Category: Research

November 3, 2017 in Research

Day 6, Algorithms: Sorting Algorithms in JavaScript

Algorithms have got a bad, scary, rap. And you know what? It's for good reason – understanding an algorithm is pretty doable, but implementing an algorithm in code of your own? It's hard. I went through writing some common sorting algorithms in JavaScript with lots of help from the Internet. Take a read!

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November 1, 2017 in Research

Day 5, Algorithms: Logarithms, Big-O, & Binary Search

If I told my 16-year-old, art student self I'd be writing a blog post about logarithms, I wouldn't have believed it. I've tried hard to avoid math for much of my life, yet here I am, not only learning about it but enjoying it! This post is an outline of what logarithms are and how they tie into computer science by way of Big O notation and binary search.

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November 1, 2017 in Research

Day 4, Data Structures: I Made a Hash Table

Apart from hashtags, my association with hashes is encrypting passwords in a database. That association is correct in terms of what a hash is, but there are also hash tables, hash functions, hash maps, and oh my gosh, more hash things for sure. Let's focus on a hash function and a hash table and building a rudimentary one in JavaScript.

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October 31, 2017 in Research

Day 3, Data Structures: Stacks & Queues

Stacks and queues are quite similar in that they are both linear and abstract data structures (meaning they describe the behavior of a different data structure, like a linked list or array). All the action in terms of adding and removing items happens at their ends, and their main difference is in which end that adding/removing happens.

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October 28, 2017 in Research

Day 1, Data Structures: Linked Lists

Linked lists are very similar to arrays in that they are a one-dimensional list of elements. Unlike arrays, however, in a linked list, you cannot just jump to index 4, you have to walk through the list, starting with the "head", or the first element in the list, and work your way through to the fourth element. They are very useful for lists where you need to add/remove elements, but not so useful if you need to search elements.

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July 9, 2015 in Ideas, Research

Pricing and Economic Relativity

I'm usually not one for non-fiction, but the times have changed. I'm currently reading Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions by a cool dude named Dan Ariely. In short, we humans are constantly influenced by "hidden forces" that cause us to make decisions that don't always make logical sense. Can't say I'm surprised.

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October 5, 2014 in Research, Thoughts

On Progressive Enhancement

In a nutshell, progressive enhancement is building "content out", separating the structure of a website (HTML) from its presentation and behavior (CSS and JS). Content should be available regardless of the capabilities of the device, and should not rely on styling or scripting to function at a base level. There are some strong opionions for and against, but it sounds like a good idea to me!

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June 5, 2014 in Research

There is no fold.

…the amount of time in view steadily rises as we move downpage to a peak between about 1200 pixels down. This portion of the page is viewed for nearly three times as long as the top of the page. Amen to that – awesome reference point for clients stuck […]

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October 31, 2013 in Design, Research

Cargo Cult CSS

About every other day I read a blog post about a new take on CSS best practices. I think either “I’m doing right!” or, “Ohh that makes sense, I’ll change my ways”. Cargo Cult CSS is another of these posts, and resulted in an “Ahh…now I’m really confused, […]

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June 4, 2013 in Games, Ideas, Research

Embodied Learning: Research & Thoughts

Chemistry in the SMALLab. Credit: Ken Howie Photography> In this post I'll go over two applications of embodied learning. First is SMALLab, a learning environment using motion-capture technology and large scale projections to track movements in space, and second is Science Choreography, a project through Wesleyan University and the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange that combines art, science, and kinesthetic learning to teach science topics. But before getting into all of that, a look at what embodied learning actually means: Definition The SMALLab website defines embodied learning as "a field that blends the learning sciences and human computer interaction". Science Choreography deals more with the direct translation of a process or concept into movement. In this video, Liz Lerman describes, "when you embody a process you start to realize what you don't understand, and you begin to ask questions because you want to get the movements right." In embodied learning, physical movement is the medium through which we internalize knowledge. A few learning theories relevant to embodied learning are embodied cognition, differentiated instruction, and social constructivism. Some quick-ish definitions before getting into the examples: Embodied Cognition is the argument that all aspects of cognition are determined by the body. This includes higher level cognition like reasoning, judgement, and categorization. Differentiated instruction refers to a teaching philosophy contrary to the "one size fits all" model that many schools go by today. Students are provided avenues for learning and assessment that are effective for all students, regardless of ability.

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May 21, 2013 in Games, Research

Reinventing Board Games

Dominic Crapuchettes (founder of North Star Games) talks about the renaissance of modern board games. A few main points:

Tablets are making traditional board games obsolete.

Similar to books vs. ebooks: the production process is very expensive compared to buying a game from the App Store, and the convenience of a tablet is certainly desirable.

Game Designers are no longer anonymous.

You won’t see the name of the Monopoly’s or Scrabble’s designer on the box; prior to modern board games, designers were completely anonymous. In this case, designers receive no upside from sales even if the brand is massively successful, and receive no recognition for their work.

In modern board games, designers have become more like authors and artists. The trend started in Germany with the award Spiel des Jahres (Game of the Year). The prize is always awarded to the designer not the publisher, and he/she will receive royalties according to the success of the game. Designers now take on the role of entrepreneur with intense passions for their craft and the opportunity to make a living from it.

The craft itself has improved.

