Engagement & Gamification Takeaways


I was recently asked to briefly summarize “takeaways” for gamification and student engagement. This was not easy for me, as there is so much on these topics, and so many nuances that defy summary. As a student of Squire, Gee, Steinkuehler, Halverson, etc, it is perhaps no surprise that I used Gee’s 13 principles as a base. I am sure there are things I’ve missed. Gamification: Players (learners) are not alike: Some like to accumulate points, but some play to socialize, some to explore, Continue reading

New Article Published

Our TechTrends article is now online — soon to be in better newsstands and libraries across the globe! Sadly, the title isn’t quite what it should be. What it should be is: Participatory Scaling of Augmented Reality Learning through Local Games Authors: John Martin, Seann Dikkers, Kurt Squire, David Gagnon Abstract: The proliferation of broadband mobile devices, which many students bring to school with them as mobile phones, makes the widespread adoption of AR pedagogies a possibility, but pedagogical, distribution, and training models Continue reading

Disney and Education

Let me just be clear on a few things: I love Disney and its ability to create incredibly immersive experiences. I am a HUGE proponent the power of designed, built environments for learning (Ellworth 2005, etc.). Experiences that situate learners’ experiences in embodied contexts that touch multiple senses are experiences that “last a lifetime”. They’ve created top-notch, heavily-designed multimodal learning (and entertainment) environments that hold consumers’ attention throughout a learning experience. If all (or even 1%) of my public education Continue reading

Prezi for more than presentations

As a visual-primary learner, and as a fan of learning tools, I love the spirit behind this article in the Chronicle’s ProfHacker: Hacking Prezi as a Platform for Visual Composition and Design Experimentation. The infinite zoom of Prezi has tremendous potential in design and visual layout as an organizer of content. But, as a devotee of sociocultural and collaborative learning, I especially love this part: One of the best things we have found along the way is that Prezi has a collaborative Continue reading

ARIS: Video Training

Folks from AERA were asking how to get started with ARIS. While we’ll be running a workshop at GLS, there are easier ways. For example, there videos on YouTube, made by awesome people, that can demo the platform and step new users through the process of making a game, as well as videos that showcase some implementations and ideas for it. Here’s a YouTube Playlist of them: What’s in the playlist? Authoring Basic ARIS Objects (note: new address for editor: arisgames.org/editor) Continue reading

ARIS at AERA: Scaling Augmented Reality Education Through Local Games

I just got back from the 2013 AERA (American Educational Research Association) conference, where I got to present papers about Augmented Reality (and ARIS) in two sessions. The first, hosted by Chris Dede (Harvard), featured Eric Klopfer (MIT), Matt Dunleavy (Radford), Amy Kamarainen (Harvard), and Kurt Squire (Madison), with Chris Holden (UNM) and myself. Eric talked about MIT’s very cool Taleblazer platform. Matt discussed the development of the gorgeous Fresh AiR platform, and Amy detailed one cool case of how EcoMobile was using it. Then Continue reading

Place-based Learning in Environmental Studies

In summer and Fall of 2012, I was thrilled to be involved in the Situated Learning Award by the Engage program at UW–Madison. I got to assist three instructors in creating and implementing mobile-based Situated Learning activities for their courses. This post examines a case in Environmental Studies, where the instructor and her two graduate students built an elaborate three-role collaborative interactive tour of six buildings on campus where six issues in sustainability that the course covered throughout the semester: electricity, carbon, LEED, Continue reading

Good Doctor, Grave Robber v2.0: ARIS in Vermont

In which good folks from the Tarrant Institute create an ARIS activity for Carmen Petrick Smith’s undergraduate educational technology course. Here’s an excerpt from their Storify piece of what they did: ARIS is a mobile tablet-based gaming environment, based on the idea of augmenting scavenger hunts with more information about a related story or lesson plan. For instance, if you were teaching the Narnia books, you could have students move around the school as if they were moving through Narnia. You could Continue reading

From Edudemic: Make ARIS games to get smarter

The article is actually called 30 Surprising (And Controversial) Ways Students Learn, and includes a lot of things that readers of this blog probably already know, like:1. Playing scary and violent video games help children master their fears in real life. 2. Video games can lessen disruptive behaviors and enhance positive development in ADHD children 5. Gardening improves children’s desire to learn and boosts their confidence 8. Music and movement augment children’s language capabilities during the preschool years 9. Green spaces Continue reading

Consulting with ARIS/PBL

ConsultingwithARISPlace-BasedLearningPBL As you probably know, PBL is Place-Based Learning (similar to PBI), and ARIS is my current platform of choice for for such learning activities. Recently, I wrote a one-page document about ARIS, and this week I began working on a longer guide on what types of activities an instructor might want to create, with examples. Here’s the final PDF. Here’s a draft.

