Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A new model for higher education e-learning

In this post, from the Higher Education Management Group blog, the writer justifies the need for higher education to change its course development model to one based more on collaboration between individuals in a university, as opposed to individually based course development.

As the article explains, when applying the old classroom based model to e-learning design, there will be conflict.

E-learning course design really takes a team of experts to assist a professor (subject matter expert) in delivering a high quality e-learning course.

Image from

Monday, December 7, 2009

Friday, December 4, 2009

The missing pieces...

Competing Products
No other AR game exists to teach students campus safety. AR games in general are still a new technology.
The closest product is case study simulations of how to handle student behavior such as this one from Penn State Although this training is for a different audience and a different topic; it is similar in how it uses scenarios to introduce an issue. However, there is no user interaction.
Motivational Issues
In order to motivate students I am using parts of Gee’s (2007) learning and gaming principles construct to consider how to motivate learner-players.
The following list summarizing my thinking at this point:
1.    Co-design – players are active agents in interpreting the narrative, thus game creates a sense of ownership through participation
2.    Identity – an integral component of AR games is the ability for players to take on an identity offered in the game. In this case, it is an identity of investigator. Gee (2007) and Dunleavy et al (2009) see this as the identity principle.
3.    Distributed knowledge – players are not actually getting mugged, but they are participating through the use of the AR tool in an environment that simulates the knowledge context (Dunleavy et al also mentions this point within the notion of socio-cultural learning and the interaction of “pedagogy…which knowledge is grounded in a setting and distributed across a community”, p. 19)
4.    Well-ordered problems – the game presented here scaffolds the knowledge within each action point allowing them to construct their own understanding of the safety rules
5.    Pleasantly frustrating – my vision is not to have the game seem too easy, hand feeding the players the answers, but giving them clues to figure out a solution collaboratively
6.    Just in time information – by using the AR app to direct learners to various places and prompt them to pay attention to a point in the narrative they should be able to easily flow through the game
7.    Fish tank – the narrative is meant to be realistic, but yet controls variables to help direct learning attention
8.    Sandbox – the first to second action point eases players into the game system without the risk of making a game based mistake
9.    Systems thinking – the system in the sense is the process of input (character doing actions) and output (being mugged). It is up to the player to find contributing factors caught between the process
10. Meaning as action – no reasonable person wants the experience of being mugged, but a powerful way to gain the experience is to study how it can happen. This game is meant to give concrete meaning to the abstract experience
Another motivational point that underlies the game is the choice of characters and the use of a somewhat realistic narrative. My intention is to motivate players by having them experience through the proxy of a similar person to themselves, the wrong choices that are made and how those choices are easily justified. The design of the game is as much about the design of any instructional message that consider variation and curiosity, relevance to the learner, an appropriate challenge level, interesting picture, and a sense of cognitive dissonance (Fleming & Levie, 1993).
As an affordance of AR technology and using the opportunity to engage in a game in players’ own words, the high fidelity between real and fiction AR provides learners with a deeper learning experience than just pure information. Klopfer (2008) sees this process as “deep and powerful while staying casual” (p 225).
Design Process
At this point in my design process I have been thinking more conceptual than practical, but the process has begun to gel with this exercise. At first, I sketched out what an AR game on security would look like as a role playing game, but quickly became bogged down with details of the game system. I determined that game design, as an exercise in putting theory to practice, should be about developing a simple product to demonstrate an understanding of the theory over trying to be complex and flashy. This decision freed me up to work out a simple gaming system with a small number of elements – 3 characters, map action points, and a loose narrative.

My next step was then to identify the knowledge base that would feed into the game design. The Syracuse University’s public safety website provided a short movie and literature on campus safety, which provided a few simple rules. I then took those a few of those rules and developed parts of the Betty narrative considering how each action point can be a lesson.
At this point in the process, I would like to further review the literature on AR games and motivation in design, to help me tweek the game’s elements. The example narrative is just the first iteration of Betty. The other character will need the same design and development process before I would consider this wireframe ‘complete’.
Dunleavy, M., Dede, C., & Mitchell, R. (2009). Affordances and limitations of immersive participatory augmented reality simulations for teaching and learning. Journal of Science Education Technology, 18, 7-22. DOI: 10.1007/s10956-008-9119-1.

