Upcoming Courses From Canvas, FutureLearn and iversity

courses starting in Aug

There a lots of great courses starting in August!  To give you a sampling, these are some of the courses starting soon from Canvas, FutureLearn and iversity!

Future-learn

Basic Science: Understanding Numbers - Starts August 18th

This practical, hands-on course will help you to start thinking like a scientist, by using numbers to describe and understand the natural world. It might be the size of the Greenland ice sheet, the number of molecules in a raindrop, or the latest set of mind-boggling numbers about climate change basic sciencepresented in the media. No longer will you be put off by averages or percentages, and you’ll even learn to love negative numbers. You will understand and manage numbers like a scientist. The course will introduce all the main skills you’ll need to understand and communicate scientific numbers, relate them to the real world, and share your discoveries with other learners.

Study skills for international students - Starts August 18th

study skills for intl stuThis course looks at some of the key skills that international students need in order to be successful at a UK university. It is special because of the way it has been produced. Our English language and study skills teachers at INTO UEA surveyed and interviewed students who had already successfully completed a course and progressed to study at the University. We asked them about the things that they had found most challenging when they started their university programme. This course has been developed as a result of what those international students told us, as well as the experience INTO UEA colleagues have in preparing international students for university study. Over the four weeks of the course you will hear top tips from international students already studying at university in the UK. You will also hear teachers talking about the key skills that international students need to do well. Our aim is to give you the best possible chance of success in your studies. Each week there will be videos, articles, quizzes and discussions that will help you develop your study skills. At the end of each week there will be an exercise which will review what has been learned. There will also be the opportunity for you to discuss your ideas with other learners on the course. 

Medicines Adherence: Supporting Patients with their Treatment - Starts August 25th

regulating medicineIt is estimated that 30-50% of patients do not take their medicines as prescribed. So how should we, as healthcare professionals, respond? As medicines are key to the successful management of chronic conditions, underuse or non-adherence represents a lost opportunity for the health improvement for the patient as well as being a waste of valuable resources for healthcare systems. In Europe alone, the cost of poor adherence to treatment is estimated at 195,000 lives and €20 billion annually. This two week course is designed for pharmacists, doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals with a role or interest in supporting patients with long-term conditions. We’ve invited a range of inspirational healthcare professionals. researchers and clinical academics from across King’s College London’s Institute of Pharmaceutical Science and the Pharmaceutical Clinical Academic Group at King’s Health Partners to contribute to this course. You will be able to immerse yourself in our engaging video material, scenarios and discussions to explore the challenges of medicines non-adherence, factors that may influence patient medicines use and approaches that can be used to effectively engage patients in patient-centred consultations about self-managing medicines.

Towards Scottish Independence? Understanding the Referendum - Starts August 25th

scottish referendumWe aim to place participants in our course at the heart of the Scottish referendum debate. Participants will engage critically (and constructively) with the arguments of both sides and with each other, whilst being informed by input from leading Edinburgh University academics. In addition to weekly live-streamed Question Hour with a panel of experts, the course provides video explanations of key issues, interactive debates and role play exercises. The course begins three weeks before the referendum and also considers afterwards the implications of the result. It is structured around six main questions: Why is Scotland having a referendum? What does ‘Yes’ mean? What does ‘No’ mean? What do Scots think? The Day After What Next? Read more about examples which will be explored in the course, and its weekly live-streamed seminars, at Alan Convery’s blog post.

iversity Accredible

Vehicle Dynamics II: Cornering - Starts August 19th

From Bugatti Veyron to Volkswagen Bettle, from racing to passenger car: learn more about cornering and drifting and look deeper into Kamm’s circles and Kemple’s diagram.  In this second part of Vehicle Dynamics, we will illuminate the lateral dynamic aspects of vehicles. Clear and brief: the cornering of a car. In Detail: We will start with a simple single-track model and then describe the slip angle of a wheel. The slip angle results in cornering forces, which are essential for understanding lateral dynamics. After that, we will look at the dependency between longitudinal and lateral forces using Kamm’s circle and Krempel’s diagram. Then we will investigate steady state cornering, stability and the influence of different weight distributions between inner and outer side wheels of the car. The course will finish with two applications from automotive mechatronics.At the end of course understand basic principles of cornering of a car. know slip angle and cornering forces. understand the single track model. understand the steady state cornering, stability and the influence of different weight distribution between inner and outer side of the car. be able to calculate simple properties of a car.

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Hybrid Courses: Best of Both Worlds - Starts August 4th

hybrid courseAre you a Higher Ed instructor or K-12 educator? Double your impact by taking advantage of both the classroom and online environments. Explore methods to effectively combine the two formats and build a class community that engages students and supports active learning in any subject area. For educators both new and experienced.

Project Management for Business Professionals - Starts August 18th

project managemnetThis course provides an introduction to the concepts, techniques, and principles of project management. Primary emphasis will be on learning the project management process outlined in the Project Management Institute’s PMBOK Guide (Project Management Body of Knowledge Guide). Agile, extreme, and other variations of project management will be discussed and their key features related to the PMBOK Guide. Upon completion of the course students will be able to plan, schedule, budget, estimate, control, and monitor projects. In addition, they will become familiar with resource allocation, resource loading and the creation and use of GANTT and PERT charts.

Business Ethics for the Real World - Starts August 18th

business ethicsThis course is designed to provide an introduction to the subject of ethical behavior in business. The course provides an understanding of the nature of ethics, the role ethics plays in business, and the most commonly encountered ethical dilemmas in a business career. It provides practical advice on how to identify ethical dilemmas when they arise, how to get enough information to assess one’s responsibilities, how to analyze a complex ethical choice, and how to marshal one’s own resources and courage to act ethically. While the course includes some ethical theory, it is designed to be approachable by the seasoned manager, the novice businessperson, and students in business schools. No specific background or preparation is necessary. 

Which courses will you add to your To Learn list?  Let us know in the comments below!

What do Computers, Globalization & Water Have in Common?

edX2

They are all course topics found on edX next month! EdX has several great courses starting soon so if you are interested in Thermodynamics, Immunology or the Ideas of the 20th Century (or any previously mentioned topic!), keep reading for these and other great courses below!

Thermodynamics

July 29   (length: 12 weeks)    free

Introduction to basic concepts and applications of thermodynamics in mechanical engineering.  There will be emphasis on problem-solving. Students will need to spend significant effort on solving exercises. The course is designed for students in mechanical engineering. However, others (both engineers and scientists) are likely to find it useful. The course has also been found to be useful to teachers of thermodynamics.  A basic knowledge of high-school physics and chemistry is assumed; ability to do college calculus (differentiation, integration, partial derivatives, and exact differentials) is required.

Introduction to Linux

Aug 1     free

Develop a good working knowledge of Linux using both the graphical interface and command line, covering the major Linux distribution families.  This course explores the various tools and techniques commonly used by Linux programmers, system administrators and end users to achieve their day-to-day work in a Linux environment. It is designed for experienced computer users who have limited or no previous exposure to Linux, whether they are working in an individual or Enterprise environment.

Fundamentals of Immunology, Part 1

Aug 18   ( length: 8 weeks)      free

Learn about your body’s defences against disease: how it can identify threats and coordinate counter attacks.  When you’re sick, you may wonder, “Why me?” But the real question should be, “Why am I not sick all the time?” You might even ask, “Why does my body respond with a fever, and is it really a good idea to lower it?” This course explores immunology, how the body defends itself from constant assault by parasites and pathogens. This course will present the fundamentals of both innate and adaptive immunity, emphasizing functional interactions among cells and organs. We will cover signaling, pathogen recognition and the division of labor among myeloid, lymphoid and supporting cells. The subject matter will also supply health professionals and biomedical researchers with the basic vocabulary and concepts necessary to understand both clinical press releases and primary literature. The course materials also provide support to other immunology instructors by presenting difficult concepts in creative ways using analogies and models.    This is the first part of a two part course. Fundamentals of Immunology, Part 2 will start in October 2014 after the conclusion of Part 1.

