Tag Archives: Liza Loop

Early Apples, I And II, At LOOP Center

(An observation by HCLE’s founder, Liza Loop)

Stories about individual action are easily lost to history.

Not only did Steve Wozniak give the first Apple 1 to LO*OP Center, Inc. (now the host organization for HCLE), as noted in this article, he also gave the 10th Apple II.

Woz and Wayne

The $300 Steve Jobs made Woz pay for it was a big deal at the time, which made it a super generous gift. I hope we repaid him by taking the Apples to schools and teachers’ meetings beginning in 1976!

HCLE is working to gather stories like this from those of us who were present when this history was being made. If we leave the task to memory and anecdotes the facts are likely to get garbled leaving posterity with inaccurate cultural memory. Historians try hard to get it right but they need our active cooperation to get the story right.

What makes a ‘virtual’ museum a museum?

We are involved in an interesting conversation about virtual museums going on in the Museums and the Web group on LinkedIn.  We are asking the same questions in the Online Museum Working Group

The LinkedIn discussion began with this post:

Is A Title a Definition? The Virtual Steam Car Museum.

 Donald Hoke, Ph.D.Co-Owner of Vintage Steam Products, LLCTop Contributor

The Virtual Steam Car Museum has applied for an IMLS CAP grant and been denied for the past two years. The rational is that IMLS does not fund virtual museums, but the Virtual Steam Car Museum has thousands of artifacts. Our exhibits are on line, but our collections need help just as does every museum’s collections.

After several comments from others, Eric chimed in with:

Eric Baird Content Creator at Brighton Toy and Model Museum

Wouldn’t a collection of images of 2D material like brochures, advertising documentation and literature be more easily referred to as a “virtual archive” rather than a “virtual museum”?

“Virtual museum” sounds sexier, but “virtual archive” may be easier for funding bodies to understand, and an “archive” has existing well-defined functions that translate well to an online environment.

There are already a number of major organisations that collect and display 2D artefacts and increasingly put them online ( in the UK, the British Library, the National Gallery, etc), but I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of these organisations refer to their online collections of 2D material as “museums”. So I think that perhaps “museum” is understood as referring to collections of artefacts that aren’t just simple 2D objects.

Here’s my response:

 Liza Loop Vision Keeper: History of Computing in Learning and Education

IMHO the issue is about the various functions of a “museum”. One function is ‘exhibition’ to the public. Before the internet, museums had to provide physical walk-in facilities in order to provide access to the public. Now many established museums are supplementing their physical exhibits with online galleries of images. But many of us who manage significant collections and archives either cannot, or choose not to, take on the additional burden of administering a physical space open to the public. We perform all the other functions of a museum: collection, preservation, cataloging, curating, interpreting, lending artifacts, researching, educating, etc. The only function we don’t have is physical exhibit space. Public access is either via images, text, video and software on the web or at partner institutions that mount temporary exhibitions of our materials.

It’s not just a matter of whether the collection contains 2D or 3D objects. 3D scanning and printing is opening up the study of physical objects to a much broader audience and can be used by virtual museums. We need to elaborate the definition of ‘museum’ beyond the public access function. Is having a walk-in gallery of physical object the sine qua non of being a museum? It is in the current IMLS enabling legislation. Do we want to keep it that way or modernize our thinking?

Virtual or online museums can ‘exhibit’ 3D objects. There is no question that the experience of being in the presence of an object, an ancient throwing stick or the Enterprise space shuttle for example, is different from viewing a digital surrogate of it online. What we do ask is whether both experiences should be considered ‘museum experiences’. I vote ‘yes’ and cite the crowds of visitors huddled around video screens in walk-in exhibit halls. No one questions that viewing a screen along with the physical exhibit is ‘going to the museum’. But the significant change is from physical artifact to screen display, not where that screen is located. And, even within a physical space, the experience of handling an object differs from viewing it enclosed in a plexiglass case.

Depending on one’s purpose for the museum visit, each of these interaction techniques has its advantages and shortcomings. When embedded in a richly contextualized web site (as contrasted with a simple, captioned, online picture album) the visitor can learn an immense amount about an artifact even though the ‘vibe’ of the physical object is missing. These virtual exhibits are accessible to a much larger public and often enable deeper exploration of the object than physical exhibits. This is not to diminish the awe and reverence that many of us only feel when standing physically close to the ‘real McCoy’. We need both/and, not either/or.

