2013 has been a banner reading year

Repeatedly, I have stressed the importance of reading to your lifelong learning. In a blog post, I quoted the U.S. Labor Department, ”According to the U.S. Labor Department, business people who read at least seven business books per year earn over 230 percent more than people who read just one book per year.“ I have taken this to heart and increased the reading have done. In 2012, I wrote 12 book reviews; this year I am pleased to report that I wrote 21 book reviews.

Over the past year, I have written  book reviews spanning four major topics: Evernote, Google+, leadership, and learning. Read more

#astd2013, Interactivity, Games, and Gamification: A research-based approach to engaging learners through games with @kkapp

On the last day of ASTD 2013 conference, I had an opportunity to meet Karl Kapp, a professor at Bloomsberg University. Kapp not only presented Interactivity, Games, and Gamification, a research interest of mine, he is also the author of a couple of books I own:

Kapp encouraged us to post tweets to #W209. He also pointed out his presentation could be found on the Kappnotes blog and slideshare.

Read more

Have you been reading more?

In May 2011, I wrote a blog post that discussed the importance of reading. In it I quoted the U.S. Labor Department, ”According to the U.S. Labor Department, business people who read at least seven business books per year earn over 230 percent more than people who read just one book per year.“ Well, I have certainly done my share of reading in the past year. I have tried to support my reading habit with book reviews in this blog.

Over the past year, I have written 12 book reviews spanning four major topics: Evernote, game design and gamification, leadership, and learning in a digital age.


Evernote is one of those power tools that I am relying more and more on. These couple of books have helped me develop a strategy for using Evernote.

Evernote: The unofficial guide to capturing everything and getting things done. 2nd Edition

Daniel Gold, the author of Evernote: The unofficial guide to capturing everything and getting things done. 2nd Edition*, has managed to write a book that ties Evernote and Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity* together.

Evernote for Lawyers: A Guide to Getting Organized & Increasing Productivity

Evernote is simple to use; there are countless ways to import information into Evernote but mastering its capabilities is keeping me occupied. Fortunately, I ran across a great book to help me tame this powerful tool. David Ward of The Attorney Marketing Center has written a book called Evernote for Lawyers: A Guide to Getting Organized & Increasing Productivity*.

Gamification and Gaming

These couple of books have helped peel another layer of the onion back in terms of understanding gamification and game design.

Theory of Fun for Game Design

Theory of Fun for Game Design*
 is a deceptively educational book on the topic of fun and game design. Less on game design and more on fun.

The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education

Karl Kapp has just released his book, The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education*. Kapp explains the concept of gamification and why people play games, the research behind gamification, key gaming elements, how to apply game mechanics to problems and domains, and examples of games used in the real world.


These two books have provided me with more insight into running an organization and getting things done while working with others.

Turn the Ship Around!: How to Create Leadership at Every Level*

Marquet became the commander of one of the worst submarines in the Navy. By using some rather unorthodox methods of leadership, at least by Navy standards, he was able to lead his men from worst to first in two years.

Six Thinking Hats*

The book focuses on a different method for conducting meetings.

Learning in a Digital Age

Finally, these books discuss the important of learning and the use of technology to learn. The majority of them point to the future where learning is a mobile device away.

10 Ways to Be a Better Learner*

For a short quick read, this book provided a lot of great tips for being a better learner.

Mobile First*

Very simply, Wroblewski points out that mobile devices are being purchased at a staggering rate, outpacing computers and laptops, and users are increasingly using mobile devices to access the internet anytime and anywhere.

 The Mobile Academy: mLearning for Higher Education

If you are interested in background information on the next major wave to hit higher education, you may want to read The Mobile Academy: mLearning for Higher Education* by Clark Quinn. Quinn does a solid job of walking a reader through all the key points necessary to adequately address issues revolving around mobile learning (mlearning) in a academic environment.

