Library Arcade: Carnegie Mellon Library's Project

Max has some work to do and he needs your help. Max is ordinary student who has procrastinated his research paper until the last day but before he can get started on his paper his needs to help his fellow students and the library. Help Max organize a shelving cart of books by subject and LC call number as he races against the clock. Next Max needs to answer the reference questions of other students before he can get started on his own work, but the demands of time and deadlines force Max to "serve" as many patrons as possible. Test out your library skills and help Max complete his work.
If there had to be a preview for the two mini games that the Library at Carnegie Mellon University just released through their cleverly labeled "Library Arcade" that would be it. Thank you John Fudrow for passing along the link and information about the launch of the games.

Daniel Hood an Information Literacy Fellow and a small group of librarians worked with a graduate class from Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center to develop and create an information game. I talked with Daniel back at May's LOEX conference in San Diego and just recently followed up about the progress of the game and the development process. I'll blog about that tomorrow, but before I get into those details I want to highlight the end product. The production values of both games are great and really have that "just one more try / one more level" feel that makes casual game so enticing and addictive.

There are two mini games available: "I'll Get It" & "Within Range." "I'll Get It" (shown on the right) plays very much like the classic casual game Diner Dash, and that's a good thing. You play as Max, a student helping other students answer reference questions on a variety of subjects. You "conduct" searches at a computer terminal and find a handful of results from various sources (books, articles, & websites). The task is to answer each students' question with the appropriate resource.

The game plays out exactly like Diner Dash making it easy for any student to jump in and play. The interface is completely mouse driven and there are hints available at any time. The player clicks on each table to get the reference question, navigates back to the computer to conduct a search. The results of the search (on the right) show the question at the bottom and the four potential sources in windows above the shelves (printed books and articles) and the public computer (internet resources). The player needs to determine which source best meets the need, retrieve it, and bring it to the patron. As shown in the screen shots, NPC students display a face over the head that represents their pleasure/anger level. Similar to Diner Dash (and real life), the longer a patron waits the more angry they become. The pace of patrons coming and going picks up as the game progresses. Too many "red faced" anger patrons and it's game over.

The second game, "Within Range" is much simpler and straightforward. Max needs to put the books back on the shelving cart in the correct LC order. The player races against the clock to put all the books away in order to move onto higher levels. Call numbers start simple and then before more complex. Higher levels include just subject (on the left wall) descriptions and require the player to place it accordingly.

Again the gameplay in simpler than "I'll Get It" but the interface is intuitive. There are hints available in this game as well.

I'll write more of my impressions later, but in the meantime check out the Library Arcade for yourself.

Help Solve a Mystery

This week I was invited to join a new ning social group for the newly created library alternate reality game. The invite came with the following message:

About Help Me Solve A Mystery
I can't explain it. This mystery began when I found a volume of a 1933 World Book Encyclopedia among my own books. Inside was a page of mysterious messages. Where did this come from? And, what does it all mean?
If you are interested check out the ning and/or join here.

I posted about the Alternate Reality Game created by John Farquhar, back in the May. The event / game sounded interesting at the time and now after hearing Greg Trefry at GLLS 2007 this summer the game sounds like a fun experiment. I traded emails with John a few weeks ago and he provided some additional details:

Expect the experience to last for 10 weeks where new puzzles and mysteries will be presented 3-4 times each week. Most puzzles will require locating a source of information then critically evaluating that information. The puzzles will be presented on the web, but many will require finding non-web sources.

Is there anyone out there playing already? Please share your experiences.

Here is the description from the site :
William Lewis has a mystery to solve. He found a volume of a 1933 World Book Encyclopedia among his own books. Inside the book was a note with some mysterious and cryptic messages. How did it get there? What does it mean? And, where will all of this lead? Join William's mystery and expect to uncover new mysteries and puzzles throughout the fall. Participate in the online forum or create your own blog of your experience. Use the online tools to: 1) describe search strategies that successfully locate additional clues, 2) critically examine the clues, documents and other sources of information, and 3) guide other participants to successfully search for and critically examine information. Perhaps you'll make new friends and learn new things.

