Ultimate Autodidacts: Einstein to Moffat

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The Guru

Going from a high school dropout to one of the greatest minds of the 20th century, Albert Einstein was the embodiment of autodidactism.  His idea of a perfect date was to read physics texts for fun with his girlfriend – enough said.

Einstein’s introduction to science and mathematics by a childhood friend established an interest in a topic far beyond what he was learning in school.  He taught himself calculus by the age of 13.  Thirteen!  Thus began his foray into the world of self learning; It was simply far more interesting than the grammar and basic mathematics he was forced to sit through in school.

Perhaps Einstein’s greatest secret for success was his approach to learning.  He said:

“Any man who reads too much and uses his own brain too little falls into lazy habits of thinking.”

He always believed in imagination, individuality, and inquisitiveness.  This is likely the reason (along with his accomplishments in the field of physics, advocacy for civil rights, and general good human-ness) why he became so widely admired.  This is also likely how John Moffat came to regard him so highly.

 

The Disciple

In the 1950s, Albert Einstein’s career had taken a nose dive.  He had written and spoken about theories that he had been unable to provide proof for over the last several years, which caused his reputation to take a tough hit.

At this point, a Danish painter by the name of John Moffat had just depleted the funds he was living off of in Paris as he honed his art.  He returned home to Copenhagen, Denmark where he returned to his love for reading at a nearby library.  Moffat devoured book after book about mathematics and physics, in mere months learning what took years for the average student to learn at University.

As he absorbed the knowledge, he became a fervent follower of Albert Einstein and his writings.  Familiar with the genius’ slump, Moffat (a high school dropout and painter with no credentials in physics) wrote Einstein a critical letter that analyzed all the things Moffat believed Einstein was doing wrong.  He didn’t expect a reply, of course, from such a famous and admired physicist.

Lo and behold when several weeks later, a hand-written letter in German came addressed to Moffat.  His lack of fluency in German forced Moffat to ask his local German barber for help translating the letter, which proved to encourage his efforts in physics.  Einstein took Moffat and his thoughts very seriously, pointing him to his newer writings and encouraging further replies.  This conversation continued for several letters during which Moffat successfully pointed out a poorly based mathematical assumption in Einstein’s calculations.  This interaction expanded into meetings with other great scientists of the time including Niels Bohr and Erwin Schrodinger.

It was Schrodinger’s recommendation, along with the extensive knowledge Moffat had amassed on his own, that allowed him to become the first accepted PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge without completing an undergraduate (or even secondary school) degree.

 

The Ultimate Autodidact

Albert Einstein is an undisputed genius who took on autodidactism as a fortunate hobby in addition to his more traditional education and work at Princeton University.  John Moffat took his Guru’s efforts a step further and forwent 8 years of (usually) compulsory formal study on the path to his own prestigious PhD.

Einstein and Moffat didn’t even have the beauty of the Internet at their disposal back in their times.  Imagine a modern day Moffat immersed in a MOOC with a Physics e-text on his Kindle in one hand and his online mind map on his tablet in the other.  Now that would be a force to be reckoned with.

There’s More to Sports Than Meets The Eye

Sprinter leaving starting blocks on the running track. Explosive

The World Cup has just ended (congrats Germany!) but that doesn’t mean you can’t continue riding the sports wave by learning about them! Here are some MOOCs to check out to learn more about the sporting world and how big events like the World Cup are put on.


Sports and Society examines all facets of how sports affect society. Drawing upon many social sciences, including anthropology, history and sociology, this class also includes guest speakers and live Google Hangouts so students can interact with the professor and notable sports people. The Coursera class starts September 1.

 

Mega Events: Inside the FIFA World Cup takes you into the world of the planning that goes into this event. The history of the event, the urban planning and logistics required, and the political and business sides are all facets explored in this class. The Canvas course started June 23 and goes until July 28.

 


IOC Athletic MOOC is a platform by the International Olympic Committee that has MOOCs aimed at helping athletes increase their performance. Sports technology, healthy eating, and athletic careers are just some of the topics covered.

 

Happy Learning!

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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!

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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!   

 

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How to Get Your Dream Job Without the Required Experience

Ambition of a young architect

Right major?  Check.  Enough software knowledge?  Check.  Cultural Fit?  Check.  Sufficient years of experience?  Uh-oh.

