Tag Archives: learning


“it takes what it takes” by Antti

For a lover of games and learning, (aka me), it has been difficult to understand the rules of the game in research: “publish or perish”.  But by reading Thiagarajan and David Lorge Parnas I conclude that I am playing with other rules 😉

My inner voice guided me to pursue this path of research. It is a personal call, I  love what I do. My research topic is my passion, and I am  interested that the outcome of my efforts could support real life besides academia, for example in industry, business, ONG.

Hence, it is taking me TIME to walk my path, because:

It takes TIME to know what am I doing?

It takes TIME to find my literature (in addition, when I arrived to my research group the research on games was nonexistent)

It takes TIME to read and listen a vast amount of books, journals, articles, blogs, individuals, …

It takes TIME to digest all the information

It takes TIME to conceptualize

It takes TIME to implement, test, use…

It takes TIME to find your angels on the way (people who help you to improve)

It takes TIME to understand the context that surround all the points mentioned above

It takes TIME to learn to write

It takes TIME to write

In addition, thinking is complex. THINKING TAKES TIME and EFFORT.

Hence, within my journey, in several moments I was convinced that I am too slow.  Actually, saying slow is the most constructive reaction, because the feeling of impotence is huge. But something crystallized while talking with Antti: I belong to other type of researchers, of those  subscribe to slow-science.

The slow moment is present in other areas of our life as well, for example: slow-food, slow-living.  By the way, one shouldn’t misinterpret the word slow. Antti describes it so well: “it take what it takes”.  That is all, the best example of this concept is a new human life which requires nine months until s/he is born, and several years until s/he is self-sufficient.  “It takes what it takes”.

Articles that support the concepts behind slow-science, which in my humble opinion must be read are: “stop the numbers game” from Parnas, and the blog of Erik Proper. Also, in an indirect way, but good article from game research is “How I designed a game – and discovered the meaning of life” by Thiagarajan. 

Hence I am still in my personal race, and I know I live in this planet and I need to balance its rules. But it makes me feel relief knowing that it is normal, the growth process requires time. Thank you Antti for the chat and references!

it takes what it takes to grow

CC image, source here

how much does your soul cost?

It is not a joke or matter of moral values. But through several events I had lived in my relative short life, it made me realized the ubiquitous and high level of prostitution we live in. It is not matter if the person is good or bad. It is matter of the price our soul costs when you decide to sell it.

In a western society, everything seems to have a cost-benefit. Honestly, at moments I feel there it is not scape from this game. It is so depressing!!! Human beings are increasing on fear to survive, in fear to assure to have enough, until they are burn out. A fear induced by a system we have self-created.

Shame of us! and what a waste of life.

At the end of the day, we will die (because we all will) and we will not take anything with us. At our deathbed the only memories that will matter are: how many smiles we share and we lived, how many hugs, how many sun shines, how many thanks, the memories of the people we helped and who helped us, how much life we lived and conquer, and how much life we waste for selling our soul.

I wish we could change this system; I wish each human could find her/his passion. But for changing and for finding a passion, one has to get to know oneself, and few people (apparently) is willing to pay the price. That is a personal decision. — I took my decision long ago. My mind has to be harmonized with what I feel and do. Otherwise, I do not function, but still I need to learn A LOT. Anyway, let’s see how this life – game evolves.

The next video I love it; it gives me hope that not everybody sells her/his soul

social media and natural disasters

I am impressed of the power of social media. No for the technology itself, I confess. I am marveled of what human beings can do as soon as they have the access and the know how to use technology.

Today my personal use of social media is limited to these three areas:
1. Research (main topics within technology enhanced learning and games research)
2. Re-connecting with my past
3. Keep myself informed about some actual events

Maybe it sounds not much, those topics, but the amount of information is huge 🙂 But even with these few topics, I can be sure that a new culture is raising strongly, a culture sustain by e-habits independently of the physical location, we are connecting ideas and people.

What I like and attracts me of social media is: I have opportunity to listen individuals in more “personal” basis and with natural language. It is not the demagogic speech, or the news built up to sell. We are talking about real and natural people.

