Monday, June 15, 2009

Camp 1

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Go Away!

I've got a new site!

go there!

Monday, October 09, 2006

Incompetent People

This article, Incompetent People Really Have No Clue, Studies Find, is a truly funny, and somewhat disconcerting article that might better explain why the Deciders of the world make the decisions that they do.
People who do things badly, Dunning has found in studies conducted with a graduate student, Justin Kruger, are usually supremely confident of their abilities -- more confident, in fact, than people who do things well.
It's also, of course, disconcerting in a self-reflective sense. I could be wrong though.
In a series of studies, Kruger and Dunning tested their theory of incompetence. They found that subjects who scored in the lowest quartile on tests of logic, English grammar and humor were also the most likely to ``grossly overestimate'' how well they had performed.
I'll have to make sure my spelling and grammar are up to snuff.

So, did you hear the one about the Cornell Professor?

regardingjohn site work

My .Mac membership expires in 3 days, and rather than renew it for a third year, I've decided to not put up with the shoddiness of .Mac (at a premium price -- not the kind of thing I expect from Apple), and instead get a much bigger, fully hosted site (for much less money).

Consequently, my sites will look a bit messy for a few days while I figure out the the new configuration. In a way, I like it that way. It's sort of like any remodeling of a physical place in that it looks messy, you don't really want people to stop by lest they get a bad impression of your housekeeping skills, etc. So you put signs up all over the place:
Please Pardon Our Mess!
We're growing to serve you better!
and you hope that they'll see the signs and understand.

My vision for the new site is in five stages:
  1. get it navigable, keeping the subsites (SOE and UW and Blogger -- the "Love" subsite is already limping along on regardingjohn, but needs some work to make it presentable).
  2. move the SOE and UW subsites to my huge space on regardingjohn.
  3. transfer my Blogger blog to the WordPress blog I have hosted on regardingjohn.
  4. merge my other blogs to WordPress, tag them, roll them, and mark them with "b", then put 'em in the oven for baby and me.
  5. Then do potentially major rennovation on the subsites (this part is still not clear to me).

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Jerry Duty

Okay, consider it checked off on my list of "Things to do before I die" -- it actually wasn't ever on the list, but now that I've done it, I never need to do it again.

I like to think of myself as a pretty open-minded fellow. One who thinks that two consenting adults can do pretty much whatever they want. However. I can't imagine that the show is really healthy for anyone. While it was interesting, it was interesting only in a jaw-to-the-floor (but not actually touching the floor, lest something crawl inside it) horrific kind of way.

The details of the show are best left suppressed, deep down in the scariest parts of my memory, suffice to say that it was the taping for his New Years Eve special, and it's a pay-per-view "uncensored" show, and I was in the center of the front row, next to a security guy who kept leaping on the stage to break up naked fights and keep really big guests from jumping off stage and kicking the crap out of wise-ass audience members -- mostly, the seat was unoccupied.

It was sort of like witnessing the fall of civilization, during the nastiest part. Yep. Don't need to do that again.

Having said all this, do I think Jerry's a bad guy? No. No more than I think Rush Limbaugh is. Both are erudite, clever, and very successful entertainers who play the roles that their audience wants them to play. However, I do have a low personal opinon of the true fans of each. (And I'd consider seeing this).

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!

The short story is that we're going back -- and it's gonna be a Pay-per-view episode.

I don't even know what that means. I've never watched an episode in my life, and only know Jerry Springer through short clips I've seen in movies, and heresay from others.

Here's the long story: Two weeks ago friends got tickets for six and we drove to Chicago to participate in my first ever Jerry Springer experience. We waited 20 minutes in line outside, then 20 minutes in line afer security, then 20 minutes in line in the basement, then sat in the studio itself for an hour waiting for the show to figure out a satellite link.

Jerry was dancing with the Stars and Steve the bouncer played host, and the episode belonged on Oprah! -- it was an old crack whore dying of AIDS with 13 lost (taken away) children, and her dying wish was to see them again. The show found 4 daughters. the eldest hated her, the next two were sympathetic. The show was bad. But mostly, it wasn't what anyone came for. Apparently, one goes to Jerry Springer to see pixelated nudity and beeped out expletives without the pixelation and beeps. So the producers felt bad for the audience and gave everyone free tickets for a "real" show.

Are we the luckiest ever? Why am I frightened?

Games in Milwaukee

Yesterday our Star Schools group went to the Milwaukee Academy of Science and tested the Augmented Reality Game we wrote, called "Sick on South Shore Beach" -- about some kids who got sick, and the players' jobs are to work together as a water chemist, a wildlife ecologist, and a public health doctor to figure out why.

We also tested the paper-based "control" game that the grant requires. It's a game that I mostly assembled over the course of the last week, and let me just say that a paper-based game that tries to have all the affordances of an AR game is a might complicated game. I suspect, though, that *any* paper-based game would be difficult to run in a classroom of 12-14 year olds (especially after an afternoon gym class floor hockey activity.)

That said, it went much better than I'd expected.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

new iMac!

I got a fancy new computer, and am geekier than evah!

Using PhotoBooth and a mirror to take this pic only proves it.

Friday, September 15, 2006

California bans driving while holding a cell phone

The winds are changing:
California bans driving while holding a cell phone: "September 15, 2006 (Computerworld) -- California today became the fourth state to ban motorists from holding cell phones while driving, moving the issue of driver distraction to the forefront of the national agenda.

In a live Webcast, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law legislation that passed in the California legislature last month. The measure goes into effect in July 2008, imposing a minimum $20 fine for anyone caught driving and using a cell phone unless the driver uses a headset, ear bud or other technology that frees both hands."
Onward to banning fast food!

September Life

Through a MacArthur grant by Squire, Steinkuehler, Hayes, and Shaffer, I've been hired to help out. This is pretty cool because it involves the most fun of the things that I love.
  1. Greenbush Game: I get to continue work on it, and various configurations of it. This is cool, and the most closely related to my own place-based research.
  2. Star Schools Games: I get "affiliated" with the Star Schools grant, and am working with the Wisconsin team on creating AR games to teach reading and math (not what AR games are *best* at, but certainly viable) to Milwaukee and Madison area school kids. Currently we're trying to come up with a paper-based version of the tech-based games -- a real challenge since paper is not as location-aware as GPS...
  3. Interior Design: As part of the larger MacArthur grant that is funding the research projects for all four faculty. I've been grabbed to help design and stock office and collaboration area, including a gaming lab, and some research rooms. I love this stuff.
Outside of the "work" component of my life, I'm
  • visiting Christine in Grinnell whenever I get an extended weekend,
  • working on my own research -- currently trying to get video interviews off DV tape and into nice manageable Quicktime chunks. Unfortunately, my office computer (circa 2002) isn't up to the task. It churns for a few hours and gives me an "unknown error" -- very very frustrating.
  • Last night I'd decided I'd taken enough abuse from my office computer, and ordered a new 20" 2GHz Core Duo iMac. The 250GB HD should handle the video, and the built-in camera can only help Christine and I better communicate over long distance. (Rumors point to a new MacBook Pro on Sept 25th. If so, I expect she'll get that).
Anyway, Mark Wagler coined the term "Local Games" to both broaden and focus the place-based aspects of the games we create. And the development of that term (web, brochure, papers, etc.) has become one of the roles that merges neatly with my own research interests and needs. He's also the has taken on the role of a project coordinator, and asked that we get a solid version of the Greenbush game done as soon as possible (alternative configurations to be developed later). Additionally, I'm working on creating a "paper-based" port of the South Shore Beach game that Jim Mathew is heading up. This is an ASAP project as well. Finally, I'm working on the GLS space, which is -- you guessed it -- an ASAP deal too.

So, I'm having a bit of trouble divvying up the 20 hours/week I can work, among the four projects, and have been feeling a tiny bit guilty because I'm not producing 20 hours' worth of work for any of them -- for some reason I expect that of myself (4x20=8o hour work weeks), but really only need to dedicate 5 hours to each -- I've far surpassed that. I've also been banking hours beyound the required 20, as I expect that the GLS space time requirements will drop significantly once we get a lab finished. At that point I can dedicate more time to the Local Games work, but still have hours to take off to Grinnell.

Hopefully, this all works out well.

Monday, September 11, 2006

5 years since 9/11

It's been five years since the World Trade towers were demolished; just about as long that Saddam's friendly nature to terrorists has been blamed, and it's an election year. This leads me to predict that any day now Osama bin Laden will be miraculously captured, we'll have another major attack on the U.S. and the Republicans will get an unexpected surge in votes (in most of the districts that have Diebold polling machines) that counters all the latest opinion polls -- including exit polls.

It may be another two years before Americans really wake up and decide to change this at the grass roots level, but that's another two years for Diebold to work bugs out on their machines.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Mapping out a workshop

No, I haven't got a new saw ... yet. But if I did, I think I'd get a Hilti 267-E (and a EurekaZone Smart guide system). Why get a guided circular saw instead of a table saw? Mobility is the big reason. I don't have a shop yet. A powerful, quiet, accurate circular saw with good dust collection, along with a guide system can do just about all a table saw can do, and can do it in a backyard or other makeshift shop, without peeving off the neighbors. (A jobsite table saw can do a lot too, but they're generally very loud and dusty.)

