The ToolBar, Episode 24 — You Can’t Beer Everybody

Logo for The ToolBarEpisode #24 of The ToolBar is now live!

I’ve forgotten to link this episode up for a while but hopefully this will start a well-deserved second wave of interest. I have to admit, I’ve listened to the episode a couple of times since it launched because it was just a hell of a good time and Chad Udell () had a lot of good things to say about mlearning, games, beer, and our field. And we talked about his new book, Learning Everywhere, and Float Learning’s many apps that you should check out.

I’m also pleased to report that my Letterpress strategy has been refined somewhat in the meantime.


On Rands In Repose: Two Universes

In Two Universes, Michael Lopp writes:

That’s how I want to learn. Don’t give me a book; I don’t want a lecture, and I don’t want a list of topics to memorize. Give me ample reason to memorize them and a sandbox where I can safely play. Test me when I least expect it, shock me with the unknown, but make sure you’ve given me enough understanding and practice with my tools that I have a high chance of handling the unexpected.

There’s lots of good stuff here… about interface design, about flow, about user testing, about motivation, and about gamification (that’s right).

And for the record, over the past couple of years, I’ve played WoW so infrequently that I do have to spend an hour reteaching myself every time I want to play. And that would be why I don’t play any more.

HT: This one has sat for while, so I’m not positive. Probably .

Well Read: Prototyping by Todd Zaki Warfel and A Theory of Fun for Game Design by Ralph Koster

Oops, a combo post to make up for the last two columns, which I apparently forgot to post here. In December, Well Read featured Prototyping by Todd Zaki Warfel. In January, it was A Theory of Fun for Game Design by Ralph Koster. They’re good books. You should definitely read them. :)

Many thanks to Aaron Silvers and Alicia Sanchez, respectively, for the book suggestions! And if you have a suggestion for a book that is not directly about learning, but influences or speaks to what we do, please feel free to contact me. One of the best parts of doing this column has been receiving people’s suggestions and having my mind broadened by how truly multidisciplinary our field is.

Combining Metrics with Emotion

A few days ago, I came across this article (HT: Kay Wood) about game company wooga and how they “combine metrics with emotion” to create successful social games such as Monster World.

The first half of the article covers how the company uses metrics — not opinions or theories — to progressively improve its games. For example, wooga has dismissed elements like letting the player choose an avatar (also attractive for elearning) because they’ve found no effect on player engagement.

Analytics like this are hardly new to marketers, but this article struck me because of two things:

1) How useful similar practices could be in elearning, and…

2) How rare analysis like this is in our field.

Sorry to criticize so often, but I call them like I see them.

For an antidote, see Ellen Wagner’s recent posts on more advanced analytics for learning.

The Curfew

Check out The Curfew, an educational game commissioned by UK Channel 4 and produced by Littleloud, which won Best Educational Game at the 2011 Games for Change awards.

I haven’t played through the whole thing yet, but there are clearly some lessons for elearning designers here, even if you’re not particularly focused on “gameful” design. The first one that struck me was the context. Designers who are familiar with Michael Allen’s CCAF model know all about the importance of a compelling context; here’s a great example.

Click below to watch the trailer, read a review at Play This Thing, or just play the game!

HT: ze frank