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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Death to “Online Learning”

Courtesy of STML @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/stml/
Over the last 10 years, my entire professional career has formed around the idea that students can learn online. Now here I am calling for the death of “Online Learning”? Well, not exactly. What I really mean is that talking about “Online Learning” implies a digital on/off relationship. You either learn “online” or you learn “offline” and never the two shall meet. That might have been true in some sense a few years ago.

Today, however, technology costs have gone down and their presence is more pervasive. I think you’d be hard-pressed (in most areas of industrialized societies) to find learning happening in either “online” or “offline” vacuums. Whether it is planned and formal (e.g. the use of SMART boards, instant online polls via student cell phones) or unplanned and informal (e.g. your students using one of many websites to find the answers to their homework) the days of the pure and unadulterated teacher-student-textbook-blackboard relationship are over.

I think it’s time we drop the “online” or “offline” descriptor and simply focus on the learning.

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Connect All Schools – Exchange 2.0

Connect All Schools LogoLooking to get your kids to think globally? There’s no better way than to get them collaborating with other kids around the world on shared projects.
Sounds great, right? But how do you go about doing that? Project-Based Learning is daunting to even the most experienced educators. Throw in international collaboration and you might feel just a bit overwhelmed.
A great place to start learning is at the Connect All Schools website’s Exchange 2.0 – Technology-Enabled International Interaction website. It provides a good base regarding project-based learning (PBL) as well as links to online resources and organizations to help you learn more. Then it goes into detail outlining tons of projects that you can begin using right away. One of my favorites is the Digital Storytelling project where students use modern technology to carry out the ancient practice of relating history via stories. Another is the Rock Your World project which lets students from around the world to collaborate on their own original recording with others.
Check out the Connect All Schools Exchange 2.0 website and start planning your global lesson plans for the Fall today!

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