Halo & Information Literacy: Mapped to ACRL Standards

Tonight as millions of video game fans line up to collect their copies of Halo 3 at retailers, specialty shops and even 7-11's around the nation, I want to talk about Halo in a different context. As players go home tonight and work there way through the final chapter of the Master Chief storyline they will be practicing information literacy. Granted it is not in the academic context, but the information literacy skills developed by players is no less real.

Last week was spent playing Halo for the PC (as part of my blogging hiatus). Now, as a disclaimer, I haven't played much of Halo 2 and probable won't play Halo 3 on the XBox 360. However, I have spent hours upon hours reading about the series online, listening to Luke Smith on the Bungie podcasts, and talking with Halo fans. Below is the result of that combination of personal experience and research. The Halo series mapped to information literacy skills.

After working through the ACRL standards, I am incredibly surprised and impressed at the scope of information literacy skills within the Halo series. Because of this breath and depth, I will come back to Halo throughout the week to provide specific examples from the games and from players of the information literacy skills supported.

1.0. The information literate student determines the nature and extent of the information needed.

1.1. The information literate student defines and articulates the need for information

1.1.a Confers with instructors and participates in class discussions, peer workgroups, and electronic discussions to identify a research topic, or other information need

1.1.b Develops a thesis statement and formulates questions based on the information need

1.1.c Explores general information sources to increase familiarity with the topic

1.1.d Defines or modifies the information need to achieve a manageable focus

1.1.e Identifies key concepts and terms that describe the information need.

1.1.f Recognizes that existing information can be combined with original thought, experimentation, and / or analysis to produce new information

1.2. The information literate student identifies a variety of types and formats of potential sources for information.

1.2.c Identifies the value and differences of potential resources in a variety of formats (e.g., multimedia, database, website, data set, audio / visual, book)

1.2.e Differentiates between primary and secondary sources, recognizing how their use and importance vary with each discipline

1.2.f Realizes that information may need to be constructed with raw data from primary sources.

1.3. The information literate student considers the costs and benefits of acquiring the needed information.

1.3.a Determines the availability of needed information and makes decisions on broadening the information seeking process beyond local resources (e.g. interlibrary loan; using resources at other locations obtaining images, videos, text, or sound)

1.3.b Considers the feasibility of acquiring new language or skill (e.g. foreign or discipline based) in order to gather needed information and to understand its context

1.3.c Defines a realistic overall plan and timeline to acquire the needed information

1.4. The information literate student reevaluates the nature and extent of the information need

1.4.a Review the initial information need to clarify, revise, or refine the question

1.4.b Describes criteria used to make information decisions and choices

2.0. The information literate student accesses needed information effectively and efficiently

2.1. The information literate student selects the most appropriate investigative methods or information retrieval systems for accessing the needed information.

2.1.a Identifies appropriate investigative methods (e.g., laboratory experiment, simulation, fieldwork)

2.1.b Investigates benefits and applicability of various investigative methods.

2.1.c Investigates the scope, content, and organization of information retrieval

2.1.d Selects efficient and effective approaches for accessing the information needed from the investigative method or information retrieval system

2.2. The information literate student constructs and implements effectively - designed search strategies

2.2.a Develops a research plan appropriate to the investigativen literate student constructs and implements effectively designed search strategies. method

2.2.c Selects controlled vocabulary specific to the discipline or information retrieval source

2.2.e Implements the search strategy in various information retrieval systems using different user interfaces and search engines, with different command languages, protocols, and search parameters.

2.2.f Implements the search using investigative protocols appropriate to the discipline

2.3 The information literate student retrieves information online or in person using a variety of methods.

2.3.a Uses various search systems to retrieve information in a variety of formats

2.3.c Uses specialized online or in person services available at the institution to retrieve information needed (e.g., interlibrary loan / document delivery, professional associations, institutional research offices, community resources, experts and practitione

2.3.d Uses surveys, letters, interviews, and other forms of inquiry to retrieve primary information

2.4. The information literate student refines the search strategy if necessary

2.4.a Assesses the quantity, quality, and relevance of the search results to determine whether alternative information retrieval systems or investigative methods should be utilized

2.4.b Identifies gaps in the information retrieved and determines if the search strategy should be revised

2.4.c Repeats the search using the revised strategy as necessary

2.5. The information literate student extracts, records, and manages the information and its sources

2.5.b Creates a system for organizing the information

3.0. The information Literate student evaluates information and its sources critically and incorporates selected information into his or her knowledge base and value system

3.1. The information literate student summarizes the main ideas to be extracted from the information gathered.

3.1.a Reads the text and selects main ideas

3.1.b Restates textual concepts in his / her own words and selects data accurately

3.1.c Identifies verbatim material that can be then appropriately quoted

3.2. The information literate student articulates and applies initial criteria for evaluating both the information and its sources.