Just to share a bit of what I mean:

Feb. 2010: from Chile’s earthquake:

  • f3rq RT @fieritacatalano: RT @briascoi: RT @aschek: Si estás en Chile y tienes WiFi, abre acceso para q otros puedan com. con sus seres queridos #terremotochile half a minute ago from Tweetie

//Translation: “If you are in Chile and you have WiFi, open its access so that others can communicate with their love ones”

  • ovario RT @layoli2000: RT @MonikaMDQ: Hoy Twitter sirvió para algo útil. La cruz roja localizó familiares de las víctímas por medio del hastag #terremotochile less than 20 seconds ago from TweetDeck

// Translation: “Today Twitter was useful. The red cross was able to localized family of victims through the hastag…” //

  • helua RT @lasseweb20: Qué interesante ver que la información en Twitter y Ustream es 10 veces mejor y actual que lo de CNN #terremotochile

//Translation: “How interesting to see that the information from Twitter and Ustream is 10 times better and actual versus CNN “//

Jan 2010: Foreigners after the earthquake in Haiti:

  • RT @carelpedre It’s sad! It’s Been 4 days now and we’re begging for some water on twitter!about 7 hours ago from Twitterrific
  • RT @jacquiecharles: 80% of dwntwn PAP gone. ” irony of life is all of the prisoners are out & judges are buried…,” said Michele Montas.
  • RT @jacquiecharles: Just left a pregnant woman who’s baby is dead inside her after beam fell. Red cross says mom has 12hrs to live. #Haiti half a minute ago from TweetDeck
  • RT @JimCarrey: watching Haitians singing in street, destroyed me. we never get as close to each other as do in these terrible moments #Haiti
  • act7286 You know what pisses me off? Our government never does even half as much to help our own people as it’s doing now for #haiti half a minute ago from web
  • Who is planning for the survivors? Victims need to start registering their name and lost. Coordination and leadership is cruciAl. 20 minutes ago from Echofon
  • many emotions,anger grief, survivors guilt everywhere – why did I survive, why was my house the only one left standing about 21 hours ago from web

Jan 2010: Hatians raising their voice after earthquake in Haiti.

  • RT @Haiti2015: 3 sisters – Michaelle, Judith, Roselle Angrand are trapped at : #43 Ruelle Sylvia Avenue Pouplard call: 3554-7314 RT please
  • Why organizations feel the need to advertise themselves in this momen of crisis.Could everyone just serve without worrying about recognition
  • Who is in charge in Haiti? Yes, it is important to know. Last I check, Haitians should be allowed free passage in their own country.
  • @MissionMANNA seriously, some Haitian leadership with a Haitian long term plan. We need international assistance, not control.
  • Now they want to focus attention on insecurity, while million are still homeless and suffering. What a shame. Haitians wake up please. about 22 hours ago from Echofon
  • It is no time to lead with emotion. We need calm head to prevail, and sound plan to be implemented If not, all these efforts will be a waste 9:51 PM Jan 18th from web
  • What is the difference between humanitarian relief and a military invasion? Urgency! How long did it take to invade Bagdad? about 22 hours ago from Echofon
  • Ki altenatif “what’s the alternative?”We have to remain strong and build back up from the rubbles.The youth of Haiti are still its best hope

As my focus right now is to finalize my thesis I can’t put much time on this right now :(, unfortunately, but I will :). There is so much ideas and emotions, hopes and frustrations triggered by social media. there are lives and it just deserves my attention and a reflection, which I want to share.

To finalize a photo from the city of Conception, Chile by Astro_Soichi. He is a Japanese astronaut  in duty right now, and he has been sharing his photos on twitter. He is amazing!!!!

Concepcion, Chile. Photo taken from the space by Astro_Soichi few hours after the 8.3 earthquake

Photo source: twitpic Astro_Soichi


The graduation was a big event. Schoolteachers, Tumaini University students and some teachers, family and community member were present. The children move the desks from the schools to allow adults to sit, and they were at one side of the area sitting on the floor, however all assistants were under the shade of the same tree.

