Do We Want To Design Rides, or Do We Want to Create Imagineers?

Zipper ride at night

Had a check in call with my friends in the Compose Our World project recently. That’s the 9th grade curriculum project I’m working on, and not writing about enough. After our first year of exploring PBL and SEL as concepts to guide and shape 9th grade language arts curriculum, we’re beginning to decide what we want our curriculum for students and teachers to maybe look like.1

As we’re struggling with how to put the pieces together, we’re also slogging through some really big questions about what we want for the learners and the teachers in this project.

Do we want to create really incredible learning experiences, ones that teachers can bring their students to year after year and find success with? At some level, yes, it’s great to make things that are powerful learning tools or experiences, and that can be used more than once by teachers in their classrooms. But maybe creating better tools for learners to rely on isn’t the best thing we could do in this work.

Maybe instead we should be helping people to build their own really powerful learning experiences.

Because Antero is involved in this work, and he’s always thinking about games, and he’s always sending me really interesting resources on how gamers design experiences, Imagineers got brought into the conversation.

When designing curriculum, do we want to be Imagineers, or do we want to be developing Imagineers? That’s the question. And it’s never as simple as either, or2 , but I suspect long time readers of this blog will know which way I want things to lean towards.

How about you?

  1. Before we iterate through another round and change most everything. That’s how design works. []
  2. Nor are rides always the best metaphor for learning experiences – because frequently the best learning happens on detours, or when we take the experience off the tracks. []
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Codes & Cyphers

    I’m on an ARG kick right now, based largely on the success that I’ve found with a couple of students and Cathy’s Book.  We’ve really enjoyed puzzling our way through that book.  Puzzles, the literacy of ARG’s, are tricky for me, but lots of fun.  We took a look at this great cypher tutorial (free registration required) today, checking out some cyphers, one of the more common types of ARG puzzles.  One of my students created her own.  Want to take a stab at solving it? 
Here’s a hint:  We won’t fib you, to solve this puzzle, skip forward twice, and then walk backwards from there. 

233 – 987 – 30368 – 28657,   59025 – 233 – 987 – 13 – 610 – 89393 – 4181 –  377 – 28657,   4181 – 34,  21 – 6765 – 28657,  89393 – 28657 – 34 – 21

Good luck!  First one to solve it correctly wins a free one year subscription to this blog.  Post your answers in the comments.

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Friday Night Twilight

    I’ve had a cold all week that’s been slowly taking away my ability to think and to communicate at the same time.  I’ve been striking back as best as I can, but last night, after the very enjoyable fireside chat session with the K12 Online folks, the cold won the battle. 
    I caved and took some cold medicine.  Now, irony of ironies, I can’t sleep, as all of the thinking I was trying to do today was sort of backed up in my brain until now, so I’m learning instead.  So long as there’s no talking, I think my brain can keep up with my typing.  Maybe.
    Thanks to Rick, I spent some time this evening at YouTube.  Here’s a video that pretty much matches our reaction to finding Cathy’s Book on the bookshelf.
    Sean Stewart, one of the authors of Cathy’s Book, has an on ARG’s.  Since he’s been involved with the artform/genre/mindtrip since the beginning of the artform, I think he counts as an expert.  You should definitely read in its entirety, particularly if you think gaming has a place in schools.
This is a little jumbled, I know, between the cold medicine and the excited synapses going off and fighting for control of my intellect.  Forgive me.  There’s lots of synthesis to do between Stewart’s words and lots of the great conversations going on about how to tell a new story in school.  This might be one of those ways to teach the new story in schools — or I’m mixing my metaphors.  Either way, I blame the virus. 

On the idea of ARG’s not being a new experience, Stewart writes:


By the way, I do NOT assert that the Beast was the first, or greatest,
example of massively multi-player collaborative investigation and
problem solving. Science, as a social activity promoted by the Royal
Society of Newton’s day and persisting to this moment, has a long head
start and a damn fine track record. Not to mention more profound
investigations and way more scandalous gossip.


We just accidentally re-invented Science as pop culture entertainment.

Can you imagine the classroom power of reinventing our content as pop culture entertainment?  Sure, there’s some dangerous ground there — but plenty of potential in there too.
    Feels like the cold’s taking over again — off to rest.  And read.   Before I go, though, I’m curious — how many of you actually dialed the number on the cover (650-266-8233)?  What was your reaction?

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