Day of Silence

Screen Shot 2014-04-10 at 11.39.53 PMTomorrow (twenty-nine minutes from now) is the Day of Silence. It is the 19th in which GLSEN, the LGBTQ allied organization working for equitable and safe environments of learning for all youth, has had a big part in. With 8 of 10 LGBTQ students being harassed due to their orientation each year I always saw the value in this expression but was unable to take part for various reasons.

This year, for the first time ever, I am planning to take on the full experience. In (now 25 minutes) I will stop posting to my social media and allow automated posts share some images and links related to LGBTQ accomplishments over the last year. I will put my phone on airplane mode. During class I will listen attentively but will not be expressing myself. This will be tough as I love discourse and socialization. It feeds me. During the day I plan to silent vlog and compose a video reflection at the end. In a strange merger of my personal and professional life I am sharing the YouTube video I posted explaining this just fifteen minutes ago.

With twenty-minutes to go, see you on the other side of Friday!



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.

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.

Playing with Excel

image of a spreadsheet done as a blur with a quote about the beauty of spreadsheetsI think one of my favorite things about this week has been the use of Concatenate in excel. And split.

My boss loaned me to a couple professors who needed registration to be simplified. Hello spreadsheets and Google Forms! We built the form before I knew what level of information they expected to use. Oops. Still it was a nice start.

Some of the information was located on a visually pleasing (to the maker) spreadsheet that required some fancy Queery formulas. I am just glad Google sheets can talk to each other across documents. The “visually pleasing layout” is usually a synonym for “useless”.

Once that mess was sorted I had to combine and split names into about twenty formats. W00T!

So…it sounds bad in writing but I secretly loved this week.

Off to ISTE!

ISTE 2013 San Antonio June 23-26

I am off to ISTE! I absolutely love this conference. This year I hope to tak advantage of the conference to launch a few projects.

The first project relates to this blog; I want to get some guest game-players in here. Hopefully I can get my first QuestGuest to play on Friday but my main goal is to recruit a few people for future shows using Google Hangouts.

Last week I tried starting a book review vlog series and ran into a problem of time and organization. It is quite easy to discuss chapters from a book but editing things together takes a larger chunk of time which I lack. One of my goals is to ask more experienced vloggers how they handle their workflow and get shows posted regularly.

Finally the last project, and perhaps most important, getting my dissertation topic off the ground. My dissertation relates to games for learning in some way but the details have remained fluid. Back when I thought I might end up in a classroom again I thought I could do a case study. Now I am thinking about the potential for an empirical study of WoW in Schools across the classrooms adopting this curriculum in some form. Hopefully I get a chance to talk with folks more intimate with the curriculum and get their ideas.

Thinking Face

Integrative Thinking

Integrative Thinking

What is a thinking face? I have been considering a definition for this expression. I use it a lot and we see the varieties of the thinking face in everyday life.



I have decided to go with Graham Douglas’s 1986 definition:

Process of integrating intuition, reason and imagination in a human mind with a view to developing a holistic continuum of strategy, tactics, action, review and evaluation for addressing a problem in any field.



You can actually check out what he is really talking about here!