Social Media for Trainers: Techniques for Enhancing and Extending Learning

Many trainers and educators are now examining or using social media tools to support their work in the classroom. When starting to learn about new tools, there is often a steep learning curve; you must not only learn how to use the features of the tool, but you must also figure out how to use it in an educational setting. Jane Bozarth’s book, Social Media for Trainers: Techniques for Enhancing and Extending Learning*, will help you get a jump start on the second problem… how to use the tools in an educational setting.

The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in a Digital Age*

This book really spoke to me because it reinforces my thoughts on learning and professional development. The authors were quick to point out that we have entered an age where we can learning virtually anything, anywhere, and anytime. They also actively supported the ideas presented by Dewey and Lindeman — learning is a social activity.

Google+ for Business: How Google’s Social Network Changes Everything*
The title is a little deceptive because I believe this book would be enlightening for everyone interested in how to get the most out of Google+.

What have you been reading? What recommendations do you have for me?

* In the spirit of full disclosure, this is an affiliate link, which means that if you purchase this item through my link I will earn a commission. You will not pay more when buying a product through my link. I only recommend products & systems that I use and love myself, so I know you’ll be in good hands.
Plus, when you order through my link, it helps me to continue to offer you lots of free stuff. 🙂 Thank you, in advance for your support!

Book Review: The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education

If you are looking for a reference guide on gamification, then look no further. Karl Kapp has just released his book, The Gamification of Learning and Instruction: Game-based Methods and Strategies for Training and Education*. This book is a great guide on the topic, and is packed with examples of research on the subject. Read more

Will the games Nike+ plays help get me in shape?

Nike+ SportsBand
Nike+ SportsBand

At the beginning of the month, I threw down some money and purchased a Nike+ SportsBand along with some new running shoes. I had been eyeing the Nike+ gear for some time, and since I need a new pair of running shoes, I thought what the heck. Although, I have only had it for a week, I am a fan. Let me tell you why. Nike has made running just a little more fun. They have gamified running.


In a game environment, feedback is essential. Feedback is basically a response system that feeds information to a player to help them make valid decisions (Dignan, 2011). Nike+ succeeds through real-time and post-run feedback as well as online community feedback.

Nike has done a great job of providing me with feedback about my runs. While running, I can toggle through the displays on the SportsBand Link to see distance ran, pace, time, and calories burned. After the run is complete, I plug my SportsBand Link into my computer’s USB port, and my run information is automatically pushed to Nike+ where it is immediately displayed on the Nikeplus.com Website. The SportsBand can store up to 30 hours of run information.

Nike+ PageOn the Nike+ Website, I can visually see how well my run went along with the distance, time, pace, and calories burned. I can see the progress I have made towards my personal goals. Additionally, the Nike+ site tracks total miles ran and the overall pace. Nike also lets me record information about my run such as how I was feeling, the type of weather, and running surface.

Finally, the Nike+ Website reports out all my personal bests to include (so far): highest amount of calories burned in a  run, the furthest distance run, longest time running, fastest 1K, fastest 5K, and fastest mile. I am confident there are more bests to uncover, I am eager to see them.

By displaying my personal bests, Nike is encouraging me to continuously improve my performance for running faster, longer, and further. These records are considered measurement achievements. Measurement achievements take into account how well you completed something (Kapp, 2012). They are feedback mechanisms used to help individual improvement. Kapp adds that they demonstrate competence and are more closely tied to intrinsic motivation. Because it leverages intrinsic motivation, I am more likely to continue.


Double ShotNike+ has a number of achievements weaved into their program. Some of the achievements are known entities while others are a surprise. For example, I earned the Double Shot achievement for working out twice in one day. There are others for unique events such as running on Halloween. Elliot Burford has cataloged some of the achievements. The known achievements are easier to predict. For example, I need only 17 more miles to reach my first level (50km). I also expect some type of visual display once I reach my first goal to run 24 times over the next six weeks.