Since this would handle rips and panels very well, (and claims to -- though I'm not convinced -- handle cross-cuts well too) the second "major tool" (counting the saw and guide system as one) that makes sense to get would be a compound miter saw for crosscuts, trim work, etc. Between the two, I think I'd have everything and more than a good old cabinet table saw could give me, except cast iron and the ability to set it and never have to adjust it -- which I wouldn't have anyway, because of the whole lack of an actual shop thing. Later in life when I have a real shop, I can get a good table saw and these purchases will still be very useful -- each does its thing better than a table saw can.

The third "major tool" would be a good router. I'll count it as "major" because of the expense of good bits. The router will complement the EZ Smart guide system, and open it up to a whole new level of usability.

Eventually, I'd like to get a band saw (old cast iron beast, or a Minimax), cabinet table saw (Grizzly or better), drill press, lathe, and planer. And I already have a cheap Dewalt 14.4v drill and trim saw which both work fine, but aren't anything I'd want to do trim work with.

Of course, right now I'm just dreaming. Reading the tool forums at Sawmill Creek, and planning it all out in my mind.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

New car

No, I'm not getting a new car. The ol' spoilered speed demon Corolla is doing a fine job. But as I was driving the 4-hour commute to Grinnell, Iowa, watching gas prices rise and rise, I started thinking about how much a weekly drive there would cost. Even in a car that gets +30mpg (up to 39mpg without A/C running).

A lot. 260 miles, divided by (let's be conservative) 32 mpg is 8-some gallons of gas @ $3/gal = $25 each way. That's $50/week if you factor in coffee for the drive.

Now, I 've looked up alternatives: Greyhound is $33 each way and takes 15 hours. Amtrak is $87 each way and takes 9 hours. Hitchhiking is by far the cheapest way, but there's a significant amount of uncertainty in it that I suspect my fiance wouldn't appreciate. So driving seems to remain the best option, unless I can get a regular ride on Craigslist -- hmm...

"So," you say, "where does a new car come in? After all, $50/week is much less than a new car." And you're right. It doesn't make sense because amazingly after a ridiculous amount of years, there are still not a lot of cars that get better mileage than my trusty Toyota. There should be a bevy of them, and should've been even in the early 1980s, but for some reason gas mileage hasn't gone up very much. It went up 2.3% in the 1970s, but actually went down after 1987 (source). I remember how my 1987 Toyota Corolla got great mileage, and I was afraid to get a later model one because I saw the mileage was dropping, although my 1991 Corolla wagon
was pretty good (and took me to 300,000 miles). And other than the wasteful luxury of A/C holding it back, my 1996 Corolla is pretty good. But now gas is at $3/gallon, and surely the automakers must react -- how are they doing?

Well, let's look at the official numbers for my Corollas (city/highway mpg):
  • 2006 = 32/41
  • 1996 = 31/35
  • 1991 = 28/33
  • 1987 = 30/37
Not a lot of movement over the past 20 years. A paltry increase of 2 mpg city and 4 mpg highway -- and this is with Toyota! not even a Detroit gas-guzzler-producer.

So what other gas-thrifty options are there now? (Corolla is #6 in the top 10)
Yes, I could get a Prius.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Back from FML

Camp ended again. The campers left. The counselors helped take everything down and left. I took a day to paint the floor in my cabin and left. I visited my dearest friend Ali and her BF Rob in Boston, and drove to Michigan. It was MIS Weekend, or something like that. NASCAR. Not a great time to find a cheap hotel there. Oops. So, for $110, I watched cable (fascinating device, the TV), slept in until 9am, and had a nice waffle breakfast. Then I drove through Chicago to Madison, and apart from being fleeced by tolls because I don't have an "I-Pass", Saturday early afternoon isn't a bad time to drive through Chicago. I made Madison by 3pm.

Car's unpacked, room's semi-reassembled, a few beers were had, reunited with C who was in town for a wedding, and it's good to be back. Sunday morning brings a nice breakfast with friends and more friends (ah, so nice to feel loved!), and C and I drive to Iowa, where she's starting to profess at Grinnell. Not sure I like Grinnell yet, but it's hot and dry, and treeless, and I just came from Eden via Madison, so my level of norms, I guess, were a bit high. Compared to Michigan, Iowa is wonderful. I'm sure it will grow as I get familiar with it.

So now I need to start to focus on my plans for the semester. And get an oil change. Busy busy busy.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

GLS Conference Ideas

Here are my thoughts, for next year, on streamlining, and de-headache-ifying the GLS conference printed program process:

To harness the brain power of the group, constructively critique previous (and other) conference programs as a group.
  • Do this at the beginning of the conference planning process.
  • Use the previous year's content for the mock up.
Combine printed program group and web program group.
  • The program is the program; the information should be the same. The only difference should be in the form/format and in the chronology of it.
  • The website is updated as information comes in, whereas the printed program is generated at the date when the website is "frozen" -- the text from the website gets "dropped" into the printed program format.
  • As the website is created, the understanding that its contents will go into the printed program will be "built-in" -- the graphics will be chosen and created for both.
  • The integration of the two formats will assure that "Abstract coming soon" and "Biographical information coming soon" will be kept on top of. If they are needed for the printed program, they won't be forgotten about or left unfinished in the web version.
Set and keep three timeline/deadlines for content -- initial, bothersome, and critical.
  • If participants don't respond with a picture or bio info by the initial deadline, start to hound them.
  • If participants don't respond with a picture or bio info by the bothersome deadline, call in the heavy hitters to use their clout to hound them.
  • If participants don't respond with a picture or bio info by the critical deadline, they don't get it into the catalog.
Set up a check off list of all parts of each section. Once the information for each section is complete, mark it as such and tell the printed program person (who already knows because s/he's in the same group).

That's about all I can think of right now. More later.

Program Ideas: Some suggestions for the excellent program:
  • on the schedule spread that crosses 2-pages, leave the middle borders off to indicate that the schedule continues on the opposite page. ALTERNATIVELY, include arrows pointing to the right, and "continued" (formatted sideways) to indicate that the schedule continues on the opposite page.
  • better quality cover -- heavier, glossier, tougher.
  • color back cover
  • combine sections into four broader sections:
  1. Overview (TOC, welcome letter, schedule)
  2. abstracts (organize alphabetically by schedule rather than straight alpha) so readers can see all the options for a certain time together)
  3. biographies (should we offer/allow email addresses and websites here?)
  4. FAQs (FAQ, where do I eat, sleep, caffienate, who did the conference? -- all FAQs)
  • graphics on frontis pages -- even a single elven pixie aside the page number, or a graphically-enhanced "thumb tab" for the four different sections
  • separate headers differentiating each section
  • (the pixie divider in the Abstract section is mega-smart!)
  • (the pictures in the abstracts worked well too!)
Name Badge Ideas
  • the graphics are super cool!
  • use a larger, more visible font for the first name, like 24pt Arial Black
  • the red Affiliation text is hard to read. Use a larger font in black.

Monday, May 22, 2006

democracy and protest

Remember the riots in 2002? Some protester threw a bottle and the police reacted? Here's the police footage of that riot. Scenes from Nazi film footage has been added for ideological effect, but it's otherwise pretty damning. If there was a bottle (no evidence of it), that wasn't the reason. It was just the line they used. Their own words, on their own video tape, explain why they used excessive force.

This stuff bothers me. What's wrong with this country? It's beginning to look a lot like some of the countries we hold up as "needing democracy" -- when will it change? And what are we doing to make it better?

cycles of inspiration

Among my many personality, um, traits, I have these cycles of inspiration that those who need to deal with me need to learn to love -- or at least tolerate.

When inspired I do kick-butt work. But when my interest wanes, or something more interesting comes up, I tend to take a quick peek at it (sometimes not-so-quick), and temporarily forget my previous interest.

And so here I am, with two weeks before I take off for camp in Maine, and I need to write some conference proposals, etc. and I just want to do other stuff. It maddens me, and I know it maddens those who have to deal with me, because I get itchy/jumpy/grumpy when I don't finish things I know I should do. Now.

What a beautiful day though! And hey look a WordPress account to play with and customize -- I'm sure that I could turn it into a pretty cool "working project" with all its affordances, and *then* I'd definitely get my proposals done right quick...

I remember once, growing up, when we were laying brick building our house, and my dad told me to move a pallet of bricks from the finished side of the house to the unfinished side. I started that project by dismantling an old riding lawn tractor. The plan was to turn it into a heavy duty wagon with which I could load up with bricks and pull it behind the new lawn tractor, and make short work of moving those bricks. He found me in the shed with tractor parts on the floor and made it clear that he thought it was a bad idea. It turns out, I guess, that he wanted the bricks moved that week.

After the house was bricked, however, we did eventually make that old lawn tractor into a trailer, and I got to pull a 50 water barrel around the farm to water newly planted trees.

