I’m MOOCing it!

Coursera Gamification Course
I’m a MOOCer?
I’ve been MOOCed?

I don’t know – there has to be a catch phrase in there someplace.

If you’ve been living under a proverbial educational rock for the last two years, a MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course.

  • Massive: It’s big. MOOCS can have tens of thousands of students enrolled in them.
  • Open: As in “free”.
  • Online: Duh.
  • Course: AS in content, assignments, classmates and an instructor (who, depending on the size, you may never have 1:1 contact with)

Hit the LINK to learn more about MOOCS from your friendly neighborhood Wikipedia site!

In any event, I’m taking the leap into MOOCdom (I like that one) by taking a *free course on Coursera on the topic of Gamification. The course is being offered by the Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania (perhaps you’ve heard of it) and is taught by Kevin Werbach, co-author of For The Win. I threw the little asterisk next to the word “free” because I am taking the Signature Track of the course. For about $40 this will provide me a certificate from Coursera that I successfully completed the otherwise free course.

So far so good – two quizzes and about an 90 average between them. I just finished the first (very short) written assignment and should get my peer reviews of it in about 5 days.

I’ll be sure to blog about this as I go through the rest of the 6 week course, but in the meantime, I encourage you to check out Coursera and the tons of course available from them.

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Level Up Your Life: The Beginning

My First Fitocracy BadgeI previously posted that I was going to “gamify” my life in an effort to make improvements I’ve been desiring for a long time. Some related to health, some to matters of spirituality, and some related to my family and friends. I then began doing a bit of research on the different web apps and phone apps that are available related to gamifying your life.

A few of the apps (like EpicWin) that I was most interested in trying out are only on the iPhone. I am a staunch Android user. Additionally, some seemed a bit complicated or over-engineered for my taste. For example, Dailyfeats, which is intended to help you to form positive habits. But it works on the premise that the goals you are working towards are things you would do every day. That didn’t really meet what I am looking for. And Kwester, which looked really promising, but poorly designed and difficult to use.

Another piece of my research led me to the conclusion that gaming alone is BORING. Why would it matter if I earned 40 XP and have been raised to a new level in a game if there’s no one to know about it? It wouldn’t. So I looked for ways to integrate my social networks into my gaming as much as possible.

Here’s what I decided to use:

  • Livestrong.com: I’ve used Livestrong before and I lost about 30 lbs in 3 months…but didn’t keep it off. What I should have done was to go into a ‘maintenance mode’ when I wanted to take a break from being so strict with my diet, but I goofed. I’ll be tracking all of the food I eat and exercising I do on Livestrong.com. The site is not as “gamey” as some others. But you can earn badges and let the outside world of your social network know how you are doing.
  • Superbetter: I couldn’t undertake a gamification experiment and not include Superbetter, given it was created by the fairy godmother of gamification, Jane Mcgonigal, whose first TED Talk is clearly one of the kickstarters of the life gamification movement. The aim of Superbetter is to make YOU SuperBetter!
  • Earndit.com: I stumbled into Earndit through a Facebook friend (who works at my company but still have never met in real life). Players sign up for challenges using real money (we do $20 per challenge). The winner takes all (minus 10% that goes to Earndit). Prizes are in the form of gift cards. My FB friend – at the end of the first day of our challenge – is currently kicking my ass (24 vs. 60 pts).
  • FitBit: My new FitBit arrived in the mail today. This is my second…my first having met an untimely end in the washing machine (actually, it still works, but strangely has a seriously reduced battery life). I began wearing FitBit constantly yesterday tomorrow. The data will then feed into Earnd.it and factor into my progress on the Challenge I’ve entered. It even tracks the quality of my sleep (currently 67%…not good).
  • Fitocracy: I’m counting on the badges and leveling up of Fitocracy to encourage me even more to work out. It’s SUPER well designed – fun to look at – and lots of badges to earn. Even better, it has what appears to be a really active online community and a “hero” from Fitocarcy contacted me directly offering to help me to get started and requesting that I ‘follow’ her. Which I am.

I think this is a good list with which to start. I’ll dig into each in subsequent blog posts. Any others you don’t see here that you think I should look into?

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