Fleming, M. & Levie, W. H. (1993). Instructional message design: Principles from the behavioral and cognitive sciences. NJ: Educational Technology Publications.
Gee, J. P. (2007). Good Video Game + Good Learning. New York: Peter Lang Publishing.
Klopfer, E. (2008). Augmented Learning: Research and Design of Mobile Educational Games. Cambridge MA: The MIT Press.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Augmented Reality Game draft

Staying Safe
A simulation game on campus security
Kevin Forgard
Crimes against students on or around the university campus are a major concern for everyone. The campus Public Safety office does what they can to alert students of incidents, but students, especially incoming freshmen, need to be made aware of the warning signs of potential problems, and how to avoid them. Staying Safe, an augmented reality game, is intended to teach new students at SU a few security basics, in turn hopefully motivating them to make better and safe choices while walking near and around the SU campus.
In the game, a team of 2 or 3 players will help identify security practices as they follow of one of three fictional characters’ paths who were mugged in the Thronden Park.  In order the play the game, players would load an augmented reality iphone app, which overlays graphics of various site locations in the park and is interfaced by the players via the phone’s camera using GPS location triggers.
The app would contain the augmented reality data along with a game system of the park map, navigation software telling the players where to go, and a scoring system that tracks players’ team answers. After an initial tutorial, the game system prompts players through a narrative to follow the path of their character. The narrative is based on recollection from the character.
Instructional Objectives
Using the various safety tips published by campus public safety, the objectives of this game are basically about getting learners to be more aware of their surroundings and to reinforce safe behaviors while walking through the park. These include:
·         Walking in groups of 3 or more
·         Not to approach suspicious people
·         Reporting suspicious activities as well as knowing what ‘suspicious’ means
·         Being aware of your surroundings (in the park this means watching out for ambush points, not taking short cuts, not talking on the cell phone while walking, not listening to an ipod while walking)
·         Walking in well lit areas
·         Not getting too close to approaching vehicles
·         Knowing what to do if someone is following you
·         When to use the Blue Light
Not every character will cover all of these tasks, but depending on the narrative, certain ones would be highlighted. Also, the objectives are not revealed to the player until after they have completed the game.
The game is designed for 18-21 year old undergraduates who would like to explore a novel way to learn about safety. The main audience is freshmen who are unfamiliar with the campus and would like to learn about protecting themselves. However, upper-class students would be encouraged to play the game to challenge themselves on what they know about campus safety. The novelty of an augmented reality game would hopefully provide learners with more affinity towards a subject they may take for granted.
Context of Use
To facilitate game play, players would be given an information handout or email on how to access the game system. Initial information would include an element of drama, asking players to help identify security risks in the park based on a recent trend of security incidents in Thornden Park. This information would ask people who are interested to download the app and go to the rose garden (game action point 1). Once they get there and load the app the game would prompt players to declare their team members and ask for names and email addresses. This will allow the game to be personalized and feedback sent via email.
After players complete the character scenario, they will be asked to review all of the issues they identified (which were entered as they played the game). These would be referenced in the game system to specific learning objectives, which would generate a score and feedback on improving their safety.
The game is meant to be played for approximately 30 minutes with 2-3 players on a team who access and discuss the scenarios based on their perspectives. Individuals would answer the questions accompanying the scenarios based on their interactions with teammates. However, at the end of the game, the scores and feedback will be individualized.
Players may choose to play the other characters if they are interested.
The game interface can be designed in Flash using mobile interface development. The Flash .swf would play movies of situations occurring and have static buttons and location information based on what the players are doing and where they are on the map. The iphone camera would act as a lens overlaying images on the real world to facilitate other interactions. The application for this can be developed using the ARToolkit (
The game map would include several action spaces where players can interact with the game mechanism based on the movement of their chosen characters. All characters, however, would begin at the Rose Garden where players’ first interaction with the game is an orientation tutorial that prompts them to go the statue approximately 100 yards north of the rose garden. The tutorial would allow players the opportunity to interact with the game system to test their equipment without being scored and explain what to do if they become lost.
From the second action point, the actual game would begin with the players’ phones prompting them to participate in the narrative. Each character would go in a different direction that leads to various action points with the last action point being where the major incident occurred.
When players reach an action point (marked on a map in the game, and configured to GPS coordinates), the game system will trigger that part of the scenario. The players look through their phones to see the area, but with modifications such as, the park at night, or someone approaching.
At the end of each action sequence, the game would prompt the players to key-in their observations and choose what about the augmented and/or real environment is a security risk.
Object of the Game
The object of the game is to complete the narrative walk-through while noting any security issues.

Design Details

Here is an example of one of the characters the players can play – Betty

Another character would be Stan, who doesn’t get mugged, but sees someone getting mugged (Betty perhaps), but fails to report the crime.