Circuits and Electronics

Aug 25   free

Teaches the fundamentals of circuit and electronic analysis.  The course introduces engineering in the context of the lumped circuit abstraction. Topics covered include: resistive elements and networks; independent and dependent sources; switches and MOS transistors; digital abstraction; amplifiers; energy storage elements; dynamics of first- and second-order networks; design in the time and frequency domains; and analog and digital circuits and applications. Design and lab exercises are also significant components of the course.

Age of Globalization

Aug 27   (length: 15 weeks)    free

Identify the historical and cultural systems driving globalization and changing societies around the world.  Globalization is a fascinating spectacle that can be understood as global systems of competition and connectivity. These man-made systems provide transport, communication, governance, and entertainment on a global scale. International crime networks are outgrowths of the same systems. Topics include national identity, language diversity, the global labour market, popular culture, sports and climate change.  Expects familiarity with the general subject matter, but does not expect more than a general understanding of either concepts or vocabulary. The course may expect familiarity with other undergraduate course materials.

Ideas of the Twentieth Century

Aug 27   (length: 15 weeks)  free

Learn how philosophy, art, literature, and history shaped the last century and the world today. The last century ushered in significant progress. Philosophers, scientists, artists, and poets overthrew our understanding of the physical world, of human behaviour, of thought and its limits, and of art, creativity, and beauty. Scientific progress improved the way we lived across the world. Expects familiarity with the general subject matter, but does not expect more than a general understanding of either concepts or vocabulary. The course may expect familiarity with other undergraduate course materials.

Introduction to Computer Programming, Part 1

July 29   (length: 6 weeks)    free

This 6-week course provides students with a foundation in computer programming.  Participants will get to read and understand many sample programs, and will have to write several on their own. This course deals with procedural programming, and attempts to inculcate good programming practices in a novice programmer.  Knowledge of high school mathematics is essential and adequate. Exposure to pre-calculus is desirable.

Introduction to Water and Climate

Aug 26   (length: 8 weeks)    free

The basic elements of and the relation between water and climate are highlighted and further discussed together with their mutual coherence.Water is essential for life on earth and of crucial importance for society. Also within our climate water plays a major role. The natural cycle of ocean to atmosphere, by precipitation back to earth and by rivers and aquifers to the oceans has a decisive impact on regional and global climate patterns.

Remember to add these great courses to your To Learn List!  And let us know below which great edX courses you decided to take in August!

Adventures in Gamification: An Interview with Tom Benjamin

Adventures in Gamification Logo 2
To finish our series Adventures in Gamification, we have a special surprise for you!  Dr. Tom Benjamin, who teaches the Gamification in Education course on OpenLearning,  has kindly agreed to participate in an interview with Accredible to discuss Gamification, MOOCs and his future plans.  This was especially exciting as a student of his course as he answered a few questions that I thought I had sorted out…read on to learn more about applying game theory to learning – and how he applied it to the course.

Who is Dr Tom Benjamin?

tom picture Tom Benjamin graduated from University of Michigan in Psychology, then did an MBA at Michigan State. He played water polo for MSU and Sydney U while in graduate school. He moved to Australia where he worked as a psychologist and researcher. He has taught & researched at a tertiary level across a number of disciplines including economics, IT, and demography.

Music is intrinsic to development of his game research.  His Detroit music career could be best described as a frat party and wedding singer. Although he went on to academia, some of his former rock band members continued on in the entertainment sector.“We were the first generation of kids with access to electronic gear. With our paper route money we bought stereo recorders and the same mics and amps as the Beatles!,” recalls Tom.

Karaoke, campfire singing, and blues jamming have many properties of gamification. Our local Rising Star karaoke was #1 in Australia and they allowed me to test out my multi-tracks with a live audience. Often someone would hear one of my public domain songs and ask if it was “an 80′s song”. I nodded without telling them that it was actually 1880′s!”

Participants in Gamification in Education should recognize in karaoke the gamified elements of competition and unpredictability add to that the capability to change the pitch of the song to fit a comfortable key is a huge leveller. Tom explains, “You could sing anything from bass to soprano with a push of the button. And you get intermittent reinforcement as with a 10,000 song list you’re bound to kiss a few frogs before finding the songs that fit you like a glass slipper.”

On MOOCs

The true value of MOOCs can be found in the knowledge we gained, the pure learning. Where that knowledge comes from is far less important.  At one time, it was believed that radio and TV in the classroom would be the disruptive innovation, but it turned out that those devices had a much larger impact at home, where students could be exposed to the same news and information as their parents – and often ahead of when they covered it in school.

Documentaries and lectures on TV (or pod-casts) are valid methods of distributing information and gaining knowledge.  Information from experts are delivered to you in a one way dialogue, giving you the opportunity to absorb the content.  Discussions are not always required with the educator in subjects like science or history (how frequently will you want to argue a fact?) and the lectures are every bit as informative as a live lecture. ytv

Advancements in technology have made it possible (and cost efficient) to share this information to more people.  What once would take many years and much funding to produce can now be done with a pod-cast microphone and a netbook. “The information element has already been disrupted.  I couldn’t even dream of offering these courses without the massive heavy lifting subsidy from OpenLearning and YouTube.  We can put up post-grad quality material limited now only by our time investment. What won’t be disrupted will be the administrative and social elements of tertiary education,” says Tom.

“Disruptive Innovation is among the most misquoted terms at the moment.  The classical example was the motorcar which took a while to outperform the horse cart then improved exponentially, eventually making the horse obsolete.” ~ Tom Benjamin

Distance education once meant sending reams of paper material back and forth between student and the education facility.  At the University of NSW, home of one of the largest distance ed courses in Australia, Tom Benjamin introduced the use of digital technology – first by CD ROM, then the Web.  “There was initial resistance but it soon took over as the dominant format,” reminisces Dr. Benjamin. “I found OpenLearning which emanated from my University of NSW alma mater, contacted them, and they were very helpful in setting up my free MOOCs. I’m particularly grateful given that my current course have no revenue I can pass on to them.”

On Gamification

While working as a psychologist in the acute neurological and psychiatric wards in the hospitals, Dr Benjamin saw that patients had the same needs for exercise and recreation as before their accidents, but that it became more difficult due to their paralysis or disability.  Additionally, there was an embarrassment and frustration for the patient when being waited on hand and foot and having to thank a therapist for helping with simple tasks they could once do for themselves.  In this he saw the potential for computer game-based interactive tools.  “Most people welcome a chance to do something on their own and have a machine they can control, interact with, and yell at.  So we developed some physical games like the hanging ball, described in my course,” Tom explains.

Math_games_-_Big_Brother_Mouse_activity_day“Games in classrooms and rehabilitation centres had been traditional. However, the psychometric properties of games were somewhat new at the time and they remain controversial. How would parents feel if Johnny failed on a ‘game’ version of a test and didn’t get into med school? Duck and cover.My early research in hospitals sought to bridge the psychometrics between ‘task’ and ‘game’. Were there principles by which any tasks could be transformed into games? Could drills be gamified so that patients would find them more fun? Could games, despite their chance element, replace psychometric and academic tests?”

Games are a traditional teaching and learning tool. Direct instruction is the proven superior way of presenting information, there are only so many hours in a day and in a human concentration span, so games have long been a welcome alternative to drill and listening.

In the “Gamification in Education” course, we learned that games don’t have to be technology based to be effective.  They need to capture a person’s attention, draw them into a believable “world” or “story”, and challenge them into being and understanding more than they normally would. Gamification_techniques_5

“We knew for centuries that a lot of learning takes place out of school. And the success of commercial games speaks for itself. Little kids would not likely spend hours reading off quiz questions to each other at home or doing mortgage & probability calculations. But toss in some rules and dice and call it Trivial Pursuit or Monopoly and they’ll spend hours. So this is nothing new,” reminds Dr Benjamin.

