Category Archives: Gaming

Reaching for Transcendence: Servant Leaders Journey (Updated 2x)

When I first wrote, 4 Questions for Servant Leaders, I remembered previous opportunities for taking on jobs others found undesirable. Having been in the manager’s seat, I have had the opportunity to experience the opportunity to assign and receive jobs others felt beneath them. In both situations, the difference maker involved having a fresh attitude, without the baggage of organizational drama of “I have one more thing on my plate.” The fresh attitude enables newcomers in a position to embrace work.

What a gift, right? How do you renew your attitude, renew your spirit so that you can take on undesirable tasks like a newcomer?

Image Source

The defining question, and one that I keep coming back to reflect on, is “What are the jobs that need doing that no one wants to do?” It’s a question that can define you. Think of actors who carefully say “No” to a million different roles, seeking the perfect one that will make their career. Then, think of the actors who say, “Yes, I’ll do that.” Not only do they bring an attitude of willingness to a job that others dislike, they find a way to excel.

As I’ve gotten older, I find I’m attracted to these actors–several come to mind even now–because viewers get a glimpse into who they are each time they play a part others thought were beneath them. While these bit parts, as some like to call them, are only a small part of the actors’ career, collectively, they represent much more. At the end of their journey, these actors may get a lifetime award, never having had a single role that distinguished them. Or, it is only late in their careers that they find themselves receiving the Oscar or Emmy for the role no one wanted, but that they played masterfully.

That idea of small parts adding up to a career of winning can be eye-opening. A video game my son introduced me to, Clash Royale, suggests the value of persistence in garnering small wins leading to great success.

In the game, you square off another person somewhere on the globe. You marshal your forces to fight and win chests of gold and silver. To win, you must win 2-3 crowns, that is, overcome 2-3 castles your opponent has.

Each day, you can win a gold chest, even though you may win only 1-2 crowns per battle. Eventually, you obtain the 10 crowns you must gather to obtain the gold chest, even if you lose every match but manage to win 1 crown. Persistence is key.

Life lessons abound in this effort to win the gold chest even though you may fail to win in decisive ways. We are all beset by challenges, and some times, we are fortunate enough to escape, having learned but one or two lessons from the experience. If we persist in forward movement, no matter how painstaking, we may yet achieve the prize–a life well-lived, fraught with peril yet victorious because no small measure of wisdom has been earned.

In this blog entry at ReadWriteRespond, the focus is on servant leadership. On doing the job, of giving one’s all for others. This focus on servant leadership plays out within the confines of team leadership. Yet, much of those involved in the bit parts may play the role of follower or supporting roles. They may not be the “servant leader.”

In the end, a solitary leader may be the one who reaches for transcendence, not distinguishing herself in team servitude. Transcendence in this case means gaining wisdom from completing jobs none wanted. For this leader, a person out taking a walk without followers, reaching for the joy of lessons learned, wreathed in failure, growing successfully as a result. I suppose that such a follower isn’t a servant leader, but something else.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Coding for Non-Programmers #MSFTedu #Google

This blog entry originally published at TCEA TechNotes Blog! Check it out!
For the eighth time, I tried to run the function that moved a turtle across my screen, hoping that it would finally draw a hexagon. It worked! Like a gold medalist, I stared in shock at the screen with a smile slowly spreading on my face. For me, it was a personal moment of achievement. Since age thirteen, when I first tried to enter a program copied from Nibble magazine, I’d tried to craft and compile computer programs (a.k.a. coding), often without success. 


Yet here I was at the Creative Coding through Games and Apps (CCGA) being successful. Could there finally be hope for non-programmer types like me? With Touch Develop, the answer is a resounding YES. And you can bet your students will find this an engaging tool as they learn how to develop code that works.

