Stories from Paying the Price – Ch 1 Reflection

“The democratic community cannot tolerate¬† a society based upon education for the well-to-do alone. If college opportunities are restricted to those in the higher income brackets, the way is open to the creation and perpetuation of a class society which has no place in the American way of life.” – The Truman Commission (1)

The reason I’m studying the rising cost of college costs is because, at the core, I want a classless society. By understanding and pursuing how to democratize higher education I hope to further this cause. But let’s start with something a bit lighter. ūüôā

My favorite part of Chapter 1 was reading the introductions of Chloe, Ian, Tyler, Nima, Norbert, and Sophie (CINNTS). Their stories will likely be the most significant point of engagement for me while reading. Especially since I’m the same age and understand the value of need-based financial aid firsthand. I’m already a bit anxious¬†about CINNTS¬†stories because I want each of them to succeed, but knowing the¬†book’s topics, I anticipate¬†this will not be the case.

Since the stories of CINNTS are already rather compelling to me, I was thinking about ways to¬†make their journeys more accessible to others. My initial thought would be to build a small choose-your-own-adventure Twine game where people would follow each of CINNTS stories and make choices that would impact their lives. To me, this could be a valuable resource in situations where time and the other topics from¬†Paying the Price are inaccessible to the readers. For example, if you wanted to engage students in the rising cost of college through the stories from Paying the Price without diving into the specifics of Pell Grants. I haven’t committed to producing such a resource because it may be too large an undertaking for me to¬†take on at the moment.

Some of the hard-hitting information from chapter 1 was a bit jarring to me. The current purchasing power of¬†the Pell Grant, in particular, only covers about 35% of the price for a public 4-year college (2). I understand that is a significant amount of money, but it is clearly¬†not enough to fund a student’s collegiate career. Being a product of state and¬†university based aid, I’m dishearten¬†by how many financial aid programs must be received in triplicate to actually cover the cost of college. In other words, only the¬†students who acquire several types of financial aid can¬†cover the full cost of college instead of¬†being able to rely on the Pell Grant alone.

Thinking about higher education as a point of socioeconomic mobility has been engrained in me for as long as I can remember. To me, a college degree yields access to more stable jobs and higher wages to reduce inequality but as Sara points out climbing the social ladder does not occur at an equivalent rate:

There is no guarantee, in other words, that college-educated people from low-income families will not be left behind. – Sara Goldrick-Rab (2)

Alternatively:

People who grow up in economically fragile circumstances often continue to live in economically fragile communities, even after they attend college. – Sara Goldrick-Rab (3)

This challenges¬†what I “known” and expands how I need to be thinking about the benefits of college degrees, the price of college, and how to bear¬†real, lasting change in the world.¬†Since this is only the first chapter of Paying the Price, I’m rather excited to continue reading, reflecting, and writing these next several weeks!

The featured image is provided CC0 by Alex Read via Unsplash.


  1. President’s Commission on Higher Education, Higher Education for American Democracy, 2:23 (as cited in Paying the Price).
  2. Sara Goldrick-Rab, Paying the Price, Figure 6.
  3. Sara Goldrick-Rab, Paying the Price, p. 20.
  4. Sara Goldrick-Rab, Paying the Price, p. 20.

Academic Technology Expo 2017

Friday, January 13th was the sixth annual Academic Technology Expo (ATE) at the University of Oklahoma.¬†ATE is¬†one of my favorite local conferences because there’s an emphasis on instructors presenting the tools they are using in their classrooms. This helps me gage and pursue various technologies and use cases that interest faculty. Not to mention, ATE keeps me informed about¬†many of the technology initiatives throughout¬†OU classrooms.

This year’s ATE was especially notable between a¬†day (Jan 12th) focused on OU’s new Innovation HUB¬†followed by¬†a day (Jan 13th) filled with phenomenal presentations and the wonderful¬†Keynote speaker,¬†Gardner Campbell!

Telling ATE Stories Through Twitter

The tweets that follow are intended to represent a snapshot of my¬†experience at ATE. They have been curated from the #OUTechExpo stream and will include various¬†individuals. In other words, this post also acts as a “recommended to follow these awesome people” post. Anyways, I’ll try to limit myself to ~5 tweets per session‚ÄĒhere we go:

Drupal as a Collaborative Classroom Tool
Students Creating and Sharing Online Annotations through Hypothesis
Wiki EDU - Wikipedia Articles as Course Assignments
Keynote: An Insite-Oriented Education
Making Games for the Classroom with Twine
Students as Makers of Educational Games

Keynote

Reflection

My favorite part of ATE was presenting alongside Lauren and Julie on some of the curriculum they’ve implemented/are developing for their courses. Lauren¬†built a text-based game with her students around the choices immigrants and asylum seekers face. This¬†activity intended to engage Lauren’s students in both research and creative writing that could be showcased¬†outside of the classroom. I love this project because Lauren had her students reflect on every¬†choice they made while developing the game,¬†Sanctuary. What an opportunity for her students to see the world through another individuals point of view and empathize with people immigrating to the United States.

