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At our last meeting, we met at our usual spot with guest facilitator Rich Halverson. Check out our reflections on our discussion about design, and then share your thoughts with us by commenting below!

November 14, 2012
Facilitator: Dr. Rich Halverson
Topic: Design

Reading Outline:

A new way to study leadership

Rich Halverson’s article, drawing from Norman’s concept of artifacts, examines how the designed artifacts of school leaders shape interpersonal organization in schools. In attempting to take up a learning sciences perspective toward school leadership, Rich answers a basic question: “what am I going to study?” In response to this question, Rich noted two potential answers:

Decisions

tracking the decisions that leaders make

Unfortunately, these are extremely difficult to study, because they are too contextual. In order to effectively study decisions, one would have to find someone in the midst of decisionmaking.

Artifacts

documents, programs, procedures, policies meeting agendas, etc.

This is something we can study. Artifacts function as the residual of decisionmaking, which means they are asynchronous in the process and can be studied after-the-fact. Additionally, artifacts have features that designers build in to influence use and affordances – how the user community picks up the features.
Using artifacts as the unit of analysis allows one can look at the artifacts that leaders put in play and observe the degree to which the features afford the intentions of the leader. From this perspective, artifacts can be used to look into the minds of leaders, in a sense, as it relates to their role of making culture.

Using artifacts to create systems of practice

Rich argues that taking this more sociocultural perspective on artifacts allows us to study leadership in new ways. Why? Well, all of the work in any given organization is supported by a network of artifacts. Everything that happens within an organization of people is defined by an artifact of some type. For instance, tasks are defined by the artifacts one interacts with; one’s job description determines the tasks one does on the job. Leaders are responsible for assembling this network of artifacts in a way that facilitates desired interpersonal organization. That means that the larger an organization is, the more artifacts it needs, because there are decidedly more interactions that take place.

Artifacts as a demonstration of power

Given that artifacts play such a substantial role in the way communities function, it’s important to recognize that the producers of artifacts (e.g. leaders) hold a certain amount of power. Rich explains, if you want to understand how leaders use their power, look at the artifacts they use to organize their group. This is true, because artifacts create the condition for interact and interactions build social capital; assuming that social capital is built on trust, which requires interactions.

ARIS and artifacts

Recentering this discussion around mobile and ARIS, we identified two different levels of scale to apply this framework.

Community-level

On the large-scale level, when looking at the user community around a given tool, it is important for the leaders of such a community to produce the artifacts necessary to maintain a strong user community. The instantiation of the ARIS Google group is one example of how an artifact shapes the types of interactions that take place within the community. As a result of this group, much of the user support is crowdsourced in a unique, yet intentional way. In addition, many project and research collaborations are born through the interactions on the group.

Design-level

As a designer of mobile experiences, the game or activity itself could function as an artifact, which means that the locations become the features of the artifact. More specifically, an ARIS game about oneself or one’s story can function as an autobiographical artifact and the choices and locations in the game are conscious decisions that disclose identity.

Lingering questions:

If you buy the powerful role of artifacts, the million-dollar question for leading a community is:

What artifacts do you need to put in place to: a) keep ideas flowing b) keep ideas fresh, and c) get the work done?

Additionally, given that this is a more methodological discussion than we’ve had thus far, I think it’s important to further explore the questions: how can this framework (i.e. artifacts, features, and affordances) inform how we research mobile learning spaces? What does this framework give us that others are lacking? What are its constraints?

Up next… We’re talking all things mobile learning with Dr. Kurt Squire!

We’re took last week off for Thanksgiving. But don’t worry we’ll be back with a bang next week, Kurt has a tendency to blow minds.

Don’t forget to drop us a line and let us know your thoughts!

Until next time,
Mobile Learning Incubator
Academic Technology, DoIT, University of Wisconsin-Madison

 

 

MLI Reading Group take 2

So, we’ve already gotten a little behind on blogging, but this week we’ll be posting up two blogs to make up for it! Don’t forget, we want to hear your thoughts and perspective. We’re just starting to develop our thinking around these topics, so please feel free to jump in by commenting below!

