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Friday, December 28, 2012

And then there is the singing the praise of schools by the top 1% of students...

I was happily reading Leon Wieseltier's essay in The New Republic called, Education is the Work of Teachers, not Hackers.  It is a piece worth respecting.

But there is a meta-point that just has to be made.

There are these people, let's call them the "highly academically aligned".

These people started as successful students.  They were in the top 5% or 1% of their class.  Some may say they were the smartest (partially true), but I look at them as much as people who had skill sets that also aligned very well with what the school was offering.  And they were praised a lot. These people then were awarded placement into the best universities, were they attended, and almost inevitably went on to get advanced degrees in some form of the humanities.  Finally, these people got jobs that aligned with the writing/analysis/cultural literacy skill set honed by today's education system, such as being reporters, columnists, novelists, or university professors. (These jobs may be going away, but that is a different issue.)

And now these people praise school.  

They don't praise school as any self-aware person might, such as saying, "Obviously, I was the exception.  I was very lucky. I was the 1% for whom the current version of formal education was designed - solitary, studious, and analytical - not the 99% for whom it was not.  I realize now that my seemingly personal experience was deeply subsidized, financially and emotionally, by the other students, including those around me and those students I never met. In the system in which I thrived, my A's were only possible by other's C's, D's, and F's.  I pushed off against these people to propel myself forward, rather than helping others to the best of my gifts. It is a bizarre environment, artificial and wasteful by any standard, yet one for which I was better suited than most. Schools lifted me up, but using the research skills and intellectual honesty I learned in school I have realized for how many students the opposite effect occurred."

Instead, these people say things like "Schools change all of our lives.  They enrich all of civilization   They put people on better paths.  If you work hard, (and play by my rules... er, the rules), you will succeed. Everyone should spend a lot of time in school." They say, "Schools are fair places and level playing fields where anyone can thrive" rather than saying "schools are brutal places where more than half the students will lose by design."

This is akin to the person, similarly hard-working and intelligent, who builds a very successful company and says, "Everyone should love capitalism."  Or a lawyer at the top of her game saying, "Our greatest achievement is the law." Or a successful athlete saying, "Football is the most wonderful activity ever created."

At best, these academically aligned 1 percenters are seemingly happily oblivious to their success in a zero sum environment as a driver for their love of the institutions.  They seem unaware of the happy dice roll that presented to them an institution, ready made, that is aligned with both their gifts and mission.

At worst, however, these people know that only by having a continuous full classroom can their own top-of-the-heap status endure.  Any traditional university employee or ongoing beneficiary wants that annuity.  Even some highly aligned alums crave their alma mater's status to grow, and the more people that supports the school system  status quo, the higher value their own affiliation becomes.

The tell-tale sign - the give away, the gaff - in their argument is always a variations of the statement: "No matter how bad most schools are, everyone should go, and the longer the better.  People who only sit in classrooms through high school are losers.  And don't quit after undergraduate.  Get a PhD!  Education must only be defined as time spent in school."

Instead, to encourage the potential of students and of schools, not just use the institutions for personal ego support, one has to be willing to say to all children, "Give it weeks, even months, but if an environment doesn't help you with your gifts and mission, find one that does."


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Unschooling Rules Scorecard 2012

Unschooling Rules is a list of 55 ideas, derived from my interviews with homeschoolers and unschoolers, to evolve how people imagine and evaluate education.  Over the next decade, these ideas will trickle up and become more accepted, as they move through the various categories of:
  • Crazy talk: Ideas are viewed as dangerous and subversive to education.
  • Let me think about that, just not now: Ideas are not rejected out of hand, but not seen as overly relevant either, and not prioritized.
  • Yes, but be realistic: Ideas make sense, but are just incompatible with how school is structured.
  • OMG! Thought-leading breakthrough: Ideas are realized to be transformation to how education is delivered.  Foundations tend to put money here.
  • Pilot ready:  Ideas are considered close to mainstream.  Academic PhD organizations such as the National Science Foundation put money here.
  • Standard Operating Procedure: Ideas are accepted and widely implemented.
Given that, for the sake of comparison to future years, I thought I would put forth this baseline and scorecard for end of 2012.

Standard Operating Procedure
None of the Unschooling Rules ideas are currently thought of as common sense and standard operating procedure.

Pilot Ready
Food continues to be understood as a key to successful learning, as well as a microcosm of learning and education itself.  Computer games are also being better understood as the template for a new kind of educational media. There is a frustration with the lack of practicality of most skills taught.    Finally, math is being looked at less as rules to follow in a pure, perfect bubble world and more as tools for interacting with the real world, from science to entrepreneurship.

Unschooling Rules:
15. If you care about learning, start with food.
21. Is it better to be “A Great Reader” than “Addicted to Computer Games”?
18. One computer + one spreadsheet software program = math curricula.
5. Don’t worry about preparing students for jobs from an Agatha Christie novel.

OMG! Thought-leading breakthrough
The role of a four -year, boarding college has shifted, from being thought of as absolutely necessary for a productive, creative life to increasingly being challenged on all fronts.  Inverted classrooms  where students work as groups and do background learning individually, are being explored.  Portfolios (and badges) are trumping transcripts.  Technologies are shifting from being the enemy of schools to a possible savior.  MOOCs and other radical and exciting new approaches (including homeschooling)  are being explored.  The idea of educational diversity as inherently being valuable is gaining some acceptance.  And new models of testing are being expanded and prepared to be implemented (through such efforts as PARCC).

Unschooling Rules:
49. College: the hardest no-win decision your family may ever make.
9. Sitting through a classroom lecture is not just unnatural for most people, it is painful.
17. Listen while doing.
46. The future is portfolios, not transcripts.
45. Tests don’t work. Get over it. Move on.
55. The only sustainable answer to the global education challenge is a diversity of approaches.
26. Biologically, the necessary order of learning is: explore, then play, then add rigor.
16. Embrace all technologies.

Yes, but be realistic
Curricula still remain bloated.  The role of true customization is still thought of as a theoretical nice-to-have rather than  necessary for all education systems.  21st century skills such as leadership and project management are understood to be desirable but there is no clear path to developing and evaluating them.  STEM projects are driving a build rather than consume mentality. 

Unschooling Rules:
2. Focus on reading, writing, and arithmetic.
33. In education, customization is important like air is important.
12. Internships, apprenticeships, and interesting jobs beat term papers, textbooks, and tests.
4. Twenty-five critical skills seldom taught, tested, or graded in high school.
23. Build more, consume less.
37. Feed passions and embrace excellence.
47. Keep a focused journal.
19. Have a well-stocked library.

Let me think about that, just not now
We collectively are still in the "School doesn't work.  Let's do more of it" mentality  The barrier between schools and the productive world remain as impermeable as always. Few or no politicians or other leaders have a vision for education.

