Share EVERYTHING!

I don’t normally shout (in typing, at least. I am known to noisy in person, though), but I sincerely feel it is appropriate this time around. During the last week, I’ve encountered several related issues, which I don’t fully understand. Or, to be more precise, I understand them, but they worry me a great deal.

Or, to be more precise, I understand them, but they worry me a great deal.

Earlier this week, a quite popular Danish site and forum for people working with media and communication (and hey, who isn’t these days?) known as “Kommunikationsforum” featured an article on Twitter. Despite some very reasonable personal conclusions from the author towards the end the article, it mostly painted a bleak picture based on the very small userbase in little Denmark. Because there are few of us on Twitter, numbers are ridiculously low when looking at traffic generated, and also the general activity level on Twitter (which just reinforces my existing belief, that English is lingua franca in this respect).

My earlier musings ought to make it very clear, why I disagree with a reduction of Twitter to a simple generator of traffic and hits. Not only does this quantitative, metrics-based analysis not say much about the real potential of Twitter, it ends up being just another example of trying to understand one service in the light of, or even worse, as an extension or copy of what came before. This, to me, is certain to lead to misunderstandings and a shallow understanding of, in this case, Twitter.

This brings me to my most recent and eye opening experience (in all its simplicity).

A couple of days ago I participated in a small workshop focusing on the many international (or EU, at least) collaborative projects to improve education. I’m in one of those projects, and I wholly support these initiatives. The day was all fine and good, visited by very passionate and dedicated people, who obviously were all eager to make the famous difference. What struck me as surprising – frightening, even – was one very tiny exercise, where we each had to tell, why we attempt to distribute whatever we learn in our respective projects.

I may not have been entirely clear or persuasive myself, but I do hope that I managed to convey, at least partly, my huge passion and belief in sharing. I don’t mean to do projects for the project itself, just for the involved institutions, or for entirely egoistic purposes. I want to do projects, because I sincerely believe, that they can contribute to a better world – however microscopic this contribution may be. Frankly, if that’s not the purpose, I don’t care.

Several other participants looked at this quite differently. As they said, they share because they must. Because EU (or whoever is funding the project) tells them to.

In the current upshot of talk on motivation, this is clearly extrinsic. We need the idea of sharing to be intrinsic and meaningful to everybody.

I’ll be very quick to point out, that I’m not targeting anyone here. It’s not that these are not good, competent, inspired people with the best of intentions – I am completely convinced, that they are. It is merely a symptom of a challenge, which is to be found everywhere in society.

We need to challenge and change the firmly rooted culture fuelling the perception, that sharing is secondary, tertiary or even completely undesirable altogether. This holds true in education, but also in society in general. I’ve been there several times, but never stop repeating myself on this matter. Sharing does not undermine your own position. Sharing is not like sawing off the branch, on which you yourself are sitting more or less comfortably. On the contrary. By sharing you make yourself relevant, and move into an even more lucrative position of being someone people want to consult in the future.

I don’t have any final solutions (I never do, mostly because I think that’s an illusion; nothing is final at a macroscopic level). I don’t claim to be particularly good at it myself, but I keep trying, keep exploring new and (perhaps) better ways. This is probably also my primary recommendation – don’t fear experimentation. Try different methods, tools and approaches. Mix online with offline, writing, talking, showing. Be a little more ad hoc’ish (anarchistic if you like).

Also, sharing should not be thought of as something we do once the project is over. Don’t wait for the build-up of a large body of work before you start talking about what you’re fiddling with. Think of the process as an open, iterative one with a constant feedback loop influencing decisions and directions. Sharing is just one part of reciprocal relationships, where you talk, other people listen and talk back. It’s not always as simple and well ordered as this – far from.

We really do need this change of culture, and we need more transparency.

Everywhere.

Why I love Twitter (and you probably should too)

However, to make it possible for nations to benefit from the experience of others and to avoid mutual misunderstanding of intentions, free access to information and unhampered opportunity for exchange of ideas must be granted everywhere.

Niels Bohr

Having recently reread Niels Bohrs famous letter to the UN, I was immediately awestruck by the foresight of his visionary thoughts on exchange of ideas. Suggesting such a transparent approach must have been radical and controversial back in 1950; heck, it still is today.

Tim Berners-LeeEven so, I’m completely convinced that Bohr was and is right.

