SLoodling Along?

Progress comes in bumps and slides, sometimes. You work along for a while with nothing to show for it, and then all of the sudden a few things start to come together. You take those few things and add a few more things; before you know it, you’ve made a little progress.

That’s how things have been lately on the PlanetGED project.

We’re trying to create a study system for people who are having a hard time passing the GED. We figure they’re a great group to try to help: A group that wants to do something great with their lives – pass the GED – but maybe doesn’t have the resources to do it.

It’s also a group of 200,000 people every year, so well worth the effort.

Our objective: To create an effective learning experience that is not at all like “school.” The point: If GED seekers wanted to go back to school, they’d probably still be in school.

No “courses,” no “lessons,” no “assignments,” no “tests.” Less like a lockdown virtual school and more like a fun, inclusive game.

So far, this is what we’ve come up with: PlanetGED. We’re working to create a virtual “planet” with continents dedicated to each of the 5 components of the GED (reading, writing, math, science and social sciences).

Explorers will traverse the continents corresponding with their GED challenges, completing quests, playing games, and taking practice assessments as they go.

I’ve had the distinct pleasure to contact and begin strategizing with some exceptionally talented people who love learning and espcially the chance to help others make their lives great. Thanks to the amazing Michael Williams and Ariella Furman, we’re integrating two of the most powerful technomovments of this moment: mobile gaming and virtual worlds.

The real challenge is to create a system that lets us adapt, integrate and connect. We’re adapting established genres from gaming and digital storytelling, integrating at least 3 platforms (mobile, virtual world, and Web), and crucially, create portals back to a learning framework.

Among other things, it’s almost got me thinking we need to completely rethink the Learning Management System (LMS), and adapt its framework for several new platforms.

Along those lines, I’m tentatively impressed with the SLoodle project, seeking to integrate the Moodle LMS with Second Life. At this point, it looks mainly like an effort to plug Moodle into SL, a formidable task in itself.

But I think we need to go beyond, and get to a LMS that is equal parts mobile, virtual world, and Web. I’m thinking the quickest way to do that is to create portals: effectively, to poke holes in each platform so users and their data can transport back and forth seamlessly.

No big deal, I know. haha

The group at RezEd looks like they’re working this frontier, too. I’ll have to dig a little deeper and look for solutions there.

Here’s the big point: What we’re really trying to do is create a bridge from the academic process to the learning process (seems like they should be close enough to negate the need for a bridge, yes? but, alas, they’re not).

Learning can take place in any moment, using any tool or technology. It’s completely organic and agnostic about its form. That’s why people are learning so much from tutorials and YouTube videos and even some blog posts!

But when you impose the idea of using that learning to do something like pass a standardized test, you have to stir in some measure of the academic process (the ability to formalize, assess and measure discrete bits of knowledge).

And this is where you’ve got to be careful, because the easiest thing to do is to simply default back to the academic model of courses, lessons, assignments and test. That’s the model that failed our target group in the first place.

We want explorers on PlanetGED to have fun, gain confidence in their brainpower, and also improve their GED scores.

It’s turning out to be a very interesting challenge.

Stay tuned and I’ll keep you, um, posted.