To start the event, the school children performed some songs. Small video clips of it below.

A song about Tanzania

Other song

There were several speeches specially stressing the importance to have computers and access to them, the importance of education and the relevance to learn the English language.  It also was stressed the responsibility of our children (who were selected by the head-teacher for the workshop) to transmit their new knowledge to the community.

When it was my turn to speak, I confess, drops came out of my eyes. The main message I wanted to transmit is: we should understand that the most important thing in life is what we feel and what we think, as the unique richness is inside ourselves and not outside. Computers are tools that will help us for different activities, but our inner is the most important thing that we have. Honestly, for be my first time in Africa, Ukombozi children gave me A LOT, much more than I could give them back.

To give does not require to say words, or to give (expensive or no expensive) presents. To give is when one connects to another one and a magical exchange takes place.

One thing I am complete sure about our planet: it does not matter the physical location, color of skin, language, culture or whatever, anything of those things need a “specific” configuration in order to be able to connect with other humans. Inner harmony with oneself and what surround us is what actually matters. Things that are not thought at school, sadly.

Each day working with the Ukombozi pupils, the experience connected as when I was a missionary at the Sierra del Zamorano in Mexico (in several winters), or when I was working every Saturday for so many years at the marginal areas of Mexico city, or in that intensive trip to India. People is so rich of life.  Even as illogical as it might sound, due that the comparison is not so straight forwards, but some of the activities relate to my experiences working with the seniors in Joensuu and the people in Lieksa keep stressing this.

When a human being is, and it does not pretend to be someone else based on what s/he has or  how s/he self-protect, then life just expresses. One can connect with different individuals and when one just is.

I am thankful for all these experiences.

Everybody elegant dressed and concentrated to hear and try to understand what the selected children of the workshop did in this period. The workshop participants explain this by themselves first to family and visitors and later with other students. Life is made by details and this one was a milestone on the way.

(Photo: workshop participants getting ready to received and explain their work to parents and visitors )

(Photo: workshop participants presenting to other schoolmates)

(Photo: A group photo of all of us. Well, we are missing two persons actually,one student and one tutor)

intensive workshop: “working for my Dreams” (2/2) – workshop

The workshop has been VERY intensive. My nights-sleep average during the workshop period was four hrs a day approximately. I was the last one to go to bed and usually I got up before the sunrise. This gave me the opportunity to realize the night rhythm in Iringa: first relative quietness (I say relative because in warm environment it is a lot of life, e.g. it easy to hear always crickets, frogs or any other life form which I have no idea they exist). Later at night several dogs bark constantly, no idea about the reason of that barking, either a wild animal comes by and then they give alarm among themselves or just pure conversation. Anyway, the final result is: you hear A LOT of dogs barking. After the dogs, the Iringa’s hens start to make the “kikirike” song (very early ones, around 3 am they start). It follows the mosque prays to finalize with the Christian or Catholic church bells at 7am.

After the night routine, we should be ready for a work day. During the workshop, daily (except Sundays) we had some contact session with the children from two to more than four hrs depending the day. The rest of the day is for review material and prepare material + computers for next day. Prepare is literal, we charge them of electricity. We were VERY lucky that electricity at our location was always present for recharge the machines. Before the workshop there were several black out.

We needed to charge the computer to be sure next day we could work with them, the school had pre-paid electricity and there are not sockets for all the computer to be connected. Then, if we want to depend on charging them on-site each session was not a reliable solution.

Charging of electricity the XO at my room. I should charge usually 12 computers. I had the possibility to connect 3 at the same time, and repeat the procedure 4 times(Photo: Here charging of electricity the XO at my room. We divide the machines between Marcus and I. Usually I charged between 10 to 12 computers. I had the possibility to connect 3 at the same time, and repeat the procedure four times)

Also there were other reason why the workshop was demanding for everybody, including us researchers:

i)     The school pupils  have thirst of knowledge and they are so dedicated and intelligent that we should higher our standards in each session. Today I know, good students demand more from their teachers

ii)    The machines  that our children have (XO’s ) present different and diverse scope of challenges.

iii)     Real time situation. The idea of the workshop (and all the projects I am running) presents the challenge of quality of time and understanding in the all what is involved in the environment. If I want to work together with others, then I must listen more than the average and try to understand. This is energy taking.

iv)    I am fighting for my funding (actively).

v)     Have this responsibility sense that I want to support Latinamerica and for me Africa is a new world. As anyone who goes to a new world, it takes energy.

