by Hap Aziz
The Revolutionary Learning 2016 conference (#RevLearning) is taking place right now at the Roosevelt Hotel in midtown Manhattan. The following is from the website (http://revolutionarylearning.org):
Revolutionary Learning 2016 will feature hands-on workshops, educational keynotes, a Local Game Jam, a Revolutionary Game Arcade, and ample networking activities designed to connect attendees with professionals who will inspire. Colleagues and thought leaders from the cutting edge of learning will be in attendance – it’s the one place to truly learn from each other.
I won’t go into too much detail here as you can read more on the website, but the conference does address a variety of issues regarding the use of games and gaming techniques as a way to enhance engagement in learning. I’ll be doing a presentation, in fact, on engagement and the use of Interactive Fiction in the classroom to better connect with learners (http://www.revolutionarylearning.org/program/). Part of my presentation is about a classroom activity to have 8th grade students build an IF artifact using Inklewriter (http://inklestudios.com/inklewriter) as part of a history assignment. I prepared a Beginner’s Guide to Inklewriter for the students, and if you’re interested, you can download it here: BeginnersInklewriter. And if I’m motivated, I will post the presentation here. But I’d need to add notes to the picture slides first!
There has been some updated work on the program, and details can be found at the Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative blog. You’ll be able to download a version of the program to compare navigation functionality with the map of locations. You’re invited to perform quality assurance testing!
by Hap Aziz
The development of course content, especially at higher levels where students are more sophisticated and discerning regarding their academic materials, has always been a challenge. It is important to be able to strike a balance between cost of development (both in resources and labor), instructor expertise, and turn-around time (or development time in response to current or recent events that might have an impact on the course learning objectives). Basically, it has been a question of what can the instructor build by him or herself, in time for the upcoming lessons, that isn’t going to involve a budget request from the department. Because of this dynamic, the “promise” of computer games transforming the education landscape has never really been realized, it if the prevailing thinking around this doesn’t change, neither will the landscape. What likely needs to occur is a shift in the expectation of games in education; designing a learning activity that plays like Modern Warfare–or even Angry Birds–is well out of reach of faculty skills and department budgets.
A possible pathway out of this impossible maze of twisty passages involves two strategies to be executed simultaneously:
- Utilize game formats and development tools that individual instructors can use effectively
- Be creative in finding methods of funding (and the funding should only need to cover relatively small amounts)
It is with both of these points in mind that I developed the Historical Williamsburg Living Narrative Kickstarter project. To the first point, I selected an “old school” type of computer game that can be developed quite effectively by a single person; an instructor who wishes to build something small scale in time for the upcoming semester, for example. To the second point, I decided to fund my project through Kickstarter, a crowd sourced funding model in which backers make donations rather than investments (meaning that if the developer is able to raise the funding, there is no pressure that the project become profitable enough for repayment).
My idea is simple: if instructors can use a form of computer games such as Interactive Fiction (a form that the literature shows is effective even with reluctant readers), they would be able to develop smaller game exercises that can be integrated into their curriculum, and expanded upon over time. With Kickstarter funding covering some relatively minor miscellaneous costs, there would be no significant budgetary impact to take into consideration.
(In fact, we could go even further and consider the creation of an education-specific form of Kickstarter. Imagine institutions tapping into their alumni base for course material development or even program funding on a smaller scale.)
I invite you to review the Kickstarter project by clicking here. The funding window is open until early June on that project. You can find additional material on the project at the official project blog by clicking here. Please feel free to share your thoughts, and I’ll be sure to report back throughout the development process.
Filed under colleges and universities, computer games, cost of education, crowdsourcing, education course content, education technology, games, gamification, Hap Aziz, higher education, Interactive Fiction, Kickstarter, Kickstarter.com, technology, vintage technology