This is not turning into an ARG blog

I almost wrote about something else today, but I found out in time that something I thought was true was in fact false and therefore not worth writing about.

But there’s some really cool stuff going on in this Find the Lost Ring ARG that has my brain back at the question of what these storytelling/ chaotic fiction/ media experiences might mean for teaching and learning.  In our presentation, Rachel pulled out Sean Stewart’s phrase “search operas,” which gets at some of the connections between these games and information literacy.

Caleb connects ARG’s to learning really well – connecting the way that the narrative is discovered and synthesized and created in an ARG with the way meaning is discovered and synthesized and created in the research process.

And then there’s the social aspect – the idea that you put a whole bunch of brains with different knowledge and skills and experiences on a problem and you can get something richer and deeper (and certainly faster) than anything individuals could accomplish alone — put all of these things togehter and what do you see?  Well, I’m not sure that everyone sees learning theory but I bet I’m not the only one that does.

You’ve got the meaning-making of constructivism, and the social meaning making of Vygotsky.  It’s not only learning theory, but it’s learning theory that’s had a huge impact on our understanding of information literacy and the connections between information literacy, problemsolving and learning.

So check out what’s going on on this McDonald’s/ Olympics thing.  Trust me, you don’t need to read all of the blogs or forum posts to see the cool factor here.  It looks like the players right now have located six people around the world with a strange form of amnesia.  The first one, introduced via the rabbit hole is Adriane.  Since then, they’ve found Markus, Noriko, MeiHui, Diego and Lucie.  And there’s some stuff going on in Brazil as well.

The characters are all over the world, and so far they’ve been communicating with the players frequently and at length, by email, IM, and in a variety of social networking sites and blogs — but with a twist.  Some of them want to communicate in their native languages (so far – Japanese, Mandarin, French, Spanish, German and English).

(And in a nice T.I.N.A.G. moment – which highlights the potential legal complexity Michael mentioned yesterday — Lucie’s blog is on Skyrock)

Watching what the players are doing to try and deal with this is really fascinating and really cool.  They’re not just using online translators — they’re pulling in people with language skills, they’ve got a wiki page tracking the languages players have expertise in, they’re brushing up on languages they know and sharing the good online courses with each other, they’re learning Esperanto and encouraging the game characters to do so as well!

It gets at the multiple levels of learning going on when we explore to learn — specific knowledge/skills/concepts (here, the language skills) and the deeper inquiry those specific skills enable.  And it highlights the need for that deeper inquiry — something to give the acquisition of specific skills meaning and relevance.  I mean, these people are jumping to learn Esperanto!  Would this happen – ever – without a larger context?

It looks like the game will develop in Esperanto and English (the amnesiac characters all have a tattoo that says “find the lost ring” in Esperanto), so that this truly multi-lingual phase might not extend throughout – but it’s fun to watch.

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