3.2.a Examines and compares information from various sources in order to evaluate reliability, validity, accuracy, authority, timeliness, and point of view or bias

3.2.b Analyzes the structure and logic of supporting arguments or methods

3.2.c Recognizes prejudice, deception, or manipulation

3.2.d Recognizes the cultural, physical, or other context within which the information was created and understands the impact of context on interpreting the information

3.3. The information literate student synthesizes main ideas to construct new concepts

3.3.a Recognizes interrelationships among concepts and combines them into potentially useful primary statements with supporting evidence.

3.3.b Extends initial synthesis, when possible, at a higher level of abstraction to construct new hypotheses that may require additional information

3.4. The information literate student compares new knowledge with prior knowledge to determine the value added, contradictions, or other unique characteristics of the information.

3.4.a Determines whether information satisfies the research or other information need

3.4.b Uses consciously selected criteria to determine whether the information contradicts or verifies information used from other sources

3.4.c Draws conclusions based upon information gathered

3.4.e Determines probable accuracy by questioning the source of the data, the limitations of the information gathering tools or strategies, and the reasonableness of the conclusions

3.4.f Integrates new information with previous information or knowledge

3.4.g Selects information that provides evidence for the topic

3.5. The information literate student determines whether the new knowledge has an impact on the individual's value system and takes steps to reconcile differences

3.5.a Investigates differing viewpoints encountered in the literature

3.5.b Determines whether to incorporate or reject viewpoints encountered

3.6. The information literate student validates understanding and interpretation of the information through discourse with other individual, subject-area experts, and / or practitioners.

3.6.a Participates in classroom and other discussions

3.6.b Participates in class-sponsored electronic communication forums designed to encourage discourse on the topic (e.g., email, bulletin boards, chat rooms)

3.7 The information literate student determines whether the initial query should be revised

3.7.a Determines if original information need has been satisfied or if additional information is needed

3.7.b Reviews search strategy and incorporates additional concepts as necessary

3.7.c Reviews information retrieval sources used and expands to include others as needed

4.0. The information literate student, individually or as a member of a group, uses information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose.

4.1. The information literate student applies new and prior information to the planning and creation of a particular product or performance.

4.1.a Organizes the content in a manner that supports the purposes and format of the product or performance (e.g. outlines, drafts, storyboards)

4.1.b Articulates knowledge and skills transferred from prior experiences to planning and creating the product or performance

4.1.c Integrates the new and prior information, including quotations and paraphrasings, in a manner that supports the purposes of the product or performance

4.2. The information literate student revises the development process for the product or performance.

4.2.a Maintains a journal or log of activities related to the information seeking, evaluating, and communicating process.

4.2.b Reflects on past successes, failures, and alternative strategies

4.3. The information literate student communicates the product or performance effectively to others

4.3.a Chooses a communication medium and format that best supports the purposes of the product or performance and the intended audience

4.3.d Communicates clearly and with a style that supports the purposes of the intended audience

5.0. The information literate student understands many of the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information and accesses and uses information ethically and legally.

5.1. The information literate student understands many of the ethical, legal and socio-economic issues surrounding information and information technology.

5.1.a Identifies and discusses issues related to privacy and security in both the print and electronic environments

5.1.c Identifies and discusses issues related to censorship and freedom of speech

5.1.d Demonstrates an understanding of intellectual property, copyright, and fair use of copyrighted material.

5.2. The information literate student follows laws, regulations, institutional polices, and etiquette related to the access and use of information resources.

