Move over Gen Y- It's Z Curation time

The oldest Millennials or Gen Y'ers are now 31. It's time to think about the up and coming Gen Z! Born between 1992/1994 and 2004/2010, they are the true digital natives. According to Ethan Lyon of In Generation Z Stats, they are, "coming of age publicly on the web." Their defining characteristics
  1. Speed Demons- a generation that has grown up on instant gratification with instantaneous Google answers- Age of AADD-Acquired Attention Deficit Disorder- On Demand is the New Normal
  2. Community Organizers and Curators- Born social through social nets befriending and interacting- Key Behaviours: Share, Express and Consume
  3. Open Books-Personal information is shared with little thought to privacy
  4. Micro Miners-Information broken down and condensed- think tumblr and twitter
  5. Self-publishing

Creativity- Everything is a Remix

Everything is a Remix Part 3 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.

On Gamification

Sebastian Deterding on Meaning, Mastery, Autonomy in Games

Creating Meaning
  • Try to offer user customizable goals- an opportunity to bring in users own personal goal -could be a passion- a connection to meaningful community - community generated goals- a meaningful story with supporting visuals and copy- beware social context meanings

"Fun is just another word for learning." (under optimal conditions)
  • Creating Interesting Challenges- set a goal, add some rules- clear, visually present goals; structured flow of goals- small goal then medium term goal- scaffolded challenges to level up- varied pacing provides "failures to learn from" and experiences of mastery- game your own system to check for unintended emergent behaviour
  • Play is voluntary-motivation because we choose it- example ->Tom Sawyer's fence
  • Beware of curbing Autonomy- the perils of extrinsic rewards, if -then reward curbs autonomy and devaluating the activity
  • Beware of devaluing your product--no-strings attached, shared goals with individual pursuit, informational feedback ( how far you are and how to get there), unexpected rewards
Think process not features
  1. Read the rules- start playing board games and understand how they motivate
  2. Know your users- what kinds of play and motivations do they have?
  3. Build a prototype, playtest and iterate
  4. Bring in data on the game -check challenges
To design for meaningful play provide a story with meaning , add rule system they can master; be mindful of side effects and social context.

also see an article at BBC News Gamification time: What if everything were just a game?

Life in Perpetual Beta

How the Internet is Revolutionizing Education - Infographic

How the Internet is Revolutionizing Education

Games: Tools for Mass Media

Why use a Game?

In the SXSW session Games: Tools for Mass Media, the presenters McCall, Taylor, Augustin and Portnow explained how games are different from other communication media. Importantly, a game is interactive; it allows users to be engaged in a story to explore an idea or to influence an outcome. Today a game can be distributed as easily as a tweet. Passive listening in a lecture is one way and the listener is often left out.

Games like "Fate of the World," and "Peacemaker" have the potential to make a positive impact because they cover real world issues. In the game Peacemaker the user gets to play the other side and see what it is like to be "over there."

One of the presenters, Michael Augustin is the creator of GameSalad a free game creation tool that anyone can use.

Read more about GameSalad on their Blog

The Future is all Touchy-Feely

It was clear at SXSW that the audiences were engaged not only in what was being presented but also in their own touchy-feely activities. Mobile devices ruled whether they were iPhones, tablets, iPads, Androids or laptops. And the laptops were mostly MacBooks. Writing notes on a paper seemed decidedly prehistoric. Hashtags ruled with Twitter as the medium of choice for interaction with the presenters and community. Even the desktops provided at the information stations around the conference had touch interfaces.

If you believe in learning styles, it appeared to be a haven for those of the kinesthetic kind. The truth as I see it is that it's the new normal-touch as the mode to be engaged, to be in the moment from wherever you are.

At the session The Future of Touch User Interface Design presenters Amish Patel and Kay Hofmeester, discussed Touch as a language under development. To explain they took the audience through how languages of media develop:
  • In stage one when new technology is introduced it's at an experimental stage. It's basically a prototype
  • In stage two, we tend to copy or mimic the forms of an old language.
  • In stage three, a New Language is developed for the media
The presenters used examples of the development of film and the development of the computer mouse. Currently touch is at stage two where it is still emulating a computer mouse, a keyboard and scroll bars. It is depending on a single point of contact. They ask what is the new language? Shouldn't we turn the page and copy real life with multi-touch and multi-focus?