Upcoming Opportunity: Register to attend the free TCEA Introduction to Creative Coding through Games and Apps on December 2, 2016 in Austin, Texas. This six-hour teacher academy provides an orientation to the Creative Coding through Games and Apps (CCGA) course curriculum and an introduction to the Touch Develop platform and online CCGA tutorials. The CCGA curriculum is intended for middle and high school classrooms, and no previous computer science or coding experience is needed. By attending, you’ll receive access to the curriculum which provides everything you need to deliver the content to your students in a variety of ways. You’ll also receive teacher prep materials, lesson plans, presentations, student assignments, homework, projects, and tests. If you have any questions about the training and/or CCGA curriculum, please contact Miguel Guhlin at or 512-450-5392.

Why Learn to Code?coding

While many have argued that children need to learn to program, I previously found few reasons compelling. There are many ways to develop hands-on, minds-on opportunities to solve real-world problems. It wasn’t until earlier this year when the significance of IoT smacked me between the eyes. When you stop to think that there will be over 50 billion devices connected by 2020, a phenomenon known as the Internet of Things (a.k.a. IoT and/or the Internet of Everything (IoE)), and that each of those devices needs to be programmed for use, you may realize how critical learning to code is. Yet many students often don’t learn how to program until they are in high school, and only a few take it up or excel at it. That’s what makes Touch Develop, a way of creating programs on any device (e.g. Chromebook, Android, iOS, Mac, Linux, and Windows), such a powerful innovation to implement in schools today.
Listen to these two brief Voxercasts I recorded with the gentlemen who introduced me to CCGA:

What Makes Touch Develop Coding So Special?

“Dad,” asked my six-year old son a few years ago (he’s now 17), “I want to grow up to be a programmer and write games.” When I introduced him to MIT’s Scratch, he quickly lost interest. It was hard to imagine how Scratch, he told me later, would help him write a computer game like Medal of Honor or Command and Conquer, games that inspired him to want to learn to program. Touch Develop provides an approachable way to code that also manages student expectations and helps address the social and teaming aspects of game development. In this cross-platform, mobile coding environment, “Students learn by doing, creating simple games and apps.” Touch Develop, though, comes with a powerful, yet easy-to-follow curriculum chock-full of video tutorials and guided programming that can be completed on any device. This cross-platform goodness is accompanied, for the teacher, with an entire ecology of resources that educators and students can rely on. What’s more, Touch Develop provides an online, graphic-oriented, touch-screen-oriented development environment. You can develop on a computer, but any mobile device with enough screen real estate available will work, including Google Chromebooks. Simply put, whether you have iPads or Chromebooks as your device of choice, there’s little reason why students could not create and share their creations with others.

What Does Touch Develop Look Like?

codingNotice in the two screenshots below, you first watch a tutorial and then “try out” the coding on your own. Fortunately, for those of us who may not be exactly great at writing code, Touch Develop provides an interactive tutorial. While you can work independently when writing a script, you also have an “expert at your elbow” to help you get it done.
If above we see a tutorial, when you click “let’s do it!” you are taken to a screen where you can do just that. coding Notice the “tap there” instructions that guide you, step by step, in developing the code by tapping on elements at the bottom of the screen to create ideas. Over time, I found myself beginning to understand what was happening in the script, which never happened before. Somehow, this approach has overcome my “math block,” easing me over the rough spots when I got stuck. That makes me confident that grades 6-12 students will be able to learn Touch Develop and use it to achieve quick success, creating a game or anything else.
For example, while “writing” a program, users are encouraged to use the touch screen on their mobile device (making code development on devices students have a real possibility). When complete, students are able to quickly publish and share their creations with others. Touch Develop relies on HTML5 for maximum compatibility across devices, making students’ creations usable and playable by all.
As you might imagine, this friendly programming environment is very different from the old approaches to programming that often reminded me of a blank page in a text editor. You are never alone without help and support in Touch Develop, which is invaluable to non-programmers who need scaffolded support to code.

How Can I Get My Students Started?

