(Finally) Finishing That Post

I just published a blog post that was started back in June 2016. Originally I was writing a long, detailed guide about how to integrate websites into Canvas after I’d used this tool in a training course I facilitated back in May 2016.

But my writing during the summer stopped when I attended a conference and my grandmother passed away during my travels. It was hard to motivate myself to continue writing this post because Grandmommy had just started reading my blog and learned how to comment on my blog. In other words, all the posts I was working on at that time were not visited again.

Until now.

I’ve started combing through the content I was writing last summer to see if there’s anything that needs to be resurrected. The post I just finished has been hanging over my head for a long time and I’m happy to have it (finally) published. I hope my words can do some good and provide instructors with more tools and valuable use cases for technologies in the classroom.

Really that’s all I wanted to share. It took a while, but in finishing that post I’ve made it over that writing block.

The featured image is provided CC0 by Jake Thacker via Unsplash.

Anatomy of Slaying GOBLINs – #OpenEd16 Presentation

Last week, John and I gave one of my favorite presentations while at #OpenEd16. We spoke about our game-based professional development program, GOBLIN. During our 25 minute presentation, we combined role-play, gameplay, storytelling, and discussion to emulate the experience of participating in a session of GOBLIN.

Role-Play

To add subtle hype to our final-day-of-the-conference session, we distributed a few sightings of the GOBLIN via twitter:

These “sightings” aimed to invoke curiosity and set the tone for our presentation. John and I intended to paint the attendees of #OpenEd16 as warriors we’d gathered to consult and help us defeat the mighty GOBLIN. As soon as the session started, the role-play was already in full swing. John and I introduced ourselves as the Guru’s of these lands, seeking aid from valiant warriors. We were not disappointed.

One of John and I’s worries of the extensive role-play in our presentation was soliciting buy-in from participants. If role-play is not fun, coherent, or accessible, then it will not be well received—and like GOBLIN, we had crafted role-play into our presentation and staked success on this design. Fortunately, we were relieved at the laugher and feedback from Twitter inspired by our approach. We’d put a significant amount of thought and craftsmanship into how role-play would be integrated into our session and the results were fantastic:

My favorite line to deliver was about the computers, tablets, and smartphones of the participants:

These comments were not inconsequential. They allowed John and I to layer and tailor our own ideas over the real world. We were framing tasks in new light—breathing perspectives and meaning into normally trivial endeavors. In practice, John and I capitalized on the world we created with a short research game.

Gameplay

With our fantasy universe was established, we engaged participants in a simple game. The task was to submit open resources like images, video, or software to goblin.education/opened16. This crowdsourcing of information inflicted damage upon the GOBLIN. The more resources procured, the more points removed from the GOBLIN’s health bar:

Gif of GOBLIN being damaged by recourse submissions

There were so many people attempting to submit resources simultaneously that we crashed the website for a couple minutes! (Which was fine as we only need to demonstrate the concept of the game.) Nevertheless, thanks Lee! 😉

Storytelling

Cartoon campfire

Following the game, we launched into the history of GOBLIN. I framed this story in the context that John and I had encountered this menace before and needed to inform these warriors of the GOBLIN’s origin. This weaving of role-play and reality sure made for some memorable storytelling!

The birth of GOBLIN is quite simple; it arose from a single question:

This question drove the development of GOBLIN. We wrestled with it as developers/instructors and we used it as a point of engagement for our faculty.

In addition to this foundational question, John and I practice experiential pedagogies, and pragmatically, this means we use the concepts we’re teaching in the design of the instruction:

In practice, this meant we:

Once we established these two core ideas in the genesis of GOBLIN, we explained our development process and how open educational resources enabled us to build character cards for the table-top, D20 based RPG named GOBLIN.

But the GOBLIN game was merely a primer for discussion of pedagogical concepts like scaffolding, overcoming failure, and gamification (etc.). These discussions and the exorbitant amount of optional homework completed by faculty were where we engaged participants in professional development. Together, these aspects of GOBLIN resulted in the highest attendance of any faculty learning community we’ve ever facilitated (even ones where iPads were given as part of their involvement)!

