Monday, 29 August 2016

3250 - Presentation Review: Learning from Mistakes

Learning from one's mistakes is such an exceptional tool for deeper learning. I have never thought about it as an instructional strategy, but I was so happy to see it in Jennifer Aarestad's Prezi presentation on learning strategies. Jennifer made some great points on learning from our mistakes, including the way it requires a change in mindset from problem to opportunity, and the way both learners and instructors have responsibilities in capitalizing on this technique.

Jennifer's presentation was interesting and engaging in its functionality -- having to switch between frames gave adequate time to read and process each point, and the lateral movement with zoom and wide angles was visually appealing. I liked the construction metaphor as well, as her topic was fundamentally about tearing down and rebuilding our thoughts and ideas around making mistakes.

There were some punctuation errors that stood out for me in this presentation -- apostrophes are for possessives and contractions! -- and this can be a bit distracting, though not everyone would notice.

I really enjoyed the video on the My Favourite No technique -- what a great way to teach and test a technical, finite subject like math in an engaging, creative way. Thanks for that recommendation. I could definitely see myself using this technique in some way, or at least using its essence to address errors and gauge overall learning and teaching progress.

Here is the video. Spend five minutes and take a peek!


3250 - Presentation Review: Active Learning

Shelley Killeen created a PowToon presentation on Active Learning for her final project. In the presentation, she is thorough in her examination of the theory of active learning, and in her explanation of the benefits of this technique -- greater engagement, retention, deeper knowledge, and empowerment.

Shelley teaches hot stone massage and was able to give personal, practical testimony to how this technique assists her students and her teaching practice. An interesting statistic was that students retain 90% of what they do, and only 10% of what they read and say.

As for the overall presentation,it could have used a little variety between what she said and the screen graphics. Given that she was discussing active learning, some practical activity or demonstration may have been a better fit than reading the words from the screen. On a personal note, I would have liked some practical examples of how to implement active learning in different contexts, but this may just be my way of learning -- others, I am sure, related well to the facts and figures Shelley presented.

Shelley's voice was clear and friendly, and her material was concise. That we definitely a nice feature of this presentation, as well.

Chilly Classroom Climate

Barkley (2010) discusses Hall and Sandler's research into the differential treatment of male and female students in the college classroom (1982) and refers to their term, "chilly classroom climate" to describe the way "teachers often, unknowingly, make female students feel unwelcome."

The introduction of the "chilly classroom climate" follows with suggestions to avoid it -- consistently calling students by their first or last names, greeting the class as a whole or individually each day, addressing students as they wish to be addressed, and other tips all focused on establishing basic manners in the instructor. Barkley says the inequalities felt by female students are also often felt by students because of "race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, disability, level of ability, language use, and social class" and I couldn't help but wonder two things:

1. Why is this happening?
2. Is this a phenomenon really something having good manners can address or is there something deeper at work?

A study by the National Association for Women in Education (NAWE) found the transgressions against female students went farther than not saying hello or calling them by their prefered names:

"Troublesome practices by faculty members identified by the study included: using women students as examples in hypothetical situations with sexual or other inappropriate overtones; interrupting women’s comments more than men’s; responding extensively to men’s comments with praise, criticism or coaching but to women with patronizing brush-offs; and attributing women’s achievement to luck or affirmative action but men’s to talent or ability. The study even documented the tendency of faculty members to frown more at women than men students." (Morgan, 2007).

Bernice Sandler, senior researcher in residence with the NAWE wrote a paper about this subject and outlined a few of the subtle ways instructors approached women with questions and comments not as conducive to success as those asked to men: "When did the revolution occur?" (specific, focused) for women, and "When was the revolution?" (open-ended, loose) for men -- the kind of questions where "you could really shine if you know the answer and if they don't, they can try to fake it." Men were also called on more often, received more eye contact and praise from their instructors, and were more likely to be "coached" toward deeper learning (tell me more about that, what else could have happened?)

Interestingly, the term "chilly classroom climate" did not yield search results later than 2008, which made me wonder if this is the last we heard of this topic? Was it called something else past that era? Did the research conducted ten years ago spark such outcry the phenomenon was abolished from public education forever?

I wonder. 

