MOOP: the next step beyond MOOCs

MOOCs are offering a new outlook on education. They’ve changed several traditional parameters: small has become Massive, closed has become Open, and offline has become Online. But the final traditional element, and perhaps the most important, has not changed. What would happen if we turned courses into Projects? What would a MOOP look like and what would if offer? [Read more…]

The art of engagement design (previously known as gamification)

What’s the difference between a boring tool or game, and an engaging one? For something to be engaging, it needs to be easily understandable, and appealing; it needs to provide various different mechanics that appeal to different people, without forcing all of them on anyone. In a word, it needs engagement design, the concious act of designing something to be engaging. Some of you may have heard of this approach by its old name, gamification.

[Read more…]

WordPress plugin: Pages are Posts

This is a small plugin for WordPress that makes pages behave more like posts. It’s a quick and simple solution for anyone who uses WordPress like a CMS, with mainly a hierarchy of pages. Normally pages don’t have tags or categories, and they don’t show up on various listings or RSS feeds. Pages are Posts does that. It does two things:

  1. Add tags and categories to posts.
  2. Modify post listings to include pages when they would normally only list posts.

The plugin has been carefully crafted so it does not interfere with normal management views, nor with other plugins that may create new content types. Find the plugin here: http://wordpress.org/plugins/pages-are-posts/

The transforming face of education

Why do we have formal, organised education? One reason is to expose the next generation to the culture, values and practices of society so that they become contributing members of society. Historically, education has been mostly about bringing knowledge to learners. In the Middle Ages, people outside of universities, monasteries or apprenticeships in guilds were largely unaware of anything outside their immediate surroundings.

This is not the case anymore. [Read more…]

The demented future

I wake up. I don’t know where I am. This has happened every day for a very long time. But I don’t remember. Until I look at my phone. It says: “Tarmo, you have no short-term memory.”

Welcome to the demented future. [Read more…]

Open Badges, current state of development

I’ve mentioned Open Badges earlier this year. It’s an open standard proposal by the Mozilla Foundation that attempts to create a web-based way for anyone (or any institution) to give accreditation to anyone on any topic. Things have progressed nicely in these few months. Here’s what you can already do with Open Badges, explained as a series of screen shots. [Read more…]

Fixed a Samsung Galaxy S by replacing the OS with CyanogenMod

Several of my friends have a Samsung Galaxy S. It’s an Anrdoid based smartphone that is still pretty decent. But the phone keeps acting up. Calls stop working sporadically, strange glitches appear, and in general, your trust in the device erodes. One reason for this may be the additional software that Samsung has built into its phone. So when one of the phones was no longer usable, I took a risk and replaced the OS with something else, in the hope that the hardware is ok, and only the software is causing problems. It took quite a bit of work to get it all done, as no instructions online were complete. Here’s a walkthrough: [Read more…]

Quick roundup of how Open Badges are used in P2PU

Open Badges is a Mozilla project attempting to provide a standard way for anyone to award certifications to others, in a web way. I’ve been playing with P2PU, which is a beta platform for the badges. Here’s a quick roundup.

Currently the Webcraft course in P2PU includes badges. The creator of the course has created the badges (images, descriptions, functionality, where they plug into the course, and how they can be earned). Others can take the course (or the “challenges”) and receive badges. Here are the ways badges can be received that I’ve seen so far:

  • completing something: You need to follow the rules of the badge provider, and once you’re done, the badge is yours. In P2PU’s case, this entails accepting a challenge and completing the required tasks. The system could theoretically do a lot of verification, including administering an online exam to test you, but in this case, it’s just a matter of checking boxes saying you’ve done the tasks. Although it’s good to remember that the badge provider can cancel out your badges if they later learn you’ve not followed the requirements.
  • getting it from someone else: Others in same platform can decide to award you a badge if they think you’re worth it. Such badges could indicate that you helped others with their problems, or provided other additional value to others.
  • applying for it: If you think you’ve earned something, you can apply for it. You give out your reasoning and wait for others to review your claim. The reviewers will also rate your application based on the criteria specified in the badge.

All in all, the functionality seems quite understandable. While P2PU still sufferent from a few UI snafus, the technology seems to be working and can certainly be represented in human-understandable terms to end-users, which is a critical requirement if this is to become mainstream in some distant future.

P2PU, webcraft, and Mozilla Open Badges

Mozilla has been cooking something interesting: a framework for anyone to create and award badges to anyone else. The recipient can then display the badges wherever they want, and the underlying metadata and functionality make the badge verifiable by anone. Is this the future of accreditation? Where do we need traditional schools any more?

Anyways, the Open Badge project is still in beta, and Mozilla has teamed up with P2PU’s School of Webcraft to test the badges in action. I’ve signed up for the challenge and will be posting a few times on that topic in the near future. My interest is seeing how the Open Badges work in practice, and whether they might be leveraged in some of the R&D projects I’m involved in. In terms of the School of Webcraft, I assume it’s mostly just me proving I know this stuff. After 16 years of web development I should know my way around these issues. Hopefully… :)

SNA and learning: density is not beneficial

Example networks with low and high densities.

For background, see my previous article on the topic. Many studies that analyse networked learning (NL) or computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) using social network analysis tend to use density as a metric of interaction quality. Specifically, the studies assume that a high density is something to aim for. However, my data shows otherwise. [Read more…]