5.2.a Participates in electronic discussions following accepted practices (e.g. "Netiquette")

5.2.b Uses approved passwords and other forms of ID for access to information resources

5.2.c Complies with institutional polices on access to information resources

5.2.d Preserves the integrity of information resources, equipment, systems and facilities

5.2.e Legally obtains, stores, and disseminates text, data, images, or sounds

For everyone out there playing Halo 3 - enjoy and build those skills.

And for those out there not playing, be aware of the game and use your students' skills to their educational benefit.

Images from

Nintendo helps sponsor Handheld Learning Conference

On Friday, reported that Nintendo will be a sponsor for "The Handheld Learning Conference and Exhibition." The conference will be held in London and here are some of the themes of the conference. also had a story on Nintendo's sponsorship as well.

Given Nintendo's dominance in the handheld market and their focus on non-traditional games like Big Brain Academy, Brain Age, and Flash Focus this seems like a natural fit. In addition to Nintendo there are a wide range of other companies developing educational games for the Nintendo DS as well, including math, spelling, reading, and music.

As a father of two, these application with the Nintendo DS look interesting and provide additional (educational) content that I can play with my kids on the DS. In past years, the conference seemed to have more coverage on cell phones and PDAs, but I'll be watching this year to see if there is a larger video game presence and what content comes out of the conference.

Amory's Game Object Model: GOM II

In my first post on GOM, about a month ago, I laid out the initial components of Amory's Game Object Model. The model itself appears adaptable and I've started to adapt it by adjusting the model for traditional lesson plans. My fantasy football GOM lesson plan was a good start and really helped change the mindset of creating an instruction session.

I wanted to discuss the additions in the second version of the Game Object Model, GOM II, as well, but didn't get to it. So now I'm returning to provide a detailed outline of the GOMII model. The components of GOM II provides a context in which to assess an educational game. As some libraries are exploring and starting to create games for information literacy, the GOMII provides another means to assess the success of these efforts.

Amory, A. (2007). Game object model version II: A theoretical framework for educational game development. Educational Technology Research and Development, 55(1):51-77.

Game Object Model Verson II

Core concepts: 1) Game definition, 2) authentic learning, 3) narrative, 4) gender, 5) social collaboration, 6) challenges-puzzles-quests

I. Game Space

· Play
Exploration (1)
Challenges (1)
Engagement (1)
Narrative spaces (3)
Authentic (2)
Multiple views (2)
Gender-inclusive (4)
Transformation (2)
Tacit knowledge (6)

A. Visualization Space

· Critical thinking
Goal formation
Goal completion
Story (3)
Plot (3)
Reflection (2,6)
Relevance (1,2)
oGame rhythm (4)

I. Elements Space
Emotive (1)
Backstory (3)

a. Actors Space
Role models (4)

II. Problem Space
Puzzlement (6)
Accommodation (6)
Assimilation (6)
Complex (1)
Flow (6)
· Activity-based(4)

o Conflict (4)
§ Indirect

o Explicit knowledge (6)
Conversation (6)
Model-building (2)

A. Communication

B. Literacy

C. Memory

D. Motor

II. Social Space
Democracy (5)
Social capital (5)
Dialogue (1,5)

A. Computer Mediated Communication
Network (5)
Tools (5)

B. Social Network Analysis
Visualization (5)
Relationships (5)

Student Created Criteria for Games = Student Criteria for Classrooms

Back in August, I was one of the reviewers for an upcoming (2008) on electronic gaming in education. For more details on the book, reviewers, and timeline following the link here.

The reviewing process was interesting and the content of the chapters had a lot of potential. I'm sure I'll end up blogging about it once it finally comes out. But until then, there is one piece from a chapter that I wanted to discuss. Since this was included in the literature review, I'm not releasing any new findings or original work from the author.

The researchers cited within the chapter discuss components that could be integrated into an instructional activity or game in order to improve a learner’s intrinsic motivation for playing, these include the following strategies:

  • Challenge
  • Curiosity
  • Control
  • Fantasy
  • Personalization
  • Cooperation
  • Competition
  • Recognition
Considering these factors is useful not only in creating educational games, but also in designing our information literacy sessions and creating lesson plans. Research shows that these are the major components that students look for in judging the value and use of a game within an educational context. If students are creating the criteria that engages them, we as educators should take notice.