His vision was later mirrored by Tim Berners-Lee, who, working at CERN in the 1980’s, argued that only by sharing knowledge could the institution and the level of research see radical improvement. Upon realising this, he eventually went and developed the World Wide Web.

Inspired by these incredibly important thinkers, I truly-sincerely believe in sharing knowledge, ignoring or breaking down any possible barriers or boundaries along the way. It is a mandatory prerequisite of change/improvement/reform/revolution, or whatever we like to call it these days.

We simply cannot do without sharing. No one person can perform fundamental and lasting changes on their own (yes, we see exceptions, but they’re seldom and far between).

This holds true in every corner of society, and very much so within education (and also so within the field of video games, as eloquently argued by Michael Abbot). As I see it, not sharing enough is one of our pivotal barriers in initiating change. Thousands of educators across the world is constantly wrestling with all kinds of challenges, from smaller practical issues to momentous questions about purpose and direction.

This work is gargantous, and worthy of the utmost admiration; no doubt! …but what if no one never hear about it? What if good ideas and invaluable experiences remain in isolation, secluded from everybody else?

The true value of the effort, the real potential breakthrough, is only going to happen if good experiences and ideas are distributed far and wide.

Sharing really needs to be at the heart of education and at the core of our actions.

Enter Twitter

Brian Kotts on TwitterIn a series of inspiring exchanges on Twitter some time ago, @briankotts elegantly made the following declaration:

Sharing is the new currency! Educators have moral obligation to do it.

I really couldn’t agree more, and Twitter is great at this.

Being active on Twitter requires you to share and probably also to continuously revise your opinion of sharing. I would not hesitate to recommend every single educator in the world to immediately run off and create a Twitter account and start taking part in the global community of users, that constitutes the real value of Twitter.

I have grown extremely fond of Twitter, this charming little microblogging service with such surprisingly versatile possibilities, and by now I consider Twitter my tool of choice when engaging in networking and communication.

At first, it appears to be heavily limited by the core concept of only allowing messages to span across 140 characters. This limitation, however, only works to the advantage of Twitter, and it encourages users to be reflective, precise and to continually follow up on discussions.

Technology is not the goal however; readjusting our individual perceptions of value of sharing is. Twitter is all about sharing – thoughts, ideas, images, videos, links – and thus serves to not only allow sharing, but very actively encourage it. If you don’t share anything, or don’t share anything of value, you’re unlikely to build a following and thus also unlikely to really harness the potential of Twitter – the interaction with other users.

Where’s the uniqueness?

I’m clearly very preoccupied and infatuated with Twitter, but why is that so? Most people wouldn’t hesitate to reduce Twitter to nothing more than the trivial status updates on Facebook.

I would certainly disagree with such people.

Twitter is much more; or rather, it is something different altogether.

Twitter vs Facebook

Facebook is, by nature, a closed network. Precedential use is limited to connecting with people, whom you already know. Friends, family, colleagues, and more peripheral acquaintances as well, but still – people you know one way or another.

Twitter is not like that. Twitter is open, encouraging interaction independently of the mutual obligations in the “Facebook friendship” (however that friendship is interpreted). You can follow people without their consent, and no reciprocity is required. If you think Twitter is full of nonsense, you’re simply following the wrong people.

This allows me to follow all the interesting persons working within my fields of interest (games, digital media, learning & education – in short), and over time (perhaps) build a relationship to those people through meaningful interaction and discussion.

At the end of the day, what keeps me tweeting is the dynamics; the fact that there’s always something going on. Twitter never sleeps. The chance to not only peek into the minds of really smart people, but also to enter immensely inspiring discussions with said people.

Get in the game

If you’re entirely new to Twitter, Mashable offers a very elaborate guide. In short, go create a profile, start writing updates (tweets), follow interesting people, initiate or participate in discussions, provide relevant content. Accept that it may take some getting used to, and that people don’t start following or communicating with you right away. Keep at it, be resilient, tweet your ideas, good experiences, provide links to articles, videos, comment on other peoples tweets – be active, be relevant; and please, speak English. Anything else is too excluding, effectively hindering communication across borders.

Besides following and communicating with people, #hashtags is one of the keys to really harnessing the potential of Twitter. Roughly speaking, hashtags are used to categorize topics, just like the tags on this blog serve as a container for specific subjects (go here for a more detailed introduction).

