Free online courses

I compiled a list of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) for my own reference, and also for whoever wanting to learn out there.

learning python

The picture says it all. I’m attempting to learn Python.

Let’s just say on a rainy day like today, doing some daunting programming tasks is a good idea when accompanied by a cup of coffee.

Honestly, I don’t know what I would get out of this effort and how long i can hang in there. But I would really like to be able to write a programme that run through x no. of image files and store the filenames of those x files in an excel file. That’s first, and if it’s possible some mini programmes later to help me with a few tedious admin work here and there. Well, I hear you ask: why not find some available software or apps that someone has already built to help you?, thing is: I won’t learn as much as that when I build something on my own. Let’s just leave aside the frustration of debugging until it comes 😛

So watch out this space and learn with me. It’s also just about time that Coursera offers a Python introduction course. And I will also frequent Codecademy for tutorials.

Wish me luck! 😀

the unconscious consumer

Have you ever heard any friends complaining about their kids not following their instructions and tending to do the opposite?

I guess my parents are one of them, until now. I remember when I was younger, there were umpteen times I wanted to do something on my own and a second after my parents told me to do exactly that, I ended up not carrying it out. Or there were times my parents advised me to do or not to do certain things, I went with the opposite. Those are things that are as ordinary as sweeping the floor, once I just grabbed the broom and my Mom said: sweep the floor and I put the broom down; to things that are as life-shaping as picking courses for college; my parents wanted me to do business-related courses, I went all in for computing.

And I thought it was only me being stubborn.

Perhaps I am really that stubborn. Or I’m just having the ‘unconscious consumer‘ behaviour? Check out the presentation by Prof. Gavan Fitzsimons as he speaks about The unconscious consumer here.

Two things:

  1. He mentions he himself has the tendency of not following what his wife wants him to do. It hits me BINGO! So he pointed out that there are folks when being told what to do by their loved ones, we do the exact opposite, sometimes way out of our consciousness. It’s the psychological reaction to backlash against what we are told to do when our freedom to do something is constrained by an ‘instruction’. A lot of us don’t like to be told what to do in certain spaces and as we are exposed to a number of those messages, for some of us, we build up a resistance to those messages to actually do the opposite.
    • I can totally relate to this. In fact I think it happens every time with whatever initiative I pick up. Initially I would be super motivated to execute it as I know there can be only 2 results. a: If I do it well, I get credits, b: If I don’t do it well, I learn. And I’m the only one responsible for the outcomes. But when I’m already half-way on it and I’m told to do exactly what i’m doing, instantly it’s not my initiative anymore, it becomes a task or a chore that associates with an enforced responsibility that I have to do it and my motivation is overshadowed by responsibility.
    • As this ‘unconscious consumer’ behaviour happens for a number of times, without any awareness, I have developed a defense mechanism of backing from requests/instructions from certain names or on certain areas that i have already registered in my mind. Eg: my mom doesn’t want me to do wakeboarding as she thinks it’s dangerous for girls and she was traumatized by the sight of people fall into the water when they do cable ski. But to me, it’s like it’s a sport and it’s water sport, how much can it hurt? (The silly me thinks that water would have more mercy than ground). Although i’m all ears for the reasons she gave and i somehow agree to those, every time she mentions hey, don’t go wakeboarding again okay? (sometimes just randomly she mentions it to ensure that I’m reminded), I have a sudden urge of going out for it immediately. *facepalm #maybeiamnotgrownupyet.
  2. “For creativity, intelligence or just any of desirable aspirational goal you might have. Surround yourself with consumer goods that strongly associate with that and activate that in your mind and it can lead you to be a successful strategic user of brands, products etc rather than letting you have brands, products etc change you are, who you are and the way you behave in a certain random way. So think strategically and surround yourself with objects, brands and products that are gonna make you a strategic unconscious consumer.”
    • Now this is gonna be personal but I would see myself a consumer of daily information, knowledge, work, relationships, my emotion and others’ emotions, my agenda and others’ agendas etc and etc. What kind of unconscious consumer I am now? What kind of strategic unconscious consumer I would like to be? How to be that strategic unconscious consumer? And finally what and who i should surround myself with?
    • Talking about ‘random behaviour’, I’m think i’m quite a random-er. So does this mean that I’m being consumed non-strategically by random things that I’m exposed to?

learn from our mistakes

I’m currently taking A Beginner’s Guide to Irrational Behavior course by Dan Ariely on Coursera.

