I have been writing a good deal lately about video games and their use in education. Each of my posts on the subject is generally constrained to between 1,000 and 1,500 words, so blogging anything that has enough detail to guide people about how to design and implement a game-based or game design curriculum in their classroom has been impossible. The medium simply is not conducive to the level of detail necessary to explain something so complex. Then I discovered MentorMob. This free, online "learning playlist" creation site allows users to collect resources from around the web and compile them into step-by-step instructions that can be shared online. Once I registered for the site, I quickly threw together a 24 step guide on "Using Computer Games in Education," which I then shared on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and embedded in this blog. Here’s how to use the site and some reasons why this is a powerful tool for both formal and informal online learning.
Mentor Mob Overview
“Learn What You Want, Teach What You Love,” is the motto of Mentor Mob, a straightforward, intuitive platform for compiling a variety of different types of resources to create your own instructions, or to follow instructions collected by others. By default the program allows you to add web pages and embedded videos, but, considering the flexibility of websites to contain Flash animations, games, interactive quizzes, etc., the possibilities are virtually unlimited. Here is a quick overview video of this elegant tool:
The content available on MentorMob covers everything from categories as diverse as education, arts & crafts, finance, technology, sports, pets, DIY, and relationships. The basic premise is that those with an interest in a particular subject do the work of separating the Internet wheat from the chaff to provide a streamlined, step-by-step learning playlist. The concept is so straightforward that it really requires no further explanation. Here then is a quick how-to for actually using MentorMob.
Step 1: Do your background research – This is an instructional design project so simply having an idea that you want to teach something on Mentor Mob is not enough. Prior to starting your playlist you should think through the process you want to teach, outline the steps and compile a list of URLs for relevant sites and videos. You may even create your own resources to add to the playlist if you cannot find something that covers a particular step.
Step 2: Create a playlist – The first step on creating a successful playlist is to create an interesting and engaging title and description. You will also need to choose categories that your playlist fits into such as "Academia & School," and add a list of keyword tags that will help others find your playlist. Here is a screen shot of the title and description of my playlist which explains how to make a MentorMob playlist:
[Image –mm howto1]
Step 3: Add resources – If you have done your background research first, this will be very easy to complete. You enter your resources in a step-by-step order that best conveys to your learners what they will need to do to complete the process. The actual process for adding your resources is quite simple, click the "Create the First Step" button to get started then, for subsequent steps, click the plus sign to add more steps.
[image – mm-howto2]
You can easily drag and drop your cards to change the order of your process after you have added the resources or edit the text that introduces a resource. Once you have added all of your steps, click "Done Editing" to move on to see your playlist and access the sharing options.
Step 4: Sharing the Playlist – When your playlist is complete it is time to share it with the world and MentorMob makes that very easy to do. Beneath your completed playlist click the “Share” button. A pop-up of sharing options will appear allowing you to embed the playlist (see below), or share it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email, Google+, and other networking sites. Just pick the option you want and follow the onscreen prompts.
This platform is an excellent way to share your expertise and the collected knowledge available on the Internet. It is flexible enough to allow an individual, such as an instructor, to generate all of the content for a playlist on their own. This is a new and exciting way to put together course materials in a flipped classroom, very much in line with the Udacity model employed by Sebastian Thrun. By including cards that contain text-based information, videos, and web-based interactive quizzes, an instructor could easily put together the resources necessary to flip their classroom – as long as they could find those resources online, or create them themselves.
MentorMob also facilitates a crowd source model for instructional design. With the advent of wikis, Wikipedia, Twitter, and other collaborative and social knowledge creation tools, the idea of the single, centralized, authoritative source of information is crumbling in favor of the social construction and curation of knowledge. Whereas previous efforts have provided a means of collaboratively constructing information, MentorMob breaks the mold in that it provides a platform for the social construction of instruction. This tool has potential for a single user or group of users to combine information from a variety of sources to construct a new piece of procedural instruction. In a classroom, an instructor could use this tool to have students work collaboratively to create instructional playlists that combine information that they generate with information found online, in order to create new instruction that can be shared with other students or anyone in the world.
MentorMob has the potential to take informal education to a new level by providing a structure that allows anyone to create procedural instructions regardless of their ability to create media themselves. By allowing people to synthesize new instruction from other existing sources, remix culture has finally reached instructional design.