Here’s a brief selection of interesting hashtags as seen from an educational perspective:

  • #dkudd – a newly established hashtag used for tweets on education (uddannelse) in Denmark.
  • #edgames – my attempt at introducing a hashtag for games in education in general
  • #gbl – a widely used hashtag for tweets about game based learning
  • #gameliteracy – another attempt by me, meant to tag tweets specifically on game literacy
  • #edtech – a very popular tag for tweets on technology in education
  • #edchat – also very popular on education in general

I’d be a fool not mentioning the fascinating phenomenon that is the Twitter chat sessions. These sessions probably take place all the time, and really show the true potential of Twitter. Often such an event is scheduled, but sometimes people spontaneously initiate discussions as well. Again, the hashtag is central, as the only thing connecting all participants is a hashtag. These may be one of the above, or #UKEdChat is another popular example. For a relatively comprehensive list of educational chats, visit Cybrary Man.

Purpos/edAs if all of this was not enough (regarding possible time spent, it’s much more than enough, rest assured), another marvelous initiative has recently been launched; purpos/ed. As clearly indicated, this project is about purposes. More accurately, it’s about trying to explore the purpose of education. If this in itself sounds ambitious, how about nailing this immensely difficult question in 140 characters?

Follow me on TwitterPlease, don’t just take my word for any of this; go, sign up, and immediately take part in the multifarious and dynamic discussions taking place all the time. If you’d like, follow me (If not, don’t).

…but do start sharing.

I’m a cheater

Smartphones - making cheating easier?I just read this post, where it is stated, that “smartphones are the next classroom computers”.

I definitely agree that using smartphones in education is one of the viable paths we should currently be exploring. These tiny, yet powerful “pocketable computers” provide us with a wide array of possibilities, which, if used cleverly, can obviously contribute to more dynamic, authentic learning scenarios. This presupposes a willingness to challenge existing structures, though. If we just cram smartphones in the classroom in support of current practice, little will be achieved.

Technology is not the ultimate saviour of education.

People, using available tools in creative and reflected ways, are.

The above was not, however, what said post really made me think about.

No cheating?No, it inspired me to think about cheating, by promoting this as one major problem in using smartphones:

Because of the negative ways students use cell phones in class, like cheating or texting, some teachers say they’re wary of the idea.

We all know of this concern.

When the walls of the classroom are broken down, ignored as they are by especially digital media, the traditional ways of thinking about and assessing student progression is fundamentally challenged.

When everything can be found on Wikipedia, how do we test our students?

Does "helping" equal "cheating"?

For several years, the “solution” has been one of creating artifical borders. We’ve been desperately clinging to our old ways, creating a classroom that is becoming increasingly isolated from the surrounding world, and all in order to be able to test and measure students. We’ve been forced to do so, because of the predominant “if we can’t measure it, it’s worthless”-dogma.

Use appropriate tools!I can’t help but think about how I myself work and learn. I see no borders, no boundaries. I use the tools available to me, find the information I need and solve the problems I’m faced with. I may read a blog post, which I stumbled upon via Twitter, where I afterwards return to discuss said post. I visit Wikipedia to get an overview, before I may even find a relevant book on the shelf. I mail a friend, we talk on Skype and perhaps I write something here.

No problem, no learning process exist in isolation, and I’m thus always involved in an informational ecosystem much, much larger than whichever situation I’m currently finding myself in.

If I were still in school, I would clearly be accused of cheating, as I’m not really adhering to any particular set of rigid rules.

In many ways, what is considered “cheating” in school, is considered “creative, innovative problem solving” outside school.

I don’t have any glorious solution to this problem, yet I’m urgently aware, that we must revise our idea of cheating. When students are “cheating”, they are very often only doing what every single one of us would do; only difference is, they’re in school, we’re not.

They’re using a wide array of “tools” to solve problems.

Instead of our ultimately doomed attempts at preventing this, we should be actively encouraging it. We should be designing learning contexts, where the old notion of cheating is no longer valid, but where the learning process requires students to use tools interactively (after all, that is considered a key competence by OECD and others).

simoncrookWe generally need to shift our focus. That which can easily be googled (by cheating) may not be the most interesting in a learning perspective. On Twitter, simoncrook recently wrote, that “if students can Google the answer, rethink the question”. If we pose questions which can be answered by a simple Google search, we pose the wrong questions. Why not shift the focus from factual knowledge towards using tools to solve interesting, relevant problems, which approximate real world problems? Or better yet, addressing actual real world problems.