These ideas are not seen as worth exploring and prioritizing:

Unschooling Rules:
10. Animals are better than books about animals.
6. Avoid the academic false dichotomy of “The Cultural Literacy Track” or “The Vocational Track.”
8. What a person learns in a classroom is how to be a person in a classroom.
13. Include meaningful work.
14. Create and use periods of reflection.
1. Learn to be; learn to do; learn to know.
3. Learn something because you need it or because you love it.
7. Throughout life, everyone unschools most of the time.
11. Use microcosms as much as possible in learning programs.
20. Read what normal people read.
50. Outdoors beats indoors.
51. Walk a lot.
42. Grouping students by the same age is just a bad idea.
48. Use technology as assessment.

Crazy Talk
School as day care remains the standard moodel.  A directive leadership model still dominates.  School is still set up to evaluate students along a narrow, bell-curve model.

Several "rules" on the list, including "36. Fifteen models that are better for childhood learning than schools are (such as community plays and pick-up sports)" has lost ground over the last decade, once being Standard Operating Procedure.

These ideas are not yet considered acceptable:

Unschooling Rules:
24. Teaching is leadership. Most teaching is bad leadership.
25. Expose more, teach less.
22. Formally learn only what is reinforced during the next 14 days (you will forget everything else anyway).
27. The ideal class size isn’t thirty, or even fifteen, but more like five.
53. Parents care more than any institution about their children.
54. Children should be raised by people who love them.
41. Socialize your children. Just don’t use schools to do it.
43. Minimize “the drop-off.”
44. Increase exposure to non–authority figure adults.
36. Fifteen models that are better for childhood learning than schools are.
34. There is no one answer to how to educate a child. There may not be any answers.
28. One traditional school day includes less than 3 hours of formal instruction and practice, which you can cover in 2.
29. Homework helps school systems, not students.
30. Every day, adults are role models of learning (whether or not they want to be).
31. Avoid the Stockholm syndrome.
32. Schools are designed to create both winners and losers.
39. Five subjects a day? Really?
35. Be what schools pretend to be, not what schools are.
38. Children learn unevenly, even backwards.
40. Maturing solves a lot of problems.
52. Under-schedule to take advantage of the richness of life.

This is 2012.  I am very optimistic that 2013 will see many of these ideas move up.

Unschooling Rules was published by Greenleaf.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Still think PhD's and Educators should be in charge of reforming schools?

This may be my new "most chilling quote:"

“Educators were much more upbeat than either college graduates or employers about graduates' preparation for the work force. Seventy-two percent of educators felt the graduates were ready for entry-level jobs, while only 45 percent of the graduates and 42 percent of the employers shared their optimism.”

- Katherine Mangan, Educators, Employers, and Jobless Graduates Point Fingers at Roots of Unemployment, The Chronicle of Higher Education

It will replace this one:

“Managers of educational programs from both academics and corporate, when asked about relative importance in a simulation program, ranked ease of deployment (57.4% said it was very important and 37.2 said it was important), over every other category, including “provides a strong return on investment” (34.6% very important/ 41.4% important) and “fun and exciting for participants” (50.2%/28.4%).”

- eLearning Guild’s landmark report,  Immersive Learning Simulations, March 1, 2007 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Government agencies may want to do comprehensive clinical trials in education BEFORE it gives advice and creates standards

In medicine, as epitomized by cancer research, there are 5-year, 10-year, even 20-year studies to look at patterns and effectiveness of various approaches. But when it comes to education, there are simply a lot of people arguing very hard for specific curricula, approaches, and standards based on, well, nothing. Typically, the loudest and most persistent voices shape government policy.

We desperately need national clinical studies in education. Some I would like to see are, what is a correlation between:
  • Learning pre-calculus as a student and comfortably using math at age 30?
  • Studying literature as a student and applying ethics and exploring what makes for a good life at age 35?
  • Class ranking in high school and strengths in problem solving at age 40?
  • Studying biology and life expectancy?
  • Grades and happiness in life?
  • Material studied and divorce rate? Or number of career options at age 30? Or drug and alcohol dependency?
And this is just the beginning. One question is, why don't these studies exist? Why aren't people demanding that for the billions that are spent, there is not 1% to figure out if all of this money is doing some good?

Of what are we so afraid? And why does it take unschoolers to bear the brunt of questioning dogma?

Obviously any study wouldn't get it right the first time. But don't we owe it to our children and their children to develop the methodology and processes to be then calibrated?

There is a final irony. When it comes to science, Federal education committees are more interested in advocating every student "learn" it than the committees themselves actually using and applying it.  Said another way, let's only act as if we have answers, and optimize a process\ around them, when we actually do.  And where we don't have answers, let's embrace a diversity of solutions and approaches.

See also: In education conversations, the mutually assured destruction is "Prove it!"

** A final note.  Most education research tries to frame the learning process using the same deterministic models as physics/industrial manufacturing.  The goal is to find the steps/learning theory that "works", and then apply those steps with greater and greater rigor.  Perhaps a new approach to research is needed.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Another List of Critical Skills Not Taught in Schools

I received this list from a leader in a global non-profit organization on skills that they needed to develop:
  • leadership 
  • team building 
  • networking 
  • negotiation  
  • orientation to results and quality 
  • orientation to service 
  • planning and organization 
  • cross-cultural awareness  
  • identification with humanitarian principles 
  • flexibility  / resilience, tolerance for frustration / plasticity
  • emotional regulation  
  • analytic thinking  
  • strategic vision  
  • initiative and innovation  
  • team and people management  
  • security and safety awareness and management 
It is a great list, and overlaps and adds to the list I presented in Chapter 4: Twenty-five critical skills are seldom taught, tested, or graded in high school of Unschooling Rules.

I think we all agree that these skills are critical to most people and certainly most teams.

The question is not, how can schools teach, measure, and report back on these skills?  As much as schools would like to frame the question this way, and would like to bid for this work (i.e. say they can do it and then say that they need a bigger budget), I don't believe they have any credibility.

The question is, instead, how can we nurture learning opportunities for these critical skills outside of schools?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Unschooling Rules Reader Email

I receive some emails from readers of Unschooling Rules that are so beautifully written and powerfully stated. Here is one that the author kindly allowed me to share:


I took my children out of a Waldorf school three years ago. We have been detoxing from that situation ever since. I took my daughter out in the middle of 7th grade, as she was being bullied beyond belief, while continually referred to by everyone (even the bullies!) as the "sweetest girl in the class." My son was taken out from the same school at the end of fifth grade. He was at the top of the social pecking order, unlike his sister. It astonished me how wonderfully well-behaved he was at home, during travel, at high tea in Dublin, or in the Senate Chamber in Washington. Yet, he was being fussed at for disruption every day by the end of fourth grade. He loved his friends, and he was interested in many things, but he couldn't bear being lectured to all day. And at Waldorf schools, even the art is so prescribed. He had so little time to be himself. And he admitted to me that staying at the top of the social totem pole meant, in his words, "being a prick."

