I was doing a little spring cleaning of some files while I let some ideas for my upcoming gamification workshop percolate a little and I came across a couple of things. The first was a tiny rubber ball with a mosaic sort of pattern on it and the other was a batch of old syllabii from online courses I took a few years back.
The ball got me thinking about how we need to be careful when designing learning or communications to be clear about what we mean. If I just said the word ball to a group of people. Each person would likely think of a different thing. No one would see BALL spelled out in their head but one might picture a football, another a tennis ball, and yet another, one with princess longings, might picture Cinderalla at a ball. So I used some descriptives in my earlier reference to the ball. But still they were vague. "Tiny" means different things to different people and "mosaic sort of pattern" doesn't even begin to nail things down. What should I have done? Take a picture. Then we could all have had a much closer understanding of the ball. Notice I said closer, not identical, because each of us still comes with a unique set of experiences through which we filter information and different capabilities (such as perception of color).
But I mentioned marbles in the title, not balls. Well the brain works that way. It makes associations. And so the ball led me to think about marbles (I don't remember the whole train of throught now) and that led me to think about things we collect. People like to collect things. We like to make complete sets. Collecting can be a powerful gameful element to use in constructing learning. Collecting is a journey, like learning. The items collected can be mileposts along the way. They remind us of what we have accomplished, how far we have come and that there is more to do. Consider how you could leverage the idea of collections in your next project.
And finally for today, I want to mention those syllabii I found. They were to two great course I took, but the actual documents could really use a facelift. For one thing, except for perhaps the course number and professor's name and contact info on the first page, there really wasn't any branding to them. It was just pages and pages of text. They could have been from any institution. Especially when dealing with distance learners, there needs to be an even bigger effort to make them feel like part of something. They won't have the same school experience as students who study on campus, but that doesn't mean you can't try build some "school spirit" into the materials. Even putting a logo in the header or footer. Adding some hint of the school colors. It could be little things, but they could go a long way to building community, loyalty and identification with the institution.
Well that's it for today's musings. What have you been musing about?