But administration demands us to maintain the rigid testing, you say? Let’s be creative within existing structures, but let’s simultaneously work to change those structures.

Nothing is carved in stone; it’s all just a matter of perceptions, and perceptions can change.

I hate networking

It's all about networking!

Coming from someone always socialising, always online, always communicating, this may come as a surprise: If I go back a few years, the pervasive and extremely hyped notion of networking was my biggest fear.

Everybody was talking about networking as the only feasible path to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Even if achieving said pot was not your primary objective, networking was considered unavoidable. No pain, no gain. No networking, no success.

I hated the prospect of that, having always considered networking to be a shallow, superficial process consisting only of exchanges of nothingness, swapping business cards, the mutual agreements of using each other as stepping stones for something bigger, something better.

It’s not that I’m terribly shy or hysterically introvert. I talk a lot, and I love talking and listening to people. It’s just that I often find it hard to talk to strangers without having some common frame of reference; something to talk about, basically.

A thesis to change my life

My Master's Thesis on game based learningIn between my thoughts on the perils of networking, I had recently finished my master’s thesis on game based learning, and realised the (to me at the time) surprising lack of prevalence of this phenomenon in practice.

Curious, ambitious, idealistic, naive, I simply wanted to go and change this. I saw it as a very real, very concrete, and – eventually – very complex way to change and improve education.

My primary vision was (and is) one of knowledge exchange, of sharing thoughts, ideas, experiences, between commonly unconnected fields such as research, game development and educational practice. I had no very precise strategy or business model when I started my little company. All I had was this persistent idea that if I could place myself in-between all the relevant parties, I could carve out a niche for myself, and perhaps, over time, make valuable contributions to education and gaming culture while satisfying my own desire to be passionate about everything I do.

I’ve been working hard, putting in too many hours, trying out numerous approaches with very varied degrees of success, but slowly I’ve been moving forward. I love what I do, and I’m fundamentally grateful for getting the chance to work within such a dynamic, exciting and challenging field. I consider life to be one big learning process, and in that perspective, things are great. I’m always learning, and in a way, I’m like myself when I was only learning to read. Always looking for new letters, new words, new sentences, always searching for challenges and new meanings.

Paradoxically enough, however, most of what I’ve been doing for those three years have been revolving around that intimidating notion of networking. Creating the desired interdisciplinary dialog and knowledge exchange obviously requires exactly that, and I thus fully acknowledge the importance, necessity even, of networking.

Have I thus come to terms with the phenomenon?

Not really. Even today, I still hate networking in the rather bleak interpretation as described above, and I have experienced situations like that. Nobody’s interested in anybody else, only seeking to promote their own agenda.

I don’t believe in that approach. I truly believe, that promoting a common agenda is the only viable way to make all of us win.

Luckily, though, the nastiest of networking sessions are surprisingly rare.

More often than not I meet sympathetic, intelligent human beings, interesting and interested, with whom I have the opportunity to discuss topics near and dear to me. These people are just as passionate as me (if not more), and very inspiring conversations are abundant. We talk about how we love games in general, why games deserve to be taken seriously, how the Danish game industry is doing, in which ways game based learning could possibly improve education, how we can strengthen the general understanding of games by focusing on game literacy – and everything in between. It’s wonderful stuff, really, and I’m always being infused with knowledge, ideas, inspiration, upon these talks.

Sometimes a more or less coincident meet-up leads to nothing more than the good experience itself, and that is perfectly fine. I expect nothing more, and I’m convinced that seeing the process as something relevant, valuable and rewarding in itself is part of the key to respectful networking. When concrete projects are born this way, it’s only an added bonus.

In general, that is how I’ve managed so far; by focusing on content, on discussing ideas, concepts, solutions, rather than on networking itself. I will probably never be the guy touring conference halls to  introduce myself, unsolicited, to whoever could further my case; just as I, on a more personal note, will never be the guy talking to strangers at a party without introduction of some kind.

So. I hate networking, but I love meeting and talking to passionate, inspiring, dedicated people, online as well as offline.

Even if this is mostly a personal anecdote, I would love to share just one single piece of advise with everybody fearing networking like me. I believe I’m not alone with this, and many would probably refrain from following dreams because of the fear of networking.

