Friday, April 15, 2016

Sharing the Games: Games for Change and Others

In the last four years, I’ve presented on a few serious games in crowdsourcng research solutions to disease, and oversaw the development and tracking of games that serve compliance training in a government organization.

 
I’ve also participated in game nights where faculty and students were invited to sample various games and discuss their value. I also spent some time with middle school bloggers who researched games they could place in their particular blog topics, wondering if more people would visit their blog to play the game there, or if we should have another after-school enrichment course where students could create and play each other’s games. In other conversations with colleagues, we’ve talked about games for decision-making based on fault-tree models—games that give students experience with coming to terms in those sticky social situations students grapple with. And games that are more than drill for learning another language.

Somewhere in my ongoing perusal of Twitter offerings, I noted a mention of Save the Parks, a game to ultimately encourage volunteerism in National Parks. This was my gateway introduction to an non-profit group called Games for Change. After going to the site and playing some of the games, I not only shared the news about them with others, I’m on my way to this April 18th event hosted by the non-profit Games for Change (http://www.gamesforchange.org/games-and-media-summit/)

I’ve been sharing the site with others from varying programs for the potential of the games: Upward Bound is a nationally funded program to support high school completion and entry into post-secondary through colleges. I believe in their transformative potential, and I have volunteered to do Saturday activities with them. I told them about Spent (http://www.gamesforchange.org/play/spent/), and I told them about That’s Your Right (http://www.gamesforchange.org/play/thats-your-right/). Given the financial insecurity of some their families face, and given civic education for new immigrants and upcoming citizens, they were excited to look at both. When discussing what games they might recommend to the students, we also talked about how it might be fun for the students to choose which games to play and review, and then present a panel to their peers as a program activity. 

I’ve also shared one of the games called Spent (http://www.gamesforchange.org/play/spent/) with a program called Gateway, one for displaced women and men, where “Housing, childcare, and transportation” are “a trifecta” for survival, according tot the program’s director. Having played the game, I totally get it—even though I ended the game a month’s survival with $43 to the good, I realized I never bought TP and found myself asking if I had lifted it from public bathrooms. For participants from households who regularly face financial despair and homelessness, placing the circumstances in a game format can depersonalize it enough to develop financial management skills around those tough choices.

Another Game that caught my attention also was Beyond Eyes—it’s a natural for anyone hoping to create awareness related to disabilities: http://www.gamesforchange.org/play/beyond-eyes/ The work of Alice Brouhard to research and adapt apps to support the independence of those with disabilities certainly plays a role in this awareness. For this game players aid a young blind girl on a journey. Her blindness is the result of an accident with fireworks. It is not only a way to experience someone else’s limitations that are out of their control, it is the way to practice compassion.

Games fall under the category of immersive learning. Playing and debriefing what players experienced offer great value in influencing their/our own realities. If a goal of a game is to win, in these games the winning involves learning strategies that will make a better existence at many levels. I find myself being a real town crier about getting people to this site to view the variety of experiences offered in the 137 games there and playing some. The games are indexed by age or types like civics, health, and poverty. Players are invited to sign up to post game reviews. Resources are provided to support game development. The site is Rich, Rich, Rich. Go play. It’s your opportunity to become the change or the change agent.

Monday, March 7, 2016

A Book Worth Reading About Intellectual Property Rights: Who Owns Culture

Confession: Though I read many posts and tweets or articles at any given time, each year I try to read what I consider to be at least one or more significant books pertinent to the 21st century learning.

Understanding copyright, fair use, and Creative Commons licensing are important to me as a writer, researcher, faculty member, trainer, and artist. Those roles were the motivators for reading Who Owns Culture? where known faculty Susan Scafidi explores the conundrum of copyright and patent protection for communally created works.

I intentionally did not read reviews, and I decided my learning goal was to come away with what I felt were important take-aways from her work.

My takeaways from her work:

1) There are three types of property: real, personal, and intellectual (Scafidi 160).

2) Copyright law provides protection for individuals, but products held in community have suffered. The provision for commonly held property is called “concurrent ownership” (162); this mechanism is useful for defense with external challenges, but does not define mechanisms for managing disputes within a particular group.  The author expresses the opinion that there is still more work to be done in this area by the legal community.

