Playable by anyone aged 12 and up, Horizns is a narrative-based, augmented reality (AR) game ultimately designed for collaborative storytelling in grades 7-12 ELA and/or Social Studies classrooms.
Players begin by participating in the (fictional) “Horizns Rewards Program,” an AR tour of the history of Times Square, NYC. The plot takes a dark turn, however, as players must “dystopify” the world around them; and everyone’s best chance at escaping a dire future means interacting with the dystopian visions of others.
If you’re interested in my (six-minute) talk introducing Horizns to attendees of the ECT-DMDL Design Expo (5/15/15), you can find it here. [Warning: Contains spoilers! ;-)]
My general aim with this project was to make something that was a) genuinely constructivist and constructionist; and b) a genuinely engaging gaming experience. More specifically, as far as learning theory goes, the game’s design is ultimately driven by the notion of “Social Imagination,” which Maxine Greene defines as learners’ “capacity to invent visions of what should be and what might be in our deficient society, on the streets where we live, and in our schools” (Releasing the Imagination, 2005,p. 5). And for a bit more on the theory behind Horizns‘ design, please feel free to check out my Design Expo poster (pdf).
During a Game/Mobile Design internship at the American Museum of Natural History (Fall 2014) I worked on a program called “The Neanderthal Next Door,” which was
a 27-session youth program for 21 12th-graders that’s designed to develop and implement a digitally augmented (augmented reality-enhanced) print activity guide that explores the topic of human evolution through the frame of Neanderthals.
The piece of the program I worked on the most was developing a design-thinking approach that would guide the 12th-graders in their work. Given the time we had with the students, I thought an approach that used a selection of Stanford d.school’s Bootcamp Bootleg cards would work best. Below is a post about a few of the sessions that the program’s director, Barry Joseph, asked me to write for his blog, mooshme.org:
Digital Media Design for Learning (DMDL) degree; Cognitive Science and Educational Technology I course (Spring 2014).
Medium-long (approx. last quarter of the term, final group project design document).
my principle contributions: “Background,” “Problem Description,” “Delivery Platform” and “Project Narrative.”
As a group, produce a full, thorough design document on a project of mutual interest.
A few years ago, I read Maryanne Wolf’s Proust and the Squid (2007) and was floored to learn (amongst other things) that
[a] prominent  study found that by kindergarten, a gap of 32 million words already separates some children in linguistically impoverished homes from their more stimulated peers. In other words, in some environments the average young middle-class child hears 32 million more spoken words than the young underprivileged child by age five. (p. 20)
In class, I was fortunate to have three other classmates become interested enough in this “word gap” to work on a project together. What we came up with was a mobile application titled “OPEN: the Journal.”