Weekly Click September 5th, 2012


We like a good pregnant pause (and not just because everyone in the studio is having babies!) so please forgive us if we go a few weeks between Weekly Click articles. But time flies if we're not careful. Before we get too used to protracted absences, let's dive into another week of links. Featured Article

Intriguing Habitats, and Careful Discussions of Climate Change

We were very excited to see this great press for the New England Aquarium in the New York Times the other day.  The article highlighted the challenge of zoos and aquariums to convey important information about climate change to their audiences without overwhelming them with fear and daunting doomsday statistics (of which, sadly, there are many).  We're working on an exciting project with the New England Aquarium right now that does just that--empowers the visitors with information about innovations in the field of climate change.  We use some fun illustrations and animations of sea life to draw in the user and then wow them with ways that they can take action and learn more about climate change.  We hope to do many more projects with our friends and neighbors on the Seaport!

What Do Swedes Think of The Swedish Chef?

As the legend goes, when the Muppet Show was translated for broadcast in Sweden, the name of the Swedish Chef was changed to "The Polish Chef" to avoid controversy and presumably to avoid offending the local population. Meanwhile, the name of the chef was left unchanged when it was exported to Poland and the rest of Europe. Poles, on vacation in Sweden, would find themselves mocked by native Swedes with the Chef's "hur-dee-dur-bee-dur" only to misinterpret it as a Swedish lexical tic and comment to each other haughtily, "See? They actually DO talk like that!" (This story has since been rendered apocryphal).

So what is the truth, then? How do Swedes actually feel about their unofficial spokesman? As it turns out, their evaluation ranges from jovial acceptance to cool disapproval. But the worst of it? To most Swedes the "Swedish" Chef doesn't even sound Swedish! The Slate article linked above goes into good detail (with audio cues) and makes the case that the Swedish Chef actually sounds, well, Norwegian. Of course, it was never his "Swedishness" that was ever under scrutiny, it was his cooking. His incoherent pseudo-Swedish babble raised a gentle parody of our late-century obsession with cooking shows to ludicrous absurdity in a way that only Jim Henson could engineer.

Kids Go Gaga Over Tablets

We love tablets, and over the last few posts have discussed the effects of tablets on children and the possible impact these technologies will have on child development. For those interested, Mashable has put together a GIANT infographic that details the rise of Apple's mobile computer presence both in and outside of the classroom. The key take-away here is that devices like iPads and iTouches are becoming pervasive and in the near future will account for how most of us consume media from books to movies to music. Learnstuff.com has a great supplementary infographic that details how schools are being shaped by an influx of cheap, easy-to-use tech.

What's the Difference Between Games and Gamification?

You know about games. They're things you play to bring you enjoyment. Sometimes you use cards, a board with pre-set spaces and rules, sometimes a game machine. However you do it, you know what a game is. So what then is "Gamification"? What exactly are its ends and what does it achieve? If you've ever wondered here's your simple answer. Gamification is the act of inserting game-like rewards, achievements and badges into your product to encourage players to continue playing it (often inserted into otherwise non-game products to hold a user's interest longer). Gamification can be incredibly fun and rewarding (see "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?") or horribly executed and uninspired. The article is also quick to note that games don't really even need to be created with an educational goal in mind to be used in ways that enrich a student's understanding of a topic. This is a really great article that emphasizes the core role of games: create a compelling world that a user can get lost inside of and will play to the end.

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