Instructional goal and supporting contexts

Cross posted: https://unclesam.sites.grinnell.edu/uncategorized/instructional-goal-and-supporting-contexts After carefully thinking about what we would like to do with the Uncle Sam Plantation simulation, the types of open educational resources that we would like to develop, and the manner in which these resources could potentially be used in a class, the dev team has come up with the following instructional goal…Read more Instructional goal and supporting contexts

Defining instructional goals in virtual reality

Cross posted: http://unclesam.sites.grinnell.edu/uncategorized/defining-instructional-goals-in-virtual-reality The Uncle Sam plantation project is beginning to gear up and, with the return of Sam Nakahira from archival research in the Louisiana State University special collections, we are presented with a mountain of archival material that needs to be assembled into a virtual reality experience. What does a receipt for $12 issued…Read more Defining instructional goals in virtual reality

Summer Faculty Workshop Report: Stories for the Eye and Mind

Executive Summary The summer faculty workshop, Stories for the Eye and Mind: Immersive Environments for Teaching and Learning, was held in the Digital Liberal Arts Lab (DLAB) on Grinnell College 26-29 June 2017. Workshop participants included David Neville (GCIEL project lead and workshop facilitator), Damian Kelty-Stephen (Assistant Professor of Psychology and workshop co-facilitator), Charles Cunningham…Read more Summer Faculty Workshop Report: Stories for the Eye and Mind

The spatial humanities, proper scale, and making reference images in 3ds Max

In preparing for my upcoming faculty summer workshop on immersive environments, I have become more interested in ways that technology enhances the examination of how space – understood to be a certain point situated at the intersection of the physical world (geography) and time (history) – is constructed. Specifically, how technology can reveal sociopolitical forces…Read more The spatial humanities, proper scale, and making reference images in 3ds Max

GCIEL activity, community, and HASTAC 2017

Since October I have been working hard to establish an immersive environments lab at Grinnell College and have been making some significant headway toward getting this project off the ground. With the launch last week of the Grinnell College Immersive Experiences Lab (GCIEL) website and the delivery of some VR-capable desktops and associated hardware, it…Read more GCIEL activity, community, and HASTAC 2017

Stories for the eye and mind: Immersive environments for teaching, learning, and research

Summer 2016 Faculty Workshop Title Stories for the Eye and Mind: Immersive Environments for Teaching, Learning, and Research Time 26-29 June, 9 AM to 12 PM; Optional lab 2 to 5 PM Description The liberal arts have rich stories to tell and immersive environments can be a powerful way of transmitting and experiencing these stories. In…Read more Stories for the eye and mind: Immersive environments for teaching, learning, and research

Innovation Fund proposal for an immersive environments lab

The Grinnell College Innovation Fund is an internal grant program for fostering and supporting innovative approaches to teaching and research at the institution. Given the growing interest around virtual reality and yet unrealized opportunities provided by other immersive technologies (e.g., 3D digital game-based learning and visualizations), I thought an immersive environments lab would be an especially…Read more Innovation Fund proposal for an immersive environments lab

Opening remarks: Immersive Environments Colloquium at Vanderbilt University (9-10 December 2016)

Below are my opening remarks and charge for the Immersive Environments Colloquium at Vanderbilt University. Although the remarks include comments that I have already made on this blog, I thought it would still be useful to publish them here since, I think, they succinctly summarize how video games and digital game-based learning can benefit the humanities, specifically…Read more Opening remarks: Immersive Environments Colloquium at Vanderbilt University (9-10 December 2016)

The long arc back into 3D digital game-based learning

While I was enrolled in the Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences Program at Utah State University (2004-2007), I became very interested in the use of digital game-based learning, immersive virtual environments, and instructional simulations as a way to teach humanities topics. At the time this interest fortuitously aligned with the emergence of the “digital humanities”…Read more The long arc back into 3D digital game-based learning

Machine clustering and “The Flowing Light of the Godhead”

In Chapter 11 of Text Analysis with R for Students of Literature, Matthew Jockers introduces machine clustering through an authorship attribution problem. That is, by comparing different usages of high frequency words in an ingested corpus and calculating the Euclidean metric between them, the distance between different books in the corpus can be determined. Books closer…Read more Machine clustering and “The Flowing Light of the Godhead”