You’re looking at the job listing for your ideal gig just a little while after graduation and feel the excitement mounting inside of you with every requirement you know you can fulfill.  Then you see that you need 2 years of work experience – which you don’t have as a new grad.  Ugh.  Do you pull back and look for a position that you don’t want as much?  Do you resign yourself to a job you know will bore you for the next couple of years?

No.  Stop and think like a hiring manager. They are looking for candidates who know their stuff.  It just so happens that the general consensus says knowing your stuff requires some experience in the industry.  This study by McKinsey & Co. and Chegg even says that college graduates are under prepared but overqualified for employment…a finding that will naturally push hiring managers away from hiring recent grads.

So clearly, your next step should be to prove that you are sufficiently prepared for employment.  How?  Build a portfolio of work similar to what you would be doing on the job and submit it with your job application.  Refocus the potential employer’s attention on your skills and potential and away from metrics that don’t necessarily describe what you can do properly.  Here’s how.

 

Step 1 – MOOCs:  Learning the Skills

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are classes from well known Universities that professors modify for distance learning to allow access to any student for free.  Many of these courses teach exactly the same material as what the professors teach in their traditional classes, but you can take them in your spare time without spending money to build your knowledge and skills base.

Keep in mind that your major and college classes are not the full span of your capabilities.  An English degree is a great base for a copywriting career, but taking a few classes on your own time in marketing techniques can give your writing the boost you need to land that job at an ad agency.

Websites like Coursera and EdX provide great platforms for MOOCs.  It is important, however, to record your work for the class.  The assignments and projects you complete are great additions to your professional portfolio, as they legitimize the coursework you do through MOOCs.  You can keep track of all this by downloading your work as you complete it, or by using websites like Accredible to transfer all of your online coursework to one place that can be linked to the rest of your portfolio.

 

Step 2 – Speculative Projects/Case Studies:  Applying the Skills

There are case studies all over the internet – taking a few and using skills you learned from college and your MOOCs to write an analysis for each can help get your feet wet in the kind of thinking you need to solve problems in your industry.

Speculative or freelancing projects are also great ways to simulate what you will be doing later in a full time job.  Telling a small or mid-sized business or nonprofit organization that you are willing to help them out for free or little charge is an easy way to land some of these projects – this is time you are spending building work experience regardless of the amount you are getting paid.

Specifically working with nonprofit organizations in a volunteer position not only gives you the added experience for your newly developed skills, it also shows a more human side of your personality.  Maybe your volunteer work for Habitat for Humanity relates to your passion for fighting poverty, or perhaps your commitment to proper healthcare is showcased through your extensive work with the Red Cross.  Talking about your volunteer work in an interview is also great way to transition to you personal qualities and cultural fit.

 

Step 3 – Research:  Effectively Showcasing the Skills

Know what’s going on!  Read the news, find new articles on techniques and technology, and learn to use the newest software.  Once your profile gets you to an interview, you still need to prove that you can hit the ground running upon receiving an offer.

Having background knowledge about developments the company and its industry can help you come up with possible solutions to their problems before you are even working there – there is no better way than that to show that you would be an asset to the team.

Follow those three steps and you can show the hiring manager that you are perfect for your dream job because even though you don’t have years under your belt, you have the necessary skills and can demonstrate initiative to continue building more in the future.

Buzzwords Decoded: Dynamic

Innovation - Ideas Light Bulb Hatching

Welcome to another week of Buzzwords Decoded with Accredible!  Last week we cleared up the ruckus around ‘motivation’ and are back again with ‘dynamic’ to take your resume up another notch.

 

Definition: Merriam-Webster Dictionary

: always active or changing

: having or showing a lot of energy

: of or relating to energy, motion, or physical force

 

How to Use it Incorrectly

Saying that you are a dynamic person can mean a lot of different things in a lot of different contexts.  Usually, ‘dynamic’ refers to something that changes.  In the workplace, that may not necessarily be a good thing.  Flexibility?  Yes.  Employee who randomly decides to change his approach to work?  No.  Are employers really that nitpicky about the word and its exact meaning?  Probably not, but if your usage of a word doesn’t click immediately, someone who has mere seconds to look at your resume will just gloss over it and you will have lost an opportunity to make an imprint in their mind.