I have only finished watching all lectures in Week 1 but man, it’s so interesting. In week 1, Dan defined ‘Irrationality‘ by covering topics on Visual and Decision Illusions, Defaults, Do We Know Our Preferences?, Choice Sets and Relativity, The Long-lasting Effects of Decisions, Learning from Our Mistakes. The most fascinating area for me is the application of Defaults. It’s indeed happening in our daily life; everyday, everywhere, with everyone; and it’s just so rarely we question why we do the thing we do. Why is ‘being non-member’ at NTUC default but not the other way round? Why should you put ‘reply with N to opt out’ rather than ‘reply with Y to opt in’? (This is easy to answer but yea, you’ve got the idea!)

The second most fascinating thing I’ve also learned is we all are making decisions based on our intuition which is constantly made up of visual and decision illusion. And this is why we are prone to make wrong or unjustifiable decisions, on a daily basis. Having that said, we – human beings make a lot of mistakes. There is one interesting point that Dan brings up in the last lecture about ‘Learning from our mistakes’ which dawns on me. It was when he mentioned the experience of getting the bandages removed, fatally painful for him but he wasn’t aware that it was also painful (in another category) for the nurse performing the removal until the nurse approached him to let him know a few years later. Intuitionally, the nurse appeared to be calm and professional, which created an illusion that she wasn’t having any suffering and for this she was discounted from the painful experience that Dan had.

In the same relatable way, I’ve been feeling uncomfortable lately for what I would just use #quarterlifecrisis to sum up. I thought that people don’t understand me. I thought that things go rouge because others care less than i do. I thought that I am not listened to. I am tired of half-baked considerations, frustrated with broken promises, torn with indifference, trapped in neglection and crushed in being misunderstood . Because of all this, I have been being a PITA (pain in the ass) for everyone close to me. Now, I calmly step a step back and see if ‘my pain is also in some ways others’ pains‘? When things go rouge, isn’t me the only one who suffers? When promises are broken, isn’t me the only one who feels sorry? When I’m down, am I dragging anyone down with me? Often times, we are so self-centered that potentially false intuitions get to lead our emotions and ride on our feelings. We only see the issues pressing on our personal self and we discount all other factors/people in the picture.

So to avoid all the #dramabanana, Dan suggests using the computer-hacker approach. That is breaking down everything that happens into smaller pieces and find the knot that we can untie or figure out the part where we can optimize or fix. Always doubt your intuition and experiment! This is obviously ideal and I would definitely take this personally for me to apply on my own thinking process. However, I was just wondering if this will be applicable (yet and selectively) on a larger scale (say, for organizations, corporates etc) when practically the days are getting shorter and all business operations are expected to be completed ridiculously faster.

To sum up, if you are super duper curious and have all kinds of funny questions about human behaviors in your head (like me :P), I do seriously recommend you check out the course, or at least watch the lectures (if you don’t aim for the certificate). It’s totally worth your time, I promise 🙂

coursera gamification certification

I’ve got it! Muahahaha. I’m a happy girl 🙂

Gamification Assignment (3) – Design Document


Now that you know the essential concepts about gamification and game design, it’s time to use them. For this final task, we ask you to bridge this gap as you meld creativity and structure to match peoples’ needs with technical feasibility and business realities.

You are approached by Cheyenne Kendrick, the CEO of Go Digital Press (GDP), a global publisher of electronic books for devices such as the Kindle, Nook, and iPad. She knows you are one of the top experts on gamification, which she has heard can revolutionize publishing. She asks you to present a proposal for a gamified system to take her business to the next level.

GDP concentrates on the trade segment of the book market, i.e. non-fiction publications that would traditionally appear in bookstores, rather than mass-market paperbacks. Approximately 50% of its titles are targeted at business professionals; 25% are educational resources on technical topics such as computer programming; and the remainder address a variety of different subjects.

