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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Employing cognitive seductu-cation in the classroom (Typology of Cognitive Pleasures in the Classroom)



No, I'm not talking about seducing your students! I'm talking about Kathy's Sierra's newest mind blowing post entitled, Cognitive Seduction (a Typology of User Experience Pleasures) in which Kathy profiles several books including the book Rules of Play, by Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman.

In this book, game designer Marc LeBlanc defines 8 categories of experiences in a "typology of pleasure". Kathy summarizes them for those who design experiences for users in the corporate world. I'd like to take this Typology of User Experience Pleasures and put them in the context of the classroom.

These are the things about games that make them so addictive to students. We must use them to addict them to lifelong learning. Kathy Sierra is unbelievable!

Typology of Cognitive Pleasures in the Classroom

1. Discovery

This is why Socratic teaching is so very powerful, in my opinion. When you teach by asking questions, the STUDENT gets the light bulb experience. Even if the question is leading, they have the cognizance that THEY discovered it. THEY brought it to light. THEY then take it places I never could if I was just lecturing.

Educational Techniques that harness this: exploratory projects using wikis, Socratic teaching using Google, experiments (online and offline)

2. Challenge

Kathy defines this as:

User experience as obstacles to overcome, goals lying just beyond current skill and knowledge levels

You must get past the "helpless handraising" that you enable when you tell students everything.

If you only teach students to follow instructions in a book, then guess what? You've taught them to read instructions in a book. Again, producing mindless robots fit for a production line but not for the new thinking skills required to keep America competitive!

Push them to intuitive learning. Force them to use "hot tips" in Microsoft Office and use the help features and go online to find answers. Challenge them and push them a little past what they know how to do. Give them just enough information and push them past it.

Don't just tell them all the answers, guide them.

And remember the golden rule of Challenge:

Under no circumstances are you to ever touch, move, or enter any input into the mouse or keyboard of your student. Never allow them to do it for one another. It is theirs.

If I show them by doing it, I undo and then save. This makes it so they cannot just redo. They must learn by doing!

3. Narrative
Character identification.

4. Self-expression
User experience as self-discovery and creativity

I am grouping #3 and #4 together because I believe that blogging as something that is read but also something that is written follow so very well into these.

For example, blogging your experiences and your journey through a new technology chronicles your opinions, your progression, and reminds you that if you journeyed through ignorance to knowledge once that you can do it again.

Blogging about literature and commenting on others who are doing the same creates online conversation.

5. Social framework
User experience as an opportunity for interaction/fellowship with others (See my social theory of learning and software.)

Wikis and blogs key in on this beautifully! Whether it is worldwide collaboration on projects such as wikiville or class collaboration and projects, the social aspect of wikis and blogs is evident and powerful. It is also being unused by most classrooms!

6. Cognitive Arousal

I think this is what we're missing. We have kids' bodies in the chairs but their minds are somewhere else. Hasn't that always been the problem?

This is why energetic, passionate, emotional teachers are the most underrated, most powerful tool available to the classroom today. (See overlooked lethal weapon of teaching.)

More powerful than a computer, stronger than a textbook, more able than a curriculum to excite and ignite the spark of passion for learning and advancement in a child: a good teacher!

Gadgets cognitively arouse

You can also cognitively arouse by engaging not only all of the senses used by a child but also all of the gadgets used by a child. I believe that the future of education is in the palm of our hands: our cell phones, our iPods, our leapsters, our cameras, our PDA's, our laptops.

We've spent all our time telling kids they shouldn't bring these things to school when we should tell them -- "Bring it on and let me show you how to use them to learn." I show auditory learners how to download books from librivox.

I'd like to have a website that would work will cell phone text messaging. Then, when I'm doing presentations, the kids could use their cell phones to text the answer to the number. The website would then update and show their responses on my board. This would save money on expensive clickers. There could be extra "devices" to be used for those who don't have the phones.

Don't fight them, use them! I'm a renegade and I admit it. I use cell phones, iPods, microphones, PDA's, and all of those things in classroom instruction. We e-mail photos taken by cell phones for use in portfolios. We podcast and download reviews into iPods.

Goodness folks, we have the world at our fingertips and we won't let them bring it to class because we don't know how to use them! We're letting the ignorance of education prevent the learning of our students! There is more computing power in a cell phone than we had in computers 15 years a go!

