Youth are the ultimate agents for social change

‘The Louhellen Experience begins‘, an attempt by a student of the International Louheleln Baha’i School to express some of his feelings on this soothing and peaceful place where he did hi sYouth Year of Service.

Hungry for Solutions: Can the Youth Fix the Future?‘ reports on the Portland Youth Summit as part of its Global Citizens Corps. THis report is packed full of quality resources on for helping and educating the youth on Global Change.

If you want to see the ingenuity of kids, try this team-building exercise as developed and practised by global Kids.

Million Futures‘ is a really nifty project that allows studetns to write their visions of the future on virtual airplaces, which then fly around the web site for others to read. Meanwhile, ‘10 Things I can do to help my world‘ is a book written for young children about practical things they can do around their home and life that can make this world a better place. Click here to read the rest of this article! »

20 Essential Skills for Startups and Entrepreneurs

HighContrast offers insight into the question of why peeople tend to thing that ‘Entrepreneurs know how to operate in uncertain environments‘. His thoughts are split into three streams: Luck and timing; Gut Sense; and Iterative Improvement.

OnStartups, takes ‘8 Startup Insights inspired by the mega mind of Seth Godin‘. These include: resist becoming average; let your users talk to each other; beware the need for for ciritical mass.  Various people offer practical experience and lessons — many of which they learnt the hard way!

Of course, no matter what your idea or strategy, you might not actually have the personal characteristics to run your own startup. So finally, I leave you with two links: ‘Are you entreprenuer material‘ and ‘Are you tough enough to make money online?’


How to give your marketing a boost

FOR ALL THOSE READERS who, like me, have an interest the sales and marketing of games and educational products, here are some must reads:

EricaBiz, writes “It’s time to completely change your Marketing Strategy!“, speaks about the need for a fundamental change in marketing due to the financial crisis.

In terms of targeting your audiences, I have always liked the advice and content from “Work at home Moms” and given the billions of dollars spent each year by Moms, this free eBook ‘Marketing to Moms” is no exception.

Chris Anderson has been the expert in how companies can offer free products and still create viable business models and his articles “The three kinds of FREE‘ and ‘Pricing sweet spots: $0 and $Lots‘, and ‘14 Free business models‘, are good short reads.

On the topic of pricing, SmallBizTrends has ‘8 Pricing Strategies you can implement Right Now“, including the ‘nine-zero effect’, the ‘prestige pricing’, ‘quantity suggsestive pricing’, and lots lots more. Also from the same people is the interesting piece on “The Art of Pricing‘.

Rita McGrath from Harvard Business Publishing shows us how to ‘Unleash the Emotional Appeal of Your Product.

Finally, I leave you with something I had never thought about before with regards to marketing, but seems really quite a decent idea: “How Jenny Craig uses personas for successful marketing‘.

10 Awesome Resources for English learners and lovers

Larry Ferlazzo offer us The Best Internet Sites for English Language Learners 2008 survey. You can vote for your favourite, or you can simply use the list as an awesome springboard for amazing English Language learning sites. He is quite frequently posting up surveys, and another useful one would be ‘Best online learning games 2008‘.

One of my pet peeves is that many educated people still do not know how to use apostrophes, know the difference between ‘which’ and ‘that’, and the difference between’good and ‘well’. Help has now arrived for via ‘Advanced English grfammar video lessons‘. Actually, their entire site, BusinessEnglishPod is well worth a browse.

Love Tetris. Then you’ll love WordConnect. Don’t be fooled by its simplicity. This is an amazing educational game. Instead of falling pieces you have falling letters, and then whenever a word is completed is disapperas.

Some meta-resources are available through the interview ‘Learning the language‘ by Mary Ann Zehr.

60-second Shakespeare is one of those really cool ideas, that once you see it/hear of it, you say to yourself ‘why didn’t any thing of this before.’ It is a project from the BBC to create their own imaginative/creative tabloid article on a Shakespearean play. ef ‘Tragi double teen death’. Even though the project has officially ended this is one of those ideas that is great for a classroom. Likewise, PoetryVisualized is a beautiful site for all the senses.

For the poetry lovers out there, you will love Poetry 180. Offered by Billy Collins, poet laureate of the United States. it is ‘designed to make it easy for students to hear or read a poem on each of the 180 days of school.

Teen Literacy Tips akss ‘Can you write a story without using the letter E?‘. A fun way to engage students in writing.

Finally, I leave you with a really inspirational teacher who is using lots of small whiteboards to do highly-interactive literacy lessons.

The Neighbourhood as an integral pillar of our society

Isn’t it time you talked to your Neighbour? A recent survey on Neighbourhoods by Full of Life, shows what I think is a very worrying trend (though hardly unexpected).

  • 8% of people don’t their neighbour’s name
  • 20% have hardly ever spoken to their neighbours,
  • 58% think that neighbor are becoming more distant

However, in contrast to the ever-constant barrage of bad news these days, Baha’i Perspectives reminds us that Baha’u’llah had not only foretold of times like this, but had given us a blueprint for a global solution.  The Univesal House of Justice, in 1985 reminded us of this in their statement “The Promise of World Peace”. They have another excellent article on the latent perfections of youth. I have said it many times before, but anyone who has an interest in seeing the potential of kids to be global citizens should visit the Global Kids’ Digital Media Initiative, whether it be to see what inspirational things kids are doing around the world, or as a resource repository for ideas for your students, this is the place to visit. Click here to read the rest of this article! »

All maths and science teachers should read this!

NSC-Tech is one of those resources that every teacher should spend time browsing. Here are two of the many gems you can find on this site: Science for Kids, which is a free collection of experiements compiles by the American Chemical Society; and Lab Out Loud, a site with the tagline ‘science for the classrom and beyond’, whch is a podcast and blog that discusses science news and education with leading scientists, researchers, and otherscience writers. Here is an example of one of their videos, which discusses the challenge of picking up a wishbone and drinking straw using only one other drinking straw.

On the topic of math instruction via video, Dan Meyer finds a gem for us when he tells how Marianne Smith shows the draws attention to the tale of two approaches: one video ‘Math education: An onconvenient Truth“, with is posihed to a shine and represents procedural fluency, and contrasts it to “A parent’s guide to Math Education in Today’s Classroom‘, which is a classic example of conceptual fluency. It is a good reminder that there are many successful ways to produce educational videos. Then of course, there are videos like this, that are show that you can have fun even teaching Pythagoras’ theorem.

Here is another classic way that video can enhance the education of very abstract and tough concepts — such as the fourth dimensions. These are very impressive videos both in terms of presentation and educational content. And for the brace here is a video (from a different author) on the tenth dimension. On a related note, here isn article on how different people rotate maps in their heads.

EducationWeek then draws us to a recent study that suggests one of the better ways to teach science is through the use of everyday English (ass opposed to strict scientific terminology).


How do you know that your game is fun?

The American Psychological Association (APA) has been busy lately doing research into how gaming boosts cognitive skills. “A host of studies suggest that video game build cognitive skills. Even a relatively simple tiling puzzle like Tetris has been shown to boost brainpower”, they write.  They also comment on experiments that show that laparoscopic surgeons who played video games performed better then their non-gaming peers.  This is consistent with mayn other similar studies such as those discussed in Science Daily ‘Playing video games offered learning across life span‘, and ‘Cognitive Training for Basketball game-intelligence“.

In the day anad age of fiancial credit crises, it is worthy to mention that the well-reputed Caspian Learning, in partnership with Experian, have created ‘Creditability’, a performance simulation game for chldren to learn about money, borrowing and spending. In a similar, but different vein, the Economist news magazine ha san interesting piece on ‘Playing for profit‘ about using vbideo game technology to increase profit and productivity in the workplace.

Phaedrus Blog spends alittle time pondering the relationship and consequences of ‘Gamin and Education‘. For a less philosophical post, it is worth mentioning his brief comments on the game of FLOW.

Finally, now that we have further established the educational case for games (again), let’s raise the question ‘How do you know that your game is fun?‘, I was expecting Juuso from GameProducer to mention all the standard issues like beta-testing, sales, etc but he takes it from a developer’s point-of-view, citing such things as ‘Do you enjoy testing it?”, “Do you smile when you watch characters walking across the screen?”.  Obviously these questions are sufficient to guarantee success, however, I do think it reminds us that sometimes if we aren’t passionate about what we make, why should we expect others to be?

Marketing Tips for developers

CopyBlogger tells us the “3 Secrets to massive online marketing success“: Take action. Have a plan. And …well, I won’t spill the beans on all the secrets!It is another one of those articles that remind us that having good ideas really doesn’t count for much unless you implement them — and implement them well.

Another cool article by the same authors is “How to simplify persuasion with marketing Ju-Jitsu“. Here they use the image that just like in Ju-Jitsu where a smaller fighter can beat a stronger opponent by using the attacker’s against him, you too can market in the same space as companies with million-dollar budgets, through a combination of agile strategies and clever tactics.

Everybody should read 37Signals’ blog, and this related post on how they built buzz from day one, is no exception. Likewise, Ben talks about the “Big Bang Theory of Launching a Product“. Talking about launching your product, if you are considering using viral strategies and video campaigns, then it makes sense to combine them via a viral video campaign. Denise O’Berry, makes good case that we shouldn’t ask our friends what they think of our product.

In terms of strategic marketing, Harvard Business asks should startups focus on growth or profits, …or something else? And talking about semi-rhetorical questions, DailyBlogTips debates the question “What is more important to succeed online: Business or Technical skills?

Moving from marketing and onto the sales end of your business, ‘the most expensive way to grow a business‘, via DuctTapeMaketing is a must read. Likewise, in this seemingly ceaseless trend of freemium and giveaway models, it is fascinating read about Bill’s real-life experience of how to sell your software for $20,000.

Finally, Andrew Chen of Futuristic Play fame, offers “50+ essays on viral marketing, social network monetization, product design, and more“.

Educational Game Design and Development

The derivative matching game‘, by The MAA Mathematical Sciences Digital Library”, offers one of those maths activities that you think, ‘this is so simple, but effective, why hasn’t this been done before?’ It consists of showing graphs of a few functions, and the graphs of their derivatives, and you have to match them up. Simple, but very effective. One of those reminders that utilising technology in education does not have to mean really expensive budgets. On a simillar vein, is “Charlie Bone“, a game designed to help with literacy.

For those people who want to get into game design, Ralph Koster , game-designer guru, offers a brief comment on “A game designer’s core skills“. I can certainly appreciate his view that the key ability for lead-developers is when they view a ‘bare-bones’ software prototype they can accurately extrapolate in their mind what it will look like when the product much more developed. It seems to be the the typical person can only have intellignet conversations on things that they can actually see, and not things that are more abstract or implied. Credit to Koster for pointing this out in the context of game design. Talking about abstract, the GameProducer forums offers the challenge to: define ‘game’. Needless to say, an interesting discussion has ensued.

Of course, the quesiton of funding arises, and VentureBeats ponders whether Google’s attempt of “AdSense for Games” might be an viable and serious option. Whilst DiscoverGames offers a portal to the business-side of game design.

Finally, if you are needing some overview of why game development is potentially so big in the field of education, read Massively’s “Games and Virtual World teach better than teachers“, and the Chronicle’s “Playing the Science Game“.

3 Great resources for online teaching

The Wisconsin online Resource Center, “a digital library of web-based learning resources,…is available to colleges, universities and consortia from throughout the United States and around the world with permission.” has some pretty impressive stuff. Also, Curriki , which aims to allow teachers to collect lesson plans, contribute teaching resources and connect with other educators is pretty cool decent education portal.

SANGONet, is the portal for NGOs (non-governmental organizations) in South Africa offers “Changing the interface of education“. Their entire site is certainly worth a browse.

On a similar, but different strand, Wired campus talks about a move of taking open education beyond merely posting course materials online. This is worth a read for two reasons. First, is that it is educationally sound. Educators have been saying foever that placing course materials online does not imrpove the educational value of a course, merely it increases accessibility. For the sheer majority of students, the only way real, deep and long-lasting learning occurs, is through active participation. This might be in the form of doing exercises, discussing, questioning, analysing or experimenting. Either way, merely offering course materials for people to read, is hardly a meaningful way to educate someone.

Secondly, his phrase “knowledge is free, the qualification will cost you”. Think about it. This is huge. I would expect that in the near future this will be the standard for Education 2.0. Is it not already the implied standard. At many of the prestigious universities in the U.S and around the world, you may not be able to argue that their content and/or delivery is worth the increased fees, especially given the availability of information nowadays, however, the qualification you get at the end: “I graduated from Oxford University” is worth much more than saying you graduated from your local unknown university.

Finally, Sue Waters, in the context of online learning, asks “Can you help me inspire our future teachers?”

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