In early March, the UAF Linguistics Program and CITE Fellows hosted Dr. Chris Holden from the University of New Mexico. Chris provided training on an Augmented Reality (AR) game platform and consultation on game development strategy for a CITE Fellow project led by Dr. Sabine Siekmann. This project brings together faculty (Dr. Duff Johnson) and students from the UAF Linguistics Program and UAF eCampus instructional designers (Jennifer Moss, Dan LaSota, and Sean Holland) for the development of an AR place-based game targeted towards ESL students that will take place on the UAF campus. Throughout the design and implementation process, data will also be collected to evaluate the effectiveness of the game in terms of learning outcomes, game mechanics, and the design process. Chris was brought in to help our team get started with the our overall design strategy and learn more about the ARIS creator interface.
During Chris’ visit, we explored the mechanics of using the open source ARIS platform (http://arisgames.org/) for AR game development. Chris has been building and helping people build games on ARIS for years and has been a big contributor to the development community. He showed us examples of educational ARIS experiences that included structures such as virtual tours, scavenger hunts, situated documentary, interactive narrative, data collection, rule-based acquisitions, and hybrid reality.
In educational AR game design, Chris advised that we should first try to break down the learning process contextually:
Who is designing the game? This could be the students or teachers or a mix of the two. Having students involved in the generative process provides an extra level of ownership in the process.
Why and where are the games played? Will it be in an informal environment such as a park where the larger community can be involved in the game as well or will it be located in a specific classroom with highly structured activities only for students? Or perhaps, somewhere in-between, in perhaps, a museum space or such.
What is the learning focus? Will the primary learning happen during the design process, focused around specific content, or through skill acquisition?
We brainstormed game activities and interactions based on ESL learning objectives and started bringing them into an underlying narrative that is also tied into the four stages of cross-cultural adaptation —honeymoon, crisis, recovery, and adjustment. We also worked through a simplified prototype experience to become more familiar with the technical aspects of the ARIS build interface. Over the next few months, we will continue the work we started with Chris to create and implement a pilot of the project for summer ESL students.