As a pioneer in e-book publishing, GDP faces the challenge that many users, even in the U.S., do not yet own reader devices. As of April 2012, only 21% of American adults reported that they had read an e-book in the past year, although those numbers are increasing rapidly. Kendrick tells you that another concern is that the device manufacturers and their associated distribution platforms control the sales process, making it difficult for publishers such as GDP to obtain data or develop direct customer relationships. On the positive side, an e-book is a flexible digital asset, which can offer interactive features beyond any physical book. Kendrick asks you to propose a way to gamify the distribution or consumption of e-books, or both.

Provide a detailed description of your proposal, organized according to the design framework described in the lectures in Unit 7:

1. Define business objectives
2. Delineate target behaviors
3. Describe your players
4. Devise activity loops
5. Don’t forget the fun!
6. Deploy the appropriate tools

A summary of each concept is provided on the Gamification Design Framework page.


The fact that not many users own an e-book device is the core reason to the issue that GDP is facing when they have obstacle in distributing/selling e-books.

A gamified system is one that should be designed to address this issue, bring values to both consumers and GDP and finally achieve the below business objectives.

1. Create awareness for the use of e-books and e-book reading devices.
2. Boost the distribution and consumption of e-books, especially in the non-fiction publication department.
3. Make reading fun and interactive. Promote reading as a good habit and everyone should read. Encourage readers to share the love for reading with their friends.

Aforementioned are the business objectives that GDP wants to achieve. In order to meet the objective, consumers of GDP are expected to:

1. Read/buy e-books (the platform can be on home computers, smart phones, tablets or dedicated e-book reading devices such as Kindle, Nook.)

2. Share e-books with their friends or the community on social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter) or on a personal level (by word of mouth)
3. Enjoy reading book on mobile devices

We then identify traits that a typical consumer of e-book or a GDP customer has

1. Love reading
2. Love looking for new knowledge which can be triggered by information or knowledge
3. May or may not own an e-book reading device

4. May or may not own a smart phone or tablet.
5. Have high concentration
6. Love to discuss or find more information/knowledge on their interest topics. Love sharing their knowledge with others who have common interest.

The gamified system can contain elements out of e-book reading devices themselves which include interactive machine/information from a local physical library or indication on websites where customers frequent at. In this capacity, we will also develop a Book Cloud which restores all information relating to reading by customers. As such, customers can search for books, stored their reading information, save books, continual reading across all devices, see what their friends are up to, recommended books for them based on read books or enjoy deals exclusive for Book Cloud customers.

The idea of the gamified system is: reward customers points based on their reading performance. Customers can accumulate points and redeem those with physical rewards such as purchase discount on the next books, exclusive access to limited information. The system also encourages customers to share reviews, book information to their friends or participate in reading community on Book Cloud.

The system can be gamified as below:

– Reward points to customers for their activities:
+ When the purchase/download a new book (engagement loop)
+ When they start reading a new book (engagement loop)

+ When they finish half of the on-going book (engagement loop)
+ When they complete a book (engagement loop)
+ When they write a review on the book and post it to Book Cloud (engagement loop)
+ When they tweet about the book and share the book on Facebook (engagement loop)

+ When they send their book recommendation to their friends. (engagement loop)
– The system recommends related books for consumers to check out based on the history of their read books
– The system shows a leaderboard displaying the scores that each reader has compared to their friends.