 

 

“My personal advice is not to feel guilty and not to get sucked into the black holes of multimedia and the latest techno-bandwagon fads. You can spend countless hours downloading and installing software, let alone learning it. I do. And teachers often end up doing this unpaid (and unthanked) at home. So I’ve always recommended setting up a multimedia club or lab rather than trying to do all this admin yourself.” ~ Tom Benjamin

Flashcards, hangman and spelling bees all have a purpose – to develop the mind, just the same as tech based games.  Including gamification elements such as unpredictability and competition will help make the learning fun and memorable.  Tom Benjamin states, “I still treasure my dictionary I won in the class Spelling Bee at Washington Elementary school!”

His advice for teachers who are looking to use games in the classroom, “My personal advice is not to feel guilty and not to get sucked into the black holes of multimedia and the latest techno-bandwagon fads. You can spend countless hours downloading and installing software, let alone learning it. I do. And teachers often end up doing this unpaid (and unthanked) at home. So I’ve always recommended setting up a multimedia club or lab rather than trying to do all this admin yourself.”

On the Gamification in Education MOOC

As a student of Gamification in Education, I found that the course whet my appetite for more information.  I researched, read, watched videos, listened to additional pod-casts, anything I could to gain a fuller understanding and to be able to better answer the quiz questions. Imagine the surprise I felt when Dr. Benjamin further explained his views on the course… neuropsychology

“Gamification enrolments have far outstripped my psychology courses. This surprised me because of the interest in what people think forensic psychology is all about from their TV shows. And neuropsychotherapy is another buzz area.”

 

 

gamification

In his course on Gamification, Dr. Benjamin used many elements of gamification – he created a quest of knowledge and understanding that motivated the learner, he used text, pod-casts, quizzes and movies to capture our attention.

“A short movie with a text version can pack in a lot because the viewer can save, rewind, and replay or just read the text the old-fashioned way. And with the OpenLearning platform the real work will be your own research to answer the quiz questions. So the heart of education remains as always: reverse-engineering from what I hope you’ll learn back to what I have to deliver to help you do that.”

What’s Next for Tom Benjamin?

“I want to expand the MOOC offerings so they are better integrated. My next series will be Personal Branding. It will expand on the multimedia resources I’ve started to put together under the Neuropsychotherapy course, which is aimed at therapists. Branding is useful to job seekers,businesses, community groups with a ‘cause’, and anyone wanting a web presence.”

Dr. Benjamin has started a new venture known as the Multimedia Institute of Technology to continue offering free courses, but he is open to developing commercial courses as well.  “My courses will focus on skills that will be useful for those already in employment such as teachers and therapists. Job seekers and businesses may well find these skills a good investment when building their portfolios.”

Interested in learning more about Dr. Benjamin and his future plans?  You can follow him on his blog or on Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.  For the full interview, click here.

Thank you to Dr. Tom Benjamin for taking the time to speak with us at Accredible.  Also, thank you for joining us for this series.  We hope you’ve enjoyed your own Adventures In Gamification! If you’ve not yet had a chance to take Gamification in Education by Dr. Tom Benjamin via OpenLearning, there is good news – you can join in at any time!  Add it to your To Learn list today!  

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Coursera Courses Starting in August!

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Once again, Coursera is offering some great courses this month!  Regardless of your interests, there is something for everyone.  Check out the links for more details or watch a few of the videos…August 1

August 1

The Fall and Rise of Jerusalem

Week of Aug 3-9

August 3

Applying to U.S. Universities

August 4

R Programming
Getting and Cleaning Data
Exploratory Data Analysis
Reproducible Research
Regression Models
Managing Your Time, Money, and Career: MBA Insights for Undergraduates
The Camera Never Lies
Introduction to Acoustics (Part 2)
Regression Models
Practical Machine Learning
Developing Data Products
Mathematical Biostatistics Boot Camp 2
Statistical Inference
The Data Scientist’s Toolbox

August 5

 

From the Big Bang to Dark Energy
Interactive Computer Graphics

 

Week of Aug 10-16

August 10

 

A Brief History of Humankind

August 11

How Things Work 1
Introduction to Forensic Science
Advanced Chemistry
Beauty, Form & Function: An Exploration of Symmetry
Introduction to Acoustics (Part 2)
Climate Change
Web Application Architectures

August 12

Student Thinking at the Core

August 13

Geodesign: Change Your World

August 15

Surviving Your Rookie Year of Teaching: 3 Key Ideas & High Leverage Techniques

 

Week of Aug 17-23

August 18

 

 

Curanderismo: Traditional Medicine
Inspiring Leadership through Emotional Intelligence
Linear Circuits
Understanding Violence
Structure Standing Still: The Statics of Everyday Objects
Emerging Trends & Technologies in the Virtual K-12 Classroom
Alcohol, Drugs, and Baby Boomers: Are you ready?
Usable Security
Understanding Research: An Overview for Health Professionals

August 20

 

Personal & Family Financial Planning

Human Trafficking

 

August 23

 

Preparation for Introductory Biology: DNA to Organisms

Week of Aug 24-30

August 25

Think Again: How to Reason and Argue
Introduction to Sustainability
Making Better Group Decisions: Voting, Judgement Aggregation and Fair Division
Algorithmic Thinking
Mechanics: Motion, Forces, Energy and Gravity, from Particles to Planets
Introduction to Computational Arts

Bioelectricity: A Quantitative Approach

August 26

 

Scientific Computing
Designing and Executing Information Security Strategies
Information Security and Risk Management in Context
Building an Information Risk Management Toolkit
Introduction to Computational Finance and Financial Econometrics

August 28

 

Building an Information Risk Management Toolkit

August 31

August 31

 


History of Rock, Part Two

 Once you have found an interesting course, don’t forget to add it to your To Learn list…and drop us a note to let us know which courses you chose!

Around the World in 62 Days – Day 29-35

Around the World in 62 Days

Welcome back to our travels. This week we will be visiting the North Atlantic, the South Pacific, Africa, Europe and the Caribbean!  Get ready to celebrate via traditional dress and dances, tree planting ceremonies and fireworks as we head first to the Faroe Islands!

 

July 29

 

Faroe IslandsThe Faroe Islands is in archipelago and autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, situated approximately halfway between Norway and Iceland.  The Faroe Islands have been a self-governing country within the Danish Realm since 1948, controlling most of their own domestic affairs.  Ólavsøka, is on 29 July, and commemorates the death of Saint Olaf. The celebrations are held in Tórshavn, starting on the evening of the 28th and continuing until the 31st.  The official celebration follows customs that date back 900 years – starting on the 29th with the opening of the Faroese Parliament that involves a service held in Tórshavn Cathedral with all members of  parliament as well as civil and church officials walking into the cathedral in a procession.  Parish ministers take turns giving the sermon, after which, the procession returns to the parliament for the opening ceremony. Other events include sports competitions (including a rowing competition in Tórshavn Harbour), art exhibitions, pop concerts, and the famous Faroese dance in Sjónleikarhúsið,  Many people also mark the occasion by wearing the national Faroese dress.

 

July 30

 

 

Flag_of_Vanuatu.svgVanuatu is an Oceanian island nation located in the South Pacific Ocean. The archipelago, which is of volcanic origin, is east of northern Australia, northeast of New Caledonia, west of Fiji, and southeast of the Solomon Islands, near New Guinea.  Claimed by France and the United Kingdom in the 1880′s, Vanuatu was jointly managed as the New Hebrides through a British–French Condominium from 1906 until independence. An independence movement arose in the 1970s, and the Republic of Vanuatu was founded in 1980. According to Wikipedia, “the nation’s name was derived from the word vanua (“land” or “home”), which occurs in several Austronesian languages, and the word tu (“stand”). Together the two words indicated the independent status of the new country.”

