Hello Europe … hello gamification.

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My perception of gamification before 2016.  Taken by Joe Bovalino 17 April 2016.

It’s personally rewarding when I consider the concepts and theories one learns as academic life passes by.  My study has been shuffling along for quite some time due to regular pauses along the way.  Namely full-time work and raising a family – the usual stuff that comes with growing up and having responsibilities.

This year a new word appeared through my stop-start studies that I can’t seem to get out of my head – gamification.  First brought to prominence by Nick Pelling in 2002, it took around 8 years for it to be embraced around the world (Kim 2015, p. 5), however it’s taken me less than 3 months to realise how it interconnects with so many aspects of my own life.  Kim (2015, p. 5) sums it up best in that it transfers ‘some of the positive characteristics of a game to something that is not a game’.  Positive.  That is exactly what I have experienced thus far.

It comes as no surprise that the corporate world has embraced the concept.  Do you ever go to the supermarket now without being asked to show your Rewards or Flyby card as the assistant scans your 12 pack of toilet paper?  I can’t check my emails without being bombarded with updates on points earned for Qantas or Virgin accounts as if I jet-set around the country constantly.  Seriously, I don’t think 2000 points is going to get me anywhere soon.  Even my LinkedIn account attempts to pat me on the back when referring to me as an “All Star”.  What on earth am I a star of?  It’s all about loyalty and a positive experience and it subconsciously works for me.  I feel as if I’m achieving something even though I’m not the type of person who enters competitions or cashes points in for free gifts.  I’m the type of person who even forgets to use the discount fuel vouchers whenever I fill my car up.

Gamification 2

This is what my gamified learning experience has felt like this year.

gamification by Jurgen Appelo (CC BY 2.0)

Applying a game-like element to Exploring Digital Media at Deakin this trimester has also been a rewarding experience.  From its implementation, I understood there wouldn’t be a big prize at the end and this has never been the incentive for me to increase my online activity.  For some strange reason I have discovered that the ‘Tiffit’ point system has challenged my own study habits.  Checking a tally board as if I’m representing a country at Eurovision has subconsciously pressed me to engage in the readings, share articles of interest and communicate, encourage and support other students through the #ALC203 journey.  Yes I have hash-tagged that a few times now.  Ask me in a few years what the unit code was and I’m sure I’ll still remember it.

I have embraced this style of learning and I am encouraged by the fact that whilst gamification in education is in its infancy and needs to be studied further, it has the potential to develop into a style of learning for a particular type of student to embrace (Faiella and Ricciardi 2015).  Sure, nothing works for everyone, however if it was to motivate or engage a specific learner then why not incorporate a form of it into the curriculum.

Eurovision

Hello Europe … and hello Gamification!

Eurovision 2013 by radioedit (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

In true Eurovision style and in my worst Ukrainian accent, my 12 points goes to … gamification.  For its ability to keep me motivated and engaged until the final weeks of this unit.  I hope it appears somewhere else in my never-ending learning journey.

REFERENCES:

Kim, B 2015, ‘The popularity of gamification in the mobile and social era’, Library Technology Reports, vol. 51, no. 2, pp. 5-9.

Faiella, F and Ricciardi, M 2015, ‘Gamification and learning: a review of issues and research’, Journal of e-Learning and Knowledge Society, vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 13-21.

Crowdfunding? User beware.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding by Rocio Lara (CC BY-SA 2.0)

So you have an idea that could make a lot of money.  You don’t have millions sitting in the bank ready to invest into your creation, you know the bank manager will laugh you all the way out to the car park and you have even considered presenting it to the Shark Tank panel on Channel 10.  If you’re that committed, perhaps crowdfunding is the answer.

Before getting excited about the prospect of funds pouring in from a bunch of unknowns who may have an interest and belief in your idea, consider the old analogy ‘sounds too good to be true’ before envisaging yourself atop the BRW Richest 200 list.

