February 24, 2024


Author: Clark
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I was talking with my lass, and reminiscing about a few things. And, it occurs to me, that I may not have mentioned them all. Worse, I confess, I’m still somewhat proud of them. So, at the risk of self-aggrandizement, I thought I’d share a few of my Quinnovations. There’s a bigger list here, but this is the ‘greatest hits’ list, with some annotation. (Note, I’ve already discussed the game Quest for Independence, one of my most rewarding works.)

One project was a game based upon my PhD topic. I proposed a series of steps involved in analogical reasoning, and tested them both alone and then after some training. I found some improvement (arguing for the value of meta-learning instruction). During my post-doc, a side project was developing a game that embedded analogical reasoning in a story setting. I created a (non-existent) island, and set the story in the myths of the voodoo culture on it. The goal was a research environment for analogical reasoning; the puzzles in the game required making inferences from the culture. Most players were random, interestingly, at a test, but a couple were systematic.

With a colleague, Anne Forster, we came up with an idea for an online conference to preface a face-to-face event. This was back circa 1996, so there weren’t platforms for such. I secured the programming assistance of a couple of the techs in the office I was working for (Open Net), and we developed the environment. In it, six folks reknown in their area conducted overlapping conversations around their topic. This set up the event, and saw vibrant discussions.

A colleague at an organization I was working for, Access Australia CMC, had come up with the idea of competition for school kids to create websites about a topic. With another colleague, we brainstormed a topic for the first running of the event. In it, we had kids report on innovations in their towns that they could share with other towns (anywhere). I led the design and implementation of the competition: site and announcements, getting it up and running. It ended up generating vibrant participation and winning awards.

Upon my return to the US, I led a team to generate a learning system that developed learners’ understanding of themselves as learners. Ultimately, I conceived of a model whereby we profiled learners as to their learning characteristics (NB: not learning styles) and adapted learning on that basis. There was a lot to it: a content model, rules for adaptation, machine learning for continuing improvement, and more. We got it up and running, and while it evaporated in 2001 (as did the organization we worked for), it’s legacy served me in several other projects. (And, while they didn’t base it on our system, to my knowledge, it’s roughly the same architecture being seen in Newton.)

Using the concept of that adaptive system, with one of my clients we pitched and won the right to develop an electronic performance support system. It ended up being a context-sensitive help system (which is what an EPSS really is ;).  I created the initial framework which the team executed against (replacing a help system created by the system engineers, not the right team to do it). The design wrote content into a framework that populated the manual (as prescribed by law) and the help system. The client ended up getting a patent on it (with my name on too ;).

Last one I’ll mention for now, a content system for a publisher. They were going to the next generation of their online tool, and were looking for a framework to: incorporate their existing texts, guide the next generation of texts, and support multiple business models. Again pulling on that content structure experience, I gave them a structured content model that met their needs. The model was supposed to be coupled with a tech platform, and that project collapsed, meaning my model didn’t see the light of day. However, I was pleased to find out subsequently that it had a lasting impact on their subsequent works!

The point being that, in conjunction with clients and partners, I have been consistently generating innovations thru the years. I’m not an academic, tho’ I have been and know the research and theories. Instead, I’m a consultant who comes in early, applies the frameworks to come up with ideas that are both good and unique (I capitalize a lot on models I’ve collected over the years), and gets out quickly when I’m no longer adding value. Clients get an outcome that is uniquely appropriate, innovative, and effective. Ideas they likely wouldn’t have come up with on their own!  If you’d like to Quinnovate, get in touch!

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