Problem solving

World of Warcraft in the streets, edtech MMO in the sheets

Above: Tyto Online allows you to customize your own apartment.

Presented by Intel

Immersed Games is an early-stage edtech (educational technology) startup unlike any other, the brainchild of a diehard MMORPG player and PhD candidate Lindsey Tropf, born in the wake of a World-of-Warcrafttriggered epiphany.

And suddenly Tropf found herself the founder and CEO of a game company.

The WoW moment

“I had been a pretty hardcore gamer myself, but not into game development at all,” Tropf says. “I was working on more an educator path, but I realized the immense power games have for learning while playing World of Warcraft one day.”

In the midst of a game session, she turned to her husband and asked where to find something, Tropf recalls. “When he rattled off the right character, in the right city, on the right continent of the game, it was then that I realized how much we had learned, simply through the act of play,” she says. “But while I knew so much, not much of it really mattered outside of the game world.”

She started studying that phenomenon as part of her PhD work, digging into learning theory specifically, increasingly realizing that an online game could provide the perfect model for an ultra-effective learning platform—and that this power had not yet been harnessed.

“I discovered some pretty major limitations, in my view, with the educational game market,” Tropf says. “I found that most educational games were pretty shallow. It was kind of ‘answer a math problem and you get to shoot a zombie,’ but it didn’t pull on the problem-solving that games are really amazing at.”

And she found that the few good educational games available on the shelves weren’t taking advantage of the full power of the medium. They didn’t have the depth, and breadth, and potential that Tropf knew could be tapped into to keep a kid fully immersed and learning.

And so Tyto Online was born.

“I got super excited about the possibilities and started a game company,” says Tropf. “Instead of solving problems around the lore and content I had been learning in MMOs, I wanted to do it around science and other topics,” says Tropf. What Tropf developed was a futuristic MMORPG that taps into the uniquely immersive narrative experience that all MMORPGs offer, which famously keep their players always coming back for more.

Tyto Online

Above: Tyto Online is designed to provide insight and education that students will take with them outside the game environment.

In Tyto Online, you play as a Tyto Academy student in the year 2084. The earth has been devastated, and humanity has been relocated to Ovo, a jungle planet four years’ space travel from home. As one of the best and the brightest young minds of your generation, you’ve been recruited to help the world’s foremost scientists colonize Ovo, as well as to discover the key to restoring the Earth to a habitable state. No pressure.

The game is currently in early access, with the first module—ecology—in place.

“We have sets of quests that students do, but instead of being wrapped around general problem-solving, they’re more specifically focused on ecology-oriented problem-solving, creating food webs [the natural interconnection of food chains], fixing invasive species problems, and things like that,” Tropf says. “And as players do that, they’re leveling up in ecology, and they’re unlocking more ecology skills, and they actually get to create their own ecosystem.”

The ecosystem sandbox functions in the same way that raids do in traditional MMOs, offering infinitely replayable content. And Tropf plans to continue expanding the…

7 Things Employers Care About More Than Your Degree

A college education is a wonderful asset. You get a foundation on which you can build a great career, life experiences, and friendships that can last a lifetime. However, a degree is not the be-all and end-all of what makes you an ideal job candidate. Employers are looking for other key factors that separate you from the crowd.

1. Hands-on experience

There is a world of difference between college experience and real world experience. As it was so profoundly put in The Secret of my Success, it comes down to this: “What you’ve got is college experience, not the practical, hard-nosed business experience we’re looking for.”

Education is great, but it doesn’t compare to being in the trenches, and employers know that. If you’ve got years of experience under your belt, it can often take the place of a degree or other form of education. And, it means you have references from people in the industry. This is by far the best way to separate yourself from the competition.

2. Ability to solve problems

It doesn’t matter whether you have an office job, work in a garage, or are out in the fields every day. Whatever your chosen career, you are going to encounter problems; it’s a daily part of every job. How you handle those situations will hold you in good stead, and problem solvers are highly prized.

Do you think laterally? Can you condense the problem into key issues that should be addressed? Do you take charge when faced with a challenge? If you can hold your head up high and demonstrate your ability to solve problems quickly and effectively, your future employer will find you very hirable.

