Graphic Simplicity: Focus on the training value & outcomes.

January 18, 2009

Happy New Year to all my readers (both of you). Thought I would post something about a topic, which has been used in many conversations lately, at work and on phone calls I have had lately. Might not be earth shattering, but it is nice to see it in print, and from a solid research organization – and I also like that is nearly “3 years aged” – maybe like a fine wine, it becomes more true with a little age.

Lesson Learned #4: Sophisticated graphics are neither necessary nor sufficient for a valuable training experience.

However, leaders’ ratings for the overall training value of the game did not parallel their ratings of fidelity and realism. These findings indicated that sophisticated graphics alone were not sufficient to have a marked impact on the way leaders perceived the game’s overall training. Instead, we found that the success for military training games is, in part, measured by how well they meet intended training objectives. Success is also measured by how well games help leaders learn the skills that help them perform to standard in required training exercises and courses.  (ARI Newsletter, March 2006,

Maybe now I can  use this quote to backup my efforts toward focusing on the outcomes, and less on the video graphics resolution!


Wired up – Tuned in or Tuned out?

October 10, 2008

I was so taken by this brief article in August, that I organized a panel discussion around this topic at an upcoming educational conference to be held in Virginia Beach, VA, 21-24 March 2009 titled “Stories, Games, and New Technologies for Digital Natives”. More details in a future post…

“Generation IM – Getting through to today’s teched-out children”
August 2008
Source: Instructor Magazine

Jacob is your average American 11-year-old. He has a television and a Nintendo DS in his bedroom; his family also has two computers, a wireless Internet connection, and a PlayStation 3. His parents rely on e-mail, instant messaging, and Skype for daily communication, and they’re avid users of Tivo and Netflix. Jacob has asked for a Wii for his upcoming birthday. His selling point? “Mom and Dad, we can use the Wii Fit and race Mario Karts together!”

Most likely, you teach a classroom full of Jacobs. Peggy Sheehy knows what that’s like from firsthand experience. “Outside of school, our children are bombarded with digital input—and they have been
since the day they were born,” she says.

As an instructional technology facilitator at Suffern Middle School in New York, Sheehy knows how tech has fundamentally changed the world our students live in—and perhaps our students themselves.

“Compared to us, I believe their brains have developed differently,” says Sheehy. “If we teach them the way we were taught, we’re not serving them well.”

And that’s just what many teachers struggle with: How do we teach 21st-century skills to a generation of digital-media natives? What does it mean for our teaching methods and curricula—let alone how we relate to our students? And who are these kids, anyway?

Connectivism – Learning Theory or Tool for Learning (Friedman’s paper)

October 3, 2008

Connectivism – Learning Theory or Tool for Learning

Mark Friedman

October 2, 2008


Apologies to start this informal paper with a quote, but it really is my abstract…


“The idea of learning through digital connections and peer collaboration enhanced by technologies driving Web 2.0. Users/Learners are empowered to search, create, and collaborate in order to fulfill intrinsic needs to learn new information.” (eLearning Guild, E-Learning 2.0 “Learning in a Web 2.0 World”, Wexler et al, 23 Sept 2008)


I think that Connectivism helps explain why certain Web 2.0 technologies actually work – and help people achieve desired learning. Obviously, we are all told that tools don’t solve problems, but that people do. Using these tools in a creative and innovative ways is how people vary and some leverage these tools differently than others can.  What excited me about the deep thinking that CCK08 has helped me perform over the past four weeks, is mostly surrounding the results of an integrated network – what I have begun to refer to as a Personal Learning Environment/Network (PLE).


“The pipe is more important than the content within the pipe… A real challenge for any learning theory is to actuate known knowledge at the point of application.” (, “A Learning Theory for the Digital Age”, Siemens, 12 Dec 2004)


This quote by George Siemens resonated with me, in that it brought together my prior knowledge of McCluhan (Medium is the Message) with my a-priori knowledge that LinkedIN’s primary value had to lay in the business/social network aspect of the service. I have actually utilized this free tool, at the point of application, so to speak, as a last minute source for what needs to be called market research, and possibly even Subject Matter Expertise. So whether or not I had given any thought to what a Learning Theory was, before CCK08 began, really becomes less relevant than my realization that my prior use of Facebook, Second Life, Twitter, AIM, Google Docs & Reader and LinkedIN…. essentially I have understood how these tools are actually learning tools and how they can be combined to form a fluid PLE.