Million Dollar bill

Fake Million Dollar Bill by Simon Davison (CC BY 2.0)

Like everything in life that dangles a get-rich carrot, there is plenty to be aware of and much homework to be done.  It is hard to determine whether crowdfunding is ‘a technology, an industry, or a fad’ (Younkin and Kashkooli 2016, p. 21).  Today’s popular social networking craze could become tomorrow’s Myspace.  R.I.P.  However, if crowdfunding is more than just the latest buzzword, then consider researching beyond the success stories and learn from other people’s mistakes.

Jeremy Losaw (2015) endeavored to obtain crowdfunding through Kickstarter for an aerodynamic car kit he created.  Whilst being extremely enthusiastic about his product, he learned some valuable lessons from his first attempt.  After testing his product, he discovered it didn’t work as well as he thought it would.  Cars fitted with his invention weren’t any faster.  Lesson number 1: Will you be able to test your idea before going to market?

Idea

Idea by -Komodor- (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The video he presented as part of the sell wasn’t convincing or engaging enough.  Lesson number 2: What is the message you want to get out there?  Do you seem professional enough and worth giving money to?  You are a salesperson and you will have to sell your dream to others if crowdfunding is to be a viable option.

Finally think about a media campaign that can spread the word about your big idea.  Don’t just rely on hitting up a crowdfunding site without using all available outlets to find your potential audience.  Lesson number 3: Online presence and the capability to network through these outlets are just as important as building a bank of enthusiastic investors.

After all this, if crowdfunding is still something worth considering, remember the mantra of many successful business people.  Before success, comes failure.  Stay positive, be prepared, be well researched, avoid the Shark Tank, they are already rich and leave my idea of the self-buttering toast alone.  It’s going to make millions, who wants to sign up?

Toast

Toast by Josh May (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

 

References:

Losaw, J 2015, How to Fail at a Kickstarter Campaign, Inventors’ Digest, 31, 4, p. 22, EBSCOhost, viewed 15 May 2016.

Younkin, P, & Kashkooli, K 2016, What Problems Does Crowdfunding Solve?, California Management Review, 58, 2, pp. 20-43, EBSCOhost, viewed 15 May 2016.

Museums – from the past to the future.

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Melbourne walk by Alan Lam (CC BY-ND 2.0)

 

“Dad, I really want to take you to the Immigration Museum.  It’s really good.”

These words came from my ten year old son who recently went on a school excursion to the museum in the city.  It is a place I have always been curious to explore given my background.  My grandparents and their families traveled by boat from Italy at a time when Australia welcomed immigrants with open arms.  Times have changed haven’t they?

Obviously a place such as this has the ability to celebrate all the good that comes from living in a county with so many cultural influences and backgrounds, however, it can also shine a light on all that is wrong with modern attitudes towards immigration.  The selective nature some have and ease of assimilation others expect are topics that should not be ignored and are not in this setting.  Without getting too political, there are reasons places such as the Immigration Museum are important, relevant and necessary.

Black (2012, p.3) notes the rapid changes occurring in cities where notable museums are located.  Ethnic and racial make-up is being altered and demographics are shifting.  To me, this makes the viability of such museums all the more important.  Sure dinosaurs are impressive however, most of us can relate to our own family history on a personal level where culture comes to life.

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Dinosaur by Jeff Kubina (CC BY-SA 2.0)

More importantly, what made my son so eager to want to take me to this museum rather than the more traditional, familiar institution?  Whilst museum audiences are ageing and declining (Black 2012, p.5) my son’s enthusiasm captured my interest enough to want to share this experience with him.  The quest to appeal to a young person’s imagination is so much harder now, such experiences need to be “more open, willing, adventurous, engaging and collaborative” (Black 2012, p.7).  Obviously something good was occurring at this museum and I needed to find out what that was.