For the last three years, my kids have both been able to pursue a passion they both share: theater. They are both in many productions every year. My daughter loves to read and write. My son loves to film and edit. They get along with each other, with their parents, their grandparents, their mentors, directors, fellow cast members, etc. They are well-rested and happy. Neither of them have that classic, sleep-deprived, shoulder-slumped look of the average American adolescent. They look people in the eye. They notice the elderly and infirm and are moved to help out. They ask lots of civic-minded questions.

They do not do work sheets, read things that don't interest them, take classes they would be prone to try to escape mentally. They don't know if they want to go to college or not. They don't want to rule anything out. My son talks of film school, but he quickly says, "I'm only fourteen. I don't want to prepare for the future. I want to live my life now." My daughter is convinced she wants to go to a theater conservatory program, such as CAP 21 in New York City. She is enthralled with the idea of performing but equally so about directing and writing and taking over the local non-profit theater for children here in our hometown, as her mentor retires. But she is only sixteen and knows she may change her mind a dozen times.

We as their parents have been blessed with the ability to enjoy our kids and not constantly think about the assembly line of grades and college. We have not forced an at-home curriculum on them and at times, we've wrung our hands, questioning this and that. Your book has made so much click for me. I have always thought that going to a museum, then coming home and requiring the kids to write about it would be a good thing. Now, I see why it never really feels right. One of your rules talks about exposure that "requires a ticket" as being a last resort. Well, for theater nuts, it's a bit different -- but I loved the idea of shaking that up a bit. My kids are older but they still love to be read to. My reading them "To Kill a Mockingbird" last year is a cherished memory for all three of us. They could still gain so much from being outside more, walking more and so many of your suggestions.

I wish your book was required reading for everyone who looks at me like I'm crazy when I say my kids don't go to school.

Thank you so much for helping me feel less like a floundering, apologetic hand-wringing home schooler and more like a proud unschooler.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

What if math is more often inaccurate? The seduction of insular and self-referential environments

The computer game Civilization IV quotes a compelling thought:
“If in other sciences we should arrive at certainty without doubt and truth without error, it behooves us to place the foundations of knowledge in mathematics.” -Roger Bacon (Opus Majus, bk.1, ch4.).
This got me thinking, "what is math, anyway?" (And by the way, I use math everyday, quite a bit, and it is essential to do my work).

And maybe the second part of the question is, as the Bacon quote suggests, is math perfect? After all, 1 + 1 always equals 2. And 5! always equals 120. Isn’t that perfection? It seems like it.

Except, what if math is best seen as a layer of content on top of, and to augment, real experiences? In that case, the question of the “perfection” of math rests not just on the self-referential math-to-math manipulations (where math becomes a bubble-world), but also the real life-to-math, or math-to-real life transitions.

Here’s a simple example: if I drive 60 miles per hour for 3 hours, I will have traveled 180 miles. That is a perfect statement. But does that perfectly translate to real life? Probably not, because no one drives exactly 60 miles per hour, and, perhaps, few people drive for exactly three hours. The math is sloppy and inaccurate, but good enough to be pretty helpful.

Or a simpler example: If I combine two piles of hay, what do I get? One pile of hay!

So, beneath a faux, self-defined perfection, in fact, math is sloppy and inaccurate, if asked to on- and off-ramp to the real world. Likewise, in an academic setting, the learning about math requires the systematic stepping back from, even refudiation, of reality.

What’s the Point?
Is there a point to the math observation? Maybe.

Only if math is better defined as a tool for improving our relationship with the real world, not just as the rules of an insular, perfect little pocket-world, then we can create experiences to make people great at using math, instead of creating experiences that helps people become great at knowing math.

Furthermore, multiple levels of self-referential systems (“the point of second grade is to prepare a student for third grade,” or “the stock market will go up because it has gone up”) are the signs of an impending crash.

But breaking the perfect pocket world requires a view of math that is at odds with current schools, text books, standardized testing, and in fact entire philosophies. The odds of changing all of that are not so good. Especially because, quoting Roger Bacon, math is perfect.

This is an excerpt from my fourth book The Complete Guide to Simulations and Serious Games, published by Wiley (2009), written for Corporate and Military professional instructional designers

Friday, September 28, 2012

What goes into a knowledge community...

My own strategy has been to balance research and development in different segments' approaches to learning, including corporate, academic, and military.  Here is one of my favorite visualizations from one, now-defunct vendor aimed at serving corporations (and that I used in my first book Simulations and the Future of Learning), but the framework presented is relevant to all.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Teacher Unions Should Push for More Aligned Curricula

Unions and politicians continue to argue over how much teachers should be judged by the results of standardized tests.  But this misses the real point.

Consider this reasonable premise:  School systems test, measure, and reward only a very small percentage of skills that a team needs to be valuable in the productive world (for some of the missing skills, go here)*.  Even the oft repeated argument that schools really teach so much more than the curricula is harder to defend in this era of increased "rigor".

If true, this has two financial implications for school systems:
  • First, our society will only grow so quickly with a paucity of needed skills.  This means that we collectively cannot afford all of what schools can and arguably should offer, such as rich after-school programs and higher teacher salaries. 
  • Second, the success that former students do experience in the productive world can only partially be tied back to school experiences.  In other words, people believe they more often succeed despite the foundation of skills learned in school not because of it.  
The argument over using metrics to evaluate teachers is moot.  Of course we must.  But in this era of misaligned curricula, both sides are on a doomed path.  Unions (and the Academic Ph.d. Guild) have to passionately drive change towards aligning rather than legacy content.  Only by fixing what is taught, and more importantly, how, can we fix this less than zero-sum game and move purposefully into the future.

* This chart visualizes the charitable model that schools don't teach wasted or wrong skills, just incomplete.  

As an aside, this leads to an interesting paradox.  If Unschooling Rules is true - if more time in schools beyond a certain point leads to a less prepared workforce as it displaces important other activities (see places to learn for examples) - then the school system strategy of growing funding through increasing school hours delivered may be long term counter-productive and self-defeating by creating a stag-flation school hours effect.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Obama's Big Gaffe: "Education... is the gateway to a middle-class life."

In politics, a gaffe is defined as accidentally telling the truth. Obama made what I consider to be a jaw-dropping gaffe last night in his acceptance speech in Charlotte last night. He said, "Education... is the gateway to a middle-class life."

This is a true statement. The goal of education, as currently structured, is to be a gateway to a middle-class life. However, there are at least three problems that we as citizens should be rightfully concerned.

1. What if you are already middle-class? Education becomes a static holding pattern. What if you are upper-middle class? Education, then, will bring you down to average by design.

2. The success rate, even at this goal of transferring lower-class to middle-class, is pretty bad. Individual tales of success sound great, but the average is terrible.  In part, this is because very few high schoolers aspire to middle class.

