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Unblocking me

December 7, 2011

Once again, I ‘lost time’ on the ride into work this morning with a fun little app called Unblock Me.  It’s a simple premise: move the wooden blocks out of the way and get the red one to slide out the door on the right.  Each block can only move on one axis (horizontal or vertical).

As I was playing, I realized that I had missed something important in my gaming post yesterday about why games are still such an enjoyable part of my daily life.  First and foremost, they are fun and I know that’s a big driver for my motivation and engagement in learning.  The fun I have in moocs like #change11 comes from how refreshing, challenging, inspiring and immersive they are.

Unblock Me isn’t an ‘educational’ game, per se, but it reinforces and expands my skills with pattern recognition as well as exploring possibilities, trying and failing, redoing, starting over and overcoming limitations of time, speed and frustration. The more levels I play, the faster and more accurate I become.  

This app hits the ‘sweet spot’ of balance for me between degree of difficulty and frequency of rewards in the form of success and progression to the next level.  There are no badges here, no certificates, no external acknowledgement.  It’s just me swiping my finger across a little screen and my dedication to moving forward.

As I struggled with new levels this morning, I felt how representative this little app was for a discussion thread that took off yesterday with Lisa, Ken, John and cmanning, in which I stated my weariness with educators who are afraid to risk and who appear uncomfortable as learners, especially when it comes to new technology.  As a learner and designer, I’m the red block.  I am surrounded by wooden blocks that impede my path forward.  I have to figure out what moves and what doesn’t and how far each can be pushed.  I have to recognize the patterns, see the possibilities and just keep trying until I get to the next level.


From → Smarter worker

  1. Haha, I’m glad you are having fun, Brainy!
    You are right, as educators we should not be afraid of what we don’t know, and definitely not be uncomfortable as learners with technical stuff. But don’t confuse being uncomfortable and being afraid with not seeing advantages or finding other stuff more suitable or not liking it. I personally prefer running to gaming, and that doesn’t mean I am afraid 🙂 There are for sure still people out there that prefer paper to wifi, playing outdoors to playing on the computer etc. (and I’m talking adults and kids here). There are for sure people that have been there, done it (and got a t-shirt) and having seen it all, go where they feel they are at their best (without ever having been afraid).

    • Thanks, Irene, I completely agree. There are heaps of valuable learning opportunities that don’t use digital technology at all. I recall a thread in the #change11 FB site early on about favourite places to read and reflect outdoors, for example.

      However, in a workplace setting where technology is critical to getting the job done, I am growing weary of people using their self-declared fear of technology and time-victim mentality as excuses for not learning. Sadly, some colleagues and clients shrug their shoulders at me and say “oh, I don’t know about all that technical stuff, it’s not for me” or “I don’t have time to keep up with all this stuff.” To which I want to (but don’t) say “then you’re in the wrong job!” 🙂

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