Promoting information and digital literacy

A few months ago I had the opportunity to interview for an educational technology director position at a highly selective liberal arts college in the Southeast. The position was unusual for me at the time in that it would be housed completely in the library and would be in charge of library staff, in addition to…Read more Promoting information and digital literacy

Using R to analyze “The Flowing Light of the Godhead”

A few weeks ago I started learning the R programming language for use in quantitative and computational approaches to textual analysis. Although my areas of expertise are in 3D visualization and simulation, it seemed to me that a lot of work in the digital humanities is in textual analysis (e.g., text mining and topic modeling)…Read more Using R to analyze “The Flowing Light of the Godhead”

Unity C# Quest Scripts

 Introduction The C# Unity scripts I wrote for the Uncle Sam Plantation project create a basic quest structure that guides players through a 3D game or simulation. My research into 3D digital game-based language learning environments show that goal-directed player activity in these environments provide learners of a second language and culture with a more…Read more Unity C# Quest Scripts

Why the digital humanities could benefit from digital game-based learning

My presentation at the NEH Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI) on 3D modeling of cultural heritage sites detailed the work I have been doing on a digital recreation of the Uncle Sam Plantation. During the presentation I also made a case for using the 3D models I have developed as the basis for an instructional…Read more Why the digital humanities could benefit from digital game-based learning

3D modeling of cultural heritage: Where are the Americans?

On 20-23 June 2016 I attended a NEH Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI) exploring the theory and practice of 3D modeling of cultural heritage sites. Held this year at UCLA, the institute was a follow-up to one held the year prior at the University of Massachusetts -Amherst. I found the institute…Read more 3D modeling of cultural heritage: Where are the Americans?

Toward a pedagogy of presence: Research summaries and new project workflow

It's been a while since I last posted and a lot has happened between then and now. Most important is a new work assignment that will be exploring the use of virtual reality environments for instructional purposes at the university- and college-level. I have my own personal project that aligns with this assignment, which I will be blogging…Read more Toward a pedagogy of presence: Research summaries and new project workflow

German language and culture skills: One way to stand out as a job candidate

When I was an associate professor of German, one area of program growth I was keenly interested in was language for specific purposes (LSP), otherwise known as a “Business German” or “German For Your Career” track. By making tangible connections between what students learned in the German program and internship or employment opportunities after graduation,…Read more German language and culture skills: One way to stand out as a job candidate

Educating the world with open educational resources

It has been a while since I last posted on my research blog. Since then I have moved across five states and two time zones to accept a new position as Digital Liberal Arts Specialist in the Digital Liberal Arts Collective (DLAC) at Grinnell College. Our mission, as is explained on our website, is to "help the…Read more Educating the world with open educational resources

First steps on a new 3D project

I have always liked projects as a way of organizing and directing activity. They allow me to set personal goals, to measure progress towards this goal, to learn new technology skills along the way, and to create new knowledge through experimentation and analysis of the product. So, after a few years of not having any long-term…Read more First steps on a new 3D project

Virtual embodiment, deep learning, and the humanities

Although the topic of digital game-based learning and gamification did not make this year's New Horizon Report (it was mentioned in the 2014 report), I was happy to discover an interview with EDUCAUSE President and CEO, Diana Oblinger, in which these instructional approaches were mentioned first on a list of three trends that will impact…Read more Virtual embodiment, deep learning, and the humanities

A return to digital Helfta?

I found out just the other day that I have been accepted to participate in a Digital Humanities Summer Institute on Advanced Challenges in Theory and Practice in 3D Modeling of Cultural Heritage Sites at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in June 2015. The institute coincides with a project that I have been meaning to get back to…Read more A return to digital Helfta?

MOOCs, outreach, and program growth

I read an interesting article today on NPREd about free online courses (MOOCs) and what was learned when the data generated by 1.7 million online students in EdX. Although I read the report earlier and was already familiar with the findings, I was particularly struck by what some people wrote in the comments: In many ways, these…Read more MOOCs, outreach, and program growth

5-Minute German Grammar

I have been teaching the same introductory German sequence for, oh, 8 years now and yesterday I finally came to the conclusion that I need a change. Really bad. I want to spend more time in class actually working on important skills - speaking, writing, discussing cultural artifacts - and less time on covering grammar. I…Read more 5-Minute German Grammar