Unless you have an extensive amount of work experience full of career moves and advances, your resume usually will be limited to 1 page.  Cramming your entire personality and life experience onto a single page is difficult and every word is precious.  Losing the chance to shine because of a poorly used word in an unfortunate opportunity cost.

 

How to Use it Properly

Like any overt claim you make about yourself on your resume, it is important to back it up and provide context. If the executive summary of your resume refers to you as a ‘dynamic go-getter’ and never goes back to explain why later, the word is lost and has no meaning.  Assuming you absolutely must use the word, talk about how dynamic your ideas were on a project.

Still, ‘dynamic’ is simply an overly vague word.  If you mean that you are a flexible person, use ‘flexible’.  If you mean energetic, just use ‘energetic’.  The person reading your resume is probably a person (or sometimes a computer, but that’s just another reason to keep it simple) who doesn’t use flowery vocabulary themselves in real life.  The easier you make it for them to get through your entire resume quickly, the more likely they are to get the impression you originally intended from your application.

 

Take Away

‘Dynamic’ is an odd word that doesn’t usually describe a person clearly without direct examples.  Even with a lot of context, it can usually be replaced with a much more simple and straightforward term.  Just Keep It Simple, Silly!

Do you have a resume cliche you’d like to see addressed in this series?  Leave a comment below with your word and the Accredibles will decode your cliche as quickly as possible!

He Flunked, Was Rejected, Went Bankrupt…And Then Founded The Walt Disney Company

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An actor, animator, filmmaker, and wildly successful businessman, its kind of shocking at first to hear that Walt Disney only had around 9 years of formal education.  He started school at the ripe old age of 7 and dropped out at 16 to join the military.  Unfortunately (or fortunately) for him, he was rejected for being underage and spent a year in France with the Red Cross instead.  After returning to the United States, Disney received his first job as a cartoonist in 1919, and the rest is history.

 

“Children have got to be free to lead their own lives.” – Sebastian, The Little Mermaid

small_2917335255Despite having strict parents, Walt grew up doing what he wanted when he wanted.  He was a shrewd businessman even as a child.  After his father, Elias, bought a newspaper delivery route, Walt was made to work for him without pay.  He knew how to make the best of his situation, though.  From delivering medicines for the local pharmacy on his route to selling extra papers without his father’s knowledge, Walt developed a thriving business of his own without any help, encouragement, or formal education.  This continued throughout his few years in high school and, of course, eventually led to exemplary management of the Walt Disney Company.

 

“The very things that hold you down are going to lift you up.” – Timothy Mouse, Dumbo

Classes came second to work for Walt during his schooling years.  His exhausting work schedule left little time to study, which had a heavy impact on his grades.  Even as he worked such a demanding schedule and small_6635533755trudged through school, however, Walt always found time to indulge in his passion for drawing.  He traded his cartoons for haircuts, became the cartoonist for his school’s newspaper, and later submitted to magazines and drew for his co-workers in Paris – all learned from just a couple of brief stints in art classes.

All the work, discipline, and cartoons did very little for Walt’s grades as a child, but he grew up to build The Walt Disney Company – so it is difficult to argue against the merits of his childhood activities.  He learned how to run a business, work with colleagues, and develop a skill that would redefine animation and serve as a catalyst into a new age of cinema.

 

“If your heart is in your dream, no request is too extreme.” – Jiminy Cricket, Pinocchio

Walt’s success can really be attributed more to his attitude than any form of education (and perhaps even small_2486345776experience).  “Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.”  This was the philosophy he lived by: to achieve excellence and watch the theaters fill up as his reward.  This attitude inspired Walt to take risks (like starting a business) that sometimes caused him to fail (he had to declare bankruptcy in 1922), but then he got back up again and made Alice in Wonderland.  

Teaching yourself anything can seem like an insurmountable challenge when you get a good look at just how much there is to learn, but the real magic is in the learning, not the teaching itself.  A teacher (whether its a person, software, book, or audio recording) can only teach as well as its student can learn.  Walt is an ultimate example of a sponge learner – he soaked up his experiences so well, he never even needed a teacher to hold his hand.

 

“You just need to believe in yourself.” – Rex, Toy Storysmall_9594201177

So basically: Walt Disney went to school for 9 years, flunked most of the time, dropped out of high school, never went to college, taught himself to be a businessman and cartoonist purely by learning while doing, and became the roots of one of the most admired companies in the world.  He must have done something right.

