Librarians vs. stereotypes + Rock Band

Eric Frierson at UT Arlington (along with some colleagues) has put together this terrific short promotional video for librarians’ services there.  I love it!  (Annie, something for our list to show our students!)

In other news, Annie and I taught our first LIB 101 class last week.  I had the flu and had to use a microphone to be heard, but Annie persevered in getting Rock Band (The Most Complicated Video Game In the World To Set Up) running for the end of the class, and that was a pretty good success.  They sang along!  This week, we’re delving into search and wayfinding in new environments:  games, Google, and the library catalog.  Should be interesting.

To-do pileup

It’s been a long time since my last post, though I’ve been thinking about this blog a lot.  Excuses aside, some stuff that’s been going on…

ACRL 2009 was a good time had by all.  It was a real pleasure to see the fruits of the Green Committee’s labors–recycled carpet in the exhibits hall, shower times in the tote bags, few-to-no paper handouts, and recyling everywhere.  Robin Chase’s Sunday morning talk was terrific and thought-provoking.  She also graciously did a podcast, which is freely available.  When I wasn’t staffing the Green Booth I got to a few good CyberZed Shed sessions on iMacros, texting at UC Irvine, and Sony Readers.  Does ALA do these kinds of sessions–short, technology-oriented, practical?  I’d love to see more like this.

My colleague Anne Zeidman-Karpinski and I have maximum enrollment for our Library 101 class focusing on video games, video production, and general visual culture.  25 students in Eugene, with Annie teaching there and me here in Portland.  Videoconferencing, yes.  It’s an all-video extravaganza!  We’re using spring break this week to get our final prep work done for the syllabus and assignment outlines.  Final assignment is a group “TV” program made up of short segments from each student, filmed in the media studies center.  And I just read an interesting interview about games and gaming that might ring bells for some folks who are interested in the strangeness of grown-ups and college students playing games to learn…

I’ve also been working to plan two events in early April:  a panel session about creative professionals working in the recession, and a film screening of “Copyright Criminals,” a documentary by Kembrew Mcleod.

And I’m very pleased to say that Michael Stephens‘s awesome “Ray of Light” video for the St. Joseph County Public Library is back up on Youtube, albeit without Madonna’s soundtrack.  Thanks, Michael!

Seeking online video games (with fiber)

I’m currently co-designing a for-credit research methods class, using video games and gaming as a structure.  I’m looking for examples of more online video games that are freely available (without signup, preferably) for play through a web browser.  Here’s an example of what I’m thinking of:  Samorost, a beautifully-designed and complex point-and-click problem-solving game (it feels like I should say “experience.”)  I’m hoping to build game play into each class to reinforce what we’re teaching about search, discovery, pattern recognition, and so on.

Anyone got any good online game examples to share?


Happy New Year!  I’m in the office (note:  it snowed again, which is almost unbelievable for Portland) planning a spring-term class that I’m teaching with my friend and colleague Annie Zeidman-Karpinski.  It’s Library 101, and as you might imagine from the name it’s both a classic and a little bit dusty.  We’re shooting to blow some of the dust off by reorienting it in terms of visual content and videos.  Videoconferencing, video games, screencasts, you name it, we’re going to have it.  Obviously this begs some questions about the traditional syllabus for a class like this, which I like to call ‘WOTCA WETWODA,” or “Week One The Catalog, Week Two The Databases…”  In other words, a slow and ponderous introduction of research tools in the order we (the librarians) think is most important.

No WOTCA WETWODA for us!  We’re picking 3 ACRL research competencies and teaching to them, using whatever tools crop up.  We’re really interested in David Wiley’s online class in learning theory, which he’s teaching at Brigham Young University–and in which he’s encouraging his students to role-play as bards, artisans, merchants, or monks.

NYPL gets into gaming

Thanks to iLibrarian for pointing out the recent game-apalooza at NYPL. NYPL branch libraries lend over 2,500 video games for one-week intervals. Apart from all the quotes from kids saying, “Wow, I have to come to the library more often,” there’s this to consider:

“What we’re seeing is that in addition to simply helping bring kids into the library in the first place, games are having a broader effect on players, and they have the potential to be a great teaching tool,” Mr. Martin said. “If a kid takes a test and fails, that’s it. But in a game, if you fail you get to take what you’ve learned and try again.”


McDonald’s gets into the ARG business

Anne-Marie Deitering is too cool to post this link, because she says, “if Wired knows about it, everybody knows about it.”  But I’m not too cool!

McDonald’s has developed an ARG to market…burgers at the Olympics?  Unclear.  But they’ve got gamers all over the world racing to find a lost ring and communicating with each other in multiple languages.  Even though people know who’s behind it, they’re still interested in solving the puzzle.

Myst in the classroom

Well, since I just posted a story about video gaming for journalism students, I had a quick look on YouTube for videos about Myst, one of the most famous problem-solving video games ever.  And I found this wonderful example of a teacher using Myst in his K-12 classroom, to teach students how to use similes and metaphors.

The level of engagement is terrific–they actually groan when they have to leave to go to lunch.

Great example of how a really talented teacher can use technology effectively in a classroom!

Google, Google, Google, ARG.

I’ve just got back from ALA Midwinter in Philadelphia and am shoveling my way through my email and task backlog…and my Eudora just crashed and refuses to start up again.  So before rebooting, I take this golden opportunity to bookmark for my own purposes a few recent articles about Gen Y and Google, because they go together like peaches and cream.

  • Google vs. Capitol Hill (The New Yorker):   Google makes a charmingly naive (and, knowing them, probably soon-to-be overwhelmingly influential) foray into Washington D.C.
  • Gen Y can’t search (Joint Information Systems Committee & The British Library):  Unsurprisingly to anyone who works with undergraduates, not all Gen Y students know how to wrangle Google effectively, let alone use more recondite web search tools.
  • Librarians teach research classes (The Chronicle of Higher Education):  Not news in any sense of the word, but it’s always interesting to see how library instruction is portrayed by non-librarians.  And again, a basic premise is:  just because you have a Facebook account doesn’t mean you pwn the Internets.

And last but not least (and not Google-related at all), a tip of the hat to colleagues Anne-Marie Dietering and Rachel Bridgewater, who are doing a really interesting program at Online Northwest 2008.  I can’t attend, but I heard about it at Midwinter, and I’m very excited to hear more about how it goes.  There’s no direct link to their presentation on the conference website, so I’m pasting it in here.

Lonelygirl and the Beast: Alternate Reality Games as immersive marketing, art, and information
Rachel Bridgewater, Washington State University, Vancouver
Anne-Marie Deitering, Oregon State University

In September 2006 the Los Angeles Times broke the story that the popular video blogger, “lonelygirl15”, was actually an actress named Jessica Rose. This splash in the mainstream media may have been the first time you heard of an Alternate Reality Game (ARG), even if you didn’t hear it referred to that way. ARGs employ multiple media to enact an evolving narrative, influenced by the actions of participants and controlled by the game’s designers. The games are played in the “real world” and involve creative uses of reality, illusion, and imagination. These games have grown popular in the past few years and are increasingly being used as marketing tools for movies, television shows, and album releases. As libraries look to the business world for marketing ideas, ARGs are bound to make an appearance in our community before too long. This session will explain, in depth, what ARGs are, how they are being used, and what they might mean for us in libraries.

Doesn’t that just sound awesome?