Current research doesn't point to gender inequality under the same moniker, but it does illustrate a similar problem where men and women are assigned different roles and attention in the classroom. With children, praise is focused on gender stereotypes: “Abhishek looks so confident, and he will make a good leader while Nazneen is so caring and she will be able to handle children well,” cites author Aparna Rayapol in her article "Gender in the Classroom" (2010). In adults, gender stereotypes continue, but with less frequency and under the scrutiny of greater sensitivity than a decade ago. But they are by no means extinct, which calls on instructors to lead the way in challenging stereotypes as a mode to deeper learning. 

"Inspiring young people to question gender stereotypes enables them to make informed choices about their futures and broaden their opportunities," according to an article published on The Line (2015). "As a teacher, you are in a position to call out examples of gender stereotyping and encourage students to question and dispute them. This might be through highlighting examples in teaching materials or through calling out students’ comments and behaviour."

"The first thing that teachers need to consciously understand is that sex is a biological fact and gender is a social construct," says Rayapol. "Boys and girls do not have any natural psychological or social differences, but it is society that makes them learn gender roles."

Now we are talking. As instructors, basic manners should indeed be extended to all students, but there is the need for deeper examination of our beliefs and social constructs if we are truly going to move forward in gender equality. 

Equality and inclusiveness has become an ingrained part of our learning as instructors. Not only is it a bullet list of points, but an obligation to promote equality and teach students to deepen their learning by keeping a watchful eye on stereotypes in the learning material.   

So, do we still have a "chilly classroom climate"? I am confident we can find instructors who still transgress in this area and who may extend the arm of "humour" or, in some cases, total oblivion too far, but the positive is awareness and advocacy in the greater realm of teaching that empowers students to not accept this behaviour.

Going back to my questions, the reason behind the "chilly classroom climate" was perhaps a sign of the times, and a by-product of the process women and others who experienced this phenomenon have had to go through to see some shred of equality in education (and other places).

While I appreciate Barkley's book is about engagement strategies, not feminist theory, I do believe the answer to keeping the climate toasty warm in the classroom goes beyond and list of points on how to be respectful. The matter's historical prevalence suggests a deeper, more thorough examination of our stereotypes, ability to think critically, and confidence to advocate -- both as students and as instructors -- is in order if we are to eradicate this problem for good. 


Barkley, Elizabeth F. (2010). Student Engagement Techniques: a handbook for college faculty. San Francisco: Jossey Bass. 

Hall, R.M., and Sandler, B. R. (1982). The classroom climate: A chilly one for women? Project on the Status and Education of Women. Washington, DC: Association of American Colleges. 

Line, The (2015). Promoting gender equity in the classroom retrieved from

Morgan, Joan (2007). Women still face 'chilly classroom climate.' – classroom environment in women’s education retrieved from

Rayapol, Aparna (2010). Gender Equality in the Classroom retrieved from

Sandler, Brenice R. (2008). The Chilly Climate retrieved from

Friday, 26 August 2016

Metacognition - Sing it!

This is a great video about a teacher who wrote a song about metacognition for his grade 6 class. I like the way the song -- which is rather catchy, by the way -- engages the students and breaks down the intimidation of learning "big words" or abstract concepts like metacognition. It performs the same function as a "team cheer," bringing the class together as a group, making this something that belongs to them and them alone, again increasing the appeal and engagement.

While the concept of a song may be to juvenile for adult learners, it does speak to the value of creating cohesiveness, inclusiveness, and "team spirit" in the classroom as a way of keeping learners feeling comfortable, welcome, and confident learning new things.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Metacognition and Executive Functioning

I am facilitating a forum on metacognition, which means I am reading a lot about it and about strategies to help teach it or at least promote it in learners. I wouldn't get into in the forum, but I can't help but think about how difficult it must be to keep on top of one's own learning if one's executive functioning skills are lacking.

I have an almost-11-year-old son who struggles with organizing his thoughts and actions, largely due to a generalized anxiety disorder. I know there is a big school of belief that says anxiety is a symptom of something bigger, but that's just it: there is nothing bigger. Just a big ball of anxious thoughts in his mind that distract him from everything else.

Anyway, consider someone who is so distracted by worry, the information they intake in day to day is consistently disorganized and muddled, without clear, logical connections. My son understands finite subjects: sports, science (unless he makes a "mistake"), math, and physics because the line from A to B is clear and there is no place to get lost along the way.

