Creating a Framework of fun and Learning: UsingBalloons to Build Consensus
Rebecca Ferguson, Mark Childs, Alexandra Okada, Kieron Sheehy, Mimi Tatlow-Golden, Anna Childs, European Conference on Games Based Learning, 2020/10/07
I like this paper. I like it not only because it reaffirms the (sometimes controversial) principle of fun in learning, but also because it explores what fun means, and does so by creating a fun activity. In short, it's fun. This wider conception of fun is in accord with Seymour Papert's ‘hard fun’ and James Paul Gee’s ‘regime of confidence’ (sometimes stylized as 'flow'). It's the fun I experience when coding a Tic Tac Toe game. But the authors also note that "studies in this area are limited by a tendency of both researchers and participants to investigate, report,and emphasise only socially acceptable views of fun and its relationship to learning." Hence, say, the term 'serious games'. Blech. I think we should embrace fun in all its flavours.
I'm not sure how appropriate it is to compare the university to a religion, but that may only be because I never completed my PhD. To be sure, I put in the work - I passed all my comprehensive exams, I wrote my book-length contribution of original knowledge. But I wouldn't bow down to my masters. I couldn't be inducted into what Paul Yachnin calls "the Church of Knowledge". How could I? To pass my PhD in my field, I had to extend the definition of knowledge - that's what (some) philosophers do. But I couldn't then acknowledge the supremacy of the old definition of knowledge. Maybe it's inevitable that the university will produce its own Martin Luthers. Maybe it's also inevitable that it will exile them. And maybe, consequently, Yachnin's vision of "a new knowledge ecology around universities as the hub" might be less welcome than he imagines.
One of the problems with misinformation (and of trolls generally) is that debunking them just makes them stronger. Anything that gives them publicity serves their interest, and so it doesn't matter how strong the evidence is against them, they still thrive. This article seeks to address that problem, and while I'm not fully convinced of everything in it (like the 'truth sandwich') I still think it is headed in the right direction. In particular, the negotiation of norms in communities is important, and especially the idea of basing them in the need to protect members from harm. Similarly, the need for care and credibility in debunking is essential. Ultimately, though, I think the response to disinformation needs to be based in structural changes to our information ecosystem, so that a single message needs many voices in a decentralized network to be carried across the internet, and can't be amplified by a single bad actor working a social network botnet.
I did this tutorial as a Sunday afternoon project. It's one part of one box of the developer roadmap mentioned earlier. What I've discovered doing tutorials like this is that there's quite a bit of build-up to it. For example, instead of doing it in the Codepen environment provided, I used my own development environment (using VS Code; I began by installing Yarn to use instead of NPM, just because). I did it this way because I wanted to eventually deploy it to my website; here it is. Doing it this way created unexpected bugs - for example, I had to add a step (yarn install) and I had to remove a previous and outdated version of Babel (by manually ripping out the directory!). Still, this was an excellent tutorial, well constructed to illustrate some key concepts (such as data immutability).
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Copyright 2020 Stephen Downes Contact: email@example.comThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.