3. Communication skills

Directly related to problem solving, how well you communicate can be just as important as what you’re communicating. It’s no good having a great solution to a problem if you’re afraid to speak up, or find yourself unable to distill your thoughts into actionable directions. Someone who can communicate well, and in a…

Characteristics of Critical Thinkers and How to Be One

Studies show that critical thinking leads to increased creativity, enhanced work performance, and a lowering of negative life experiences.1

And these are just some of the benefits of critical thinking.

Aristotle said it well: “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

What Exactly Is Critical Thinking?

Critical thinking covers a wide variety of thought processes.

To help you understand what critical thinking is, take a look at the list below:

  • Analyzing.
  • Evaluating.
  • Interpreting.
  • Problem solving.
  • Questioning.

These traits are common forms of critical thinking.

As an example, imagine that you were seeking a new job or career, and had just started to look at advertised vacancies. In order to choose the most suitable vacancies, you would spend time looking at where the jobs were based, what skills and experience were required, and how much the roles were paying.

All the above actions would be classed as critical thinking. You used analysis, evaluation and (most likely) questioning.

As a further example of critical thinking, consider the way that attorneys work. Firstly, they examine the evidence. Then, they use critical thinking in order to create a plan to win their case (or to settle out of court).

What Are the Recognizable Signs of Critical Thinkers?

Now that you understand what critical thinking is about, I’m sure you’re curious to know how to recognize the signs of critical thinkers.

Let’s take a look…

One major giveaway of critical thinkers is the fact that they tend to be highly successful. This success can be academic, personal or professional. But you can be sure, that whenever you see people achieving big results – they’ll definitely be critical thinkers.

Here are some further signs of critical thinkers:

  • They are creative, innovative individuals.
  • They are fascinated by how things work.
  • They get their news and views from a wide variety of sources.
  • They are always asking questions.
  • They have levelheaded conversations with people they disagree with.

Critical thinkers are successful in life because they are able to analyze issues from different perspectives. This allows them to come up with (and decide) on the best solutions.

If you’re failing to reach your goals in life – then you should definitely begin boosting your critical-thinking skills.

To become adept at critical thinking, you…

New Deep Learning System Allows AI To Solve ‘Catastrophic Forgetting’ Problem

A Wearable To Keep Humans Safe

Reading the news you’d imagine Artificial Intelligence technologies as almighty and unstoppable: after all, they beat human players in ancient Chinese board games, make self-driving cars smarter, under one form or another could soon replace bankers, lawyers and who knows what next.

Yet, as the CEO of Boston-based startup Neurala Massimiliano “Max” Versace would put it, in terms of developing and deploying AIs we’re still “technology cavepeople”. So far AI works great when it is set to focus on a single task, like forecasting bitcoin fluctuations, but it’s less reliable when it has to deal with a number of simultaneous, interwoven factors.

One of the current constraints of artificial intelligence is called “catastrophic forgetting”, and researchers have been struggling with it for a while.

In short this means that an AI system needs to forget the skills and knowledge it has learnt in the past, in order to learn new ones.

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In other words, to add a single object or a single task, while keeping the same overall amount of information, a neural network would have to be retrained on all of the objects, which is usually done using powerful servers located in the cloud.

Google’s Deep Mind researchers have demonstrated recently that this is not a insurmountable…

Soft Skills That Top Companies Look for Now

When applying for jobs, most of us focus heavily on hard skills. These are the skills that are quantifiable and measurable, like having a certain qualification, increasing sales by X% in your last job, or being able to speak a foreign language.

While these hard skills are important, soft skills, also known as ‘people skills’, are often just as valuable.

Consider this scenario: You’ve been hired by a company because you’re a skilled computer programmer with a range of qualifications and a great track record. However, you can’t take criticism without getting angry and lashing out at coworkers. Will you last long in the job? Probably not.

Now imagine a programmer who isn’t quite as skilled as you, but is calm, polite, responds well to criticism and solves problems without a fuss. Even though their hard skills aren’t quite as good as yours, they’re much more likely to have a successful career with this company.

Soft skills matter. Find out how to improve yours below.