But I must admit that I land soft, Marcus loves Tanzania and he has something of Tanzanian inside him, then I was in very good hands. He took care of all the details of my time in here (e.g. housing, transport, communication), and he has done awesome preparations for the workshop.  Then, it was my responsibility (and my right), to give my best back to all the great people that surround me in here. In addition, each time I saw the shinning eyes of the children, there is not other excuse just DO YOUR BEST.

Then in brief, the game workshop was an iteration of clear steps:  individuals must think and express themselves. Each new iteration we looked for a higher challenge for them to think about. The cycle consisted of:

a)     Give them a question /challenge

b)    Think individually how they will solve this challenge and write it down (use their XO for this)

(Photo: Children ready to type their own reflection. They were always VERY attentive. )

c)     Discuss in groups about the answers

(Photo: Final individual reflection to be discuss in a team)

(Photo: working in pairs)

d)    Then a  performance (drama) on how this challenge should be solved (each time the groups were differently formed). The children were at charge of everything: script, media, actors, recording, etc.

(Photo: Recording one drama scene – several camera men and women 🙂 )

e)    Reflect in the final results and evaluate if we were ready for the next challenge was the next step. Then the cycle was over and ready for the next one. In the way other activites were present, support, drawing and even playing 🙂

(Photo: Some technical support, or personalize teaching-learning activity)

(Photo: Some drawings)

(Photo: Some playing)

(Photo: No ALL is digital. I brought them a “children’s map” from German. It was very useful to explain where Marcus and I are originally. We also find Finland and Tanzania, but it was a very nice tool to see the world together.)

(Photo: Bring the server to the session. Unfortunately due to security issues – the school has not a “strong or secure” room for their equipment – therefore they need to find other channels to keep their tools secure. )

Also there were different activities to make each cycle different, for example once we have a whole contest to see the knowledge of kids (solving different math and natural science questions) or making a research about what kind of games the like to play, etc.

We also make a paper prototype of each child to hear how they want her/his webpage to look like (this part of the work is very interesting, because it breaks with diverse assumptions that HCI profess ).  Photos will be published later.

The children not only reflect in their writing about the relevant subjects such as their futures, health, etc. They made their own drawings, record their own dramas, decide how they want the things to be present, they create the whole content of the application. This support another level of understanding for what it is possible to use the ICT tools, and furthermore a sense of “digital-ownership”.

For the functionality of the “game” Mikko Vinni helped us in the distance with the proper functionality in PHP. As Ilka in his visit here help to set up the local server here too. Yes, a lot of quality people and hands were involve in this workshop.  However, still the game needs a some days to polish it properly.

The game in its actual status has been tested with other children who were not in the workshop and with parents. All of the testers mentioned that they  learned from it. In a way I am not surprised  about that, because is the bottom line or the purpose of the whole workshop, and actually from my whole research: We learn  A LOT from others if we only are willing to listen. But it is great that actually that phenomena is not exclusively of any location or person 🙂  and comments such as: “I am surprise that it can be also things in Swahili in internet”, really melted my heart.

Then is mainly the workshop in VERY brief. More things will be posting (as from other activities). However I want to express my gratitude to the children, to the tutors of Tumaini (Innocence, Timothy and Miraji), to the teachers of the school, to Marcus, to Mikko, to Ilkka and the whole community too, which were so supportive in the activity.

Btw, for those who advice me to ready for unexpected events I can assure I was not expecting that we will have almost 100% assistance for the duration of the workshop (two weeks and 17 children were enrolled). The children came even in Saturdays and some days work over time. We only have 3 absences each one in three different days. I am very impress and thankful with all of them.