J Scott Christianson with The Blockchain Game | Episode 113

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Scott is a successful instructor and business owner with more than 24 years of experience in networking, videoconferencing technology, and project management. He currently serves as an Assistant Teaching Professor at the University of Missouri where his interests are focused on the impact of technology on society and human well-being. He has also created The Blockchain Game to explain how blockchain works to his classes and non-technical managers. It has been used all over the world by various instructors and companies. It is a creative commons resource for all to take and modify.

A regular day for Scott involves teaching and therefore often begins early. He tries to block out time for deep thinking as well as work on different projects. A lot of what he talks about in his classes is around technology and the impact on society, he thinks it’s an interesting time to have this conversation, particularly with young people.

One of Scott’s favorite fails comes from when he was first starting out. He realized the lecture was dead and that he needed some active learning exercises. With one of the first exercises, he tried he read through the directions the night before and went into class the next day without piloting it at all. Therefore, when it came to playing the game, he didn’t understand where people would go, assuming that things were common knowledge that in fact weren’t. Now when it comes to developing something, such as The Blockchain Game, one of the things he did was ask for student volunteers and friends to walk through it with him a few times with critical feedback. Originally the game was much more complicated than it is now, thanks to this feedback he was able to adapt it to better fit the player’s needs!

On the flip side, one of Scott’s favorite wins comes from his game, The Blockchain Game. This was his first attempt at having something that was his own creation and he considers this a big win. As well as this Scott uses a lot of Lego exercises, especially with his project management class, using teaching techniques such as scrum. Each year his project management class builds a city out of Legos using a scrum framework and he considers learning how to adopt this a big win.

When Scott was approaching his process for The Blockchain Game he had to step back and look at what he could get across in 40 minutes, with blockchain particularly there were a lot of different paths he could have taken, so he had to focus on the fundamental objectives. He tested it using a survey both before and after playing the game and he found that there were one or two objectives where the point wasn’t really getting across. For example, on the point of fraud, a lot of people were struggling to differentiate between bitcoin and blockchain and so he adapted this by standing in a different place when speaking about different technologies.

One of Scotts best practices for him has been giving real-world examples within his teaching as he often finds that students lack that real-world experience, he often looks for activities that will show the student why something is important for a business or organization.

One of Scott’s recommendations for a guest on the podcast would be Ray Dalio as one of the things he explores is radical transparency in an organization. One of the things they do is at the end of the meetings where everyone grades each other on their performance during the meeting. This is an idea that fascinated Scott for the possible application in a classroom environment.

A book that Scott would recommend would be How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams. He talks about how he thinks about probability as well as projects and Scott has given away over 20 copies of this to his students. As well as this he also recommends Ray Dalio’s books!

One of Scott’s superpowers, in his opinion, is his willingness to make fun of himself which he thinks is a quality some teachers in higher education miss. This, combined with his ability to not get upset when something doesn’t quite go to plan and being able to adapt and move on as well as being willing to be informal is what make up his superpowers.

Scott’s favorite game is Backgammon! However, he has also purchased a Nintendo Switch recently and has been playing Zelda: Breath of the Wild. He has really enjoyed seeing the difference 30 years have made for the gaming world.

His final piece of advice is to not be afraid to try something new and experiment within your classes as students will be much more forgiving if they see you’re trying something new. We can find Scott on Twitter @JScottMO and on his web christiansonjs.com.


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