I'm antsy to make a fancy trailer again, but I know I should use the wheelbarrow (MS Word) I already have.

Monday, May 15, 2006


Another year, another 12 months of adventure and uncertainty! Life is still pretty freakin' good.

You probably want to get a gift for me, right? Well why wouldn't you? We all like to give gifts. We just tend to be too busy or poor or otherwise occupied to follow through with that urge. I know that I am. The other thing, of course, is that we sometimes look around and realize that we already often have more than what we need, and anything else in our lives would be just adding to that.

Do I really need anything? Not really. I've got a fine job, fine friends, a wonderful partner, good food, etc. and when I need something, I generally have enough money to buy it myself. I even have more than enough luxuries: I have 2 bikes, a car, a great laptop, camera, etc. etc.

I'm out of toothpaste though -- sucking out the remains of my travel stash. I need to go shopping...

So the question becomes more one of "want" than need. What do I want? Last night I ordered a replacement for my 1993 sleeping bag, which wasn't even a need there since the old one still works pretty well (it's a bit less warm than it was, but still sufficient, really).

I'd like a bike stand to work on my bikes, but can't justify the price or the amount of space they take up. And I'd like toothpaste: bath and travel-sized. And a few extra hours each day.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

IRB - in hopper

As a service primarily to myself, let me just document here that the proper Institutional Review Board forms for my summer research project are all submitted and ready to be approved. Yay.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


My life is filled.
  1. still trying to keep up with learning new video games in my spare time. Lately I've been trying Katamari Damacy (love it); Max Payne (not great, but somewhat compelling); Parappa the Rapper 2 (sorta fun in a freakish kinda way); and Frequency (really dislike it, but the remix mode could be as fun as GarageBand, maybe).
  2. C graduates with her doctorate tomorrow. Family in town, parties, etc.
  3. Wrapping up loose ends (aplenty) at my tech job in C&I. Just got the Alienware laptop back from its 6 month repair ordeal. Am currently arguing with Apple for a replacement for a dual 2.7 PowerMac G5 that's been out for repair for 2 months now. Closing up shop for the summer, so I have all the documentation to do in case I don't get the job next Fall -- someone has to figure out the job, and I won't leave it as messed up as it was left for me. And of course there's the regular cast of problems and user drama.
  4. Gotta write a few conference proposals by June, because after June I won't have time to write them until Fall -- and they're due August 1st.
  5. Creating signage, name tags, printed program, and swag for the GLS conference June 14-16th. But have to get it done by the time I leave for camp.
  6. Planning and ordering stuff for summer at Flying Moose Lodge and trying to generally get ready for that.
  7. And, work on three different Augmented Reality game designs.
  • working on one for the GLS conference that I describe on the ARgaming blog here
  • working on one for the Greenbush neighborhood that I describe on my Love site here
  • working on one for Flying Moose Lodge that I describe on my Love site here
To top that off, I've sublet my apartment and am looking for a roommate for Fall; I've just recently built a nice bench for our deck out of recycled deck boards (they were going to the landfill, but now we sit on them); I've been shopping the thrift stores for patio furniture to replace the stuff that our landlord threw out (I suspect the table was "rescued" by someone, because it disappeared before the trash guys came); we have to put in the dock sections that our landlord's people forgot to put in; etc.

etc. etc.

I'm busier now than I've been all semester.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Taking a deep breath

I've been grinding my teeth the past few months, irritable, exhausted, struggling to maintain a positive outlook. Not sure what it is, but I think it's partly due to a rush to get done with things and not making the progress needed to get there. But the past few days have been getting clearer. I sleep with the window open and wake to birds and sunrise. There's a clarity in it that I'm beginning to recognize, like finding my pace again.

And presto -- I slow down, take a breath, and things are getting done again. I should try to learn something from this...

Sunday, April 16, 2006

AERA: research feedback

I met with a fabulous editor at AERA who gave me more thorough feedback than I've had since peer edits in my MA in English. He's a Comp & Rhet person, so I suppose...
  • you write well, but you over-write. Strive for much greater economy and precision and a more direct writing style. Speak to your readers, rather than trying to impress them.
  • Avoid cluttering your argument with others' ideas. At the moment, this piece reads a little like a connect-the-quotes essay -- your text merely serves to carry the reader from one quote to another. And by using so many other voices, you've introduced far too many vague or abstract terms and concepts.
  • Set yourself a clear goal -- and write it out: I want to convince readers that AR games.... Or whatever. But be explicit, and then consider your plan -- that is, how you're going to achieve your goal. What will be first, second, etc. How will each section be linked?
  • I think you need a clear detailed description of an AR game. Without that, readers won't know what you are talking about.
As it is, the paper is all over the place, packed with too many ideas, full of others' voices, and lacking in focus and direction.But I think you have the makings of something here. Once you set a clear and achievable goal, you will have a better sense of what you need to keep, change, or expand. In other words, you need to be more rhetorical: determine your purpose, reader, arrange it in the patterns that will support your purpose, and then write and revise until the piece is polished and sharply focused.
So, there you have it. some good advice -- sharply applied. I love it.

Friday, April 14, 2006

AERA: Applied to me

Below (posted previously), I've basically thrown my notes from the AERA (American Education Research Association) conference that I spent 6 days at. It was utterly mind-saturating for me -- to the point where Saturday afternoon I could even not recall how many sessions I'd been to in the morning (it was one), much less who presented in them, or what they presented on. So does that mean it was a waste of time? No, it does not -- because I took notes!!! Wow! I read through them and I'm transferred right back into the packed airless hot rooms, elbow to elbow. And not only did I take notes on the individucal presentations within the sessions, but I also had a file open where I actively appliled concepts, tricks, and turns-of-phrase directly to my research (some not very well, I'll admit. But I'll go back and fix them I hope). So here is a rough copy of those thoughts:

Augmented Reality Games on Handhelds -- Mystery Trip
What is it?
It is a four-day deep woods hiking camping trip that is structured by a GPS-enabled location-based inquiry game. One scenario is based on a trip from the 1920s where campers followed the trails of "forgers, kidnappers, and thieves" finding clues, solving puzzles, and breaking codes, in order to track down "the loot."

Participants are asked to beta-test a game that is under development, and offer their feedback and suggestions on it. They simultaneously take on the roles of game player and game designer as they work together and independently in tasks related to camping, playing the game, and critiquing/redesigning the game.

  • Sociocultural learning: One PDA, four players, and one counselor on a 4-day camping trip. It's an ensemble effort. They share the PDA. They share the problems (and their specific areas of expertise). They work together in the game and in the camping experience. In the creatio of the game, they use the developed Discourse of their individual group (inside jokes, etc.) but also need to connect it to the Discourse of the larger group (camp), and the Discourse of their peer groups outside of camp. Of course, they will also need to connect is to the Discourse of the dominant culture (adults).
  • Activity Theory: Through the GPS- and handheld-mediated activity they interact with each other in the physical environment to solve problems posed in that environment by their peers. Through the software-mediated activity of game redesign, they pose problems for their peers.
  • Place-based Learning: "Distance Learning" is brought to the place(s) of the learner. It is mobile -- the content is local but the knowledge/ideas are global.
  • Identity Construction / Role Playing:
  • Environmental Education:
Motivation vs. Learning
  • Need both

Relation to Classrooms and teaching
What type of question can I ask that will grab the attention and be relevant and applicable to teachers?
Problems that Design of AR Games address
  • Cultural: We are losing our connection with the places we live in and move through. Cultures are built on and connected to stories of activities in space that make spaces into culturally meaningful places.
  • Kinesthetic: our bodies are becoming less substantially involved in the process of learning.
  • Health: In most cyber environments, our physical bodies are largely ignored and ill-treated (sedentary, bad posture, eye strain, digit strain, lethargy, poor diet, etc.). (This is significantly different than the idea of embodiment, which can be very rich in some games -- see Katie Clinton's work for more on this).
  • Ecological: we neglect to notice our environment, and therefore do not recognize or address our abuse of it.
  • Social: we do not have enough compassion for others.
  • Motivation:
  • Involvement in learning: Players take on the role of game tester, and game designer. They learn to critique constructively because they experience the position of both the critiquer (as tester) and critiquee (as designer)
  • Expense of Curricular Development: Inexpensive because it relies on real world for graphics (not just visual, but entirely immersive in sensory experiences). Also inexpensive because only the first version of the game needs to be designed; subsequent iterations are designed and improved upon by the players -- as part of the experience.
Possible Chapter Theses
  1. Place-Based Pedagogy (and Environmental Awareness) -- "AR Games can be another place-based tool to counter the increasing loss of a sense of place"
  2. Kinesthetic Learning -- "AR games can engage the
  3. Design-Based Pedagogy -- "Employing a Constructionist pedagogy of learning..."
Different from (and richer than)...
  • Video games: show pictures of controllers, of exercise/physical engagement, of "gamespace", of avatar/character, of social interaction (chat window vs. joke-telling)
  • Classroom Learning: show pics of learning environment, of engagement, of controllers (?)
Lesson from Complex Systems talk: Causality vs. Emergence: don't frame it as "here's a problem, and here's how and why the problem is solved by AR Games" but instead as "here's an interesting thing that emerges when we do this; and when it occurs, these other things occur"

What are the "local feedback conditions"? (Fullen)

A Child Developmentalist's Child

Here I am in my local coffee shop, putting up my notes from AERA, and a few tables down a woman is complaining to the director of her son's camp that the son was given a bad rating and not invited back to be a counselor this year because "he was a bad influence".

