Defining Sugar

Michael Stone, July 11, 2010, , (src)

Once upon a time, I asked some friends1 to help me to distill my thoughts on Sugar into a definition short enough to be (potentially) memorable. On the off chance that it’s still relevant, here’s what we worked out:

Sugar is a collection of affordances for action, reflection, and communication chosen for their significance to learning.

  • Sugar promotes action because people learn by doing.

  • Sugar encourages reflection because people learn by discovering and resolving confusions2.

  • Sugar stimulates communication because people learn from one another.


  1. Most of the usual suspects pitched in; namely: Walter, Brian, Bernie, Asheesh, Scott, Chris, and SJ.

  2. This linkage between reflection and confusion is inspired by John Boyd’s 1976 paper “Destruction and Creation”. References to better explanations of the learning-value of reflection are most welcome.