Carnegie Mellon’s Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence has amassed a set of basic principles that describe the learning process . Following are four of these key principles, with examples of how each plays out in traditional training and in game-based learning.

Principle 1: Students’ prior knowledge can help or hinder learning. Obviously, learners who have accurate prior knowledge of a given subject matter tend to have a leg up. But what about a learner whose prior knowledge is wrong? As an example, consider an experienced worker who is practicing loading dock safety procedures. He may “know” that he’s supposed to look behind him when backing up in a forklift—but if he’s worked on mostly quiet loading docks in the past, he may have developed the bad habit of merely listening for potential rear obstacles. In a traditional lecture-based setting, his buried misconception might surface only at test time, if at all—rendering unreliable his related “learning” up to that point. With game-based learning tools, misconceptions about core learning goals are quickly apparent. For example, in-game, his failure to look behind him before backing up would result in an immediate, negative consequence (e.g., crashing a forklift, hurting his virtual self or striking a pedestrian). As a result, he could rapidly self-correct and move on to more advanced learning based on a sound foundation.

Principle 2: Students’ motivation determines, directs and sustains what they do to learn. The digital generation that makes up a large part of today’s workforce is notoriously unmoved by traditional, lecture and tutorial-based training approaches. On the other hand, they are very comfortable with videogames and game-based learning. According to game-based learning experts, learners tend to be highly motivated by in-game feedback such as scores and evaluations. For example, many learners using the loading dock safety game play again and again until they achieve a perfect safety score. In the process (and sometimes without consciously realizing it), they learn how to operate within the game environment; actively think, experiment and learn how to safely accomplish their work; and practice their “lessons learned” to develop consistent and productive thought processes.

Principle 3: To develop mastery, students must acquire component skills, practice integrating them, and know when to apply what they have learned. Learning is a process that happens in bite-sized chunks, each learner working at a different pace. Thoughtfully designed, passive training programs follow this process, but primarily do so on a group basis. This means that slower students often struggle, and faster students become bored. The focus tends to necessarily be on learning facts or rules, with limited opportunities to apply them. In contrast, good game-based learning is tailored to each learner. For example, in the loading dock game, a learner begins with basic concepts such as putting on protective gear. She cannot advance in the game until she performs this step correctly. As she chooses actions that demonstrate her mastery of interim learning goals, she moves on to more advanced challenges. Even more important, because the game represents an active, realistic learning environment, the focus is on learning, through consequences, to apply the right knowledge at the right time. Principle 4: Goal-directed practice coupled with targeted feedback enhances the quality of students’ learning. As discussed, traditional training cannot provide a constant, individualized and highly motivating level of feedback. In addition, traditional classroom and tutorial-type training methods do not give learners the opportunity to repeatedly practice thought processes and skills in a realistic environment. An effective game for loading dock workers establishes motivational goals relevant to actual loading dock work. As learners progress, when they make a mistake, they experience immediate in-game consequences (e.g., failure to put on a hard hat results in a falling beam to the head). Additional feedback, which comes through alerts, scores, and post-game reports, motivates learners to continue practicing until they master the game’s learning goals—and provides the information they need to get there.

Game-Based Learning: What it is, Why it Works, and Where it’s Going

This is an excerpt of a report by Jessica Trybus, of Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center, for The New Media Institute.


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September 26, 2011

A QR-Code Treasure Hunt is a fun, simple way to get students using their mobile devices to continue learning outside of lesson time. Here’s how we set one up at the International School of Toulouse with some guidance on how to do the same with your own students using the QR Treasure Hunt Generator at ClassTools.net. (via How to set up a QR Code Treasure Hunt)

HASTAC is echoing and resonating this one.


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September 26, 2011

The advice is to log out of Facebook. But logging out of Facebook only de-authorizes your browser from the web application, a number of cookies (including your account number) are still sent along to all requests to facebook.com. Even if you are logged out, Facebook still knows and can track every page you visit. The only solution is to delete every Facebook cookie in your browser, or to use a separate browser for Facebook interactions.

There are serious implications if you are using Facebook from a public terminal. If you login on a public terminal and then hit ‘logout’, you are still leaving behind fingerprints of having been logged in. As far as I can tell, these fingerprints remain (in the form of cookies) until somebody explicitly deletes all the Facebook cookies for that browser. Associating an account ID with a real name is easy – as the same ID is used to identify your profile.

Facebook knows every account that has accessed Facebook from every browser and is using that information to suggest friends to you. The strength of the ‘same machine’ value in the algorithm that works out friends to suggest may be low, but it still happens. This is also easy to test and verify.