OMG! she's pulling all the stops of her expertise. Her kid is a saint, and it's all been documented. He's won awards, is a big sports happy team player, is a 3.9 gpa student, been interviewed by the local paper, etc. etc. And, having a PhD in child development, she's whipping our Skinner, and Thorndike, and explaining how the camp messed up.

It strikes me as "preacher's kid" syndrome. The poor child -- no wonder he's a bad influence.

AERA: TUesday 1

Richard Lesh, Indiana University "Complex Systems Overview"
  • • Almost everything we study is a complex system (an ill-defined term covering a broad range of stuff).
  • • The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao
  • • The action is in the interaction.
  • • Feedback cycles
  • • (Double Pendulum example -- if you control for the inital order, you will not be controlling it
  • • in cooking, you take fresh things and taste them. Don't just follow rules.
  • • I like this guy!!!
  • • A unit is an undefined term. It is a property of a system, not a property of a piece of a system.
  • • Virutally everything we want to describe are systems
  • • What we're interested in are emergent properties, not initial properties.
takeaway: Emergence!!! Yes!!

Michael Jacobson, Nanyang Institute of Education (singapore) "Complex systems in Education: A universal Acid"
  • • Why complex systems in education? An emerging science that integrate ideas and methods from many disclipines.
  • • Integrarive conceptual perspectives, systems evolve, self-organization., interactions with each other
  • • Traditional subject areas are not about complex systems -- just in higher level graduate education.
  • • 20-30 year gap before it gets into mainstream system. How do we shorten it?
  • • (kids can and will understand them, but their parents resist it)
  • • not very good at conveying his ideas and points
  • • there's a bias toward "top-down" explanations, and against "bottom-up" ones
  • • Darwin's Dangerous Idea by Daniel Dennett
  • •
takeaway: Wow! He tried way too hard to get WAY too much in this slideshow -- mostly just a lot of names, not much else effectively conveyed.

Uri Wilensky, Northwestern University
  • • The time has come to have a widespread adaption of complex-systems persepctives, through agent-based modeling to reformulate school content, as an experimental methodss for evaluating policy, and as a method to build and assess learning theory
  • • Instead of finding better ways to understand roman numerals, shifting to arabic numbers (a different form of representation) offers a significant advange
  • • Structurations and restructurations
  • • Agent based models built from computer software, each modeling their own state and ways of being (role-playing -- the stuff of Katie Clinton's work with dolphins, kitties, and the King of Persia) -- simulations
  • • Also very similar to what Will Wright is doing in Spore -- where you can evolve your character and set them free to interact with their environment with the affordances that they have.
  • • Educational Policy agent-based model (on website)
takeaway: good points, well-conveyed. We need to change the foundations of our system -- but is there a way to do it without causing too much chaos? (methinks: Start by teaching that chaos and uncertainty are *good* things!!!!)

Cindy Hmelo-Silver and Roger Azevedo
  • • Complex systems: hierarchical nature, heterogeneous components, emergent or causal -- depending on one's perspective.
  • • Problem is that people only tend to think about what they can see, and many of these systems are both counter-intuitive or hidden, or that they operate at frequencies that we don't or can't observe, makes them hard to address.
  • • SRL-- self-regulated learning
  • • To learn about circulatory system takes: Classroom 2-3 weeks; lab 40 minutes;
  • • Lack prior knowledge, or cognitive skills, or metacognitive skills,. or skills oro sustain motivational level, or skills to assess dynamic components of the task and learning context
  • • Lack certain scientific reasoning skills
  • • Using CBLEs necessitates scaffolding
takeaway: A good argument for SRL, and I'm thinking "via video games" here...

Jay Lemke, U Michigan Nora Sabelli, SRI International
  • • Key concepts from CSTheory: emergent patterning, self-organization, dynamic attractors and repellers, multi-scale hierarchical organization, self-regulation, coupling matrix, auto and cross-analysis, information flows and constraints, information generation, system-environment interactions, developmental...
  • • Get a very small USB web cam to take pics of slides! Cool idea in use by a guy in front of me!!
  • • Causal loops (non-linear networks) vs. causal chains produce new info
  • • Integrate systems vs. isolable units of analysis
  • • Dynamic models and simulations vs. input-output modeling
  • • Unique vs. generic systems
  • • Emergence vs. determinacy
  • • Tinkering near the threshold of collapse (the Active Adaptive Management paradox) (systems are always near collapse and are not nearly as robust as we often think they are)
  • • Re-engineering whole systems vs. iterative reform
  • • Support vs. control: reversing accountability
  • • Interdependence with other systems
  • • Emergence always happens in the middle -- between possibilities and constraints
  • Nora
  • • How is learning organized? (cool graphic of four-legged stool of sytem options)
  1. o What people learn - content
  2. o Which people learn what - equity
  3. o What people learn - cognition
  4. o What people learn - context
takeaway: messing about could be dangerous because "systems are always near collapse and are not nearly as robust as we often think they are" -- but then isn't just about anything worth doing somewhat dangerous?

James Bransford (??)
  • • We are arguably built to understand causal chain reasoning
  • (look for the person /thing who did it -- if you can't find it, make up a supernatural entity)
  • • Intelligent Design and the belief of Irreducible complexity is the result of a failure to understand complex systems and emergence.
  • • He says we need a developmental system for teaching complex systems. if we try to jump too far ahhead, it results in a degraded learning
  • • He calls for knowledge-building
takeaway: I should read more of him...

John (??) Summary
  • • LIFE - Learning in Informal and Formal Environments
  • • Things that Make us Smart by Donald Norman
  • • Doesa the topic make me think different? (better?)
  • • 24 rabbits introduced to a farm in Australia, resulting in the great rabbit infestation (Rabbit-proof Fence)
  • • would agent-based modeling have saved the day? yes
  • • Redesigning education (cool chart)
  • • What brings out the best in humans, and why? -- disasters.
  • • General issues; models for understanding nature; understanding human design
takeaway: tongue-in-cheek and effective.

AERA: Monday 1

April 10, 2006: Developing Methodological Rigor in Design Research in education
John Beck, George Mason "Handbook Design Research Methods"
Sasha Barab, IU "Illuminating "ILF"
  • • Web-supported community
  • • (Barab & Duffy) (Barab & Squire 2004 p3)
  • • traditional DBR: theory, design, and problem it addresses
  • • iteration #2 changes all three
  • • historical methods : central subject problem (boundaries); colligation problems (case endures); Kernels (complex causality)
  • • what is community? a persistent, sustained social network of individuals...
takeaway: Interesting how the visual design of ILF really affected the use of it.

Paul Cobb, Vanderbilt University "Experimetning to Support and Understand Learning Processes"
  • • mature methodologies are underpinned by distinct argumentative grammars... (Kelly, 2004)
  • • different methodologies fit different questions, but also produce different forms of knowing (and representation)
  • • design-based pedagogies produce
  • • (Brown, 1992, pp. 163-164) "I have never taken the Hawthorne criticisms of my work seriously..."
  • • Brown makes a close coupling between the learning and the means of support of learning (the learning environment)
  • • How do we explicate our interpretive framework?
  • • Basic claim of DBR: DBR embraces the full complexity of learning
  • • Inferences must be open to public scrutiny
  • • What constructs do we use? More specifically than Sociocultural or Activity Theory.
  • • Use explanatory constructs to make sense of data, and also tease out criteria for how the constructs make sense of the data
  • • **** (Maxwell in Ed researcher 2004 p. 4) types of causality can be discerned based on a single case rather than on many cases. *****
  • • although repeatability further strengthens the case
takeaway: There's a lot in this one, but it's thick and hard to get to. Love the Brown quote...

Joanne "Transfer"
  • • "unnatural, libratory game" (Lave 1988)
  • • classical transfer: The application of one knowledge learned in one situation to another situation. (same structure; different surface features)
  • • PFL Preparation for Future Learning (Bransford & Schwarz) "sequestered problem solving ignores real-world conditions that people exploit
  • • AOT Action Oriented Transfer (observer -> Actor)
  • • Point 1: methods are not isolated beliefs
  1. o Classic: Did transfer occur? Prove it.
  2. o PFL: which method prepares students to benefit from a learning opportunity?
  3. o AOT: What are the images by which learners construct two situations as similar?
  • • To establish AOT: 1. Identify themes 2. Analyze and loko for influence of instruction
  • • Stage approach of Transfer Approach: Context of discovery: 1. Informed exploration 2. Enactment. context of verification: 3. Local Impact. 4. Broader impact.
takeaway: I should find out more about AOT (Action Oriented Transfer)...

