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.

ASTD Keynote: Heidi Grant Halvorson

Heidi Grant Halvorson spoke during the very last session of the very last day of the 2012 ASTD conference in Denver, Colorado. Halvorson is an Associate Director of the Motivation Science Center at the Columbia University Business School. She blogs for Fast Company, The Huffington Post, and Psychology Today. I had not heard of Halvorson before, but I was interested in what she had to say. She spoke on motivation.

She began with a question, what do successful people do differently?

Halvorson started by explaining that we are storytellers. Our brains use stories to help us understand what is around us. We are always asking why. Stories let us know what to do. They help to guide our decisions. We need to understand ourselves to make the best decisions. We tell stories about ourselves to ourselves. She asked us to think about the stories we tell yourselves when we succeed and fail. Do we rationalize our success? Our stories may be wrong.

She explains she was a good student because she took the right actions rather than she possess a gene for smartness. We make bad choices because of our stories. We close doors because of the stories we tell ourselves. We are what we do, not what we are. Asking people why they are successful may not be accurate. The story may not be the right story. Success is based on taking the right strategies.

Halvorson expressed her frustrated by the amount of great content in journal articles that never gets to the public. As a result of her extensive research, she wrote a book, blogs, and an ebook on 9 things successful people do differently. She spoke on two of the nine items.

There are two phases of doing:

  1. Strategies for getting ready
  2. Actually doing it.

The problem is actually doing it

During the Phase 1  or getting ready strategy, we must adopt a mindset for success. We can either adopt a “Be Good” mindset or “Get Better” mindset.

In most cases, we take on the “Be good” mindset, where we are trying to prove ourselves to others, we are validating our skill, and trying to perform better than others. We are always validating ourselves with others.

Instead, we should adopt a “Get better” mindset. With a “Get better” mindset, we are working on improving, developing skills and performing better than last time.

Halvorson presented fascinating research comparing “Be good” mindset against the “Get better” mindset. Here are some of the results:

Handling challenges

People with a get better mindset handle challenges better.

When things go wrong

People with get better mindset did better even though things went wrong.

Distress and problem solving

People who have get better mindset did better when problem solving.

Leadership confidence

People with a get better mindset use a role model to gain confidence.

With a “Get better” mindset, people are more interested and enjoy their job more. They think deeper and more creative. They are more persistent. All this leads to superior performance over the “Do good” mindset.

We need to adopt a “get better” mindset, as well as encourage others to adopt this mindset. How do we change mindsets from “be good” to “getting better?”

Use framing and feedback words

  • Training
  • Develop
  • Learning skills
  • Challenging
  • Gaining
  • Learn
  • Acquire over time
  • Practice
  • Mistakes
  • Make progress
  • Improve

Giving people permission to make mistakes is important because people with a get better mindset will make less mistakes. If have people compare themselves to themselves, performance will improve. When evaluating employees, encourage improvement rather than a comparison with others.

Halvorson pointed out when we don’t have intention, we will not carry out our intended activity. When we do intend to do something, we do it 50% of time.  We only succeed 50% of the time because of large execution mistakes:

  • Not identifying exactly what we need to do (specific).
  • We miss opportunities to act.

According to Halvorson, we can improve on execution if use “If-then planning”. If-then planning requires that we specify what we will do, and when and where we will do it, in advance. Here some examples:

  • If it is 3 pm , I will make that phone call.
  • If it is Monday morning, I will check in with all my direct reports.

Halvorson told a story about a research project involving a Christmas essay. A professor asked students to write an essay over Christmas break, and asked them when and where they will write the essays. Some students were asked the If-then plan and others were not. There were different results based on the whether or not a plan was created. Those without a plan turned in essays 32% of the time, and those with an if-then plan turned in essays 71% of the time.

Why did this occur?

Halvorson explains that a plan is linked in your mind. When a situation occurs then an action happens. Basically, in your mind, you are waiting for the situation to happen. Once situation is detected, action happens automatically. If-then planners have 91% success. If-then planning are great for breaking bad habits. If then planning good for distractions and self-doubt

Halvorson challenged us to write out some if-then plans to set focus, get rid of our bad stories, and visualize the steps we will take to makes success happen.

This was an interesting presentation in regards to the content. The challenge is putting it into action.

Are your personal and work lives blended?

Blending work and life
Blending work and life

This morning as I was catching up on my e-mail, I ran across a blog posting by Keith Ferrazzi called What’s Your Take on This Controversial Topic from Never Eat Alone? In his post, he is asking for input on whether you should blend your work life and personal life, or not. In his book, Never Eat Alone, Ferrazzi advocates for a blended life rather than balancing and separating your work and personal lives.