The Game Layer- You're in the Game

According to Seth Priebatsch the Princeton drop-out who calls himself the Chief Ninja at SCVNGR, the last decade was the social decade. It was all about connections. "We took all the digital connections to our friends, to our families to our colleagues, we digitized them and we put them online. The framework for that social layer is facebook and it is built."

The next decade he says will be about the Game Layer. It will be about influence and there will be no set foundations. It will influence where we go and what we do. It's only just begun but we all will be involved so we should think about how it will be built.

He talked about 5 big problems that the game layer could help solve. The first problem and the one most interesting to me is of course school.

"School is a game," says Priebatsch but it's a poorly designed one that is broken. But school is a near perfect ecosystem because it has motivated players, challenges, rewards, rules, allies, enemies, levels, appointment dynamics, countdowns and incentives and disincentives. The two problems with the game of school are engagement and cheating. Students show up late, don't do their work. Lack of engagement is caused by a broken grading system. As for cheating, Priebatsch says it's a standard game mechanic.

What school has created, he says, is the "Moral Hazard of Gameplay." It has replaced the real reward which is learning for learning sake with arbitrary letters causing people to view the real reward -learning for learning sake- as a chore. Grades fail as rewards because they are just levels, and status; the problem is they are a game mechanic where you can loose. You can go from an A to an F on a bad day. He suggests focusing on the positive and progressing only up. As you do progressive challenges you level up and focus on the end result.

For the second problem cheating, he showed a student filling out a scantron form with cell phone open. The problem with the picture isn't the phone it was just that it wasn't an Android phone and the screen wasn't big enough. The cheating results in a disincentive- if you get caught you fail; but if you don't get caught, you win. He talks about how cheating at Princeton was stopped by changing the game. Princeton holds tests with no teacher, no admin no oversight but gives two rules: students write the honor code and agree that complicity is a crime. The shift changes the game says Priebatch, it puts the students in the role of the enforcers.

He made some interesting points. See more below

See his talk at SXSW here

Can Games Save Education?

If one took in every session about games at SXSW, one might conclude that the Gamification of everything is nothing less than the second coming. I have to say, I enjoyed many of the sessions on games and their potential but I certainly wasn't ready to go as far a one gentleman and the herd of others in the session Learning 2025: School is out Forever, who declared after working in groups that the number one way to fix school was through games. Really? Nothing to do with crazy numbers of standardized tests in US schools, underfunding, or teacher's values linked to standardized test results? It seemed to me that group had drunk the Kool-aid, just saying.

To me it goes to show that if you expose a bunch of people to a bunch of sessions on one thing, they all start to see that thing as the solution even if they are a bunch of seasoned educators. So I was really happy to attend the session Cheaper, Better, Faster: Can Casual Games Save Education? and especially happy to hear Scot Osterweil, Creative Director Education Arcade at MIT say that not all games are good, even some that portray themselves as educational, and that it was time to separate the hype from what is real.

Osterweil talked about how play and games are natural to children as they construct their own vision of the world. What games and play provide is the 5 Freedoms:
  • The Freedom to Experiment
  • The Freedom to Fail
  • The Freedom to Fashion Identities- You can understand your own identity and"try on" other people
  • The Freedom of Effort- You can go full tilt playing and then rest at will
  • The Freedom of Interpretation-Each person has his/her own unique interpretation
A game player has her/his own personal motivation. The key to creating educational games is channeling play into meaningful activities. Osterweil says that instead of just being "candy" a game can be a "gourmet" meal.

And if you look at the type of games coming out of the Education Arcade at MIT, you can see the gourmet!

is a joint effort of MIT Education Arcade and the Smithsonian Institute. They invite kids to log on and discover clues to unravel mysteries. It's an online/offline interactive event over 8 weeks where kids collaborate and race against time to save the world from environmental disaster.

And then there are the Augmented Reality Games from MIT

Can Games Make us Better? We Need an Epic Win

According to Jane McGonigal, author of Reality is Broken-Why Games Make us Better, humans invest 3 billion hours a week playing online games. In her SXSW talk McGonigal spoke about the common belief that time playing games is wasted and unproductive. For McGonigal playing games is productive and we need to increase the amount of time we play games to solve the world's problems. Using Seligman's definition of productivity-PERMA: Positive Emotion, Engagement, creating stronger Relationships, producing more Meaning to be of service to a larger goal and a sense of Accomplishment- she made a case that games are not a waste of time --they work well creating self motivation and a sense of accomplishment.

