A Little Competition …

Last Summer during the now defunct PA Governor’s School for Information Technology I used a little bit of custom code on my Drupal powered site … I was teaching pieces of Information, People, and Technology to a group of very smart high school kids.  I always put students in teams and make them compete against each other to solve a large real world challenge.  In and of itself, this is usually enough to get the kids really motivated.  During the Gov School I decided to put every single point into play as part of the competition, so we created a module for Drupal that we called the Leader Board.  It was essentially a dynamic point calculator that kept track of who was in first, second, third, and on … it also worked like a golf leader board in that the leader was zero points back, the second place could have been five points back, and so on.  It was interesting to see how much more energy they seemed to put into the class just to see their teams climb the Leader Board.  It was interesting and very cool to listen to hall chatter, “we are in first place” during the 5 week program.

PGSIT Leader Board

I used it again last fall with my IST class and it seemed to work there as well.  I am not using Drupal this semester as I am engaged in some formal research related to the use of WordPress for teaching so I can’t plug it in.  This is where things get even more interesting for me … in my new role as director of education technology services at the University, one of the first things I wanted was a place where the entire teaching and learning with technology group at PSU could contribute in a protected area.  What I wanted was an Intranet … one of my colleagues created a Drupal space that has become the center of communication almost overnight.  The space is heavily used … what the hell does this have to do with the first paragraph you might ask?

So when the site was developed he put a little piece of custom code at the top that pulls out the top contributors and commenters.  I have fallen victim of my own motivational tricks!  I can’t tell you how much seeing my name in second or third place on that bugs me — in other words, it somehow drives me to participate.  I doubt everyone feels that way, but I am intensely competitive and this little constant reminder pulls at me to write, contribute, comment, and be a more active member of this community.  This stuff has been going on for a long time, it is just interesting that when the tricks we use to help motivate students get pushed back at us.  Take a peek:

TLT Leader Board

4 thoughts on “A Little Competition …

  1. Not so much what, but who … the State decided it wasn’t financially viable to invest in two PGSIT programs … I have a very strong opinion about this what thing that I will not air here … but, anyone who wants to buy me a beer I’d be more than happy to talk about how short-sighted decisions like this are to state’s with limited economic growth potential. Oops, was that too much?

  2. The posters/commenters list is an interesting addition. I’m a bit embarrassed about making the commenters list (it seems immodest and I don’t consider myself competitive). It also makes me feel like I’m commenting too often compared to the frequency of the rest of the staff. But modesty be damned. If I have something to add to a discussion, I feel better adding it than keeping it to myself.

    Keep the list — people are motivated by all sorts of things. Maybe it will encourage some of the staff who aren’t posting consistently.

  3. You just keep it up … eventually more will come and participate in the conversation. I am getting set to start a new web project in ETS that will “expose the intelligence of the organization …” at least that’s what I’ve been calling it. At the end of the day what it amounts to is a new web presence for us that is driven as much by individual voices as anything else. Sort of a circular web site that is 3/4 community blog and 1/4 products/services/about pages. The twist is that it will all be integrated. A bunch of what is going on behind our Intranet site is what I hope to expose. Looking forward to sharing the concept and begin building it.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.