November 7, 2012
Facilitator: John Martin
Topic: Place

Reading outline

  • Chapter 1 from Ellsworth, E. A. (2005). Places of learning: Media, architecture, pedagogy. New York: RoutledgeFalmer.
  • John Martin’s prelim questions on space and place in learning and designing games for place from his doctoral degree in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Art, experience and pedagogy in place

Our first meeting tackled place in learning, mapping out multiple meanings of place and focusing in particular on the role of place in community and on social criticism within place. This week we focused on the phenomenological experience of place and space and how it relates to learning.  We had read Chapter 1 of Liz Ellsworth’s book Places of learning: Media, architecture, pedagogy as well as our colleague John Martin’s prelim questions on space and place in learning and designing games for place. Here’s what we talked about:

Experience as primary

Ellsworth argues that experience comes prior to and is crucial for building understanding, and that, “the qualities of an experience of learning are crucial to what is learned.” (p. 18) What are the qualities of place and space that shape experience and thus understanding? There is a lot to untangle when considering the roles of place and space in experience, but we identified one potentially important dimension: the extent to which place and space shapes an individual’s experience directly vs. how place and space serve to frame interaction among individuals.  Another insight that came about from the Ellsworth reading was that learning happens in time, and that a space can shape your experience of time; for example, architecture can provide an “experiential path” that strongly shapes one’s experience through time.

Art as pedagogy

Ellsworth further argues that art is pedagogical, and spaces themselves can be pedagogical:

“The qualities and design elements that seem to constitute their pedagogical force invite sensations of being somewhere in between thinking and feeling of being in motion through space and time between knowing and not knowing, in the space and time of learning as lived experience with an open, unforeseeable future.” (p. 17)
We spent most of our time discussing this idea of art as pedagogical, and discussed related work on the movement within the art community on creating “happenings” that bring art into everyday life as well as Maxine Greene‘s work on art as a way of knowing the world.

We also asked what can educators learn from artists in designing spaces for experience and learning, and dug into current differences between the art and education worlds. First, formal education tends to try to separate mind from body and learning from place in a way that the art world does not. Further, while there are typically many simultaneous learning goals for a particular classroom activity, artists tend to design a piece or a space for one experience, one big idea. They also tend to view the design differently than educators do, where they are creating a generative experience that can later be reflected upon. In the typical classroom, on the other hand, curricular activities are broken down into self-contained units without much deep reflection on prior experiences. In our current push for deeper understanding in the classroom, through ideas like situated learning, we as educators should more find ways to look to the art world to better understand how to design rich, meaningful experiences for learners.

There are, of course, some fundamental differences between the art world and the education world that may limit teachers’ ability to design experiences in the way that artists do. For one, there are particular affordances of museum vs. classroom spaces that shape experience within the space. In museums and classrooms, individuals are already prepared for different types of experiences, and this likely proves difficult to overcome. There is a sacredness to museums and similar spaces where audience members may come to expect a profound, deep experience; classroom spaces often do not come with the same expectation. Further, artists refine their ideas to perfection, reaching levels of production quality that are out of reach of educators. Still, art as pedagogy provides a useful lens, and our group will continue to dig into the lessons from art in designing experiences.

Lingering questions: granite vs. graphics

Putting on our game designer hats for a moment, let’s consider museums and other designed physical spaces in relation to the the designed virtual spaces of video games. What is different about virtual spaces as they shape experience? What lessons from art and architecture are there for building virtual spaces that provide generative experiences and lead to deep understanding? When designing augmented reality games, what are the ways that we should consider physical spaces to take advantage of the importance of place and space in our experience?

Up next… Discussing design with Dr. Rich Halverson!

You won’t have to wait a whole two weeks (or even one week) for this one, and trust us, you won’t want to miss it – Rich is brilliant!

More to come in a few days,

Mobile Learning Incubator

Academic Technology, DoIT, University of Wisconsin-Madison

 

 

“The most highly rated teacher-led example also focussed on the motivational aspect of
learning through making. in this case, secondary students used aris – an open–platform
for creating geo-location games, tours and interactive stories – to design and create quest
games with mobile phones and printed qr codes around the school…”

Read more…

Server Upgrade December 2

November 10th, 2012

The main ARIS server will be offline from 10 am until 8pm CDT Sunday, December 2 so that we can perform a few upgrades. During this time you will not be able to play or modify any of your games.