Julie also has a terrific choose-your-own adventure game development activity she intends¬†to implement in her Fall 2017 course around Spanish literature. For Julie’s students, they will practice their language skills while writing plausible, alternative ending to pieces of literature. Checkout the example Julie developed for her students,¬†Las medias rojas, during her participation in eXperience Play. My favorite quote¬†Julie said about why she’s pursuing this activity is that she had “fun” developing her own text-based game and wants her students to have a similar experience in her class.

Sanctuary Cover
Las medias rojas Cover

I felt spoiled at ATE since¬†it was my second time to hear Gardner Campbell speak in the last three months (shoutout to #OpenEd16!) He was phenomenal. What resonated with me from his talk¬†is his portrayal of the internet as a network where everyone is connected, but no one entity is in control, as well as his call to action that we should always be intentional when implementing technologies into the classroom. To me, these are two ideas that drive some of the curriculum and professional development I design. Honestly, it’s hard to put into words much of the inspiration Gardner propagates, so I will differ to the soon-to-be-released video of his talk. I highly encourage you to listen to his encouragement (when it’s posted). Thank you Gardner Campbell!

PS. Gardner Campbell invited us to his Open Learning¬†Connectivist MOOC¬†that starts this week. I wanted to extend the same invitation to you. ūüôā

Finally, due to the threat of inclement weather, ATE¬†possessed a high concentration of passionate educators willing to brave the potential of freezing rain. Thus, from learning about¬†Drupal to facilitate collaborate research in the classroom, to engaging students in discussion using group annotations with Hypothes.is, and scaffolding the writing of academic papers with Wikipedia articles, ATE was comprised¬†of¬†some fantastic¬†sessions. I love¬†seeing the results of passionate instructors and the technologies they utilize. Here’s to another great year of learning alongside them.

The featured image is provided CC0 by Riley McCullough via Unsplash.

Hacking My Apple TV

Sometimes I have way too much fun. I recently acquired a 1st gen. Apple TV and wanted to breath some new life into it. So, I decided to remove its extremely outdated operating system (version 3.0.2) and replace it with something that actually allows media streaming. I decided to start with OSMC and followed this excellent video guide:

The installation process was smooth for the most part‚ÄĒI only had one snag during setup. The most updated version of OSMC from November was not installing properly, so I repeated the steps outlined in¬†the video using the October build of OSMC and succeed. (I tried to update the October¬†version to the November¬†one later, but that update failed so I’ll stick with the older version for now.)

November built of OSMC failing to install properly on Gen 1 Apple TV displays a white sad face on blue background
OSMC Installation Failing 1st Time
OSMC linux operating system installing on Gen 1 Apple TV
OSMC Installation Succeeding 2nd Time

At this point, most people stop with an awesome Kodi enabled Apple TV but I wanted much more from this Debian 8.6 Linux computer! In accordance with the recommendations from the aforementioned video guide, I installed LXDE as the desktop interface. It was at this point that I started dreaming of all the things I could do with my new linux computer!

Apple TV As A Computer

First,¬†I installed a web browser.¬†Learning to use the “apt-get”¬†command from forums, I installed¬†Firefox¬†ESR and¬†explored my first text-based web browser, Lynx. It was a spectacular experience to see what the web looks like when images, videos, and advertisements are stripped away and words are all that remain.

OU Create loaded in Lynx text-based web browser shows only words of the website
OU Create in the Lynx text-based web browser

Next, I built a Twine game from my Apple TV and used the notes from eXperience Play to add some style to my simple game. Once it was built I decided to upload and host the HTML game on my OU Create domain.

ATV game built in Twine and hosted at atv.keeganslw.com
Twine game made on Apple TV now available at atv.keeganslw.com

Eventually, I decided to load office software onto my Apple TV to create some documents. To install LibreOffice, I had to learn how to setup backports by creating text files in the command line using:

nano /etc/apt/sources.list.d/filename.list

But after some tinkering and patience, I was able to install LibreOffice onto the Apple TV. With this software, I composed my first document from the Apple TV.