3) An important concept to understand in cultural context is the evolution of cultural practice into a definable product. An example has been cases related to the use of the American flag. Over time commercial, artistic, and political demonstrations involving the flag provided restrictions that have currently been overturned in favor of their use for open express and commercial use. (The most current controversy of this nature was captured in SC where public outcry resulted in the removal of the flag from the state capitol.)

4) These two entities have been established to ensure the livelihood of indigenous artisan and their products in the marketplace: Ten Thousand Villages and the Native Artist Registry with the US Patent Office.

5) There is still potential for power struggles within a community as to who can define community membership. Also, there are still questions as to decisions to keep certain items in secret, or release them to the public, and challenges to those accompanying decisions that might develop.

6) “Outsider Appropriation”, “Misappropriation”, and “Reverse Appropriation” relate to cases where persons outside a culture take features from another culture into a product, or use it in such a way that puts something into the public market that was never intended or causes disrespect or inaccuracy by the way it is presented.

Current examples:

·      Outsider Appropriation: The Valentino Ad in the March 6, 2016, New York Times Sunday Styles Section (p.3)


·      Misappropriation: Another recent example comes from an episode in Longmire, found on Netflix. Walt has his friend tie him to a tree in a way participants in the Sundance would be tethered to a tree during that sacred ceremony. The context for this practice is not only incorrect, it is inappropriate for Plains tribes who observe this ceremony.

·      Reverse-Appropriation: Individuals who are fans of a certain characters or works may influence the development of the persona, but also create their own spin-off creations, known as Reverse Appropriation (p. 127). Sometimes such creations are protected under the auspices of fair-use, and at other times the creators of the series or work provide more specifications as to what is allowed. In some cases, court challenges have been made against the public creators, like the author of Done Gone With the Wind, a work in the voice of Miss Charlottes created half-sister and slave (The author, not the estate of M Mitchell ultimately won the right to publish the work.)

Yes, this area of law continues to be better defined as our global property practices continue. As for the realm of cultural preservation, the author notes a model to further rights for distinct cultural practices is UNESCO’s Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Interested in what others did write about this work? Searching by the title + reviews might find you some sources: I particularly thought this one was helpful as it summarizes the contents addressed in various chapters—not so much a review but a guide to the ideas: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hj7k9

Bibliographic Entry

Scafidi, Susan. (2005) Who Owns Culture?: Appropriation and Authenticity in American Law.  Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers University Press.



Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Back in the Saddle: Why Having an Editorial Calendar Keeps You Going

I can't believe it's been this long since my last post. It's like other goals: If you write it on paper or say it out loud, you have upped your level of commitment to following through. I must have been surfing on the fact that the local paper ran the last article as a print piece.

That said: here's a list of posts I've been talking about but haven't published:
  • What artists can teach us about engagement with content
  • What VR has to offer us as educators
  • A synopsis of key takeaways from reading the book Who Owns Culture by Susan Scafidi. 
  • More on OER and Creative Commons (IV and V of that series are in my drafts!)
In addition to putting some topics out there, I also revisited some practices behind the calendar. Audience, Topic, Timeliness are what I think make big differences. For example, if you are in education, yearly planning cycles,  and beginning, middle, and end term cycles are key time frames. So planning topics in sync to those cycles provides content more likely to be of interest to those readers. (And then there is maximizing on audience reach by pushing the link or article to other social media.)

That said, attention to hot/trending topics in the publications and and social-media communities of practice also provide clues to the timeliness of a topic.

Here are a couple links that provide some solid thoughts on the practice:

This link focuses on the content and timeline and also notes some different ways to use tech to aid calendar creation and management:
http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2014/11/content-marketers-checklist-editorial-calendar-essentials/

This one offers a free Template: http://offers.hubspot.com/blog-editorial-calendar

Wordpress also has an editorial calendar plug-in. In discussing it's use with a colleague, she noted it did not work the way her brain does, so she has not used it. Which brings us back to the key point about the calendar--the tech is a product that might help you capture your thinking, but most important is the process of thinking about the topic, the audience, and the prime timeline related to their interests.

And now, looks like I'd better set myself some dates around my content.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Bridge to That Future: GARCO Sewing Works



How exciting to see the social entrepreneurship recognition earned by the Whole Works in Rifle in October 2015:http://www.postindependent.com/news/18748091-113/rifles-the-whole-works-wins-business-award.

Reading it, I was reminded of the organization that created the bridge to this future, GarCO Sewing Works (GSW).

The Impetus
In 2011 CMC’s Customized Training and Workforce Dean Beth Shaw went to the county board of commissioners to present an idea—the creation of an industrial sewing training project that could equip people on public support with industrial sewing and process experience. In addition, this forward-looking presentation had the goal of post-training employment. The impetus and opportunity were based on the fact that industrial sewing groups in Denver and Grand Junction had a three-year wait-list, and that small lot sewing projects were not readily accepted by the industrial sewing factories.

The Philosophy
Usual thinking in a welfare to work program is to provide skills development and work habits. More than that, GARCO Sewing Work’s vision took into consideration that social girding to help people exit public assistance was to stabilize the personal side of their lives so they could have work lives. This included the wisdom that a whole person model “honoring their personal histories and “moving them out of the bondage they are in” are essential.  Hence, the model considered child care, needs, transportation needs, housing, and for some, and the flexibility to take care of personal appointments such as court hearings.

Seed Money and Development Milestones
Initially, the CMC project, GarCO Sewing Works (GSW), requested $26,000 from the commissioners to purchase industrial sewing machines, or the equivalent of the cost of two people moving off assistance rolls. The commission countered that if the GSW was still operational after one years, the machines would be theirs to keep. At the end of one year, GSW was not only operational, but seven individuals were off assistance.

Three years later, the thirty trainees who have moved off assistance translates into a savings of $450,000. 

A Credit to Partnerships
Though Beth will tell you that “Sewing is the vehicle, not the end game” to transferrable skills such as process and project management, here’s how that happens within GSW’s operations and how that developed with the support of many partnerships.

From the outset, the responsiveness of the county commissioners and Human Services were critical. Beth attributes their familiarity with Gateway Director, Jill Ziemann’s track record and CMC’s affiliation as contributors to county confidence levels for the initial proposal.

But before GWS had even opened it’s doors, Beth spotted a news article about CORE’s project to make Aspen free of plastic shopping bags. CORE had hit a rough spot because the most competitive bids for bags were from China. Her call and offer to make bags in Rifle, Colorado resulted in GSW’s first order, even though they were not yet open, for 4500 reusable bags.

Shortly thereafter, CORE had five pallets of automotive upholstery fabric delivered to GWS’s site. The pallets were too large to fit though the door and it was raining. So Beth, Jill, and two students carried the materials off the street themselves. And they were off to the races.

Shortly thereafter, artist Mary Noone offered eight rolls of canvas printed with her original design, and these materials helped filled another order for a city about to move away from plastic grocery bags.

Soon after, Beth discovered that the hospital had blue wrap that was also going to the landfill. As a follow-up Greg Jeung, a Valley View Green Team member, started deliveries.

The City of Aspen has been large as a repeat customer: Each year Aspen orders about 2000 bags to give citizens and visitors. They now have a “Take a bag, wash a bag, and leave a bag, “ receptacles around the city. And we are prototyping two sizes of windshield frost guards for citizen vehicles made from old (Big Agnes) sleeping bag pads for vehicles that are parked outside during the winter. (How did this come about? The city has an ordinance that you cannot idle a vehicle for more than 5 minutes, an emissions reduction effort.)

The Bridge to Whole Works
From early press on, GSW consistently expressed the need for a for-profit operation to employ successful trainees. So in 2013, they started monthly meetings with four interested investors, discussing a potential partnership. And though The Whole Works received invitations to locate elsewhere, the Rifle location was important for two reasons: 1) the location of GSW’s facility, and the opportunity to economically train both workers to new developments in the field.

While Dean Beth Shaw retires from her service at CMC at the end of 2015, the GSW will continue to serve citizens of Garfield County. As recently as last week, GSW trainees were assisting the Whole Works prepping a large order that required more workers at short notice.

GSW is an admirable example of Educational Entrepreneurship for Social Good. How forward looking that it included and accomplished the development of the next social benefit corporation, the Whole Works with its emphasis on “ethical and sustainable” jobs and products so workers can get off public assistance (http://thewholeworks.co/).

Applause. And sincere wishes for the continuation of these life- and community-changing enterprises.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Using Glass and Gamification to Help Autistic Children with Interactions

This pediatric specialist explains Google Glass apps used to help children in interacting with others through gamified applications. Overlaying game graphics on top of video image of another's face serves as a prompt to respond to the moment.


Note: This video is licensed under Creative Commons with No Derivatives allowed.
Source: http://www.healthtechhatch.com/2015/10/09/using-google-glass-to-enhance-brain-power-in-autism/?utm_content=buffer90209&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Barbie AI: "Has Anyone in Your Family Married a Clown, Barbie?"

For some strange reason, I was under an earlier impression that Barbie was available with a 3D printer. I sent this tidbit to my comedic friend who said she wanted one so she could print a new boyfriend. When I did a search for such an announcement today, though, nothing came up. Was this my own imagined conversation?

In contrast, I just read the Sunday NY Times article about the work on the forthcoming  artificial intelligence (AI) featured Barbie, which manufacturers hope to release to the market for this year’s holiday sales: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/20/magazine/barbie-wants-to-get-to-know-your-child.html?_r=0

The sophisticated development follows the path of other intelligent response systems by capturing interactions with the product with humans, then storing and analyzing the responses into a database, along with potential responses to the questions or remarks.

If you’ve ever called a real-time help desk, you are also likely to have benefitted from this type of a knowledge database as the help-desk person looked up your question.

This same protocol can be used for smart tutors/assistants in learning applications.
And it makes sense for the goals of a customer helpdesk or learning support.

But back to talking with toys, their companionship, and the potential to shape behavior. Toys have been the training ground for generations, in addition to providing diversions.

And yes, many of us had imaginary dialogue with our toys, creating both sides of it, and unless an adult was in earshot, the conversations went on without record. And then there were the pull –the-string-talkers—ok for a limited while. Of the later toys, one of my favorites was a teddy bear that had a mic, and could repeat whatever you said to good old teddy. My son and daughter each had one—our son would laugh into one, and then face the one bear to the other so they could have one extended ha fest.

Though drawing from her database in a timely fashion, Barbie AI’s programmed responses are drawing on former conversations and ring of the invasion of privacy. To other degrees, a person has to ask whether it’s a good idea to have Barbie harvesting your child’s private thoughts, worries, or genius.

I think of a wunderkind I know, and think of her questions:

“Barbie, I think I want to marry a clown when I grow up. Followed by, “Has anyone in your family married a clown?”

"Barbie, my toy birds are singing to the dead. What songs are they singing?"

I am amused to think how Barbie might respond. And I weigh in by thinking this child’s thoughts are priceless, and, as yet, unincorporated.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

OER, Fair Use, and Fair Practice Part III: Flickr Commons and "No Known Copyright Restrictions"

This post explores the difference between using an image under Flickr Commons Commons under fair use vs. commercial purposes.


As I shared in the first post on this topic, I explored Flickr Commons in search of a photo to use for a canvas I was creating for the Jazz-on-Film-with Friends, a memento of a private gathering at my home. 



And here is what I learned from that part of the journey. In the creation of the canvas, I was focused on the use of a Billie Holiday photo I'd found at Flickr Commons under the terms of fair use. And it did answer the following four conditions under fair use:

1) Purpose: The piece was for my personal, non-commercial, non-educational use.
2) Nature: the use of the image from the film did not embody the central intent of the film, and it was used to create something different from the original.
3) Amount: the image on the screen was only one frame of a nearly two-hour long film.
4) Effect: This personal memento would not affect film distribution.

Yet I was struck by the used of the phrase at the Commons, "no known copyright restrictions": http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/195_copr.html#noknown

In reading the fine print, I learned that in the case of these wonderful photos by photographer Gottlieb, he donated his work of something like 1600 photographs of the golden age of jazz. He denoted that as of 2010, these works would go into the public domain, with the exception of those which had already been published by other source.

So here is what it meant for the photo I'd just placed on the canvas above. It had been published by Downbeat magazine, so I wanted to do something commercial with it, I most likely needed their written permissions because the image constitutes a whole work by Mr. Gottlieb.

Upon returning to the Gottlieb collection, I did find this image of Billy Holliday, one not published by anyone else, and since it was 2015, it was truly in the public domain.



Image Source: Library of Congress. Gottlieb Collection. ”Portrait Billie Holiday at Carnegie Hall Between 1946 and 1948.”: http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.music/gottlieb.04261


Once again, here are some resources: (A very helpful Creative Commons 4.0 Fair Use Checklist can be found at the Columbia Site.)

https://delicious.com/constantlearningorg/fairuse

Next: What do the various levels of Creative Commons Licensing mean?