3. The middle-class is currently not doing that well.  Specifically, many traditional middle-class jobs and career paths - the kind prepared for by most school programs - are going away. Which mean, for many people, education is the real bridge to nowhere.  Middle class isn't even the path to middle class anymore.

I appreciate, if you are a national leader, there are two facts that are driving your investments.

First, poor kids who go to college are more likely to become productive members of society than poor kids who do not.

Second, the country needs more technological know-how.  Obama said, and I agree, "No company should have to look for workers in China because they couldn't find any with the right skills here at home."  We badly need (a relatively few) more engineers and scientists.

However, most families are neither extremely wealthy nor extremely poor, and most children won't be great scientists, nor are they in the top 5% of their class. It is to these great swaths of people - students and their families - that school feels like a disconnected activity, designed for someone else, and an experiment on auto-pilot.  That is why there are over 2 million homeschoolers today, and that number is growing.

The biggest issue is that no politician that I have heard has a vision for education that is inclusive of more than 30% of our population. On both sides of the aisle, useless metrics such as "percentage of students who go to college" are used as if they matter. (See In Education, Right and Wrong Questions).

In the absence of leadership on both sides, I would like to suggest three planks to my vision for education.

I.  The goal of education is to help students find their gifts (where they are better than most), find their passions and mission (the challenges they most want to solve), and opportunities and ultimately careers to align the two. Education that is not individualistic is useless.

II.  Education requires world-class media.  This includes textbooks and tests, but also simulations, social media, and search engines.  The quality of most education is hobbled by the quality of the media used.  Electronic Arts and Columbia Pictures and Google can spend millions on high quality media.  Why can't education?

III.  There must never be "the one right way" of education.  Monocultures, especially those shaped by the needs of less than 20%, expensively fail.  Education must be a rich ecosystem, not a tightrope.

Obama spoke the truth last night.  "Education... is the gateway to a middle-class life."  But if that continues to be the primary goal, we will continue with our treadmill system that will let down more and more.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Exuberant Animal

A continued challenge for all schools is figuring out both the role of play and the role of a classroom.  Here, for me, is a missing piece:

Frank Forencich is the inspirational Chief Creative Officer of Exuberant Animal (www.exuberantanimal.com). His organization is re-teaching high performing corporations the necessity and business value of active kinesthetic play (computer games don't count!). He is to the physical what Thiagi is to the verbal - a master at getting to huge issues through interactivity and engagement.

I recorded this segment of him addressing, and then engaging in serious play, a large group of executives, at my Seattle conference Serious Play. (Sadly, we didn't have time to go outside, as Frank would have preferred!)

To the degree we have organized learning, this is what it should look like.

If I could suggest just one activity for all groups (DOE, Foundations, Academic "Researchers") that (try to) help evolve schools, it would be to spend a day with Frank Forencich. He is my nominee for the Gates Foundation's Education Board if they actually wanted to improve education, rather than compliance with schools.

The Science is Compelling
Relevant Unschooling Rules
#unnrules09: Sitting through a classroom lecture is not just unnatural for most people, it is painful

#unrules26: Biologically, the necessary order of learning is: explore, then play, then add rigor.

#unrules36: Fifteen models that are better for childhood learning than schools are: Pick-up sports: experience existential play and find balance.

#unrules50: Outdoors beats indoors

"Instructors are to educational media what doctors are to pharmaceuticals" - A Missing Chapter from Simulations and the Future of Learning

One central premise of all of my work is that our reliance on traditional linear media (books, term papers, paper based tests, and filmstrips) has resulted in a predictably shaped curriculum that over-emphasizes some skills (such as analysis and recounting timelines) while under-emphasizing others (such as leadership or project management). In fact, the "affordances of media used" shape what can and is taught in schools, even more so than national need or desire.   I later attempted to make this argument in the introduction to The Complete Guide to Simulations and Serious Games, called The Campfire and the Veld.

Another parallel analogy that has persisted with me is, "instructors are to educational media what doctors are to pharmaceuticals".  (Or, in some cases, "instructors are to educational media what fast food workers are to frozen food".)  As I was thinking about this, I stumbled upon this chapter I had written about a decade ago for my 2003 book, Simulations and the Future of Learning ,but that was later edited out of the final edition.

Media shapes our schools more than unions, budgets, even national will.  In a world when Electronic Arts has figured out how to spend 40 million on new computer games, and Hollywood spends 100 million on new movies, our collective failure to create a pipeline of great educational media is a scandal that overshadows and makes ridiculous any jabs at, for example, teacher unions.

Here is the missing chapter from 2003.

Many years ago, the original “aspirin” was made from white willow trees; then the early pharmaceutical companies found that with the addition of coal tar to salicylic acid, the action of the aspirin would be stronger and with a more long lasting effect.
- Carol Geck, Birch for bones, flesh, cartilage, skin and eyes, May 2000 Idaho Observer.


It is so hard to imagine a young pharmaceuticals industry, asking customers to ingest smelly powders and liquids to fix problems previously unfixable (or requiring invasive surgery), sometimes working, sometimes not.

Did the early proprietors of apothecaries dream of the miracle drugs to come?  Could they imagine, as they crushed their minerals and bark and sold “pick me ups” next to perfumed water and luxury soaps, the industry that would grow up to utterly change the world?

It is equally hard for all of us, as instructors are reformatting their PowerPoint slides on the weekends, to imagine that e-learning will follow a similar path. And yet, it has already begun.

Changing the course of nations

As with life-extending drugs, e-learning is transformative in nature; it will change what people do, when they do it, and how they do it.

Today, you probably have better health care than kings and presidents had one hundred years ago, at a much lower cost (inflation adjusted!).  Within our lifetime, anyone will be able to access business, medical or legal courses that make today’s top schools look like absurd in comparison.  “Why did we think that would work,” history will ask us of today’s schools.

Just as many areas were able to skip generations in telecommunications, moving right to cell phones without building telephone poles and wires, regions in China, India, Africa, the United States, or South America will be able to move in ten years from having unskilled to skilled populations. This today would take at least three generations.

This will be one of the core engines to elevate our children to the next standard of living.

High Upfront Costs

This is exciting, but it will not be easy.  Like pharmaceutical companies, e-learning vendors will have to be highly innovative, with tremendous research and development budgets.
This is all the more important because of the young age of the e-learning industry. Vendors, standards bodies – and even worse, industry spokespeople -- talking about the process and theory for creating online courses, sound a bit like doctors in 1890 talking about the purifying spirit of fire or the role of vapors. There is not yet a human genome project on e-learning’s horizon – but we now at least have the equivalent of aspirin.

But low cost deployment

For e-learning vendors, the cost of deploying any course that is already created will continue to be small – much like the cost of making a few more pills. A vendor’s incremental costs for adding another student will be less than one percent of the retail cost.  If the new student pays a thousand dollars for the course, it’s costing the vendor less than ten dollars for the administrative and support needs of that student.