Finbarr Sloane, ASU "Modeling emergence in Design Settings"
  • • Emergence is "bottom up and interactive" shaped and constrained and influence by higher level contextual levels
  • • The iterative process in DBR (Cobb et all 2003; Barab & Kirshner, 2001)
  • • Multilievel modeling tools, (Raudenbush & Bryk, 2003; Sloane 2005)
takeaway: This just further reinforces the importance and validity of design-based pedagogy (and, of course DBR).

Summary by --- ??
"What do you do if you think control groups are silly? Design research." Used to be called teaching design
  • • Have a design and theory and test it
  • • Have an artifact
  • • The most important thing in evaluating them is to look at the underlying assumptions
  • • Do your assumptions fit your research?
  • • Is design research leading to something else?
  • • Not everything we know reduces to a tested hypothesis, or answered question -- in fact not much that we know does.
  • • Once people interpret something, their interpretations change -- each iteration of this is further modified, so "classic" transference is nonsense
  • • Solutions for real problems don't' come from single disciplines -- you need to draw on multiple theories to answer them. DBR cannot use just one theory and be meaningful
  • • We live in designed worlds, as soon as you understand them, you change them
  • • Understand systems then change them -- Quest Atlantis: two worlds, with one destiny
  • • We draw on multiple theories to create a model.
  • • Theories are good if they are falsifiable. Models cannot be falsifiable
  • • What makes something DBR?
  • ♣ Multi-theoretical
takeaway: One theory is not enough -- legs to support a stool.

  • Is transference a Learning process or an application process? If pure transfer occurs, no learning takes place -- we want dynamic reconstruction of knowledge to the specific iteration of the "new" problem situation.
  • Stochastic vs. Process
  • Design in the making vs. ready-made design
  • Dewey's useful vs. not useful
  • Plausibility vs. Verifiability
  • DBR is the wrong level to think about rigor (Paul Cobb)

AERA: Sunday 2

Social Justice

Jill Andrea Pinkney Pastrana UW-Eau Claire
Shattering the myths of neoliberalism through challenging ideologies
  • • White student's Discourse of resistance is a discourse/ideology of Empire
  • • Living in the matrix
  • • They don't see the way the rest of the world lives, or what connection it has to them, and/or why it is important that they do?
  • • How do we get that point across? (john says: through games/simulations?)
  • • If they are not able to think critically about the problems, they will not be able to survive when the shit hits the fan (and they'll inevitably screw things up for others who *are* more prepared.
  • • Cuba is having positive results in their education, and is the only country that doesn't subscribe to the NeoLiberal notions of school
takeaway: Here's the dilemma in teaching white kids (esp. middle class males) about privilege: too much and they build defenses; too little and they don't get it (and actually "getting it" is nearly impossible even in ideal situations)

Katherine Rhodes and Roger Tlusty, UW- Eau Claire
  • • Connecting critical theory to praxis using the local as an entry point
  • • "Human Relations" (3cr on race, power, whiteness, etc)
  • • "History, Foundations, Legal Processes" (3cr)
  • • discomfort, hopelessness, embarrassment, powerless, etc. -- feelings from white kids who face this.
  • • Theoretical framework; critical consciousness (Freire), Feminist and other critical social theories (situated possibilities), place-based pedagogy, critical place-based theory and pedagogy (David Gruenwald had an article that connected critical theory and place-based pedagogy)
  • • But HOW???? you urge them, but how??
  • • Assignments: 1. mapping the terrain of your home town; 2. unpacking your family history.
  • • James Loewen's Sundown Town (black people get out of town by sundown -- a midwest thing??
  • • Product of town - > producing, reproducing and challenging that production
takeaway: This is really one of the most thoughtful attempts I've seen at trying to *begin* to start discussions of multiculturalism -- by examining self. It's not the end all, but it is a good starting point.

Tim Titus, "Hasta La Victoria without the camera obscura"
  • • James Loewen
  • • "I've used all the transitions in PowerPoint!"
takeaway: smug liberalism

Brian Johnstone, CA State U, long beach "Shattering the Myths of Cuba"
  • • long mellow, well-designed powerpoint (ran over time)
  • • has 30 CDs to give away
takeaway: smugger liberalism -- building walls. Says he's giving "just the facts" but the structure of it is overtly biased. Very beautiful, but overdone.

Nathalia Jaramillo, UCLA "Venezuela, and 'reading the world critically'"
  • • "the happiness of many is in thinking they are better"
  • • the greatest challenge today is in using our local knowledge to address global problems.
takeaway: Two great points.

Peter McLaren, UCLA -- no comments, just questions from audience

AERA: Sunday 1

Cultural Historical Activity Theory

Teatro, Play and Imagination: The Creative engagement of Social Life
Shirin Vossoughi, Octovio Estrella (UCLA)
Theater of the Oppressed
  • Play, imagination, social analysis
  • Vygotskian notions of play
  • "children can become a head taller than themselves in play" - Vygotsky (?)
  • how do we re-invoke a sense of play in highschool student
  • Can Teatro humanize the world?
  • Form theater
  1. Creating space, setting boundaries
  2. Rule-bound play
  3. Relationship between play and real life (creative forms of nonviolent action)
  4. Invitation in the subjunctive world of teatro
  • Jim Wertsch talks about schools being text-based realities
  • Hope nourishes and pushes us to act
takeaway: Like the performance aspects of this type of play-based learning

Gail Richardson -- Steinhardt School of Education (NYU) Russian Math Curriculum works in New Jersey
  • ("Measure Up" 120hour course)
  • Elkonin-Davydov Mathematics curriculum
  • Pre-numeric Vygotskian
  • Concepts of Quantity, equality, transitivity
  • (Russian) Multiplicative Learning = content x tool x reality
  • (American) Additive Learning = content + tool + reality
  • content is quantities -- use everyday objects, instead of numbers
  • removes the divide between whole numbers and real numbers
  • length is not a measurement, it's a quantity.
  • (very cool)
takeaway: I want to do learn math this way!!!

J. David Betts "Mutlimedia Arts Education Program"
  • Activity Theory as a design tool
  • Post-typographical world (reinking, 1998)
  • Contemporary texts often consist of different interrelated modes of communications (Kress, 2003)
  • Used "retrospective analysis" in an examination of the Activity System
  • Asked "what were the best ways to devlop school-to-work connections for students? What were their perceived self-efficacy in tools and etc.
  • After School setting as third Space?
  • Get his CHAT Macromedia Director diagram (triangular representations of systems of design, exchange, activity system, activity setting, etc.)
  • Can't pu tyour foot in the same river twice -- outcomes and goals continue to change, as do interactions with people and tools etc. -- dynamic learning systems.
takeaway: Engestrom's AT triangle is a very useful starting point for AT as a Design tool!!

Jayson Seaman - Project Adventure Inc. "An Adventure in Analysus: Examining Contemporary Adventure Education in Historical Context"
  • What is Adventure? (uncharted, curious, explaoration, situational, etc.)
  • Adventure Ed = "folk pedagogy" focuses on individual
  • Collaborative, creative, develop compassion for others
  • "How is experience constructed in a facilitated, small group adventure setting?
  • Project Adventure is the largest rope course company ($10 million?)
  • High degree of kinesthetic involvement
  • Engestron, 1987 triangle model of actiivity as a unit of analysis
  • Tyndall, in McFarlane, 2003 "there is assuredly morality in the oxygen of the mountains"
  • Outward Bound courses "less training for the sea than through the sea" (Miner, 1990, p.59)
  • Division of labor is interchangeable and non hierarchical
  • Artifacts are institutiona;;y situated and negotiable; regulate individual participation in div of labor; mediate div of labor
takeaway: Interesting start. Wish it were a bit "deeper"

Pilar -- Discussant
  • Loves Kozulin 1998
  • To be literate in today's society (Leu, 2002) means to (get rest of quote)
takeaway: so much energy!

AERA: Saturday 2

NSF Update - www.cra.orgFederal (John Chirenesky)
• Cyber Infrastructure: 600 Teraflop conglomeration of connected super-computing centers 10Gb per second connection.
• National Virtual Observatory: data-mining applicatio for K-12 to use to search through various images of the Universe through assorted wavelengths.
• CyberCorp -- like americorp, but after school, students spend two years protecting America's networks.
takeaway: cybercorp is a really dumb sci-fi name.