As Kapp (2012) points out achievements or tasks should not be too easy or hard; individuals must believe they are able to achieve the goal. Each of the achievements and goals that Nike+ makes available increase in difficulty but they build on previous success and are always within grasp.

Social competition and encouragement

Prior to using Nike+, I would see runs Nike+ posts on Facebook and Twitter, and I personally thought this was a cool way for friends to share their journey. Because I need to get back in shape to even begin running in earnest, I am hesitant to post my runs publicly. In time, I expect that I will post some of my better runs and successes. In the meantime, I have invited some of my friends to join me on Nike+ where we can cheer each other on.

Nike+ has varying levels of permissions. You can let anyone see your profile, restrict it to friends, or restrict it to only your personal view. The same goes with any social media like Facebook and Twitter. You get to decide if you want to connect to these social media outlets, and when to make a posting.

Finally, as an added bit of encouragement, the Nike+ Website also lets you know where you stand in relation to others of the same gender and age as well as the entire Nike+ community. You get to see where you compare in terms of miles for the last 30 days, average daily distance, and average pace. Right now, I am behind the average daily distance and slightly behind on the average pace. I do expect to improve… I now have new goals to shoot for.

I am fascinated on how game mechanics can affect your motivation. I will let you know how it goes. But if you really want a running adventure, I suggest checking out Zombie, Run!


Dignan, A. (2011). Game frame: Using games as strategy for success. New York: Free Press.
Kapp, K. M. (2012). The gamification of learning and instruction : game-based methods and strategies for training and education. San Francisco, Calif.: Jossey-Bass.

Great Organizations are Constantly Learning and Improving

Time to re-inventI would like to challenge you this new year to learn something new to improve your craft and organization. Two often, we become comfortable with what has worked for us in the past, and we are hesitant to try something new. We are afraid of failing. We are afraid what others think of us when we try and fail.

Great organizations become great organizations because the learn and adapt to an ever changing environment. There are many organizations and programs that failed to adapt and as a result are now extinct. Here is a list of good stores that never adapted quickly enough. These stores failed because they were content to doing it the same way.

I am interested in education. I am interested in my personal education, informal education, corporate education, extension education, higher education, non-profit education, adult education, technology in education, etc. What is fascinating is the more I read about education and learning, and the more I am involved in education and learning, the more disconnection I am finding. Dewey, Lindeman, Knowles, and others have been admonishing educators for over 80 years that the lecture method is not the best method for instruction, yet, it is the most common method in our schools today. We need to listen to their advice and make changes.

There are three areas I would like you to look at when you look for something new to try: subject matter improvement, instruction methods improvement, technology implementation improvement. As an educator, these are the three areas I consider most important. Presently, I am looking at it from the vantage point of extension.  Here are some ideas you might want to consider:

  • Stay abreast of changes in your field of study by subscribing to or creating a Paper.li newsletter. More.
  • Reflect on what you learn using a blog or podcast.
  • Improve support to your courses with performance support and job aids. More.
  • Make your course more engaging by flipping your instruction. More.
  • Use QR Codes to enrich your physical documents. More.
  • Use tools like Evernote, Diigo, Zotero, and Dropbox to become more organized in your research. More.
  • Read a book on improving your instruction.
  • Read a book on implementing new technology.
  • Teach a class in a way that you never have before.
  • Let others know what you are reading and why. More.
  • Keep an eye out for what others are doing well and benchmark the ideas. More.
  • Add fun and engagement to your class through gamification. More.
  • Improve your operations by creating a checklist. More.
  • Make time for learning, attend a Webinar, read a book, explore a program, just do it.

One of the most frustrating things I face is when people dismiss something on hearsay instead of investigating it for themselves. I challenge you to honestly explore new methods, techniques, and technologies for yourself before dismissing them, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Make a commitment to yourself this new year to go out and learn something new. Try something new in your classes, your students will appreciate it, especially if you are not lecturing.