MuseForJews

muse: n. a source of inspiration

Designing a Digital Quest…

Update on learning how to design a digital quest:

I introduced my religious school students to arisgames.org last week. I broke out the laptops and had the kids go to my Interesting Questing wiki page. They watched some movies about using ARIS and SCVNGR and about Global Kids’ NY Haunts game. They are EXCITED!

After getting them excited about the project we played Grow a Game (thank you Natalie from the iCenter for introducing us to this!). I wanted to get their creative juices flowing.

Then we talked about what kind of quests we could send Jewish teenagers on. My students offered ideas like “teach about Judaism to someone who doesn’t know about it,” and “wear a kippah for a day and journal about what happens.” They had some great questions too, like “can we link this to Facebook?” (great idea!)

Then I started spending some time playing with ARIS. The editor is still under construction, and the creators warn you that the interface is shaky, but I haven’t had any problems in my limited testing. The biggest issue for me is that support materials are rather scarce: I like to work through tutorials and read manuals and those just don’t exist. But that’s part of the fun of using emerging technology, right?

I’m totally psyched about using ARIS for this project. I love that you can drop items anywhere using the map interface, so we can create the game from the comfort of our classroom and then just go into the field to test it. Once I understood the basic interface I found creating quests and characters fairly intuitive. I still need to master the terminology and how to logically create quests, and of course, how the game flows will be a big challenge. But I definitely see this having tremendous potential!

Next steps:

1. Design a few quests that kids can experience in the synagogue so they get the idea
2. Create a plan for designing a game flow
3. Design classroom dynamics. There are close to twenty kids who come regularly. How do we split these kids up so everyone’s engaged and productive?

Big questions: what are the educational goals for the activity? How do you blend “experiential education” with mobile devices?

To be continued!

October 30, 2011 Posted by | iCenter, Interesting Questing, Technology | , , , | Leave a comment

Interesting Questing

Interesting questing logoA new interest for me is developing digital quests. These might be digital versions of old-fashioned scavenger hunts, or more complex activities like city-wide activities using GPS navigation devices. When I was in Vienna this past summer with Centropa, we went on part of a geocaching tour that was created by middle school kids. What a great activity, both for the people who are participating and the kids who prepared it.

What’s super exciting for me is that I’m going to getting support from the great staff at the iCenter as part of my iChallenge incubator grant. There are three projects which I’m working on:

  1. A pretty straightforward digital scavenger hunt to be held in the synagogue building.
  2. A digital quest for Purim.
  3. My preconfirmation (8th and 9th graders) “Finding the Jew in You” quest. My students and I will be creating a digital quest for Chicago-area teenagers to use. The quest will include going to various Jewish sites in the Chicago area, performing tasks and collecting student reflections

I’ve started to compile resources on my wiki. Here are a few of my favorites:

Software:

SCVNGR is an app which is widely used commercially. It has a clean interface and it doesn’t seem terribly complicated to create challenges. Free accounts are limited to five challenges, but the developers graciously granted me an increase to 25 just for the asking. The editor is online, and the user needs to download an app to play.

ARIS is a platform developed at the University of Wisconsin. The site is impressive and extensive, with user docs and samples. Players can interact with virtual guides and collect artifacts (which can then be annotated using voice or a smartphone camera).  The learning curve on this product looks steeper than SCVNGR, but there’s great documentation. Like SCVNGR, the user needs to download a free app in order to play.

QR (quick response) codes are not software per se, but rather digital tools. You create a QR code to encode some kind of data, such as displaying text or directing someone to a website or to create an email. There’s been a lot of discussion on how to use them in education, including digital scavenger hunts, links to podcasts and students portfolios and more. Users with smartphones, laptops or computers with webcams can use QR code scanners to read the code.For a video on how you can use QR codes in school, check this out.

Need some inspiration?

Getting a grip on the tech side is one thing, but there’s nothing like a little show and tell to get you going. Here are a few videos that might help:

Aris demo

SCVNGR demo

And for a real dose of inspiration, check out Global Kids. Their New York City Haunts game will blow you away!

If you’d like to share what you’re doing, or what you’d like to do – please let me know!

September 14, 2011 Posted by | iCenter, Interesting Questing, QR Codes, Technology | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

iCenter Fellows

I’m at an amazing conference on Israel education presented by the iCenter. Click here for more information.

I did a Wordle with the group to see what they’re interested in. The question was “what do you want to learn?” The answer:

May 23, 2011 Posted by | iCenter | , | Leave a comment

   

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