He struggles with applying old information in new situations (ie; remembering the things you do at swimming lessons are to be applied when you are in the ocean trying to stay afloat); following more than two directions (brush your teeth, make your bed, and pick up your book -- off he goes to pick up the book); and in social referencing (laughing means good right? no, not always).

If he has this much trouble processing the everyday world, how can he manage layered, compounding learning principles like history or literature, which require referencing old material, analyzing, and forming opinions? Truth be told, he doesn't and it terrifies him. And just to keep things interesting, he is deeply aware of how he processes information differently and will do anything to escape being exposed for not understanding. He is the kid that touches the item the teachers says "Don't touch" so he can get over the anxiety of not knowing why he can't touch it. He will talk your ear off to get out of an assignment, or flat out refuse instead of saying, "It is just too much for my brain." You can see how teachers begin to see him ...

So, what does this have to do with Engagement Strategies in and adult education blog? For one thing, this is not a phenomenon restricted to children. Adults struggle with executive functioning, anxiety, and sensory processing (a whole other part of the equation I don't have the finger strength to get into at the moment), but whereas kids are easy to label and "punish" adults learn to cope -- sometimes in healthy ways and sometimes not.

I think it is really important to learn about non-traditional ways of learning and thinking and to watch for these in our classrooms of all ages. We learn to judge because it is a survival mechanism so I am not saying we reserve judgement at all costs, but that maybe before we lay blame, we ask a question:

Rather than, "Why on earth would he do something so stupid?" we ask, "I wonder why he did that. What might be going on?" When we replace scorn with empathy great things can happen.

As for strategies, I have had to teach my son the basic art of keeping record of his day, making lists, scheduling his time, rehearsing what he says on the phone, etc. At first he hated those records and lists -- I once found his planner in the woods behind our house. But I had to hold my reaction (frustration) and see deeper (with empathy) that he hated these so-called helpful items because they were reminders of what he sees as inadequacies.

In my world, we don't run from deep feelings; we sit together and push through them so we become stronger. That meant going out to the woods, getting that book, and dealing with the anxiety of knowing he needs a little bit more. It means making news lists, but putting them in private places with a promise to refer to them. And it means staying positive and normalizing the process -- if we were injured we would wear a brace to play hockey -- the notes are the brace for your brain.

I could see a great deal of shame permeating the learning process in adults struggling with these issues. I have met a few adults like this and can spot them a mile away. It means I have to think about the kinds of strategies should I keep in my teaching tool box to deal with the relationship between learning awareness and executive functioning.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The Story of Story-telling Begins

Storytelling is an effective way to convey information because it contextualizes problems which are,  by definition, are decontextualized in the classroom (most of the time, anyway). The use of storytelling in adult education is centuries old, beginning with families, tribes, and communities, and leading today to some of the most progressive classrooms.

I am researching this topic because it is a top contender for my final project. Here is a paper on storytelling, its cultural roots, and its relevance in contemporary adult education. Don't read all 276 pages (well, you can, but I'm sure life has more to offer) but be sure to check out pages 10-18 for a brief look at the relevance of storytelling as we know it. Enjoy!

Learning Styles

I just wanted to comment a little further on the myth of learning style. This amazing video looks at the downside of using learning style labels points out a number of interesting points. I think the idea of presenting information in many different ways appeals to the biological process of thinking, remembering, association, etc. but it also takes our brains through the filing cabinet of past experiences that we must access to facilitate learning. Robust or extrapolated learning is the core of Montessori education and helps plant the seeds of learning new concepts in a meaningful way. 

Interestingly, this infographic dismisses learning styles on the premise (just one of many) that individual differences, experiences, special needs, etc. render moot the classification of learners into tidy boxes. I would argue, however, that although I agree we can't logically (or accurately) profile learners, there are certain cultural and biological conditions that would make certain types of learning more appealing to certain individuals. A person with sensory processing dysfunction or ADHD might be physically incapable of reading 172 pages on neuroscience, but a gaming lesson might do the trick. Someone else coming from a home or culture where storytelling is important may relate quicker and easier to the rhythm and cadence of this method.  
To be clear, I am not defending learning style theory because I believe it is fundamentally flawed on many levels, not the least of which is the inverted pyramid of thinking around it that suggests teachers need to run about like long-tailed cats in a room full of rocking chairs revamping lessons to accommodate. However, I do acknowledge there are many reasons individuals may or may not absorb information in a particular way, and I think it is valid, crucial, really, to acknowledge these.  
Maryellen Weimer (2104) nails the point in her article about the value of acknowledging learning styles (ways of learning?) published here >>, “The point is not to match teaching style to learning styles but rather to achieve balance, making sure that each style preference is addressed to a reasonable extent during instruction.”