The purpose of the upgrade is to allow more people to be able to play at once with faster response times. The upgrade also allows a few new features to be installed.

If you have any questions, please email the google group.

 

Thank you!

David

MLI is starting a reading group!

We are starting a reading group at the UW Mobile Learning Incubator (MLI) to dig into the theoretical basis for all things mobile. Our basic format for this group is:

  • Invite a new facilitator each week who will:
      • Select 3-4 articles/chapters for the group to read
      • Seed us with questions the day before our meeting
      • Facilitate the discussion
  • Spend at least 2 weeks on a given topic
  • Write up a blog after each meeting to:
      • Leverage online communities to continue the conversation with those outside MLI
      • Deepen our understanding and help develop our ideas around a given topic

MLI’s first reading group

October 24, 2012
Facilitator: Jim Mathews
Topic: Place
Reading outline:

  • Selected chapters from: Smith, G. A., & Sobel, D. (2010). Place-and community-based education in schools.
  • Gruenewald, D. A. (2003). Foundations of place: A multidisciplinary framework for place-conscious education. American Educational Research Journal, 40(3), 619–654.
  • Selected chapters from Gruenewald, D. A., & Smith, G. A. (2008). Place-based education in the global age. Lawrence Erlbaum.
  • Gruenewald, D. A. (2003). The best of both worlds: A critical pedagogy of place. Educational Researcher, 32(4), 3–12.

Optional addition:

  • Kitchens, J. (2009). Situated pedagogy and the Situationist International: Countering a pedagogy of placelessness. Educational Studies, 45(3), 240–261. doi:10.1080/00131940902910958

And so it begins…

This past Wednesday was our first MLI Reading Group meeting and it went really well! Jim began the discussion with a brief history of place and space. Specifically, that these topics were first discussed in fields like geography and art, before they formally entered into the world of education. We spent nearly two hours discussing different ideas, particularly about Place-Based Learning (PBL), and (I think) we all left with more questions to explore. So, here we want to pull out some key topics that came up and we’re planning to explore deeper.

What is the difference between place-conscious and place-based education? What does it mean to be critical about place?

“Place” has a wide set of meanings in these readings.

On one end of a continuum we see place as a gateway to experiential/embodied learning about all subjects. The creek at the local pond teaches about biology and the neighborhood baseball field demonstrates physics. This view of place gives Dewey’s laboratory school it’s edge, and leads to all forms of situated learning practice.

In the middle of the continuum, we start to understand Smith and Sobel’s take on the role of place in a community; place is shared. With this perspective of place, it is impossible to separate a location from a community. To really be part of a place, not only means to learn from it (e.g. its history, values, vocabulary, art), but also to begin to take part in its creation. One of Smith and Sobel’s core convictions seems to be that young people should be taught how to become contributors to their communities.

On the far end, Gruenewald introduces unapologetic locative social criticism. He begs us to ponder questions such as: Who holds the most power over the use of a place? Who benefits from a place being understood a certain way? What systems are influencing the design of a place? In this view, not only does the place hold meaning and student’s become agents, but the systems of power are explicitly examined. Gruenewald also asks us to analyze the elements of the community that need to be preserved, transformed, restored and created.

What is local?

The most common idea of local that comes to mind is a geography-based one. So, my backyard is local, then my neighborhood, then perhaps my town or city, etc. This perspective is based more on man-made divisions of place.

Ecologicalist offer another view of locality: Bioregional. Basically, the idea of local here is defined by the watershed (where the water goes). So, for example, my ‘local’ space might be determined by where the water out of my faucet comes from; it is based more on naturalistic divisions of place.

Another important tension that comes up when thinking about what it means for place to be local is residing in versus inhabiting a specific place. Here, we are thinking that residing in means you live there, whereas inhabiting means that you’ve built a meaningful and intentional relationship with the place in which you live. Educators implementing PBL often strive for learners to actively inhabit the place in which they live, but how can this type of relationship with place be cultivated? From a more critical perspective, this becomes a bit messy when you look at what this might mean for learners who move around often compared to learners who have lived in the same place their whole life.

How might ARIS-based experiences be used to support and/or spark critical place-based inquiries?

The ARIS platform has a complex relationship to place — one that we are just beginning to explore and have yet to understand. When engaging in PBL using ARIS it is important to consider that critical is an attribute of the process. Creating on-ramps to critical thinking and discussion about a place is a key characteristic of Grunewald’s take on PBL. Whether this is embedded in the design itself or the experience as a whole, we are beginning to see critical as an invaluable attribute of PBL.

Caution: Recreating a narrative

For instance, one of the potential dangers we have in implementing learner design activities that use primary sources and create place-based media is that the sources themselves typically only offer one perspective. History is often told by the group that holds the power to tell it. Rather than abandon these activities altogether, perhaps we can encourage learners to become more critical of the documented narrative to avoid unquestionably recreating and reinforcing the narrative in power.

Encouragement: Create happenings

ARIS has great potential for creating situations with the intent of changing the way people interact. Whether learners engage with a multitude of perspectives in the design of the game/activity or are encouraged to be critical about the very construction of the game itself as part of the overall experience, there are many opportunities to include hooks to think about values and power structures around place. Creating happenings that prompt students to see a place or space with a different lens is a step in the right direction.

Lingering questions:

How have other disciplines theorized about and engaged with place?

What can we learn about place from past experiences, both our own and others’?

Coming up next… Place-based Inquiry with John Martin.

Until next time,

Mobile Learning Incubator

Academic Technology, DoIT, University of Wisconsin-Madison

 

 

 

ARIS @ Meaningful Play 2012

October 22nd, 2012

 

Some of the ARIS team (Chris Holden, Seann Dikkers, and I) are at the the Meaningful Play conference at Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI. Chris, being the ARIS advocate that he is, printed off some epic flyers and has been distributing them since we’ve been here.

On Day 2 of the conference, we led a 2.5-hour ARIS workshop. Chris led participants through a basic tutorial of ARIS, guiding them in the creation of a basic narrative-based game. We then demonstrated how the Notebook could be used to engage in easy-to-configure data collection activities. During our break, we sent participants out to play two data-collection games Chris made for the conference: Fall Colors @ Meaningful Play – a collective photography exercise, and Meaningful Games – a game to provoke storytelling around important games in peoples’ lives. The attendees continued playing these games throughout the remainder of the conference, joined by other conference participants.

On Friday (Day 3 of the conference), the three of us delivered a paper that focused on an analysis of the examples of mobile use from the recent book Mobile Media Learning: Amazing Uses of Mobile Devices for Learning. Specifically, Seann took the lead in presenting the paper and used Jim Mathew’s Up the River case as an illustrative example of many of the themes we’ve seen across cases.

 

 

 

 

I spent my time during the hour-long session making a very special game for Chris: Play Chris Holden! It can be played anywhere and will give players an opportunity to see all of the games that Chris has made. I haven’t had time to complete the full game list yet, but hopefully I will soon – Chris has a lot of ARIS games under his belt.

I’ve found myself talking a lot about the new custom maps feature in the ARIS editor (thanks Garrett!). I personally am really excited about the possibility of making a proper treasure map game using this feature. So, I’m trying to get others equally excited about it! [Hint: stop reading now and go make me a treasure map game on ARIS. (:]

We’ve had a lot of fun here meeting current ARIS users and introducing more people to the platform! It’s been exciting to reunite with some of the non-Madison-based ARIS team, and I am really excited to see what games and partnerships emerge from this conference.

Breanne Litts
Project Assistant, Mobile Learning Incubator
University of Wisconsin-Madison

P.S. After I left, Chris and some other conference participants found some sweet brick inlays…he insisted I share.

He wants to be Super Mario so badly…

New Feature: Custom Maps

October 18th, 2012

Check out a quick demo video of the new custom maps feature in ARIS. This feature allows you to overlay custom imagery over the Google map interface, opening up many possibilities in your games! Detailed how-to coming soon.

Spawning in ARIS

September 25th, 2012

One day this summer I found out that it was possible to create objects in ARIS that would spawn. Half an hour later, I was out of breath, nursing a pulled hamstring after playing my first spawning game. Spawning is awesome and opens up a whole new kind of game design in ARIS.

The Basics of Spawning

Any object you create in the sidebar in ARIS can be spawned according to certain parameters instead of placed on the map. By hitting the make spawn button in each object’s settings, you get the following options:

ARIS Editor 1.7 Spawn Settings

These options are almost self-explanatory. Almost. The basic idea: There is a timer. Every so often the game checks to see if it should try spawning something, always one-at-a-time. If the rules allow, an object gets spawned. The rules you set determine if an object gets spawned and the length of the timer. I have a warning and some explanation of the actual options below.

Warning:

Currently it is really easy to accidentally engage spawning. When you hit the make spawn button (even just to look at the options), it does just that. If you want to stop spawning, you have to hit the red Stop Spawning button.

Spawn a maximum of  (quantity) per player/total – The total number of possible objects on the map at a time per player area or total for the game. Only one gets spawned at a time, but the game may keep adding them each time the timer cycles up to this number.What counts as a player is a little complicated.

within min and max meters of player/location – Describes a ring where objects are allowed to spawn, not too close and not too far. Of player is a little complicated; I’ll explain more later. For now, just think of it as a player or a location on the map as the center of spawning.

with a probability of (percent) every (quantity) seconds – First, probability makes my head hurt. I just start at 100% and reduce it if I want to have some chance involved. The number of seconds is the timer. Whatever the number here, that is how often your game will check the rest of the rules and decide whether to spawn this object.

Location Name – Just like with other locations in ARIS, the name on the map can be different than the name of the object it links you to. Good for surprises.

Time to live – This is how long each object, once spawned, sticks around on the map.

Nearby range – This is how close a player must be to the object to interact with it (assuming quick travel is off). 15 is reasonable but might be too tight. If you’re having trouble hitting objects with GPS, go up to 30 or so.

Delete when viewed – The spawned object disappears from the map when a player interacts with it. This is really important for games like the one I’ll describe below.

Force View – AKA Auto Display. If checked, the player automatically interacts with the object when nearby. If not, the object shows up in the player’s nearby tab.

Hidden – Hidden means the object is invisible on the map. Good for landmines.

Quick travel – The player can interact with the object by tapping the icon on the map. Does not mix with hidden very well.

Wiggle – Eye candy. The object’s icon bounces up and down on the map.

Display label on Map – Got a cool looking icon? Don’t want to clutter the player’s map with pesky words? Select this option.

Fine print:

If you select “per player” and “player” there are a couple of fine points worth knowing. When the game checks to see if more objects are needed, it checks the rings around players for existing objects. This means that if your player is moving very rapidly in relation to the length of the timer, you will generate a huge swath of objects. Weird things also happen if your location is wildly inaccurate and your position jumps around the map.

Rupee Collector at 80mph

This also has consequences for players playing near to each other so that their rings overlap. Say two players are right next to each other with the rules above. You might think that the game will generate 10 total objects (I did). But this is incorrect. The game checks the ring, and if there are 5 objects it will not generate a new one. This is mostly a good thing. It means that settings designed to work for one player do not get wildly out of whack when more players are present.

Rupee Collector: An Example of a Spawning-Based Game

When I pulled my hamstring that summer day, it was because I knew spawning would make a fast-paced outdoor running game possible, and I had to try to make one to find out. By the end of the summer, with some help, the end result is Rupee Collector.

If you’re on an iOS device, and have ARIS installed you can play Rupee Collector right now. Simply look for the game in ARIS. I even had some help skinning the content of the web backpack and including it in the game as a high score list. Thanks Toussaint! And thanks Phil for the awesome pixel art!

Rupee Collector v1.0

Rupee Collector v1.0

Rupee Collector High Scores

Rupee Collector High Scores

The game is super simple: collect rupees. There are a couple niceties I’d like to make happen someday, but I’m pretty happy with it. I hope you enjoy it. All the little pieces came together in the little ARIS design jam we had at the beginning of August 2012. Here’s a video Shelby put together from the jam. Breanne also wrote a nice blog post about the experience.

It’s Dangerous to Go Alone: Variation on a Theme

Something else that came out of the August design jam, thanks to Breanne and Phil, is a 2-player variation on Rupee Collector called It’s Dangerous to Go Alone. In this version, there are still rupees to collect, but enemies also spawn on the map. Moblins to be precise. There are two roles in this game, and the player chooses when starting. The miner can collect rupees, but will be killed by Moblins. The hunter can kill Moblins, but cannot collect rupees.

It's Dangerous to Go Alone

It’s Dangerous to Go Alone

It will be interesting to see if this method of building a game around a core mechanic, and then having others workshop to create variations, proves fruitful. I’d like to think that it could make a unifying design challenge for a class or jam.

Filed under: ARIS, Games, Tutorial

Massive Growth in 2012

August 24th, 2012

I stumbled upon a slide from our Digital Media and Learning competition from March 1 and just had to share it.

In just 5 months:

  • Players increased 65% (from 4651 to 7671)
  • Games increased 67% (from 2162 to 3617)
  • Creators increased 62% (from 1750 to 2828)

I wonder how long we will stay on this rapid growth curve!

Watch the stats grow yourself at http://arisgames.org/server/stats

 

 

 

 

Last week, we (the ARIS development team and UW Mobile Learning Lab) held a 3-day game jam focused on ARIS.

Kickoff

John and I kicked it off on Wednesday morning with a three hour game jam for a group of 31 high school freshmen – our youngest game jamming participants yet – who are part of the ITA program on the UW-Madison campus. I think it may have been our most colorful game jam yet!

The game design materials in this video were generously donated by The Game Crafter.

Immediately following the game jam, our international visitors, Fred and Veronica Adams, from the University of Murcia in Spain shared a brownbag presentation of their amazing work with mobile locative art, design, and education using ARIS and other platforms; much of their work is described here. I think their “A Walk Through Time” project is mind-blowing and is definitely worth checking out.

Post-it Brainstorm

We spent the last half of Wednesday brainstorming game ideas and ARIS features to dig into. We used a silent brainstorm and group share process, which required several pads of post-it notes – John using the most, of course.

A good portion of our ideas were around either exploring relatively new features (e.g. spawning, data collection, etc.) of ARIS or building new features and redesigning the UI and editor. Rather than going down this path, David refocused our conversation around more concrete game ideas with the goal of actually designing a few more playable games in ARIS. We thought up about 10 or so game ideas and explored about 5 of them.

Design, playtest, share, repeat.

Over the next two and half days, we used a variation of the SCRUM method through which we had a defined period of time to design, develop, or playtest and then regroup to give an update on our progress and get feedback from the group. We tracked progress of projects sticking post-it notes on a whiteboard in their respective status category: done, current, backlog, icebox, graveyard. For me, personally, these check-ins functioned as a more of sanity checks than anything, because I too easily got caught up in complex, outrageous ideas, which were just not achievable within our time constraint.

Reflections & Takeaways

I could probably write pages and pages about what this game jam was like for our team, but for now I just want to highlight two main takeaways I think we all got from it. First, this game jam was a fantastic community-building experience for the ARIS development team and the newly birthed UW Mobile Learning Lab. It was especially useful having people present, like Chris and Jim, who have been using ARIS for a while, to help the newer members of the community, like Shelby and me. We all got to know each other better and to work with each other in new capacities, which I think made the whole three day journey worth it in and of itself.

Second, the most intriguing phenomenon that occurred during this game jam was some of the role-switching that happened. Developers, Jacob and Phil, spent the majority of their time… not programming. Jacob worked with Shelby and Rex to develop a narrative-based game in ARIS, and Phil spent nearly all of his time making spectacular 8-bit art with Pixen for a couple of our games. And, by the debrief at end of Day 3, they both commented on how useful it was to get more time in the editor and understand ARIS better all the way from programming to game play. John and David created ZombieSwarm, and David spent most of his time programming – getting zombies to chase players down was naturally enough of a motivation to get him back into the ARIS code. I stepped out of the world of theory and worked with Chris, Rex, and Phil to complete my first playable ARIS game (It’s dangerous to go alone…) a variant of Chris’ Rupee Collector, which he also spent time polishing with Toussaint.

New games to check out on ARIS
Rupee Collector
It’s dangerous to go alone…

Still in development
Brave New Madison
ZombieSwarm

Most of our products from this game jam leveraged the spawning features in ARIS, which still leaves us with the question: what about this whole data collection thing? Along with this, we still have a crazy amount of super cool ideas and features we have yet to explore…until the next game jam.

Breanne Litts
Project Assistant, Mobile Learning Incubator
University of Wisconsin-Madison