7 ways games reward the brain

This seems to be the tree I’ve been barking up for a long time now. Summary of Tom Chatfield’s 7 ways games reward the brain

1. Experience bars measuring progress.
	- Give people an Avatar and they can take ownership
2. Multiple long & short term aims
	- 5000 targets not interesting. 5-20 interested
3. Reward effort
	- Every little bit!
4. Rapid, frequent clear, feedback.
	- Immediate is best.
5. An element of uncertainty
	- Uncertain rewards
	- When we predict something wrong we get excited about it.
	- Dopamine, neuron transmitter associated with learning.
6. Windows of enhanced attention.
	- Memory - find moments when people are more likely to remember
	- & confidence - reward system make people will to take risks
7. Other people!
	- The most exciting reward


Doug Engelbart & Ted Nelson interviews

I rediscovered this old (1999) interview with Doug Engelbart and consequentially Ted Nelson which both touch on their alternative paradigms to information management. Here are the juice parts extracted. I found the Engelbart to be more lucid that Nelson :)
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Visuals for modern dance augmentation

Alex May just put up a sample of his latest interactive performance instillation which he demos with a dancer.

Shadows of Light from Quadratura on Vimeo.

I saw an Australian dance performance last month here in Berlin called Glow which was a floor dance also with real-time interactive dance visuals.

I like this direction VJing is taking. Slightly above the mundane random images with effects layer on.

Games can alter the structure of your brain

Wired has an article on “playing Tetris actually gives you more brain to work with“:

This, says the doctors who undertook the study, shows that focusing on a “challenging visuospatial task” like a videogame can actually alter the structure of the brain, not just increase brain activity.

I wonder if this has anything to do with learning?

Ideas as Visualised Spaces

This TED talk by Tom Wujec shows ways that visualising ideas helps to solve the problems. The “Visual Strategy Planning” idea, where a team maps out the entire problem on a wall, together, is a bit like a mind-map and is a nice interface to information.

It also has ramifications for learning in that new concepts could be presented to students as a map instead of a linear text.

Notes for an MP3 manager

Notes on features that I want for a MP3 manager that I’m thining of developing.

Ihave a large music collection in MP3 format. I’m having a hard time keeping it organised. iTunes wigs out after about 100 gig. Anyway I hate the way it handles compilations, or maybe I just hate the way I have no control over its filing method. Its also a pain syncing with others who also have a large collection.

Here are some notes on some features I’d like to see in MP3 collection manager software. I’m almost ready to write it myself so these might be the beginnings of a new venture.

  • Syncing collections! Choose a host and a target and list all the tracks not in the host collection. List which track are of a higher quality.
  • List missing tracks from incomplete albums.
  • Flag tracks as bad copy or corrupt so when syncing, will look for them and get them.
  • Integrate with MusicBrainz.org, freedb.org, discogs.com
  • Browse albums by cover
  • Cover art fetcher
  • album cover is stored once in the folder not in the tracks (optional?). Perhaps ether or transparently
  • When there is ambiguity as to which album a tracks belongs to, use the other tracks in the directory to guess i.e. try to minimise the number of albums for a give set of tracks.
  • Add extra metadata tagging such as ‘remix by’, more than one artist per track, tagging for genre and/or add a style like in discogs.com. Search, filter browse by these extra fields.
  • From this meta data change the tagging scheme used though out the library easily at will. make policies like: The Cure -> Cure, The, Dj -> DJ etc. Adapt from one library to another when syncing
  • Store ratings for tracks. Possible to download others ratings and comments from others in an XML format (FOAF?). Perhaps upload to last.fm or make my own site if they arn’t up for it?
  • Find people who have albums/tracks you want for trading (naughty)
  • Update iTunes when tags are edited i=in the library

Blog to log

Online services that relate to managing RSS feeds from blogs (mainly). Some new ideas emerging but no killer yet.

Just sniffing around I can across:

  1. Reblog, filter and republish other peoples feeds on your own site. “Useful to individuals who want to maintain a weblog but prefer curating content to writing original posts”. This is a poor way of describing a Planet or Portal, but with more editorial control.
  2. TagCloud extracts keywords from a set of given RSS feeds and builds a ‘tag cloud’ (or a ‘keyword cloud’ technically).

Rise of the editor

Beyond the self publishing revolution to the rise of the editor: as more content comes online good editorial will be needed to sift though it. This role will become more and more important and sites like Slashdot might be knocked off the top of the ‘most read geek portal’ list.

