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

A Game Design Framework for Course Design

Who is the Course Designer? Jamie attends a class that her instructor has spent months creating. Her instructor, let’s call him Dr. X, has slaved to make sure that all the content he wants to cover fits in the course. He has active learning activities peppered throughout the semester. He has chosen the best readings for each of the topics. He has weekly quizzes written to keep students accountable, and tests designed not just to assess but to teach. He 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

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

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

ARIS in one page

I recently created a one-page document (443k pdf) describing what ARIS is, and how it can be used for teaching and learning. Here’s the blog version of it: ARISgames.org ARIS is not a game, but a free and open-source game authoring platform. It consists of a web-based game authoring tool, an iOS client app for players to interact with games, and a server running in a cloud-based environment. Players can look for games near their current location, by popularity, or by 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

Games and Gamification Slides here

Ryan Martinez and I had the honor of presenting our first ever webinar presentation for THE HORIZON REPORT IN ACTION: EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES TODAY AND TOMORROW webinar on March 27th. The webinar had over 800 people signed up for it, with eight speakers. The facilitator, Marc Hoit, described was “the most complicated of these I’ve been involved in.” There were, of course, issues with audio, slide syncing, etc. Still, it was quite an experience, and Ryan and I got to talk about Continue reading

Horizon Report Webinar March 27, 12-1pm

I’d like to invite you all to view the Horizon Report webinar. UW-Madison’s own Ryan Martinez and I will be presenting on and discussing Games and Gamification. Click here to register. The Horizon Report in Action: Emerging Technologies Today and Tomorrow Date: March 27, 2013 Time: 12:00 – 1:30 p.m. CST; convert to your time zone Speakers: Malcolm Brown, Director, EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, EDUCAUSE Veronica Diaz, Associate Director, EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, EDUCAUSE John Martin, Learning Technologies Consultant, University of Wisconsin-Madison Ryan Martinez, Graduate Student/Instructor, University of 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

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

What is “Mobile Learning”?

Kudos to Connie Malamed for one of the most broad-but-concise article I’ve read on the unique opportunities that learning with the current crop of mobile devices offers. Without connecting to any specific programs or lists, it deftly covers many of the points I’ve been trying to make in a much longer piece that I’m working on. Connie answers “What’s different about Mobile Learning” with the following eight short sub-headings and brief explanations. Mobile is: Supportive Collaborative Gestural Learner-centric Informal Contextual User-Generated Fun Continue reading

Ed Innovations: talent tree

SYNTHESIS/BACKPACK IDEA: A few themes jumped out at me in today’s Educational Innovation session: Partnerships that build on strengths, where one unit’s strengths and energy can complement another’s (Tom in Folklore and Mary in Comp Lit) Institutes that can house specialized, interdisciplinary paths (Greg in Nelson Institute) Modularizations and certifications, where departments can host smaller, more specialized sessions (Gale in Nursing, and Judith in Slavic Languages) What is the other side of that coin? Can we do this with students as well? In a specialized Continue reading