The ability to manage conflicts skilfully

Managing conflict is a really important soft skill, particularly if you work in a customer-facing role. Whether you’re dealing with an angry co-worker or an irritated customer, the principles are the same. Stay calm, listen to what the person has to say, show that you understand their point of view, and then propose a solution. Be prepared to compromise if necessary, but don’t let others intimidate you.

Problem solving abilities

Problems are a fact of life, and being able to solve them makes you extremely valuable to your…

Why Some People Are More Creative Than Others

Would you label yourself a creative person? Do you think creativity is something we are born with? Creativity is more than the simple left versus right brain. It is more than your logical hemisphere compared to your creative hemisphere. Creativity and learning takes place when we are able to connect new knowledge with knowledge we were already familiar with. Creativity is something we can all develop. In fact, it has been scientifically proven that creativity can be cultivated.

Prior to the last couple of years, I used to think creativity was something you were born with. I believed one of the myths of creativity and used it as an excuse. Do you associate with any of these common myths about creativity? Common myths:1

  • You are born with it.
  • You have to be right-brained.
  • It falls into your lap.
  • You’ve got to be a little mad.

Everyone has fell victim to at least one of these myths, but anyone can be creative, not just the privileged few. Let’s take a look at how some people embrace this mindset and become more creative than the rest.

They are good at making connections between different ideas.

“Part of creativity is picking the little bubbles that come up to your conscious mind, and picking which one to let grow and which one to give access to more of your mind.” – Nancy Andreasen

Yevgeniy Brikman has an interesting analogy for creativity. He looks at creative thinking as a deck of index cards. He remarks,

“Imagine you have a deck of index cards and that each card has a word or phrase on it. These cards represent the ideas and thoughts that are floating in your head.”2

Try the following with index cards, where each card has a word or phrase on it:

  1. Shuffle the index cards.
  2. Drop them on the floor.
  3. Scan over the cards and see what sentences have formed from the random arrangement of words.

Brikman asserts, “Most of the time, the random permutations will be meaningless. You just have to pick up the cards and return to step 1. However, every now and then, a meaningful sentence or thought will emerge. Sometimes this will be a full solution to a problem – the ‘aha’ moment. Other times, this will be a mere stepping stone from which you gather enough info to add or remove index cards from your deck before returning to step 1.”

They are divergent thinkers.

“We are boxed in by the boundary conditions of our thinking” – Albert Einstein

Creative thinkers are not linear thinkers. In fact, they are divergent or lateral thinkers. They embrace a different way of thinking and attack problems from new angles. Creative people can literally remove their mind from the box. Typically, most people think that you must…

The Art of Persuasion: 20 Skills That Make Everyone Agree with What You Say

Are you a leader, entrepreneur, marketer, business executive, administrator etc. as long as you relate with people, especially a boss/subordinate kind of relationship, you should have the vital skills to persuade. Persuasion in this context does not mean coercion rather it is the ability of a person to get others to willingly and enthusiastically carryout specific tasks in the manner deemed by the instructor for the attainment of specific goals and objectives.

The problem with most people is their inability to grasp the art of persuasion and unwillingness to acquire the vital skills needed to successfully persuade people. Being persuasive doesn’t warrant you to manipulate or pressure other people; it’s all about convincing. But for you so successfully persuade people to enthusiastically and willingly follow a course of action or believe in your ideas, these skills should be found in you;

Everything starts with your planning skills

Your ability to persuade people successfully every time is dependent on preparation. Nothing is achieved without planning. The most important thing is to have adequate information of the people and situations around you. Adequate preparation allows for effective persuasion.

Jeff Haden says ‘instead of jumping right to the end of your argument, start with statements or premises you know your audience will agree with. Build a foundation for further agreement. Remember, a body in motion tends to remain in motion, and that also applies to a head nodding in agreement’.1

Telling stories is quite fascinating when you trying to make a point. Stories have the power to persuade people and influence them. People seem to pay attention differently when hearing a narrative or illustration as opposed to presenting out facts and figures.

By demonstrating your idea or strategy to people through stories, they can better understand you. Martin Zwilling says ‘stories are often more convincing than simple statements of fact. If you can integrate the receiver directly into the story, the potential impact is even greater.2

Persuasion has a significant relationship with motivation. You can’t persuade people without knowing the art of motivation. Getting people motivated is a tough task because it is dependent on personality; the factors that can motivate an individual may be different from the ones that motivate another.

