Tag Archives: education

Online Casual Gaming Trendsetters Gen-X, Millennials, and High-Tech: The Fast and the Future

Humphrey Watson, a writer, submitted the article below for publication on my blog. I find it an interesting read in general, as it highlights the fact that simple games, sometimes, are better than complex ones to increase learner retention and attention…

From old-school to new-school: Bingo! Video games remain popular as educational tools

A challenge educators face daily: how to make learning fun

One big hurdle that a lot of educators inevitably come across is the fact that some students just don’t take to specific subjects as easily as others. In K12 schools, Math is a good example. In the corporate world, think of that compliance training! How do you teach an otherwise dry and sometimes boring subject matter to disinterested students? Why, by turning it into a game, of course!

Using casual games to teach isn’t at all a novel concept. Remember The Oregon Trail and bingo? The educational benefits of the latter, which has been in use inside classrooms for longer than most of us have been alive, can even trace its roots back to Germany. During the 1800s, German teachers started to incorporate bingo into their classes to teach math, spelling, and history.

Consider the simple game of Bingo. Thanks to its easy-to-learn gameplay mechanics, customizability, and the added fun factor in yelling out “Bingo!” every time you form a line), bingo has had great success as an educational tool. From maths to music, geography to geology, bingo can be adapted into a teaching tool for a wide range of subjects. Simplicity is key!

In addition to the borderline obscene amounts of money that bingo companies spend to promote their games (Gaming Realms recently poured millions of pounds into the BingoGodz; ad campaign), the simplicity and adaptability of the casual game mechanics into different contexts has kept this sort of game alive through the years.

New advances in technology have also pushed the “serious games” industry to new and greater heights. Numerous studies, including a recent one from NYU and CUNY, have found that video games can be highly effective in motivating students to learn less popular subjects.

Educational institutions, foundations, and even the government are taking notice. GlassLab;, a California-based non-profit that works out of gaming giant Electronic Arts, has been given $10.3 million by The Gates and MacArthur Foundations to create educational games. GlassLab is not alone, either. It’s just one of many such developers found all over the United States.

Thanks to these new developments, the field of education is certainly shaping up to be an exciting one for educators and students all over the world.

Cite this article:
Silva E (2014-01-27 07:34:56). Online Casual Gaming Trendsetters Gen-X, Millennials, and High-Tech: The Fast and the Future. Enzo Silva blog. Retrieved: Apr 24, 2014, from http://enzosilva.com/blog/2014/01/27/online-casual-gaming-trendsetters-gen-x-millennials-and-high-tech-the-fast-and-the-future/

Trends in Educational Technology (eLearning Trends INFOGRAPHIC)

I know, too many buzzwords flying around. So, how do you keep up with all the terminology and make sure you’re not missing out on trends that *might* have a positive impact in your learning programs or personal learning experiences? Answer: keep up with resources such as this cheat sheet for Educational Technology Trends compiled by the people at Boundless in infographic form:


Educational Technology Trends Cheat Sheet

Learn about some of the latest trends in eLearning, in one infographic by @GoBoundless

Source article from LearnDash.

Cite this article:
Silva E (2013-08-07 10:52:03). Trends in Educational Technology (eLearning Trends INFOGRAPHIC). Enzo Silva blog. Retrieved: Apr 24, 2014, from http://enzosilva.com/blog/2013/08/07/trends-in-educational-technology-elearning-trends-infographic/

Value of Humor And Play – Max Levin

Need I say more about how important it is to bring humor and play into Education?

“If play were not pleasurable,
kíttens would never chase each other’s tails, and so would lack
practice in the motor skills needed for survival. If there were no
pleasure in the appreciation of the absurd, if there were no fun
in playing with ideas, putting them together in various combinations and seeing what makes sense or nonsense—in brief, if there were not such a thing as humor—children would lack
practice in the art of thinking, the most complex and most
powerful survival tool of all.” – Max Levin

The end of assessment as we know it

“The concept of a job is going away” (Bersin, 2012) and so should the concept of assessment. At least assessment as we know it. Or the assessment forms that we dearly esteem.

The truth is, most educators teach to assess. Yes, the end goal of the learning experience is to prepare learners to succeed in the assessment. Does anyone else see something wrong with this picture?