The third character to choose would be an international student who goes down a dark path, gets lost, sees something strange (gay guys at the watertower, someone having sex in the park), and misuses the Blue Light.

Pre-game orientation

Players begin the game with a set of paper instructions and a map with marker points. The instructions explain how to access the system with their device (iphone) and download the app for the game. The map is of Thornden Park with action spots marked on it.
Once the app loads, players will be asked to choose one of three case files. Each contains a short description of a person who was a victim to a crime, and would prompt players to follow the character’s path through the park based on the character’s situation.
During the game, players are instructed to pick out factors that contributed to the character’s crime by asking them to collect information from each action point on the map the character indicated they visited.
When players reach the action points, their device will prompt them with new information. Additionally, players at times would be able to look through their phones using AR technology to see the surroundings ‘through the character’s eyes’. This is built in the narrative.
Each red circle represents an action point players would access in the ‘Betty’ narrative.

Betty Narrative

Here is what would happen after the players choose to play the Betty character. They would see this screen…

Action Point 1 – Rose Garden/orientation
Friday, May 16
Betty often liked to spend a few minutes in the rose garden, and like most days she began her trek through the park here.  (look through AR device) Notice how the sunset brings out the colors of the flowers. Betty starts to think about how she finally finished her week’s reading in Psychology and is ready for a break.
(AR device prompts)
Betty’s first account…
“I remember beginning my walk at the Rose Garden. It was about 7 or so, around sunset. I was supposed to meet Kate, but she never showed up. No one else was around. I then I got a call from Kate who told me to come over to Cindy’s where she was at. Cindy lives just on the other side of the park by Cherry Street. It didn’t seem too late to walk in the park, so I figured it would be much faster and easier to walk through the park then around on Euclid. I’ve done it plenty of times before.
As I was talking to Kate, the phone started breaking up, so I walked over to the Statue (shown on the map).”

Prompt: After reading Betty’s account, look around at the surroundings and think of her actions. Note any mistakes or concerns by typing them in the notes section here...

Teaching point – this first part of the scenario is to orient the player to the game system and have them begin to use the AR device. The lesson for this first part is ‘Don’t walk alone after dark – go in groups of three’.

Since this is just a tutorial stage, after the player types in the notes, they are told to compare them to the public safety account of the situation.

PS expert speaks via a video: It’s too bad Kate didn’t meet with Betty and instead went ahead without her. However, Betty thinks that it’s perfectly fine to walk alone through the park. Notice the time of day, and how it’s quickly getting dark. I would suggest always walking in groups of 3 after dark.
Keep walking Betty’s path noting at each location anything about the area or Betty’s actions that seem risky. After the simulation you will be provided with feedback on your analysis and things to watch out for.

Action Point 2 – The Statue
“I walked not too far from the garden and kept talking with my friend. The sun started quickly going down. We started to talk about some other classmates or something. I remember tripping a piece of wood or stone. I wasn’t sure because it was pretty dark by about this time. I then headed over to the street down the hill.” (Prompt on map)

Prompt – Use your cell phone to look around at what the area looks like at night. (A car slowly drives by in the distance towards the street Betty is walking towards. The players hear a car door open and close)
Note anything about the area here.

Teaching Point – Pay attention to your surroundings – don’t talk on the cell phone while walking

Action point 3 – The Road
“While I was talking to Kate, this weird guy started pulling up behind me in his car and asked me for the time. I just kept walking and told me friend ‘Oh my god, this weirdo just asked me what time it was from his car’. “

Teaching point – report suspicious activity, don’t approach cars with strangers in them

Action point 4 – The Fieldhouse
“That guy in the car that I passed up seemed kind of weird. I mean, why would you someone the time. I thought that maybe he wanted to pick me up or something. But, he was like 40! I headed over towards the fieldhouse away from the road, and it was getting hard to see.”

Teaching point – walk only in well lit areas

Action point 5 – The auditorium
“I then headed towards the auditorium. I usually love hanging out at the there in the day. When I walked inside the area, it reminded me of this song. I dug through my bag and tired to find it on my ipod. After finally finding it, I then realized that the gate on the other side of the auditorium was locked. I thought how strange because it’s always been open. I jammed to my tunes and started heading toward to other gate trying not to trip in the dark. Luckily, that car was gone, so I felt safe.”