I am currently working on redesigning an instruction session that I do with a public speaking course. I've done the same lesson (more or less) for the last four year... granted the class has done the same assignment as well. Incorporating these components into the design of the lesson may increase students engagement and motivation.

Research Quest: MIA

Yes, I've been missing in action all this past week. I expected work to be a little slower, but after teaching for two weeks straight I found my desk and my email inbox filled with administrative responsibilities to catch up on. I'm sorry for the delay in responding to anyone who's emailed in the last few days. Add to that I've spent my evenings updating my CV.

If anyone's interested you can download my CV here.

But I'm trying to get back into the habit. Over the next 24 hours I should catch up on all the partial posts I've started since the semester began. I have a lot of guilt about not keeping up on the blog recently (healthy I know), but I looked back at last year and the month of September was terrible for my blogging. So maybe that's just the start of each new year.

Well, thanks for sticking around. There will be more regular posts starting next week that will discuss some of the content I'm working on Amy Harris and Scott Rice's ACRL publication.

Sorry again for the delays in posts, but I'm thankful for those inquiring. I'm tucking my blogging tail between my legs and heading back to the keyboard to buckle down.

Thanks to the Canadian Flake for the sorry pup photo

Instructional design: Video Games & ZPD

Identifying the common level of inexperience allows for ways to start students within their zone of proximal development (ZPD) and stretch beyond that. Vygotsky’s (1978) zone of proximal development emphasizes the difference between what students are capable on their own given their previous experience compared to what they can grow to achieve with the assistance from others.

Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development represents the “distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers (1978, p.86).”

Gee makes the point, in previous publications and again in Good Video Games + Good Learning, that Vygotsky’s ZPD is applied on a regular basis through tutorials and other introductory stages in video games. Video games fill the role of peer or teacher when they guide players through the initial stages of a game, helping the player learn the gameplay mechanics and strategy. Games scaffold the player by introducing basic gameplay elements and then building on top of them, adding complexity that requires mastery of the initial skill set. Games often take two distinct approaches applying Vygotsky's ZPD: either setting aside the first level or two that step a player through the skills they will need throughout the game; or by staggering the scaffolding throughout the game, introducing new and advanced skills throughout the game that apply to the coming levels and depend upon the understanding of the previous skills.

Being aware of how and where games apply education theory help in understanding why games are engaging for the players and successful in creating consistent - yet achievable - challenges. The awareness of video games application of education theory reminds us, as educators, to look outside our fields and outside the realm of academics to find successful applications... and inspire us in our own classrooms.

Images of Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops (PSP) and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (Wii) - 2 games that provide strong examples of applying Vygotsky's ZPD were taken from

Current Reading List: Bogost & Gee

Over the past few days, I've started to pick my way through Ian Bogost's Persuasive Games book and James Paul Gee's Good Video Games and Good Learning. I've talked about both in the past when they first hit my radar, but now since I'm preparing to be the guest lecturer for a Game Theory course I'm able to dig into them. I'm speaking on learning through games, something to the effect of "Games that teach, not preach."

This includes Gee's principles from What Video Games have to Teach us about Learning and Literacy and his other work; Bogost's learning through games and what the play experiences teach us; and some targeted readings about serious games and learning. I'm excited about being asked, but my excitement is tempered by not having a syllabus yet to narrow in my focus.

I'll post more of my thoughts and responses to my readings soon, along with the contents of my lecture as they develop.

Lamenting The Gamer's Quarter

Recently I’ve been lamenting the loss of the Gamer’s Quarter and their quarterly publication. Last spring they published their 8th and final regular issue with the promise that they are not going away forever, just coming back less often. Unfortunately, I think it is the relationship equivalent to “It’s not you, it’s me.” The Gamer’s Quarter was a thoroughly enjoyable publication with essays dealing with games and the emotions, life, and memories that surround those games . The stories are not really reviews of games, but more of experiences of those games. I hope the writers have found continuing outlets for their work. If you haven’t read anything from there yet, look back at my post last February for my recommendations.