This discussion isn’t over yet. Join in either here or through the Museums and the Web group on LinkedIn.

I just love “open source” people!

The other day I had two awesome conversations with folks who work with CiviCRM, an open-source, constituency relations management platform we are considering for HCLE.  Each of these young gentlemen was knowledgeable, cordial, helpful and imaginative.  Of course they would be — they donate a portion of their work time and know-how to support free software used by nonprofit organizations world-wide. One of them loaded up CiviCRM on our host server so we can try it out without charging a consulting fee. Thank you, Joshua.

One of the most important themes HCLE has to develop is the many ways edtech pioneers, computer hobbyists, students, teachers and company employees found to contribute their efforts for the benefit of all. Sometimes the contributions were intentional – as in the formation of SoftSwap by Computer-Using Educators and the San Mateo County Office of Education. This was before there was much educational software available so teachers wrote their own and put the programs in SoftSwap. From there, anyone could get and use a copy. Talk about “Open Educational Resources“! At other times someone’s creation became “open source” without the expressed consent of its creator — I’m thinking of the episode when one of the Homebrew Computer Club members made copies of Microsoft BASIC and handed them out at a meeting. Bill Gates wasn’t happy about that but once the cat was out of the bag there was no putting it back in. Actually, that event may have been instrumental in spreading Microsoft’s popularity.

The challenge of the “open” movement is how to participate generously in the “sharing economy” without starving in a world dominated by “the dismal science” (economics – meaning a money economy). The fundamental assumption of economic theory is “scarcity” — that to have economic value there must be a shortage or limited supply of something. Software, like many other informational products has an interesting property that puts it in a different category from either “material stuff” (whether raw material or manufactured) or “labor” (which is limited both by the energy of the laborer and the time it takes to do the work). The first instance of a software program may be very expensive to create but the cost of replicating subsequent copies is negligible. How does one make a living in either open source software or open educational resources?

I can think of two solutions: 1. Have a paying gig in some other field and only contribute your leisure time to “open” projects. Geeks who love to code often choose this route. 2. Give away the central core of the software and then let your developer community sell their services to customize these generalized products. That’s how it will work with at least two of the software packages HCLE is trying out: CiviCRM and Mediawiki. That’s how teachers who write open textbooks continue to pay the rent.

So HCLE probably won’t get its open source infrastructure entirely for free in the end. We will have to raise enough money to pay consultants, perhaps the overall expense will not be that much less than buying a pre-configured museum relationship management package. But we’ll get to work with kindred spirits, with people who understand that nickel- and dime-ing a fledgling non-profit doesn’t help build the industry, with seasoned collaborators who regularly participate in “code-a-thons” and have a mission beyond the money.

A lot of people have gotten rich in the computer industry; but a lot more, including me, have gained a supportive and fascinating ‘sharing’ community. Come to think of it, even those who got rich have figured out that they can’t take it with them and have created charitable foundations. I’d better sharpen my proposal-writing pencil so HCLE can afford to stay open-source itself and give away the history we collect.

HCLE Second Quarter 2014 Progress Report

HCLE Second Quarter 2014 Progress Report

Welcome to the second HCLE quarterly report (second quarter of 2014). We share many of these news items via our outlets (wiki, blog, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) and collect them here for your and our convenience.

So much has been going on that we’ve barely had time to reflect upon our progress. The following is a long list of items that we’ve worked on in the last three months. Consider them headlines, and if you want more details behind them, send us a note if there isn’t a link. (You’re also invited to browse our wiki, the virtual museum’s electronic loading dock, where many of these topics have working pages.)

Please pass it along, especially if you know someone else who will want to contribute money, time, artifacts, stories, or connections. Even by glancing at what we’ve done, you’re helping make HCLE happen if you pass along the story. Thank you.