Teaching point – don’t trap yourself, pay attention, and don’t put on headphones because they can be a distraction

Action point 6 – The auditorium gate being followed
“When I got to the front gate of the auditorium, I saw someone walking towards me wearing a hoodie. (Prompt on AR) I tried to hide in the dark by going around to where I went in the auditorium, but it dark. I figured that I’m almost there and maybe that guy will go away. I didn’t want to head to the light because I was afraid that he would see me.”

Teaching point – if you think you are being followed, move towards a well lit area. Better yet, try to get to a Blue Safety light.

Action point 7 – the mugging
“I was almost out of the park when out from the bushes the hoodie guy jumps out. At first I thought it was someone playing a joke, but then I noticed that he had a gun. I was about to run away, but I didn’t know where I would go. It all happened so fast. He took my purse that had everything in it, my money, phone, ipod. I tried to take back my phone, but he then pushed the gun in my face. I was so scared at that point and just froze.
He took my bag and ran into the woods.
After that I ran to my friends house and cried for like an hour before I called public safety”

Teaching point – never resist a mugger just give your things up and report the crime immediately
Universal Game Elements
My vision of this game is to have realistic looking activities superimposed on the AR environment that players see through their phones. The map of the area would be taken from google maps.
The gaming system would have text based questions and narrative when appropriate.
It’s a matter of being realistic without making the players paranoid. What I am after is to get the characters as realistic people make mistakes, and that it is up to the players to identify these mistakes while enjoying themselves in the process. The game control mechanism should create the opportunity to get players to reflect on how poor choices may result in being vulnerable to victimization.
Elements that would work well for the game’s purpose would be:
1.    Scenarios that are dependent on the environment -  night or day, paths, hiding spots (trees or bushes), light
2.    Bad guys that not just mug the characters, but act as background suspicious narrative elements doing things such as vandalizing something in the park, being violent towards another victim, or following the character/seeming to be following the player.
3.    Seemingly justifiable actions that the character does such as answering a phone call, being on the phone while walking, listening to music, taking a unlit short cut, running away from a mugger, or walking alone at night
4.    Other NPCs that simulate other events that occur in the park – homeless guy, drunk students walking around, the sound of an animal, another student, a friend (who perhaps asks to wait to reinforce not walking alone). This is to create a sense of realism in that at least there would be someone else in the park.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I fear for my past! Or, why I shouldn't stress about imperfection.

Image from stock photos

Recently, I came across a blog posting from the Blog CogDogBlog titled Fear of a Googled Past
In the article, the writer discusses how people should not fear, or sugar coat their past choices in life that are portrayed online. Or as the writer Alan Levine eloquently puts it:
It sounds like the under the bed monster fear of “looking bad” or “looking stupid” to others. Flip it around, and it says we should create online representations of ourselves that aim for some false perfection, a sheen of lack of flaws, like we all should have bodies of Hollywood waifs and minds of Harvard physics majors.
In this day and age where professional job search seems to be more about personality matches than pure qualifications, it’s easy to worry about 'looking bad' to prospective employers. 
So what could stem from such worry?

For example, someone close to me, who spent a year trying to find a job, deleted anything that wasn't PG rated from their Facebook page. This included the removing of content that gave any indication that this person...shall I say, actually did anything other than go to bed at 11 their whole life and lived a perfectly altruistic-I-am-just-perfect life.

C'mon! Most everyone made choices in their lives that they would not be proud of. And some would just rather stay 'in the closet' pretending to be Mr. or Ms. Perfect. Even if a person lived a relatively clean life, how can anyone be justifiably judged by their online persona?

Not only that; but, who sets these standards, and why does everyone have to follow them?

Ask yourself:
Would you advertise the fact that you went to a Grateful Dead, Phish, or any other jamband show? Or multiple ones at that?
Would you admit to having spent a summer 'bumming around' in Amsterdam when you were 21 visiting the coffee houses?
Would you give the impression that it’s OK to appreciate alcoholic beverages such as scotch, beer, or wine?
Would you delete old pictures of you smoking cigarettes?
Does posting a recording of a stoned out jam session you had with friends in 1995 constitute a sense of being too weird?
Can someone who wants to be a professional also have eccentric hobbies, which are discussed online?
The point being, how can other make judgments of our abilities and capabilities from choices made years in the past?
My prediction is that all of this will come to a head and then blogs, Facebook, Twitter will then become not so much of a way to obfuscate their identity, but a way to proudly reveal their who they are and all the experiences that made them that way.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Readiness Research 10/01/2009

Posted from Diigo. The rest of PA_CollegeReadiness group favorite links are here.