Where’s Your Flatscreen?

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes —

Student Diversity: ScreenCap of Vaneeesa Blaylock walking on her "treadmill desk" in the VB28 Roman Villa while watching Gamification lectures by Kevin Werbach

Marveling at the student diversity in his Coursera / Wharton School class on Gamification, Prof. Kevin Werbach asked us to post images of ourselves participating in his virtual course:

Post your pics!
The amazing thing about this course is the diversity of students. You come from all over the world and all sorts of backgrounds. Reading about your reasons for taking the course and what you’re getting from it has absolutely blown me away.

So I have a small request. Post a photo (or video) about your experience with the course. I’ve seen a few pictures showing where people watch the lectures, what their screens look like, study groups, etc., but it’s only a tiny sample.

This isn’t a contest or game — remember, not everything should be gamified! I’d just love to see a bit more about what the course looks and feels like from your perspective. I’m sure many of you will also be interested, as will others who aren’t even in the course. I’ve created a page for photos on the Course Wiki, or better yet, post them to Twitter or another social media channel. (Use the hashtag #gamification12pics so they are easy to find.)

Have fun with it.

-Prof. Werbach
Mon 24 Sep 2012 3:00:00 PM CEST

Student Diversity: ScreenCap of Vaneeesa Blaylock walking on her "treadmill desk" in the VB28 Roman Villa while watching Gamification lectures by Kevin Werbach


I’ve really loved this class. The truth is I’m a total Gamification noob. I think I only heard the word for the first time in my life here in 2012. I heard it from a Gabe Zichermann talk which included the memorable statement, “Intrinsic motivation is over.” Adding Jesse Schell’s (in)famous DICE 2010 talk didn’t help. But Jane McGonigal’s TED talks helped. A lot. And even though Werbach teaches at the legendary B-School, he has a pretty humanistic world view. He does admit that blunt force Extrinsic Motivators can sometimes effectively accomplish business goals. Still, his passion seems to be in finding scenarios where gamification can amplify Intrinsic Motivation.

Kevin Werbach

If I’d done a little more research on my professor before the class started, I’d be much less surprised by this. 1991 BA from Berkeley. 1994 JD from Harvard. Publishing Editor of the Harvard Law Review. Publisher of the Harvard Law Record. Founder & organizer since 2002 of the “Supernova” conference of new / big ideas. Appointed in 2008, with Susan Crawford, by President Obama to lead the review of the Federal Communications Commission.

Kevin Werbach / Wharton
Kevin Werbach / Wikipedia
Supernova Website
Supernova / UStream
Obama appoints Werbach & Crawford / Joi Ito’s blog

Oh, PS, IDK if he’s had time to deal with the expansion packs… but in ’09 he was WoW Level 80.

Student Diversity: ScreenCap of Vaneeesa Blaylock walking on her "treadmill desk" in the VB28 Roman Villa while watching Gamification lectures by Kevin Werbach

Student Diversity

As for the “where” of my flatscreen, or where I take the class, as a non-corporeal, sentient being, I’m totally dependent on a mortal “typist.” Actually, besides the great content, this is another thing I love about this class! Typists can get degrees from a zillion places across the globe, but Coursera is one of the few places willing to grant a certificate to “my kind.” I won’t even start on how new media nation-states like Facebook or Google+ don’t believe that “my kind” have a right to exist. haha, I’ve already done enough proselytizing for a lifetime, but if you really like hearing an avatar rant, you can check out my posts on Civil Rights.

Anyway, on the typist dependency thing, there’s really not much I can do if she gets herself run over by a truck on her own time, but at least while she’s working for me, I’d like to do what I can to help avoid heart disease and other conditions associated with flatscreens and sedentary living. So I built a “Treadmill Desk” in both the physical and virtual worlds and we use it together whenever possible. For VB28 – The Seniors Project I also built a Roman Villa (which was later retextured to be a sort of Steampunk Roman Villa for another performance work) and I often use the treadmill desk there, I find it a nurturing and productive environment.

I teach art to my own big group of students. So I’m part of Prof W’s student diversity, and also dealing with lots of student diversity in my own classroom. Well, by “big” I mean maybe 200 students, haha, not 80,000. Mind blown! 😛

I’m playing with Gamification techniques this semester and it seems really promising. I can’t swear that the class GPA is going to go up, but I feel so much potential for greater engagement, so I’m really optimistic. My next Coursera class, Human-Computer Interaction with Scott Klemmer from Stanford is just starting this week. HCI and Gamification both seem to like lots of deployment, testing, and iteration. Iterating class structure during the semester can be tricky, but I’m trying to at least make small changes in an effort to find the most engaging scenario I can. So far I think I’m really reaching the top 1/3 of the class, but the middle and lower 1/3’s I’m less certain. It’s exciting to see great students sparkle, but of course they tend to do that anyway. It’d be much more impressive to lift all boats, but I also know that can be a lot of banging your head against the wall for pretty small returns. Perhaps that middle 1/3 is a place where it really is possible to make a real change in someone’s life.

VB Treadmill Desk / More Info
Civil Rights / iRez
Student Pix on Class Wiki

Student Diversity: ScreenCap of Vaneeesa Blaylock walking on her "treadmill desk" in the VB28 Roman Villa while watching Gamification lectures by Kevin Werbach


3 Responses to “Where’s Your Flatscreen?”

  1. Yordie Sands
    2012/10/09 at 13:25 #

    I love the idea of a vitural desk. I feel that with a large enough flatscreen you can work in a virtual world by sitting at a virtual desk. The advantage of this is not clear to me, but I’m very attracted to the idea. Naturally, your virtual desktop would have to take a feed from the www and I’m not sure how far that has been taken in SL or elsewhere.
    I have a virtual desk at my house in Billingsgate but without a true connection to the www, I think it’s a little premature to try to work there. Of course, you’d need a word processor, spreadsheet and all the rest. I’m very attracted to the idea tho.

    • Vaneeesa Blaylock
      2012/10/09 at 16:06 #

      no www?

      But there’s “media on a prim” — that IS www!

      Mostly anyway, some things like Flash might be fussy, but I’m looking at live web content in these pix…

      • Yordie Sands
        2012/10/09 at 16:07 #

        i thought the media on prim was limited, but hey, i’ll have to look into it. That would be very cool. Still, it will be a long time before we have inworld word processors, etc. I do love the concept though.