Game Frame for Learning (ARIS)

I’ve been researching different aspects of GPS-enhanced place-based learning since 2004, and creating mobile, place-based learning games and experiences since 2005. Since meeting with the initial ARIS developers in 2008, and  joining the project full-time (2009), I’ve been pushing for easier access and general-use capabilities — to make the entry point as broadly accessible as possible. In 2009, I got a copy of Victoria Rydberg’s Hands On Earth Math and immediately saw that as a worked example of content that could be ported Continue reading

Madison Bike Lane (snow-go)

Madison Parks and Recreation does a fantastic job clearing the bike/ped paths after a snowfall (nice for citizens who like to stay in shape all year), but Madison Streets department certainly doesn’t prioritize for their plowing for bike commuters. Here’s the contra-flow lane on University Ave this morning (note the use of bike lane as “place to pile snow” at the intersections).

Mitchville Game Design

Apparently,while I have the script for it here, I’d never uploaded a good description of the Augmented Reality (AR) game that was the foundation of my dissertation. Briefly, it was a “light” AR game (no “Terminator” vision), written by a group of campers, and adapted for MIT’s Outdoor AR platform. Basically, the idea was to use a narrative to structure a 4-day hiking trip in such a way as to mimic the wildly beloved “Mystery Trips” taken in the 1920s and Continue reading

What the iPad means

Books in the Age of the iPad, by Craig Mod, is perhaps the most beautiful and thoughtful post I’ve read in years. In it, Mod argues that the iPad is a universal container for rich media and what he calls “well-formed content”— I’ll let you read the article (you should) to understand what he means. He notes that the iPad might minimize the production, distribution, and consumption of the printed book, saving significant resources. The iPad also “brings the excellent text Continue reading

Solar Dog Park

Ethereal Glow Shelters now have Solar lights! Last night, biking home from a friend’s birthday celebration, I noticed an ethereal glow from the canopies of the Quann Park dog “shelters” (they’ll shelter from a straight-down rain, or the noon sun, but not much else). With the newly-installed (I think it’s recent, anyway — hadn’t noticed them before) solar panels and the spooky night-time glow, I’ll now be able to take my dog to the park at night and do some Continue reading

Gardening Thoughts

‘Tis the Season On the same weekend of this NYTimes editorial on backyard gardening, the local expo center is holding Madison’s Garden Expo: The 2009 Garden Expo will be held February 13, 14 and 15 in the Exhibition Hall at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison. This is the 16th annual Wisconsin Public Television Garden Expo. (Last year’s event attracted 16,400 attendees.) Visitors may choose to attend more than 100 educational seminars and demonstrations on gardening, lawn, and landscaping topics and enjoy Continue reading

Regarding Spring

The Promise of the Sun Early February is, in no way, Spring in Wisconsin. But yesterday and Saturday it was warm (in the 40s!). The sun was out. The snow (that had turned into dirty ice) on the roads and sidewalks was melting and forming quick little streams and rivulets throughout Madison. I have, what I’m beginning to learn is, a strange quirk. I love to shovel snow. It’s actually more than that. I love clean, dry sidewalks, driveways, patios, Continue reading

Cheaper LED “lightbulbs”

Unretouched light from a 7-dollar, 48-LED “bulb” I bought from More Efficient Fabrication lowers the cost Researchers in England have found a way to make the ultra-cool LED for less money. Much more efficient that standard incandescent bulbs (and CFLs, with the added benefit of containing no mercury). I’ve purchased a bunch of 48 array LED bulbs from (for ~$7 each) and love them, but cheaper would be better. LEDs are already in use in bicycle lights, mobile Continue reading

Trayless Cafeterias

Every little bit counts Northland College just got rid of trays in their cafeteria, following in the (carbon-lighter) footsteps of places like Dalhousie University (and I’m certain some others). From Dalhousie’s site: Aramark is saving approximately 1040 gallons (3936 litres) of water a day and approximately $13,000 worth of electricity. They’re saving a little over 900,000 trays from being washed per school year. Sure, it’s Canadian dollars, back from March, but still, that’s a chunk o change.


