Is There a Problem Here? An Instructional Alternate Reality Game

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

It’s not too late to share this. This is the biggest thing I can give to the Creative Commons. I made it well before I knew about The Commons and am only now remembering to do this. This is many many hours of my time. This is the scholarly project which completed my M.Sc. in Instructional Design and Technology.

It is an exercise in embedding instruction into an alternate reality game. Or it’s an exercise in deeply embedding narrative into learning. Either way I tried my best and I want the commons to have it.

It is an alternate reality game in which players need to learn about problem gambling behaviors and harm reduction strategies in order to bring a story to its end. That story is the dognapping of a mildly famous and much-loved English Mastiff.

Oh and it’s so low tech it’s hardly ed-tech at all.

Chance on the Rick Mercer Report

Here is the zip file of all the pieces to the game Missing Chance. The main piece to look for to guide you through are the ‘Puppet Master Instructions’. Here is a little excerpt:

The Story:
Jack Berlian is a YMCA board member who fought to get the original funding for the Youth Gambling Awareness Program. He was one of the first people to realize the potential harm that gambling is doing to our youth and was in a position to do something about it. We just found out that his dog, Chance, has gone missing from the YMCA and there was a clue that made him think that Chance was stolen to help pay off a gambling debt. Chance is actually a bit of a celebrity dog, so she is worth quite a bit of money. Since we know a little something about risky gambling behaviours and ways to reduce the harm, we are in a unique position to help Jack. You (the puppet master) have been up all night, prior to coming to the YGAP meeting, preparing a plan to help Jack. You feel like this is our chance to pay back Jack’s efforts in creating YGAP, by helping to find Chance. You also feel like this is an opportunity to truly validate all of the work that YGAP does.
The Rabbit Hole:
The beginning of an alternate reality game (ARG) is called a ‘rabbit hole’. This is the point at which we enter the alternate reality of the game. For this game, the rabbit hole is simply the lost dog poster that Jack has prepared to try to get people to help find Chance. This poster will be posted in and around the site that you are running the game, in places
where your game players will likely see it before coming to your session. This will add some ‘reality’ to the story when you tell them that we will be spending our time today trying to help find this dog.
The Puppet Master:
The remainder of the document is a set of instructions for you, the Youth Outreach Worker, to follow in order to take this game to its conclusion. You will be in front and behind the scenes, pulling the puppet strings.

If you know of any organization that works with problem gambling behaviours that might like to use this, let them know about this and let me know if I can help them.

Featured image from: https://unsplash.com/@bkotynski CCO

Digital Pedagogy: It’s Like Riding a Digital Bike

The saying, ‘it’s like riding a bike’ means you just don’t forget. Even if you don’t use a skill for a long time. You can pick it right back up. I can see that has truth to it, but it got me thinking about what it is actually like to learn to ride a bike.

It starts out with just about as much support as possible. A grown up literally supporting you, balancing you, giving you instant feedback and encouragement. And oh the rush of emotion when you actually do it on your own! Just a few months ago, I witnessed this happen. The boy shouting “I’m doing it! I’m doing it!” as he rode away for the first time. It struck me that I witnessed an event that boy would probably remember for the rest of his life.

After that first time you ride away from your support person, what kind of ‘formal’ instruction do you really get or want in your bike riding skill acquisition program? Not much at all, really. Now it’s all about experiential learning. You learn from the crashes what not to do. You learn from exhilaration what to do. You try different bikes and they feel weird at first, but then you figure it out. You roll over new terrain shaky at first, but then you get used to it and enjoy the challenge.

I can remember most of the actual instructional events in my life to do with biking. Probably because they are so few and far between. Any formal tips or tricks for biking have been searched and sought out on my own here and there in magazines or from other cyclists and I have just been ‘experientially learning’ the rest of the way (the experientalliest learning being the year I spent as a bike courier.)

