Blog Archive

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

South Korean University Now Accepts Gamers as Student Athletes

I found this interesting story today while checking emails and writing cover letters.  The headline is attention grabbing: gamers as athletes?  Certainly, gamers are the furthest thing possible from athletes...

Upon reflection, which is the role of the student athlete?  In the US, student athletes bring attention and financial rewards to Universities.  At Duke University, the Men's Basketball program provides a lot of notoriety and generates a huge profit for the University.

While this seems like a lot of money, the amount of money Duke makes from its Men's Basketball program pales in comparison to how much money is generated by the top 25 Football programs in the US.

In the US, student athletes are more athlete than student.

Moreover, many student athletes in the US are only enrolled in University programs as a stepping stone to professional leagues, with varying degrees of success.

In the US, many student athletes do not graduate and if they do, it is often the result of taking less challenging courses.

With this in mind, I think Chung-Ang University has really just made a logical step by accepting gamers as student athletes.  If one of the purposes of student sports programs is to generate notoriety and financial rewards, accepting gamers will accomplish both tasks nicely.  Competitive gaming is mainstream in Korea: Starcraft matches are televised.  Another factor is I believe that accepting gamers as student athletes will attract better students than many of the student athletes in US schools.

When I look back on my University days (so very long ago), I remember that many of the most prolific gamers and hackers were enrolled in Engineering and Computer Science and most of them graduated to successful careers in their dedicated fields of study.  In this case, I think gamers may actually portray the role of student athlete more authentically than football and basketball players in US Universities do.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

PIPD 3240 – An Existentialist Journey


 noun \-ˈten(t)-shə-ˌli-zəm\
:  An area of Philosophy that examines individual existence in the context of an uncertain universe and the plight of accepting the ultimate responsibility for acts of free will without any certain knowledge of what is right or wrong or good or bad – Paraphrased from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary

In my typically flurry of activity to complete my blog assignment for PIPD3240, I found myself distracted by a philosophical bug.  As I reviewed my Blog posts, I found that they seemed to skip all over the place over topics that were interesting to me and caused me to ponder philosophical questions.
Self-doubt started to sneak into my psyche; fortunately, I was once again saved by the bard:
“Know thyself and to thine self be true.” ― William ShakespeareHamlet
This quote is often equated to honesty and I believe it holds true for adult learning.  As an adult learner, you are there by choice.  There are not any truancy laws for adults.  We have chosen to be here for a purpose.  Our reasons vary; however, they are all rooted in various goals and needs:

  • ·         To upgrade our education
  • ·         To acquire new skills
  • ·         Career change
  • ·         Interests/hobbies
  • ·         Intellectual growth
  • ·         Spiritual growth
T    The first step to adult education is deciding what course/program to take.  When deciding which course or program, we often have to ask ourselves:
What purpose will this course/program provide me with what I need to achieve my goals and needs?

  • Where is the course offered?
  • When is the course offered?
  • How Much does it cost?
  • Are there pre-requisites?
Once we have chosen the course, we need to ask ourselves what we need to do to complete the course and to get the most out of it.  For me, PIPD 3240 was a course I wanted to avoid.  I heard horror stories about it from others in my PIPD courses saying “stuff does not work”, “there is no direction”, “do the low tech, it is safer”, “there is no course content”, “I am glad it is over”.  I remember approaching PIPD 3240 with total dread.
In retrospect, I think many of us fear change.  Also many of us in the program have become instructors because we enjoy teaching a subject area we know about and have expertise in.  Our expertise gives us comfort, there is little risk, we ‘know our stuff’ and take pride in our strengths in this area.
All of this leads to a bit of an existentialist crisis and questions start to creep into your head such as:
  •  What am I doing here?
  •  What am I forgetting? 
  •  Am I the only one who is confused?

I then started having an internal dialogue between the PIPD3240 course and myself:
PIPD 3240:  “Hey, you know your stuff.  You are a smart, life-long learner.  Go out there into the World Wide Web, dig in and teach yourself how to engage your learners with all the online resources you can find”.
Self:  “Great.  This is the Seinfeld of PIPD courses… it is about nothing: it is what you create or interpret for yourself.  Even dogs are offered a treat when they perform tricks.”
PIPD 3240:  “What you have here is the ultimate self-directed experience.  You chose your option and assignments based on that option.  You can chose from a variety of options that complement various technological abilities and needs:
·         Social Media Learning Option
·         Creating Digital Material Option
·         Webinars
·         Low Tech Option

Self:  “What is the ‘right’ choice?  What is going to be useful to me?

