Monday, January 31, 2005

Fiction Factory

This is from one of the Ad put up here by Google. This is how it works (from its website:)

  • First a Fiction Factory member invites friends and family members to be contributing authors in a collaborative short story. This person is the story moderator.

  • Once everyone is ready, the moderator starts the story by entering the first line.

  • The author responsible for adding the next line will then be randomly selected from among the other participants, and receives an email with instructions on how to add the next line.

  • This continues each time someone adds their line until the story is completed.

This would be a fun way to develop writing skill for your budding younger family member. In its current form, it would be quite difficult to specifically nail down the learning objectives you want to achieve in this particular activity.

To add some degree of co-ordination and to fit into some curricula, we can add a discussion forum to fiction factory. The stories must be created along specified subject matter. In the discussion forum, the players are encouraged to discuss the development of the stories, but are not allowed to reveal which sentence(s) they have written. Since the next writer is picked by the software in random, there would be a lot of fun to push one's agenda of the story lines along, provided by the opportunity of actually making it into the story AND by convincing others in the discussion forum to go your way.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Online Jigsaw Class - an alternate use of Fablusi


A jigsaw classroom [is] a cooperative learning technique that reduces racial conflict among school children, promotes better learning, improves student motivation, and increases enjoyment of the learning experience. The jigsaw technique was first developed in the early 1970s by Elliot Aronson and his students at the University of Texas and the University of California. Since then, hundreds of schools have used the jigsaw classroom with great success.

For a detailed description of how it works, please refer to this overview. In acolla parlance, it is how it may work:

  • Learners are divided into groups with equal numbers and each group is assigned a set of tasks. The number of tasks is the same as the number of group numbers. This is called the home group.

  • Each member of the group is assigned a tasks.

  • All members from different groups assigned to the same task form a group, called the expert group.

  • Each home group has its own discussion forum.

  • Each expert group also has its own discussion forum.

  • The member of the home group learn to do all the tasks co-operatively. Help can be seek from the expert group by the "experts" in the home group.

  • Finally, all learners will take a test to assess their learning.

Fablusi, the online role play simulation platform which I developed, has a powerful "interactive Space" (iSpace) with a detailed "right" control system. Each iSpace can also have as many sub-spaces as you desire. The home groups can be modelled using an iSpace with sub-space for each group. The expert groups can be modelled using another iSpace with each topic as a sub-space. Finally, tasks can be set up at intermediate steps as well as the final steps. The assessment task can be linked to the Fablusi task structure as well.

Whether an asynchronous implementation of the Jigsaw technique will lose its affective benefit is a question yet to be investigated. However, the Jigsaw technique as used asynchronously is potentially a good method we should give it a try.

Friday, January 28, 2005


Here is a game by Sivasailam Thiagarajan, also known as Thiagi posted to the NASAGA forum:

The key to conducting bus activities is to ensure that you don't require too much movement and too many supplies.

Here's an activity called WHISPERS that I have used while traveling to and from conferences.

The game is played by folks seated in two adjacent seats. Let's pretend that their names are Alan, Barbara, Charles, and Diane.

During Round 1, Alan asks an open question, such as "What is the most important goal that we should focus on in our strategic planning?" Everyone (including Alan) thinks of an answer.

After a suitable pause, Barbara and Charles whisper in Alan's ear their prediction of Diane's answer.

ane now give hers answer aloud. Barbara and Charles score an answer if they had correctly predicted this answer (to the subjective satisfaction of Alan).

Next round: Charles and Diane whisper predictions of Alan's answer in Barbara's ear. Same procedure as before.

After predictions have been made about everyone's answer, it is Barbara's turn to start the next open question (example: What keeps our employees awake at night?).

Actually the game is less complicated than this write-up suggests.

This is an open "frame game" adaptable to almost any subject domain and can be converted easily to an ACOLLA.

Thursday, January 27, 2005


This is my second blog.

I have made a distinction between collaboration tool and collaborative learning activities.

Activity: Actions that a user is required to perform.

Learning activity: An activity designed to lead to a learning outcome.

Solo learning activity
: A learning activity that can be performed by a single learner in front of the computer, e.g. multiple-choice questions and rule-based simulations.

Collaborative Learning Activity: A learning activity that involves more than one learner, where the learners are communicating with each other either as peer to peer or within assumed roles. The emphasis is on the fact that several learners are engaged in a learning activity or the activity requires the participation of more than one learner.

Asynchronous Collaborative Learning Activity: The collaborative learning activity occurs asynchronously.

Collaboration tools: These are tools that enable learners to share information, discuss ideas and communicate for the purpose of collaboration. Some typical tools are asynchronous conference and/or chat tools.

One of the first examples I used when I discuss this idea with my friends is online version of debate. The face to face version should be similar to most people. Let me just repeat the procedures here:

  • There are two debating teams (each team usually made up of 3 persons) debating an issue. One team is the affirmative and the other is negative.

  • Team leader of the affirmative team starts the debate by presenting the teams view.

  • The team leader of the negative replies.

  • Second and third members of the team then presents (alternating between affirmative and negative).

  • After all the team members have presented. The debate may be opened to the floor. Audience may ask any question to any team and team member.

  • The negative team leader makes the concluding remarks.

  • Finally affirmative team leader makes the concluding remarks.

  • Judges declare a winning team with optional best debater.

When using debate online, we can use a synchronous collaborative tool such as chat. If the chat supports audio, the experience of the debate for the team members and audience is very similar to the face to face version. However, if the chat only supports text mode, the experience will be very boring most of the time. Our speed of typing is typically several times slower than reading. Watching a member team types (even if the typing is transmitted immediately) is not an exciting and engaging experience. If it is posted at the end of the typing, the long delay is a waste of time for all the other team members and audience.

What I am interested in this blog is to investigate how to improve the procedure of known (or new) pedagogical activities for asynchronous delivery.

For online asynchronous delivery of debate, I would modify the procedure to something like this:

  • There are two debating teams (each team usually made up of 3 persons) debating an issue. One team is the affirmative and the other is negative. Time line is set up and agreed by all parties.

  • Leader of the both teams post their opening statements by the first agreed time.

  • Second members of both teams present their responses at the second agreed time.

  • Third members of both teams present their responses at the third agreed time.

  • If there is a discussion forum, the debate may be "opened to the floor". Audience may ask any question to any team and team member via the discussion forum.

  • Final concluding remarks are posted by both team leaders by the final agreed time.

  • Judges declare a winning team with optional best debater.

By using the asynchronous discussion forum, people can participate at any convenient time. There are more time for research and hence the quality of the debate is likely to be better. This can be implemented using low-cost or existing technology.

However, there is some significant changes to the procedures as well. For example, to avoid unnecessary running the debate longer, I have suggested to have both teams to post their opinions at the same agreed time. Audience can read both sides of the argument at the same time. This may change the debate dynamics a little. How significant will that be? That's something I don't know and would seek your input.