Moral Dilemmas

These three realities – high R&D, the product’s transformative nature and the low incremental cost of expansion -- strongly favor consolidation among vendors.

They also introduce the political dilemma the pharmaceutical industry is facing right now: What happens when underdeveloped countries ask for products at a low cost?  Will our industry have a moral obligation to educate needy people? Some e-learning companies are already donating courses to welfare-to-work programs, which is a generous but dangerous precedent-setting move.

Privacy, too, will become an important issue in the e-learning industry. Our lifelong learning portfolio, containing a record of every course we’ve ever taken and how we scored on each one, will be as much of a target to marketers and future employers as our medical records.

A Changing Profession

One of the most interesting relationships in the pharmaceutical industry is the one between vendors and doctors. While doctors are not being replaced, their role has changed permanently because of drugs. One of their primary outputs is to dispense the right medication to the right people at the right time, both instead of and in addition to surgery.

Learning professionals at corporations – and college professors, too – will see their roles changing in a similar way.  E-learning will both accompany and selectively replace other types of content.

E-learning will fragment into two types of products: over-the-counter (an off-the-shelf course on sexual harassment) and prescription-only (a custom-developed course on the company’s new sales process), the latter being significantly more expensive.

Some e-learning pundits advocate dropping the “e” in e-learning and just focusing on the learning.  To me, that makes about as much sense as dropping the phrase “pharmaceutical” and just focusing on good health.  It represents the right alignment, but not the right structure.  E-learning will increasingly, not decreasingly, require highly specialized skills.

Maybe a better analogy for learning professionals is the role of doctors hired by professional sports teams. They are often forced to make choices between an individual athlete’s health and the overall goals of the team. For e-learning leaders of the future, the challenge will be to weigh the needs of the organization that pays them against the needs of the learners looking to them for help.

Major Export

E-Learning will also turn into a major export of a few companies, including the Unites States, India, Ireland, and Israel.  It will eventually represent billions of dollars of revenue to the right organizations.

Globalization and E-Learning

Even if the time frame is uncertain, the future of e-learning is assured because of the critical role it has to play.  We are all just understanding that globalization and e-learning are inextricably linked.  It is impossible for one to out-pace the other for very long. In fact, the globalization of the 1990’s created large numbers of “have-nots” that were resentful and worked violently against globalization at the beginning of the new millennia.

On a more micro level, globalization without e-learning is self-limiting because:
  • Too few technical skills exist to maintain and build the infrastructure (as we saw with IT workers in the late 1990’s). 
  • We need everyone!  Too many of today’s “have not’s” are brilliant and hard-working.  Given the economic value of just a few great ideas, we are suppressing ourselves as much as a 70% tax rate.
  • We all are crippled in our ability to communicate meaningfully with people who are different, both within and outside of our enterprises and cultures.  This created the interpersonal equivalent of incompatible technical standards.
E-learning without globalization would be equally self-limiting because:
  • The size of audience would not be sufficient to create next generation courses;
  • People in under connected regions would be less interested in taking courses if the opportunity did not exist to practice and benefit from the new skills; and
  • The technology infrastructure to deploy and run the content wouldn’t exist. 
Only by increasing both in concert will growth be sustainable.  The opportunities to participate that are currently taken advantage by a few can then be taken advantage by nearly all. And when this happens, the world is in for quite a revolution.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Serious Game on Biology: Guts and Bolts

I just put this serious game up over at The Registry, but thought many people here might also like it. Guts and Bolts is a free serious game on biology.  Take a look at it and other items on BrainPop and let me know what you think.

Title Guts and Bolts
Other versions
Sponsor/Producer BrainPOP
Developer BrainPOP
Number in Series
Company Description
Description "In the aptly titled game, the player takes on a role similar to Dr. Frankenstein, and is tasked with putting together organs from the different body systems to make living and breathing human! By laying pipe, like a plumber, players explore the body systems, observing the multiple inputs, outputs and connections of the circulatory, respiratory, nervous and digestive systems. Guts and Bolts is great for teaching, building vocabulary and schema about body systems, but it’s also just a lot of fun! Check it out and enjoy, and if you make it to the finish of level 12, give yourself a gold, but don’t give away the ending!"
Categories/Folksonomy *Education (for formal education market) *At Home Learning (for consumer/ at home learning market
Lead Designer
Other Designers/ Writers
Lead Programmer
Lead Artist / Video
Link http://www.brainpop.com/games/gutsandbolts/
Demo Available http://www.brainpop.com/games/gutsandbolts/
Link to Video http://www.brainpop.com/games/gutsandbolts/
Link(s) to Support Material
Platform(s) *Web Browser
Customizable (1 to 10)
Special Hardware
Toolkit/Language used
Year Designed 2012
LMS Integration/ SCORM
Skill Level (Corporate/Military/Government)/Grade Level (Academic) Lower Grades
Student time
Available ([O]pen / [R]estricted by Organization / [N]o longer Available O
Single player/Multiplayer Single
Category: Serious Game

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Let the words point you in a direction: you make the trip yourself.

Do not allow the words to hold back your understanding.  As words, they are inadequate...  Remember that this is to be your own experience. Let the words point you in a direction: you make the trip yourself.

- Introduction to The Wind Book, The Book of Five Rings, Bantam Edition

Any "learning to do" book should have a variation of this in the introduction.  This certainly includes Unschooling Rules. And, I suppose, any school would do worse than to have this as their philosophy.

Friday, August 10, 2012

What does the "college cost" conversation tell us about the school industry?

I think it is fair to say that we, as a nation, are in a crisis around college costs.  The debate is being held at all levels of our economy, from politicians to provosts of the universities to parents trying to make tough decisions.

My reaction is two-fold.

First, why is this possibly a surprise to anyone?  The cost of college has been outstripping inflation for decades.  Not years, decades.  And the value of college has not increased at the same rate.  Further, colleges have typically been hiding their true costs with activities like deferred maintenance, again for decades.  At the same time, the explicit goal of more and more high schools is to send students to these ever more expensive colleges.  (That is still the Gates Foundation view of high school success, clearly confusing correlation with causation.)  Most parents have been convinced to prioritize "getting into a good college" over "quality of education" as their goal for their children in middle and high school, an unparalleled marketing victory for the entire school industry in gaining revenue while shedding accountability.

Second, what else are professional academics not telling us about other "obvious" problems in the system?  It is clear that the early critics of the cost of higher education, as recently as five years ago before it was in vogue, were brutally attacked by proxies of the education industry.  At that time, did academic leaders not realize that this was a problem, or did they realize it, but wanted to hide this reality?  Each says something equally problematic about the industry.

Regardless, what is the next shoe to drop? If a problem as transparent and obvious as a failing funding model is buried for so long, how many other problems, such as quality of instruction,  cheating, applicability of content, harmful social environments, curricula, and inefficiency of current media, are being deferred?

