The Pearson Foundation has been actively involved in funding studio-based pedological initiatives where mobile media and place-based learning intersect. As a commitment to the evolving definition of literacy, the Pearson Foundation is dedicated to funding solutions that emphasize community partnerships and collaborative design in the context of using mobile media as a tool. Two projects that the Foundation has supported with over the past year include ARIS open source engine and the Placework Studio Program.
Augmented Reality and Interactive Storytelling (ARIS) is a new, open source authoring platform that enables users to create place-based or narrative gaming activities designed for teaching and learning. Augmented reality enhances an indirect or direct view of reality through computer-generated sensory input, as opposed to rendering a “virtual” reality. An ILS device developed over the last 2 years in collaboration between faculty at the University of New Mexico and staff members of the Academic Technology department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, ARIS was given a test-drive as the featured engine of the Global Game Jam Competition held in April, 2011.
The ARIS design team invited experts and novices in the field to participate in the ARIS Global Game Jam from April 20-22, 2011. The concept was to create as many viable, augmented reality games for mobile phones from scratch in just 50 hours. Participants ranged from teams of middle school and high school students to professors. Private industry, museums, educators, game designers, and the generally curious gathered to have fun, learn from each other, and quickly iterate some of the most creative ideas mobile has seen.
Over the course of 3 days, over 100 participants, living in 4 countries and 11 states, created 127 games; 19 of which were showcased in the closing ceremony. That averages 5,000 hours of total development time across the planet in making new mobile experiences; or 263 hours/final game submitted.
As an open source tool, the application potential for ARIS is vast. Schools, environmental centers, museums, virtually any institution, can access the core code and adapt it for its own needs. Examples include a game design in which middle school students walk the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus using mobile phones to view footage of Vietnam war protests that occurred in the same locations. Students in Albuquerque are using the ARIS engine to practice Spanish language skills by talking with real people and virtual characters while visiting a local neighborhood; The Smithsonian has expressed interest in building an interactive narrative to help kids relate to artifacts in the collection. Additionally, ARIS has been selected as a tool for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Engage Program — which means UW-Madison faculty and students will be using the ARIS engine to develop mobile games as a learning approach during the next 1-2 years.
To learn more about the Global Game Jam, or to learn more about ARIS and download a demo version of the engine, visit: arisgames.org.
The Placework Project
The Pearson Foundation also supports Placework, an educational design and participatory research project devoted to exploring the intersection of place- and design-based learning. Placework brings together youth, educators, schools, museums, and community groups interested in promoting place-based design, a pedagogical approach that combines key elements of place-based learning, design-based learning, and democratic education.
Placework is committed to designing, implementing, and researching learning environments that:
1) Engage students in place-based learning
2) Emphasize learning through design
3) Foster democratic participation and inclusiveness
4) Amplify members’ personal interests and networks
5) Cultivate collaborative knowledge building experiences
Recent and ongoing projects involving Placework include: The Everyday Art Exhibit, KidShare, ARIS Global Game Jam, Neighborhood Lenses, Contested Places, BRMS Design Camp, Up River: Stories from the St. Louis River Estuary.
Currently, Placework is collaborating with the Madison Children’s Museum, ARIS, Clark Street Community School, and Badger Rock Middle School.
To learn more about Placework Studio contact: Jim Mathews: firstname.lastname@example.org.