Yishay Mor  
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health warning
[education, learning]

Consider what might be termed the quiet desperation syndrome, a disease that attacks the nervous systems of doctoral students. Students who are afflicted begin with a method, "I want to do a qualitative study," "I want to do a MANOVA," and then cast about for a question.

Standards for Qualitative (and Quantitative) Research: A Prolegomenon. Educational Researcher, (19)4:2-9, 1990. URL
posted by Yishay Mor on Tuesday 19th, June 2007 (16:45) - comments (0) - permanent link

openlearn talk @ the London Knowledge Lab
[learning, learning technology, open content, open research]

openlearn is a massive effort from the UK open university to make their course materials free and open on the web. You can also remix and upload your versions. See the openlearn talk @ the London Knowledge Lab.

Also, check out the OpenLean2007 conference (deadline coming up!). Free open content & a free open lunch.

(Digg the video)

posted by Yishay Mor on Sunday 20th, May 2007 (11:20) - comments (0) - permanent link

how to ... become an internet folk hero
[learning, open content, web2.0]

this is beautiful. Jessamyn is a librarian. One day she decides to try Ubuntu. She has so much fun, she makes a little movie and YouTubes it. She wakes up the next morning to find that she's been crowned an internet folk hero.

Hey, even Ubuntu called.
posted by Yishay Mor on Friday 11th, May 2007 (17:59) - comments (0) - permanent link

power to the people

Clive Thompson's latest Wired piece is titled: "Aesthletics", or, why don't people invent new sports?
Here's a comment I posted there:

When we were in highschool we had a very small courtyard in which to vent our excess energies. So we used to invite all kinds of games which would involve moving relatively slowly at significant effort. Mainly variants of tag. That was until we discovered smoking, and took up rolling as a sport.

My son's school is dominated by the 'wizard's game' that one kid invented. All the boys are into it. They spend their days casting elaborate spells at each other in 1:1 wizard combat. The beauty of  it is that it allows them to play-fight with articulate physical gestures but without actually touching each other. Sort of like Capoeira..

There's also the gamemaster, who is the kid that invented the game, and he has tyrannic power: he is the sole judge of all challenges, and the assigner of grades and honours. This is an interesting social exercise, because he can use the power he gains by designing a game to manipulate his status, e.g. by rewarding his friends unfair advantages. However, he can only stretch it so far. After all, as one of my son's friends said, "he doesn't have a copyright on it. we can always start our own game".

Which brigs me to the inherent open-source nature of physical games. No wonder our consumerized, corporatized culture doesn't promote them: you can't make big money off something you  can't control. Or maybe not, maybe there's a world of games2.0 around the corner?

posted by Yishay Mor on Wednesday 9th, May 2007 (03:53) - comments (0) - permanent link

Stop press: Shlepping a chunk of plastic and wires does not improve your grades.

Winnie Hu from the NYT writes about schools ditching their laptop programmes for lack of results . A must read.
When the school tightened its network security, a 10th grader not only found a way around it but also posted step-by-step instructions on the Web for others to follow (which they did).
Wow. Talk about problem solving. Collaborative learning. These kids are obviously learning something. Well, the school, and the reporter, where not that impressed
Yet school officials here and in several other places said laptops had been abused by students, did not fit into lesson plans, and showed little, if any, measurable effect on grades and test scores at a time of increased pressure to meet state standards.
That is surprising, given the reports from Maine
Attendance is up. Detentions are down. Just six months after Maine began a controversial program to provide laptop computers to every seventh grader in the state, educators are impressed by how quickly students and teachers have adapted to laptop technology."

"You hear kids say: I feel smarter now", "some say it has transformed the relationships between students and teachers"

The answer is at the end of the article. A teacher is quoted:
“Let’s face it, math is for the most part still a paper-and-pencil activity when you’re learning it,” she said.
In the early 19C schools in America and Europe introduced slates and number frames as means for maths instruction. Until then, the standard method was - a teacher reading out of a text book, and students chanting after. Exams were oral, and students were expected to recite textbook proofs down to variable names. I can see the Winnie Hu of the day quoting a teacher:
"Let's face it, learning maths is still for the most part repeating after the teacher. A slate just gets in the way."

posted by Yishay Mor on Friday 4th, May 2007 (11:16) - comments (0) - permanent link

Tim O'Reilly on Web 2.0 and Education
[education, learning, school, so-so, web2.0]

Steve Hargadon  interviews Mr. Web2.0 on what it means for education. What could be more appropriate than posting the podcast on his excelent blog?

| digg story

posted by Yishay Mor on Thursday 3rd, May 2007 (10:21) - comments (0) - permanent link

What is a game?
[games, philosophy]

Siobhan Thomas has recently asked the londongamesresearch group for people's definition-in-use of games. Being too lazy, vain and arrogant to do a serious search of the literature, I will make up my own definition and post it on my blog:

An activity is a game to the extent it emulates life with controlled risk.