New Workflow with Alt-D

I have been making progress on the medieval city wall that will surround the fictional town of Bad Oberdinkelheim, which will help to keep player-learners in a controlled space while simultaneously granting them an unfettered sense of agency. While creating the wall I have stumbled across another type of workflow. Whereas before I created the…Read more New Workflow with Alt-D

Bad Oberdinkelheim Gets a Wall

The last game I created was done under time pressure: It took me roughly 1.5 years to learn 3D modeling and texturing in Blender, game programming in Unity, and get the instructional materials created in time to teach the the topic of German waste management and recycling systems within the context of two-way prepositions. Oh,…Read more Bad Oberdinkelheim Gets a Wall

Article Published in ReCALL

It's been a long haul, but finally -- after several years of design, development, assessment, and evaluation -- the experiment results have been published in the ReCALL Journal: If you are interested and want to read more, you can download a PDF of the paper. Basically, as described in the abstract, the article reports on…Read more Article Published in ReCALL

Away For Much Too Long

It's been several months since posting my last entry and it's time to get back down to business. Reason for my absence has been partly professional, and partly pure digital distraction. Let's start with the last point first. After having played Battlefield 2142 for, oh, a *really* long time, I decided to step up to…Read more Away For Much Too Long

Gone Home: A Model for SLA Games?

A few months ago I became interested in Gone Home, a first-person story exploration video game, on the Game Profiles page at Unity. The idea of a game that does not involve shooting and killing intrigued me. There's not even any non-player characters (NPCs) to interact with. Rather, the game only involves careful investigation of…Read more Gone Home: A Model for SLA Games?

3 AM Game Ideas

What do you do at 3 AM when you have a bad case of insomnia and can't sleep? Well, what I usually do is think about things that need getting done, how to move projects forward, and ideas for articles. Sometimes I will think about aikido. This morning, however, it was the video game. Here's…Read more 3 AM Game Ideas

The Essential Experience

The experiment I ran on the last game prototype demonstrated that some type of substantial learning did take place through the experiences that students had while playing the game. Developing the game, however, also revealed some problems in the workflow. As I am currently a one-person show, getting a firm grasp on the modeling and…Read more The Essential Experience

Fun with Error Messages

I have a few projects on the plate this summer: (1) getting my tenure portfolio together, which needs to be submitted on 15 September; (2) creating more grammar videos for the Elon German Studies YouTube channel, which now how 304 subscribers and has been viewed over 15,000 times in about 5 months; (3) work with…Read more Fun with Error Messages

Summer Plans: Getting Back to Basics

Spring break is upon us, which means that the semester will be coming to an end rather quickly. It also means that I will need to think of something to do during the summer. I will be working with an undergraduate student on her SURE project, but I also need to think of something for…Read more Summer Plans: Getting Back to Basics

Going Medieval, Minding the Store

Part of the joy of working at a smaller liberal arts college is the constant variation of tasks that one must do to move a program forward. The variety ensures that one does not bore quickly. On the other hand, part of the frustration of working at a smaller liberal arts college is the constant variation…Read more Going Medieval, Minding the Store

Game world, real world, classroom

After wrestling with the experiment data and the whole writing process, I finally was able to get an article out the door to ReCALL Journal. I will hear back from them in March (or before then) with reviewer comments. In the meanwhile, I'm trying to think of next steps for how to grow the project.…Read more Game world, real world, classroom

Activity Systems and Cognitive Maps

I have been working on a write-up of the data yielded by the research study at the end of Spring Semester 2012. Although I am not sure if this blog really gets the kind of traffic that I was originally hoping it would, I thought I would just throw some of the data out there…Read more Activity Systems and Cognitive Maps

Presentation at CALICO 2012

I have been working in the office this morning, getting travel itineraries and other things ready for my upcoming trip to CALICO 2012, where I will be presenting a paper there on the results of my experiment using the 3D game I developed to teach German. In any case, it should be a lot of fun…Read more Presentation at CALICO 2012

Transfer from Games to Narratives

The end of the semester and beginning of the summer is always busy: Thousands of things to catch up on, odds jobs that need doing, and countless receptions and ceremonies to attend. I finally had a chance to look at some of the data generated by the experiment I ran in my beginning German class…Read more Transfer from Games to Narratives

Back in the Saddle

It's been a long while since I have been active with game development and blogging. Time to get back into the swing, I think. My absence for this past year has been on account of responsibilities to the German program at Elon University, and getting a business German program off the ground. Central to this…Read more Back in the Saddle