“Touch Develop,” shares Paul, the session facilitator and teacher at a recent Creative Coding through Games and Apps (CCGA) I attended, “tends to spread like wildfire. This course was built for grades 6-9 and has been used with 3rd-4th grade students as well. Others have used it as an after-school club.” It’s easy to see why that’s true because CCGA curriculum provides the support those teaching and learning Touch Develop need. As I worked my way through the tutorials and scripts, creating programs while grappling with coding concepts and FAILing forward (FAIL = First Attempt in Learning), I realized that schools had everything they needed to implement a complete course for students, as well as an environment rich enough to be used grades 3-16. The CCGA curriculum is available as a OneNote Notebook, making it easy to interact with, as well as Docx and PDF files divided up into units and lessons. Little is left to chance or to the teacher to develop.
Creative Coding through Games and Apps is a first-semester course for introduction to programming for the early secondary grades. The course is designed to attract and reach a broad and diverse range of students, including those who may have never before considered programming. Students learn how to code by working in a real software development environment to design, program, and publish mobile apps and games. Learning to code by creating real products, students discover how to make amazing things and have an impact on their world. Creative Coding through Games and Apps can be delivered with success by any teacher, regardless of computer science background. Featuring online and in-class lessons that emphasize hands-on coding, the course can be taught via any modern web browser on phones, tablets, laptops, or desktop computers. The combination of online plus in-class resources provides flexibility in teaching style, allowing educators to choose the right balance for their students of in-class instruction and out-of-class study. The course length is flexible, deliverable in 6, 9, 12, 18 weeks or more, depending on the time available in your school.
If you are interested in exploring CCGA andd/or Touch Develop further, be aware that you can get started online here. If you need help, let TCEA know via email to Miguel Guhlin ( or Twitter @mguhlin.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Gamifying Learning with Quizziz #tcea #gamify #gaming

Be sure to check out my new article over at TCEA’s TechNotes blog…thanks to Lori Gracey (Editor) and TCEA for publishing it:

Read the rest

Here’s the lead of that article:

Researchers from the Pew Research Center have found that gamifying learning stimulates interest and deep engagement with content.  Two tools that facilitate this include Kahoot! and the relative newcomer, Quizziz.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Hooked on Gaming: 5 Quick #Leadership Lessons from #ClashofClans

“Leadership and management skills required?” I gasped as I began to play this game on my iPad, then later load it on my Android, and even more recently, iPhone. “I just want some simple diversion, not to have to think while playing a game.” Yet, I resisted the urge to delete the app. Something kept me hooked, and periodically, without realizing it, I found myself observing the valuable lessons in leadership and management the Game taught. May I share a few of these not so serious leadership lessons?

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As a veteran Clash of Clans gamer, I have found myself reflecting on what powerful lessons this game teaches those who play it. It’s only natural, of course, given the amount of time and discretionary funding I’ve spent. Of course, this wasn’t my intent when I started playing, submitting to the incessant encouragement, exhortations and downright nagging of my son about a year ago. In no particular order, here are some leadership lessons:

Lesson #1 – Get involved.
If you’re a laggard when playing Clash of Clans, your clan may decide to “kick you out” because you don’t play well. So, you need to “show up and be present” when there’s a war on. The flip side of that is that if you’re a leader in your clan, you have to be willing to ruthlessly prune (a euphemism for kick out) your clan mates if they aren’t willing to launch their attacks, invest 100% in the game. Sitting on the sidelines isn’t an option.

Lesson #2 – Develop your individual team members.
When you are in a war, the higher the opponent you are able to gain stars (total of 3) on when attacking, the more loot you get. But you’ll find that Level 1 players fight ineffectually in war, and succumb to the pressures of a tough field under fire. No team member is beneath being developed, and it’s your responsibility to cajole other clan members, as well as your own teams, to build up their skills.

Lesson #3 – Develop capacity to needed to support growth.
In Clans, if you don’t build up your capacity to store loot (gold, elixir, dark elixir), you won’t be able to grow. Simply your ability to grow is directly connected to your storage of what your team needs to be nurtured.  As a leader, you have to continuously improve so that you can save for the tough times or be able to store enough so that you can save resources that are needed.