 

“Hakuna Matata!” – Timon and Pumbaa, The Lion King

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photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/expressmonorail/3108405260/”>Express Monorail</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>
 

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!

Buzzwords Decoded: Motivation

Innovation - Ideas Light Bulb Hatching

Welcome to another week of Buzzwords Decoded with Accredible!  Last week we cleared up the ruckus around ‘innovation’ and are back again with ‘motivation’ to take your resume up another notch.

Definition: Merriam-Webster Dictionary

1a :  the act or process of motivating

1b :  the condition of being motivated

2:  a motivating force, stimulus, or influence :  incentive, drive

 

How to Use it Incorrectly

Ever since we learned what a resume was and its importance in the job search, we have been taught to toot our own horns.  Obviously, displaying how awesome you are is essential to getting a hiring manager to look twice – but being obvious about it can actually be off-putting, believe it or not.  Your goal should be to make your horn so attractive that people are drawn to it without requiring obnoxious pleas for attention.

The art of ‘humble self promotion’ is difficult to grasp because it is done differently for each person, but taking out the ‘humble’ can make you sound like a bad salesman – and that will put off anyone who is looking at your resume.

 

How to Use it Properly

Going on and on about how motivated you are as a professional doesn’t actually say anything about you without some solid context demonstrating why you think you are a motivated person.  If you want to show that you are motivated, a quick description of a time when you overcame several challenges to get something done on time could be very helpful.

Another way to show you are motivated is to say why instead of how.  Giving examples of instances when you have shown motivation can take up valuable space on your resume.  Instead, you could demonstrate why you are motivated.  Maybe you have a career goal you are trying to reach or believe strongly in the social mission of the company you are working for.  These things can help to not only eliminate annoying buzzwords, but also humanize you out of a pile of robot resumes.

Asking someone to vouch for you is also a great way to show off your horn without tooting it.  Someone else has nothing to gain by praising you.  So when your former supervisor takes the time to write a great LinkedIn recommendation about how dedicated and motivated you were to accomplishing your goals, a future hiring manager is bound to take it seriously.

 

Take Away

Saying that you are motivated tells an employer or potential mentor nothing of substance and makes you sound robotic.  Solution:  You must prove it with an example, reason, or recommendation.  These things will help your work speak for itself and you won’t need cliched buzzwords that people glaze over anyway.

 

Do you have a resume cliche you’d like to see addressed in this series?  Leave a comment below with your word and the Accredibles will decode your cliche as quickly as possible!

Adventures in Gamification: Week Six – The Active Ingredient in Games and Multimedia

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Welcome Back!

This week marks the last week of Games in Education – Gamification on OpenLearning.  I hope you’ve had as much fun on your Adventure in Gamification as I’ve had – starting from the Introduction, strategic uses of games,  how to apply games in education, using scenarios as levellers, to the Hero’s Journey.  We’ve covered a lot of topics, played a few games and had a bit of fun along the way! If you’ve followed along but not yet signed up for the course, you can start it at anytime.  Add it to your To Learn list or start it today!!

The Active Ingredient in Games and Multimedia

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When using games one thing is really important – selling it in the first few minutes.  You really have just a couple of minutes to convince your audience that you have a great product that is of great benefit for them, that will improve their lives exponentially, regardless of their issues, place in life, financial situation, grades in school, etc.

You must become one with your inner Charlatan.

Picture yourself standing on stage or on a wooden crate, shouting out to all of the passing people about this great opportunity you have for them!

 

Attention! Attention!  Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages…step right up and prepare to be Wowed, Amazed and Dumbstruck by the sheer Brrrr-ill-iance and Geee-ni-us of this deceptively simple ed-u-cational deeeee-vice…the one…the only….the Gamified, Achievable, Measurable, Educational Device – or GAME for short!

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Why your inner charlatan?

Simply because you want to take advantage of the Placebo Effect…AKA taking advantage of new “treatments” or “tools” while they still work.  The belief by an individual that something is going to work to make them learn or understand more, to become smarter, to get better grades is half the battle!

 

 

Tailor the Game to the Learner

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As an educator or trainer, you probably have tools that get the job done.  Worksheets, quizzes, projects, exams.

What if you could tailor a game to your learner? What if you had a test that could tell you about your students’ personality traits so you could create activities that would work with their strengths and develop their opportunities?  Using Holland‘s RIASEC testing you could do just that…

But is that practical?  Perhaps not so much today on an individual basis, but in a classroom setting, you could determine overall opportunities and include opportunities to develop those skills within the grand scheme.