The introduction to my book Unschooling Rules starts with the increasingly prophetic quote from Jeff Sandefer, "If somewhere deep inside you, you suspect there’s something wrong with America’s educational system, we have something in common."  Unschooling Rules is filled with a lot more critiques about our centralized education assumptions that might be trivial if not of the current foundations to existing schools and which are operationally rejected by those we mistakenly trust to raise such issues.

The problem with our current education is not just the cost of college.  The pattern of the ignoring (even exasperating) of the problem, the ignoring then attacking of the critics who later turned out to be right,  and only finally the public hand-wringing should make anyone realize that the education industry is better at hiding deep, systemic problems than dealing with them.

We have to increasingly realize that the worst people to evaluate and shape research on schools are, in order:
  • Current employees of the education system, or people being indirectly but significantly funded by academic institutions.
  • The top 5% beneficiaries of the existing system. (I suspect there is no greater believer in academic Darwinism than President Obama.)
  • The people who's skill-sets line up with narrow skills actually taught at schools (such as journalists, who learned the craft of writing)
  •  PhD's and other people who's status, even identity, correlates with the validity of the current education system.
Frustratingly, many politicians who want to appear pro-education try to accomplish this by being pro-current schools.  This thinking is as flawed as trying to be pro-marketplace by being pro-current corporations.

The power of Unschooling Rules comes from the perspectives of people who know the importance of education but have given up on the industrial school model.  And you should listen to them because, if current trends are any indicator, there are going to be a lot more of them.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

No wonder we can't evolve schools...

I was listening to this Commonwealth Club podcast on Global Corporate Social Responsibility:


You can also just download the MP3 here: http://audio.commonwealthclub.org/audio/podcast/cc_20110314_mlf_corporateresponsibility.mp3

Skip ahead to 14:44, the introductory comments by Mark Edmunds, Vice Chairman and Regional Managing Partner, Deloitte LLP.  Listen for a little over two minutes.  It simply struck me as a crisp presentation of many wrong memes around education reform today.

Just a few:
  • 15:25: The goal of school (what he calls "education") is to create a "college-going culture". 
"Going to college" is a terrible and lazy metric; the goal of creating a "college-going culture" will almost inevitably result in less students going to college, and colleges being less good for those that do. (See my post Education Evolution - Some Wrong and Right Questions)  Traditional colleges will only get better through credible alternatives.
  • 15:40 Many high school students in Oakland, California don't go to college because they have parents who did not go to college.  
This comfortable and easy view from most school system employees - that parents are the problem when it comes to education - is a meme that must be stomped out as vigorously as racism and sexism.  To believe that institution care more about children than their own parents is both prevalent and disastrous.  All teachers have their story, probably true, of some incompetent parent.  But to allow this generalization is toxic, and risks become self-fulfilling.
  • 16:00  Bill Gates represents someone of sterling character.  
First, I totally get how school systems everywhere have become Gates sycophants.  But to look at his behavior over the decades (Microsoft was the "evil" in Google's motto "Do no evil.") as exemplary is problematic to say the least.  Did Microsoft play fairly during the '80's?
There is so much more.
  • To use the poorest schools as a place for research and development for all schools is intellectually problematic. (This is the only environment where a 5% success rate would be hailed as a great social victory.)  
  • I will leave it to the listener to form their own view of character education as an output of school programs.  How would you like to be in an Oakland school and hear a guest lecture from a Deloitte partner telling you to "play fair" and "respect the rules of the game"?    
  • Finally, I found a correlation between school systems that talk about 21st Century Skills with their fund raising efforts, not their nascent capabilities in actually delivering them.
The number of these "superficially positive but toxic" statements in such a short burst (less than three minutes) represents why public education needs an unschooling perspective to evolve beyond the local maximum (false peak) on which it is stuck today.

Why the Home- and Unschooling movement now?

When an entrepreneur brings an idea to a venture capitalist, one of the first questions to be answered is, "why now?" Likewise, it is interesting to ask that question of home- and unschooling. Is there something "of the moment" that has enabled this transition? And can we expect it to continue?

I count ten "inflection points," both in the categories of pushing families away from school and pulling families toward a real alternative:
  1. Schools as test prep: Schools have focused obsessively on their worst feature, for the worst reasons, to the worst result.
  2. Virtual universities: The lock-stepping of schools has been disrupted by the availability of virtual universities, that allow so much more flexibility for taking an alternative to "The One Successful Academic Path."
  3. More parents working more of the time: The shift to two working parents in increasingly workaholic conditions, while having so many benefits in so many areas and putting many brilliant people in the workforce where they are desperately needed, nevertheless puts a higher dependency on the schools from the parents than the other way around.
  4. Technology as a selective school replacement: Any student with a computer and a connection has access to more content than in almost any university thirty years ago.
  5. Technology as childhood context: The difference in the use of technology between teacher and student is the generation gap that may be impossible to overcome. Students now speak a different language than their teachers.
  6. Schools crumbling under their own bureaucratic weight: At some point, most organizations generate so many rules, policies, precautions, safeguards, and members of the old guards that they just seize up and stop being viable organizations. Where possible, such as in the private sector, they go bankrupt. Schools, as institutions, may have just reached that point where they have stopped working, but it is hard to tell.
  7. Increased use of legal pharmaceuticals in school: The introduction of the massive, legal, and recommended drugging of students is seen by many as both a seamless continuation of the current trajectory of schools as well as a near-criminal offense.
  8. Criminalization of student behavior: Zero-tolerance policies, and the increased relying on police officers in schools, have created environments where schools are high-risk traps for children rather than ladders. Middle schoolers are always ten seconds away from being permanently branded as sexual predators, racists, terrorists, or other criminals.
  9. Cost of schools:  The cost of colleges is finally recognized as being ruinous.   But the over-reach of most schools' involvement in a community has created an environment of chronic under-fundedness.   If schools' budgets increase more slowly than their ambitions, lack of money becomes a common complaint and excuse. 
  10. Assumption of College:  That college is now assumed as a check box for white collar jobs is both a form of economic inflation for most families and a force for deflation for the value of any college program. 
This list is far from complete. But it is so easy to see why families view schools with contempt and fear, not respect and pride. And if each of these factors increase, we should expect to see more people opting out.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bill Gates following more, but not enough, of the Unschooling Rules

Bill Gates, in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week (see summary here: http://www.eschoolnews.com/2012/07/17/bill-gates-why-game-based-learning-is-the-future-of-education/), finally expressed his advocacy for some of the Unschooling Rules.  Specifically, he now supports Unschooling Rules:
#21. Is it better to be “A Great Reader” than “Addicted to Computer Games”? (Computer games are a more useful media model than books for many critical skills)
#9. Sitting through a classroom lecture is not just unnatural for most people, it is painful. 
#16. Embrace all technologies. 
#27. The ideal class size isn’t thirty, or even fifteen, but more like five. 
#24. Teaching is leadership. Most teaching is bad leadership. (Student directed learning is more powerful than institution directed learning). 
#33. In education, customization is important like air is important.
#42. Grouping students by the same age is just a bad idea. 
#26. Biologically, the necessary order of learning is: explore, then play, then add rigor.
This is exciting for me, of course.  I believe the adherence to any of the Unschooling Rules is local progress.  Following just one rule, and making changes based on it, improves the student experience.  