  • Digital Repository
  • Stanford
    • Henry Lowood enabling digitization of HCLE collection
    • Fred Turner using HCLE archive as class material
  • Internet Archive
    • referred us to Mark Pilgrim who will copy all Apple II disks
  • database
    • preliminary screens running on HostGator.
  • Writing Competition / Story Project
    • two winners: Delia Caban & Jane Wilson
  • example exhibits being reviewed to aid design
  • Proof of Concept
  • Back Office Thinking proposal incorporated into program plan


  • government and institutions
    • Proposal applications submitted
      • NEH – Preservation and Access
        • recommendations on how best to archive HCLE’s collection
      • ESA – Oregon Trail
        • build exhibit and research platform for study of games and education
      • NEH – Digital Projects for the Public
        • production and publication of Design Document for HCLE’s Virtual Museum
    • Proposal applications in process
      • NEH – Humanities Collection and Reference Resource
        • digitization and cataloging of documents and software in HCLE collection (cancelled after conferring with NEH)
      • Cal-Hum – California Humanities
        • Oral History project of California EdTech Pioneers
    • Complete list of proposals available on the wiki
  • Individuals
    • Vision Club – Lisa Webster, Joi Ito
    • Vision Club newsletter
  • Corporate & Foundations
    • Google NYC
    • GE Foundation
    • Vulcan
    • Hewlett Foundation
    • Mellon Foundation
  • Associations – ACM, IEEE,  ISTE
  • Reviewing Foundation Center
  • Reviewing GetEdFunding.com
  • HCLE to donor introductory letter prepared for:
    • Liza to individual – done (HNW letter)
    • Liza to organization – done but up for revision
    • HCLE to individual (Fundraising Letter HCLE-to-one Vision Club invite)
    • HCLE to organization (Fundraising Letter HCLE-to-many)
  • Funding database updated and planned to be ported to CiviCRM on HostGator
  • other contacts made:
    • Brabson Library & Educational Foundation
    • Tech Museum of Innovation
    • EMC Heritage Trust Project
  • in search of: volunteer to implement CiviCRM on HostGator


  • Social Media traffic report
1/1/2014 3/29/2014 6/29/2014
Facebook 59 71 80
Twitter 67 98 194
WordPress 18 29 31
Wikispaces 12 25 28


  • Stanford
    • Henry Lowood enabling digitization of HCLE collection
      • People’s Computer Company
    • Fred Turner using HCLE archive as class material
  • Internet Archive
    • referred us to Mark Pilgrim who will copy all Apple II disks
  • Living Computer Museum
    • Justin Speilmann
      • Discussion of designing and operating our Traveling Exhibit
    • Cynde Moya
      • Archiving practices and consultation referrals
  • HCLE is now a partner in the National Digital Stewardship Alliance
  • The Made (themade.org) Peter Suk & Alex Handy
    • How early games designers learned their craft
  • Southampton, Earl Graeme – possible UK trip and talk
  • RICHES Mosaic Interface – innovative online museum
  • New York School – LL intro
  • NIU – Blackwell Museum of Education – email intro sent
  • NMOE – National Museum of Education – email intro sent
  • American Folklife Center, Library of Congress – Nicole Saylor (Nicky), Head of the Archive, – technical connection
  • David Larsen – @Apple1Computer
  • U of MD – Porter Olsen
  • Cathleen Wiggins, Dir. Museum Ed & Leadership in Tech and the arts, Bankstreet Sch of Ed – lft msg
  • Pratt School of Library and Information Sciences, Craig MacDonald, Prof Interested in collaborating and will connect us to other Pratt profs., specifically Anthony Cocciolo who is teaching “Projects in Digital Archiving”
  • Alex Lin, http://faculty.ndhu.edu.tw/~aleck.lin/#pr
  • Karen Kroslowitz, Dir of Collections, Computer History Museum
  • EMS museum – Kristy vanHoven

People – staff, volunteers, participants, unaffiliated, possible contractors/consultants

  • board development
  • Vision Club – Walter Isaacson NEH talk & NPR interview
  • Delia Caban – volunteer, retired for now
  • MsBosh – volunteer
  • Diana Morningstar – professional databaser
  • new volunteers
    • Shalinie De
    • Jonathan Straus
  • PCGuy (Stan) – catalog team
  • Jessica Sullivan – possible consultant
  • Ekatarina in  Ontario with McMaster Online Museums
  • Roy Pea, Stanford Sch. of Ed.
  • Peter Sessions – HCLE Pioneer
  • Marvin Wisenread