Lesson #4 – Grow a little each day to achieve big outcomes.
As a leader, it’s easy to want to pile it on before the big deadline, getting the work done in one rush of adrenalin. Unfortunately, real change isn’t like that. There are no shortcuts, I’ve learned. You have to make the changes, slowly, over an extended period of time. In Clash of Clans, that slow growth pays off big in time. Consider this Todd Nielson story:

…changing our current state does not necessarily have to be hard.  Learning a new language is hard, but if you learned 10 words a day or 5 words a day, how much greater could you learn to speak that language, than if you had done nothing?  Dr. Nido Qubein, said: “I learned English by memorizing ten words a day.  Each day, I would review the words I had learned the day before and then study 10 new ones.  By the end of the week I had added 70 new words to my vocabulary.  It was this consistent effort, that enabled me to achieve fluency in English.” Source: Don’t be a Status Quo Leader

Lesson #5 – Match your team members’ strengths to the challenges ahead.
In Clash of Clans, it’s very easy to lose sight of the fact that your strongest players (e.g. dragons) may  not be the best to solution to apply in every situation. Each team member has strengths, but they may not be as powerful in the face of obstacles specifically designed to push back against them. As a leader you have to know exactly how to put them into play so that they are successful, that their interdependence enables each to be successful against the challenges they are most equipped to handle successfully.

and, a bonus:

Lesson #6 – Develop relationships.
While it’s easy to tell your clan, “fight or be kicked,” the truth is that encouragement can go a long way. Not only encouragement but lending a helping hand when necessary (e.g. providing Clan Castle troops as needed by the team so they will be able to seize loot and be successful when at war or raiding others).

Playing Clash of Clans sends a powerful message to future leaders…and there are many more lessons that time and reflection may be able to tease out. See you online!

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Blending Real Life with School: Gamification

Games…those frivolous time-wasters that distract from REAL learning. When I reflect on my years in the classroom, “playing games” was something I never valued. I didn’t value it because, in my experiences at home, game-playing has always been perceived as a waste of time. It’s something you did when you didn’t have anything important to do, or wanted to connect with your family.

Announcement: Join #etdrive, a Texas wide conversation focused on 3 strands using “push to learn” technology, VoxerChats. Follow these two steps to begin your learning journey now.

I have watched and been a part of the whole technology integration thing, and I fear that we are going to go the same path in efforts to improve teaching and learning through video games that we have with computers in general — by integrating video games into the classroom — rather than the other way around. Source: David Warlick

Some early reflection probably would have revealed the startling opposition of those two ideas–surely, one was wrong. Was game-playing frivolous or a way to connect with your family? Since I grew up playing games of strategy with my parents, it was clear they valued gaming quite a bit as a way to develop my mind, and to bond. Later, I began playing games on my own, admittedly, first-person shooters, games of exploration…games that required me to do little thinking. However, my young son grew up watching me play, and his experience with games was markedly different. He began seeing games as puzzles to solve, a maze to master, a way to develop an answer to the game-designers questions.

Gamification activities are social and require students to work together and think analytically and critically. Students must have opportunities to take data, information and analyze, synthesize and evaluate in a gamified environment. 

Source: Kim Caise, Kid Detectives Classroom Gamification Learning Activities: Mystery Adventure Quests

My favorite game to see him play included Command and Conquer, a game that he clearly strategized in anticipation of. For him, gaming wasn’t a waste of time, but a mind-strengthener, a way of thinking in ways he hadn’t before. In fact, his interaction with strategy games reminded me of the way some played chess (a game I never liked because I didn’t want to think strategy, or anticipate an opponent’s moves in advance).

Announcement: Join #etdrive, a Texas wide conversation focused on 3 strands using “push to learn” technology, VoxerChats. Follow these two steps to begin your learning journey now.

Get your guide to gamification online!

In Kim Caise’s book, she explores gamification. She describes it as “a strategy to make life’s hard things fun.” If classrooms are hard work and not fun, as David Warlick suggests in his quote at the top of this blog entry, then Kim’s suggestion makes gamification a way to transform how we approach learning.

Some ways to describe Kim’s book:

“Gamification enables technology-enhanced engagement that stimulates classroom creativity and collaboration that extends beyond it. The author makes a clear connection between gamification as the way to bridge content learned in school to real learning that endures in children’s lives.”