And just to pre-empt the inevitable post-Wittgensteinien argument, this isn't the definition of game. This isn't even a definition of game. It's my definition of game, a language game that I'm playing with you.

posted by Yishay Mor on Wednesday 25th, April 2007 (13:03) - comments (0) - permanent link

Alexander goes to WoW
[design, design patterns, virtual worlds, WoW]

Mattias Ljungström* has a very interesting (and pretty) paper using Alexander's design patterns to analyse world of warcraft. Reading it raises questions about the relationship between aesthetic and functional, and between real and virtual. For example:
Furthermore, the top of the bank in Orgrimmar is related to pattern 94. Sleeping in Public. This pattern argues that it is “a mark of success in a park, public lobby or a porch, when people can come there and fall asleep” (Alexander et al. 1977, 458). Players in the game tend to place their avatars in certain places when they know they will be away from keyboard for a while and the top of the bank is one of these places. According to the guidelines in the pattern these places should be made “relatively sheltered, protected from circulation, perhaps up a step, with seats and grass to slump down upon” (Alexander et al. 1977, 459). Some of these aspects are definitely missing, and could probably further enhance the game world if they were implemented.
Now, in a real world, a chilli breeze will make a place uncomfortable for sleeping. Hence our choice of where to relax will be influenced by shelter etc. It may be that such considerations are sub-consciously translated to our sense of aesthetics. But will this sense be carried over to a virtual world, where we feel no cold?

[Figure 13: Overview of Orgrimmar with boundaries marked]

Mattias Ljungström (2005), The use of architectural patterns in MMORPGs .  Paper presented at the Aesthetics of Play conference in Bergen, Norway, 14-15
posted by Yishay Mor on Wednesday 25th, April 2007 (12:50) - comments (0) - permanent link

Aha! So that's what it is
[learning, open content, publications]

I just love brain science:*
People sometimes solve problems with a unique process called insight, accompanied by an “Aha!” experience. It has long been unclear whether different cognitive and neural processes lead to insight versus noninsight solutions, or if solutions differ only in subsequent subjective feeling. [...] Functional magnetic resonance imaging (Experiment 1) revealed increased activity in the right hemisphere anterior superior temporal gyrus for insight relative to noninsight solutions. The same region was active during initial solving efforts. Scalp electroencephalogram recordings (Experiment 2) revealed a sudden burst of high-frequency (gamma-band) neural activity in the same area beginning 0.3 s prior to insight solutions. This right anterior temporal area is associated with making connections across distantly related information during comprehension. Although all problem solving relies on a largely shared cortical network, the sudden flash of insight occurs when solvers engage distinct neural and cognitive processes that allow them to see connections that previously eluded them.
First, I love their way of defining insight. Second, I'm amazed by the way they measure the moment to an accuracy of 0.3 seconds. But the best is how they show that insight is related to finding lateral connection - using a lateral connection problem set!

*: 2004Neural activity when people solve verbal problems with insight. PLoS Biology, (2)4:500--510.
posted by Yishay Mor on Wednesday 11th, April 2007 (13:56) - comments (0) - permanent link

KAL sustainability, FP7 and open research
[education, open content, open research, open source]

One of the hot issues that came up during the Vision document discussions (also here) was the idea of Open Research.
It's FP7 season, and time to put our money where our mouth is (sorry for the Americanism).

I'm sure many people in the network are working on proposals. Why not have an open process for this?

Now, you may think this is crazy, after all - we're in competition. But I say - think again. I remember back in the days of the Web1.0 gold rush, I had an idea and wanted to talk to some venture capitalist about it. I asked him to sign a non-disclosure argeement. He said "If the only thing you have going for you is that no one knows what you're thinking about, then don't bother. Either someone else is thinking the same, or they'll copy and better you the first time you expose it"

Here's a theory: the product of an open process can never be of a lesser quality than the product of a similar closed process. So if we open up, share our ideas, we can:
- learn from each other.
- form new teams.
- focus on our relative advantages.

As for myself, I'm party to two efforts. Since I'm not leading either, I can't say too much without my partners' consent. But I can say that one follows up on weblabs and playground, the other follows up on the learning patterns project .
posted by Yishay Mor on Wednesday 21st, March 2007 (17:34) - comments (0) - permanent link