  • Program Plan – updated to support operations, internal budgeting, and proposals
  • Reconciling previous budgets with current proposals
  • Dunn & Bradstreet registration and update
  • SAM registration and update
  • In search of: a volunteer accountant willing to work on non-profits that are in the midst of grants
  • In search of: an HCLE logo


Notes on Education Domain Modeling

Note from Liza Loop (June 17, 2014)

The word, ‘Education’, is derived from two Latin roots: ‘e’ or ‘ex’ meaning ‘out’ or ‘out of” and ‘ducare’ meaning ‘to lead’. Education leads you away from where you are to someplace new. It is related to teaching, learning and schools in complex ways. It also entails a vast number of ‘learning objects’, ideas, stories, documents, physical objects, situations and events. How do these various elements relate to each other? Perhaps more important, how may we characterize the learner as he or she begins when we first look at him or her learning and as he or she is led out of that place? All of these relationships can be seen as the domain of education. Modeling this domain is a challenge. Meeting this challenge becomes important as we move away from storing our cultural heritage on paper, which can be accessed by sorting through piles on shelves and in boxes, and begin to keep our records in the digital where only a rational machine (computer) can place it before our eyes. The machine relies on the model to locate the item we’re looking for. Unless we have created an effective model it will be very difficult to retrieve the information we seek.


This post is inspired by Jon Pearce’s course in Domain Modeling at San Jose State University in California.

Jon Pearce’s old course post

Additional details, and an opportunity to expand the discussion are available on our wiki.

HCLE Catalog Progress – The Three Cs

One of the most important parts of our Virtual Museum is the catalog, the place where everything will have its place, and from which we will build exhibits and connect items in the collection to related people, institutions and topics. Rather than wait until it is done, we’ve decided to share our progress. The three C’s: Collections, Constituency, Content.

The following is mostly written by Liza Loop. This page, like all pages on the wiki, is a work in progress. Want to help?



Here’s the challenge. We have a collection of physical items – books, papers, letters, videos, audios, software on all media, urls, program listings, course syllabi, etc. Most of this “stuff” is on paper. I expect to have at least 10,000 items and grow from there. In addition we have hundreds of web links to digital items other people and organizations have posted on the web. By combining these items in many different ways we can tell the story of how computing was learned and became a tool for learning in general. We need a comprehensive catalog to help us find these items.

We have three types of information to be managed — three C’s. Physical paper needs to be scanned to create digital images readable online. Computers, robot toys and ephemera need to be photographed. Then both physical and digital items need to be cataloged. All of this stuff is the “collection” and should be described in the Collection Catalog (first C). We also need some kind of constituency relationship management software (CRM) to keep track of members, donors, potential funders, authors, staff, volunteers — all the people and institutions that are related to a museum or library or archive. This will probably start with about 3,000 entries and grow. “Constituency” is the second C. I want to relate the people with the items catalog without having to double enter any of the data. For example, the volunteer who enters a piece of software into the catalog should have a record in the CRM and an identifying field (element) in the catalog. The third C is Content, specifically, the content of the web site we are building as a Virtual Museum. So our Collections Management System has to talk to our Constituency Management System and both have to work with our (Web) Content Management System. What are the best (most functional and easiest to maintain) open source tools to use for this? Simple, eh?

A Few Terms, Tools and Standards

2014 is a banner year for museums, libraries, archives and private collections to go digital. If each of us invents a different way of describing what we have to the world of web users most of our valued items will not be found. Hence the need for a common vocabulary (or “ontology”) and global standards. These indexing systems are not handed down from on high by some higher-than-human authority, they are created by groups of humans. The process comprises holding a series of meetings (who attends such meeting is a whole other issue), proposing a list of terms with descriptions, publicizing this list among potential users, trying it out over several years and eventually converging on a single “core” list with idiosyncratic additions (extensions) needed by differing communities of practice (say, automobile parts dealers and 4th grade school teachers). The builders of HCLE wish to be as compatible as possible with global standard as they emerge. The commentary in this section is aimed at exploring the major standards now being developed for describing the kind of “stuff” in our collection.

Digital Resource Locators

As our collection grows, more of our digital items are being hosted (stored on a computer connected to the Internet) by other institutions, (e.g. Stanford University Libraries Special Collections and Internet Archive) and not necessarily in HCLE’s own digital repository. To make these items show up on a museum visitor’s screen requires each one must have its own internet address. There are several competing methods for identifying online resources and HCLE is working on choosing which one to use. For those of you interested in this issue here’s an excellent explanation: About Persistent Identifiers.