 

August 1 (1)

 

 

200px-Flag_of_Benin.svg

 

Benin is a country in West Africa, bordered by Togo , NigeriaBurkina Faso and Niger.  Formerly known as the Kingdom of Dahomey,  this region was referred to as the Slave Coast from as early as the 17th century due to the large number of slaves shipped to the New World during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. After the abolishment of slavery, France took over the country and renamed it French Dahomey. In 1960, Dahomey gained full independence from France.  Since then Benin has had a tumultuous period with many different democratic governments, many military coups and military governments.  Benin operated as a Marxist-Leninist state between 1972 and 1990 known as the People’s Republic of Benin, which was replaced by the multi-party Republic of Benin that exists today.

200px-Flag_of_Switzerland_(Pantone).svgSwitzerland -The Swiss National Day is the national holiday of Switzerland, set on 1 August.  This has only been the official national holiday since 1994 – but the idea had been suggested as early as 1889. The date was inspired by the Federal Charter of 1291 which indicates that it was “early August” when “three Alpine cantons swore the oath of confederation, an action which later came to be regarded as the foundation of Switzerland.”  A report by the Federal Department of Home Affairs in 1889 suggested a celebrated in Bern in 1891 to combine the 700th anniversary of the city with the 600th anniversary of Confederacy.  The traditional date of 8 November 1307 has been replaced by 1 August 1291 in popular consciousness – especially after the 650th anniversary celebrations of 1941.  Celebrations include paper lantern parades, bonfires, hanging strings of Swiss flags and fireworks.

 

August 3

 

200px-Flag_of_Niger.svgNiger -Although France agreed to Niger becoming fully independent on 11 July 1960, independence wasn’t declared by the Nigerian Legislative Assembly until 3 August 1960.  Since 1960, the 3rd has been a national festival. In 1975, the government began celebrating Independence Day, in part, through the coordinated mass planting of trees in order to fight desertification. The celebrations are also known as the Fête de l’Arbre. The 3rd is celebrated in Niger with official festivals and appearances of political leaders, an official broadcast by the President as well as the tradition (since 1975) that every Nigerien plant a tree. It is a Public Holiday, in which government offices and many businesses close.

 

August 4

 

Flag_of_Burkina_Faso.svgBurkina Faso is a landlocked country in West Africa  and is surrounded by six countries: Mali, Niger, Benin, Togo, Ghana, and Ivory Coast.  Formerly known as the Republic of Upper Volta, the country was renamed “Burkina Faso” on 4 August 1984.  Using a word from the 2 major native languages, Mòoré and Dioula, “Burkina” from Mòoré (meaning “men of integrity”) and “Faso” (meaning “fatherland”) from Dioula. “Burkina Faso” is understood as “Land of upright people” or “Land of honest people”. In 1896 France established a protectorate over the Mossi kingdoms in this territory and was known as French Upper Volta. Burkina Faso, gained Independence on 5 August 1960.  It operates as a semi-presidential republic.

200px-Flag_of_the_Cook_Islands.svgThe Cook Islands is an island country in the South Pacific Ocean in free association with New Zealand.  This means that the Cook Islands‘ defence and foreign affairs are the responsibility of New Zealand, which is exercised in consultation with the Cook Islands although in recent times, the Cook Islands have adopted an increasingly independent foreign policy. The Cook Islands became a British protectorate in 1888, largely due to community fears that France might occupy the territory. In 1901 the New Zealand Government decided to annex the country despite opposition from the country’s traditional chiefs.  When the British Nationality and New Zealand Citizenship Act 1948 came into effect on 1 January 1949, Cook Islanders who were British subjects gained New Zealand citizenship. The country remained a New Zealand protectorate until 1965, when the New Zealand Government decided to offer self-governing status to its colony.  Although Cook Islanders are citizens of New Zealand, they have the status of Cook Islands nationals, which is not given to other New Zealand citizens.

200px-Flag_of_Jamaica.svgJamaica - The Independence of Jamaica refers to the series of events which led to the declaration of the Colony of Jamaica‘s independence from the United Kingdom on August 6, 1962. This is celebrated on the 1st Monday of August as National Day in Jamaica.  After World War II ended, a sweeping movement of decolonization took over the world. At this time, the British Government and local politicians began a long transition of converting the Caribbean island from a crown colony into an independent state. After Norman Manley was elected Chief Minister in 1955, he sped up the process of decolonization via several constitutional amendments. These amendments allowed for greater self-government and established the Minister’s administration as a cabinet under a premier.

Now that you have learned a little more about global events, consider adding one of these courses to your To Learn List:

 

days 28-35

An update to places we’ve been:

Come back next week when we visit Bolivia, Afghanistan, Singapore and Chad among other places!

The Complete Interview: Dr. Tom Benjamin

Adventures in Gamification Logo 2

To finish our series Adventures in Gamification, we had a special surprise for you - Dr. Tom Benjamin, who teaches the Gamification in Education course on OpenLearning,  had kindly agreed to participate in an interview with Accredible to discuss Gamification, MOOCs and his future plans.  By the time we were finished, we had so much great material that it was hard to pick and choose what to share! As a student of his course, I was fascinated by his answers.  I couldn’t put down the notes as they were sent back and forth!  As a writer, I had so much good information, I hardly knew where to begin!  After I finished the initial article, I felt compelled to share the entire interview with you.  Without further ado, here it is.

Accredible (A):  Thank you for taking the time to chat with us today.  Could you tell us a bit about yourself – your education, any interests or  anything fun you might like to share?

Tom Benjamin (TB): I graduated from University of Michigan in Psychology then did an MBA at Michigan State. I was a late starter in sport, playing water polo for MSU and Sydney U while in grad school. I moved to Australia where I’ve worked as a psychologist and researcher. Although I did some casual school teaching in Detroit I’ve mainly taught & researched at tertiary level across a number of disciplines including economics, IT, and demography.

Music is intrinsic to development of my game research. My Detroit music career was best described as a frat party and wedding singer. Although I went on to academia some of our old rock band members continued on in the entertainment sector. This article explains our early experiences with multimedia.  We were the first generation of kids with access to electronic gear. With our paper route money we bought stereo recorders and the same mics and amps as the Beatles!

Karaoke, campfire singing, and blues jamming have many properties of gamification. Our local Rising Star karaoke was #1 in Australia and they allowed me to test out my multitracks with a live audience. Often someone would hear one of my public domain songs and ask if it was “an 80s song”. I nodded without telling them that it was actually 1880s.

My MOOC participants will recognize in karaoke gamified elements of competition and unpredictability. Capability to change pitch of the song to fit a comfortable key is a huge leveller. You could sing anything from bass to soprano with a push of the button. And you get intermittent reinforcement as with a 10,000 song list you’re bound to kiss a few frogs before finding the songs that fit you like a glass slipper.

An old college buddy from Detroit emailed me to ask about a guitar system I had developed years before. I literally dusted it off from the shed (where it resided on an ancient Mac). I sent it to a Professor of Music in a bundle of educational resources I was developing. He spotted the guitar system and, in his role as Editor, asked me to publish it via the Australian Music Association. Some months later it went up as the ‘Instant Play’ system.

The music education system embodies many of the principles that I’ve applied to gamification such as reduction of cognitive load, intermittent reinforcement, controlled unpredictability, and heavy use of multimedia. I’ll probably run some online courses around this system. It’s pretty revolutionary as you can not only be playing useful music in 10 minutes by ear with 1 finger, it’s that easy that you could be teaching the next guy a few minutes later.

So the courses have allowed me to tie all of these interests together.

A: What was it about Gamification that captured your attention? When? How did you first use gamification in an educational setting?

TB: I was working in the hospitals as a psychologist in acute neurological and psychiatric wards. These folks had the same needs for recreation and exercize as before their accidents but it was a bit more difficult now that they were paralyzed or otherwise disabled. So I could see the potential for computer game-based interactive tools. These had advantages over human therapists as they were infinitely patient and there was never an ego problem. It is embarrassing to be waited on hand and foot in a hospital and have to say ‘thanks’ all day for the simplest acts you can no longer do for yourself. Most people welcome a chance to do something on their own and have a machine they can control, interact with, and yell at. So we developed some physical games like the hanging ball, described in my course.