– The system is integrated in the e-book device and allows readers to highlight a quote of the book and share the quote on Book Cloud and other social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter). Likewise, readers will also be able to highlight a written paragraph/chapter of the book and discuss it on Book Cloud. (engagement loop)

– The system gives readers a reading quest. An example: if a reader has just finished “The lost symbol” book by Dan Brown, the quest given can be: Discuss Robert’s analysis. And by joining the discussion on Book Cloud, users will be rewarded with points. On the other hand, they are encourages to join the community to share their thoughts or reflection upon the book. (engagement & progression loop)

– Accumulated points can be used to redeem a free book of the same genre or a discount when reader purchases the next book.
– The system will provide “Do you know” fact about the book during the reading process but not while reader is actually reading. “Do you know” factbox can be popped up before the reader resume reading or after he/she finishes reading. It can also be displayed between chapters or parts of the book. Reading can be designed to be more interactive when readers have chance to be exposed to more knowledge

– The system can provide badges to readers based on their level of reading. For example: “Baby reader” badge for those who read less than 10 books, “Serious reader” badge for those who read more than 100 books and “Book worm” for those who read above 200 books. (progression loop)

In order to get the whole system works, the execution should be implemented across devices and not limited to only reading devices which include smart phones and tablets. That said, readers can access Book Cloud anytime anywhere and they can resume their reading as well as take part in other activities such as write a review, participate in discussion, check out what their friends are up to or get recommendations for the next books they should read. This cross-channel implementation gives users a convenience to access their books. E-books are not only for those who own e-book reading devices now but anyone who has a home computer, who gets a smart phone or a tablet can download/purchase and read books from GDP. Users can use the system at all time at their convenience.

This system is believed to motivate readers to read more and often. The reward for their reading serves as an extrinsic motivation while the participation in a bigger community to exchange their knowledge and reviews is as an intrinsic motivation. With this, GDP can expect to boost the love of reading for everyone and one will be more initiative to read on. As referral and recommendation scheme is also introduced, it’s expected that the distribution and consumption of the e-books will also be improved.



Gamification Assignment (2) – Motivation


You are approached by Ryan Morrison, the mayor of a medium-sized city in the Midwest of the United States. He has heard that you know a lot about gamification and believes that gamification techniques can transform city government.

He would like to start with the health of city employees. The city has 50,000 employees and they happen to have exactly the same rates of obesity as the U.S. average: 34.4% overweight (but not obese) and 33.9% of them are obese. 53.1% of the city’s employees do not meet the U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines for aerobic physical activity and 76% of them fail to meet the Guidelines for muscle-strengthening activity. The city pays for health benefits for its employees and this cost is a huge part of the city budget. Economists in Mayor Morrison’s office have estimated that a 3% improvement in the average physical fitness of city employees would amount to a US$94 million reduction in annual city health costs; a 5% improvement would save US$188 million.

Describe in general terms a gamified system that could effectively motivate behavior change to address the challenge presented above. Specifically, explain how the system would effectively incorporate intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, or both. Your answer should address the fact that this is an internal gamification project, targeted at the institutional goals of the city government. The system can use any technology (or no technology!), so long as the resources required seem justified by the scope of the opportunity.


A solution to the issue is organizing frequent social activities or programs that reward participants for their participation, such as weekly fitness weekend in the community centers or parks. Points are awarded to participants based on certain activities they take, for example: 30-mins aerobics class or 30-hour muscle-strengthening exercise. The points are accumulated and redeemable for tangible rewards at the end of the fitness day such as shopping vouchers or access to exclusive (fitness) trainings.

People might not have or already have a motivation to exercise, depending on individual. It’s an intrinsic motivation if they exercise for themselves. Attending programs and getting rewards isn’t necessarily crowding out their initial motivation. It tells them how important fitness is and what benefits one can get from exercising, which reinforces the intrinsic motivation. The program will also tell people how much the city committee cares for one’s wellness.

If ones has not exercised, rewarding points and other tangible prizes is an extrinsic motivation to get them join. Rewards can be expected and engagement-contingent (e.g: earn 10 points when you do 30-min aerobics); expected and completion-contingent (e.g: earn 10 points when you refer a friend and your friend does 30-min aerobics) or unexpected (e.g: win a lucky draw of an iPad). When people are required to perform tasks to earn rewards, they are actually putting themselves in real fitness activities. With frequent training, one is beneficial from what exercises bring about to them. Visible effects (weight loss, tone-up body) are pleasurable to everyone. It’s now no longer the rewards that matter but the real change one can feel in their body. At the same time, one has also built the momentum to exercise, they will keep doing it for themselves to maintain the status quo, otherwise maintain the fitness. This is where people go through Identification phase in the Motivational Spectrum and their extrinsic motivation is becoming intrinsic motivation.

