April 7, 2013 in Pittsburgh

Start your own Show-n-Tell

Every first Friday at Catapult, we do an informal Show-n-Tell where four people or organizations give a 10ish minute presentation about what they do. Sort of like lightning TED talks, it’s a wonderful way to find out about smaller, under-the-radar projects in your community or to […]

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April 2, 2013 in Games

Article: Gamification is Bullshit by Ian Bogost

In a nutshell: …gamification is marketing bullshit, invented by consultants as a means to capture the wild, coveted beast that is videogames and to domesticate it for use in the grey, hopeless wasteland of big business, where bullshit already reigns anyway. – Ian Bogost In defense of gamification, from the […]

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March 25, 2013 in Games, Ideas, Projects

Card Sorting to Brain-cleansing Games

About Card Sorting Card sorting is an exercise in user experience design where a group of users sort cards with various words on them into categories. It is often used to determine a website map or to test the language of product, so the cards' words would be things like "Pricing", "Testimonials", or "Tour". About Brain-cleansing I recently did something like card sorting with a client, but less structured. The terms on my cards were very random, anywhere from "Beyonce" to "corn" to "Trust". Each of us in the meeting grabbed a handful of cards and spent a few minutes organizing them in any way that made sense. This gave me the idea to design "Brain-cleansing" games (horrible name, I know). They would be simple exercises that help you break down creative barriers and allow thoughts to flow more freely - a solution for writers block or if you are stuck on a bug in your code. Clear your mind with one or two rounds then return to your work. Here is the first I've come up with (basically lnfnmo): Brain Cleanse game #1: Left & Right Gather/prepare these things: A deck of 20 cards (download some). I taped mine to playing cards for easier handling. Some sort of divider, like a chopstick or a pencil. A timer if playing alone (optional). Choose two cards without looking at them. Turn both over and place one on the left side of the divider and one on the right. Leave a few card lengths between the card and the divider. Like this:

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March 15, 2013 in Research

Themes from DML 2013

Had a great weekend at DML 2013: met a ton of excellent people, heard excellent talks, and had some excellent dinners in Chi City. A few resonant themes and takeaways: Civics are not in crisis, agency is. It seems like civics are the problem because of widely popularized (and hilarious) media showing ignorance (Jaywalking). The stats actually haven't changed, our expectations have. College degrees are much more prevalent now so we are dealing with a larger pool of people. The problem lies in the fact that this demographic feels that they have no influence in the antiquated legislative system (Ethan Zuckerman). Chicago is cool. While this wasn't explicitly stated at the conference, it's certainly true. What a great city, I hope to go back in the near future and have more time to explore. Green river for St. Patrick's Day! Students are expected to be better than perfect. The average high school GPA of incoming freshman at UC Irvine is 4.1/4.0 (Cathy Davidson). Badges...hmmm. Badges are all the rage right now, but they aren't necessarily the answer. The danger in badges is that learners will be motivated because of the badge, rather than what they are learning (Barry Joseph, Mitch Resnick).

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March 11, 2013 in Design

Hippo illustration

I needed to make an anthropomorphic/mentor-like figure for a project and did some experimenting with a hippo. Pretty cute, if I do say so myself.

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March 5, 2013 in Design, Games, Research

DML Conference 2013

In a couple of weeks (March 14-16) I'll be heading to Chicago for the annual Digital Media and Learning Conference organized by the DML Research Hub. The theme this year is "Democratic Futures: Mobilizing Voices, and Remixing Youth Participation". There has been a longstanding narrative of youth political apathy and disengagement from democratic life. As the currents of social, political, financial, and global change intensify, what is the future of participatory democracy, youth activism, and civic and political education? How are the practices and forms of participatory democracy evolving in the age of social, digital, and mobile media? So many good talks, and I think a few of my favorites overlap unfortunately. Anyhow, here are some I'm especially looking forward to: ChicagoQuest Curriculum Design Jam "In this workshop, players will be taught the different phases of our curriculum design process. They will form small teams to compete against other teams in a guided challenge to design at each of the “levels” of the curriculum design process, both experiencing and designing CQ-style game-like learning." Seems that I've been mentioning the Quest Schools in every post at this point... Games, Learning and the Future of Assessment "The development of game-based assessments to support the learning of domain-based knowledge and skills." Very excited for this one.

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