“Forgetting how games build bonds that last in a fun, collaborative way, teachers today need to scaffold learning in ways to foster data gathering, analysis, evaluation and collaborative creation of ideas and knowledge. Kim Caise’s book on gamification learning activities is a solid first step in shifting the conversation.” 

“In this succinct, fun guide to blending real life with classroom content via gamification, Caise offers a way to restore learning as a fun activity in schools.”

Get your guide to gamification online!

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Audience Wants Control

This video is “spot-on.” Why shouldn’t we let students absorb all the learning they want about something they are interested in? Oh wait, they already do that…just not in school.

When my son is learning a new game for the xbox, he is highly motivated to learn. The intrinsic, intangible rewards and benefits involve respect from his friends, a sense of accomplishment he can be an expert at, and well, it’s fun and engaging.

How does he get ready to learn? He follows these simple principles:

  1. He jumps in with both controllers (brain and hands)
  2. He connects with other learners, irregardless of their location in time and space.
  3. He has his mobile device of choice (e.g. iPad Mini) playing the appropriate YouTube video to learn what to do and when.
  4. He has learning conversations with others, taking advantage of available technologies.
  5. He reflects on what he’s done and learned online, then shares it with anyone who will listen in his immediate surroundings. He also wants to share it online.
Now, as an educator, wouldn’t it be neat to do this, too? And, to have students do that with your stuff?
Read this description of White Noise, a game…

Experience a fully cooperative horror experience like never before!
More content, more terrorific experiences! Gather up to 4 adventurers and explore the eerie locations while avoiding the mysterious monster. Will you survive the trip? 

On White Noise Online, a team of up to 4 investigators has to explore an area looking for clues, while avoiding being devoured by a supernatural creature. Will you be able to uncover the truth behind the mysterious events? 

The game takes the idea of simple, accesible horror behind Slender and evolves it further to adapt it to a cooperative environment

Designed from scratch to offer a shared horror experience, White Noise Online lets you live new situations, never seen before on a videogame.
‘Which way?’
‘Are we walking in circles?’
‘Where are you, guys?’
‘Behind you!’
‘Wait for me!’
‘I hear something!’
Are some of the sentences that resume the game experience that White Noise Online offers. You’ll need teamwork and trust on your partners to take the right choices and overcome the challenges you’ll face.
White Noise Online can be played solo or online, in a cooperative game for up to 4 players. It features over 15 playable characters, each one with their own perks and skills, and 6 scenarios to explore. (Source:

If you noticed the highlighted parts in the excerpt from the web site, you’ll realize that the focus on cooperation and teamwork is key to survival…but is that key to survival in learning opportunities available in schools today?

Check out Miguel’s Workshop Materials online at

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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#iPad Tower Defense Gaming (Ages 9 and Up) @jellyoasis @appsgonefree

The winning combination of Towers to Protect the Lich
(undoubtedly, protecting a lich is a drow elf plot to twist our perceptions of good and evil)

While you’ve been adding silly pictures to your Facebook page for a few hours, I’ve been spending an equivalent amount of time playing a new Tower Defense game, Lich Defense, which I picked up for free due to an announcement via the free app finder, AppsGoneFree. (By the way, if you’re reading this on 11/3/2012, the game is free right now, yes, as I write this! And, of course, AppsGoneFree is just awesome!).

Lich Defense is the first variety of tower defense game described below:

TD games usually come in two varieties. In one, creeps come down a predetermined path as you set up towers along the way to try to slow them down or destroy them. In the other, you can actually design your own path using the towers themselves to funnel the creeps. (Source)

If you haven’t played a tower defense game, you’re missing out on a pulse-pounding, strategy game where 1-person shooters are never found. In these games, it’s all about the towers, their placement and how quick you can upgrade them. On second thought, it’s all about the money!

I only had to play this particular level 5-6 times to finally overcome. Sheesh.

Some other Tower Defense Games for iPad:

Others I’d like to try:
Those free ones you should keep anyone from wasting time on Facebook! 😉

For those of you on Android, you may already be familiar with RoboDefense (My son’s indictment of the iPad–does it have RoboDefense?). Here’s a list of  Tower Defense Games on Android.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure