Derek Hansen, Kari Kraus, Elizabeth Bonsignore, Margeaux Johnson, and Georgina B. Goodlander are panelists for session 7C entitled, “Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) and 21st Century Literacies.” You can read their abstract here.
1) What do you hope people gain from your presentation and/or panel?
We are hoping that participants come away with a good idea of what Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) are, and how they can be designed to engage students in the practice of 21st Century Literacies. But we can’t stop there. Our panel attendees will get to experience an ARG activity first-hand (for more details on that, check out our suggested reading list). We would also like to brainstorm with our participants on the potential for a large-scale, multi-institution, library-focused ARG.
We will start with a bit of background on ARGs, highlighting game-play features that immerse players in literacy activities such as gathering, evaluating, and managing information. We will also discuss collaboration and creative expression, equally important literacy practices not only possible, but required in ARGs.
We’re excited to have two experts who have designed and launched ARGs on our
panel: Margeaux Johnson, a Science and Technology librarian from the University of Florida, and Georgina Goodlander, Interpretive Programs Manager of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Luce Foundation Center. Margeaux will relay
her experiences designing information literacy missions for a campus-wide Humans vs. Zombies ARG. Georgina will share the stories of two ARGs that offer
museum audiences innovative ways to engage with art collections. Ghosts of A Chance was the first ARG played out in a museum environment (2008) and PHEON, first played at the American Art Museum on September 18th, 2010, will be launching online on the day of our panel! Georgina will also have some curious design documents and compelling questions for our audience members (have a gander at those suggested readings, yet??).
Our goals are to learn from each other, to have fun with a hands-on ARG activity, and to make some long-term connections with the diverse array of practitioners, students, and researchers attending, in order to keep the conversation and ideas going.
2) Are there one or two articles or websites you think attendees would benefit from reading before attending your session? By scavenging the following links, participants might get a sense of how to progress through our session (in no particular order):
- 7 Things you should know about Alternate Reality Games (Jan, 2009). Educause Learning Initiative Resources.
- Ghosts of a Chance. (2008). Smithsonian American Art Museum (archive).
- Zombie Survival LibGuide. (2010). Marston Science Library, University of Florida.
- Griffey, J. (2008). Alternate Reality Games. (Web log post). ALA TechSource, http://www.alatechsource.org/.
- Temple of Invention (2006). (Flash-based slideshow). Smithsonian American Art Museum.
- Whitman, W. (1892, 2000, 2010). Whitman’s Blog: Specimen Days, Patent-Office Hospital (27). Also available from Bartleby.com at:
- Engineering and Physical Sciences Library, University of Maryland,
3) What do you enjoy most about presenting to a crowd with such broad interests (practitioners, researchers, students, librarians, archivists, info tech, etc)? Oh, we won’t just be presenting to the crowd, they’ll all be presenting to us, too! (Say, did you notice that Georgina will have some design documents and compelling questions for our attendees?) The wonderful thing about ARGs is that, whether you are interested in designing or playing one, you’re going to need to collaborate with individuals who have a wide variety of experience, skills and interests. ARG design teams comprise individuals from diverse disciplines, such as human-computer interaction, graphic design, narratology, creative writing, software engineering, and marketing. As a group, ARG players possess skills and interests that range from mathematics and cryptography to art, music, literature and languages. That seems a pretty fair fit for a crowd of practicing librarians, students, and researchers who are interested in working together to design or evaluate novel outreach and education approaches that support the mastery of 21st century skills.
4) How did you get interested or develop this research topic/project or
panel topic? Our diverse backgrounds and complementary interests largely reflect
the myriad of skill-sets found in ARG designers and players. We learned of our mutual interests through iSchool courses or University of Maryland presentations, and have all participated at some level in one or more ARGs. As noted above, a few of us have even designed and launched ARGs.
Prior to becoming co-principal investigators on the NSF-funded EAGER grant, Alternate Reality Games in the Service of Education and Design, Kari and Derek were engaged in complementary research related to ARGs. Derek studied the Lostpedia community, which participated in “The Lost Experience” ARG, and Kari worked with graduate students to develop a learning-based ARG in conjunction with the University of Maryland’s Mobility initiative. Further, as educators, both Kari and Derek have presented on their use of innovative social media tools in the
classroom. Elizabeth Bonsignore, a PhD student at Maryland’s iSchool, is one of the student investigators supporting their EAGER grant research. Elizabeth’s interest in ARGs grew from her studies on the design/use of social media in education, and her HCIL-supported research on the use of mobile applications to promote personal expression and new media literacies.
Margeaux Johnson is a Science & Technology Librarian at the University of Florida’s Marston Science Library, where she coordinates information literacy instruction for the sciences and integrates technology into library learning environments. She is also a PhD student in the Educational Technology Department in the UF College of education where her interests include studying New Media Literacies, 21st century
skills, and educational gaming. She is currently a Co-PI on the NSF ethics in education grant Gaming Against Plagiarism.
Georgina has served as the Interpretive Programs Manager of the Luce Foundation Center for American Art since 2006, and is the project manager for the exhibition The Art of Video Games, which opens at the museum March 16, 2012. She is responsible for all operations of the Luce Foundation Center, including developing a regular schedule of public programs, creating and updating interpretative information, maintaining audiovisual installations, coordinating the selection and installation of collection objects in cases in the Center, and supervising staff. In 2009, Georgina received the Smithsonian’s first annual Secretary’s Award for Excellence for
5) Where or to whom do you see your research/panel being most useful, implementable, or interesting? We’d probably talk to anyone who is willing to play to learn (or learn to play), but seriously, we are most interested in brainstorming with library practitioners, students, and researchers who are interested in working together to design and evaluate similar novel approaches that might help students
master 21st century skills. Also, we’ve noticed that there might be some local government agencies that are interested in Georgina’s design documents. But you didn’t hear that from us.
6) If you have collaborated on your research or project, how has that collaboration assisted and possibly changed the development of your work? Listen, there are 5 of us: collaboration is key. Interestingly, as demonstrated by the short bio blurbs in our response to question 4, the combination of our diverse backgrounds yet mutual interests have served to enhance our collaboration, much like the interdisciplinary efforts of ARG designers and players enhance the design-play-learn experiential cycle. No one can deny that collaboration is a hallmark not only for successful ARGs, but also for the effective practice of 21st Century literacy skills, the innovative design of community-developed cultural collections, and the future of academic research.