I envisaged sites like Vibewire being a collection of blogs, ether hosted by them or where ever, that feed into the individual channels and the editors simply selecting from what is already published on these blogs. These channels in turn would feed into the main page.

Reblog gives anyone the power to be their own Slashdot or Vibewire.

Update: Looks like someone already has.

RSS needs Tags

TagCloud illustrates one of the main problems with RSS, and that is that it provides raw information without any means to contextualise it. With the recent rise of tags or Folksonomy (I that that word) feeds need to be extended to allow for keywords/tags to be provided with the feed. Then tools to map theses remote taxonomy’s to local ones would be needed but would provide a means to manage the large volumes of information effectively.

Seem someone is trying to put a name on this problem: Feed Overload Syndrome, and its solution ‘Meta-Feeds’ (I guess everyone is trying to be the first to name the next big fad). But lets break Mr Burnham down a bit:

Burnham reckons tagging is no good because it makes tag soap as every one has their own tags, which is OK and that’s what so called ‘folksonomy’ are about. Individually they are worth little but on mass these little bits add up to more than the expert made taxonomies which are worth a lot (if you know how to use them). The goal however is to map from whatever incoming taxonomy a local personal one which will ultimately have more meaning to the viewer (the advantage of folksonomys).

Burnhams solutions breaks down to what Reblog is doing:

…the posts are categorized and placed into a taxonomy using advanced statistical processes such as Bayesian analysis and natural language processing

So basically machine keyword scraping and the mythical ‘natural language processing’ (oh for a computer that can understand!). This is never going to be as valuable to the end user as human tagging and won’t map perfectly to an expert taxonomy. What we really want is some sort of collaborative filtering process that maps from one folksonomy/taxonomy to another based on trust networks that the end user subscribes to. As a result of this Peer to Peer Social Networking looks promising and more like a realistic solution, or even some sort of Google ranking based on community and author.

Burnham did get one thing right however, this mapping process will have to be external to the actual feeds, ether with a smart feedreader client that talks to a service/community to do the mapping.

Assessment of Foreign Language Instructional Software

Summary of the article ‘Criteria for the Assessment of Foreign Language Instructional Software and Web Sites’

This is a summary of the article titled ‘Criteria for the Assessment of Foreign Language Instructional Software and Web Sites‘.

This article develops standards ‘for assessing language-learning software and Web sites’. It gives examples of assessments using these standards of all the note worth language packages/websites for the learning of Russian.

A note on general language acquisition:

research in second language acquisition shows us that learners need to have good, authentic input—listening to and reading comprehensible texts—and many opportunities to practice speaking by using the language to negotiate meaning in situations that resemble culturally authentic communicative contexts.

Three criteria for effective learning software are stated to be:

  1. More of the students will reach higher proficiency levels in one or another modality in the same amount of time. (This is a cognitive goal.)
  2. More of the students will be sufficiently engaged and energized in the learning process to want to continue for a longer period of time. Students will thus attain higher proficiency levels in one or more modalities than they would have if they had stopped the learning process earlier. (This is an affective goal leading indirectly to a cognitive goal.)
  3. More of the students will be able to organize their studies and thus achieve better learning outcomes. (This is a metacognitive goal leading indirectly to a cognitive goal. Software and Web sites that meet this criterion usually put at the learners’ disposal resources that might otherwise not be available or as accessible, such as online dictionaries and strategy tutorials.)

Also stipulated are:

five characteristics of pedagogical design for multimedia applications or classroom lessons:

  1. Learners must know what they are expected to do and what goals they are expected to achieve by completing the task.
  2. Learners must be adequately prepared to begin the task.
  3. Learners must be adequately trained to complete the task.
  4. Learners must be adequately tested to assess their completion of the task.
  5. Learners must be given opportunities to expand their learning beyond the task.

Finally he offers ‘two caveats’ for software designers in addition to the above which are:

  1. the integration of image and sound
  2. the power, given to the learner, to move back and forth through the lesson as he or she sees fit.

Sound advice.

Pedagogy and Customized Curriculum

Some notes for my recent study on language acquisition and memeory aids.

The hope here is to produce some software that can be used as a learning aid that can not only track the students progress but adapt to it and augment it. Ideally such a method could be applied to subjects other than language acquisition providing students with a completely personalised teacher that uses continual testing to provide feedback and direction.
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