Download Game Prototype

The Digital Bahnhof (DigiBahn) Project is an interdisciplinary software development initiative seeking to program a 3D digital game-based learning (3D-DGBL) environment for teaching German language, vocabulary, and culture to advanced high school and beginning university students. The current basic prototype addresses the topics of recycling and waste management in Germany and has been developed to…Read more Download Game Prototype

Creating Instructional Materials

Now that the game prototype is finished, I have been spending time getting the instructional materials ready. First to be created was the story, which the students will read before doing the related exercises and playing the game: I was able to find several websites dealing with recycling in Germany and Austria (Berlin sammelt and…Read more Creating Instructional Materials

Walk-Through for DigiBahn Game Level

A few days ago I made a video highlighting the finished game, essentially a walk-through of the environment. After capturing the video with FRAPS, I put the computer on standby and went off to teach. Once I came back to the office a few hours later I found, to my horror, that the computer would…Read more Walk-Through for DigiBahn Game Level

Score Screen Finally Finished

I've been busy with teaching and other sundry university service responsibilities, which has taken me away from game development these last few weeks. Thank goodness that I was able to get the majority of development done during Winter Term when I didn't have a teaching load. The final problem I faced was getting the player performance data…Read more Score Screen Finally Finished

Beer Bottles (Nearly) Imported

The new semester has finally started and, as anticipated, I've been busy with teaching and course preparations. I'm glad that I had time over Winter Term to code the game, get the functionality figured out, and polish the game interface. I'm going to test the game prototype in about two months and, as it currently…Read more Beer Bottles (Nearly) Imported

Start, Info and About Screens Finished

Took a break from doing modeling in Blender, where I still need to make game resources (bottles, cans, trash), and spent a few days getting the game start, about and information screens setup. With Unity, this was a snap to do and only required minimal scripting in C# and light image creation skills in GIMP.…Read more Start, Info and About Screens Finished

Game Finally Coded

I have been working feverishly these last few days, hoping to get get my game coded before the semester begins. Once the semester begins, I'll have my hands full with grading, teaching, and the what-have-yous of being a university professor. And although I won't be testing the game until the end of the semester, experience…Read more Game Finally Coded

Fachwerk Imported and Pontification on the State of Second Language Studies

After making some minor tweaks to the museum model inside of Blender, I was finally able to texture- and bump-map the exposed timber work meshes and import them into Unity. Once I got the workflow down, the whole process went very quickly. Main points to remember: (1) make modifications to meshes in Edit Mode, not…Read more Fachwerk Imported and Pontification on the State of Second Language Studies

Signs Inserted

Spent the morning and early afternoon working on a display box for the museum signs. Had some difficulties getting the stainless steel texture "just right" for the sign, so I opted to go with a scratched metal texture from DeviantArt. I wish I could spend more time getting the 3D objects to look more authentic, but since…Read more Signs Inserted

Hitting Two-For-Two

Good news on the DigiBahn front! Briefly stated, the paper I submitted to The Foreign Lannguage Annals (FLAnnals) was accepted with minor revisions and my application to the Humanities Gaming Institute was also accepted. Wow, hitting two-for-two. I was particulalry surprised (and flattered) about what the three reviewers for the FLAnnals had to say about…Read more Hitting Two-For-Two

Grant Awarded, Game Progress, and Application for Summer Gaming Institute

Some good news to report: The Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning (CATL) at Elon University has awarded me with a substantial grant to foster the development of the DigiBahn Project. The grant will be used to upgrade the game engine from the free Unity3D Indie to Unity3D Pro (license comparison here), which…Read more Grant Awarded, Game Progress, and Application for Summer Gaming Institute

Heroic Narratives?

I have been wanting to get some development on the project done these last few weeks, but I have been distracted by the day-to-day responsibilities of a college professor that have been nickel-and-diming my time. An interesting product of these distractions, however, has been a new general studies course examining the role of the hero…Read more Heroic Narratives?

Streetlamp Created

Finally got a streetlamp object made for the level where the player will be inserted into the game. Here is a quick turnaround of the mesh, complete with a bump map applied to the glass panels of the lantern itself (and some additional tweaking done to the raytracing for mirror reflection and transparent refraction rendering):I…Read more Streetlamp Created