But it is also frustrating  Real, transformative change will only happen when at least 40% of The Rules are followed, and perhaps more like 60%,  And until transformative change happens, until we get off of the false peak of today's school model, changes won't last once the dollars stop flowing.  

While Bill Gates loudly proclaims his new found enthusiasm for some of the Unschooling Rules, he has decided to ignore so many of the others.  For example:
#3. Learn something because you need it or because you love it. 
#13. Include meaningful work. 
#32. Schools are designed to create both winners and losers.
#53. Parents care more than any institution about their children. (As opposed to the current school meme/self-fulfilling prophecy that parents are the enemy.) 
#43. Minimize “the drop-off.”
#50. Outdoors beats indoors. 
#55. The only sustainable answer to the global education challenge is a diversity of approaches. 
#12. Internships, apprenticeships, and interesting jobs beat term papers, textbooks, and tests.
And Unschooling Rules #49, College: the hardest no-win decision your family may ever make, surprisingly accepted by more and more families, he is resisting.  (As long as the ponzi scheme/ bought credentialism  of colleges exists, students and parents have to engage in their own version of Hunger Games every year.)

I am honored that some of my early positions (such as 'computer games are a great model for educational media') are becoming mainstream.  I am happy that more influential people are embracing more of the Unschooling Rules.  And I am impatient - but there is more than that.  I greatly worry that the picking and choosing of the more accepted of the Unschooling Rules is a recipe for failure more than pragmatism.  The current school system has developed an ever growing competency of getting grant money and attention.  If they can get plenty of both, while making only cosmetic changes, the effect is more 'inoculation' than 'path to cure.'  The systems, rather than improving, may be getting more entrenched, and harder to change for future generations.

The Unschooling Rules are spreading like wildfire. For examples of The Rules in public discourse, Go Here.

Friday, July 13, 2012

How would Steve Jobs Do Training and Education?

I was asked by a certain company a question.  How would Steve Jobs do training and education?

The New Old Software Development
My first answer is the bottom right of the three charts.  In terms of software (and hardware) development, the simplest answer is 1) Create tools that don't need training. Use skeuomorphic designs.  Provide rich feedback.  Use icons and other visuals well.

Then, because that is not always possible, 2) Provide just in time context support for specific features, such as bubble help.  For real-world hardware, this will also increasingly include a layer of just in time training that can be triggered by tags (such as barcades or QR Codes) or even shapes  (an airplane maintenance worker takes a photograph on a mobile device (including Google Glasses) of a broken part, and this triggers the material on how to fix it).

The third aspect is "The Tool is the Philosophy."  The development of software assumes and codifies processes on how to do a task outside of simply using the software.  So increasingly the best way to learn a subject (even at a deep and philosophical level) is around engaging the tool.

One way to learn project management is to master a tool on project management. Math curricula for most non-Math majors should be shaped almost entirely by a modern spreadsheet.  Similarly, new tools bring forth, not just capture, new philosophies.  The existence of Facebook and Tumblr changes what MBA students need to know.  Finally, certain technologies update skills.  The skill of spelling is less important in the era of spell checkers.

The New Old Training
Having said that, there is plenty of training that happens (or should happen) outside the use of tools.  For these, I submit the model of The New Old Training.  Here (depicted on the bottom left of the three models), training organizations produce three types of content for which iPhones, iPads, and iPods have been optimized .  
  • The first is sims (simulations and serious games), using today's casual games as a guide for scope and production values.  I might look at PopCap as a model vendor here, with such games as Plants vs. Zombies.  These are easy to engage, slick, with humor and other forms of personality.  These will not just teach competence but more importantly conviction.
  • The second "deliverable" from the new old training group would be a Kahn Academy-esque video and podcast library.  Here, low production value, short videos and MP3s (some user submitted) on a range of relevant area can be made available (and, on occasion, pushed out).  
  • Finally, communities, such as modeled by StackOverflow.com, provide places for people to engage around both shallow and very deep issues.
All three of these New Old Training models use tracking methods, including awarding of achievements and other gamification techniques.  The methodologies used to put hard certifications on soft activities (badges for status in a chat room) allow organization to measure and prescribe a wider range of activities.

The New Old Education
Finally, all learning has to happen in a context (hopefully intrinsically motivating, but often not).  The New Old Education (upper middle diagram) is a complete reversal of the current industrial model.  Education systems (K through College) should be dedicated to helping students:
  • find out at what skills they are better than almost everyone else, and 
  • identify what their personal missions are (what problems in the world they find most motivating).  
Any functioning education system would then help students connect their unique gifts with their mission by: 

The more people are self motivated, the less broad training is needed.  But "best practices" communities and other deep content are still critically important.  

It is impossible for me to answer the question, "How would Steve Jobs do training?"  But it is easy to imagine the future of education being much richer than the past. 

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Serious Play Conference 2012 Program Announced

The Serious Play Conference Program has been announced.  I am so excited about the brain trust we have assembled.  Take a look!

Serious Play Conference

2012 Program

Tuesday, August 21

8:30 a.m. Welcome, Overview of Conference: Clark Aldrich, Conference Director; Sue Bohle, Executive Director, Serious Games Association;  Claude Comair, Chairman, DigiPen Institute of Technology

9 – 9:45 a.m.  Ran Hinrichs, 2b3d, “Getting the Best vQuotient”

10 – 11 a.m. Panel: “Are Educational Simulations and Games Becoming a Key Training Method in Large Organizations?”
  • David Metcalf, UCF
  • Phaedra Boiondiris, IBM
  • James Oker, Microsoft
  • Parvati Dev, CliniSpace

11 – 11:30 a.m. Break

11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Concurrent Sessions
  • Phaedra Boinodiris, IBM:  “From Process Optimization to Complex Problem Solving in the Corporate Environment”
  • Parvati Dev, CliniSpace: “Virtual Environments for Healthcare Training”
  • Bob Waddington, SimQuest: “Where Do Games Fit in Employee or Public Training?”
  • Helen Rutledge, PIXELearning, “Why and How Serious Games Work”

12:30 – 1:30 Lunch in DigiPen Cafeteria

1:30 – 2:15 p.m.  Plenary TBD

2:30 – 3:30 p.m. Concurrent Sessions
  • Chuck Hamilton, IBM: “Play to Win -- IBM's Smart Play Framework”

  • David Metcalf, UCF:  “Mobile Games and Simulations for Health”
  • James Oker, Microsoft, Topic TBA
  • Douglas Whatley, BreakAway Games:  “Why Don't We Teach More with Games?