Don’t.

Just make sure you create a “custom fit” approach, and that you strive to make all networking revolve around whatever it is you’re passionate about. When you change the game from “networking for networkings own sake” towards “networking as a chance to talk about what you love”, it suddenly becomes very rewarding and satisfying.

Bridging gaps

Credits: Igor Bespamyatnov

…is a major part of what I’m always trying to do. (Using an actual bridge to illustrate the metaphor is cheesy, I know, but bridges look kinda cool, so bear with me).

I am not certain if I am actually particularly suited for doing so, but I am sure as hell infatuated with the core concepts of interdisciplinarity and sharing knowledge across boundaries.

I am convinced that many barriers and difficulties could be reduced, if not removed, if we were to a greater extent able to forge solutions by fusing knowledge from across different fields. This is why I maintain a vision of knowledge and insights not limited by any kind of boundaries, but rather flowing freely – even though I acknowledge the obvious naivity of the entire idea. It is an ideal situation never fully realizable, but nevertheless worth aiming for.

Right from the outset of this crusade of mine, I have been attempting to show how different areas of both research and practice, as well as a wide array of stakeholders could greatly benefit from establishing and maintaining dialogue.

Understanding games >< games in learning

Recently I have especially been considering the possible gap between those studying and writing about video games, trying to more fully understand games, and those preoccupied with the inclusion of games in learning and teaching. The two approaches may for the remainder of this post be labelled “understanding games” and games in learning”, respectively, and they each encapsulate both researchers, commentators, developers, practitioners etc.

The desire to understand games is a goal for the many researchers in the very diverse field of game studies, independent bloggers, dedicated sites, journalists, game developers and so on. These people play games, write about games, talk about games, develop games – they probably love games (just like I do). Among them, they try to identify and understand everything from game mechanics, rules, visuals, narrative and technology to video games culture and video game players.

There is an overlap, obviously, but many of the people working with games in learning are not part of the above group, and oftentimes they are not even aware of the existence of such a (loosely defined) community. I must quickly add, that this depiction is both rough and a bit unfair. Many researchers investigating “games in learning” have been paying close attention to game studies and the “nature of games” (e.g. James Paul Gee’s “What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy” and the more recent “Ludoliteracy: Defining, Understanding, and Supporting Games Education” by José P. Zagal). Despite important exceptions, many researchers, consultants and practitioners tend to focus more on learning than on games and studies of games.

What worries me is that these two fields may be moving forward along separate and somewhat isolated tracks, when they should actually be closely interrelated and even intertwined:

Two separate tracks?
How do we make these fields interact- like cogs?

This might become a very critical issue, if not addressed properly soon. The tendency to look at “games in learning” without paying enough attention to “understanding games” can be identified in several contexts, and I recently experienced it at the IMAGINE roundtable monday, where many participants were eager to talk about “games in learning”, and a bit less inclined to talk about “understanding games”.

GLS vs GDC

The Brainy Gamer - brilliant writing on video games

Now one of my favorite bloggers, The Brainy Gamer (also known by the somewhat more common name “Michael Abbott”) wrote another enlightening piece, where he touches upon some of this.

He desribes his participation in the Games+Learning+Society Conference, which is probably one of the most prominent conferences on games and learning, and many extremely knowledgeable people were among the speakers. It appeared, though, that the audience did not really share the insight about games:

Richard Lemarchand, lead designer for both Uncharted games, asked a simple question today: “How many of you have played Uncharted 2?”

When I heard him ask the same question at GDC a few months ago, nearly every hand in the room shot up. When he posed it again this morning at the Games, Learning, and Society Conference, the response fell somewhere between a handful and a smattering. Such is the difference between GDC and GLS – two conferences devoted, in very different ways, to games.

Where the participants at GDC (Game Developers Conference) are passionately interested in games, it would seem that the participants at GLS are more obsessed with learning. Fair enough, teachers and other people involved in education should of course have a keen interest in learning, but this does not remove the importance of “understanding games”, which Abbott points to by asking an essential question:

How can we best explore, understand, and harness the unique power of games – and the possibilities we’ve yet to identify – in our teaching and learning?

Where’s the beef?

If it is not entirely clear why I consider it so immensely important to somehow merge the two fields, allow me to elaborate.

Ludoliteracy - how can we teach about games without understanding them?