However, the story is not all fun and games. GOBLIN suffered from a lack of equal representation among the characters. For instance, it was difficult to find open female artwork that was not heavily sexualized. John and I made it a point to diversify our characters as much as possible. We used labels to imply gender ambiguous artwork was female and ensured that no more than half of the characters where explicitly male. But even with our attempts, we still received feedback that greater diversity should be present. We agree and plan to keep working at improving this weakness of our program.

Slide from GOBLIN presentation showing female character and implied female character, sorceress.
Female rogue and implied female character, sorceress.

Discussion

Fortunately, we concluded our presentation in several minutes of open discussion and talked about these shortcomings with the attendees. There were some great suggestions to engage art students at the university in producing open artwork for GOBLIN.

Others spoke about artwork and their fear of competing against high budget games. John and I let the discussion evolve naturally and many great points arose from these statements:

To wrap it all together, Erika Bullock gave a testimony as a student who participated in developing games for class assignments. She attested to the potential of learning inherent in that design process and her comments encouraged instructors to consider the value of games as instructional opportunities.

What a great time of discussion we had. John and I enjoy crowdsourcing ideas from the discussions we host in GOBLIN or in presentations about GOBLIN. Learning is best as a communal experience. 🙂

Reflection

Presenting at #OpenEd16 was a phenomenal experience. The opportunity to share ideas and work with many of the people I look up to is a fantastic “right of passage.” Like Terry said in his #OpenEd16 reflection, “It is VERY satisfying, when you get up the nerve to tell [your edu heroes] you admire their work…to see them seem genuinely grateful for the praise and interested in who you are.” I couldn’t have asked for a greater audience and location.

One component of the presentation that folks might not have been aware of at the time, is that the entire presentation was a reflection of a GOBLIN session. We used a game to set the stage and add context to the discussion we wanted to facilitate. There were some extra components since it was a presentation, like the dive into GOBLIN history and the how the building process was impacted by open resources. But overall, very similar structure between GOBLIN and this presentation about GOBLIN. #meta

From the feedback we received and the questions following our presentation, I’d call the session a success. I made a lot of connections with folks interested in GOBLIN and look forward to the working with them.

As a reminder, GOBLIN is built using open materials and is also licensed openly for you to take it, adapt it, use it, and expand it. If you want some assistance with the materials, let us know. Be aware that we’re still building pieces of the GOBLIN  website and improving implementation and distribution.

Also, if you want a copy of our slides, here you go:

Finally, if there’s one way our presentation will be remembered, I’m glad it’s because we gifted D20 dice as swag. 😀

The featured image is included with Mark Morvant’s permission.

Fighting Hate As Normalcy

Tuesday night after the election results were clear, a verbal assault occurred on my campus. One of my friend’s little sisters was shouted at by a man who claimed the results of the election gave him the right to “grab her by the pussy.” Fortunately, she was with a group of people at the time and the man was not able to follow through with his threat. But now, my friend’s little sister plans on purchasing mace as a safety precaution—she doesn’t feel safe on our campus, and she is a white woman.

She’s not alone in her fear. There are other stories like this:

For every individual that’s not attacked or oppressed, there are even more living in fear. This breaks my heart. This is not the America I want for our children.

I’m presenting these stories today because these hateful behaviors are not okay. If you see hate and oppression occur around you, speak up. If we are complacent, this monstrous behavior will go unchecked and hate will shift further into normalcy. It is our duty to call out those who are doing wrong to others—we are the ones who must fight this hate.

My Identity Crisis And The Support Of Others

I’m taking a break from email, writing my #OpenEd16 reflections, and planning for next semester because I need to write.

Now that Donald Trump is the president-elect, I’m having an identity crisis. For the first time in my life, I don’t feel American. For the first time, I don’t want to be.