 

Gamification_techniques_5Custom Games

So what does this all mean?

It means start with what you have.  Keep it simple. Add layers as necessary.

A meta-game has it’s place, but when a gamelet will do, why bring out the big guns? Remember, we want to use the tools while they still work.  We don’t want to misuse games in the same manner in which penicillin was misprescribed.  Using a meta-game when a riddle will do is the same as using penicillin for the common cold. At best, it’s useless, at worst, it reduces the overall effectiveness when things really count.

In Summary

This week covered a lot!  To pull together a few key points:

  • Be a Charlatan! Sell the game well for the best buy in
  • Customize to the group
  • Size matters!  Use the smallest, simplest tool to get the job done!
We’ve now finished the course – but we will come back next week to wrap it all up!  We will do a final review of key points, the tools available on OpenLearning and show you how to tie a pretty bow around it all by posting your work to your Accredible profile!  

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3 Traits that Made Sherlock Holmes a Genius

ALDERNEY - 2009: shows Sherlock Holmes

Whether you think of him as the quirky young gentleman from 19th Century Britain or the high functioning sociopath with a drug problem from present day London, Sherlock Holmes’ genius is undisputed.  The question is, how did Arthur Conan Doyle develop his legendary character’s powers of deduction?  An excellent formal education?  Natural skill?  Well, natural skill certainly had a lot to do with it, but the secret ingredient is a healthy dose of autodidacticism.

 

Lots of Reading & Background Junk

Sherlock Holmes was always reading something new – whether it was in Doyle’s books, one of the several subsequent movies, or the most recent Sherlock series, Dr. Watson mentioned the stacks of papers and books all over Sherlock’s work space and apartment several times.

Naturally, with all this reading came a wealth of background knowledge.  In his most modern adaptation, Sherlock is seen conducting research and tests that only trained professionals are able to do.  Yet, Sherlock Holmes is known to have attended college only briefly and never finished his undergraduate degree.  His natural talent and ability to learn quickly opened him to information that a formal education never provided.

This extensive background knowledge is integral to Sherlock Holmes’ powers of deduction.  After all, to deduce something, you must be able to rule out options which is only possible if you have enough information about it to make a decision.

 

Chaotic Creativity

Anyone who has seen the most recent, highly acclaimed Sherlock series can attest to the the fact that the apartment the detective shares with Dr. Watson is not only messy, but straight up gross.  There are disgusting eyeballs in the fridge and human skulls on the mantle of the fireplace.  In one scene, one such eyeball even falls into Sherlock’s tea – which he continues to drink contemplatively.

Such chaos (except maybe a bit more hygienic) is characteristic of a number of creative geniuses.  Mark Twain always had the messiest desk that spawned some of the best loved literature of all time.  Albert Einstein was cool with a crazy workspace too, saying, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”

So basically, keeping himself surrounded by chaos kept Sherlock’s mind in a chaos as well, with everything zooming around in disarray.  Often, things lined up in the right order, and the result was Arthur Conan Doyle’s infinite success.

 

Focus

It is contradicting to say in one breath that Sherlock’s mind was full of chaotic creativity, and in the next that he had an amazing level of focus. His ability to focus on certain parts of the chaos is what allowed him to zone in on the things that had lined up in the right order. Clearly focus is important.

But Sherlock Holmes’ biggest strength was not his ability to concentrate on something in particular – rather it was the organization with which he quickly refocused on detail after detail.  The infamous scene where Sherlock deduces that Watson had been in a war, for example, required him to zoom in and out with his observations very quickly (considering he deduced this after a mere glance).

Even without an extensive formal education, Sherlock Holmes was able to teach himself what the average person would require several formal degrees to learn even a fraction of.  Why?  Because he learned for the sole purpose of knowing and utilizing information rather than with the specific goal of obtaining a degree or job.

The beauty of how things work today is the sheer number of free resources available to all aspiring autodidacts.  From MOOCs to free online books to YouTube tutorials, it’s all there – along with tools like Accredible that can help focus and organize your learning process.  So do you want to be as smart as Sherlock Holmes?  Go do some reading, drive your mind to crazy chaos, and then focus and organize it.  Easy as pie.