Posts Tagged 'United States'

Prediction Markets and Educational Gaming

Image representing iPhone as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

A prediction market is a speculative market “created for the purpose of making predictions”, according to Wikipedia. OK, that definition doesn’t exactly spell out the concept very well, so here’s my understanding of this term: a prediction market provides its users with a means of betting or speculating on the outcome of predictions regarding future events, such as who will win a presidential election or exactly when humans will first set foot on Mars. It’s a bit like opening up the future to the “wisdom of crowds” (see James Surowiecki’s book on this topic), allowing a large group of people to collectively speculate on the likely outcome of a future event, even “intangibles” such as the popularity of a novel or film yet to be released. The act of speculation can add a monetary value to the event, allowing it to be further traded, just like any other commodity.

In a learning and teaching context, prediction markets have been used to speculate on the uptake of communication technologies in tertiary institutions. Bryan Alexander, a contributor to the Educause Review recently wrote an article about research into predictive markets in Higher education. As research director for the US National Institute for Technology and Liberal Education (NITLE), Bryan reported on a web-based gaming approach that explored “propositions” on future events beginning in 2008. One example proposition asked about smartphone platforms and their presence on campuses. Gamers were asked to predict

“Which smartphone or smartphone platform will be the most popular for campus-supported teaching and learning projects by May 2009: iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Palm Pre?”.

NITLE is a non-profit community-based initiative located at Southwestern University in Austin, Texas that is dedicated to helping “educational organizations use technology effectively to strengthen undergraduate education”. According to its homepage NITLE allows participants to “use a market system to learn about emergent practices for higher education”. All participants are initially given $5000 virtual dollars to use for buying shares in one part of a proposition, or to start a market of their own. In the example quoted above, for example, the iPhone attracted a share price of $50.95 (which equates to a probability of 50.95% that it would be the market leader) by the time the proposition closed in May, 2009.

While this level of educational gaming using share-trading seems a natural for any US-based institution, the list of participating institutions and universities is impressive, including Yale, Vassar, Georgetown University, Chicago University and Brandeis.

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Current TV and Viewer Created Content (VC2)

Cable TV company Current TV has hit the headlines today with the BBC News announcement that two of its reporters, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, have received pardons over spying charges from North Korea’s Kim Jong-Il and flown back to the US. Their return flight was in an unmarked plane used by high-profile rescuer Bill Clinton to fly in to Pyongyang and plead their case. Given that Al Gore, Clinton’s former VP, owns and runs Current TV it’s not hard to imagine how Clinton was brought into the negotiations and it seems to have paid off handsomely – with two reporters rescued and a new diplomatic front opening up as we speak. The Guardian reported the journalists’ homecoming in a video clip .

Current TV’s production model represents a new approach to media in the twenty-first century. A portion of its content (referred to as viewer-created content or VC2) is, as the name implies, created by viewers, loosely following the text-based model used by Wikipedia for its online content. Viewers are encouraged to send in mobile phone video grabs for broadcast. On the more traditional side, the company’s Vanguard group dispatches reporters to newsworthy sites around the world, such as the ill-fated trip taken by Ms’ Ling and Lee, to report on global issues for later broadcast in a weekly half hour program.

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Forvo: learning and teaching pronunciation – online

Here’s a great example of a collaborative online resource that relies on its users for most of its content – not unlike the model used by Wikipedia:

Forvo is an online pronunciation resource that is built by its many users. It currently has a database of 210 languages including all major western, african and asian languages and some more obscure ones such as; Occitan (Southern France), Hawaiian, Sudanese (East Africa) and Quechua (Peru). The total number of words currently held is 203,463 but only around 66% of these (133,030) have recorded pronunciations so far. The site lists words awaiting pronunciation recordings as “pending”, and encourages users to add their own recorded pronunciation of the word.  The recorded file is tagged with the user’s location so that anyone using the guide has an idea of how likely the recording is to be influenced by regional accents or dialects.  Someone fromn North Carolina, for example, would probably pronounce “house” rather differently from a resident of Manchester in the UK.  For this reason, Forvo encourages its users to add their own pronunciation of a word, even if a recording already exists.

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