Metadata and Ontologies (Specific HCLE details at HCLE Metadata discussions)

The question of how to describe different kinds of objects (items) online is being hotly debated today. Books are fairly straight forward since librarians have been exploring this issue for thousands of years. Other media, such as software, or complex content, such as a programmed teaching workbook, may require more description. HCLE needs a volunteer specialist who can advise us as we proceed down the metadata path. So far we have identified the following resources:

Metadata Agencies and Standards Committees

Some examples of metadata schemes

HCLE Tools

So far I’ve explored MS Access, MySQL, Omeka and I want to look at CiviCRM. One of our volunteer consultants has suggested that we should think of the task as implementing CiviCRM and extending it to include the catalog. I prefer to have the catalog be a single, simple, flat table rather than a complicated relational structure. I’m collecting opinions on this from advisers who have experience in this. I will either have to be dependent on volunteers or raise the money for paid consultants.

Stay tuned.


There is plenty of work to do, and much of it is industry-wide. If you want to do more than just “Stay tuned”, then let’s talk about how we all can work on this together.



We finally made it. HCLE was represented at AAM2014, the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Alliance of Museums, a four-day event attended by thousands of museum professionals. While the program emphasized the formal aspects like the sessions and exhibits, the greater value for HCLE were the one-on-one meetings with potential funders and the informal networking. The parties were good too, so I hear.

Washington State Convention Center - Seattle
Washington State Convention Center – Seattle

Conferences and conventions aim at the mainstream. That’s where the majority live, so that’s where the majority are served. HCLE fit in nicely at the previous conference, Museums and the Web, because it was organized for more technical issues. Developing a virtual museum is dominated by discussions of technical issues. AAM2014’s main focus seems to be the big museums with sophisticated exhibits of physical artifacts that will be visited by crowds coming through the doors. We won’t have that, but AAM2014 was large enough to include subgroups of small museums, new museums, and technical discussions of digitization and curation. We felt that we were helping shift the mainstream because the issues we must resolve can benefit others that have less urgency.

Recently we’ve been busy applying for funding. Preliminary conversations with the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH which also hosted a major lecture by HCLE Vision Club member Walter Isaacson) and various other agencies helped us submit proposals and inquiry letters to several potential funders. While most funders have submission guidelines, examples, and procudures online, and encourage phone consultations the communication is much better in person. An online document has no intonation. A representative reading the same document emphasizes the key points. A representative listening to our proposed proposal says a lot with body language. We witnessed enthusiasm as well as discouragement, even if no words were spoken.

We learned of the emphasis on including scholars, the importance of board donations, the meticulous attention to grammatical detail, and the legitimacy delivered by a proper program plan.  Decades have gone into defining HCLE’s architecture, but we’ve only just begun to implement the first elements; so, to many in the museum world HCLE appears young. HCLE’s status also means that our needs span the range from individual components to broad campaigns to implementing the main museum. The typical proposals, though, are aimed at incremental improvements to conventional facilities. Finding a good fit for innovative, small, and young museums is difficult.

Fortunately we met with representatives from NEH in several meetings; with representatives from IMLS (Institute for Museum and Library Services) including a mock peer review panel session; and even the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) who pointed out that understanding the effects of computers and computing on the history of education of music fits within their charter. We have a long list of potential grants to write proposals for. Prioritization will be necessary.

This was our first time at AAM’s meeting, but it felt that there was an emergent trend of funding from corporate and private sources. There weren’t any representatives as there were from the national endowments, but several sessions described direct or indirect funding from outside government. The projects tended to be more innovative, more responsive, and less reliant on proper proposal preparation though more detailed as the negotiations developed. Almost all of the projects were thanks to board members, volunteers, and advocates who made personal contacts with key people with familiar corporations. Scholarship wasn’t as important as results, but results had to be measurable and verifiable. A different culture and avenue, and also one that is less organized. Instead of lots of grants being produced by one over-arching entity like the Federal Government, there are at least one opportunities per corporation but each corporation is also a unique process and set of individuals.