I kept up music interest as ‘music therapy’ while working in the hospitals and these influenced my subsequent gamification principles, particularly the OrffSchulwerk approach, with its restricted set of notes that eliminated discords, hence fear of failure.

The digital era gave my music a new lease on life with multitracking allowing me to do the whole studio gig from a coffee table. For example, this version was done over a lunch hour with digital piano and myself multitracking with a podcast mic the backing choir vocals and lead. Colorize an old B&W public domain movie and presto.  I show students how to do this sort of thing in my courses.

From my clinical psychology masters’ thesis I published papers on the psychometric properties of games. Several careers later our state education department appointed me as the Senior Researcher for the Centre for Learning Innovation. They asked me to explore applications of video games. My early finding was that the multimedia may have accounted for as much of the engagement as the actual game properties (chance, competition etc) so I put my music background to good use in exploring the capabilities of multimedia, which was only just becoming affordable. I bought a studio.

A: Is Gamification a new fad or a new twist on something that has long been used in the classroom?

TB: Games in classrooms and rehabilitation centres had been traditional. However, the psychometric properties of games were somewhat new at the time and they remain controversial. How would parents feel if Johnny failed on a ‘game’ version of a test and didn’t get into med school? Duck and cover.
My early research in hospitals sought to bridge the psychometrics between ‘task’ and ‘game’. Were there principles by which any tasks could be transformed into games? Could drills be gamified so that patients would find them more fun? Could games, despite their chance element, replace psychometric and academic tests?

A: Why do you think we pay so much attention to the concept of gamification today? People seem to be embracing this idea, like it is a saviour for the classroom – is it? Or is it just another tool that should be used when the situation calls for it?

TB: What has changed since Grandma’s day is the price/capacity of computers and multimedia. No one had predicted that we would be able to run our own international radio, movie, TV networks from a coffee table. So while the psychological principles of games remain the same as ever, the costs of delivery have changed. So even if games can’t equal direct instruction methods they have some logistical advantages.

A: Any advice for teachers wanting to use elements of gamification in their classroom?

TB: Most are probably using elements of gamification in their classroom already. I still treasure my dictionary I won in the class Spelling Bee at Washington Elementary School. The Bee had plenty of game elements of unpredictability and competition.

My personal advice is not to feel guilty and not to get sucked into the black holes of multimedia and the latest techno-bandwagon fads. You can spend countless hours downloading and installing software, let alone learning it. I do. And teachers often end up doing this unpaid (and unthanked) at home. So I’ve always recommended setting up a multimedia club or lab rather than trying to do all this admin yourself.
And there is no proof that the latest whiz-bang software enhances student learning. The grey thing between the students’ ears is what we’re developing. So if you prefer or find it easier to do that with old-fashioned paper flash cards from grandma’s day, rest easy until someone shows an actual controlled study that proves you’re missing out. And don’t hold your breath waiting.

My courses only claim to show you how to do things ‘quicker, simpler and cheaper’, not ‘better’.

A: How about for parents who want to use gamification as a method of incentives for their children?

TB: We knew for centuries that a lot of learning takes place out of school. And the success of commercial games speaks for itself. Little kids would not likely spend hours reading off quiz questions to each other at home or doing mortgage & probability calculations. But toss in some rules and dice and call it Trivial Pursuit or Monopoly and they’ll spend hours.

So this is nothing new. Games are a traditional teaching & learning tool. Although direct instruction is the proven superior way of presenting information, there are only so many hours in a day and in a human concentration span, so games have long been a welcome alternative to drill and listening. The big error by some game enthusiasts has been to extrapolate Pentagon-level war games down to primary schools. The market failure of edu-games ought to have been a warning against this.

A: Do you think gamification works in the workplace?

TB: Workplace training is partly about politics. Adults can easily be insulted by having to do inane ‘professional development’ or ‘protection certification’ courses. Dressing up an inane hated exercize with a game version is like putting spice on rotten meat. That was my point about ‘eating your own dog food’.
However, there is a long tradition of using simulations for risky or expensive learning such as pilot training or surgery. Unleashing trainees on these things in the real world can kill people. A plane crash can wreck a suburb.

To the extent that a flight or surgical simulation has interaction and unpredictability it could be termed a ‘game’.

A: What drew you to MOOCs?

TB: I worked at University of NSW in Sydney where we had one of the largest distance education courses in Australia. We sent reams of paper materials to our international students. I introduced the use of digital technology, including CD and Web. There was initial resistance but it soon took over as the dominant format.
Later, at the Department of Education’s Centre for Learning Innovation, I had a number of internal departmental channels to promote my innovations to our 50,000 state system teachers but they are very busy bees and it was quite hard to get take-up on resources.

So I turned to external public avenues. For example I presented at international conferences and did video and podcasts for the International Year of Astronomy, online games through the Tournament of Minds, the music system through the Australian Music Association, gamification via Classroom Aid, forensic psychology through the Australian Psychological Society, maths and spreadsheets through an international Excel guru …etc. indeed, just like we’re doing now through Accredible.

I found OpenLearning which emanated from my University of NSW alma mater, contacted them, and they were very helpful in setting up my free MOOCs. I’m particularly grateful given that my current courses have no revenue I can pass on to them. So maybe one day we’ll do some commercial courses.

A: What role do you think MOOCs play in education? Are they the disruptor of education as they have been labelled?

TB: Disruptive Innovation is among the most-misquoted terms at the moment. The classical example was the motorcar which took a while to outperform the horse cart then improved exponentially, eventually making the horse obsolete. The same was projected for the impact of radio and TV in the classroom but the impact was more at home, where kids were exposed to the same news and material as our parents, often far in advance of what we were learning in the classroom.

The casualization of the academic workforce and cost-cuts probably contributed to the initial over-the-top enthusiasm leading to the online education and MOOC bubble bursts.

One of the huge looming issues is the descent to the low denominator of free courses. Kids are growing up expecting free software and education. But it isn’t really a ‘free lunch’. Many app-developers hope to get paid consulting work so it’s more advertising than charity.

I’ve been happy and able to offer my courses for free only because the government had paid me over many decades to do research, so some of it was my paid duty and I avoided conflict of interest. However, part of the cost was borne by my family life. My wife didn’t always appreciate trying to get my attention through my ever-present headphones. And I suspect many app-developers are in a similar situation.

Other big remaining issues revolve around administration and certification more than content. For example, I often purchase a CD rom education series that is as informative as any live university lecture I ever attended (and I’ve been to decades of them). And I don’t need interactivity as I’m not likely to challenge these professors on topics like Viking History or Black Holes so don’t need student interaction. This is pure learning.
But all changes when I need a piece of paper. I’m forced to spend hours biting my tongue and muttering through some dreary tome to get the dreaded ‘professional development’ points I need for certification. Whether I learn anything is irrelevant. Sometimes I know the ‘information’ to be dead wrong. But I need that damned piece of paper.

Indeed, I don’t at the moment mark assignments on my own MOOCs. Participants can say anything they like, even if I fall on the floor laughing so hard I bite the chair at the answers. I rely on the social media element. Hopefully, they will see others’ answers and think again. For me to mark & grade assignments and by implication fail some students opens up a huge number of issues. There is no way I would attempt such with a free course. My own costs and indemnity would rise exponentially and I would have to charge fees just like any conventional institution.

So the short answer is that the information element has already been disrupted. I couldn’t even dream of offering these courses without the massive heavy lifting subsidy from OpenLearning and YouTube. We can put up post-grad quality material limited now only by our time investment.

What may not be disrupted will be the administrative and social elements of tertiary education. Primary and high school levels will be even less susceptible to disruption as students there actually need to learn skills to a Piagetian timetable so they don’t fall behind. And direct instruction was essential to me as a kid. I would still welcome it as an adult so I didn’t waste countless hours ‘discovery learning’ software with no manuals.
As an adult, If I forget who Harold Bluetooth the Viking was or why it matters that black holes rotate, who cares? But it could matter if I were an academic in those fields.

