Category Archives: PLN

Skype With Dan Felder

Dan Felder

Last week, we did one of my favorite things you can do in the classroom in this age of the Internet – we brought in an expert guest speaker via digital teleconference. Right away, I was reminded of my age when I heard murmurs in my classroom as I brought up the Skype interface on the big screen. “I’ve never seen what Skype looks like before,” I heard one student say. Not because it is so new, but at 14 years old, it is old school to my young college students who have a plethora of telecommunications media at their fingertips.

Evidently, however, this old dog still has a few tricks up his sleeve. Our guest was Dan Felder, a game designer at Blizzard Entertainment, and it was a student who made the initial contact and invitation to visit with our class. For years I have been promoting the value of using social media as a serious professional networking tool, and our K-State Polytechnic student Jon Gabay connected with Mr. Felder initially through Twitter, and then with LinkedIn. I’m always happy when the advice I give for using social media to build a personal learning network actually pays off.

When I heard about Mr Felder, I encouraged Jon to reach out and see if he was willing to video chat with us. He did, and we recently did the video chat. Some of the suggestions I learned that day include:

  • Explore how games work. Reinvent existing games. Make new games up.  Dan made a new board game up every two weeks while he was in college, starting with existing games and reworking them.
  • Tabletop Simulator is highly recommended for testing out game ideas.
  • Regarding the design process, he said to design 100-1000 things for every one thing that you actually wind up using. This is solid advice for any kind of designer, not just for game design.
  • He spends most of his time working on his process. He studies architecture. He studies psychology. He uses music playlists to design with feeling.
  • Listen to player community perceptions, but not their advice. Perceptions or feelings about the user experience are always right, but their recommendations for improvement most likely won’t be helpful. That’s where  experience and expertise come in to play.
  • For more on the art and science of game design, he recommends seeing his Design 101 series on Gamasutra.

It was a great honor to have Dan Felder visit our game development class this semester. Thanks Dan!


Denny’s Blog

I am always learning new things from my students. This week, I learned about the Denny’s Restaurant blog. It is full of wonderful, punny food GIFs like this one:

Hamboni Pun
Denny’s Hamboni

This is a great example of self-deprecating humor that shows it is ok not to take one’s self too seriously. Certainly this approach cannot work for all businesses, but it seems to be working for Denny’s.

I like the Denny’s work so much, I challenged my students to make a series of food GIFs and release them in their own social media campaign on Twitter. We’ll see what happens.

Doctor Songs

Earning a PhD is hard work. When I was doing mine, there were tough things, gut-wrenching things that happened. It messes with your mind. To be successful, you need to find ways to motivate yourself. One of the things I did regularly was to visualize myself in my PhD regalia and imagine using the title “Doctor.”

Another thing I did was compile a list of “Doctor” songs I would play when when I finished my dissertation. October 15, 2015 was one of the best days of my life. That was the day I received the final “thumbs up” and got to play my list. I was up very early, as was my regular routine. I checked my e-mail around 5 am. Congratulations, you are finished! I was so overwhelmed with emotion. Years of effort and sacrifice coming to a close. (Next week will be the first spring break in years, in which I will actually have a break from working on this stuff.) So at six AM I woke everyone up with the “doctor” music blaring. My wife wasn’t happy. What is this all about? Well nothing much, but I’m finished!

So that morning we listened to these songs, and I scheduled posts on Twitter & Facebook so my friends could enjoy the day with me. If you’re working on a doctorate and you need a boost, bookmark the Doctor Song Playlist, and listen along with me. Some day, you’ll have your day of celebration too!

Dr. Love – Kiss

Dr. Feelgood – Mötley Crüe

Doctorin’ The Tardis – The Timelords

Witch Doctor – David Seville

I Don’t Need No Doctor – Ray Charles

Doctor Feelgood – Aretha Franklin

Doctor, Doctor – The Who

(Doctor, Doctor) Bad Case of Loving You – Robert Palmer

What’s up doc? – Bugs Bunny & Elmer Fudd

Theme from Doctor Who

Doctor – INXS

The Doctor – Doobie Brothers

Rock and Roll Doctor – Black Sabbath

Doctor Wu – Steely Dan

Dear Doctor – Rolling Stones

Dr. Jackie – Miles Davis

Dr. Heckyll and Mr. Jive – Men at Work

Doctor My Eyes – Jackson Brown

What is a Personal Learning Network or PLN?

For many years now, I have been developing and enjoying the benefits of having a “Personal Learning Network” or PLN. Some of the best teachers I’ve ever seen are out there freely sharing their best stuff on teaching. This normally happens in the form of blogs and through social media. Over the years, I’ve received enormous benefit from my self-directed efforts at professional development in the form of the PLN, although over the past few years things have slowed a great deal for me. As we enter the new year of 2016, I am looking towards renewing my PLN learning with new vigor. In fact, this QUEST group could absolutely be considered a PLN. But I would like others to be aware that there are amazing possibilities out there to be discovered.

For now, I will share two of my favorite resources.


My original Techintersect blog includes some of my favorite writings on teaching. I changed to this new Techintersect blog and while it hasn’t had as much love and attention yet, I hope to change that in the coming year.

You don’t need to have a blog to benefit from the blogging phenomenon. You can just visit the blogs of other blogging teachers and begin the conversation there through the comments.

Social Media

I follow a number of educators on social media that I admire. This is an important topic by itself, but to get started I recommend searching for people with similar interests on Twitter. Just go to and enter terms you are interested in. Once you find someone who seems credible (lots of users, lots of interactions, great ideas) look at who they are following and follow those people as well. Building a PLN on social media is an ongoing process.

Another idea is to connect through social media with educators you already have met in person. For example, I follow a good number of people on Facebook whom I’ve met at the Wakonse Conference on College Teaching.

Well, that’s it for now. These two are great ways to get connected with amazing educators out there that can keep you busy with new ideas for your entire career.

Finally, a question for dear readers – Are any of you doing either of these things? How are you using electronic communications to stay in touch with other educators? Any tips or advice on things that work?