There is strength as well in knowing a person's learning style in order to stretch it out and provide opportunities for growth. People who pigeon-hole themselves with hard and fast learning styles aren't ever having to function in chaos or push through a little discomfort. I think it is essential to hep students move through challenges so they can walk away with a new life skill.

I believe in multi-modal lessons and would continue to offer all subjects in many ways in order to both meet each learning need and to trigger the biological process that instigates learning.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Make Teaching Fun

This speaker has got to be one of the best I have seen on synthesizing difficult information in a digestible, memorable way. His technique preserves the richness of the topic, but draws learners in for the long-haul by making the subject something they can actually relate to and sink their teeth into. Imagine struggling with the sciences and then meeting this guy -- it would be like the sky opened and the angels sang!

I agree with him in the way he responds to criticism that his method leaves out some of the specificity of more complicated principles. The truth is, you are never going to get learners to a place where they understand those specifics unless you engage them in a meaningful way. I mean really, once you've taught your students the method and logic to making pancakes, how much harder is it to explain where the syrup goes? (That is a metaphor, by the way -- time for a snack.)


Friday, 5 August 2016

Empowering Students

"When students have the power to make decisions regarding their own learning, they can take steps to ensure they are working in their optimal challenge zone." (Elizabeth A. Barkley, 2010, p. 31).

The notion of less is more has never been more accurate than in empowering others to achieve their best. In Barkely's text, "Student Engagement Techniques," chapter five includes a section on creating synergy between motivation and active learning through encouraging students to work at their optimal level of challenge. Besides making clear, meaningful connections between new learning and previous knowledge and providing authentic feedback and assessment, the author discusses empowering students to challenge themselves and doing this by saying and doing less.

Think for a moment of how many times in a day we receive feedback from the world -- commercials, media, family, friends, our own conscience, and how many times we receive directives -- turn left, grab me that pot, buy this shampoo, be a better student, please press 1 for English. It is overwhelming, really, but it sets the tone for the power of quiet.

Maria Montessori taught widely on the importance of allowing children to realize their potential to concentrate and complete "work," extolling the virtues of patience, organization, and confidence in doing so. And it is confidence that rings true here.

In her book, "Learner-centred teaching: Five key changes in practice," M. Weimer (2002) describes her college students as "hopeful, but generally anxious and tentative. They want all classes to be easy but expect that most will be hard ... Most like, want, indeed need teachers who tell them exactly what to do."

Not exactly the picture of empowered, self-confident, self-directed learners generally suggested by the "recruitment" pages of university and college websites.

One of my favourite political theorists-turned-education-theorist Paulo Freire says the lack of confidence and self-motivation is due to the removal of power and critical thought inherent in traditional education pedagogy. In his famous work, "Pedagogy of the Oppressed," Freire says oppression is justified through a mutual process between the "oppressor" and the "oppressed" or the "colonizer" and the "colonized," and says the relationship stays stable because the powerless in society can often be afraid of freedom. "Learners must see the need for writing one's life and reading one's reality," he wrote, calling for "informed balance" between theory and praxis.

Weimer says, in less political terms, that the solution is less -- less direction, less control, by the hand of the instructor. "When students realize she is not going to tell them what to do, they begin to exercise their power tentatively and anxiously, wanting feedback and needing reinforcement in order to move forward with a bit more confidence (Barkley, 2010)."

Students are provided opportunity and freedom to explore, create, fail, recover, and move within their own academic space and the results are empowering and inspiring: "It is difficult to say precisely when it happens," she reports, "but one day, quite unexpectedly, the students are engaged and involved with the course and its content (Barkley, 2010)."

The important thing to note is that the process is not perfect in terms of ultimate success at every turn, but it embraces error and "failure" as part of the process. Think again about how many ways we spring into action when someone is hurt or feeling upset. We can't wait to wipe tears, offer Kleenex, give hugs, throw out distraction, lather people in sympathy -- anything to avoid allowing other people their sadness. But what a service we can offer if we just let "failure" or upset happen and be with people as they experience the full range of their emotions and learn they can recover.