It’s all been said before, but the fact that a platform founded upon prejudice and hate resonated with citizens of the United States is disturbing. Apparently, there IS a “silent majority” in this country who believe the best leader for our nation is a man without military or political experience. A man who has further cemented xenophobia and sexism into the foundations of the establishment.

I am heartbroken.

I don’t know how to talk to any of my international friends about the results of the election. Some of them were already frightened to travel to the United States and now I doubt they have any remaining desire to visit or study here.

I recognize that my fear, pain, and anger are inconsequential next to other groups of people—POC, LGBTQ, sisters and brothers in the Muslim community, and every parent:

A Letter of Apology to My Daughter

But as I’m struggling with my identity today, I wanted to take a moment and recognize people who are giving me strength and hope. Wonderful people like my wife, my mother, my family, my friends, my coworkers, my mentors, people I look up to in the education community, Laverne Cox, Anoop, Claudia Swisher, and yes, Hilary Clinton:

Since I keep writing (and then deleting) parts of this post, I will conclude by saying thank you for reading these ramblings. I’m not sure how well I am communicating what I feel, but writing is helping me process nonetheless.

I love you all!

So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all. – Source

The featured image is provided CC0 by Wil Stewart via Unsplash.

eXperience Publish

If you are interested in participating in eXperience Play (XP) remotely, I am going to provide a to-do list of items each week. These to-do lists will include a variety of tasks such as playing games, reflecting, blogging, and portions of game development. If you complete all five to-do lists, you will produce an educational text-based game in five weeks. For more information on this professional development, read this blog post, visit the eXperience Play website, or contact me via Twitter or email.

This post corresponds with the final session of XP.

Part 1 – Game Development

1. Finish your game.

As you finish, we recommend adding a credits and citation passage to your game. Credit any collaborators and cite all resources you used to build your game (pictures, etc.).

Additionally, consider the copyright you want associated with your Twine game. This Creative Commons page can help you determine what license might be right for you. At the bottom of that Creative Commons page is an HTML code you copy directly into a Twine passage after you decide what license you want associated with your content. This decision is important because copyright information tells others how they can use your materials without asking for your permission.

2. Publish your game!

Once your game is finished, you need to access your Twine game and “Publish to File:”

Showing where to "Publish to File" in Twine software

This will generate a .html file you can upload to the “Dropittome” box on the Publish Page. (The upload password is “cte” without quotations.) Once I receive your file, I can put your game on the eXperience Play website.

(Note: If you used any media files, you will have to put them in a folder with your .html file and compress the whole folder to a .zip file before you upload to the “Dropittome” box. You can download this game to see an example of a .zip file. If you have questions about this, please ask us.)

Also, you are welcome to publish your game at the following locations:

3. Celebrate completing your Twine project!

I’d do two things to celebrate: (1) send your game to your family, friends, colleagues, and/or students, etc. (2) play the games made by other XP faculty:

Anne Boleyn Cover
Biochem Adventures Cover
Contain-Gen Cover
Election Simulator 2016 Cover
Las medias rojas Cover
Lingu Cover
Units Cover

Part 2 – Professional Development

4. Write a blog post about your participation in eXperience Play using the following prompt:

Blog Prompt
  • Give an overview of your game. I encourage you to include a screenshot of your final product.
  • Research and define “Digital Literacy” in your own words.
  • Reflect and write about what skills you practiced during your participation in eXperience Play. Which of these would you classify as Digital Literacy skills?

5. Consider running your own eXperience Play session or integrate text-based game development into your curriculum. If you had fun participating in XP, I expect your students would too!

Since XP is licensed as CC-BY-NC-SA, you don’t have to ask for permission to modify, use, or share our materials for any purpose as long as you are within the bounds of the license.

To get you stated, this page outlines each part of XP.


We had a lot of fun making games with you! 🙂 Let us know if you have any questions about running XP, using parts of XP, or participating in XP. You can reached out via Twitter or email.

The featured image is provided CC0 by Alejandro Scaff via Unsplash.