Understanding what causes a person t o become motivated – and stay that way – can help with making sure people are the most productive that they can be.3 Hence in order to successfully persuade people, one should be able to know what it takes to motivate.

In our contemporary world where there are lots of socio-economic and political issues, people with problem solving skill are highly respected and have the capacity to persuade people to believe on their ideas.

People are constantly looking for problem solvers.4 Once you have the ability to dissect problems and come up with the best alternatives that solved a given problem, people will naturally approach you and bow to your persuasive power.

Have you ever thought of the great inventors and wealthy entrepreneurs in the world today, they are great thinkers. This is why they have been able to make enormous impact on people. Warren Buffett is considered by some to be one of the most successful investors in the world; Mark Zuckerberg is the chairman, chief executive officer, and co-founder of Facebook; while founded the world’s largest software business, Microsoft. These men are great today because they are strategic thinkers. With this skill, they can easily persuade people to adopt their ideas.

Confidence is a pre-requisite for persuasion. No one will ever regard your ideas, views and opinion if they perceive you lack self-confidence. If you…

In This Noisy World, Kids Really Need Critical Thinking

More than 1 in 6 students in the United States are unable to solve complex thinking problems, according to the 2012 PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) test done on 15 year old children in 44 different countries1. Though American students did well overall, they consistently lagged behind their Asian counterparts. Unfortunately, kids who lack critical thinking problem solving skills face a higher risk of behavior and economical problems as adults.

Our modern society tends to squash essential critical thinking skills with mind-numbing television shows, video games and self-explanatory simple directions. It eliminates problem solving skills by readily spoon feeding easy accessible solutions. The death of vital critical thinking has become eminent.

Critical Thinking Comprises 4 Skills

Critical thinking skills help kids solve complex problems and think for themselves.2

Logical Thinking

Using the scientific method approach to thinking and eliminating emotion.

Research

Learning how to find solutions backed by facts through research, using scientific data to help formulate answers.

Self Awareness

The ability to perceive when their own bias from personal experience clouds their analysis of situations and learning to remove emotional judgments in their problem solving.

Thinking Outside the Box

Challenging rules and questioning answers. Having the capability to view the problem from different perspectives, review all of the facts, not just their own, and pick the most logical solution.

Our Education System Tends to Stifle Children’s Critical Thinking Skills

With their emphasis on memorization and fill in the bubble tests, our education system tends to stifle children’s critical thinking skills. They drill facts and support one correct-answer thinking. But the essential soft skills of critical thinking provide children with the building blocks of a better future in the real world. These necessary problem solving skills also help to develop self confidence.

Ways to Help Your Child Develop Critical Thinking Skills

You don’t need to hire a private instructor to help your child develop these essential soft skills. You can easily incorporate complex problem solving lessons into your daily life.

Ask Your Child”Why”

Remember how your kids drove you crazy when they went through the “why’ stage? They constantly bombarded you with ‘why.’ Why is the sky blue? Why is the ball round. Why? Why? Why? Now it’s time to turn the tables and ask them why. According to Marlana Martinelli at WeAreTeachers.com, asking ‘why five times helps kids build critical thinking skills to solve problems3.

When your child presents you with a…

How Not to Be a Bad Boss That Makes Good Employees Quit

It seems obvious that employees will feel more motivated at work when there is a healthy environment where everybody is treated equal regardless of gender, race, ethnicity and religion. Good leaders will work to make sure that all this is in place and develop this further through team building activities, corporate events, and field trips. If implemented in the right way, these activities can help create high performing people and teams.

For those looking for some simple, yet less well-known activities in which workplace productivity can be improved, take a look at the 3 practices below and see how they can help.

Apply different creative ways to solve problems.

While theory-based management tactics have their own place, there is no need to become too rigid with these practices. Encourage employees to be more creative and use their imagination for developing methods and tools that would help them succeed.

Every person has a different approach to problem-solving and therefore employees should be expected to achieve their goals at a reasonable pace, using their own skill set and other tools they need for success. This requires assigning each employee the kind of tasks they are best capable of doing and working on their strengths.

