Losing is fun: What we can learn from Dwarf Fortress

Liveblog notes from an IET Technology Coffee Morning presented by Daniel Allington, from the OU’s Faculty of Education and Language Studies.

‘Losing is fun’ comes from Dwarf Fortress‘s original documentation. Losing can be fun – for the player. But also for the creator? And what are people trying to achieve when they make a game, and what do players want?

Dwarf Fortress is a work of art in a way that’s uncommon. Beautiful to look at – e.g. Myst when it came out – as the typical standard for games as art. But modern art isn’t beautiful to look at – think pickled sharks, not beautiful background.

Addendum, Dec 2012: For all those of you finding this blog post trying to find out ‘How does toady/Tarn make money out of Dwarf Fortress?’, the answer is simple: People who like the game give him donations. That’s it.

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Mobile Connections: OU mobile learners

An IET Technology Coffee Morning by Rhodri Thomas, on Mobile Connections: joining up OU provision for mobile learners. Rhodri’s slides are available as a Google doc presentation. (The main demos are being recorded.)

Some history, some progress reports, and some live demos.

Mobile Connections website is the best place for information and updates on what’s happening.

QR code for the Mobile Connections site

30 Days of gratitude- Day 8

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Todo update

I did a review of To Do list apps about six months ago; I’ve just done a quick update, which I present here:

Things cloud sync is now in not-very-restricted beta, and seems to work Ok. Not, of course, available on the web.

Toodledo offline still not anywhere in sight, but apparently some third-party apps can provide it.

Omni Sync Server is still in beta, but seems to work Ok. Again, not available on the web.

Midnight Inbox finally released Inbox Touch for iPad v3.0, which has sync with Midnight Inbox 2.0 and Inbox Mobile 1.0 (iPhone) built in … but the latter two still aren’t released, so obviously you can’t actually sync across devices … yet. Website has updated “Coming soon” to “Coming soon – actually”.

Appigo Todo has a desktop mac app fully released, syncs with iPhone/iPad via the cloud using their own service ($20/y), Dropbox, or Toodledo.com. Presumably if via Toodledo.com that gives you a web version, which is cool.

Todo.ly is a new (to me!) web-based service – very nice interface for a web system. Can’t see any way to have it offline though.

I’ve decided, on reflection, that spending time on to-do list software is less of a priority than, you know, actually doing things I needed to do, so I’ve carried on with my current Dropbox/plain RTF system for now.


This work by Doug Clow is copyright but licenced under a Creative Commons BY Licence.
No further permission needed to reuse or remix (with attribution), but it’s nice to be notified if you do use it.

Best practice criteria for sustainable e-learning

Today I presented at a workshop at the Open University, sponsored by JISC, the SusTeach project, the SusteIT project and probably others, on Best Practice Criteria for Sustainable eLearning. There’s more linked resources at Good Campus.

Solar Panels

It’s an interesting premise: what makes for sustainable e-learning? From the workshop flyer:

Financial challenges, market opportunities and technical innovation will drive greater use of e-learning. Some see cost-cutting as the primary driver, and fear that it will diminish the quality of the educational experience through reduced face-to-face contact. Others argue that e-learning creates new learning possibilities, and can strengthen educational quality, e.g. by enabling more rather than less learning contact with fellow students. The sustainability of e-learning is also contentious. Do virtual technologies have a lighter or heavier environmental footprint than traditional methods? And does e-learning create greater social inclusion, both globally and nationally, or will it lead to a ‘second class’ educational system with face-to-face methods reserved for an elite?

The flyer [PDF] teasingly suggests that assessment against best practice criteria “could be ‘light touch’ if the criteria were focused on the distinctive features of e-learning rather than aiming at a comprehensive QAA-style assessment”. I have my doubts – I think the distinctive features of e-learning make it more, not less important to do proper assessement. But the discussion should be interesting.

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