Roy D. Pea
• (he's a quiet speaker)
Carol. R. Beal (USC Viterbi School of Engineering -- only ed person in engineering there)
• undergoing a species-wide change in learning from oral and physical manipulation to books and text and now through digital experiences.
(Are we being short-sighted in leaving the others -- oral, print, physical -- behind?)
• Need to study this before we lose the control group (as TV researchers did 50 years ago)
• As long as content is controlled, the means of distribution is less important (traditionally), but in games and other hyper-real experiences, this may not be true. There's something different there. we can take ouut the boring parts and crystallize the parts theat we think are more important for them to learn.
• 80-90% of learners say they're visual learners (not experiential learning? Do they know that there are other learning types? Are they preferencing, equating, or conflating visual to mean visual?)
• Baler looks at the use of Agents in learning
• military game on learning Arabic
• Virtual Role-models -- (AI makes them personal and digitzation makes them perfect)
• Digital learning environments demand self-regulated learners -- but self-regulated Learners are rare (because we're social learners)
• Digital environments can link formal and informal learning, but it's not that easy (good example:
• We want to support effort-based learning -- not just "fun" learning (they're not mutually exclusive, methinks)
• Individualization of instruction means expensive development for content that many students never see.
• Graphics are expensive!
• Gamehype laboratory at USC
• Do a Need assessment first: technology sometimes looks for a home...and schools are not always the right place for it (laptops to the beach with kids)
• Is technology necessary for the learning opbjective?, and is there a less costly way to accomplish the goals?
• There is value in learning from real life experiences.
takeaway: ARGH is a good option because it's physical, visual, experimental, cheap (no graphics), individual/social (small group)

William (UCLA)
• Summary of Workshop I: Simulation and Gaming Technologies Applied to Education
• STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)
• Can technologies that we already have enhance the learning and learning environments that we already know? Cyber Infrastructure should pull these all together.
• There are claims about the benefits of gaming, but there hasn't been a systematic analysis to confirm it.
takeaway: ARGH at FML is good because it enhances (does not replace) the learning environment that is already there!

Mimi Recker summarizes Workshop 3
• Life-long Learning Chronicles: capture the learning that one undergoes over a lifetime -- what do we do with this data?
takeaway: give it to Homeland security?

• "cyber-learning"

Marcia (summary of workshop 4: The Interplay between Communities of Learning or Practice and Cyberinfrastucture)
• Should we broaden our ideas of learning communities to include informal ones?
• How do yuou capture information that is not in a digital form in order to inform cyber learning
takeaway: Here's the question that is at the heart of Standardized tests: "How do you capture the learning that is not in a quantitative form?"

• Keep the learner in the center of the discussion
• Learner was not just our best, but "K to Gray"
• Focus on individual learner, but acknowledgemnt to learning as a social process
takeaway: I like the "K-Gray" phrase

Ed Atkins is the NSF head of cyberinfrastrcture
Advanced Learning Technologies area of NSF is the big money area (learners at center)

AERA: Saturday 3

DBR: A methodological Toolkit for the Learning Sciences
DBR came out of Learning Sciences and has developed along with it. Moves away from the lab and into the classroom, where there's more messiness, but more authenticity.
  • Tweaks design to better
  • Cobb, diSessa, Lehrer, & Schauble ("Prototypically, design experiments....") is becoming the defacto definition of DBR.
  • Within Quest Atlantis, we had four different designs at work
  1. What makes an academic play space?
  2. Meaning in the Digital Age
  3. Socio-Scientific Inquiry
  4. Assessment as a Formative Design
  • Combines elements of role playing, chat,
  • Salen and Zimmerman's "Magic Circle" the area around the game of what's game and what's not game.
  • Tensions: Fantasy-Real; Play-serious; Academic-game,
  • Blurring of real and virtual
  • Luminating = leveling (badges for creative expression, diversity affirmation, personal agency, social responsibility, environmental awareness, healthy communities, compassionate wisdom)
  • Website with papers:
takeaway: explore and talk about the "magic Circle" of the FML ARGH

Academic Play Spaces -- Scott (Clawtruck hunter in WoW)
  • Video games: not just a fad, but a defining part of childhood for many kids
  • Every player plays a game in a different way.
  • Game rules, academic content, framing narrative, legitimate participation used in different amounts in different academic play spaces -- some have more of one and less of another.
takeaway: how many different ways to play can I build in to FML's ARGH; how many are built into grad school?

Tyler Dodge -- Meaning in the Digital Age

  • Components of identity: a sense of agency, goals and commitments towards action, Learning, and meaning
  • How do they make meaning? how do they develop identity? How might we better design the artifacts to further encourage/develop things we want them to learn?
  • Identities and Culture, CoPs and third Places, Media & Technology (deisgned affordances & opportunities, exemplars resonate with experiences)
  • Data types: Site observations, semi-structured interviews, document analysis, ....
takeaway: what data types am I looking at, and how will I be analyzing them? I should write this out...

Sasha Barab -- Relating Narrative, Inquiry, and Inscriptions: A Framework for Socio-Scientific Inquiry
  • Scientific literacy: Beyond Fact acquisition (Sfard, 1998)
  • Content-Context Relations: Situation cognition Theory
  • Book: How People Learn by the NREC
  • Socio-Scientific Framework = Narrative, Inscription, Inquiry
(I really like that their diagrams are hand-drawn with a "casual" style compute typeface)
takeaway: How is the definition of "narrative" changing with new medias?

Steven Zuiker -- Assessment as Formative Design
  • Assessment always has formative and summative functions
  • Scaling is different for different stakeholders
  • Multi-level framework: (TYPE - demonstrated by - Lemke's timescale) IMMEDIATE-interactions-minutes; CLOSE-activities-days; PROXIMAL-curricula-weeks; DISTAL-______-months; __-__- semester (THIS IS KINDA COOL -- LOOK IT UP AND USE IT!!!!)
  • How to take a rich learning experience and squeeze it into narrowly-defined learning standards?
takeaway: The multi-level framework is a very cool tool!

Michael Young -- summary and comments

  • we have multiple identities (disagree-- we have one multi-faceted, and constantly evolving identity)
  • multiple level assessments allow us to live both in a world or deep understanding and test scores
  • Lemke's timescales are actually time-space scales
takeaway: I think the one-vs-many identities is just a matter of definition/semantics.

AERA: Saturday 1

Writing the Doctorate; Writing the Scholar

Barbara Kamler and Pat Lorna Thompson

When students sketch out the nature of the field relevant to their inquiry, they are mapping a field of knowledge production.

Doctoral students might butt up against the published "experts"
• find that they drwon in the literature,
• he says; she says (a list) -- student makes a list of the key people, as academic deities
• use metaphors
o lost, drowning, wandering in a maze
o stuffing an octopus in a jar
• instead use the metaphor f the dinner party
o not a thousand people
o some who should sit close, and some who sit far away
o some you want to listen to ; hear from; and some who you need to invite but don't really want to hear from
Reviewers and experts are privileged (beginnings of sentences). Consider "joint texting" -- where is the student's view? If student agrees, assert the statement first and simply bracket the sources.
• "I focus on ..." "In sum, it appears..." " It seems then..." In this proposal I attempt to..."
• Book: Helping Graduate Students Write
takeaway: I should read their book...

Mike Rose "A Description of a Professional Writing Course in Graduate Education"
• Course entails people bringing in 3-5 pages of their work, and discuss with others
• Read prose out loud -- even academic prose -- to expose awkward sentences, and begin to form writing as a craft that can be improved.
• Writing creates a scholarly identity -- one is know through their writing.
takeaway: If my advisor doesn't get a writing group going, I need to do it!

Gary Anderson and Kathryn Herr: "Writing the Action Research dissertation"
• Performativity and performance (a literary rhetoric of performing science)
• Third person passive (I didn't find the findings; they just --objectively-- emerged)
• Positivistic writing strategies
• "Language is the window pane for the data to shine through" (old/bad)
• new writing strategies like Action-oriented self studies and activist
• we've learned to "ape the hard sciences in hopes that their respect rubs off onto us"
• many doctoral students are performing participatory-action research in their professional settings
takeaway: Positivistic is old and bad (ok, it's more nuanced than that...)

Kathryn Herr

• multiple identities bring on unique writing styles
• vulnerability
takeaway: um...

Lynn McAlpine and Anthony Paré "Entering the Text: Learning Doctoral Rhetoric
• architects and virtual blueprints -- above the draft
• proposals can be quite long at McGill
• Paul Pry and "laminations"
• Local lore and practice (administrivia: deadlines, regulations, procedures, local by-laws)
• The supervisor as the Discipline itself (situating the new menber, anticipating response of potential readers)
• Evoking readers implicitly (intros, transitions, sequence, location) the traffic flow in buildings (widen this hallway, etc.)
• From eaves dropper (undergrad) to ventriloquist (masters) to participant (doctoral)
• War stories: Normalizing the experience ("why, when I was your age...")
• Supervisors help the student snavigate the politics -- who's hot, and who's not)
• In grad school we are asked to "write up" but the rest of our careers, we're asked to "write down"
takeaway: I want this kind of support...

Chris Golde
• In Science, a dissertation is 3-4 journal articles with maybe a common intro and conlusion; in history, it's a book posing as a dissrtation; in education it's a 5-chapter thing that you need to later carve it into publishable papers. what other options are there?
• What role can digital media have in changing dissertations and academic writing in general?
• 3 roles played by faculty advisors:
1. Coach: this is what you need to do
2. Referee: this is good/bad
3. Player in game: because they're being judged by their students' work
• There's not enough time for supervisors to help their students craft their work
• What are the roles of other faculty and peers?
takeaway: How do I do a Science-type dissertation?