So the learning per se is no longer the issue. It is the context.

A: Or are MOOCs a method of regaining public interest in education, a sense of community with like -minded individuals, an opportunity to share ideas in a safe environment that many adults find missing in their workplace?

TB: Some years ago my wife and I put our collective interests up as an e-Chautauqua in recognition of the early 20th Century’s pioneering forms of adult education. We realized that we were covering many of the topics that used to draw people in their Ford Model-Ts to tents around the USA: astronomy, music, reform, philosophy. The MOOCs seem to be tapping much the same general public interests.

What I had been trying to do in the Education department was to show teachers that they could now make their own international e-chautauqua’s with ‘educational documentaries’. The money and time investment was reaching affordable levels. For example, they say that Ken Burns took longer to make his Civil War series than it took my great granddad to fight it (hence the flag puzzle in the movie in my Gamification course), but I was able to make a Ken Burns style Civil War documentary with a podcast mike and netbook  and many more. Each year it gets cheaper and easier.

These sorts of educational resources can be as you say “an opportunity to share ideas in a safe environment”. Safety requires removal of threat. Courses you can’t ‘fail’ are one way. Social media with identified people, rather than anonymous trolls, is another safety mechanism.

A: Do you plan on offering any additional MOOCs in the future? If so, can you share a little hint about the future classes?

TB: I want to expand the MOOC offerings so they are better integrated. My next series will be Personal Branding. It will expand on the multimedia resources I’ve started to put together under the Neuropsychotherapy course, which is aimed at therapists. Branding is useful to job seekers, businesses, community groups with a ‘cause’, and anyone wanting a web presence.

I’ve called the whole venture the Multimedia Institute of Technology. The bulk of it will be free courses. However, if there is demand, I’ll develop commercial versions. For starters, if people want contemporary examples of audio-visual content instead of the ancient public domain material I rely on at present I will have to shell out $thousands up-front. Add marking and the paperwork of accreditation and we’re soon in the same expense league as conventional institutions.

So I’m investigating liaison with software vendors so I can offer my little niche better value for money than traditional institutions. For example, there are many upmarket ‘industry-standard’ tertiary multimedia courses where you pay $thousands and they let you play with their 56-channel mixing desks, TV studios, and other ‘state of the art’ gear. But when you leave the course, do you get to take the gear with you? Or just a piece of paper and a head full of skills? What I hope to do is make sure you walk away from my commercial courses with tangible software and simple methods you can implement immediately with low time and money budget.
The music system will be embedded in the larger multi-media context but could take on a life of its own as there are many people on this planet who probably wish they could have learned guitar in 10 minutes with 1 finger and I think the system will work particularly well with community groups. It needs a critical mass of people to try it and put up some videos so the viewers can say “Hey, I could do that even better”. So I’ll eventually make it a separate OpenLearning course.

I want to avoid the certificated-course route to large extent. Certification introduces massive overhead expenses and nightmares of how to accredit someone from another country. And I don’t want to teach ‘industry-standard’ software courses as there are plenty of these already and the gear costs a fortune. You don’t get ‘academic price’ on software when you step out into the real world. So I will focus on the prosumer level rather than industry level gear.

My courses will focus on skills that will be useful for those already in employment such as teachers and therapists. Job seekers and businesses may well find these skills a good investment when building their portfolios.

A: What was your biggest takeaway from offering Gamification in Education? Were you surprised by the interest and/or participation in your class? Why/why not?

TB: Gamification enrolments have far outstripped my psychology courses. This surprised me because of the interest in what people think forensic psychology is all about from their TV shows. And neuropsychotherapy is another buzz area. On the other hand, I purposely made the Forensic Psychology course comprehensive and long, even to the point of expecting high drop-out. I intended that as one message is that a lot of what passes as science in the courtrooms is highly questionable. So if people aren’t prepared to put in the hard yards it will remain that way.

On the other hand I realize that I have to fit the attention spans of online viewing. Hence one of my next instalments is going to be “Neuropsychology in 10 Minutes” as PD for our state branch of the College of Forensic Psychologists. Again, there is a political message – you don’t even get 10 minutes in the expert witness box to explain neuropsychology, more like a few seconds before you’re savaged by a rabid barrister trying to discredit you. So you need some quick answers rather than mumbled neuro-jargon.

Another message of this movie will be that you don’t need a Hollywood studio to produce a useful documentary, even on a complex controversial subject like neuroscience. A lot of such TV documentaries are padding, with flutes playing and talking heads waving their hands on long walks in the fields. Their credit rolls take longer than my entire movies! A short movie with a text version can pack in a lot because the viewer can save, re-wind, and re-play or just read the text the old-fashioned way. And with the OpenLearning platform the real work will be your own research to answer the quiz questions.

So the heart of education remains as always: reverse-engineering from what I hope you’ll learn back to what I have to deliver to help you do that.

If you are interested in the works of Dr. Tom Benjamin, check out these links below:

Thank you to Dr. Tom Benjamin for taking the time to speak with us at Accredible.  Also, thank you for joining us for this series.  We hope you’ve enjoyed your own Adventures In Gamification! If you’ve not yet had a chance to take Gamification in Education by Dr. Tom Benjamin via OpenLearning, there is good news – you can join in at any time!  Add it to your To Learn list today!  

Future Learn + 4 Universities + BBC= 4 Amazing WW1 MOOCs

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FutureLearn has announced an amazing collaboration between 4 University Partners and the BBC which gives learners a chance to learn about World War 1 in a whole new way!  The BBC has opened its archives and shared multimedia content covering various aspects of the war and each university will present a different aspect of the first World War – from Aviation to the Treaty of Paris and more.  

Why The Focus on World War One?

2014 marks the centennial year of the beginning of the First World War. The war began in the Balkans, but it soon spread to become a European conflict, and developed into a world war. It was a war of unprecedented scale and brutality, with countless casualties. It also left a poisonous legacy for the 20th century and beyond, and many of the issues that were left unresolved in 1918 would lead to another world war in 1939. 1914-1918 was a period in history that has proved provocative and culturally resonant for the last hundred years.

The BBC’s Commitment to Education and Technology

This is the first time a major public broadcaster has contributed to MOOCs, according to Future Learn.  “The BBC is committed to education and looking at how we can exploit technology to best serve audiences,” says Sinéad Rocks, Acting Controller of BBC Learning. “This is a great opportunity to explore how we can do that as part of our WW1 season, and working as a content partner with these four universities to help deliver online courses will help us establish how we can contribute to the UK remaining a world leader in online learning. MOOCs are an interesting and exciting area, and I’m looking forward to exploring what role we might play,”

Simon Nelson, CEO, FutureLearn, said: “It’s our aim at FutureLearn to connect our university partners to other great centres of culture and knowledge, so I’m delighted to see the BBC and these four universities come together to create new learning experiences. The collaboration reinforces FutureLearn’s approach to online education, which draws on experts in great storytelling and academics to produce compelling courses for learners around the world.  And it’s the learners who are the real winners here, gaining access to the unrivalled resources of one of the world’s best known broadcasters, world leading educators, and each other, around an event as significant as the World War One centenary.”

 The New Courses

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University of Glasgow – World War One: Paris 1919 – A New World Order?      (Starts 13 October)

The Paris Peace Conference of 1919 ended a Great War, but it also designed the post-war future. In 1919, world leaders assembled in Paris redrew the map of the world, partitioned and created countries, and ushered in a new era of international relations. The naivety of the peace-makers of 1919 has been justly criticised. However, in setting up a permanent ‘world organisation’, the League of Nations, they changed the management of world affairs forever…

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University of Birmingham – World War One: Aviation Comes of Age                  (Starts 20 October)

This course will investigate how the early days of aviation gripped the imagination of the general public, galvanised industry and excited far-sighted members of the military.  Aviation evolved rapidly during World War 1 with modern and more effective aircraft soon replacing the very basic machines that took to the skies in 1914. By the end of war, air power wasn’t just being used for reconnaissance but in ways that are still recognisable today. When the war was over aviation had truly come of age with the opening of mail routes, exploration and record setting exploits.