But I digress and lose sight of the point I haven’t yet made. So, to review what I’ve been trying to say: learning to ride a bike includes large amounts of start up support and then you’re mostly on your own.

I think that the bike-learning methodology is kind of what it’s like to wade into the digital world as an educator. You can find those opportunities for the start up support to get going, but from there you’re on your own to choose your path. Going into new systems is like trying out a new, different bike. WordPress might be your all purpose commuter and a flat-tired unicyle might be your Learning Management System. And like biking, you can get more out of it by adding some accessories (Slack, Twitter, etc) and joining a club or community (Virtually Connecting, #OpenLearning17, #ds106 etc.). Your friends are here to help, but it’s up to you to ride through new terrain and feel the wind blow your hair back. It’s great fun that you have to work for.

“Bike near campground First Landing State Park” flickr photo by vastateparksstaff https://flickr.com/photos/vastateparksstaff/33089545372 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

featured photo: “riding bikes” flickr photo by jonny.hunter https://flickr.com/photos/jonnyhunter/1043775061 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

 

 

Petition to Adopt Reddit into The Open Ed Family

“Fishing spot” flickr photo by Patrick McConahay https://flickr.com/photos/pat_mcconahay/15106445506 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

The way Reddit works is really quite conducive to open pedagogy. I think, if I’m understanding the meaning of this saying properly, it is one of those things that is ‘of’ the Internet and not just ‘on’ it. The structure wasn’t designed specifically for educational purposes, but it sure does a better job of it than most things designed with ed-tech in mind.

Here’s how it works, put simply:

Subreddits:

are subdomains with their own topic/category/culture/set of rules. r/hockey is a place to talk hockey. r/Toronto is a place to talk about Toronto (helpful if you live there!). r/Askscience is a place to ask science questions that you hope somebody who knows more than you to answer. r/shittyaskscience is the same thing only with deliberately shitty answers, just for fun. There is a whole suite of ‘shitty’ subreddits, which is hilarious. Subreddits can be whatever the community wants and you can create your own.

Posts:

You can post a link, image or just some text to a subreddit. See something cute and educational anywhere else on the Web? Go post it to r/awwducational

Comments:

Each post basically gets its own discussion board by default. Know some more info about that cute thing on r/awwducational? Add your knowledge and link to more in-depth info. Or just ask for more detail if you don’t know.

Voting:

Each post, and each comment, can be upvoted or downvoted. The stuff with the higher +/- in votes is higher up, with the idea being upvoted stuff is the best stuff. It doesn’t always work that way as hive-minds can get carried away, but it often lets you find the quality stuff more quickly. You can also sort by new comments or controversial etc.

And all those things together gives us what?

What we end up with is a place where we can create our own community, easily contribute ideas and things, discuss, and vote on (to give more/less visibility). If the Open Education community were to post the awesome things that they find or do on Reddit (say, anything that someone would Tweet out) what we would have is a stream with a little more permanence than your Twitter feed. If Twitter were a rushing creek or waterfall, Reddit could be a slowly plodding brook or river full of life meandering through it.

The most interesting Subreddits seem to grow organically. Here are some neat communities:

Explain Like I’m Five

Cool Guides

A whole bunch more

Thanks for the inspiration to blog, Gardner!

 

 

Y’all Down with OEP?

OEP

oep

O.E.P. how can I explain it
You take your learning and share it
It’ll have us all all jumping, shouting, saying it
O is for Open, E is for Education
The last P, well that’s not that simple
It’s sort of like, well, teaching AND learning
It’s nine little letters that are missing here
You try some things and let the other’s know how it goes
It seems we gotta share the learning, bust it open
Ever explained ideas and went and heard a nice response?
Students get the gist and can explain it back to you?
You get home, wait a day and share it out to peers
They Tweet you back and they’ve tried it out themselves.
They took your idea and built upon it more! It’s a P, to the R, to the A, to the C, to the T, to the I, to the C, to the E, to the S.