There is an inherent personal and academic growth that occurs from pushing through the discomfort of not always knowing how to manage an assignment or course; having to be in control of the process, get creative, and take risks; and, operate without specific guidance and protocol.

3250 Digital Presentation Review - Jeopardy

Todd Turton took an interesting approach to teaching with his Jeopardy game. The premise is the same as the TV game show where students are provided the answer to a question and are in a race to see who can be the first to provide the fitting question. Todd's idea is interesting and fun, and I could see it breaking up the lecture or book work format of a classroom.

In his presentation, Todd did a nice job of using Powtoon graphics and images to display his work. There were a few logistical points where I had extra questions (how are the categories displayed? How does the instructor keep his or her answers organized according to category, etc.) and I didn't see the answers in the presentation. There were also some typos and punctuation errors that could have been spotted to give the presentation a more complete appearance.

I liked the way Todd pointed out the game's application (trivia, facts, light material) and I would have been interested to see where Todd has used this in his own classroom, what subjects he teaches, and whether his students gave him any feedback. I am sure if they did is was abut how much fun this game was!

Thursday, 4 August 2016

One More Time

The black dog with speckled feet is 80 pounds of lean muscle, but when a cat struts by, he cowers in fear.

Read that sentence once, look away and try to remember it word for word. Maybe you can or maybe you'll miss a few words. There is a good chance that if you revisit this task tomorrow morning, most of it will be a long forgotten memory.

Unless you have a black, speckled muscular dog who is afraid of cats.

Or a big dog of any kind.

Or a cat.

Because retention of information comes easiest to when the new information is closely linked to information you already have in your head somewhere, and the more recent, the better. In fact, learning is sometimes described as altering information already stored in your brain, according to this article on memory and forgetting, which also links forgetfulness to sensory overload. I like the premise of this article because it suggests we forget more as we age past 30, not because our minds are failing (yet), but because we have more going on, more responsibility, more multi-tasking to conquer and a finite amount of memory space to manage it all.

Here is a good short term memory test from Psychologist World. It is followed by some explanations and further reading on memory as well as some retention exercises. I scored 8-12, which is average. How about you?

Here is a great list of retention strategies that help students make deeper meaning out of lessons and subsequently retain information in a more authentic way. The important factor in many of these activities is that the mind and body are moving at once, which crosses the information between brain hemispheres and thus ingrains it with meaning and purpose.

3250 Digital Project Review - Infographic on Academic Controversy

Alena Buis published this fantastic infographic on academic controversy for PIDP 3250 in 2015. I don't know if it is the great topic or shiny object syndrome, but I really love this project.

Infographics are a lot like editorials (which I also love) because they synthesize a large amount of information into a shorter, digestible format that appeals to the eye and a natural sense of organization. In this project, the information is arranged in a logical and readable flow, and uses some fantastic quotes to bring the material to life, such as Dewey's, "Conflict is the gladfly of life ..." and this helps break up the "listing" effect this type of graphic could take on if done ineffectively.

From a design perspective, the project is balanced and aesthetically pleasing because it minimizes the number of fonts and colours, and uses these in a consistent pattern. The ratio of words to images is well done and not overwhelming, and even the shapes and outlines are used to guide the eye with consistency and implied direction.

The project's topic is appealing because it speaks to a sense of rigour and enthusiasm I like in teaching. Why shouldn't we challenge, debate, and learn through pushing past discomfort into realms we didn't think imaginable (or agreeable!). There are also so many life skills to take away from a project like this -- communication, debate, respect for others, effectively organizing materials, and health risk taking, for starters.

Overall a great project!

What Story are You Telling?

“We are all made of stories. They are as fundamental to our soul, intellect, imagination, and way of life as flesh, bone, and blood are to our bodies.”

~ J. MacGuire (1998) “The power of personal storytelling: Spinning tales to connect with others.”

Storytelling is older than language and larger than any particular ethnicity or region. Social scientists, anthropologists, and educators of all types have extolled the virtues of storytelling because stories weave a common thread through cultures, and it makes for an exciting and engaging teaching technique for these same reasons.

Grade school teachers have great success bringing students together with the practice of telling stories and inviting feedback, or through telling anecdotal stories to explain concepts and help children remember. 

