably should not be, I would say, or the failure would foster a strong sense of discouragement, which is not going to get a student into the “learning zone.” So, how do you put students into a non-threatening environment where they can safely experiment and fail? David Jonassen’s idea was to encourage them to engage in model building which demonstrates their conceptual understanding of the problem/issue at hand. When learners build models,their understanding of the problem domain is deepened because you cannot model what you do not understand. Model building also allows you, as the instructor, to view the learner’s level of conceptual change as their models evolve. It is therefore possible to assess their underlying understanding without resorting to formal assessment tests. Finally, David Jonassen suggested that model building also improves critical reasoning and thinking because model building forces the model builder to examine the process and problem solving methodology.
    David Jonassen researches (among other things) the use of technology in educational settings to improve understanding. More information on his approaches to problem solving are available from on the following web site page: http://tiger.coe.missouri.edu/~jonassen/PB.htm.

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