Take, for instance, the idea of knowledge in the new Capitalism and how communities of practice are key to helping employees understand the whole company process of which they are part, adapt to fast-changing technologies, markets and work environments, share knowledge and encourage one another. Our role as leaders is to create communities of practice around a goal or interest, and help them generate explicit knowledge from the mostly tacit, extensive, distributed and disperse knowledge shared in the communities (Gee, 2000).  Whether we want it or not, whether we (leaders, educators) create them or not, these learners will find ways to connect to their peers in communities of practice. We can choose start them, participate in them, facilitate the knowledge sharing, eve intersperse “educational content” (I mean that in a formal sense of the word, being it synchronous sessions with a facilitator, guided discussions, group activities, etc.). So, how can we measure success in complex and interactive learning communities?

The word “practice” in “community of practice” is key in identifying assessments that would be authentic to the learners of the 21st century.

  • Assessment has to be authentic to the activities they do on the job. Practical. Ask learners to create  a product that related to the goal of the learning experience/community. A sales community/course could, for instance, be assessed on mock sales pitch presentations they create individually or in teams.
  • Assessment can to go beyond the finite notion of a single event. What if the learners that just created a pitch could reuse that for a real encounter with a customer? What if an activity in a technical System Administration community is to create a script that performs a certain task on an Operating System, and, after being assessed positively, feedback provided by peers and facilitator, that script could be then used in the real world by the learner on his/her day-to-day job?
  • Also, assessment has to be part of learning, not the end goal of it. Why make it a boring quiz when it can be a simulation in which the learners put to practice what they shared and discussed during the course of the community?
  • Let members of the community assess one another. Most online community platforms have discussion boards, badges, and other ways of giving kudos to other users.
  • Allow self-reflection. “Did you achieve the goal? Did you successfully sell product X to customer Y? What defines “success” to you? What would you have done differently?”
  • Let the assessment be fun. Have a competition in teams of who performs the task “better” producing a “better” final product, to be assessed by a judge or the community itself.

There are so many form of alternative assessment (NCLRC, 2000), why are we still so dependent on the omniscient LMS as the most used form of accountability in traditional courses?

We are in the 21st century, yet still defining success with ancient measurements…


A Couple of References

Bersin, J., 2012. The End of a Job as We Know It. Forbes Magazine. Retrieved January 20, 2012 from http://www.forbes.com/sites/joshbersin/2012/01/31/the-end-of-a-job-as-we-know-it/.

Gee, JP., 2000.  Communities of practice in the new capitalism. J Learn Sci.

National Capital Language Resource Center (2000). Assessing Learning: Alternative Assessment. Washington DC.

iBooks Author for Mac

Apple changes the publishing business once again. Sure there are other formats and authoring tools which are supported in iBooks, but this is different: an application that fits tightly in the Apple ecosystem, and as is normally the case with Apple products, simple.

Apple unveiled this new tool in their Apple Education event in NYC. Here are some highlights and features:

Integration with other Apple products and workflow

Template gallery

Drag-and-drop editing

Embedding and customization of elements such as galleries

Support for JavaScript

Support for HTML5

iPad simulator/preview

Accessibility support

Support for widgets

Apple says on their website:

Available free on the Mac App store, iBooks Author is an amazing new app that allows anyone to create beautiful Multi-Touch textbooks — and just about any other kind of book — for iPad. With galleries, video, interactive diagrams, 3D objects, and more, these books bring content to life in ways the printed page never could.

Did I say it is free of charge on the Mac App Store?

This application should facilitate the process for creating custom interactive eBooks that play well, natively, in Apple (and perhaps other) devices. Now all one needs is creativity…

One of the sources: The Official Apple Website, and TheNextWeb.

5 Not so Crazy Predictions for Education in 2012

It”s not not uncommon for geeks to do some wishful thinking a line any mortal hoping their tech dreams will come true in the new year to come.

Id like to make some predictions for 2012 as well. Just a few humble predictions and observations.

1. Education everywhere

And by everywhere I don’t mean the whole any device anytime anywhere hype. I mean, everyone in every part of the world (except cultures that don’t accept technology and our views of Education of course) will have access to quality Education and educational technology. We will see more initiatives such as EducateNCare, which encourages professionals to provide some of their knowledge and time to tutors children in developing countries online. With initiatives such as this, others will see the need to equip this on the other end of the connection, the local students and teachers. We’ll be even more aware of the need to capacitate professionals in their own native countries.

2. Open educational content will actually be OPEN

Many institutions offer open courseware and content for anyone to access. What we will see is more open source content out there, not just open access content, but content that can be reshaped, and shared forward with other educators and learners via a license such as Creative Commons.