Making Knowledge: 3D Printing and Learning

With stories like: Lab Equipment Made With 3-D Printers Could Cut Costs by 97%, and videos like Will Minecraft and Makerbot Usher in the Post-Scarcity Economy? I’m wondering what 3D printers can bring to the classroom teaching environment (educational concepts, teaching materials, etc.) My colleague, Dan LaValley, at UW–Madison’s Digital Media Center has been watching this for awhile, and actually made a few video interviews way back in 2004: Dr. Michelle Harris talks about teaching molecular structure with 3D models. Muhammed Farhoud, a student Continue reading

2013 ARIS Summit at Playful Learning

The Games + Learning + Society group is hosting the GLS 9.0 conference on June 12-14. The day before the main conference (Tuesday, June 11), there will be a day-long GLS Playful Learning Summit (formerly known as GLSES) for educators: The Games+Learning+Society 9.0 Conference begins Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Memorial Union with the Playful Learning programming featuring innovation, inquiry, and imagination in games-based learning. This inaugural Playful Learning Summit promotes professional development opportunities to celebrate Continue reading

Place-based Learning presentation

I presented this session on Place-Based Learning at the 2011 Educause Midwest Regional Conference on 3-15-11. Description: Educational trends point to a growing need for flexible learning tools that support anyplace, anytime learning. Recent advances in mobile computing present potential avenues for addressing this. Having explored current trends in location-based mobile learning, we will share three projects built on an easy-to-use, open-source augmented reality storytelling platform. The ARIS platform is a mobile application that layers multimedia onto physical locations, using a Continue reading

Game Design at ELI

Here’s a nice review, by one of the participants, of the Game Design Session that Ryan Martinez and I facilitated at the Educause Learning Initiative Conference in Denver in early February. Here’s an excerpt: Ultimately I believe the entire process led to the use of skills completely relevant to the real world. It encouraged critical thinking, creativity, communication, team work, prototyping, observation, analysis, and reflection. I believe it was an incredible learning experience, and was one of my favorite parts Continue reading

What’s next in Learning

We have reached the point where there are enough low-entry-bar tech tools to allow the computer/mobile/etc to move from being tools of consumption (and transmission-based learning) to tools of creation (and design-based learning).   Between low-cost apps for tablets and mobile device, the ability to document our own lives with GPS-tagged notes and media, a consumer-based trend of sharing (and remix), and “build-your-own” games such as Minecraft, we have all the ingredients to finally take advantage of a design-based form Continue reading

Critiquing to Learn

Here are a few thoughts to develop my critiquing design for students: 1) Identify Examples; 2) Deconstruct them; 3) Collaborate and iterate towards them. One of the best ways that I learn is by taking apart good examples. It’s a cliche stereotype perhaps, but as a boy, I destroyed the wind up alarm clock that I got for Christmas one year because I wanted to understand what made it tick. For my birthday, a few months later my folks, to their Continue reading

An app to promote good studenting

Just read an article in Slate called Digital Jiminy Crickets about apps that help you be more ethical, do what you  need to do — all those things that we mean  to do, but need a nudge to actually do. Capitalizing on three inter-related movements—nudging, the quantified self, and gamification—the good-behavior layer pinpoints our mental and emotional weaknesses and steers us away from temptations that compromise long-term success. One example, they give is Gym-Pact, which “rewards” you with cash that you and other users Continue reading

Getting Started with Mobile Learning

I’m stealing this directly from my colleague, Jim Mathews, published on the Macarthur Spotlight blog. 4.20.12 | Guest author Jim Mathews is a teacher at Middleton Alternative Senior High School in Middleton, Wisc., and a UW graduate student. Mathews is one of the designers of Augmented Reality and Interactive Storytelling (ARIS), a new augmented reality platform for the iPhone. The following is excerpted from a chapter he co-authored with Mark Wagler, “Up River: Place, Ethnography, and Design in the St. Continue reading