Thursday, March 31

My next book, Learning By Doing

My second book, Learning By Doing, will be out on April 22. It is a comprehensive look at educational simulations. My entire first book, Simulations and the Future of Learning, fits neatly between chapters 19 and 20.

I have a copy on my desk, printed out on three hole punch paper, based on the last draft. I find myself thumbing through it a couple of times a day.

Don't tell anyone, but I have found a few grammer flaws. I also described a knot as Gideon, instead of Gordian (I hate when I do that).

But one of the biggest tests for any book in our world is how much does it practice what it preaches? Does it role model, or just lecture? How engaging and interactive can/should one make such a book?

I am satisfied with how funny it is. The line that I was most sure would be edited out (but that made it) is: "Virtual reality systems can now superimpose computer images onto real-time video goggles. Now soldiers, not just Alzheimer patients, can see snipers where there are none."

(By the way, I want to use this blog to officially say that my father-in-law who lives next door suffered from dimentia with his Parkinsons, so while it is still a shockingly cruel line, at least I know personally of what I speak.)

The humor corresponds to the game elements I suggest as a consideration for educational content. Each one is a risk, but the greatest risk is not to include any at all.

The interactive part might be the toughest test. I am satisfied when I was able to exemplify something described in a page or chapter by interacting with the reader.

For example, when talking about Thiagi's open style questions:

"He might give you a piece of a story or scenario, and then ask what
comes before it and what comes after. For example, consider this:

Then e-learning took off. It changed the world. Attracting all of the
best and brightest talent, it became the fastest growing industry of
the 21st century.

Thiagi might ask you:
• What came before this to make it happen?
• What came after it as a result that made it matter?"

Or when, after describing one type of early simulation model called branching stories, I asked:

"Which of the following is true for you?
• I have a strongly favorable impression of branching stories.
• I have a mixed impression of branching stories.
• I have a very negative impression of branching stories.

If you have an opinion about branching stories, it often reflects how appropriately they were used. By the way, if you were frustrated because the options were not exactly what you wanted, welcome to the user side of any branching interfaces."

Learning By Doing is more interactive than most books. But ultimately it is not as interactive as I wish it were, or that I hope (paper-based) books will be in the future.

We are in a changing world. It is hard not to feel honored to have a role in it, to feel excited about the possibilities, and yet frusterated that things don't happen more quickly, even when we are the ones holding ourselves back.