3. Learning on smart TVs
With all these smart devices proliferating, Education should take more advantage of them and be, well, smart Education. eLearning is made mostly with the old desktop metaphor in mind. But thing about all kids of fantastic learning experiences we could have of we designed for different smart devices. I’m not talking just about mobile devices with gyroscopes, location awareness, multitouch interfaces, I mean even (smart) connected TVs. If even the good ol’ tube is changing; why cant we innovate in how we do education in it as well?

4. Micro-location learning and information

We’re all familiar with the concept of GPS devices or mobile map applications taking you from point A to point B with guided turn-by-turn directions and pop-up traffic/trip conditions and events warnings. However, these technologies are normally only for outdoors navigation. You’re lost inside a building. This is a problem that Google has taken on now with their new solution Google Maps indoors feature, which offers guidance inside buildings such as airports.  However, in 2012 we’ll see the rise of microlocation-based learning, which can provide guidance within buildings and institutions indoors. Imagine the educational uses of such mobile applications: exploring the workplace, accurately connecting with others inside of buildings to share information and perhaps serendipitously  meet up for lunch (yes, learning is about forging relationships with others with whom we share or not interests), on-demand information about machines as a learner walks by it. Better yet,  as the learner walks by that very same machine, s/he will  be prompted by an alert on their location-aware device that there is something wrong with it and that it needs repair, not only that, but the alert will show what exactly is wrong with it and give the user an option to follow an interactive strep-by-step repair “tour”. On the job support, information, and true task-based learning about specific concepts, tools, processes as the learner actually does it.

5. Education institutions will allow more social media

With the advent of better content aggregation and curation techniques, Education institutions will appreciate more of the educational applications of social media and feel safer in letting students access social media resources to learn. Youtube has recently released it’s Youtube EDU which allows educators and schools to allow access (mostly) to content they approve on their channel by using technologies such as filters. Students will be given access to a variety of social media services in school as these services start to offer options for content access based on some of the issues faced by schools, issues such as inappropriate or distracting content.

6. [Bonus Prediction] Motion-based learning gets popular and affordable

As devices like the XBox Kinect and Playstation Move start to become more popular, we should see more affordable motion-based learning experiences in the field. Moreover, we should see precise motion training and job aids coupled with Augmented Reality HUDs as employees try to solve real-life problems in the workplace.

Youtube EDU

There is a vast sea of information out there. In fact, it’s hard not to avoid drowning in it if you, as an educator or learner (which we all are) don’t put strategies in place to organize content by aggregating it using different bookmarking and sharing Web applications (which are a dime a dozen. Tools like Diigo and Pinterest, for instance, are excellent examples of aggregation tools which employ bookmarking and sharing mechanisms.

However, content aggregation can still be an overwhelming task. That’s where content curation comes in play. Services like Smartbrief thrive at selecting target news for users by means of curators. Only the “best content” (at the curators will) are included in perdsonalized newsletters or news briefs which the users can select to receive via email.

Similarly, Youtube is launching Youtube EDU to solve what has been a major pain point for educators trying to use Youtube in the classroom for a long time: inappropriate and irrelevant content. A curation platform for educators, Youtube for Schools allows teachers to select just the right educational videos for their students.

According to Mashable, there are already over 400 playlists curated by Youtube itself in partnership with 600 Education venues including major ones such as the Smithsonian and TED, all organized by grade level, content area (such as Lifelong Learning) and subject matter.

Educators can learn more about producing and sharing their own Youtube videos in the tutorials presented here as well as submit their own playlists to Youtube EDU.

The Potential of Augmented Reality in Education

I’m moderating a panel at the SXSW Interactive conference today at 3:30 p.m. in Austin, TX. The panel is titled The Potential of Augmented Reality in Education.

While I have led and participated in Learning Design and Development projects which involved games, virtual worlds, and social media, I have yet to experiment with the use of Augmented Reality in training. Especially now that I’m a course developer in a highly technical environment, it is hard to push the boundaries of what is normally done in the classroom and in traditional eLearning, to convince stakeholders that there is more than just the gimmick factor of playing around with a smartphone camera or wearing silly goggles that resemble some trashy Sci-Fi movie. That is one of the reasons I lined up this group of experts in the field of Augmented Reality technologies and different fields in Education to share their experiences, thoughts and perspectives on the use of this emerging technology in learning experiences.

I hope everyone enjoys this panel and can contribute with questions they may have.

We will be using the Twitter hashtag #EduAR for a backchannel discussion and as a means to gather questions as well.