Understand the difference among people

Maintaining workplace productivity is not always easy especially when there are people from many different cultures and ethnicities working together as a team. But once you know how to incorporate some basic concepts into your overall strategy, nothing is impossible. These may include polishing your employees’ skills and talents instead of focusing on their weaknesses.

Keep everyone hydrated.

It may sound very simple but it’s absolutely true. Keeping employees well hydrated in the workplace is probably the best and most inexpensive way to improve workplace productivity. You don’t need any kind of training or expensive equipment to make…

If You Think Interviews Are Hard for You, Probably You Haven’t Get Prepared for These 20 Questions

Job interviews can be daunting at the best of times especially when we worry about what kinds of questions will come up. That fear of something being asked that we haven’t prepared for or which throws us off in our nervous state, is enough to make anyone dread an interview.

But there are some standard questions that are always going to come up and if you prepare these answers well, you will feel much more confident in yourself and will transcend throughout the interview process.

Preparation Is the Best Way to Boost Your Confidence

Preparation creates the mindset of ability and gives us the confidence in ourselves. There’s an expectation that the typical interview questions require a high standard of answer without hesitation. Preparing your answers well doesn’t mean memorising them so you can recall it like a parrot, but giving good thought about what you want to say and how you’d like to present yourself.

The Top 20 Questions That Are Commonly Asked in Interviews

With this in mind, here are the most common interview questions and answers you can prepare for ultimate confidence.

This is the typical open-ended question that an interviewer will start with. The main purpose is to break the ice and make the atmosphere feel more comfortable. It’s also a way to let the interviewer see a bit of your personality.

The key is not to go into too much detail or bring up irrelevant information. Start by mentioning a hobby you’re passionate about that can show off a positive side of you such as being a long-distance runner or an avid reader. Mention any volunteer opportunities you’re involved with to show your value and contribution.

After which, start to bring in your professional experience with a phrase like: “That being said, my professional life is a major part of who I am and I’d like to talk a bit about what I can bring to this role.”

Keep this quite brief though, as you don’t want to talk too much and save having to repeat yourself in later questions.

2. What responsibilities did you have in your previous job?

This is where your knowledge of your CV or resume is paramount as well as the job description for this role. Always try to relate this to the current role you’re going for.

For example, if you are going for a management role, talk about any projects you’ve led or people you had to manage – anything where you had lead responsibility.

This is also an opportunity to show your personality and stop yourself from being just a name on a page. Show them that you are responsible and personable – try not to recount bog-standard, boring answers.

3. What did you find challenging about your previous job and how did you deal with these challenges?

This question is trying to see how you handle difficulties and how effective your problem-solving skills are. Talk about a challenge with a positive outcome and explain how you dealt with it and what you learned for future similar situations.

“When we came across a major glitch in our software system that would affect our workflow and ability to sustain smooth work processes, it was my job to get the software engineers together and problem-solve. I learned how to motivate and organise the team in order to get the quickest and most productive income.”

4. What did you like or dislike about your previous job?

Whatever your response, remember to keep this positive even if you disliked some of what you did in your previous role – they are trying to elicit how you typically react to a role. Remember to try and keep your answer related to the skills required for the current job vacancy and keep your answers engaging and descriptive.

For example you could say: “I helped streamline the company’s in-house workflow system and was recognised for saving significant time on daily operations.”

Any reward-oriented answers are particularly effective here.

5. What is your greatest strength?

This can be a difficult one because many of us try to be humble about our strengths but it’s important to be confident without showing off – a fine balance! It’s important to show the interviewer that you have the right qualities they are looking for.

Focus on the strengths needed for the job. For example, you can say something like: “I have great time-management skills due to working in such a deadline-driven environment. This caused me to finish projects way ahead of schedule and I was given recognition in my current role for finishing one particular project two weeks in advance.”

6. What is your greatest weakness?

This is another one that can trip us up. The best way to answer this is to be honest and show the ways in which you’ve overcome a particular weakness.

“Being organised wasn’t my strongest point, but I implemented a time management system that really helped my organisation skills.”

7. How do you handle stress and pressure?

This is particularly relevant if the job you’re going for is high-pressured. They essentially want to know how you would react when faced with pressure and stress.

A good answer could be: “Pressure is a good tool for me as it helps me stay motivated and productive. I feel my strong organisational skills have allowed…