Every little bit counts In the spirit of “every little bit helps,” folks at SPRANQ have  created a laser printer typeface with tiny little holes in it that don’t affect readability, but cut down the amount of toner needed to print by 20%! It’s called EcoFont, and it looks fine at smaller font sizes. Clearly not great for anything over 48pt (unless you want a holey look), EcoFont gives you one free page of text for every five pages that Continue reading

PBI #41: Birding Guide

Mobile Birding App and Geologger  Let’s call this idea “BirdApp” and make it for the iPhone (or any location-aware handheld computer with internet access). [Update: Apparently I didn’t get this posted soon enough. There’s already an iPhone bird guide App called iBird (of course). It doesn’t include my Shazam-like idea to help identify birds by their song, but it does include wiki-pages for birds, and info uploaded to] Identify Birds BirdApp users would be able to use their iPhone or mobile device to identify birds, Continue reading

Giftlist 2008

All I need… High heat silicon spatulas — I had a great set a few years ago, but they disappeared about the time that a roommate moved out…. [Update: I’ll make do with the ones on my Kona.] Nokian Hakkapelita 700X35 Bike Tire 106 Studs for winter biking. I think I only want one — for the front. That should keep me from going down and breaking my collar-bone. I’ll still fish-tail and have to spin to accelerate, but that’s the fun art of winter biking. I’ve got Continue reading

Green Charter Schools Presentation

New Technologies for Local Learning On Friday, November 7, at the Green Charter Schools Conference, I was invited to present on my research on place-based games in the “Outta-The-Box” Schools & Anywhere, Anytime Learning section. Technological innovations are changing the ways young people learn. In innovative new environment-focused schools, students can attain knowledge and skills through mobile and wireless technology no matter where they are — in the classroom, in the field, or online. Through educational programs that utilize real-world situations, epistemic and Continue reading

AR as Tour Guide

The folks at PARC have got it right, as evidenced in this CNET article, From PARC, the mobile phone as tour guide Palo Alto Research Center, or PARC–the Xerox subsidiary that was the birthplace of the computer mouse, the graphical user interface and Ethernet–has developed a mobile application that offers up information that would be useful to a wanderer–things like shops, restaurants and event listings based on your location (via the GPS device in the phone) and the time of Continue reading

AERA 2007 Thu. 2:15 – Env. Adventures

64.067. Empowering Young People Through Environmental Adventures, Motivators, Narratives, and Classrooms. SIG Ecological and Environmental Education. Sheraton, Sheraton Ballroom, Section V, Level 4. 2:15 pm to 3:45 pm. Chair: Marcia Diane McKenzie, University of British Columbia Participants: Motivations to Environmental Action Participation by Exemplar Youth: UNEP International Children’s Conference on the Environment. Annelise Carleton-Hug, Montana State University; J. William Hug, Montana State University. Leadership Training and Environmental Education: The Youth Enrichment Adventure. Mary e. Brenner, Yukari Okomoto, John Jirair Jabagchourian, Continue reading

AERA 2007 Wed. 8:15 – Env. Ed.

47.064. Going Beyond Traditional Boundaries: Applying Novel Methods and Perspectives to Environmental Education. SIG Ecological and Environmental Education. Sheraton, Huron, Level 2. 8:15 am to 9:45 am. Chair: Bob Jickling, Lakehead University Participants: Students’ Perspectives on Environmental Education: “I’m Not Looking at It From a Tree’s Point of View.” Nicholas A. C. Hopwood; Oxford University; Deconstructing Early Childhood Content, Context, and Pedagogy Through Everyday Environmental Education Experiences. Amy N. Cutter-Mackenzie, Monash University; Susan Edwards, Monash University. The Impact of Identity Continue reading

AERA 2007 Mon. Noon – Human/Nature

16.065. Managing, Locating, and Theorizing Human-Nature/ Ecological Relationships. SIG-Ecological and Environmental Education Sheraton, Ohio, Level 2 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm Chair: Justin S. Dillon, King’s College – London Participants: Management of Human-Nature Relationships in Environmental Education Resources. Joan M Chambers, University of Alberta; Patricia M. Rowell, University of Alberta Farming and Land Management as Resources for Environmental Education. Revital Tali Tal, Technion – Israel Institute of Technology Student Knowledge of the Relationships Between Human Actions and Environmental Systems. Blakely Continue reading


Some lights in a house stay on quite a bit. Some only need to be on occasionally. In my apartment the outside porch light is on all night (roommates get home late), entry hallway is dark, and the steps up to the main floor are dark. The main hallway gets enough sunlight that it doesn’t need a light all the time. When I moved in, there were 75watt bulbs in each of those sockets — two in the downstairs hallway. Continue reading

Almost convinced…

On Monday nights I attend an EnAct small group meeting. Last week we talked about energy, and we happen to have an energy worker as a group member whose insight into these things is really valuable. Tuesday nights I’m part of a Sustain Dane study group that is looking at The Natural Step framework for eco-municipalities. Last night we spoke a bit about renewable energy, and all agree that it’s a cool thing that needs to have more widespread use. Continue reading