Let’s start with what may be understood as “game literacy” or “ludoliteracy“, as the notion is dubbed by José P. Zagal. This literacy is a subset of “digital literacy“, and the main focus is on supporting student’s ability to play, critically understand and analyze, and produce games. What are the core concepts of games, what does it mean that games are “rule-based systems”, what makes up the gameplay, how do games tell stories, what makes games appealing, how do games relate to  other cultural modes of expression, what does it mean to “play responsibly” – all questions that could very well be asked and discussed in the classroom. Just as we are approaching books, movies, advertising, the internet etc, we cannot just expect children and young people to develop this critical literacy by themselves. It quickly becomes clear, though, that doing something like this makes great demands on the ludoliteracy of the teacher.

Moving on to another perspective and a recommendable report by Futurelab, where games are described as “teaching tools”. This mirrors “game based learning” approaches, where games are used as didactic tools to support learning in all kinds of subject areas. This covers another way of using games in education, yet the need to know the principles of games remains unchanged. In an article on game literacy, David Buckingham and Andrew Burn argue that understanding games must be considered a prerequisite in order to teach with games:

Education about the media should be seen as an indispensable prerequisite for education with or through the media.

Likewise, if we want to use computer games or the internet or other digital media to teach, we need to equip students to understand and to critique these media: we cannot regard them simply as neutral means of delivering information, and we should not use them in a merely functional or instrumental way.

Games have different affordances when compared to other types of media, and it is these characteristics, that (in some cases) make them especially suited as learning tools. If those people supposed to use games don’t understand games and their core principles and mechanics, then how would it be possible to harness the full potential?

Whether we are interested in ludoliteracy, games as teaching tools or games in learning in general, we must strive to develop an understanding of games as the foundation of our work:

We must strive to understand games!

One of the obstacles hindering this approach would be that it is not entirely clear what it means to “understand games”. Most people trying to do so would probably agree with video game researcher Espen Aarseth, who said that “we are only just beginning, so don’t expect the world at this stage”. Or with Michael Abbot’s comment “heck, we’re still trying to figure out what game criticism is and should do”.

That much is true; we are just beginning. But this should certainly not prevent us from perceiving the described fields as closely related and interdependent. I don’t know exactly what to do, and I’m afraid easy solutions are not among our choices.

Interesting things are going on, though, and among these are the 4th European Conference on Games Based Learning taking place in Copenhagen in the fall. I am especially looking forward to the minitrack “The Teacher’s Role, Identity and Presence in Game-Based Learning“, where it is asked “how teachers’ game literacy influence game-based teaching?”. My answer, based on the argument permeating this post, would be that “teacher’s game literacy” is a highly important factor greatly influencing the potentials of including games in education (in all the many variants)(UPDATE: having participated in the conference, I wrote about how it is crucial to strengthen the weak link between “understanding games” and “games in learning”)

All difficult (and bloody fascinating) stuff. I can only urge you to:

Let's think (by Howdy, I'm H. Michael Karshis)

Transparency as an ideal


Sharing knowledge = sawing off your own branch?

Some people might consider it stupid to tell the world everything you know. Those people would probably argue, that as knowledge is an important and valuable asset in society today, why should you give away your knowledge for free? They might even posit that doing so would be like sawing off the branch, on which you yourself are sitting comfortably. If everybody knows what you know, how can you make a living?

Well, these are just possible positions based on common assumptions, but assumptions with which I passionately disagree.

In line with the “open source” movement within the world of software, I believe in open sourced knowledge.  I would rather tell it all to everybody than know things just for myself. Where’s the fun in that?

Transparency as a business model

This is not (only) because I am a naïve idealist trying to make a difference, even though it is probably part of the explanation. Idealists are somewhat egoistic, too, and on a personal level it is just immensely satisfying to see problems solved by the knowledge and ideas you share. In addition, it is simply easier to manage in day-to-day activities if I am not required to withhold some things, while strategically distributing others.

I live to share!

At the same time, though, I whole-heartedly believe that sharing everything is the best way to position yourself as someone relevant and valuable. In a way it has become my business model; the way I do business. Right from the beginning I was convinced that – in the long run – I would benefit the most by not focusing on earning money fast, but by distributing solid and relevant knowledge. This is not to say that all my activities are top notch, far from, but I allways aim for them to be. My ambition is to distinguish myself, make it clear what I can and do, and how I can possibly contribute to various projects.