In order to get my creative writing fix, I’ve been reading Cerise and their September issue (along with their back issues are worth checking out. They are (as they say in their mission statement):

Cerise is a resource by and for women gamers. We are dedicated to increasing the voices of underrepresented identities in the game development industries and in gamer communities.

It’s a good read and an important alternative voice in a traditionally male dominated industry.

Jeremy Parish (of personal blog has expanded to include more community involvement. Users are submitting reviews and essays of older games. The essay/review of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance is a good example of how the “reviews” are more than traditional reviews.

For anyone still concerned that the generations growing up with video games have lost their written expression. Each of these three site provides examples that gamers are discussing, reflecting, and writing about their experiences on a regular basis.

It Starts Today: the Fantasy Football season

Oh yeah, and the NFL starts the regular season games tonight and this weekend as well.

As a result of my work with fantasy football and information literacy, there was interest from other librarian to create a league. We've started a 12 team librarian (or library related) fantasy football league with members from across the country with varying degrees of library and fantasy football experience. The league is a good mix of experienced players and rookies and so far everyone seems to be enjoying themselves.

The league conducted a live online draft where each team had only 90 seconds to make their selection. The discussion after the draft highlighted a few interesting parallels to our students and their research. Some of the discussion centered on some owners entering the draft centered on:

  • Lack of adequate preparation - not reading and researching enough on players
    • How often do or students come in for a class session or to the reference desk without being adequately prepared? Is it that they do not know where to look or that they do not put an emphasis on it? Does a student who will spend hours researching for a fantasy sports draft, but will not spend an equal time researching for assignments not have the skills or just the motivation?
  • Confusion about the interface
    • Most librarians experience some student confusion or frustration with the library's OPAC or database interfaces. The draft interface had multiple outputs of information and required users to track various pieces a data at once. But like any interface, a little practice and play leads to a lot of understanding.
I'm looking forward to the discussions and the insight from the league throughout the season. But first, I need to get my team ready for the matchup this weekend. I'm facing off against Michal Lorenzen from Information Literacy Land of Confusion.

Good luck to anyone playing fantasy football this weekend.

Photo from

Annotated Bibilography Resource

After my freedom for finally catching up on my RSS feeds, I'm back into the mix. But only 200 unread items is easier to dig through than 1200. Today over at the Law Librarian
there was a post about an annotated bibliography on Virtual Worlds and Education by Sharon Stoerger.

While the content is good, the focus is not as tight as I expected. It provides much more of an overview of learning in games (including simulations, MMOPGs, and stand alone video games). Given the growing field of research on this topic it could have been focused strictly on virtual worlds. But as it is it's an excellent resource.

The annotations are a great refresher for those of us in the field and a good overview for those interested in virtual worlds, games, and education. And really, as librarians who can pass up an annotated bibliography?

GLS 2007 Conference Videos

After finally making my way through the 1000s of stories in my Google Reader from the last few weeks. This story only came up once. Thank you to the folks over at Serious Games. Way back in the middle of August they posted a link to the videos from the 2007 Games + Learning + Society Conference in Madison.

While the story may be aging, the videos/webcasts are still not posted on the GLS website. So for those of us who could not make it or need to refresh their notes or just want to relive the joy that was a July of gaming conferences... here you go.

Serious Games' original post or the direct link to Mediasite will bring you to the videos.

Swamped and now Freedom

We are just heading into the second week of school and I'm feeling swamped already. Over the course of a week our information literacy program (4 librarians) have taught 27 classes. Busy, but not overwhelming. At least it shouldn't be until you throw 90% of the student body asking questions about how to save, print, double spacing all thanks to Microsoft Office 2007.

Since work has been eating into my nights and early mornings, my RSS / Google Reader time has suffered greatly. Thanks to the joys of Google Works (which I've enjoyed since June when I used it to read RSS feeds while getting my oil changed), I took my 989 unread messages home with me over the weekend. I worked my way through most of the articles, with only about 148 left to read through. There was a light at the end of the tunnel.

And then... the slip of a finger... the click of a mouse... and I marked "all as read." Gone. At first I was panicked. "What did I miss?" But then the clear list without any bolded unread items starring in my face resulted in freedom and sense of relief. A weight off my shoulders.

Who knew that keeping up could be so stressful.