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University of Leeds – World War One: Changing Faces of Heroism                     (Starts 27 October)

Did the First World War make heroism meaningless or was it the conflict that gave it the most meaning?  Through discussion and analysis of art, literature, film and television, guided by our experts, you will explore the portrayals of heroism before, during and after the war. Drawing on rarely seen archive you will be curating a mini exhibition, exploring a war memorial and writing a review of a representation of war.  Together we will examine the changing faces of heroism from distant figureheads and brave warriors to the ordinary ‘Tommy’ and front-line nurses. The emergence of alternative hero figures, including anti-war campaigners and vulnerable, shell shocked soldiers, is also covered. 

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The Open University – World War One: Trauma and Memory                                               (Starts 3 November)

You will study the subject of physical and mental trauma, its treatments and its representation. You will focus not only on the trauma experienced by combatants but also the effects of the First World War on civilian populations. In this three-week course, you will discover just how devastating the effects of the First World War were in terms of casualties across the many combatant nations and look in depth at the problem of ‘shell shock’ and how deeply it affected the lives of those who lived through it. You will also develop the skills to carry out your own independent research.  The war was not only experienced on the battlefield, however, and you’ll explore the many and varied ways in which civilians’ lives were affected by it, for example in the way combatant casualties affected the lives of loved ones who were left behind.

 Which courses will you add to your To Learn list?  

 

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Around the World in 62 Days: Day 22-28

Around the World in 62 Days

Welcome back!  This week we visit Africa, the Caribbean and South America as we celebrate Independence and National Days around the world.  How many countries have we visited thus far that were (or are now!) on your Bucket List?  Have you kept up with where we’ve been in the past 3 weeks?  If not check out Days 1-5, Days 6-14, and Days 15-21!

 

July 23

Flag_of_Egypt.svgThe Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country spanning the north-east corner of Africa and south-west corner of Asia. Egypt has one of the longest histories of any modern state, tracing its heritage back to the 10th millennium BCE, which saw the emergence of one of the earliest and most sophisticated civilisations in the world. The Egyptian Revolution of 1952, also known as the 23 July Revolution, began on 23 July 1952, by the Free Officers Movement.  The revolution was initially aimed at overthrowing King Farouk, and grew to include such to abolishing the constitutional monarchy, establishing a republic, ending the British occupation, and securing the independence of Sudan. The revolution was faced with immediate threats from Western imperial powers, particularly from the United Kingdom, which had occupied Egypt since 1882.  Four years after the revolution, Egypt was invaded by Britain, France, and Israel.  Despite enormous military losses, the war was seen as a political victory for Egypt, especially as it left the Suez Canal in uncontested Egyptian control for the first time since 1875, erasing what was seen as a mark of national humiliation. This strengthened the appeal of the revolution in other Arab and African countries. The Revolution is commemorated each year on Egypt’s national day, Revolution Day, on 23 July.

 

July 25

 

Flag_of_Puerto_Rico.svgThe Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the north-eastern Caribbean.  Puerto Rico is an archipelago that includes the main island of Puerto Rico and a number of smaller islands. The island was claimed by Christopher Columbus for Spain during his second voyage to the Americas.  Spain held Puerto Rico for over 400 years, despite multiple attempts to capture it. In 1898, Spain ceded the archipelago to the United States as a result of its defeat in the Spanish–American War under the terms of the Treaty of Paris.  In 1917, the U.S. granted citizenship to Puerto Ricans, and later gave them the right to elect their own governor and a local territorial constitution. Under the tenets of the Puerto Rico Federal Relations Act, residents of the island are still subject to the plenary jurisdiction of the U.S. Congress. Puerto Rico remains a U.S. territory, although its political status is a subject of ongoing debate among residents.

 

July 26

 

200px-Flag_of_Liberia.svgThe Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa bordered by Sierra LeoneGuinea and Ivory Coast.  Liberia is the only country in Africa founded by United States colonization while occupied by native Africans. Beginning in 1820, the region was colonized by African Americans (many of whom were freed slaves) who established a new country with the help of the American Colonization Society.  African captives freed from slave ships by the British and Americans were sent there instead of being repatriated to their countries of origin. In 1847, this new country became the Republic of Liberia, establishing a government modelled on that of the United States and naming its capital city Monrovia after James Monroe, the fifth president of the United States and a prominent supporter of the colonization.  Liberia was a founding member of the United Nations and the Organisation of African Unity.

200px-Flag_of_Maldives.svgThe Republic of the Maldives and also referred to as the Maldive Islands, is an island nation in the Indian OceanArabian Sea area, consisting of a double chain of twenty-six atolls. The Maldives has been an independent polity for the majority of its history, except for three periods in which it was ruled by outside forces – the final time was in the late 19th century.  On 16 December 1887, the Sultan of the Maldives signed a contract with the British Governor of Ceylon turning the Maldives into a British protected state, thus giving up the islands’ sovereignty in matters of foreign policy, but retaining internal self-government. The British government promised military protection and non-interference in local administration in exchange for an annual tribute, so that the islands were akin to an Indian princely state.  The islands gained independence  from the British Empire in 1965, and in 1968 became a republic ruled by a president and an authoritarian  government.

 

July 28

Flag_of_Peru.svgRepublic of Peru is a country in western South America. It is bordered in the north by Ecuador and ColombiaBrazil, BoliviaChile, and the Pacific Ocean. Conquered by the Spanish Empire in the 16th century, they established a Viceroyalty with its capital in Lima, which included most of its South American colonies. In the early 19th century, while most of South America was swept by wars of independence, Peru remained a royalist stronghold.  Independence was formally proclaimed in 1821, and after the battle of Ayacucho which took place three years after proclamation is when Peru ensured its independence. 

 

Now that you’ve learned a little more about global events, consider adding one of these courses to your To Learn List:

 

Just to give you a brief idea of how far we’ve travelled in the first 28 days:

 

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Join us again next week when we will visit places like Vanuatu, Benin, Cooks Islands and Niger and many more!

Adventures in Gamification: Wrapping it up!

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Welcome back!!

Well, we’ve worked through the six modules that make up Gamification in Education.  We’ve learned a lot and had fun – but now comes the big question…how do we SHOW and TELL anyone what we’ve learned? By creating an e-portfolio to display your incredible learning!  During a previous course, I learned and blogged about e-portfolios as I searched to find one that best fit me – which is how I found Accredible…learn more about that here!

Gathering Your Game Pieces (This is Always the Trickiest Part)…

Using your Accredible Learning Profile is a great way to showcase your work and that is what I’ve done for this (and many other classes)!  Before you can begin, you need to make life a little easier for yourself by following these basic steps:

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Step 1 -Did you use the blogging tool on OpenLearning?  It made it easy to take notes while watching the videos!  If you used that function, download your blogs now! (Or screen capture, or print as a PDF…there are ways to do it, regardless of technical ability and know how!)

Step 2 – Did you handwrite your notes?  Then start scanning!!  Showing that you did more than just watch the videos is important!  Even if your handwriting is slightly (or in my case – very!!) illegible, scan it into a document.

 

Gamification - pic 1 - group forumStep 3 – Did you participate in the forums?  Time to take a selfie – of your comment that is!  Try to get your comment without capturing the name and image of your classmate…if they haven’t given you permission to use their image, you should avoid it as much as possible!

 

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Step 4 – Did you share your learning in a personal blog? Perhaps sharing information, posing questions, solving said questions, producing gamelets for your readers?  If so, gather the links to share in your portfolio! (Also, please share in the comments below – I would love to read your experiences too!).

