Integrating technology to increase learning in higher education in various roles since 1991, John is currently a Senior Teaching & Learning Consultant at the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Academic Technology, where he designs and teaches using experientially and socioculturally-rich practices. Drawing on his doctoral research in game-based learning, a background in technology, art, writing, outdoor education, and with a commitment to environmental and social sustainability, John investigates tools of inquiry and expression that promote greater understanding and appreciation of the digital, social, and physical spaces we inhabit.
As the Program Manager for the Active Teaching Lab, John has designed and facilitated over 70 sessions featuring faculty sharing their experiences using tools to teach. After hearing a use case, participants are guided through hands-on experience with the tool for a more embodied ability to discuss and evaluate its pedagogical and practical affordances. This no-stipend program has explored a myriad of tools that educators use, with an average attendance of ~15 each week.
From 1993-2017, he’s helped run Flying Moose Lodge, a wilderness camp in Maine, and there noticed that when people actively engage their bodies in personally and culturally meaningful physical places, they can learn a lot. Thus, he continues to value experiential and social learning.
As part of UW–Madison’s Mobile Learning Incubator, he helped design experiential and social learning tools and methods, such as siftr.org and arisgames.org (Augmented Reality Interactive Storytelling) — a mobile augmented reality platform designed for the Apple iPhone that allows simple and elegant creation of location-based mobile games. It’s pretty cool.
For his Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction, he broadly considered the motivational and sociocultural learning affordances of video games, and specifically focused on learner-designed place-based mobile games. His dissertation was on the Mystery Trip — based on a theatrically-enhanced camping trip “played” at the camp in the 1920s and 1930s, where campers followed the trails of forgers, kidnappers, and thieves in the woods around the camp, finding clues, breaking codes, solving puzzles, and improvising in order to find the gold coins buried by the bad guys (then they’d peel the gold off the coins and eat the chocolate). Ninety years later, the clues and characters are virtual, triggered by GPS, but the space is largely the same. As a twist to the original game, in the down time of the three day period of the game, the players design a “better” game for the next group to go through. This additional step further grounded them in the place as it required they look at the space they passed through from the perspective of game designer/producers as well as consumers.
Here’s his “Employee of the Month” picture* from 2013.
and the robotic GIF version:
*Don’t be fooled. John was never Employee of the Month.