Modern board games get rid of the mechanics that are not fun, though common in older games like Monopoly:

  • Waiting for your turn.
  • Not allowed to play, i.e. losing and being knocked out of the game.
  • Unpredictable play times (will it take 1hr or 24hrs?).

Finally, the space is crowded. New game designers now see themselves as artists, they find a concept and use the craft of board game design to involve people in that concept.

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March 15, 2013 in Research

Themes from DML 2013

Had a great weekend at DML 2013: met a ton of excellent people, heard excellent talks, and had some excellent dinners in Chi City. A few resonant themes and takeaways: Civics are not in crisis, agency is. It seems like civics are the problem because of widely popularized (and hilarious) media showing ignorance (Jaywalking). The stats actually haven't changed, our expectations have. College degrees are much more prevalent now so we are dealing with a larger pool of people. The problem lies in the fact that this demographic feels that they have no influence in the antiquated legislative system (Ethan Zuckerman). Chicago is cool. While this wasn't explicitly stated at the conference, it's certainly true. What a great city, I hope to go back in the near future and have more time to explore. Green river for St. Patrick's Day! Students are expected to be better than perfect. The average high school GPA of incoming freshman at UC Irvine is 4.1/4.0 (Cathy Davidson). Badges...hmmm. Badges are all the rage right now, but they aren't necessarily the answer. The danger in badges is that learners will be motivated because of the badge, rather than what they are learning (Barry Joseph, Mitch Resnick).

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March 5, 2013 in Design, Games, Research

DML Conference 2013

In a couple of weeks (March 14-16) I'll be heading to Chicago for the annual Digital Media and Learning Conference organized by the DML Research Hub. The theme this year is "Democratic Futures: Mobilizing Voices, and Remixing Youth Participation". There has been a longstanding narrative of youth political apathy and disengagement from democratic life. As the currents of social, political, financial, and global change intensify, what is the future of participatory democracy, youth activism, and civic and political education? How are the practices and forms of participatory democracy evolving in the age of social, digital, and mobile media? So many good talks, and I think a few of my favorites overlap unfortunately. Anyhow, here are some I'm especially looking forward to: ChicagoQuest Curriculum Design Jam "In this workshop, players will be taught the different phases of our curriculum design process. They will form small teams to compete against other teams in a guided challenge to design at each of the “levels” of the curriculum design process, both experiencing and designing CQ-style game-like learning." Seems that I've been mentioning the Quest Schools in every post at this point... Games, Learning and the Future of Assessment "The development of game-based assessments to support the learning of domain-based knowledge and skills." Very excited for this one.

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December 19, 2012 in Games, Research

Notes on the Principles of Game-like Learning

I just watched a great webinar at Connected Learning with Katie Salen who is a co-author of Rules of Play, and director of the Institute of Play. Below is a recording followed by some notes. Katie Salen: Making Learning Irresistible: 6 Principles of Game-like Learning Key Design Principles How do we to take a theory and translate it into an actionable principle? Creating a need to know: Games drop players into problem spaces that a player is willing to confront and solve. Curriculum design should revolve around creating a need to know, not about what to know. Games as spaces of possibility: Teachers create a space of possibility for students or players to tinker, explore, and test assumptions. Start with content to teach and present it in a space for learners to experiment. Get students comfortable with failing by structuring coursework around iterations.

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December 11, 2012 in Games, Research

Educational Games Research

Article: Learning to Play to Learn – Lessons in Educational Game Design by Eric Zimmerman and Nick Fortugno Excellent article summarizing the state of educational games. It addressing the split between educators and developers as well as the importance of using games to […]

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December 8, 2012 in Findings, Research

New Experiments in Self-teaching [TED Talk]

Indian education scientist Sugata Mitra tackles one of the greatest problems of education – the best teachers and schools don’t exist where they’re needed most. In a series of real-life experiments from New Delhi to South Africa to Italy, he gave kids self-supervised access to the web and saw results that could revolutionize how we think about teaching.

via YouTube

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November 16, 2012 in Games, Research

A Template for Analyzing Game Design

A note about analyzing vs. reviewing a game: an analysis mainly consists of what is actually present in the game, not what you think should be. Pick it apart and see what choices the designer made and think about why. I figured it'd be helpful to have a template for guidance when critiquing a game. Hopefully this will also be a useful inventory of mechanics for game design itself. Disclaimer: this is pretty long and prepare yourself for some lists. Also, appropriate use of the definition list HTML tag follows. Anyways: Formal Elements The Basics Name of the game, the platform, and time played. Note that you can get a good idea of the game from playing for 30 mins or so, it doesn't have to be a 20 hour endeavor. Overview A paragraph summary of everything below. Players How many players are supported? Does it need to be an exact number? How does this affect play? Some types of player frameworks: Single Player - like Solitare. Head-to-head - 1 vs. 1, Chess. PvE - Player vs. Environment, or multiple players vs. the game. Common in MMOs like World of Warcraft. One against Many - Single player vs. multiple (obvy). Free-for-all - Every man for himself (1 vs. 1 vs. 1 vs. 1..). Most common for multiplayer games, from Monopoly to Modern Warfare. Individuals Against the System - Like Blackjack, where the Dealer is playing against multiple players, but those players have no effect on each other. Team Competition - Multiple vs. multiple, i.e. sports.

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