Personally, I believe a blended approach to work and life results in a more cohesive team. As supervisors in the Air Force, we were strongly encouraged to know about our troops and their lives. We were encouraged to know about their personal goals and interests so we could work to weave their goals and interests into the organizational goals and mission.

While I no longer supervise anyone in the workplace, I still feel it is important to know about those who I work with. As an instructional technologist, I can use their interests and goals to personalize instruction for them. I also take Ferrazzi’s advice about giving freely. I regularly find resources and share them with others based on their interests. This type of sharing is possible only if you get to know the interests of others.

The Air Force was all about constant improvement. I was encouraged to look for methods to improve performance. I still continue with this mindset, I want to see the organizations I work for succeed. People tend to perform better or put more into their work if there is a personal connection. If I can tap into that personal connection, I stand a greater chance of succeeding with my mission.

One of the stronger motivators for adult learners is the idea of relevance. If instruction can be relevant on more than one level such as a work, personal, and academic, then deeper learning will take place. Wlodkowski in his book, Enhancing Adult Motivation to Learn, explains that introductions are important to establish trust in the classroom. It is about understanding students on a personal level, and it is about others trusting you through your sharing.

My life is tightly intertwined. My work life as an instructional technologist impacts my personal life. For example, instructional methods and strategies have a strong influences on my degree program, and my instruction in the Bujinkan and Civil Air Patrol. What I have learned in my degree program has certainly influenced my work  as well as my instruction in the Bujinkan and Civil Air Patrol. During this weekend, I have been doing work for work, but it has also fed me ideas I can use in my personal life. As you can see, I cannot separate my work and personal life, and I would not want to work in a place where I would have to.

Social media has made the separation even more difficult. Programs like Facebook effectively show off all aspects of your life, if you choose to participate in it. Social media has allowed me to share with family and friends across great distances, and it allows me to participate in their lives. It would a lesser place if I could not share in the lives of co-workers because of the idea of separating work and personal lives.

I would find it difficult to separate my work and personal life especially since I love all aspects of my life and I want to share it with others. What do you think?

What factors affect your instruction?

Last night in class, we had a discussion about the factors necessary to take into consideration when planning a lesson. These factors affect how you will deliver a presentation and the type of strategies that you will use in the lesson.

Number of participants

What are possibilities when the number of participants changes? What strategies can you use based on number of learners? It only makes sense that the number of learners present will affect how you deliver your lesson. Working with an intimate group of learners allows for different strategies compared to presenting to a stadium crowd. Smaller groups will strengthen specific strategies, and larger groups will make different strategies more useful.

Amount of time

How does the lesson change when the amount of time changes? How long will you spend on specific topics? What strategies can you use within the time alloted? Referencing the strategies in Wlodkwoski’s book, Enhancing Adult Motivation to Learn: A Comprehensive Guide for Teaching All Adults, some strategies can not be used if there is not enough time. Some strategies need a lot of time to develop and add meaning to learning, while others can be accomplished successfully in minimal time.


What can you do with the space you have? How is the instructional environment set up, and can you change it? While not impossible, it is more challenging to gather in groups if they are sitting in theater seating. Thinking about Extension, if you are talking about ranch operations, bringing learners outside makes learning more realistic and relevant than sitting indoors watching a PowerPoint presentation.

Resources available

What resources can you bring to bear? Do you have enough resources for each learner, or do you have to split them into groups? Are the resources as realistic as possible to the actual environment? Prior to World War II, the military was training warfare tactics using sticks as guns because there were not enough guns. Do you think this negatively affected learning? Rather than show a slideshow about a new piece of equipment, actually show the equipment, and letg users work with it in a hands-on activity.

Prior experience

What experience does your audience bring to the session? Is the lesson an introduction or another in a series? What is the make up of the group? Polling your learners in terms of experience is a great way to start so that you can adjust your lesson. You do not teach down to your learners, and you do not want to present material that is too far over their heads. The examples you use in the lesson also have to be relevant to learners in terms of age, race, gender, economic status, etc.  An example in class referred to the television show called “The Waltons.” Would today’s generation be able to related to the example? Also, can you leverage the experience of the learners to lead a discussion. What a learner already knows and what experience they bring to the session will affect the lesson.

Relationship with audience

Will you see the audience again? What you present to an audience you will never see again may be different to a group you work with on a weekly basis. With a regular audience, you can better tailor your lessons to fit their needs. It is a lot harder to do when you have no idea who will attend and what experience they have.

Putting together a lesson that leads to true learning when just focusing on the objectives is challenging enough. By adding these factors, the possibilities and challenges increase exponentially. Each factor provides educators with options, options that must be taken into consideration for the best learning environment.

How do you weave motivational strategies into your instructional design?