PIPD 3240:  “The right choice is what interests/challenges you.  Stretch yourself, grow.  Tum Est (it is up to you).

Self:  “Tum Est can also be translated as ‘up yours’.  I guess I will just have to try my best”.

PIPD3240:  “There is no try, there is only do”.

Self:  Middle aged ‘exhale’.

As the weeks passed by, there was a lot of work.

I was required to read the text, Teaching Naked by Jose Bowen, and make journal entries.  I found this difficult because I am used to discussing books in class with classmates and my instructor to share interpretations and ideas.  In PIPD 3240 there is no discussion, you just read the book and post your journal.  The difficult part is of this is determining if I was supposed to write an academic interpretation or an emotion reflection.  The answer was both – I was supposed to use the “focused conversation model” which requires you to consider objective, reflective, interpretive and decisional interpretations.

Next came a deluge of Twitter, Facebook, Blog and Forum posts and comments (Social Media option) with assignment rubrics to guide me.  Slowly, I navigated around the forums, found the resources I needed (there are a ton of great things online) and got into a groove.  I periodically checked the rubrics for each assignment and asked my instructor questions when I needed to.  In the end, despite my ‘self’ I got it all done and realized I may have learned a thing or two.

Additional Resources:


Existential Crisis:

Epistemology and Metaphysics

What is the nature of knowledge?  How do we know what is true from what is false?  Philosophy (derived from the Greek – “Sophia” knowledge + “philos” loving = love of knowledge) is the area of academic study which examines these questions.  The two core areas of study in Philosophy are Epistemology and Metaphysics.


How we know what we know.  It is the study of knowledge and understanding.  Epistemology is derived from Greek: epistēmē knowledge, from epistanai to understand, know, from epi- + histanai to understand.


The question of existence in the non-physical realm and its nature. Metaphysics is the name Aristotle attributed to the work which came after his examination of Physics.  Metaphysics is derived from Greek (ta) meta (ta) physika, literally, the (works) after the physical (works).  Questions address by Metaphysics are existence and being.

I found this great video by Wayne Miller on YouTube that describes these concepts concisely and clearly for most people to understand.

The reason these areas of Philosophy are so vital are that in order to establish clear evidence of knowledge, we first need to verify the source and validity of that knowledge.

The study of Philosophy, Epistemology and Metaphysics in particular, is legendary for being confusing and inconclusive.

Steven Martin, a former Philosophy Student at California State University at Long Beach, once observed that the result of studying Philosophy is that, “you remember just enough to screw you up for the rest of your life”.

All jokes aside, questioning existence and the source of knowledge is the key to examining knowledge.

I end with this question:

How do you know you exist and if so, what proof do you have?

I found this great TED Talk by Scott Griffin at Bishop's University about the importance of poetry

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we often forget about the world around us and what it is saying.

Poetry is a means of using language to communicate emotion and feeling in concise, concrete language.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Logic versus Reason

Many people confuse Logic and Reason for one another.

The best way to think of the difference between Logic and Reason is:

Logic – Based on science that follows specific rules and is testable by critical thinking.  Computers function using logic. 

Logic = Spock (from Star Trek)

Reason – is typically derived from personal opinions or experience.  Reason is not linked to empirical proof.  Philosophers often function in the realm of reason.

            Reason = Kirk (from Star Trek)

Logic is deeply rooted in the physical world.  Logic essentially searches for measureable, tangible, visible or audible proof of in order to verify claims.  Logic is usually translatable to equations, methodology and experiments which others are able to replicate.  There is no room for personal opinions or feelings in logic. There is no room for right or wrong in logic, there is only right.

Reason is usually the result of pondering, reflecting and considering information and ideas.  The reasoning of one person may not be the same as the reasoning of another person.  Reason is often more focused on what is 'right' rather than what is correct. Every person tends to reason their own way, from their own way – the next time someone calls you unreasonable, tell them you are just reasoning your way!

What are your thoughts?  What other differences can be applied to Logic versus Reason?

How about Law and Justice?  Which is based on reason, which on logic?

