The Mac Lab

Archive for March, 2012

Humble Beginnings | Spring Break Quest Fest

by on Mar.30, 2012, under Blog

Satisfying work always starts with two things: a clear goal and actionable next steps toward achieving that goal. Having a clear goal motivates us to act: we know what we’re supposed to do. And actionable next steps ensure that we can make progress toward the goal immediately.

WoW offers a guarantee of productivity with every quest you undertake. The world is populated by thousands of characters who are willing to give you special assignments—each on presented on an individual scroll that lists a clear goal, and why it matters, followed by actionable steps: where to go, step-by-step instructions for what to do when you get there, and a concrete measure of proof you’re expected to gather to demonstrate your success.
Jane McGonigal / Reality is Broken

Satisfying work. That is TAG’s target.

In this post, I laid out some preliminary ideas for a gamifying our classroom. During our open beta some of the ideas worked wonderfully while others crashed and burned. Don’t dismiss the latter result; I’m a firm believer in the positive power of failure. After all, out of our collective efforts we now have the beginnings of a self-contained Web 2.0 framework for the next version of TAG.

The 1.0 version of TAG will officially launch in the fall but we’ll be testing the new version very soon. No more XP Scoresheets to deal with. Everything (and more) will be handled within the blog.

More on that later. For now, let the Spring Break Quests begin! (Alumni and visitors are welcome to join in.)

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AMP is a Verb (Week 27)

by on Mar.26, 2012, under Blog

Creativity is a step beyond imagination because it requires that you actually do something rather than lie around thinking about it.

To develop our creative abilities, we also need to develop our practical skills in the media we want to use.

Being creative is about making fresh connections so that we see things in new ways and from different perspectives.
Sir Ken Robinson / The Element

I’m hoping those three sentences sound familiar. Are these concepts more believable when someone else writes them?

How about this one?

Creative insights often come in nonlinear ways, through seeing connections and similarities between things we hadn’t noticed before. Creative thinking depends greatly on what’s sometimes rolled divergent or lateral thinking, and especially on thinking in metaphors or seeing analogies.
— Sir Ken (again)

Think about that.

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Ticket 1329330978 (Week 26)

by on Mar.19, 2012, under Blog

One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.
— André Gide

Every start upon an untrodden path is a venture which only in unusual circumstances looks sensible and likely to be successful.
— Albert Schweitzer

What academic value does playing World of Warcraft have exactly?
Kyle Wheaton

I imagine that Kyle isn’t the only one to pose that question. Before I begin listing all the reasons why I’m offering kids a chance to play after school and on Saturdays, here’s a peek at an email from a district-level technology specialist to the two administrators at the top of the district tech food chain (the ones who approved my request):

Though he’s already expressed it, I just wanted to reiterate how much Mike Skocko appreciates Larry and Dustin’s efforts on behalf of his media classes. Gaming and the World of Warcraft could scare a lot of shops from accommodating his request, but an understanding of the educational objective and careful planning of the time-based policy exceptions have really created a win-win: enabling activities that ignite student learning while protecting other network users from negative impacts: a real coup. Reviewing ticket 1329330978 it is evident how much research and testing went into getting to this solution. I know they had to fit this in between more urgent tasks.

I feel fortunate to work with two guys who bring to their jobs a love of meeting challenges head-on and learning new things.

In other words, three very busy guys (the one who wrote the email helped too) spent a lot of time finding a way to give us the opportunity to play World of Warcraft in the Mac Lab. Why would they do that? And even more puzzling: why would the administrators approve the request in the first place?

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WoW (Week 25)

by on Mar.12, 2012, under Blog

Games are the quintessential autotelic activity. We only ever play because we want to. Games don’t fuel our appetite for extrinsic reward: they don’t pay us, they don’t advance our careers, and they don’t help us accumulate luxury goods. Instead, games enrich us with intrinsic rewards. They actively engage us in satisfying work that we have the chance to be successful at. They give us a highly structured way to spend time and build bonds with people we like. And if we play a game long enough, with a big enough network of players, we feel a part of something bigger than ourselves—part of an epic story, an important project, or a global community.
Jane McGonigal / Reality is Broken

I was trying to find a different quote this morning when I accidentally hit that page. Nothing on it was highlighted (I always highlight the stuff that feels important) but, for some reason, I read it again. Wow, I thought, that paragraph sounds a lot like AMP.


The first two legs of the Type I tripod, autonomy and mastery, are essential. But for proper balance, we need a third leg—purpose, which provides a context for its two mates. Autonomous people working toward mastery perform at very high levels. But those who do so in the service of some greater objective can achieve even more. The most deeply motivated people—not to mention those who are most productive and satisfied—hitch their desires to a cause larger than themselves.
Daniel Pink / Drive

Wouldn’t it be incredible if life were as engaging as your favorite games? Wouldn’t it be great to play all day instead of working? And wouldn’t it be perfect if the games you chose to play actually helped to make the world a little better place? Now that’s a cause larger than yourself!

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A New Era Begins: WoW in the Classroom

by on Mar.10, 2012, under Blog

Thanks the the forward-thinking and hard work of our district technology specialists—specifically Larry S and Mike J (thanks guys!)—the district firewall has been breached. World of Warcraft is now playable in the Mac Lab (and only in the Mac Lab) between 3:00 to 4:30 weekdays and until 1:00 on Saturdays.

Text your fellow Alliance (or Horde) Faction members and let them know the game begins today.

Installation in progress.

Free Trial: If you sign up for the free trial, choose Khaz Modan for the Realm and Alliance for your Faction so we can play together. If you wind up in a different Realm by accident, you can always choose to begin again, creating another character to play. (I’ve started fresh over a dozen times.)

Update: Thanks to alum Chris Canel, WoW is installed on virtually all machines. I have an after school meeting to attend on Monday so we’ll finish the job on Tuesday. The lab will be open until 4:30 if you want to play. Student demand will determine how often the lab stays open late. If enough of you want to play, I’ll stay.

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