[conf] Barry Joseph SLCC 2008 Keynote: Living La Vida Ludic 

On 09.06.08 I introduced a term I have coined, "the ludic life," and discussed its implications for Second Life and learning. In short, Eric Zimmerman, the game designer, had been making the argument that we have entered "a ludic century." We once moved from an industrial age to an information age. However, we are now interacting with that information in a way Zimmerman finds best described as ludic, which is not to say everything is becoming a game but rather game/play dynamics, aesthetics and sensibilities will increasingly define our social interactions.

[staff] OLP December Staff Reflections 

Before 2009 begins, it’s time for one last round of staff reflections from the lovely OLP group. As usual, there are some good reflections in the bunch – some of the staff had such a great month, they wrote more than one reflection!

A quick overview of what OLP thought about for this month: Meghan shares an uplifting story amidst the holiday craze, Amira thanks her colleagues for the work they have all done, Rafi discusses his part in shaping his online footprint, Rik looks into fair use copyrighted material’s impact on GK’s work, the possibility of using virtual worlds as a recruitment tool for organizations and discusses his ups and downs during his first year at GK, Krista looks at different perceptions on digital learning and Barry discusses how he has changed his working style to accomplish more.

Read the reflections below for a more in-depth description:

[P4K] Virtual environments for education 

In the article Virtual Environments and the K-12 Education, Kelly Czarnecki offers up a look at projects using virtual worlds in K-12 schools and what is being learned from them. Within that framework she brings up Teen Second Life and spotlights Suffern Middle School and our Science in Second Life program as a good example of enabling educators to utilize virtual worlds to engage students, specifically in Science, technology and programming.

Download the article as a PDF.

{P4K] Review of Hurricane Katrina: Tempest in Crescent City game 

If you haven't already checked out the review that was written by the Conscious Gamer blog site about Hurricane Katrina: Tempest in Crescent City, it is definitely worth the read and offers up a good game play summary.

According to Tempest's website, the three main goals for the game were
1) Teach players about how everyday residents of New Orleans acted heroically to help each other.
2) Emphasize what are perhaps the two most important priorities in any disaster: communication and use of local resources, needs, and knowledge.
3) Draw attention to the continuing struggle in New Orleans as residents fight for housing in 2008.

Tempest did a good job at 1) and 2), highlighting how many residents helped each other during the rescue efforts by sharing food, shelter, medicine, tools and hope. I appreciate the game's positive portrayal of the survival efforts during the disaster because at the time it seemed like all the mainstream press wanted to focus on stories of "looting", "pillaging", "general chaos" perputrated by people of color. Although Tempest was created in 2007 after the Katrina converage had ended, I believe the positive portrayal of all Louisiana citizens both white and people of color sends a subtle, yet very powerful message to players that everyone can be a hero.

OLP's 2008 Year End Review 

GK 2008 year in review
The year 2008 was a remarkable period for the Online Leadership Program at Global Kids. It is challenging to even pick just a few standouts: An AIDS orphan in Ugandan exchanges text messages from her cell phone with a dozen teenagers in Teen Second Life; high school students conceive and produce a web-based game about local heroes during Hurricane Katrina; youth produce a seven-minute long animated movie about racism as an obstacle to education around the world; a high school class in Brooklyn uses a virtual world to learn about and create their own simulations about science; hundreds of young people across four virtual worlds watch Kofi Annan receive a major human rights award; incarcerated teens use a virtual world to learn how to create positive change in their real community; youth in Chicago and New York City collaborate online with paleotologists on a fossil dig in Tanzania; nearly 1,500 educators share knowledge and advice on how to use virtual worlds for education.

[In the Media] Coverage of MacArthur's Digital Youth Research 

We were excited when the findings from the MacArthur Foundation's three-year ethnographic study of young people’s digital media use was released by Mizuko Ito and her colleagues last month in the publication Living and Learning with New Media.

The MacArthur Foundation Spotlight blog in a recent article, summarized some of the coverage around the blogosphere, and elsewhere, in their media roundup on the reports. This included our own Rafi Santo's write up on this blog and Global Kids simulcast coverage of the forum that MacArthur sponsored last spring. You can view both parts one and two of this on YouTube.

[p4k] Author behind book behind CONSENT! sings GK's praises 

Two years ago, the youth in our Playing 4 Keeps program created CONSENT!, a game about medical racism against African American male prisoners. It was based on a chapter from Harriet Washington's remarkable Medical Apartheid.

We tracked her down to tell her about the game and she wrote us this lovely note below, which she gave us permission to reprint here:

From: "Harriet Washington"
Subject: Re: CONSENT!

I was happy to hear from you. As it happens I had already seen CONSENT! ( I get alerts on some web entries that mention the titles of my books) and was really impressed. I'm very happy that young people understood the issues so well and am just blown away by their creativity. They- and you- are to be commended for pursuing what's really important in such a smart and innovative manner.

I love your program's focus on global issues by the way. I feel I profited by spending part of my childhood living abroad and I like to think that our period of cultural isolationism is coming to an end, so these kids will need information in a global context, languages etc. My schedule is way overbooked now, but let me know if I can help in the future.

When I see achievements like CONSENT! I feel that the future is in good hands.

[p4k] The impact of gameplay 

Ayiti: The Cost of Life, continues to impact those that play it.

"Never have I played a game where I felt so heartbroken and exposed when it was all over... Never have I been so affected by a game before."

This comes from a review of Ayiti from the EdGames blog created by the learning community of EDTEC 670 at San Diego State University.

Read the full post here.

[SL] US Holocaust exhibit launches in SL's main grid 

If you are a regular reader of this blog, you probably have read about Global Kids work with youth programs and the U.S. Holocaust Museum. If not, you can view past entries here.

Recently the museum launched a Second Life main grid exhibit that builds off of the Teen SL experience. In a Virtual World News article, David Klevan of the U.S. Holocaust cited:

[didi] Iceberg panel presentation next week! 

I can't believe it's really next week! I think we've been planning this for about the same duration as a typical pregnancy.

I'm apprehensive but excited at the same time. I feel the push and pull of knowing that our group's inworld skills might not be the fastest or most savvy but I know they want to make a difference in their community and can work very well together when they put their minds to it. I hope that shines through anything else during their presentation. I know this because I see it in their eyes, their tone when they talk about what interests them in regards to the venture, and that over and over they have said they don't want others to make some of the same choices they have made in their own lives.