Black (2012, p.10) highlights the importance of engagement and how it must play a dynamic role in these environments.  And engaged we were.  Touch screens allow active participants to choose a person to hear their personal family story.  On-demand videos ranged from a local all-girl soccer team with players from many different backgrounds to others featuring cuisine from around the globe that are now so readily available in this city.  I managed to fascinate my son by singing along to commercial jingles which are at least 25 years old.  I even impressed him by taking an interactive multiple-choice citizenship test which took on the feel of a game-show.  I got 96%; will the government let me in?  This was fun.

The one thing my son wanted me to try and took great pleasure in observing was forcing me to lie in a replica bed imitating how the poorest of poor would have traveled.  As I overplayed the uncomfortable nature of lying on what looked like potato sacks resting on a bed of rocks, my son took on what sounded like a museum tour guide. These travelers would have endured conditions such as this for months on rickety ships that had set sail with the hope of a better life at the other end.  Entertaining for him, interactive for both of us and highly educational for everyone.

Name of my wife’s grandparents at the museum who migrated from Malta.

 

Immigration

Taken by Joe Bovalino 25 April 2016

Being able to share this experience and engage with my own son was the thing I cherished the most.   Being able to explain in a practical sense our own family history was much more important than merely passing on a story from memory.  Museums cannot be left behind to become the very thing they display – history.  They must remain relevant, contemporary and overall engaging.  To be taken on an adventure by my own son to such a place encourages me.  The Melbourne Immigration Museum is doing something right.  I hope it continues to do so.

REFERENCE:

Black, G 2012, Transforming Museums in the Twenty-First Century, Milton Park, Abington and New York, pp. 1-12.

 

Talking about an (online) revolution.

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October 15, 2011- Day 1 by Caelie_Frampton (CC BY 2.0)

It has never occurred to me just how important the media has been in rallying the troops, gathering the numbers and pushing for the protest.  The media has always been an essential means of spreading the word.  Castells (2007, p. 239) suggests that power relations and those challenging them are shaped in the communication field.  To have the power to force the message out, it needs to be communicated.  Media, we need you and want you to be on our side.

The American Revolution had the printing press to thank for creating an efficient method for pamphlets to be produced and passed on.  As Carty (2015, p. 8) explains, this free sharing of information from hundreds of years ago involved using the technology of the time.  From print to radio, then moving images and television and now the internet, our ability to spread messages has constantly and rapidly improved.  We have always used the most effective communication of the time to highlight the wrongs of the world.  Could our media of the moment (online/social) be the most powerful of all?

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Social Media 01 by Rosaura Ochoa (CC BY 2.0)

The way we distribute information now is ‘immediate, worldwide, often free, and in the hands of ordinary citizens” (Carty 2015, p.8).  You, me, the next door neighbor, even the lady who serves me at the butcher has the ability to start an online revolution.  Should that be of concern or is it amazing we all have the power in our hands and on our devices?  Are we all ‘mojos’ or mobile journalists now (Carty 2015, p.10)?  “Making news tonight, shocking images captured on our public transport.”  Sounds familiar, doesn’t it.

We have the ability to place a mirror on society to show people the good and the bad that is happening.  We don’t need to wait until it’s on the front page of the newspaper or the lead story on the nightly news to capture an audience and stir the emotions.  Get enough hits online and the spotlight could easily be switched on.  Hit a few keys on your device and within minutes online petitions can be established and a groundswell of support can create the necessary pressure to make a change.  It took a little longer to gather support hundreds of years ago; however the outcome appears to be the same.

So what’s wrong in the world?  Grab your devices, I’ll go get the lady from the butcher shop and we’ll go correct some injustice.  Who needs the Superfriends?

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Superfriends by Christopher Stadler (CC BY 2.0)

REFERENCES:

Carty V, 2015, Social movements and new technology, Westview, New York, pp. 1-16.

Castells, M 2007, ‘Communication, Power and Counter-power in the Network Society’, International Journal of Communication 1, pp. 238-266, viewed 1 April 2016, link