LibreOffice running on Apple TV.
LibreOffice running on my Apple TV

After playing around with Debian Linux for a few hours, I started to push my goals even further. I wanted to see what it would take to turn my Apple TV into a web server. ūüôā

Apple TV As A Web Server

There was a phenomenal guide on setting up a LAMP environment in Debian that I followed¬†to transform my Apple TV into a server. However, I had trouble getting MariaDB MySQL to install properly. Since I wasn’t determined¬†to install any web apps that used MySQL, I didn’t sweat this problem and turned my attention towards the more crucial Apache2 and PHP5 and started getting more¬†ambitious.

First, I discovered I could¬†host the Apple TV-made Twine game on the Apple TV¬†itself by placing the HTML file in the web root directory that Apache had generated (in my case /var/www/html). THIS WORKED PERFECTLY. In other words, files located in the computer folder “html” (that is located in the folder “www” that is located in the folder “var”) on the Apple TV were now accessible to other computers on my home network. This meant I was able to navigate to the IP address of my Apple TV using my iPad to access the Twine game.

ATV game built in Twine and hosted on the Apple TV
Same Twine game now hosted on the Apple TV

In fact, any device on my home network can navigate to http://10.0.1.30/twine.html and access the html file that was being hosted by my new LAP (Linux, Apache, PHP) server. Yet this game was only simple HTML and I wanted to take the Apple TV even further.

So, I started exploring web apps since some flat-file CMS like Grav don’t require MySQL to operate, I started exploring what it would take to run a Grav website from my Apple TV. I spent a while reading and researching¬†the requirements like editing the apache2.conf file to allow .htaccess¬†to function and installing different PHP¬†components. However, after I looked at my watch and saw 8 hours had past since I started this adventure, I decided it was time to take a break… ūüôā

What’s Next For The Apple TV?

I want to finish getting Grav running on my new web server, but I’ll need to do a bit more research before another Apple TV journey. Also, I’m exploring a firewall exception and mapping port 80 in my router to grant users access to my¬†Apple TV web server outside of my home.

Finally, I’m considering installing node.js and trying to get a copy of Ghost running. This may be feasible as opposed to¬†running something like¬†Sandstorm.io¬†or Gitlab, with the measly 256MB of RAM on an Apple TV.

WHY? Why Not?

If you played the¬†Twine game I keep referencing, you’ve already witnessed me questioning my intentions. Why the heck did I spend all day turning a media player into a computer and then into a server? I may sarcastically reply with “why not?” but the real reason is for the fun of learning. Today, I taught myself¬†loads of awesome stuff! From heavy usage of the Debian command line to Apache2 as a web server to how the web works at a file and IP address level‚ÄĒthese days of experimentation, building, and re-building help me understand technology and its role in our lives.¬†For me this was more than an exercise in learning, this was an opportunity to discover how and why I’d bring the web¬†into my own classroom.

The featured image is provided CC0 by Ilya Pavlov 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:

  • Your own web server ‚Äď More complicated, more control (we use OU Create via¬†Reclaim Hosting)
  • Game Jolt or¬†itch.io¬†‚Äď indie game repositories, free, html or zip packages
  • philome.la¬†‚Äď free, easy, html only, requires Twitter

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 РProfessional 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! ūüôā 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.

eXperience Polish

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 fourth session of XP.

Part 1 –¬†Game Development

1. Review the following Twine Syntaxes and guides:

Add Media (Etc.) With These Twine Syntaxes
Change Your Twine Game's Appearance with CSS
Free Images, Additional Guides, & Resources

2. Using the above syntaxes, guides, and everything you have learned in the past few weeks, continue¬†working on your game until it’s complete.

For reference, here’s an example Twine game from a participant of XP:

Example Twine Game, units, made by an XP participant

3.¬†Find someone to play your completed¬†game and give you feedback. Use this opportunity to make more revisions. Again, I’d recommend getting reviews from individuals in your vicinity since your¬†game is stored locally on your computer for now.

Part 2 РProfessional Development

4. Write a blog post about your experience building your game using the following prompt:

Blog Prompt
  • Document how your game¬†has changed from last week. I encourage you to include a screenshot of your final product.
  • Reflect and write about how peer-review and feedback has impacted your game’s design.
  • Research and define “Peer-Peer Learning” in your own words.

Get your Twine game as closed to complete as possible by October 3rd.  Share screenshots of your progress with me via Twitter or email or reach out with any questions.

The featured image is provided CC0 by John Hult via Unsplash.