The funding possibilities were readily apparent to us because, while we were attending the conference, we were also finishing a proposal for a private non-profit that had some of the structure of the governmental process and some of the flexibility of the corporate approach.

AAM2014 wasn’t all about money.

  • Microsoft Research was nice enough to spend a considerable amount of time building an HCLE exhibit with their Chronozoom timeline tool. Ours is unlisted, but other examples are available.
  • Liza encouraged the crowd of museum professionals to engage via the career development wiki (mlcentral) she built at the Museum and the Web conference.
  • We were even given a shout-out for our extensive live-tweeting of the sessions. Check our tweets (@HCLEmuseum) from May 18-21 for our real time notes.
  • Hopefully an interview or two of Liza will be posted so we can pass along her insights on education, technology, museums, and where we’re heading.
  • We tasked several exhibitors with the same new-technology issue we presented to the funders: How do we integrate collection, content, and constituency systems into one? Currently, each is separate, but we are likely to receive an artifact from someone who is also the subject of an exhibit and who is also a donor. We must pull the systems together, but current government museum funders rarely have grants that fit such tasks and most vendors live within narrow product niches. We are innovators by necessity.

Where we’re heading was a sub-theme to the conference. While most conversations were based on conventional museums and exhibits, the discussions were flavored with the changing technologies and expectations of new generations of visitors.

Because HCLE requires an understanding of computers, computing, technology, and how people adapt we found ourselves in the role of educator occasionally. For two people, we evidently managed to make our presence apparent well through twitter and by asking pertinent questions.

One message from HCLE is that education changed as computers were introduced to classrooms. The role of the teacher changed from lecturer to facilitator. Museum visitors are less likely to absorb static information and more likely to actively research through online sources (wikipedia). Instead of being quiet and eventually telling someone about what they saw, they are more likely to get out their phone and instantly share it verbally or via social media. Recharge stations and good wi-fi are more important than comfortable benches and potted plants.

We are taking the museum to the next step by making our first step a very large one. We can reach the largest community by having the smallest physical presence. HCLE can be more sustainable than most because it requires the least overhead; and, if done right, will evolve with technology rather than have to successively abandon and rebuild.

It was a busy event, and while we did make it to one party (the CEO event), we were busy enough with networking and proposal preparations that we missed the rest of the social events. Maybe next year.

A Level 4 Response to Gamification is NOT a THING

Games and gamification are concepts thrown around within education. They can sound like far more solid concepts than they are. Will Thalheimer’s (@WillWorkLearn) wrote an impressive post, Gamification is NOT a Thing!!, to his Will at Work Learning blog. He included a bit of a challenge;
“To get to WAWL Level 4, create your own list, reflect on what you discover, post it somewhere, and send me the link.”

HCLE’s Founder, Liza Loop (@LizaLoopED) responded.


Liza wrote:

“Bravo, finally some sensible talk about computer games and learning. Let me continue with some nitpicking and further ideas…

1st – A distinction between ‘work’ and ‘play': Work is done for some extrinsic reward; play is done for the joy of the activity itself. The reward for play is intrinsic. Games (exclusive of ‘war games’) are forms of play that are bounded by a set of rules that limit what the players can do during the game. For the majority of young learners, what is offered in schools is ‘work’. Computer games, like recess, have a much larger element of ‘play’.

2nd – ‘Learning’ and ‘teaching’ are different activities, performed by different actors, often on the same stage, sometimes connected by a common intention or outcome. Learning takes place within an organism (and, by analogy, within a computational machine) and is often observable to an outsider by some change in the behavior of the learning organism but often is not noticeable for some time. Teaching is an activity performed by a person either in the presence of a target learner or delivered remotely via a book, video, computer, some other recorded medium or the structure of an immersive environment. Teaching has an intended outcome, some identifiable change in the learner of which the teacher may or may not become aware. Teachers and educators who complain that their students “are not learning” are merely ignoring the palpable but unintended lesson they deliver every day. Most people who discuss “e-learning” are really talking about “e-teaching” and are also ignoring the learning that is taking place within those who contact their products.

