Tag Archives: #altc2008

ARG Key Features for Education

Excerpt from paper given today at ALT-C:

“My research across three broad areas persuaded me that, without a doubt, there are lessons which education could learn from Alternative Reality Games.

The perfect approach would be, of course, to create a complete ARG within an educational environment and on an educational topic – much like the ARGOSI project in Manchester aims to do, and a handful of other institutions here and particularly in the United States have either implemented or are in the process of planning.

However, I believe that the lessons we can learn from ARGs don’t necessarily need to be applied as a fully fledged ARG; indeed, there will be many of you working in institutions or departments where a full ARG simply wouldn’t be possible given the political, administrative or conceptual constraints. To this end, I have constructed a list of key features, drawn from my research and from earlier research in the area by Bryan Alexander, Jane McGonigal, Cristy Dena and others, which ARGs offer and which would be of value to educational contexts wishing to increase engagement, critical problem solving skills and communities of practice within the subject:

  • Problem solving at varying levels (graded challenge)
    – enable students to pick their own starting level and work up from there
  • Progress and rewards (leaderboard, grand prize)
    – this could also be assessment
  • Narrative devices (characters/plot/story)
    Note: doesn’t have to be fictional: academic subjects have histories, themes, news etc.
  • Influence on outcomes
    as researchers we don’t think that we are working towards a known answer or statement; and we would like our students to think in the same way: by letting them decide or influence some aspects of their course, this helps to scaffold their path into a critical academic thinker
  • Regular delivery of new problems/events
    key to maintaining engagement. Thinking about ways to keep things moving without putting extra pressure on staff
  • Potential for large, active community
    …which is self-supporting/scaffolding – the potential is less the smaller the group and the narrower the subject interest/specialisation.
  • Based on simple, existing technologies/media
    this is an easy sell

I’m not suggesting that all of these features need to be included in a course; but by taking two, three or four in detail, and bearing the others in mind, I think that the potential to improve engagement and motivation, critical problem solving skills, and foster a course-based academic community amongst its students, is within a course designer’s grasp.”

(Moseley, 2008). Full paper available to download on the Publications page.

Alt-C 2008 Day 1: Games

It’s been a hectic but very rewarding day at Alt-C 2008 (the UK’s Learning Technology conference) in Leeds. I was on the first session of the day, following a great presentation by Hans Rosling from the Karolinska Institutein Sweden (with some very nifty graphics work designed by his Google son).

A full-on Games session, with Nicola Whitton up first with her ARGOSI project in Manchester: A full ARG to induct students into Manchester and student life: very interesting indeed (I’ll be following this one). Actually, Nicola and her team weren’t there to start the session: the audience had to piece together clues to find a mobile number to call her on and get her to turn up. Nice introduction to ARGs for the uninitiated.

I was on third, miked up (Madonna-style) to the elluminate system (I’ll add a link to the video when it appears), and presented my new research into Perplex City (the ARG game) which resulted in my ARG Key Features for Education – see next post.

I also had the audience working for their supper, with some MOO cards printed with fragments of quotes whcih had to be pieced together during the session. Asking a bit much in 15 minutes (as I knew), but they did me proud by piecing them together interactively as they read them out.

The full session was blogged by Andy Powell and the questions and audience for all speakers were interested and clued-in (surprisingly).

It later turned out that there is something of a wave of interest in ARGs at the moment, so the whole day was spent talking to interested and interesting people: more to come on this.

On Leeds: it’s a huge campus in rabbit-warren style; but I was most impressed by the typeface display the design faculty had put up around building hoardings. Appealed to the font geek in me.