Monday, April 30, 2007

Fair Play

This evening I completed another online interactive course for employees of the University of California. Unlike the similarly employer-mandated Internet sexual harassment training that I completed over a year ago, I didn't find myself forced to use time too unproductively while the clock ticked the time, and the narratives thankfully didn't assert cartoonish norms in which gays and lesbians were always distant others and the male gaze on the female body was privileged. This tutorial also incorporated slightly more dynamic content, in that there were embedded videos of UC policy makers thanking me for my attention to the subject matter.

Nonetheless, I agree with persuasive games specialist Ian Bogost that such required ethics training for large numbers of public employees would be a natural design challenge for developers of serious games and that more embodied narratives in which relative outcomes express relative mastery of the material could make the lessons more engaging.

As important as I think ethical conduct as a public servant is, I may not value my virtual ethics sheepskin as much as my paper degrees, since I have received several such diplomas in the past from even more frivolous distance learning experiences, such as this one for my knowledge of cosmetology from the FDA website for kids.

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Blogger Ned said...

You inspired me to get my own diploma. Pretty straighforward.

4:50 PM  
Blogger Leslie Madsen-Brooks said...

My favorite part of the UC ethics course is that it appeared to me I could give entirely wrong answers and still get a certificate.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Liz Losh said...

I think you're right Leslie that the actual correctness of the answer may not have mattered, so they really haven't gotten beyond the quantitative approach to distance learning as merely an expense of time.

I'm glad that Ned too has a computer-generated diploma. I've been working on a paper about web generators this weekend. (I compare them somewhat cheekily to electronic hypertext literature.) So I've been thinking a lot about computer programs that give a personal touch to digital objects.

1:05 AM  

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