3rd – A lesson can be either intended or unintended by a teacher, it depends on whether you are taking the teacher or the learner perspective. From the teacher point of view the lesson is what the teacher wanted to teach and is deemed a success only if the learner subsequently performs as intended. From the learner point of view a lesson is what the learner takes away from the experience with the teacher (or the teacher’s recorded medium, e.g. text, audio, computer game, etc.). For example, one of my sons learned that if he swore at his coach during P.E. he would be suspended from school for the balance of the day. The intended lesson was that swearing at the coach was a bad idea. The learned lesson for this school-aversive child was that getting out of school was incredibly easy.

4th – Different individuals (including humans, chickens and perhaps even flat worms) experience different events as intrinsically rewarding. Just because a teacher would be pleased to receive a gold star doesn’t mean the learner is going to respond positively to having that same star posted next to his or her name on the class bulletin board. In the example above, the school assumed that being suspended would be a negative reinforcement for my son – they were wrong and had inadvertently administered the strongest positive reward for “bad behavior” in their tool kit. Chickens are easier, especially if you keep them hungry. They pretty reliably find a kernel or two of corn rewarding.

5th – A possible definition of ‘gamification’ is the imbedding of teaching (intended lessons) into games (play environments, sometimes presented via computer, always with rules of engagement). Recall that ‘play’ has to be intrinsically rewarding to the player. For the 39 years that I have been exploring computing in learning and education, educators have been dazzled by the seemingly intrinsic motivational power of the computer and computer games. In this thrall they have ignored most of what they know about research and evaluation of varying educational strategies and have used grossly differing situations as study treatments and controls. Throwing in a multiplication problem as an obstacle to continuing along a thematic pathway in the context of a completely unrelated computer game might be considered as ‘gamification’. But it doesn’t address pedagogical strategies for teaching numerical manipulation skills, issues of intrinsic reward or what unintended lessons are completing for the learner’s attention. In other words, most of the existing research on the use of computer games for teaching is so poorly designed that it is useless. No wonder we aren’t seeing replicable results!

To recap (and expand a little), Gamification Factors include:

1. Intrinsic and extrinsic reward structure

2. Rules of the game

3. Medium of access (including type of computer, internet access, game station, etc.)

4. Teaching goals

5. Additional anticipated learning outcomes

6. Presentation medium

7. Learning modalities targeted

8. Characteristics of target learners (age, natural languages, educational level, social context)

9. Prerequisite learner skills needed for game entry (reading, calculation, sensory abilities, eye-hand coordination, cultural context, etc.)

11. Learner’s previous experience with game

12. Embedded instructional strategies All these factors need to be controlled in order to draw meaningful conclusions with regard to efficacy of any game for teaching anything.

Do I get to Level 4?

Please visit the History of Computing in Learning and Education at www.hcle.org.”

Well, do you think she made it to Level 4?

Why Computers In The Classroom

Why computers in the classroom? That question is rarely asked today. Many other questions are asked. Which computers? When and how can computers be used? But it is part of modern life that computers will be in the room. Even places dense with information and things to study, like libraries and museums, have found that keeping out smartphones, tablets, and soon wearable tech is too disruptive. Getting everyone to turn off their devices takes more convincing than just saying, “Turn it off.”

November 1975 was the era after “how many classrooms per computer” and before “are students allowed to use their own (BYOD)”. The people at People’s Computer Company asked the right question at the right time.

Scroll through the PCC edition

People’s Computer Company

recently scanned and added to Stanford’s Digital Repository. Stop at page 28 (after skimming past pages that have layouts with high levels of innovation.)

“I believe that most teachers are overwhelmed by the dilemma of what to present to their students. They are aware that their material will be used by more students more often and they conclude that it must be prepared with a proportionate increase in care. In addition, the teacher is a learner on each new machine and often hesitates to step down to the role of classmate.” – Liza Loop

That quote from Liza Loop (founder of HCLE) could be copied and pasted into today’s debates. Evidently, we haven’t made much progress in the last few decades, despite the billions that have flowed to improving hardware and software. (And on certain days after certain upgrades that’s debateable too.)

This is a #ThrowbackThursday post, an informal bit of fun enjoyed by museum and library types because we have so much access to so much material. Yet, it is poignant to come across such a timeless passage while looking for images of dragons (common throughout PCC) and FORTRAN Man (an action hero based on a programming language with a sidekick called BASIC.)

We certainly do need to look back to see where we are going, and at least for this one passage, it seems that to pick up the pace we’ll have to do something differently.