Tag Archives: mooc

Do Something Different 6: Give Something Different

This is an assignment for Creative Problem Solving course I’m taking online via Coursera and the University of Minnesota. Each week, students are asked to Do Something Different, and then reflect on the process.

Give something different. Plan in advance and implement a gift or giving activity; document your DSD in writing and in video/photos. This should be something you have never done before, or an act of giving to someone you never have given anything before. You might want to to a mindmap of all the words associated with “giving” to give you some ideas. What do you give, to whom or what, and why? How do you define what ‘giving’ is? How might you identify a person to give something to, and how can you identify challenge areas to create a meaningful experience through giving?


1. Background

This is a really interesting challenge for me. I’m from the UK, but I’ve recently come home after spending two years living in Japan as an English Teacher. It was an amazing experience for so many reasons, not least for the glimpse it gave me of the culture of Japan, and its differences from my own culture.

One of the many differences I enjoyed was the culture of gift-giving in Japan. Gifts, and the act of giving and receiving a gift, are a really important way to strengthen social bonds between people. It’s not just about the gift itself, but about the thought behind it that says, “I value you highly, and I am expressing this through a gift.” If a colleague goes on holiday, it is kind of expected that they bring back a souvenir gift for everybody in the office – it’s called omiyage. In my school there were around a hundred members of staff, so I would buy a huge box of sweets or pastries when I went away. Omiyage is just one of many different types of gift. You can read more about gift giving in Japan at this link (via Tofugu).

Gift bags for my neighbours in Japan.
Gift bags for my neighbours in Japan.

Continue reading Do Something Different 6: Give Something Different

Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson

I was asked to watch this talk for the Creative Problem Solving course that I’m studying with Coursera and the University of Minnesota. Johnson talks about the importance of networks and sharing ideas as engines of innovation. There’s a condensed version on the Youtube video below, with some neat animation. Check it out.

Do Something Different 5: Do what your other does

This is an assignment for Creative Problem Solving course I’m taking online via Coursera and the University of Minnesota. Each week, students are asked to Do Something Different, and then reflect on the process.

Plan beforehand, and implement, something completely different that your roommate, sibling, parent or significant other (spouse, lover, BFF, etc.) does (always) that you don’t (ever)



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Gamification for Collaborative Consumption (1 of 2)

This is the question for the third written assignment of the Gamification class I’m taking through Coursera. My answer will follow shortly.

photo via National Archive of the Netherlands, Flickr Commons
photo via National Archive of the Netherlands, Flickr Commons

You are approached by Rashmi Horenstein, the CEO of ShareAll, a prominent company in the hot collaborative consumption space. She knows you are one of the top experts on gamification, which she has heard can revolutionize business. She asks you to present a proposal for a gamified system to take her business to the next level.

ShareAll’s mission is to make shared use of products and services as common as individual purchases. It follows the path of companies such as AirBnB, Buzzcar, and Uber, which allow sharing of particular products (cars, housing, etc). ShareAll’s patented technology makes it easy for consumers and business to share any product or service. ShareAll has also developed a global virtual currency, called Shares, which can be used to purchase access to any asset in the system. Shares can be exchanged for real money, and users can generate more Shares by sharing items or volunteering their time to complete tasks for others.
Continue reading Gamification for Collaborative Consumption (1 of 2)

Using gamification to improve health – (part 2 of 2)

This is my answer for the second written assignment of the Gamification class I’m taking through Coursera. The full question is available here.

Describe in general terms a gamified system that could effectively motivate behaviour change to improve the health of city employees. Specifically, explain how the system would effectively incorporate intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, or both. Your answer should address the fact that this is an internal gamification project, targeted at the institutional goals of the city government. The system can use any technology (or no technology!), so long as the resources required seem justified by the scope of the opportunity.

(via Cornell University Library archive)
(via Cornell University Library archive)

Continue reading Using gamification to improve health – (part 2 of 2)

Using gamification to improve health – (part 1 of 2)

This is the question for the second written assignment of the Gamification class I’m taking through Coursera. My answer will follow soon.

Photo via National Media Museum and Flickr Commons
Photo via National Media Museum and Flickr Commons

You are approached by Ryan Morrison, the mayor of a medium-sized city in the Midwest of the United States. He has heard that you know a lot about gamification and believes that gamification techniques can transform city government.
Continue reading Using gamification to improve health – (part 1 of 2)

Do Something Different 1: Eat Different

I’m taking an online course in Creative Problem Solving via Coursera and the University of Minnesota. One way it aims to challenge and develop the creativity of participants is by asking them to take on unusual challenges called Do Something Different. The first challenge was Eat Different.

Conceptualize, plan in advance and eat something different. Eat something different; that is, eat something completely different, not something that has been just left out of your diet; suggestions: a different culture, an entirely new creation, or a different manner or definition of eating. You should understand that this is not an assignment solely about food, but about the process of eating, literally and figuratively. Again, plan and implement your plan; report on the results”

This is my entry.


Continue reading Do Something Different 1: Eat Different

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.

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