Monthly Archives: May 2013

Gamification of college courses

Tonight I pissed away two hours on the website, http://www.livemocha.com, where I thought about Spanish more critically than I have in years. It made me think, why don’t we incorporate gamification into the design of college courses? Surely I’m not the first person that has thought of this!

It’s so tedious and boring for me to engage in my online courses for my Master’s degree. Further, it’s almost impossible for me to remember what exactly I have to do and when. But, if I could earn a badge for completing my discussions early or contributing the most constructive feedback to my peer’s draft of her final paper, I would be willing to bet that I’d be more engaged with school. 

When it comes to college courses, is it ridiculous to gamify? Are we adults and therefore beyond extrinsic motivation? Is it crazy to wish that blackboard could offer an improvement on its poorly designed user interface? I don’t think so! 

Calling all entrepreneurs, please enact this business idea. 

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Making Homemade Strawberry Jam

Last week, I finally fulfilled one of my crunchy quests: to sign up for a farm share. I received my first box of goodies last Thursday complete with organic kale, lettuce, squash, blueberries and strawberries. I ate so many veggies this weekend. I polished off all of the kale in its nutritional-yeast glory straight off the pan this afternoon and ate a humongous bowl of strawberries, blueberries, granola and greek yogurt for breakfast today.

Despite the fact that I went on a fruit and vegetable bender this weekend, I still had pints of organic strawberries that were fading fast. I just couldn’t eat another strawberry, so I racked my brain for another way to eat them. I’m not a huge fan of strawberries in baked goods and didn’t feel like strawberry shortcake, so I decided to make jam for the first time in my life.

Today was Memorial Day and I just felt out of sorts. Sometimes that happens to me on long weekends. I don’t really know what to do with the extra time and feel disappointed in myself when I spend it sleeping and not accomplishing my big project goals. Added to that, I’m taking online classes for my Masters degree this summer so I spent most of the day glued to my computer contemplating cognitive structures of the brain. Fun times, I tell ya.

So, once my last assignment was submitted, I was in the kitchen. I made an apple crumble, the aforementioned kale chips and this jam. I felt so comforted by these activities. When I spend any significant amount of time in the kitchen, my thoughts always turn to my grandma Ross. She passed away when I was in high school and I wish that I had known her better. She worked on a farm in Arkansas her entire life. I’m sure she made jam. I imagine her standing over the pot just like I did today, her thoughts wandering just like mine do. What did she think about? I know her thoughts were drastically different than mine. I thought about my classes, the big brand plan I’m writing at work, my upcoming travel to Chicago this weekend. I’ll never know where her mind wandered when she stirred her boiling jam to make sure it didn’t stick to the bottom of the pan, but I’m happy that we had a shared experience tonight. I miss you Grandma Ross. I hope you’d approve of my strawberry jam.

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Recipe:

  • Four pints orangic strawberries
  • Juice of a half lemon
  • 3  1/2 cups sugar

Slice your strawberries and mash them up with a potato masher until they’re as chunky as you prefer. Stir in lemon and sugar. Simmer in a large pan until sugar dissolves and then crank up the heat to medium-high and boil the heck out of those strawberries. Stir constantly until sauce thickens up, about fifteen minutes. Let cool until you can safely transfer to a jar. I didn’t preserve my jam because I know I’m going to eat it like a madwoman until its gone, but if you’d like tips on preserving, my friend Martha Stewart can help.

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