Thanks to a Carnegie Mellon University team, local and international digital-media learning (DML) designers will have a newly valuable web home for seeking community input on their projects -- and for failing usefully. The revamped site will debut in mid-March.
"There are really amazing things happening in different spaces that don't seem to be connected together," says Anna Roberts, director of the team behind the redone Working Examples
, a website dedicated to bringing together DML designers before their designs are done, or even conceived. "A work in progress is messy, but sharing them with others is how we move our work forward."
For scientists, "working examples" are ideas they think
are good but that they want to put in front of their colleagues for critique. Drew Davidson, acting director of CMU's Entertainment Technology Center, and James Paul Gee, a literacy studies professor at Arizona State University, created the site to bring the working examples idea to creatives in the DML field. Roberts' team was hired a year ago "to build something that would really address how [users] would interact with one another," she says.
Site users will be able to explore others' work, build new collaborations and have a larger impact on how technology is being implemented in education. Roberts also hopes that designers, who are trying to meld play and the work of learning, will have a fun, playful experience of their own on the Working Examples site.
Once a user has logged in, the site will feature content based on how the individual user has tagged him or herself and the people they are following. Users can share comments within a blog-like feature, as well as upload new items, including projects at various stages. Seed, Sprout and Bloom sections are designed to help users refine how they are thinking about their projects, providing a series of probing questions: What challenges and goals do you have? How is the project evolving? What surprises have you encountered? How successful has a finished project been, and what ought to be changed?
Users can also form public or private groups, with their own workspaces and the ability to comment more easily on work changes and collaborate more readily. Users' profiles will elicit deeper information about their expertise and interests, and allow fellow users to rate the helpfulness of their collected comments.
The site also contains news and job postings as well as a Hall of Fail, modeled after the Hall of Failure at DML's annual Games, Learning and Society conference.
"We're big believers in the fact that our missteps and 'failures' are big places to learn from each other," says Roberts.
The site will even be useful for people not directly involved in DML design, she says. Educators and other users of DML should "make a profile and come on and comment on people's projects. We're interested in getting a lot of voices who have opportunities to think about how it might be used in a classroom."
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Anna Roberts, Working Examples