Thursday, December 22, 2011

Random thought : Badges and assesment

Lots can go wrong in baseball...

Lots can go right. A game within a game - subtle interplay between players, teams, leagues, sponsors, fans, the field, the stadium, on and on... I love it. It's the rich variety of life. Only people uninterested or uncreative (dull, deadened,...) only look at the score and think that's all that happened.

As I re-connect with sport, I integrated it with my past experience. My experience with youth sports was not extensive, but ... let's call it "small but mighty". I was on winning teams and( mostly) losing teams. Perhaps because of this, I was told - and mostly remember - the sage statement, "It's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game".

I took this to heart. And, looking at the way things are today, I don't think many others did. See, my point is that I don't play for the score in games. I don't learn for grades in life.

Why? because the score was so flat. The score doesn't really tell you what happened. It does serve a purpose - I'm not a fucking hippie! (hehe - eat it hippies) God bless the score and the horse it rode in on... but there is so much more.

Baseball is a good example here. The stats in baseball are extensive. A line score, a box score, and then, I guess, there is the stat book that looks at every stinking play - and converts it to numbers.

Should schools do these? There is the final grade. There is the weekly quiz score and project / exam / paper scores. These are experiences translated into numbers for the purpose of fitting a machine readable format - the sorting function of grades.

But how do you translate getting hit in the face with the baseball into a score - 'Hit by pitch' doesn't do it justice. Do you really think you can sum up the trauma of dropping the last out as an 'error' or bottom of the ninth strike out to lose the championship as "strikeout".

Same is true of schooling. My '89' on my math test, because I forgot to 'carry the one' which caused me to miss the A by one percentage point. That number doesn't begin to describe or communicate that experience to others.

But, Badges can.

Badges are not grades. They can be used right along side grades. The guy in the picture could get the "Hit by Pitch - EPIC" badge, along with the stat in the book. Possibly there is a modifier ribbon to go along with the badge "broken bone", "bleeding on the field", "crapping your pants", "crying on the field"...

Badges allow for creativity to rush back into the classroom. All of a sudden, you can nurture the dry phrase "it's not whether you win or lose...". A badge describes, qualitatively perhaps, HOW you play the game. And, when students create and give badges, it shifts the balance of power back to the student.

One last thought - What does it say about the worldview of someone you creates the system of grades? How clincial, sterile the world must be for that person? 4 months of work in a college classroom and the only 'real' result is two exam grades and a final score.They see the world as industry and factory.  I see the world as wilderness and a workshop.

Grades are a currency and we have confused the currency for the thing we want.  You don't want money - You want a house or a car or knowledge or skill. Perhaps this is the monster of materialism stomping around every aspect of modern life. 


And, this is what I think about. I've decided that I should share these thoughts. I'm no longer a young adult. I've arrived at 'Grown ass man" status. These thoughts are my own - however they arrived in my brain, I can't really say, but I feel it's important to share them with you, dear reader.

Saturday, November 19, 2011 - Zilch - Zilch

I know I've written about this before.

Zilch is a game that UNDERSTANDS badges and achievements in the game format.

A badge / adward can't be too broad. A thru F in school is the DEFINITION of too board achievement. As a measuring device, maybe. It works for the school, somehow, I'm sure. But it doesn't work for the student.

...rant starting...
How much stuff goes on during a school class? A $hit ton! And, you want to sum it up in a single Letter. And you can go screw yourself with a A- or a B+. Thanks, but no thanks!
...rant ending...

What this tells me is that the A-F group has no idea what is going on -ACTUALLY - going on in the classroom. The way your reward and motivate directly relates to how you see the subjects / users / students. Your perspective of learning and the internal life of the students.

Are they having a rich, multi-faceted, emotional, whole being experience? Or, are they holding there breath and not rocking the boat focused on the grade?

One last story. I play(ed) golf. Golf is a game and there is a score. And, as a beginner golfer - I got pissed alot, because I couldn't score like Freddie Couples (the Dominating player at the time - They call him BoomBoom because he hits it a mile and never loses his cool).

One day I got super pissed and (in front of some friends and a stranger partner) lost my shit. I yelled, threw my bag, I threw my club - and nearly destroyed it when it hit the cart path 20 yards out.

