A Focus for My Work

Picture of Rurik glaring at a fake skeleton

Rurik – glaring into the face of research!

Recently I met with three individuals plotting ways to support online play spaces and recognize the inherent benefits of these spaces. Our discussions tempted me into subverting my entire dissertation for an opportunity to study the birth of an organization dedicated to this mission. Quickly I pulled back but I learned some valuable things from this:

  1. My dissertation is transferable. The methodology I am planning to use is easily transitioned to new contexts. Design-Based Research really does a lot for the field of educational technology and game-enhanced learning spaces in particular.

  2. My dissertation will not eat away every moment of my life. Sure I will spend quite a bit of time on the weekends developing my study, conferring with the design team, and combing through the data – but it is not going to consume every available hour.

  3. My dissertation is important. As I was mesmerized by the idea of studying this forming educational organization I was snapped back to my plan as scheduled by several comments about how important the research I was doing would be for the future of similarly embryonic organizations.

It is exciting to think that even in potential failure the work I am doing has purpose beyond the esoteric.

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Explore Social Media – Non-Educationally

Thinking in text today.Recently I have begun encouraging my students and consultancy to explore social media tools for fun. To use them for the same purposes they imagine their students using social media. One of the major benefits of this exercise is that folks tend to delve more deeply into the features of a tool. Already I am hearing back from individuals about affordances that they did not realize were available. Youtube is a prime example. Now that I have a few students using it socially they are seeing how they might leverage a simple YouTube channel and Google Plus page as their entire portfolio. Sure there are more sophisticated and professional ways to package this material but at this point they are still developing the content. That is another thing, content developed in one form of media can often be easily converted and shared in another format.

I think this all goes back to one of my main tenants regarding using technology. Technology education must be approached with a playful mindset. If the goal is all business you miss the frivolous yet revolutionary possibilities.

Grants & Scholarships…Grants & Scholarships

My funds do not equal the costs of my studies!

My funds do not equal the costs of my studies!

Grants and Scholarships – My Focus for the Month!

This month I need to really buckle down and hunt out new scholarships or grants to support my doctoral studies. Until now I have been supported by a series of graduate assistantships which will not be available next year since my course work will be complete and I plan to take part time credits. Not a big deal and something I actually enjoy doing.

The entertaining aspect of this is that my change in status has meant I am able to apply for full time positions. Many of these want grant writing experience. I have nothing I can document beyond the funding for my own studies. Note to self: write some grants. I wonder if the travel money I obtained last year counts as a grant? It was granted by the Dean….

Secondary note to self: research what distinguishes a grant from departmental money tossed to send poor graduate students to expensive conferences.

Today:

Search Grants

Tomorrow:

Repeat Today

My Researcher Identity Memo

20130607-163242.jpgOver the last thirteen years I have taught or involved myself in education in a variety of non-traditional roles. Primarily I have been concerned with engaging at-risk or disadvantages youth. Simultaneously I have been an avid user of virtual environments, most notably games and especially massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPG). These dual passions eventually led to an introduction to a community of gamer educators who were passionate about taking the features of games in the classroom.

Several educators noted the rich literary opportunities. A few educators were intrigued my the opportunity to explore simulated environments that parallel the real world but did not have the costs associated with traditional labs or live action simulations. These content specialized interests have not driven my interest as much as the level of engagement that students experience in games. This particular feature of games fascinates me.

Tracking these mechanics and lifting them from the context of games and into the learning environment is one of my goals. (I do not mean this to indicate that I think these mechanics can be nakedly lifted from games and placed within education. This is a more critical and complicated interaction than I have space to describe here). I plan to form a collaboration with educators practicing game enhanced learning strategies to develop an artifact that may assist educators in implementing engaging mechanics in their curriculum in useful and timely ways. Having a group working on this is quite important due to my limitations as a researcher.

My experiences limit me in that my concepts are influenced by deep knowledge of game design mechanics. Due to this I need collaborators who lack this understanding yet still have an interest in games for learning in order to help clarify the any artifacts. My lack of “traditional” classroom experience can also be seen as limiting since a traditional classroom teacher may not find my findings generalizable. This is yet another reason for a diverse force of collaborators. I think through diversity in experimental contexts the findings might be generalizable enough for further spread and usability of the artifact.

Riding with Rosa Parks to ISTE

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Today on my way into ISTE I sat with a seat dedicated to Rosa Parks. It has set my thought towards issues of equity this morning. When I return to Portland in the morning I will need to work on two papers concerned with these issues. One relates to digital tools and the other to broader implications. The question I am going to focus on today is: how can I build games for learning that address social, cultural, and ability inequities?

To lighten the mood, my selfie yesterday:

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