Tag Archives: coursera

What doctors don’t know about the drugs they prescribe

This is the last week of one of the courses I’m studying through Coursera – Critical Thinking in Global Challenges. The final exam asked students to apply their critical thinking skills to the problem of publication bias in medicine. One of the sources we were asked to evaluate was this TED talk by Dr Ben Goldacre.

I make no secret of my admiration for Ben Goldacre. I loved his Guardian columns, and I think his book Bad Science is a must-read for anybody who aims to make evidence-based decisions. His campaigning for the the findings of all clinical trials to be reported, AllTrials, is commendable, and this TED talk explains why it matters so much.

Bonus: here’s an article from the NY Times on publication bias from 1999.

Five reasons to use gamification to market breakfast pastries. (part 2 of 2)

This is my answer for the first written assignment for the Gamification class I’m taking through Coursera. You can read the question in full here.


Provide as many reasons as you can why gamification could be a useful technique to apply to the situation your manager has presented to you. Explain why these reasons address the specific scenario provided. At this stage, focus on the problem rather than the solution. In other words, describe the goals of the project, not the particular game elements or other techniques you plan to use.


Why would gamification be useful in marketing a new line of breakfast pastries? I will outline five reasons.

Why use gamification to market breakfast pastries? (part 1 of 2)

This is the first written assignment for the Gamification class I’m taking through Coursera. I’ll publish my answer later this week.


Why use gamification to market breakfast pastries?

Project Part I: Definition

You are an employee of Cereals Incorporated, a large manufacturer of breakfast food products.  Your supervisor, Madison County, approaches you because she knows you recently took a course on gamification, which she has heard will revolutionize marketing.  She tells you that Cereals Inc. is about to release a new line of ready-to-eat breakfast pastries, and she wants to know whether to use gamification as part of the marketing strategy.  The breakfast pastries will be aimed at the 18-35 age bracket. Surveys show members of this demographic often skip breakfast because they don’t want to eat the typical cereals of their youth, and they are too active to cook their own breakfasts. 

Market research indicates that the pastries are likely to appeal more to women than men by a 65%-35% ratio. Cereals Inc. has a 35% share of the overall breakfast food market, but only a 10% share of the fragmented ready-to-eat segment.
Continue reading Why use gamification to market breakfast pastries? (part 1 of 2)

Games and Play

This is the latest in a series of posts relating to the Gamification class I’m taking through Coursera.

“A game is a series of meaningful choices” – Sid Meier

What is the difference between games and play? In broad terms, play is unrestrained, spontaneous, exuberant, whereas games are formal, structured, and driven towards outcomes. In lecture 2.3, Kevin Werbach discussed the work of Roger Callois, who drew the distinction between ludus – structured activities with explicit rules, i.e. games) – and paidia – unstructured and spontaneous activities, i.e. playfulness. You can read more about Callois and his ideas here.
Continue reading Games and Play

Gamification with Dr Kevin Werbach

I’ve enrolled in a short course about Gamification. It’s run by Kevin Werbach of the University of Pennsylvania, and I’m studying online via Coursera.

What is gamification? It can be difficult to pin down the definition of a fast-evolving phenomenon, because it changes so quickly. But let’s try. Right now, in the context explored by this short course, gamification is the use of game elements in non-game contexts to engage users or change behaviour.

By non-game contexts we mean, simply, not as part of a traditional game. What kind of game elements are we talking about? Continue reading Gamification with Dr Kevin Werbach

Critical Thinking in Global Challenges

I’ve signed up for a range of courses through Coursera, and the first to kick off has been Critical Thinking in Global Challenges. The course is convened by Dr Celine Caquineau and Professor Mayank Dutia of Edinburgh University. It aims to develop and enhance one’s abilities to think critically, assess information from a variety of sources, and develop reasoned arguments in context.

Distinguishing between facts, assertions and opinions particularly resonates with me because of my background as a public sector policy officer. I’m used to evaluating the credibility of evidence from my work in market research. It’s especially interesting in terms of the vanity metrics that Eric Ries talks about in The Lean Startup (and in this post on Tim Ferriss’s blog): does this evidence really show what it claims to show? Critical thinking is essential for designing services and products. It is a skill best developed through constant doing and practice; this course is a great opportunity for me to keep my mind in shape.