In adult education, storytelling helps students and teachers connect and operate from a place of trust and support. In his paper, "The Power of Storytelling with Adult Learners," Breck A. Harris of Fresno Pacific University says, storytelling can be a powerful way for the adult educator to build genuine personal connections and friendships with students. The effective use of storytelling with adult learners can create moments of powerful, unforgettable moments of epiphany in the classroom that lead to transformative learning for both the teacher and her adult students (2005)."

There is science behind the efficacy of storytelling as the neocortex receives information through storytelling and as the brain envisions scenes from the story, new neuropathways are created. Here is a great little video about how this works:

Most importantly, the power of storytelling is universal and has global application. It is possible to transcend and even unite cultures through sharing stories and telling tales to explain the world. UNESCO offers a programme called Teaching and Learning for a Sustainable Future (TLSF) that focuses on curriculum and teaching strategies that support sustainability and global equity. TLSF has several modules on storytelling that bring components of environmental awareness to a digestible, cross-cultural platform by way of folktales, legends, and creation myths. According to AGersie, author of Earthtales: Storytelling in Times of Change, Storytelling is currently experiencing a considerable revival of interest. This has led many educators to think about ways in which storytelling can be used to explore important shared themes and visions.

The current concern about environmental issues is connected with this revival, since folktales about the relationship between the Earth and its human inhabitants have been at the heart of storytelling since earliest times. Not only do such stories offer a source of inspiration, they also contain a potential for understanding the many ways in which we value and devalue our beautiful green and blue planet. 

In a professional or educational environment, storytelling has many functions and can take many forms. This page looks at some of the Myths and Facts of storytelling and gives some great suggestions for activities instructors can use to implement storytelling into their practices.

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Poke-shoot Me Now

In a broad effort to stay both relevant and sensible, I am trying to keep a reluctant eye on Pokemon Go and acknowledge its benefits. The challenge is accepting that it is getting people out walking, rousing depressed people from their illnesses, and luring secluded people into the community. These are all great concepts, of course, but the bigger issue is whether these victories -- exercising, conquering illness, reconnecting with the world -- are diluted and "cheapened" but attaching them to a video game. Are people really achieving a sense of accomplishment associated with exercising if they are not really focused on the exercise, their bodies, or the world around them? Depression is more complex than deep sadness and involves a chemical imbalance in the brain that can't be corrected by a video game. So is this an authentic solution? I have colleagues and acquaintances who swear by the efficacy of Pokemon Go in getting them moving and out into the sunshine; I suppose my question is whether this is really a genuine connection to what makes the sunshine great, or a temporary, shiny object lure. What will happen, for instance, when the video game is no longer novel? Will these people still go outside? I guess time will tell. 

Authenticity aside, I have seen some great examples of the way real-time feedback is increasing awareness of important issues and subsequently improving motivation and productivity in a variety of contexts. This article on How Pokeman Go Relates to Gamification in the Workplace is an interesting, general look at how principles of immediate progress and feedback (ie; in fitness trackers) can prove valuable and effective. This is an authentic experience because you enter your food and fitness into your Fitbit and know immediately your caloric balance for the day. The improvement here is that people didn't necessarily know how many calories are in a Heineken and how much running it takes to burn one off, but now they do and can make changes accordingly. 

I work in construction trade publishing and have seen a marked improvement in building energy reduction thanks to real-time energy consumption technology. Previously, a building would be constructed to meet a series of energy reduction goals and to achieve some kind of environmental rating such as LEED or Living Building Challenge. If the building successfully met all of the requirements of the rating system, it received a nice plaque for the front door and the owner enjoyed the benefit of charging more for rent. 

The trouble was, an important study found that the majority of buildings were not meeting their environmental / energy reduction targets one year to 18 months after occupancy, largely because building occupants were not using the building and its various technologies appropriately. One of the most effective ways of managing building use was installing real-time energy monitoring devices on and throughout buildings so occupants can see precisely how much energy buildings are using and whether their individual contributions to the building environment are effective (they are). This type of technology is revolutionizing building use and reversing a negative trend against energy savings. 

I noticed Lockheed Martin is using a similar tactic to help Americans understand energy use. Its Education, Action, Analytics campaign is bringing every user into the proactive fold, and showing them they do indeed have the power to make a difference. These are all great examples of how gamification, by way of accountability and not by way of diluting reality, can make positive change as a realistic and authentic teaching tool.