3:30 – 4 p.m. Networking Break/ Awards Voting

4 – 5 p.m. Concurrent Sessions
  • Andrew Miller, Edutopia, “Game Based Learning as Education Reform”
  • Puja Dasari, California Academy of Sciences: “Game Creation and Civic Engagement”
  • Richard Boyd, Lockheed: “Lowering the Barriers for Serious Play”

5:15 – 6:15 p.m. Concurrent Sessions
  • Sponsored Session for Technology Providers
  • Awards Voting

Wednesday, August 22

8:30 a.m. Welcome and Announcements

8:45 – 9:45 a.m.  Morning Panel: Sizing the Potential Market
  • Tyson Greer  / Sam S. Adkins,  Ambient Insight: Mobil Games, Education
  • Burnes Saint Patrick Hollyman, the Digital Entertainment Alliance: Virtual Worlds
  • Michael Cai, Interpret: Corporate

10 – 10:45 a.m. Concurrent Sessions
  • Burnes Saint Patrick Hollyman: “Second Lives 2.0: The State of Virtual Worlds Today”
  • Andrew Phelps, Rochester Institute of Technology: “Games and What They Teach Us About Creative Culture”

  • Paul Thurkettle, NATO:  “Serious Games and the Smart Defense Initiative”
  • David Martz, MuzzyLane:  “The Economics of Serious Game Projects”

11:a.m. – 11:45 a.m. Concurrent Sessions
  • Sam S. Adkins, Ambient Insight: “The 2011-2016 Worldwide Game-based Learning Market”

  • Dan Baden, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Educating the Public about Health”
  • Heidi J. Boisvert, futurePerfect lab: “Moving Players Beyond Clicktavism”
  • Susan D. Meek, BreakAway Games: “Silos Support Farmers, Not the Learning Ecosystem”
  • Brock R. Dubbels, University of Minnesota, TBA

Noon – 12:45:p.m.  -  Lunch

1 – 2 p.m. Afternoon Panel: “The Challenges of Measuring Game Effectiveness”
  • Eva Baker, CRESST at UCLA
  • David Gibson, simSchool
  • Ken Spero, Immersive Learning University
  • Jenn McNamara, BreakAway
  • Jason Scott Earl, Brigham Young University-Idaho

2:15 – 3:15 p.m. pm: Concurrent Sessions
  • Eva Baker, CRESST at UCLA:  “Serious Measurement, Serious Results”
  • Lisa Galarneau, Anthropologist/Writer: “Serious Learning in Entertainment Spaces”
  • Tyson Greer, Ambient Insight: “Innovations in the Global Mobile Edugame Market”
  • Dan Norton, Filament Games:  “The Geemotizer”

3:15 – 3:30 p.m. Break

3:30 – 4:15 p.m. Concurrent Sessions
  • Mary McLean-Hely, The Girl Scouts: “Using Graphic Novels and WordPress for eLearning”
  • Ken Spero, Immersive Learning University: “Simulation Scorecards as Drivers for Calculating ROI in Addition to Feedback”
  • John Low, Carney: “Shine a Light: An Approach to Performance Oriented Design”
  • Brendan Noon, ScienceWithMrNoon.com: “Game-Based Strategies for 21st Century Learning”
  • Manish Shyam Nachnani and Neeraj Kakkar: “Leveraging Social Media Gamification to Influence Health Behavior”
  • Lester Frederick and/or Chris Keeling, Full Sail University: “Fun-Learning: The Design and Development of an EduGame”

4:30 – 5:30 p.m. Concurrent Sessions
  • Patrick D. Shepherd, U.S. Office of Government Ethics: “No Budget, Low Tech, High Impact Alternate Reality Games”
  • David Gibson, simSchool: “Some Challenges of the New Psychometrics”
  • Ronald Dyer, Grenoble Ecole de Management: “Risky Play - Minimizing the Threat with Serious Games”
  • Kevin M. Holloway, PhD, National Center for Telehealth and Technology:  “Virtual Worlds and Gaming for PTSD Education and Intervention”
  • Jenn McNamara, BreakAway:  “Building Measurement and Assessment into Games and Simulations: Back to Basics”

6 -- 6:45 p.m. 2nd Annual Serious Play Awards Ceremony

Thursday, August 23

An Early Start on Our Last Day: Welcome and Announcements

8:30  – 9:30 a.m. Panel:  “What is the Future of Serious Games?
  • Jim Lunsford, Decisive-Point
  • Ross Smith, Microsoft
  • Jason Tester, Institute for the Future

9:45  – 10:30 a.m.  Panel: – “The Future of Gamification”
  • Dr. Chris Haskell, Boise State University
  • Scott Randall, BrandGames
  • Manish Shyam Nachnani and Neeraj Kakkar, Healthcare consultants
  • Anne Derryberry, I'm Serious

10:45 – 11:30 a.m. Concurrent Sessions
  • Saul Carliner, Concordia University, “Informal Learning: Serious Games and the Life Cycle of a Job”
  • Stephen Schafer, Digipen Institute of Technology: “Harmonizing the Cognitive Unconscious with emWave Technology”
  • Jayne Gackenbach, Grant Ewan University, “Gameplay for Nightmare Protection”
  • Michael Cai, Interpret, “Where Are the Opportunities?”
  • Anne Derryberry, I'm Serious, “Designing Badge Systems for Learning”

11:45 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. Concurrent Sessions
  • Nick Berry, DataGenetics:
  • Roberto Dillon, Formerly with DigiPen Institute of Technology – Singapore: “Achieving 'Fun' in Serious Games: An Analysis”
  • Dr. Chris Haskell, Boise State University: “The Game-Based Classroom”
  • Lawrence Suda, Palatine Group: “Using Simulations to Train Future Project Leaders at NASA”
  • Jason Tester, Institute for the Future, “Government for the 100%: Games To Democratize Innovation And Innovate Democracy”

12:30 – 1:30 p.m.  Lunch

1:30 – 2:15 p.m. Concurrent Sessions
  • Scott Randall, BrandGames, “Gamification: Learning for the Next Generation Workforce”
  • Bill Guschwan, Columbia College: “Serious Game Techniques for the Classroom”
  • Scott Rigby, Immersyve: “Optimizing Motivation, Learning and Behavior Change in your Serious Game”
  • Jason Scott Earl, Brigham Young University-Idaho, “Over Two Standard Deviation Improvement: Simulation Training Compared to Traditional Training”

2:30 – 3:15 p.m. Concurrent Sessions
  • Jim Lunsford, Decisive-Point: “Serious Games for Leader and Team Development”
  • Ross Smith, Microsoft: “The Future of Work Is Play”

3:30 p.m. Wrap Up
  • Clark Aldrich, Conference Director, Serious Play