AERA: Friday 1

Industrial Designers and 10 year olds making furniture

University of Alberta in Edmonton (30,000 undergrads +6-7000 grads)
Brenda Gustofson, Dougal A G MacDonald,

Design Technology is based on identifying a need and potential solutions to that need.
- design technology is value laden
"Can studying children as they work with adult, novice designers provide insight into how to facilitate children's interaction with scinece and technology?"
- based on Vygotsky
- talk is a verbal tool
- drawing is a visual tool (recording and mediating)
- talking and drawing are vehicles for design decisino making
(university student translates the young students' ideas and drawings into the computer program -- started off with different ideas and different areas of understanding, but came to a negotiated common understanding
- how did the kids react to the negotiations that turned their designs into plausible and realistic ones?
- kids got to name the design, which was very important to them
- drawing is a developmental process (representing and developing) that leads to a finished (and changed) product.
- continuous representation of design ideas.
takeaway for ARGH
- have kids start with initial idea
- play game
- generate game change

Designining for Culture

Patricia Young, Baltimore
takeaway for ARGH: not much

Wei-Chen Hung

Development Research (learning system to control and manage behavior of ADHD students in Chicago.)
Intervention strategies for various behaviors -- find this grid/gestalt-based design matrix
under controlled, mixed, and over controlled.
takeaway for ARGH: not much, but the behaviorist-modeled grid was interesting and perhaps useful for campers.

Student introspection in Blended Learning
Hyu-Jeong I
blended learning is the third generation of distance learning-- combination of online and face-to-face learning.
what are critical factors in blended learning?
55 graduate students in regular distance ed, learners complained that there was not enough face to face, so the course was redesigned for 2004 as a blended course.
ATLAS was the data analysis program for qualitative analysis (free for a limited number of calculations)
Four Factors
1. face to face interaction affects their level of social presence.
2. course structure - individual and group assignments, synchronous and asynch communication
3. technology - liked the CDROM of course.
4. Instructor -
takeaway for ARGH: not much, the idea of "Blended learning" is sort of cool -- is any info source that originates outside the classroom considered "blended" or does it have to be info that comes from the teacher?

Friday, March 24, 2006

New Phone: SE W600

A review I just posted to Amazon:

So far, after 4 days with it, I like it very much. This is a very good phone. It also tries to do many other things, and is fairly successful at some. My primary needs were: reception, battery life, and reliability/build quality. My secondary "wants" were Organizer, FM radio, and camera. The rest of the features the w600 has fit into the "That's nice" category.

As a Phone -- RECEPTION: compared to my call-dropping Motorola T720, the W600 has great reception in and out of the house in Madison, WI. I haven't been out of the city to test it though. BATTERY LIFE: So far, even with heavy play (Bluetooth transfers, FM radio and mp3 play) the battery life is impressive. RELIABILITY: The build quality seems good. I'm concerned about the swivel design, the exposed screen, and the charge/data/headphone plug since I had such horrible experience with Motorola's similar design. Why doesn't Sony use a USB jack? Or a standard headphone jack? It seems to me that those are both well-proven designs. RINGTONES: The included ringtones are not to my liking (they suck), but I love making ringtones in GarageBand. I wish it had a "Vibe then Ring" option so I could feel it ring, but hear it if I didn't feel it. I worked around it by making a ring in GarageBand that begins with 10 seconds of silence though. MEDIANET: Many complain about the MediaNet button getting pressed accidently. I wish it were customizable. I ended up disabling it by removing services. If I ever do choose to enable services and cannot disable that button, I will probably super glue it up so I don't press it accidently. However, you can also use the lock slider to lock it from connecting, or set the keys to lock automatically in 10 seconds. MISC: I like the ability to customize with themes, but wish there were more information (and customizable) on the screen besides the time.

ORGANIZER: It syncs smoothly with my Mac with Bluetooth and USB (thanks to the iSync plugin that some wonderful person made). Bravo! It is easy and intuitive to set a one-time or recurrent alarm, and the Alarms are loud. Adding entries is not difficult -- except that the swivel design puts the keypad at a lower level than the screen, which makes it hard for me to use. And I agree with others that the recessed design of number keys make them hard to use without a lot of attention to the task. FM RADIO: I was worried about the reception of the radio. I like to listen to NPR more than mp3s, so I've been looking for a good radio radio rather than an iPod. The reception is great -- better than many other radios I've tried. The interface is very well designed and intuitive. My only complaint is the connection/plug -- why oh why not a standard headphone jack? I understand that it's needed for an antenna, and am fine with the little extension bit (also a mic for the voice recorder?), but it adds unneeded bulk. And I'd like to use BT headpiece for FM listening -- can I do that if I have the antenna part in? Haven't tried it yet. CAMERA: 1.3 MP is not bad. The video is fair enough (for a phone), and sound is adequate. Controls are a bit strange still -- maybe I'll get used to them.

OTHER: An unexpected bonus is the LED flashlight. I wish it were easier to quickly use though, in fact I wish it were easier to move between all the functions: phone/camera/radio/mp3/flashlight. I ended up setting it up as a shortcut, but shortcut keys are rare and precious. I'd love a hack to make the MediaNet key a momentary light switch. WALKMAN: The mp3s are fairly easy to transfer (but not from iTunes), although the Sony software isn't Mac compatible. I haven't figured out how to get the Artist/Album/etc. tags to work right, but haven't spent any time trying to do so.

DESIGN/FEEL: I think I'd like the w800, or a flip-phone version of this. I like the orange and the texture of the case. The loop antenna is kind of cool to me. The speakers are loud and clear -- maybe too clear, as it sometimes sounds like static (is voice communication sound controlled by the mp3 player's equalizer? If so, maybe I can adjust that). The volume button toggle switch doesn't respond tactile-ly enough, and I hit it accidently when I squeeze to press the radio button on the other side. The voice dial is *very* difficult to figure out, and tells me to "say the name after the tone" but never gives me a tone unless I have the headphones on. Even with the headphones, it took many tries to get the voice names entered in.

OVERALL: It's a good device. I like it. I hope SE refines it, and makes a flip version to better protect the screen, and offer easier access to the keypad.

Friday, March 03, 2006

PBI: What is it?

Place-Based Inquiry (PBI) is the natural child of Place-Based Education, Inquiry-Based Learning, Design-Based Learning, and Project-Based learning. Are you sensing a pattern here? I argue that playing and redesigning Augmented Reality Games wraps all of these up nicely with a bow.
  • It's situated in a specific culturally-rich place
  • it is collaborative and sociocultural in both the playing and design elements
  • if it is a well-designed game, players are engaged in rich inquiry in the process of play; if it's not well-designed, players are motivated by the outdoor adventure elements of it, and the opportunity to design a compelling "high-tech" game for their peers
  • etc.
I suppose I need to get my head around these areas and write up a brief summary of how PBI ARG relates to each.

Place-Based Education: One definition here. An excerpt:
Place-based education is learning that is rooted in what is local -- the unique history, environment, culture, economy, literature and art of a particular place. The community provides the context for learning, student work focuses on community needs and interests, and community members serve as resources and partners in every aspect of teaching and learning.

Place-based education has been shown to improve comprehension, attendance, behavior, and enthusiasm for learning in students and increase creativity, involvement and energy in teachers.
There's a great quote there too: "Authentic environmental commitment emerges out of firsthand experiences with real places on a small, manageable scale [over time]. — David Sobel"

Inquiry-Based Learning There's a really clear description (examples, etc) here. An excerpt:
An important outcome of inquiry should be useful knowledge about the natural and human-designed worlds. How are these worlds organized? How do they change? How do they interrelate? And how do we communicate about, within, and across these worlds? These broad concepts contain important issues and questions that individuals will face throughout their lives. Also, these concepts can help organize the content of the school curriculum to provide a relevant and cumulative framework for effective learning. An appropriate education should provide individuals with different ways of viewing the world, communicating about it, and successfully coping with the questions and issues of daily living.
It is closely related to the next two -- project-based learning and design-based learning.

Project-Based Learning: Closely related to IBL, PBL basically suggests that the Inquiry be bounded into a well-defined project (also similar to problem-based learning). Descriptions of each and their overlap here. An excerpt:
Project-based learning, problem-based learning, and inquiry-based learning all three closely relate to the information processing approach. They all fit well with technology-rich learning environments where the focus is not on the hardware and software, but on the learning experience. In each case, technology is used to facilitate learning.
Given a question to answer, problem to solve, or project to undertake, compelling motivation and resources to do so, and help along the way from peers and "experts" (broadle defined), people will tend to undertake --

Design-based learning: which is discussed some here. An excerpt:
Increasingly, innovative teachers explore with their students the modes of inquiry used by graphic designers, product designers, interior designers, urban planners, landscape architects, and architects. They also examine content related to the everyday artifacts and environments of various cultures, along with processes for making decisions about visual communication, consumer products, and the built (manmade) environment. Finally, these teachers employ active learning experiences that model the cognitive and social problem-solving demands of adult life. Design-based learning offers genuine promise for preparing students to be thinking, informed citizens who can shape progress in the next century. And, for children, design experiences are intriguing puzzles through which learning comes alive.