Erratum: I refer to the wrong cookie name in the post above. I also say ‘all sites’ can be tracked, when I meant to say ‘all sites that integrate facebook’.


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September 26, 2011

It is increasingly becoming recognized that if the Torah is to guide the lives of young Jews, it must itself come alive, and be an experience rather than just another objective in an already long day of school and extracurricular activities. This notion is supported by a Dr. Jack Wertheimer’s landmark study, Schools that Work: What We Can Learn from Good Jewish Secondary Schools. According to Wertheimer, successful supplementary Jewish education programs exhibited at least three major characteristics, in addition to several administrative aims: they “develop a community among their students, staff and parents”; emphasize “taking Jewish study seriously” and “engage in experiential learning.”

In truly rabbinic fashion, a new question has emerged to answer the longstanding challenge of Jewish education: Could it be that all three of these goals could be achieved through games — not simply by playing them, but also in designing them?

Rabbi Owen Gottlieb certainly thinks so. A resident faculty member at CLAL and Jim Joseph Fellow at NYU working towards a Ph.D. in Education and Jewish Studies, he founded ConverJent to be an oasis of “Seriously Fun Jewish Games for Learning.” ConverJent provides workshops and training in Torah learning through game design and has organized a new Jewish Games Roundtable, as well as designs digital and offline games for Jewish learners.

(via Tikkun Daily Blog » Blog Archive » Torah Games? Bringing Torah to Life Through Game Design)

This item will be making the rounds of game and non-game related media this week. It presents – at first glance – a cognitive dissonance in that a culture, not only of the book, but of the hand-written word, is asking if the making of games can have relevance to the ancient tradition. I chose to snip from Tikkun because I trust its editors and writers to be thoughtful. Please click through to see a video of Rabbi Gottlieb and the rest of the text.


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September 26, 2011

Why wasn’t this magnetic cello made in the 70′s? – Hack a Day

Why wasn’t this magnetic cello made in the 70′s? – Hack a Day


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September 26, 2011

The Delightful Home-Made Maps of the Zork Series

The Delightful Home-Made Maps of the Zork Series


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September 26, 2011

Thinking iphone5? Here’s some food for thought (via Mashable)

Thinking iphone5? Here’s some food for thought (via Mashable)


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September 25, 2011

MAKING GAME BASED LEARNING #GBL – RESEARCH & PRINCIPLES
My friend Professor Sara Grimes was looking for some research on game based learning and put a tweet out looking for resources. We’ve spent the last 9 months researching, thinking about learning and gbl and building technology for our gbl projects (Felicity from Thin Air is being revamped to scale appropriately as a MMO).
In response, I’ve put together this information. This is an ongoing document concerned with how we approach and understand game based learning. It’s also a live Google Doc – if people wish to contribute, send me an email with a request to be an editor and we’ll learn collaboratively from each other. There’s more research to be added to this thread from a ludological perspective. Our main focus is from a maker’s, not a scholar’s approach but an academic perspective also informs our understanding and implementations.


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September 25, 2011

The fourth edition of the Moscow Biennale kicked off yesterday and runs through October 30. This year, the event, titled “Rewriting Worlds,” has focused on new media in art. Computer-assisted media installations and sound art dominate, though the traditional domains of painting and sculpture still make the cut. Peter Weibel, who heads the Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe, Germany, is curating the event and said in a statement that “the history of art should follow the artist, and artists all over the world are working with new media today.” (via The Moscow Biennale Maps Art’s Global Migration Towards New Media – ARTINFO.com)The Center for Art and Media is – perhaps – better known by its German acronymn ZKM


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September 25, 2011

“Do the risky thing,” I blurted, before my scruples intervened in the split second between phrases. My concerns went like this: I’m not her dissertation director; I don’t want to create conflict in her progress toward her degree; I don’t want to set up unreasonable expectations about what her department will actually support. And so my immediate qualification: “Make sure that someone’s got your back, but do the risky thing.”

New forms of digital scholarship have received a great deal of attention across the humanities in the last few years, and from the coverage—in The Chronicle, The New York Times, and elsewhere—you would think the work had become prominent enough that it would no longer be necessary for a junior scholar to ask about the need to defend it. Digital humanities seem to have reached a critical mass of acceptance within academe, helped in no small part by groups like the Modern Language Association, whose past president, Sidonie Smith, is leading an investigation of future forms of the dissertation, and whose Committee on Information Technology is working on issues surrounding the review of digital scholarship for tenure and promotion. Yet such working groups are still working for a reason.


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September 25, 2011