Gamifying Learning

If you google “gamify“, “gamification” or “gamifying”, you will find several entries with this relatively new trend on the Web (the term is normally related to Web design and marketing).

I just wrote a short chapter on the “Learning Perspectives: 2010“, Gamifying Learning with Social Gaming Mechanics. This is a topic that intrigues me as an instructional designer.

A quick definition of gamification is to bring game mechanics to services that aren’t exactly games in order to increase user/costumer engagement, adoption and loyalty to a brand. According to Stephanie Schwab, gamification can be described as:

  • Make it fun and exciting to be part of a community
  • Reward audiences for participation
  • Encourage pass-along and recommendations
  • Build loyalty and sales through repeat visits and purchases

This new trend has been gaining momentum in the social Web, and publishers can now get access to resources and plugins that help them gamify their websites. Two examples of such services are:

  • Badgeville – This service offers widgets and APIs to integrate on a website that enable rewards, badges and reputation based on pre-determined user actions (e.g. commenting on posts on your blog, uploading user-generated content, etc.).
  • Nitro by BunchBall – This sophisticated gamification system offers an array of features, including the ability to create challenges, adopt leveling, offer badges and virtual goods, implement a leaderboard, and more. All based on user participation on your website which can be fully monitored via an administration and analytics tool offered by the company.
  • BigDoor Quick Gamification Plugin for WordPress – blog visitors can check in to your blog, post comments and perform other user actions to gain virtual rewards and points. Badgeville also offers analytics tools as well as integration with other social media services such as Facebook and Twitter.

Nigel Whiteoak has several blog posts about the topic of gamification here.

Stephanie Schwab has curated several resources about gamification here.

Here is Amy Jo Kim’s “Putting Fun in Functional – Applying Game Mechanics into Functional Software”

Beware, however, that just adding badges and points does NOT imply you are turning whatever your experience you create into a game. As clearly stated by the game design studio Hide&Seek, a game goes being rewards, it has a set of goals and makes achieving them “interestingly hard” for the player, badges and points are just a way to show them keep track of what they’ve achieved.

I also recommend Ian Bogost’s post “Gamification is Bullshit” which brings attention to the dangers in this “gamification movement” as it tends to disregard other important elements of game mechanics and tends to focus on extrinsic motivators and rewards alone.

How can we apply game mechanics to Education? Do you have examples to share?

Uses of the iPhone/iPod/iPad in the Classroom

I came across a short presentation by Grace Poli from Union City High School on Slideshare.net. The presentaion focuses on practical ways for using the iPod Touch in class, but of courses the uses of all of Apple’s mobile devices are interchangeable most of the time since they have similar technical specifications.

Here are some highlights and resources from the presentation.

Resources and Ideas

  • Apple Learning Interchange – http://ali.apple.com
  • Learning in Hand – http://learninginhand.com
  • iPods in Education Webcast – http://macenterprise.org
  • iPods in Education: The Potential for Language Acquisition – http://e2t2.binghamton.edu/pdfs/ iPod_Lang_Acquisition_whitepaper.pdf

Unexpected Uses of the iPods


1. Train Doctors to Save Lives – American College of Cardiology indicates iPods are used to listen to recorded heart sounds to teach medical students how to better recognize different conditions 2. Bring Criminals to Justice – United States federal district court has started using iPods to hold copies of wiretap transmissions in a large drug-conspiracy case 3. Get Yourself Into Serious Shape – TrailRunner is a free program that helps you plan your route and then loads your iPods with maps, distances, and time goals

4. Tour Around Great Cities – iSubwayMaps lets you download subway maps from 24 major cities across the globe. They range from New York City, Paris, and Berlin to Moscow, Tokyo and Hong Kong. Audio tours of New York and Paris downloard Soundwalk narrated by a celebrity for $12.

5. Calculate the Right Tip – TipKalc helps you figure out the tip and grand total

6. Record Flight data – LoPresti Speed announced plans to use iPods as flight data recorders in light aircrafts (will have the ability to record over 500 hours of flight time data)

7. Throw a Meaner Curveball – Pitcher for the Houston Astros, started using video iPod to review pitching frame by frame to improved overall techniques 8. Learn Foreign Language – University students are using iPods to record lectures, take notes, and even create electronic flash cards 9. Memory Stick – save your Microsoft office files 10. Wikipedia – download one of the largest encyclopedias on your iPod (FREE)

More ideas from other practitioners can be found in the Apple Interchange Learning Community which I highlighted in a previous post.

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