Over the past two weeks, I have been focusing on the Motivational Framework for Culturally Responsive Teaching developed by Wlodkowski and Ginsberg. This framework is presented in its entirety in Wlodkowski’s book, Enhancing Adult Motivation to Learn: A Comprehensive Guide for Teaching All Adults*. I have personally found this book to be inspirational and it provides 60 motivational strategies for helping adult learners get the most from a lesson.

Wlodkowski and Ginsberg incorporate four essential elements to building motivation to learn. In previous posts, I have focused on each of these elements:

It is now time to explore methods for weaving these strategies into your instruction. As Wlodkowski points out, motivation must be intentionally planned into your lesson. The strategies are to be mixed and matched, they complement each other and help to strengthen your lesson.  These strategies can be used when designing a new lesson plan or when enhancing an existing plan.

Wlodkowski encourages selecting activities based on the motivational strategies. The strategies can be used linearly; for example, including strategies from establishing inclusion and developing attitude at the beginning of the lesson, enhancing meaning during the body of the lesson, and engendering competence towards the end of the lesson. However, any strategy can be used where appropriate. Depending on the length of your curriculum, you might have to use inclusion strategies at multiple points. You might have to use assessment strategies to close different sessions throughout a workshop.

Just to provide a frame of reference, Wlodkowski spends about 20% of instruction time on inclusion strategies. In his book, he provides five examples of lesson enhanced with the motivational framework. The lessons range from 3-hour sessions to a two-day six-hour per day workshop. In the examples, Wlodkowski weaves in 10-18 strategies per day, or roughly 3.3 strategies per hour. The key is to become familiar with the strategies, understand the objectives of your lesson, and be able to assess the time for activities. It is then a matter of selecting the right activity with the proper motivational strategy to plug into the lesson.

Thanks for following along as I take a hard look at this great book. Once again, it is book that should be on every adult educator’s desk.

For more information on Raymond Wlodkowski and the motivational framework.

* 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!

How do we assess adult learners without necessarily testing them?

In the last section of Wlodkowski’s Motivational Framework for Culturally Responsive Teaching from his book Enhancing Adult Motivation to Learn: A Comprehensive Guide for Teaching All Adults*, he focuses on engendering competence among adult learners. Wlodkowski poses an issue that must be resolved. First of all, adult learners want to become competence in their experiences. However, many adults are not keen about the idea of tests. They like the idea of having their competence assessed but they do not want to be tested… what is an adult educator to do?

I find this observation from Wlodkowski interesting. Personally, I find it to be true. I am currently taking two graduate level courses. In each of these courses, we are assigned a number of papers, reports, etc. and I am very content in knocking them out. However, we also have two final exams, and it is driving me crazy. If they called them something else I would have probably been ok… but they are exams.

Wlodkowski also addresses the idea of giving grades. As he points out and I agree, grades tend to be meaningless, and the threat of adults receiving a low grade can actually be a demotivator to learning. I know a number of people who have dropped a class because they worried about the grade rather than what they could learn. Assessing the learner with learning contracts, portfolios, or rubrics could strengthen this part of assessments.

Wlodkowski provides 13 strategies for assessing learning in an authentic and realistic manner. The key to assessment is will it inform the learner about their strengths and weaknesses. Here are some assessment strategies that resonated with me:

  • Strategy 48, Provide Effective Feedback – I see this as a no brainer. Feedback can be provided at anytime, and it can be used to incrementally adjust learning.  It is important to not only provide feedback when a learner is not meeting a standard of performance but also when they are exceeding it. Feedback must not only be informative but also be specific,  constructive, prompt, positive, personal, and frequent enough to aid learning.
  • Strategy 51, Use Authentic Performance Tasks to Deepen New Learning and Help Learners Proficiently Apply This Learning to Their Real Lives – Basically, this referring to performance tasks. The key is that the tasks resemble the actual real life task as much as possible. In my opinion, the Air Force did a good job in their training because they would build simulators where you could practice a task. The assessments were often conducted in the actual workplace thus adding to the realism.
  • Strategy 52, Provide Opportunities for Adults to Demonstrate Their Learning in Ways That Reflect Their Strengths and Multiple Sources of Knowing – When applying this strategy, it is important to use different types of projects, papers, reports, etc. to assess learning. These assessment types can be spread across the entire curriculum so they will not overwhelm the educator. Portfolios are ways to collect and assess these different projects.

Other strategies that may help keep adults motivated include providing constructive criticism as necessary, although I personally believe providing effective feedback is more useful. You may also want to provide incentives as  a treat to good performance. I believe it is also important to let learners know what the consequences are in regards to what they have learned and how it applies to the larger picture.

Well, I am almost done talking about Wlodkowski’s Motivational Framework for Culturally Responsive Teaching. This is perhaps one of the most practical books I have found on this subject. He has provided 60 strategies that I can use to improve my instruction. In my next post, I will discuss how Wlodkowski recommends weaving these strategies into your lessons.


* 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!