Mood music for reading this post.
The staff feels unfamiliar in my grip. The twisted branch pulled from the forest undergrowth is short, but sturdy. I sweep it in quick arcs in the air and draw out patterns across the ground. The dull sound of scratching across dirt and grass is mixed with the sucking noise as I move it from ground to air. The wind weaves its way through the forest and as it rushes low into the glade, it brings with it a fresh scattering of leaves.
The training book pages flutter as it lies open propped up by a small pile of rocks I collected together. The numbered figures are drawn flowing from one stance to the next, their movement depicted amongst swirling arrows. I dance across the quiet clearing deep in the forest of Webland trying to mimic the positions of their graceful limbs. I like to imagine my training montage set to the rousing sounds of Michael Kamen in Highlander, but most likely I look more like a stumbling zombie, limbs held too rigid and concentration contorting my face.
I’m trying to learn the steps I’ll need to reach the goal of my latest quest. To compete in Gammify 2013 in only 13 weeks time. I feel a pause in my training and the disillusionment that comes when first picking up the tools to learn something new. The doubt that comes once the rush of novelty has worn off and you realise precisely how ill-equipped you are to do whatever ambitious dream had first crossed your mind.
Write a novel, learn to dance or become the ultimate fighting champion. Whatever it is, you will find the internet full of resources and people ready to share their knowledge and experiences with you.
For the novice in Webland starting out in any quest you will have unparalleled access to experts from anywhere and everywhere. All kinds of materials from videos, slideshows, blogs, wikis, e-books, online courses to twitter. The digital realm offers access to it all, but at the loss of the filtering and curation that used to be done by educators and institutions.
In starting a quest towards any goal in Webland you have to craft your own journey, or risk being lost in a cycle of simply knowledge surfing without any real progression.
Three Tips on Starting a Quest in Webland
1. Finding your Mr Miyagis
Look for the established leaders and influencers in the field to be your teachers. This is obvious, but don’t be afraid to pick and choose the ones that speak most directly to you. They might not be the most well-known person in the area. There will be certain people out there who you just enjoy listening to or reading. Pick out those voices, rather than purely based on search engine, number of followers or other rankings.
2. Keep your vision wide
Include in your early searches a healthy dose of criticism and challenging viewpoints to those of the main consensus. Learning in Webland benefits from not being shackled to a pre-written textbook edited and verified years ago. Knowledge is changing and evolving constantly. Where there is a disagreement being debated is usually where you’ll find the most interesting learning and people.
3. Let me have a go
This is one of the hardest things to replicate if you’re setting off to learn something in the digital realm. Classroom and tutorial structures are ideal for those first practical steps because it gives the newbie the chance to try an often simplified version of a more complex task or at least at a slower pace. A good tutorial also provides immediate feedback from ‘a teacher’ on your efforts with corrections and also shows the common problems from other newbies being solved.
Structured online courses, where there are set exercises as well as opportunities for students to share and discuss work still have best chance of offering this both practical and interactive side to learning. A vibrant and supportive discussion community can also provide some of this.
* * *
At some point though, I know I must leave the safety of my glade. The practiced steps I make will become more familiar with time, but against these phantom adversaries, all I will learn is a dance in homage to gammification. To move on, I must now stop practicing and use it tackle something real.
I look towards the edges of the forest and meet the gaze of a pair of red eyes peering out from the shadows.
Quest Log Update
- Completed H: Complete an online course “Gammification Master Class with Gabe Zichermann” √
- Follow 150: Total 80 Follows, follow 40 of the most influential people in one chosen area √
- Gammify 2013 New Goal: Apply gamification design to current quest