Got Social?

Article for IIE on Virtual Worlds

I was recently invited to contribute a small piece (a magazine half-page) for the Institute for International Education.  I’ve only just sent in my draft and am awaiting editorial response.  This exercise made me re-think why I believe virtual worlds can provide a unique and unparalleled educational experience for the right content.  It also made me look hard at what has stopped virtual worlds from becoming more main stream and why the fanfare of 2007-2010 went bust.  Sad thing is, not much has changed since I was at all actively involved.

Go, Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go has been all the rage.  This type of augmented reality is not new – I saw stuff like this 2 years ago.  What IS new is that this game captured an audience with a viral use-case.  This cracked the ceiling, if you ask me.  The acceptance of augmented reality will change – it’s not on the public’s radar.  Futurist saw the use a while back, and the bleeding-edge were playing with it not that long ago.  But now that Pikachu is roaming our streets, with folks chasing it around – let’s see who steps up next to try to built on this success.

Scratch Pad

One of the most amazing things has been to see support for people’s countries come up in their updates, at least in Facebook – I don’t really regularly monitor my other social networks.  Guess that says a lot.

In thinking more about that I decided to take a closer look at Google +

Twitter I’ve little hope in.  The other day someone suggested that engagement happens around hashtags.  Of course, when I asked my network, the responses I got back were people saying they follow people and not hashtags.  Of course they do, which is why they saw my post.  If they followed hashtags, and I didn’t tag it, they wouldn’t have seen it.  I started my own hashtag, #helpaj, but most of the people who replied neglected to use it and so I found myself retweeting things.  Perhaps I’ll next look at the hashtags I see other individuals use, but first I decided it would be easier to start with Google +

I took all of those who I had in various circles and put them in one circle I called “Never Posted”.  I then went through the “Never Posted” circle and put people into one of three folders: Recent 6Mos,  6 to 1, and 1 Plus.  Let’s see if this works better, because it was not effective at all before.

It’ll also make it easier for me to decide what to post to Google + and to which folders.

Just FYI – of the 180 I have in circles, 104 are in Recent 6Mos, 36 are in Never Posted, 31 are in 6 to 1, and 7 are in 1 Plus.


Gamifying Education

I think you should watch the following…

…and then come back here to add as a comment about what you thought.

There’s 100XP for the first person to do it and 25XP for everyone after.  An addition 10XP if someone comments on your comment on it.


I’ll start a leader board as my next post.




An interesting side thought. My good friend Chris Alvino “liked” my Facebook post directing people to this blog. On Facebook, Twitter, and in Google Plus I wrote “Connect Penny Arcade and Gamifying Education. Ready. Go.”

So Facebook people can “like” or “share” my post. Should they go on the leader board? Someone on Twitter can reply or retweet. Should they go on the leader board? Those on Google + can +1 or Share what I posted there, should they go on the leader board?  I say yes  Should the credit be the same for everything?  I guess, for now.  Should a “like” be worth more than a “tweet”?  No.  Should something posted on Facebook be worth more than something on Google +? No.


Since moving this blog over to my own domain, I’ve been using the default theme.  I plan to take some time soon (probably this week) to hunt down an appropriate theme, but I was wondering if anyone had a suggestion.  If so, feel free to leave it in Comments.  The theme should match (or reflect, or capture, or…) the content in some way.

What’s good for the goose…

For some time now we’ve been hearing about grade school administrations that have been holding students accountable for things they post to social network sites when they are not at school.  There have been numerous stories of students who have been suspended, kept from their prom or graduation, etc. because of something they posted to Facebook, or some other social media.

Well, apparently its ok to punish students for doing that but when a teacher does it, then its free speech.

This high school teacher from Florida recently went on a rant on Facebook about New York approving gay marriage.  He certainly has a right to his own opinion, although I’m not sure why he cares so much about what goes on in a state he doesn’t live in, but I digress.  According to this article the teacher

“wrote on his Facebook page that he “almost threw up” when he was having dinner and news came on of New York’s decision to allow same-sex marriage showed up July 25.

“If they want to call it a union, go ahead,” Buell wrote, according to ”But don’t insult a man and woman’s marriage by throwing it in the same cesspool as same-sex whatever! God will not be mocked. When did this sin become acceptable???”

Now, this guy has over 700 friends on Facebook, so this isn’t really a “private” matter, or just his opinion, he’s got a bit of a pulpit there and he is using it.  Ok, fine, his choice.  Although some of his friends did push back (and he promptly told them to unfriend him if they didn’t like what he wrote), but still others started a Facebook page to support him.  All of that is their right, I guess, sort of, until it become hate speech, then…not so much anymore.  Substitute the idea of “blacks” or “jews” or [insert any other minority group name here] and we’re talking prejudice, the kind that land people in some big trouble.

Well, according to the tweet that directed me to this article, the teacher was suspended but has since been reinstated.  According to the HuffPo article, this teacher claims “everything was done on a personal basis: on his own time and personal computer at home.” [note: the quote is from the author of the article and not necessarily an attribution to the teacher]

Wait – hold on one second.  Lets roll back to the beginning of my blog post here.  Schools are holding students accountable for the things they say on social networks when they are not at school, on their own time, and not using school equipment.  But according to this guy, its ok for him to spout anti-gay sentiments because, as he told The Sentinel that’s his “way I interpret things” and he was doing it not at work, on his own time, and not using school equipment.