But am I not just making myself expendable by constantly giving it all away? Well, no, it doesn’t seem so. The explanation is probably that knowledge as a commodity, something you can “give away”, is static and not in itself what makes the difference. Everybody can find most of what I know right here on the internet, and much of it is probably even on Wikipedia. I focus on the dynamics, on bringing knowledge and ideas into play in new contexts, thus trying to solve problems in new and creative ways. I am always trying to be analytic, looking for patterns and areas to be combined. These things I can’t just hand over, and thus I am not putting myself out of business by sharing and striving for transparency. Well, it might be part of the explanation, at least.

Examples on this “school of thought” are ample, and an increasing number of people are adopting this way of working and sharing in one continuous process. Transparency in communication, leadership and organizations is becoming an increasingly popular dogma, and digital media (especially the internet) is reinforcing this tendency.

Sharing in education?

In continuation of this line of thought, I am always arguing for increased sharing and transparency in the world of education. Many highly competent teachers, instructors, consultants and researchers are working hard, doing experiments and achieving great things, yet these achievements are rarely sufficiently shared with the greater community. I would claim that we could move forward faster if sharing was more widespread, and if everybody pooled in their valuable experiences.

I am always trying to provide different ressources to promote the ability to share ideas, but inertia is strong, and things are moving quite slowly. Too slowly for my impatient taste, in any case. It is very hard inspiring people to comment on blogs, participate in forums etc.

Got good experiences? Tell the world!

I guess that, in general terms, teachers, practitioners and other “inhabitants” of education are not really used to this approach. This is a rude assumption, I know, as a large number of teachers are great at telling what they do. Many others, however, are never heard, and could perhaps be labelled “the silent majority”. Traditionally, perhaps, the classroom was considered something “private”, and your own practice was…well, your own. Not something for others to nose into. Why would it be someone else’s business what you do?

Because your good experience could actually make a difference for the greater good of education.

Maybe you just had a general discussion about games with your class , maybe you calculated the size of an area in World of Warcraft, maybe you analyzed the story in Heavy Rain or maybe you compared games to other media like books or movies. It might be easy to write off these examples as mere trivialities with no value for anyone but yourself – but this is a serious misunderstanding. The value of sharing can’t really be overstated, as we are in dire need of just the experiences showing how the abstract talk about innovation can be turned into concrete practice.

I want to stress that I am not accusing anyone here. I am just trying to figure out how to further support an ideal of sharing in order to strengthen necessary progression.

How do we nurture a culture of transparency in education? How do we make it not only feasible, but attractive to share?

Knowing it all?

I am always trying to stay updated in the fields of video games, digital media and learning.

This is truly a daunting task, which in itself makes for more than a full-time job, and quite often leaves me with the feeling of not knowing anything at all. This, of course, always reminds me of Socrates, turning the lurking feeling of defeat into the joy of knowing nothing:

The only real wisdom is knowing you know nothing.

Anyway, however appealing  (and appeasing) this seems, I can’t just leave it at that. I need to know something and thus returns to the “information overload” immensely reinforced by the abundance of information and knowledge available to us on the internet.

Luckily, a wide array of tools have been developed to help us overcome this fundamental challenge.

Most of you probably know RSS (Really Simple Syndication), the oldschool, yet indispensable service allowing us to subscribe to and gather (syndicate) “feeds” from relevant sites in one place. For some time now, I have been using Google Reader to syndicate feeds from a large (and always growing) number of sites:

Now I have a dynamic collection of frequently updated feeds all in one place. Curious as I am, this is really a treat (even though the acutal process of reading these feeds demands more time than I can currently afford!).

So far, so good.

However, I am the kind of person, who more than anything believes in sharing knowledge. I am not really interested in knowing things just for myself, considering the process of exchange to be the what truly adds value. Of course, I am already trying to share knowledge right here, on Twitter and a number of other places.

Even so, I would very much like to create a fast, low-barrier entrance to the different articles and blog posts, I read and like. Google Reader actually allows me to share articles from all the feeds I subscribe to:

Share posts with Google Reader

It is quite simple, really. Read a post, share it and attach a short comment, if desired. That’s it. I am not completely convinced, however, that this is the best possible way. As the list of shared posts grow, it seems like a chaotic mess.

Well, I will try it out, and here are my shared feeds from Google Reader: