Bookbyte Blog

Gamfication

Avatars, guilds, quests, XP — sounds like the newest installment of World of Warcraft, but for a growing number of classrooms it’s just another day at school.

Lee Sheldon, a video-game designer and Game Design teacher at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, came up with the idea of “gaming” his lesson plans after becoming bored with the traditional teaching format of: lecture, quiz, grade, repeat. Sheldon knew if he was boring himself, his college students were probably even worse off. That’s when it clicked: he needed to “gamify” the classroom.

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linkedin-logo

You know LinkedIn. It’s that social network you meticulously maintain but never look at, unless you’re applying for an internship or get an email because someone endorsed you. It’s the most useful and least fun way to spend your time on social media.

In a new, potentially trend-setting redesign, Cornell University’s graduate school of business management allows applicants to fill in most application information automatically. All the applicant needs to do is connect to his or her LinkedIn profile.

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Receiving some bad news

In terms of recent news that generated outrage, few stories in the past month can compete with the Facebook “Mood Manipulation” Experiment. If the story escaped your notice, here’s the basics: A study conducted by Facebook’s data team filtered 689,003 users’ News Feeds for positive or negative keywords. The test was to see what impact this had on the users’ subsequent posts. Needless to say, users with only positive Feeds were more likely to say something positive. Negative Feeds led to more negative posts.

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Yesterday, the US Education Department’s Twitter account for financial aid sent out a tweet saying “If this is you, you better fill out your FAFSA” followed by a link to their site and a screenshot from this scene from the movie Bridesmaids, complete with the caption “Help me, I’m poor.”

o-FAFSA-TWEET-570

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lilbrother_doctorowUntil recently, a Florida high school had a summer reading program that had everyone in the school, regardless of grade level, reading the same book. However, the school’s administration canned the program over the content of this year’s book, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow.

The reasoning is a bit odd. The school, or at least, the librarians and English teachers responsible for actually reading the book and writing discussion materials for the students, vetted it and found nothing inappropriate about it. The plug was pulled at the last minute by the school’s principal, who’s reasoning seems to be primarily based on online reviews. Those reviews mentioned that the book had a “positive view of questioning authority” and “lauding hacker culture.” The principal also said that he had received parent complaints about profanity, though the author insists the only profanity is one indirect reference.

(Even if the book was foul-mouthed, let’s all just admit that shielding 14- to 18-year-olds from naughty words is a losing battle. Personally, those were my peak cursing years.)

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The following essay was submitted by Janice Spencer as part of our #Write2Win Contest. It was one of our favorite submissions, so she’s won a prize and we’re reposting it here.

Adult students in a computer labWith every challenge we meet in life, education is a key flotation device we can all use to better ourselves. Family can tell us we will do “great” but confidence is not always there when it’s been tucked away in the journey of our life. Opening a book and trying to remember how to study its contents is overpowering and challenges our memory synapse. How we can overcome this stress and developing the skills to write is a ladder we haven’t climbed in many years. We, as non-traditional students, are now the learner and it is a tough hill to climb. Read the rest of this entry »

The following essay was submitted by Randi Medley as part of our #Write2Win Contest. It was one of our favorite submissions, so she’s won a prize and we’re reposting it here.

iStock_000012166310SmallFirst, the college experience is different for everyone. Second, the college experience is what you make it. Many seniors in high school know their major, their dream school, and have a plan for the future. They apply to their dream school early and, pending acceptance, send in their depots and are done before February. I was not this senior.

I applied to colleges with a 2.3 GPA having no clue where I wanted to go to school or what my major would be. I applied to nine colleges under either psychology or undeclared. Luckily I was able to get into all nine of the ones I applied to. But come the end of April, I had one month until graduating high school and still no idea where I wanted to go to school. Frustrated and eager to make a choice; I chose to attend community college until I was able to better sort out my plans. Read the rest of this entry »

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