The problem is not with games but rather reality-it's broken. Reality does not provide the kind of motivation that games do. What real world problems need is to offer the same addictiveness, sense of success, happiness and productivity that games provide. Instead of complaining about wasted time she says we should "repackage real problems."

As a example, she talked about Evoke the 2010 game she created along with the World Bank Institute. The Evoke project is a ten-week game that hopes to change the world. The social network game's goal is to empower people to come up with creative solutions to the world's most urgent social problems and to teach young people how to start their own social enterprises.

In the 10 week 2010 pilot, 20,000 students from 130 countries got involved creating 51 real companies around the world funded by global giving. Top players earned online mentorships with social innovators and world business leaders, seed funding and scholarships.

Now that's a productive game!

Hear Jane McGonigal at SXSW here
or watch her TED Talk below

Blabberize is fun

If you want to have your pictures talk try Blabberize. Fun for kids and adults who just can't help being kids.

Here's Sheba

Using the Annotations Tool for Interactive Storytelling on YouTube

Most of us have seen the Interactive Viral video "Hunter Shoots a Bear." In the video you get to choose whether the hunter shoots the bear, and then you have a choice to choose an alternate ending. It's an ad of course for the product Tipp-Ex. If you haven't seen it, have a look below.

The way it moves from YouTube video to YouTube video is through the use of the annotations tool that provides a link to the next video. The SXSW session Decision Trees: YouTube's New Breed of Interactive Storytellers by Marc Hustvedt of Tubefilter and Rafi Fine of Fine Brothers explained the use of the annotations tools to create "choose your own adventures" on YouTube. See an example of an interactive game/story below:

We are all used to the range of things we can find on YouTube, but with the possibility of this kind of interactivity, we can have increased engagement with user feedback. There's potential here for creating interactive educational content in YouTube.

Artistic Collaborations via Skype: Turning Distance into Drama

When I was away at SXSW I used Skype to talk to my dog every night. What can I say except that I love my dog. But while I was at the conference, I learned that there are some very creative ways that Skype can be used for artistic pursuits.

In the session Artistic Collaborations via Skype: Turning Distance into Drama, the presenters Beth Burns, Conner Roche, Derek Kolluri, Mimi Poskitt, Robert Matney and Rachel Watkinson talked about how their two theatre companies- The Hidden Room from Austin and Look Left Look Right from London worked to produce interactive theatre live in both Austin and London and on Skype to the general public.

The play documents the online fictional relationship of the couple, one who lives in London, England and the other who lives in Austin Texas.

The play is about 80% scripted but allows for improv that depends on the interactions created from the live audience and the internet audience who input comments and questions via twitter.

Read more here, here or here

Clay Shirky- Why Would We Think Social Media is Revolutionary

It's taken me awhile but I'm just getting around to blogging about SXSW.

One of the many keynotes was Clay Shirky who talked about the characteristics of technology that makes it revolutionary and how it can be linked to political revolutions. He spoke of the Dictator's Dilemma- when dictators shut down internet and communications it inevitably leads to more attention to exactly what they want to keep quiet. The most important thing the internet does according to Shirky is allow amateurs access to the public sphere. It allows easy access to others to form groups. Governments are not afraid of educated individuals, but rather synchronized groups.

The audio to his talk is posted here SXSW Shirky

And see a Prezi summarizing the talk below:

Drag and Drop File Sharing Go Pileus

Go Pileus might be a great tool for students collaborating on a project to share files.

To use the app just drag your file onto the gray box. What appears next is a short url that you can share with anyone who wants to download the file.

If you have not set up an account, your url will last for 30 minutes. If you create a free account you get 1GB free space and your url will no disappear in 30 minutes.

Spark Creativity -Brianstorm with Scamper Tool

The Scamper Tool is a random question generator that can be used to spark creativity on your own or in a group.

All you have to do is state a problem or an idea that needs to be worked on then click the button to get a a question with helper questions and trigger words.
Sample questions include:
  • Are there new ways to use it in its current shape or form?
  • Can I interchange components?
  • Can it be made higher, bigger, stronger?
  • Can I transpose cause and effect?
Here's a sample

Scamper Tool