Friday, October 6, 2017

The subjective nature of truth

As a scientist, I've spent a lot of time concerning myself with how to convey scientific facts to those outside the scientific community. As a concerned U.S. citizen in the last 9 months, I've spent time trying to figure out what are the political facts of this world and how we trust them. As an educator, I'm particularly interested in how we teach our children to recognize true facts from false ones.

I think I've learned two simple concepts about fact-finding that I want to share. First, as humans, we don't trust facts as being true because the evidence is credible, but rather because we believe the source of the evidence is credible. Second, our default mode as humans is be extremely subjective about how we process information about the world.

I remember being taught about this subject in school.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

What is Immersion and does VR own it?

"Virtual Reality is great because it's so immersive." A common tagline nowadays that grates my ears every time I hear it. It implies that Virtual Reality, or VR, has some kind of special hold on the idea of Immersion. Some people have backed away from this claim recently, offered the more palatable claims of "a sense of presence," but having just walked out of the 2017 Games For Change day on VR, I can say immersion is still going strong.

I have two issues with this phrase-

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Should we teach simple things first?

In my time volunteering and working for Iridescent, I came to understand a certain model for how to teach design processes. Having read the Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards, I realized that the Iridescent model of teaching is unique from the more typical and common sense teaching models, but that difference is really powerful. I'd call this model core-first teaching, and I believe it's particularly applicable to teaching topics like engineering design, coding, or the scientific method.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A nuanced look at Student Data Privacy

Student data privacy is a big concern with the proliferation of data in education. But is all data equally concerning? We tend to put all “Student Data” in one big bucket and treat it as if it’s all the same. Yet we know there are drastic differences between different schools and EdTech companies in their mission, approach, pedagogy and tools: is it really reasonable to suspect that all of their data is the same? And more importantly is all data and uses of that data equally threatening from a student privacy standpoint?

I’ll give away the punchline- my answer is no, not all student data is equal. But if it’s not all equal, what criteria can we use to distinguish student data?  Here’s some ideas.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Intrinsic rewards and grinding in video games

In one of my earliest blog posts, I talked about my model for intrinsic rewards in video games. The basic idea is that many games create a loop, such when you follow the loop the reward for an action is being able to do that action more, and in a more challenging way. Do something to do that thing more is an intrinsic reward: do something to get something else is an extrinsic reward. Seems simple, but gets really messy when applied to different game genres, and my recent experience with Fallout Shelter made me realize this needs a deeper look. This blog post will talk through how intrinsic rewards play out in different games, in particular how they are related to the issue of grinding and meaningful gameplay.