Here's the thing: I want a badge for that. I want the "Total meltdown - missed a drive"... There's a series of "Total Meltdowns" ... missed putt, lost a match, go in the trap, go in the water, out of bounds...

Here's the thing:
The game IS NOT the score. The game is the game, and you can see it from MANY perspectives.

On the positive side, you can chose to not count the strokes the same way. I started to play better when I only recorded the putts, or the GIR (Greens in Regulation).

So, Zilch has 100 different achievements. Great, much better than school which has basically a handful per class (assignment grades and a final grade - not the same, but similar).

But, would it be cool if we - the non-designers, non-teachers - created our own badges our own achievements? I bet we could do it...

One last thing before I publish. There is alot of talk about badges and I feel I need to put down my thoughts about it. Speciffically, what I like about the movement - Peer created, Peer adwarded, variable scope, easily transfered/displayed/ researched. And, what I see as pitfalls - just recreating the same system, which will happen if you only get simply re-name a certificate / diploma / degree with the term Badge or Patch.

Listen up Instructors and Course Designers!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Let's Have a Serious Discussion About the New Masteries - Page 8 - League of Legends Community

Let's Have a Serious Discussion About the New Masteries - Page 8 - League of Legends Community

I've been playing League of Legends to keep my gamer cred up. It's important if you want to work with dude's like Lucas Gillispie and the gang at Cognitive Dissonance Guild. Point being, games have something to teach us about motivation and learning- and - in order to learn from them you have to play them... okay, i'm rationalizing a bit here.

LOL is fun to play!

Anyway, they just re-did the masteries or there Talent Tree (in World of Warcraft terms). It's causing a ruckus because now you have to pick out new skills. I would figure most people are like me and pick talents based on what more advanced players have worked out and published. Some dudes are WAY into this - serious calculator nerddom going on there.

Here is the tree that I used with my Champion (toon or Avatar) Ashe:

But the new masteries are totally different. For instance, there is no Perseverance (which increases Mana and Health regeneration) in the new Utility tree.

Here's what I picked for Ashe:
1/1 Summoner's Wrath
3/4 mental force (+3 ability power- Ashe's is Focus, increased critical strike chance after 3 seconds)
4/4 alacrity (+6% attack speed)
2/4 deadliness (+2% critical strike)
1/1 weapon expertise (+10% armor penetration)

I'm going for Crits and attack speed here.

and for my other Champion, Kayle

1/1 Summoner's Wrath
4/4 mental force (+3 ability power- Kayle's is Holy Fervor, target loses 3% armor and magic resist for 5 sec)
3/4 alacrity (+6% attack speed)
2/4 deadliness (+2% critical strike)
1/1 weapon expertise (+10% armor penetration)

Bump that ability power and attack speed.

Okay, now I'm ready to play. I may or may not talk about this in more posts but I wanted to comment on the goings on.


Saturday, November 12, 2011

university as open platform - Google Search

university as open platform - Google Search

Facebook wins because it is a 'platform'. By that I mean, it's a ... central point, hub, portal. A place that ... A service that others services connect. You can' get away from it, it wins and will continue to win.

Facebook is open because it allows anyone to create services that connect to it.

now to uni

Universities won (past tense) because they were a platform. A central point where learning and research and innovation happened. Not so much, now.

Universities are not open because ... they don't understand they are a platform. Hiding under a rock. Are concerned about security. Perhaps.


If I were a University I would try to become a platform like facebook(private) or RSS(open).

Post influenced by: P2PU, seth Godin, Fleetly, RSS, and Facebook Platform. And, of course, Uncle Dave Winer, What is RSS and I deleted my Facebook account.

Thursday, October 06, 2011


First off, Let me say that when ever I hear Cathy Davidson speak - I get smarter.

This year's Digital media and learning competition is titled"badges for lifelong learning". the good folks at Mozilla are cosponsors of the competition. Here's some info:

Digital Media and Learning Competition: This Competition focuses on building digital badges for lifelong learning. The Competition is designed to encourage individuals and organizations to create digital tools that support, identify, recognize, measure, and account for new skills, competencies, knowledge, and achievements for 21st century learners wherever and whenever learning takes place.
Today I listened to the webinar - 'Badges 101' Hosted by Cathy Davidson (Duke U and HASTAC), Sheryl Grant (HASTAC/MacArthur Foundation),
Erin Knight, (Mozilla and P2PU); Carla Casilli, (Open Badges, Mozilla)

The webinar was worthwhile and it was great to get the condensed background and context for the badges project. They didn't talk too much about the competition and that will be handled in subsequent webinars.

Here are a few of my ideas and thoughts from the talk.

Many people know Davidson because of her work on crowd sourcing grading. It's nice to hear a respected professor come out and say, plainly, grades suck. She eloquently made the point using a history lesson. Grades haven't been around that long-since 1890. 'ABCD' grades were adopted and subsequently rejected by the Packers as being too restrictive. Educators adopted it with gusto, particularly after standardized, multiple-choice testing became accepted ( roughly after World War I)

I got this image in my mind during the webinar. The red card serves as a badge - given by the ref, accepted by the player, seen by everyone. The question was asked about negative badges - do people use them?  referees do.  In military school, I remember my demerits more than my merits.

Another thought I had for my past was that of the badges I collected while traveling around Europe as a first grader. My family and I lived in Bielefeld West Germany in 1979. I had a blue jean jacket that I wore proudly as an American. Each new town that we went to I would pick out a patch that my mom would so on to the jacket.I wish I had a picture of that jacket, but I still remember the badges that I collected. How it focused my attention during those travels.
Vivyan's Jacket with badegs... expression of his self identity.  self chosen for display.

When I think of lifelong learning I think of travel. And I wonder if the travel industry is a good place for a badge system. Go to a town-get a badge.  Do some activity - get a batch.  Collect enough badges - get a bonus, bad-ass badge.  I imagined an eager group of school kids (or Elderhostel types) test during an Alaskan whale watching Capt. to give them access to the QR code that would unlock a badge and display it for their friends back home.  Perhaps they could record the moment with a picture, video/audio or writing.

I wonder what it would take to organize something like that.  Is that what foursquare does? what are the overlaps between travel and lifelong learning?  are there specific travel learning organizations?

Thanks for listening and seeing next time.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Models: Emporium

The local Community College is working with an innovative approach to solve the problem of flagging Math proficiency - The Emporium Model from the National Center for Academic Transformation. It seems to be a 'Flipping the Classroom' type model.  It reminds me of Khan Academy which I didn't really get until I saw this TED Talk:
Models: Emporium: The Emporium Model

  • Eliminates all lectures and replaces them with a learning resource center model featuring interactive software and on-demand personalized assistance.
  • Depends heavily on instructional software, including interactive tutorials, practice exercises, solutions to frequently asked questions, and online quizzes and tests.
  • Allows students to choose what types of learning materials to use depending on their needs, and how quickly to work through the materials.
  • Uses a staffing model that combines faculty, GTAs, peer tutors and others who respond directly to students’ specific needs and direct them to resources from which they can learn.
  • May require a significant commitment of space and equipment.
  • More than one course can be taught in an emporium, thus leveraging the initial investment.

TED Talk on Khan Academy

Monday, October 03, 2011

InfoQ: QCon Keynote: Innovation at Google

InfoQ: QCon Keynote: Innovation at Google:
Patrick Copeland presents the first three principles of the eXtreme innovation approach based on the Pretotyping Manifesto: Innovators Beat Ideas, Pretotypes Beat Productypes, and Data Beats Opinion.
Fail fast and often. It comes natural to the those in virtual worlds, like games and blogs.

These guys at get it. The idea is to put it out. Always be shipping. Godin asks "What did you ship today?"

Ideas aren't as important as things. Ideas are a dime a dozen. Put it out there and see what happens.

My rebut or hesitation of this is that I'm afraid of the "yard full of $hit" syndrome. Also called the 'Camero on blocks'. it's like the idea and half done projects of the past. It's hard to look at each day as you bring yet another project into the yard...

I guess the trick Copeland is talking about is, get alot of junk in the yard(ideas you are starting) - but don't make them huge, don't make them Make them like Palm's paper prototype.

Less formally, pretotyping is a way to test a product idea quickly and inexpensively by creating extremely simplified versions of that product to help validate the premise that "If we build it, they will use it."
yep, I like this. If you are a creative person, don't be embarrassed to create. But, don't be foolish in putting all your efforts to create something people may not want. The speaker says you SHOULD be embarrassed by your first iteration of your new thing - if you aren't, perhaps you spent too much time building it.

hmmm, food for thought here.

Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue? -

Seriously. This makes alot of sense to me. Our whole society seems to be shifting to more and more choice - and it's getting freakin' exhausting.

Have we gone to far? I wish I could go back in time - for all kinds of reasons - but one would be to go to a 1960s supermarket. Why? because this is where the choice generation began. Food makers are kings of baffling by choice. now there are 15 types of EVERYTHING - ... could you imagine when you had only to pick between Regular and Decaff... perhaps there where two Brands. (And all that...)

All these little choices and we no longer have the energy to make BIGGER - MORE IMPORTANT - choices.

Oh well, I'm choosing Regular coffee.

More links:
Podcast where I got the tip on Decision Fatigue -

NYT article that the podcast is based -
Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue? -

'Decision Fatigue' on Google Scholar - 117 articles (today)

Sunday, October 02, 2011

National Football League: NFL Audio Pass Listen to every NFL game online. Live!

National Football League: NFL Audio Pass Listen to every NFL game online. Live!

I love the AudioPass. I hate Ads.

Imagine my surprise when I hear Ads (which I hate) on the NFL AudioPass (which I love).

NFL gets a "C'mon man!" on the this.

Why do I have to pay to listen to ads? I understand ads on broadcast TV. But, when I pay for a service, I expect to be ad free.

I love the AudioPass alittle less. Hate Ads even more.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Featured Courses at P2PU – 23rd September 2011 | P2PU Blog

Featured Courses at P2PU – 23rd September 2011 | P2PU Blog:

Looks like the good folks over at are featuring a few courses for the Fall.

Hack this Poem - for poetry writers and those who love poetry.
Beginning Game Dev with HTML5 - This could be interesting to me.
The Philosophy of Death - "What does it mean to die..." and to think about death philosophically. Probably a good course, but I'm going to skip.
'The Art of Music - from Amateur to Professional' - This might be a cool course for those involved with

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Access two Gmail accounts at once in the same browser - Official Gmail Blog

Access two Gmail accounts at once in the same browser - Official Gmail Blog: Now, you can visit and click the link next to "Multiple sign-in."

Hello blog readers!

I've decided to finally use this feature. In the past I have had access to other Gmail accounts, but I've never felt the need to go to the step. However now that I'm working as the webmaster at, I'm going to try out this multiple sign.

Don't feel I'll use it that much but it might really change my workflow. I definitely think it will help Ray and Patty deal with personal and business Gmail accounts.

Signing up for the service, I see that Google understands the potential for screwing things up. I can imagine someone sending something from the wrong account, which could cause all kinds of havoc. So they make you check the box that you understand the way it works.

It's actually a cool design element.

Once you turn it on - it being multiple sign in, you click in the drop-down menu and it asks you to sign into a new account. Easy cheesy.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Seth's Blog: Confusing obedience with self-control

Seth's Blog: Confusing obedience with self-control: Compliant sergeants rarely become great generals.

Seth, once again lays it out as plain as day. Schools and companies reward obedience. that's nothing new. The problem is the part where the 'obedient' transforms to be 'self-reliant' - where 'control' becomes 'self control' - when we realize that we control our life.

It's a subject not taught in school, certainly not explicitly. We've created generations of people who require an external control. I see the problems students make when trying to live on their own. they seek out some form of external control - a job, a boyfriend/girlfriend, even a cause or community.

One way to get through school is to forfeit yourself. or rather, your self-control, identity...

This little blog post by Seth Godin has really given me quite a bit to think about.

It's funny there was a book that I found while learning to teach in Taiwan. It was called all kinds of minds and written by a North Carolinian pediatrician named Dr. Mel Levine. It seemed that he was an advocate for children and took their perspective in dealing with an out of touch school system. He went on to write another book about how young adults adjusts to life in the larger society outside of school and parents - moving out on their own.

I wanted to link to his work so I searched for him-and it turns out he was a pedophile. 50 some adults have come forward to accuse him. the day after the lawsuit was filed, in February of this year, the shit-bird shot himself.

What the hell is wrong with this place. 50 kids! 50 lives. and now no recourse. No chance to settle the matter. How crazy is that.

Anyway, schools and institutions should do more to help students become self-reliant and transform themselves from followers to leaders. I believe that, as we recognize this as a problem, new solutions will manifest. The whole OER, tutorial culture,, Edu-Punk, DIY-U movement shows promise of helping guide our institutions to a more student centered future.

Oh, and doctors should not rape kids.

Monday, September 12, 2011 - Zilch, Codecademy and the Badges - Zilch

Honey Badger may not care, but I DO care about Badges. I'm only human.

I came across a very cool interactive JavaScript tutorial site... now wait a minute it's not a traditional tutorial site. It's worth a look to see how it guides you through the lessons. I'll write a more detailed post about it later.

But I wanted to mention one of the things I like about it which is: badges

Badges-sometimes called achievements-are little rewards and reminders of accomplishments you have done. Think about Boy Scout or Brownie badges - or gold stars on the board or your assignments. They may sound simple or silly but they are powerful reinforcements for motivating and sustaining action.

Game designers know this. Educators sort of know, but are doing it well. Take for example code Academy contrasted with zilch (the game I linked to at the beginning of this post)

Both are doing it, but zilch has a full 120 badges to earn with fun and engaging titles like - 'falling on your face' and 'rolling like there's no tomorrow'

What kind of badge does a university course have? A,B,C,D,F. five lousy badges.

Designing a Website’s Introductory Text: Tips and Examples

Designing a Website’s Introductory Text: Tips and Examples

It turns out that people aren't reading on the web. They scan. We know this intuitively, because that's what we do. We know this from research, like this study from Jakob Nielsen about the reading pattern for Web content.

Burdened with this knowledge, do we really ever change our website designs?

I recently reviewed my experience with over on my user testing project-better user experience.

These posts have forced me to see the light. From this moment forward I will strive to write better headlines and introductory text that are engaging and meaningful.

Website introductory text is possibly the only thing that is read - make sure that it delivers the right message.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Future of Publishing - created by DK (UK) - YouTube

The Future of Publishing - created by DK (UK) - YouTube

Cool Video. Watch it all the way - even if you want to shut it off. There are two points to make here. 1) You have to listen to the market. 2) Don't project your negative assumptions.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Seth's Blog: Back to (the wrong) school

Seth's Blog: Back to (the wrong) school: If you do a job where someone tells you exactly what to do, they will find someone cheaper than you to do it. And yet our schools are churning out kids who are stuck looking for jobs where the boss tells them exactly what to do.

Seth tellin' it like it is. I saw a post in USA Today related to this and the UnSchooling movement. Parents are saying "No, Thank you." to state education for their kids - and getting decent results.

For me, as a non-parent, I would not put my kids in the industrial educational system.
John Taylor Gatto is my thought leader when it comes to this... Although he is getting a bit on the wild side of late.

Of course, it could be good to listen to the students.

PS: More updates to follow - my poor neglected readers.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Use a Binder Clip to Hold Your Grocery List in Your Cart

Use a Binder Clip to Hold Your Grocery List in Your Cart: "This came about because I'd started carrying around a mid-sized paper clip in the inner pocket of my winter coat late last year. I like having useful stuff on-hand, like hand sanitizer or a mini Leatherman, and added the binder clip as an afterthought one day. Then, one day, while trying to either make my printed shopping list easy to yank out of my pocket, or trying to anchor it inside the top basket without falling out of the two gaps they create for children's legs, I felt the binder clip in my pocket and thought, what the hey."

Hell Yes! This is the kind of usefull stuff that I expect from lifehacker. Simple. Free. Useful tips and tricks - HACKS - that make life easier.

Isn't the easy life what we are all looking for? Granted, fishing around for the grocery list in your pocket isn't a big stumbling block to the easy life, but every little bit helps. And, I LIKE looking cool in the supermarket.

Doing stuff like this makes me feel like "Hey, I design my life. I can change. I'm not stuck in a rut that is railroading me towards an unknown or unexamined life-goal."