Naughty kids on Facebook

Last night, on Twitter, Amy Bruckman posted the following

asbruckman: Middle schoolers forced to show principal facebook accounts, then threatened with expulsion for calling teacher names:

The story is about a principal at a school where kids are, what, 11, 12, 13 years old, forced – FORCED a student to show her their Facebook page.  There were some awful things posted about a teacher, with words like pedophile and rapist.  I’m not defending what the kids said or wrote.  This is a parent issues.  These kids are young and their parents should be monitoring what they do on Facebook.

What this principal did was wrong, and I’m not a lawyer but I’d guess it violated the rights of these children.  I know that it was in a public domain, and if that’s the case, and the principal found the comments in a public way, then it is well within her right to take action.  She has no right to FORCE (their words, not mine) this student to show her the Facebook page.

I responded to Amy on Twitter

sorry_afk@asbruckman def. Violation of childs priv. Either facebook is/is not a school thing. Can’t have it both ways. I hope they sue the principal

and someone name Erica Glaser wrote back

EricaGlasier@sorry_afk@asbruckman @ToughLoveforX WDYT of the particular names the students called the teacher? WWYD if you were that teacher’s boss?

To which, someone named ToughLoveForX responded:

@EricaGlasier WID? It’s a eachable moment. Make it part of Public Discourse in skl. Disciplining is the ez way out. @sorry_afk @asbruckman

My response was far too much for 140 characters, so I decided to put it here.

First off, I think the principal should be disciplined.  There was no imminent threat to the school, this is not like opening a kids locker (which is school property anyway, Facebook is not), it’s a somewhat private space, one which schools like these have been arguing, ironically, that should not BE in schools.  And yet…

If I were the parents of these kids, I would file a law suit.  There are checks and balances for authority.

If I were the school system, I would do a community program on the positive AND negative things about social networks – and NOT bring up these kids directly.  Everyone will know, from the press, what the genesis of this is – no need to give these kids more attention than they have already had.

I would also bring the kids AND THEIR PARENTS into school for a conference, and talk about why this happened and how.

I don’t know this teacher in question, but I might want to find out what prompted these comments.  It could very well be a few kids acting out for no reason, and it very likely is the case, but I wouldn’t let this go unquestioned.

So, that is what I would do – right or wrong, and I’m not involved in K-12, I don’t have kids, its easy for me to sit here in my office and write this.  But these things seem logical to me.  The most important thing is, this principal was wrong, with a capital W.

VeriziPhone vs iPhone (2G)

My great friend Anthony Fontana is visiting for a couple of days and he’s staying with me.  He is proudly showing off his new iPhone from Verizon, subsequently called the VeriziPhone.  Since my iPhone was stolen a few weeks ago I’ve had to revert back to using my old 2G iPhone which I got the January after the original came out.

We decided to use to test the speed of the networks.  Now, this is REALLY not a fair test.  Anthony is on a brand new iPhone 4G and I’m using and I’m using a pretty old phone.  We’ll have to try this test again in June when I have some other visitors thanks to the Emerging Learning Design Conference*

So, this was the response from Anthony’s test:

Test Date: Feb 12, 2011 7:43 PM
Connection Type: Cellular
Server: Newark, NJ
Download: 0.83 Mbps
Upload: 0.69 Mbps
Ping: 211 ms

And here was my test:

Test Date: Feb 12, 2011 7:40 PM
Connection Type: Cellular
Server: Newark, NJ
Download: 0.05 Mbps
Upload: 0.03 Mbps
Ping: 1025 ms

Clearly a HUGE difference, perhaps even more than the old network/new network can account for.  We’ll have to try this again with similar phones.


* Make sure to check out the Emerging Learning Design Conference, scheduled for June 3rd on the campus of Montclair State University.  The line-up of speakers is amazing and the price, which we’ll be announcing in a few days, is going to make the a can’t-miss event.  Go to the Registration page and sign up to get notified when we open conference registrations and you’ll get a discount code.


Thanks to my friend Stephanie for passing this along.  Steph, you have no idea how timely this is, thanks for sharing.

Fable of the porcupine 

It was the coldest winter ever. –  Many animals died because of the cold. The porcupines, realizing the situation, decided to group together.  This way they covered and protected themselves; but the quills of each one wounded their closest companions even though they gave off heat to each other. After awhile, they decided to distance themselves one from the other and they began to die, alone and frozen. So they had to make a choice: either accept the quills of their companions or disappear from the Earth. Wisely, they decided to go back to being together. This way they learned to live with the little wounds that were caused by the close relationship with their companion, but the most important part of it, was the heat that came from the others. This way they were able to survive.

Moral of the story: The best relationship is not the one that brings together perfect people, but the best is when each individual learns to live with the imperfections of others and can admire the other person’s good qualities

The Moral of the story?……….LEARN TO LOVE THE PRICKS IN YOUR LIFE