 

 

Step 5 – Did you answer any of the “homework” questions in a document or on paper (not the quizzes!!)?  You can add that too!

Step 6 – Did you try any of the lessons out on your friends and family?  Did you make any notes on their responses?  Put those together too!  This will allow you to show active demonstration of your learning!

Every single gamelet that was posted on each of the 6 weeks of Adventures in Gamification was tested by my kids (ages 7 & 9).  Every classroom game that was considered was practised first on them and (perhaps) also on my (ever so patient) flatmate who may never admit to playing hangman or reviewing history facts!  No one escaped testing out the ideas – my husband, my Mom, even my Nan (who had been a teacher).  We would try, discuss, debate, try again, etc, until we were (or at least I was) convinced that the idea could work in a classroom setting.  We all learned a lot about the Statue of Liberty for week 5!

Google-plus-hangouts

 

Step 7 – If you took the course with a friend, did you by any chance record the conversations?  If you did a Google Hangout on Air, you could share the link to your video!

As an FYI – these can be a lot of fun to do – but as a lesson learned the hard way…test the set up before you record your entire broadcast.  Yep, I did one, we didn’t check and the entire hangout is of little ol’ me…it should have gone back and forth depending on who was speaking…Live and learn!  And now, I am sharing that lesson with you (but…not the video!!)

 

Basically, anything you’ve done to help study the material should be included.  With one MAJOR exception!  Please, do not upload your quiz answers!  Feel free to share images of your scores but not the questions and answers!  This is for 2 major reasons – one, it violates the terms of agreement for the course and two, you would be making work for Prof. Benjamin if he had to create new quizzes every time someone shared their quiz!

One last piece of advice when gathering your “game pieces” – don’t forget about the “mistakes”.  First, there is no such thing as a “mistake”, just an opportunity to learn even more the second time.  Second, if you can show a “mistake” AND how you learned from it, how you changed your thought process, and how you resolved it, then you’ve shown perseverance, motivation, and a truer understanding of the material.

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” ~ Michael Jordan

 …Setting up the Game Board…

Once you’ve gathered all of your work, you will want to upload it to an e-portfolio.  What I like best about Accredible is that it is easy to upload my work and to sort into folders.  There are 3 to get you started – “Course Materials”, “Notes” and “Assignments and Projects”, but you can add your own if you would like more!

Remember, you can upload any type of file – picture, document, video, podcast…whatever showcases your learning!

…And Playing the Game!

After you’ve uploaded and organized your material you still have a couple of things that you can do:

1) Share a link to your “Slate” via LinkedIn (which is a great way to keep your resume up-to-date!), Twitter or Facebook.  This will give the viewer an opportunity to find out the details on the course goals and what you did to achieve those goals.

2) Update your profile!  Add a picture or set the tone of your portfolio by updating the background to a style of your choice!

3) Search for your next course and add it to your “To Learn” Wall!  OpenLearning has a great selection of courses, so you are bound to find one (or more!) to suit your interests!

4) Find your course mates – by clicking on the Course Name, it will take you to the description page.  There you can see how many people on Accredible are taking the same course and how many have added it to their “to learn” list.  At the bottom of the page, you can see who has signed up for the course – and you will have the option to follow those individuals.  Maybe you came across someone who made some fantastic comments in the forum – why not write them a quick reference (This link takes you to my page, FYI)!  A quick note saying “Elizabeth offered some great insight and ideas when discussing the Hero’s Journey!  She completely changed the way I thought about the “call to adventure” and it’s role in game format.” adds credibility for that person, their work, and the course.

And the Winner in the Game of Learning is….You!

You’ve done the work and you deserve the credit for it!  By creating an e-portfolio you are offering a potential employer or school an opportunity to get to know more about you, your learning style, your commitment to furthering your education and professional development.  So share your work!  You should be proud of what you’ve done!  Let us know in the comments below which OpenLearning courses you are taking next!

Phew! You’ve done 6 weeks worth of coursework and now created your e-portfolio!  We’ve wrapped that up nicely…but I think our package still needs a bow to be complete!  Keep watching – Tom Benjamin, OpenLearning and Accredible have one more surprise coming up just for you!   

 

open learning 1Accredible-text-highres

Around the World in 62 Days: Day 15 – 21

Around the World in 62 Days

 

Welcome back!  Grab your passport and get ready to take off while we visit Slovakia, Columbia, Belgium and Guam this week.  The fasten seatbelt light has been lit and the Captain says we are prepared for take off.  Please pay attention to the following safety video, treat your flight attendants with kindness and enjoy the journey!

 

July 17Slovakia Declaration of Independence in 1992 (A Remembrance Day Only)

200px-Flag_of_Slovakia.svgWhile the dissolution of Czechoslovakia officially occurred on January 1, 1993, the Slovak Parliament adopted the Declaration of Independence of the Slovak nation on July 17, 1992 under Vladimír Mečiar.  By July 23rd, Mečiar and Václav Klaus (Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia) came to terms to dissolve Czechoslovakia.  It is interesting to note that there was a movement for either a tighter confederation of the two states or complete independence.  The vast majority of either state were not in favour of the dissolution and to this day there are still tight ties between the countries including both nations using either language officially as long as the speaker is using their native tongue.  Slovakia has since become a member of the European Union, NATO, the UN, WTO and many other organizations.

 

July 20

 

200px-Flag_of_Colombia.svgColombia – Declaration of independence from Spain 1810

In 1808, Charles IV of Spain was forced to abdicate the throne (along with Ferdinand VII of Spain) by Napoleon Bonaparte in favour of crowning his brother Joseph I as King of Spain.  This didn’t last long, which lead to the formation of the Supreme Central and Governing Junta of the Kingdom – which collapsed in early 1810 in favour of reinstating Ferdinand VII.  The news reached the Americas in mid 1810…a number of incidents occurred, including the breaking of a vase which eventually led to the independence of Colombia (known also as Gran Colombia to differentiate it from the Columbia of today).  It’s a fascinating history, and well worth the read!

 

July 21

 

200px-Flag_of_Belgium.svgBelgium Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld takes the oath as first king of the Belgians on July 21, 1831 after independence from the United Netherlands (Belgian revolution) on October 4, 1830. 

Formed from the “Southern Provinces” of the Netherlands, Belgium became an officially French-speaking nation once it gained its independence from the Netherlands.  Leopold I was not the first choice of King of Belgium (Louis, the second son of Louis-Philippe, King of France was considered first, but this was nixed by Louis-Philippe on the advice of Lord Palmerston, British Foreign Secretary).  Leopold was very nearly the Prince Consort of the United Kingdom (had Princess Charlotte lived, she would have been Queen), and then he was next offered the Throne of Greece, which he refused due to the perceived opposition to this appointment and his lack of desire in being imposed on a nation.  He accepted this offer to become King of Belgium, and took his oath on July 21, 1831.  Two weeks later, King William I attacked Belgium in an attempt to regain control.  Skirmishes continued for 8 years, and finally in 1839, both sides signed a Treaty recognizing the independence of Belgium.

Flag_of_Guam.svgGuam (Liberation Day, Americans landing on Guam 1944, the beginning of the Battle of Guam (1944)

Guam had been an American Territory since 1898. Captured by Japan on December 8th, 1941 just hours after the attack on Pearl Harbour, residents of Guam faced a 2.5 year occupation.  During this time they were forced to adopt Japanese culture, into forced labour amongst other atrocities.  On July 21, 1944 US troops recaptured the island. Guam is once again a territory of the US, has a democratic, self led government; representation in Congress; and pay some US taxes.

 

A few courses that you might be interested in reviewing this week:

The Captain has informed us that we are preparing to land.  Please return your seats and trays to an upright position and fasten your seatbelts as our journey comes to an end for this week – but please, join us next week when we will gather passport stamps from Egypt, Puerto Rico, Liberia, Peru and the Republic of the Maldives.  There are many more places to visit this summer, so make sure to come back every week to see where we will head next!