All of these relate. What my research does is frame a learning experience in a place-based adventure game, and allow the players to reflect on it and redesign it in a way that poses and communicates clearly to their peers (the next set of players) a new game of problems. Thus continuing a cycle of peer-approved (and relevant) learning.

This is hard for me to describe in words. I have all sorts of visuals in my head that I want to use...

Wednesday, March 01, 2006


I have so much stuff that focuses on what *I* want to do, but I was reminded today to step back and address the needs of the larger field. Now, this brings up all sorts of questions, like what larger field? the field of Education? The field of Educational Technology? The field of Augmented Reality Gaming? I just don't know where to start, so let me start broadly and work my way down.

What is ARG?
Augmented Reality Gaming is ... (It occurs to me that I still do not have an entry that explains (in general terms) what is meant by this term. There's plenty of words about my variation of it though.)

Why is ARG needed?
  • ARGs offer structured learning (curriculum), small group attention, "thick" situated learning environments, with rich informational resources.
  • Video Games offer structured learning, individualized attention, and "thick" (virtual) meaningful learning environments.
  • Classroom learning offers structured learning for large groups in a "thin" meaningless environment with the minimal informational resources needed to complete the lesson.
  • Field trips are ideally structured learning for large groups in "thick" situated environments, with rich (but set) informational resources.
  • Computers in the classroom offer the rich resources of the Internet in typically unstructured lessons, and un-situated learning environments.

PBI: Where to go?

Questions for Feb 28 meeting with my advisor. We got through the first two...
  1. Ideas for dissertation focus:
    • Place, Design, Culture, Tools, Individual
    • Place-Based Inquiry
    • Design-Based research
    • Activity Theory in using game design to learn
  2. What would I measure?
    • A theory of what could be
    • Tools
    • Design
    • Social interaction
    • Mere exploration of what happens
  3. Ideas for Pare article (theory/need paper)
    • Best from prelims?
      • Start with design
      • Start with the tool (handheld)
      • Start with "place"
    • Idea for proposal?
    • Lay out the history of ARG (Klopfer, Squire, Perry, Jan, etc.)
    • Discuss the addition of Design-based learning element (ala Greenbush)
    • Discuss the adaptation to a deep woods camping game, tied to 1920 "Mystery Trip" and FML stories and culture
  4. Involvement in GLS ARG
    • Making game with Matt
    • How can I be involved in the sessions?
  5. Involvement in Greenbush/Star project
    • Greenbush Grouphub
    • Adjunct/volunteer involvement with Star Schools

Sunday, February 26, 2006

PBI: element map

Here's quick map I made in Omnigraffle that lays out some of the main elements that I could study. The octogons represent "things" (clearly, I need a better descriptor), and the arrows represent "influencing factors." So, for example, tools are shaped by, and shape, culture, activity, place, and the individual. As it is mapped out, "Tools"is the centerpiece, but we could easily rearrange the elements so that individual, culture, activity, or place are in the center -- and if I had a 3-dimensional model, I'd make those connections explicit.

It gets more complex when one considers that each of the elements (things) has multiple elements to study. So, for example, I could look at the activity of camping, of playing the game, of designing the game, or other activities (not shown). When one considers that the arrows connecting Individual, Activity, and Place is essentially Situated Action, and the arrows connecting Individual, Tools, and Activity is essentially Activity Theory, there's a whole lot more to study.

Every arrow and "thing" can be studied, and is interesting.

PBI and Sociocultural Learning

This is a "working paper" briefly discussing PBI's connections to Sociocultural Learning.

My most immediate Place-based Inquiry project is a place-based augmented reality game for a deep-woods camp. In this project there are many influences from and connections to topics like video games, environmental education, embodiment, design-based pedagogy, sociocultural learning (communities of practice, activity theory, situated action, distributed cognition, etc.), human-computer interface, place-based education, informal learning, etc.

I've summarized Bonnie Nardi (1995) discussion of Activity Theory, Situated Action Models, and Distributed Cognition. There are a number of flavors of sociocultural learning that generally agree on the tenets set down by Lev Vygotsky -- learning is framed by our social experiences. But part some on questions of the extent of the influence. I believe they complement rather than compete with each other -- the influence of our various cultures varies depending on the situation and distance from the cultures.

It is exactly the immersive nature of the 4-day deep woods ARG experience that makes a study of the sociocultural elements of the game a viable option to study. As far as informal learning spaces outside of the classroom go (discussed here), on-line video game communities is one, and this summer camp is another -- one that is especially ripe for examination because of its particulars. The players tend to be somewhat homogenously nested: a group of four or five 12-15 year old males who work together in a camping situation (setting up campsites, cooking, fire-building, etc.) for four days, nested in a larger culture of forty to fifty 10-16 year old boys who move between trip groups and tent groups for a three to seven week summer camping experience, nested in a larger culture where they may return for two to five summers. And for many, their brothers, fathers, and/or uncles, and grandfathers may have similar experiences at the same place. Schools provide an experience that is, to some extent, universalized, but it's not as intensive of a 24/7 experience -- the social groups outside of the school "interrupt" the culture and Discourse of the school everyday at 3pm. In a four day camping trip, or three week session, these other Discourses are at a farther distance from the study.

With this project, I am most interested in studying elements of Activity Theory (collaborative tool-mediated activity) and Situated Action (the actual activity rather than the plan). But I'm not sure what my question for this would be.

I hope to map out other areas that have connections to PBI experiences. With all of these, and really, all the work I post, I'd love to hear ideas and suggestions.

Sensor Utility Light

I *need* one of these. "Need" here means "want" of course, but in a "gosh this sure would be neat to have at my FML cabin for those nights when I don't want to stay up long enough to justify lighting a candle, or those nights when I *do* want to stay up and read and the flickering light of a candle just doesn't do it for me."

It's LED, so the bulb lasts forever and the batteries last 150 hours. It takes AA batteries, so I can use my rechargeables. It's got the 15' motion detector thing, so I don't have to fumble for it on the dark nights when I get up. It's got a light sensor, so I can set it to go on automatically and direct my paddle across the lake on those moonless nights when I can barely find the shore. And it's only $30!!!

Sheesh! Technology is so fun!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

PBI and video games

This is a "working paper" briefly discussing PBI's connections to video games.

My most immediate Place-based Inquiry project is a place-based augmented reality game for a deep-woods camp. In this project there are many influences from and connections to topics like video games, environmental education, embodiment, design-based pedagogy, sociocultural learning (communities of practice, activity theory, situated action, etc.), human-computer interface, place-based education, informal learning, etc.

What is compelling to me about video games (broadly defined to include handheld, console and computer games of all sorts) is that they can inspire hours of obsessive play and a great deal of learning about their rules and strategies. This learning takes place both in and outside of the actual game play in face-to-face and electronic interactions with friends and strangers through participation in web forums, in-game and out-of-game chat, phone calls, emails, and so on.

In studying video games, I ask "What is happening that is so compelling to motivate this?" and "What can we learn from this motivation that we can apply to other forms of learning?"

For much of my understanding of this, I draw from James Paul Gee's Learning Principles in Video Games, and the work of Rebecca Black, Katherine Clinton, Kurt Squire, Constance Steinkuehler, and others at UW-Madison. As well as John Seely Brown, Kevin Leander, Jay Lemke, and others throughout the world.

I've also begun to immerse myself in video games -- a thing I had resisted for debatable reasons -- and after a month of regular daily play in World of Warcraft, I am beginning to understand at least some of the draws of video games myself, like
  • Quests: I think people like to be directed, guided and supported in their assignments, and praised for achieving mastery.
  • Progression: building on their mastery of componenets of the quests, I think people like to have a sense of gaining new skills. People are generally curious and want to learn, but fear failure. Progression in video games is generally set up via mamy manageable levels.
  • Consequences: While I believe people are generally curious, and want to learn, I think they will often not engage in learning because the consequences for failure are, or are perceived to be, too great. Video games let players throw caution to the wind and take risks because the consequences for failure are minimized -- everyone dies in video games, and that's okay. It seems that school-based learning is in danger of taking an opposite tack on this. Failure should be a part of the daily routine, taught directly alongside of resilience, or "getting up and trying again."
There are others of course, but I'll address those in a later version of this.
The question for my current PBI project is how to create a PBI experience that has these components? One way to try to mimic an actual video game in an Augmented Reality Game (ARG), where the gamespace is not a virtual space but a real geographical space that has game elements augmented into it. Quests can be carried out easily enough, as ARGs can turn any tree into a magical tree that gives quests or quest information. It can bring the player to the edge of a real lake and augment -- with text, audio, or video -- an action, event, or interaction with a Non Player Character (NPC) that adds to the game play. Progression in geographical space is achieved and rewarded both by the tangible richness of exploring (and thus connecting with) the environment, but also is measured in real footsteps and movement. Consequences are trickier because death of the avatar is obviously not a practical option, since the player is the avatar. But failure can be achieved in other ways (wild goose chases, less than optimal efficiency, etc.), the trick is to make it compelling to the player.

I hope to map out other areas that have connections to PBI experiences. With all of these, and really, all the work I post, I'd love to hear ideas and suggestions.