I wanted to take a moment to recap the happenings at last week’s UW Distance Teaching and Learning Conference in Madison, WI.  My week started by appearing on a panel in front of 180 first-time conference attendees.  My platform was encouraging distance educators to not get hung up with technical bureaucracy and silos that create barriers to learners over the internet.

Mobile Devices & Content to Support Learning

When an audience member suggested, “perhaps the answer is buying all learners iPads,” I reminded them the government outfitted thousands of schools with iMacs in the early 2000’s.  However, the systems wound up in labs for typing classes, not being used for their intended purpose.  The problem was we didn’t have quality content and teachers didn’t know how to use the content we did have.  By the time they had learned how to use the content, the iMac hardware was already obsolete.

My message was: Content is King.  The current trend is just-in-time and performance support for mobile learning.  We have to focus our content on what works with mobile learning, including performance support tools (what learners need on the job).

MindMeld: The Experience

I was delighted that the afternoon MindMeld workshop was completely sold out.  It was a great debut of MindMeld: The Experience, the new game developed around the Five Factors of Microcollaboration.

MindMeld: The Experience is a collaborative card game played in teams of three.  Each player draws six Factor cards and contributes two to play against the Challenge card.  Challenge cards eliminate Factor cards from your common hand, so it’s necessary to strategize a strong common hand. At the end of the challenge, each player draws more Factor cards to build up their strategy for the next Challenge!

The object:  To have the largest common hand at the end of the game—that is, to have the most cards in the middle, and the fewest in the discard pile. In doing so, you must create a dream team by making your common hand as well-rounded as possible. (Remember to include elements of all five factors of microcollaboration!)

The problem:  Challenges represent roadblocks an ILO team might run into.  They require you to remove certain cards from your common hand.  But, when you remove a card, you don’t get to use it again.  Since the point of the game is to get as many cards as possible in the middle, you have to strategize which cards each player should put in the middle and hang onto.

Certain Factor cards neutralize certain Challenges, so if you have the right card in your common hand, it will defend you from the Challenge.  After the Challenge, each player draws more cards from the Factors deck and the team strategizes again.  The more cards you have in your common hand, the better your chances of defending yourself against Challenges!