Another aspect of these programs is the social interaction. Participants get to know more people who either have a common motivation (exercise) or a common desire (e.g: lose weight). This creates a community where peer-competition or peer-sharing happens. For those who are already exercising, they can train together, share tips or compete against each other. For those who haven’t, this community gives them confidence and urges them to start on fitness training. Once they have exercised regularly, the sense of belonging to a community will keep them going on.

In terms of technology, activities tracking and points rewarding/redemption can be recorded and monitored by a website or an iPhone app.

In short, having programs that rewards people to join fitness activities is a solution to the issue mentioned. Rewards are simply to draw people’s attention and motivate them to participate (extrinsic motivation). The rewards should be based on engagement and task-oriented activities to get people actually try on exercising. Once they have exercised regularly and learn how beneficial they are, it’s likely that they will carry on exercising for their own sake (intrinsic motivation).



Gamification Design Framework

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Professor Werbach’s six-step gamification design framework is described in lecture unit 7. 

  1. Define business objectives. Why are you gamifying? How do you hope to benefit your business, or achieve some other goal such as motivating people to change their behavior? The first written assignment focused on this step of the process, so you may wish to look back on your earlier submission and the peer assessments for guidance. As you state your objectives, emphasize the end goal or goals of your gamified design rather than detailing the means through which you’ll achieve this goal. Basically, if your gamified system does what you intend, what specific positive results will it generate for your organization?
  2. Delineate target behaviors. What do you want your players to do? And what are the metrics that will allow you to measure them? These behaviors should promote your business objectives, although the relationship may be indirect. For example, your business goal might be to increase sales, but your target behavior could be for visitors to spend more time on your website. As you describe the behaviors, be sure to explain how they will help your system achieve its objectives. The metrics should in some fashion provide feedback to the players, letting them know when they are successfully engaging in the intended behaviors.
  3. Describe your players. Who are the people who will be participating in your gamified activity? What is their relationship to you? For example, are they prospective customers, employees at your organization, or some other community? And what are they like? You can describe your players using demographics (such as age and gender), psychographics (such as their values and personalities), Bartle’s player types, or some other framework. You should show that you understand what sorts of game elements and other structures are likely to be effective for this population. For example, you might discuss whether a more competitive or cooperative system would be better for this player community.
  4. Devise your activity loops. Explore in greater detail how you will motivate your players using engagement and progression loops. First, describe the kinds of feedback your system will offer the players to encourage further action, and explain how this feedback will work to motivate the players. (Remember: rewards are only one kind of feedback.) Second, how if at all will players progress in your system? This includes how the system will get new players engaged, and how it will remain interesting for more experienced players.
  5. Don’t forget the fun. Although more abstract than some of the other elements, ensuring that your gamified system is fun remains as important as the other aspects. In order to fully explore this aspect of the design process, consider how your game would function without any extrinsic rewards. Would you say it was fun? Identify which aspects of the game could continue to motivate players to participate even without rewards.
  6. Deploy the appropriate tools. By this point, you’ve probably identified several of the game elements and other specifics of your gamified system. If you haven’t already, you should explain in detail what your system would look like. What are some of the game elements involved and what will the experience be like for the players? What specific choices would you make in deploying your system? For example, you might discuss whether the gamified system is to be experienced primarily on personal computers, mobile devices, or some other platform. You might also describe what feedback, rewards, and other reinforcements the players could receive. Finally, think about whether you’ve tied your decisions back to the other five steps in the process, especially the business objectives.

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study gamification on coursera

I’m taking the Gamification course on coursera, taught by Prof. Kevin Werbach. I thought he is a professor like any other professor but i have just found out from Wiki that he’s actually a high-profiled prof.  So here is how my Sundays have been for the past month. Biggest cup ever of coffee, laptop, lecture notes, pens and Prof. @kwerb is trying to explain how the whole thing works. Gamification is really interesting and i’m excited that my boss wants to develop something around this idea. It’s the right time isn’t it!