I do want to spend some time in CCK08 exploring the idea that shear acceleration of information growth in our society is bound to have a profound impact on our Personal Learning – just like it is on our formal learning constructs. Today’s kindergartners will graduate high school facing 128 times as much information as today. Obviously, we need disruptive technologies, as well as wonderful innovation tools just to be able to handle the enormous information overload. Communication skills, creative skills and analytic skills are all three going to be ever more important (and sometimes I think more rare than they should be, but that’s a reflection on our formal learning institutions!).


Some questions have come to mind so far in this course, including what are the real implications of Connectivism within society, and specifically within the Educational Community. Of course, I have posted that question in LinkedIN already to attempt to get the audience’s opinion on that (smile). I also agree with a fellow classmate, Tom Whyte, who posted a thought, of “what number of participants in a network are required to make it valid and/or effective”? Is there something magical about the 100-node network? What advantages are there is growing from 125 up to 175 people? These are things I would still like to research and learn about.


Ending with a pertinent quote, from my LinkedIN Q&A, posted at 7am today, and answered within 4 hours (i.e. what a great Web 2.0 network!):


“What then constitutes the safest and most effective learning environment? Some believe that you have to contextualize learning to achieve efficiency. Other believe that abstract learning is better, followed by vocational training as required. These issues are independent of the growth in the volume of information available to be learned. Selection criteria of the content to be offered for learning is not the same as the activity of learning. However, you correctly imply that it is a nonsense to distinguish between theories of cognition and theories of learning. How the mind acquires signals, attributes meaning both denotative and connotative, and operationalizes activity based on those meanings is a complex but single process representing the ability to learn and adapt behavior based on that learning.” (David Marshall, 2 Oct 2008)


Informal PLE – A commercial example of Leveraging the Network

September 24, 2008

Without mentioning names — just yesterday afternoon, in a conversation with a colleague, I was told this true story.

This person told me how their private firm (thousands of dispersed staff around the US) used bulk emails to ask questions (and for assistance on a variety of hot topics) to their colleagues, using pre-determined Communities of Practice membership as their guideline. Literally, first thing in the morning, when they all check their corporate Outlook accounts (many on Blackberry devices), a call-for-assistance for a specific topic or customer might be received, and within 30 or 45 minutes, the requestor likely has 20-30 replies from a variety of perspectives – each offering some sort of assistance.

Then the requestor can select amongst these opportunities and compare/contrast/combine/renegotiate – anything they desire – but the key point being, they are able to look quick and responsive to their customer’s requirements BECAUSE of the leveraging power of their Information Network.

I know that this story does not have the usual suspects of Web 2.0 tools to assign praise to: Blogs, Wikis, Google Docs, MySpace (LOL) – not even LinkedIN, one of my favorites – but it simply works. It would likely have a greater ROI than some of these other tools, if one were to be calculated, but why bother. This works. Did I already tell you, this works?

Go forth and use the tools which work. And let me know when you find some good stories, as I like to retell them to others in my Information Network.

First webconference..

September 11, 2008

Well tonight was the first of the weekly Web-Conferences. Technology worked fine, about 50-55 people attended. I tried to speak (using the headset mic) a few times, but never actually got heard. I entered a few comments and suggestions for the moderators to consider chatting about, but without much success.

The upload of the exciting JPG from Dion Hinchcliffe did not even garner a single audio comment from the crowd.

So maybe I am doing something wrong? Maybe 1900 other people know more about Connectivism than I do? Maybe, or maybe not – time will tell as this experimental course plays on.

Anyone interested in watching a short video from a very innovative tech company who is building something radical — Massively Multiplayer Online Learning product. With a company name like GROCKIT how bad can it be?

First week, First night…

September 9, 2008

Well, it takes both effort and some getting used to – to having homework assignments after working all day in a cubicle. But I did some readings and listened to some videocasts, and after compiling some electronic notes (what other kind would there be) – I created a cmap.

Here is a screen shot of it.


Cmap created for Week 1 of the course.

Cmap created for Week 1 of the course.