Friday, February 28, 2014

What’s In a Story?  The True Value of Narrative

Preface: this post was inspired by Edwin, my classmate in PIPD 3230 and 3260.  We discussed the value of storytelling on a few occasions and two things he said to me have been the source of much reflection:

1. Many cultures have a story of a Great Flood.

2. Nature is talking to us all the time, we just have to take the time to listen.

Much of the way we learn is through literature and other sources of storytelling.  Narrative, or the telling of stories in entwined in every culture and age.  Moral dilemmas have been a feature of literature since Sophocles wrote Oedipus Rex.  Throughout history, literature and dramatic works have been the source of ethical and moral debate.  Much of the allure of the cinema is how open to debate the conclusion of a film is (what is Rosebud in Citizen Kane or what is in the brief case in Pulp Fiction)
Alternative endings, unreliable narrators (The Good Soldier) have made many of us become deconstructive and structuralist viewers/readers.
We view scenes and read passages in movies/literature with a jaundiced eye.  We KNOW something is wrong.  We are always looking for the ‘angle’.  Nothing is at face value: even children’s animated features have a ‘twist’.  Personally, I enjoy ‘figuring’ out the twists of a plot or deciphering the truth out of the puzzle presented by unreliable narrators.

“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't.”  Mark Twain

The downside to all this is that fiction or true fantasy is a lot less common in recent film and literature.  Of the top films nominated for Best Picture Oscars in the last ten years, only Toy Story 3 (2010) and has a purely fictional plot.  Although many of the films have some or many fictional elements, the majority of the films nominated for Best Picture are steeply based either on real events or events which are very realistic.
What does this mean?  It means that people often like to experience stories they can related to in some way or know something about, in other words people enjoy narratives (stories) that align with their own lives.
This is borne out by a recent article by Lee Siegel in the New York Times titled, “Is the News Replacing Literature?”
In this article, Siegel points to recent stories in the popular press, the accusations of sexual abuse by Woody Allen of his step daughter, Dylan Farrow specifically, and suggests that more people discuss news stories than they do literature, film or other sources of ethical dilemmas as they did in the past.
Siegel goes on to say:
“you could be forgiven for feeling that literary art…has been largely displaced by life—or, at least, by the pictures of life ceaselessly produced by the all-powerful media—as the realm in which we lose ourselves in a moral problem….This is not just ‘the news’. This is a piece of reality so dense that it goes beyond art in illuminating just how nebulous reality is. (But, then, the news stopped reporting reality and started to constitute a new layer of reality years ago.)
I believe that Siegel’s point is that traditionally literature (I would argue film as well) was the most common source of ethos and as such promoted a forum for the discussion of ethics and morality.  In the society we live in today, our most common source of ethos is the news, which on the surface seems like a good thing – after all, what can be a better teacher than reality?
The problem is that parables, allegories, myths, legends, etc. are carefully constructed in order to engage our minds and to teach important lessons.  Plato’s Allegory of the cave is not just a story of people imprisoned in a cave and not knowing the truth about the outside world – it is also a depiction of the illusion of self-limitation and for only accepting things we think we know (our reality) and the dangers of not enlightening ourselves to greater truths (new discovery and knowledge) by holding on to only what we believe and giving into fear when our reality is challenged.
In conclusion, my point is this; storytelling plays an important role in the development of our minds.  Storytelling and analogies are the most typical sources of discussions which facilitate the promotion of critical thinking skills.  If we draw all of our discussion from the news, the classic sources of debate and philosophical education are lost and we become lost intellectually as a result.
What is your view – have I perched myself too far over the edifice of a philosophical cliff?  What are your views?
Further resources:

Why is Social Media so Popular?

The easy answer is that it is typically about our favorite topic, ourselves.  More often than not, most posts on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, etc. are about what we or our friends are doing.  Yes, there are also posts that are for business, marketing and educational purposes as well; however, the majority of posts on Social Networks are just that ‘social’.
Why is this the case, the scientific answer is that as social beings, humans spend a considerable amount of time communicating with one another.  In his article, “The Neuroscience of Everybody's Favorite Topic,” Adrian F. Ward notes that:
 “On average, people spend 60 percent of conversations talking about themselves—and this figure jumps to 80 percent when communicating via social media platforms such as Twitter or Facebook.”

Here is another article titled, “Why We Talk About Ourselves: The Brain Likes It”from the Psychology section of Time by Belinda Luscombe.

The most interesting part of the article for me was Luscombe’s report that found:
“In the study in which researchers offered people tiny amounts of money (between 1¢ and 4¢) for answering questions about themselves or others, people were willing to forgo 17% of their earnings in order to answer questions about themselves. When the payoff was equal, people chose to talk about themselves two-thirds of the time”.

Read more: Study: People Like to Talk About Themselves for Brain Buzz |