7. Thrill
Kathy says... User experience as risk-taking with a safety net

This is what we get when we explore the web in search of information on a topic. This is what I did when I said,

Students, we're going to talk about Web 2.0 but I want you to tell me what it is. I've taken five web 2.0 terms and posted them on the wiki. Here are your groups, explore. You will make a wiki about what you find. You will use the technology and you will demonstration to the class in two days. GO!

That is why my kids are fired up about what is happening on the Internet. The THRILL that they discovered it themselves. That is what you don't get with lecture!

8. Sensation

Involve all of the senses: touch, sight, hearing, and yes, even taste and smell.

Do you know how I teach the students to participate in Socratic discussions. (Some of you will hate this and criticize me greatly!) I use food.

I have the Mrs. Vicki candy bucket at the front of the room and I almost go broke keeping it stocked. At certain times and heavily at the beginning of the year (partial reinforcement works best), I pull out the bucket. When we discuss and they give a meaningful answer, I throw the candy to them and let them eat it right there!

They laugh because it is funny seeing me and my noodle arm throw the candy, but they love it! Each student gets one piece only and they don't get any next time if I find a wrapper on the desk. As I go along, I ask who hasn't gotten their candy yet and they are only too eager to participate.

Many of our best class discussions are on the days we have candy. It's not a big piece, sometimes Starbursts, sometimes chocolate. (I have something different for kids who can't have chocolate.)

Make fun of me all you want, but the best teachers I know all use food as a motivator. I also have my big "parties" once or twice a year for each class. We eat and cogitate about lessons learned or celebrate big accomplishments. (Like our portfolio party coming up the day after portfolios are due.) This works well in adult classes too!

This means I have to get approval from administration and move to another location on campus, but we do it!

Taste and smell motivate as do the other sensory organs. Involve them!

9. Triumph

I did it and I was awesome!

Honest, sincere praise is the most amazing and free motivator known to man. My senior Graphic Design students just finished their ad campaigns. I promptly got a table and displayed their work in the hall. They are so proud because their work is unbelievable!

This is also where celebrations -- BIG ONES make a difference. This is like the "steak out" I do for my eighth grade when they've finished the keyboard. This is like the SAT party we have after we take the test!

The greatest pleasure of a sporting event is after you've won, lying exhausted on the field, knowing you gave it all, and it was enough! You've won!

We've got to give kids that exhiliaration on a weekly, continuing, ongoing basis. Grading papers tells them what they've MISSED.

Try this experiment. Check all of the answers they get right and mark nothing on those they get wrong. Still give them the same grade they would have made otherwise. See what they do!

I do this every so often and the kids love it!

My kids have a sense of triumph because they are doing something with Web 2.0 that their friends at other schools know nothing about. College kids are calling my ninth and tenth graders asking for help with wikis and blogs. They are part of something that transcends them. We call finding Web 2.0 our "happy accident of the year."

Give your kids a sense of triumph. That is what graphing the GWAM of my 8th graders did. I give high fives, candy, etc. That is what pies in the face, and cutting off ties, and shaving heads of administrators and teachers do. Triumph! A ha! I did something great!

Get creative and figure it out!

10. Flow
Kathy says: User experience as opportunity for complete concentration, extreme focus, lack of self-awareness

In the greatest experiences of class, my students will say when the bell rings, "Is that the bell, is class over?"

Yesterday, we were talking about Web 2.0 and evaluating the teen vogue website for our class ranking project (using the awesome Intel thinking tools), the bell rang and NONE of us noticed. We talked for about 2 minutes until the kids from the next class knocked. We were in a flow, engaged, and excited.

(By the way, they think teen vogue is missing they boat. They think they should let teen's blog about the fashions show the blog entries in comments after each fashion. They think they should mashup with Google map and let them clip the fashions they want and then printout a shopping list and where they can get the fashions. They think Teen Vogue is too focused on the magazine and doesn't see where the Internet is taking them. I think they should be hired tomorrow by Teen Vogue!)
Dr. Eugene Griessman, one of my favorite college professors, often talked of the flow state as an attribute of high achievers!


The last three are!

11. Accomplishment
User experience as opportunity for productivity and success

12. Fantasy
User experience as alternate reality

13. Learning
User experience as opportunity for growth and improvement


We need to harness these aspects of cognitive seduction and use them to make Cognitive SEDUCT-ucation. We're fighting the technologies that can open the minds of these kids! Wake up educators and thank you, Kathy, you're not only creating passionate users, you are creating a passionate teacher!
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