Teachers Teaching Teachers #193 - Is Evoke a game? Why does it matter? Five Students with Rachel Smith and Suzie Boss - 03.24.10

Post-Show description: 

Join us as we listen to our students and our colleagues respond to questions about Evoke.

  • Jake is a senior in Chris Sloan's New Media class at Judge Memorial High School in Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • Robin is a sophomore in Paul Allison's English class at the East-West School of International Studies in Flushing, NYC.
  • Perez and Phil are freshman in Susan Ettenheim's class at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, in New York City.
  • Nathan is a junior and he's a game-runner for Evoke from Austin, Texas.
  • Suzie Boss is the co-writer with Jane Krauss of Reinventing Project-Based Learning, and she has recently interviewed Jane McGonigal for WorldChanging.
  • Rachel Smith is the Vice President, NMC Services the New Media Consortium, and has taken on the role as a community organizer for teachers on Evoke.

We've been learning about gaming from students this spring, and on this episode of Teachers Teaching Teachers we were joined by two ninth graders from Susan Ettenheim's class in NYC, a tenth grader from Paul Allison's class in Queens, an eleventh grader from Austin, Texas, and a senior from Chris Sloan's class in Salt Lake City.

We learned so much about gaming from Jake a few weeks ago (TTT #190) and Robin more recently (TTT #192) that we invited both of them back to talk more specifically about Alternate Reality Games and Evoke! On this episode, you'll hear Jake and Robin, and a few other students talk about their experience of playing Evoke!

Is Evoke a game? Or is it just a trick to get people to use a social network? Why do serious gamers seem to know what Jane McGonigal is up to (See recent TED talk.), and get engaged with this game, while other students are less engaged? We invite you to join us as we listen to our students and our colleagues respond to these questions.

  • Jake is a senior in Chris Sloan's New Media class at Judge Memorial High School in Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • Robin is a sophomore in Paul Allison's English class at the East-West School of International Studies in Flushing, NYC.
  • Perez and Phil are freshman in Susan Ettenheim's class at Eleanor Roosevelt High School, in New York City.
  • Nathan is a junior and he's a game-runner for Evoke from Austin, Texas.
  • Suzie Boss is the co-writer with Jane Krauss of Reinventing Project-Based Learning, and she has recently interviewed Jane McGonigal for WorldChanging.
  • Rachel Smith is the Vice President, NMC Services the New Media Consortium, and has taken on the role as a community organizer for teachers on Evoke. 

Please enjoy. And find out more about all of us and our work on Evoke at Teachers Teaching Teachers #192.

Click Read more to see a copy of the chat that was happening during the webcast.

20:49:41 SusanEttenheim: hi suzie! can we call you in ?
20:50:13 suzieboss: oh, hey, Susan! sure--but I'm mainly here to listen to what students/teachers have to say!
20:52:07 mschoenberger: good evening!
20:52:10 SusanEttenheim: hi jl! can I call you in??
20:54:32 Rachel Smith: Hi folks!
20:55:59 suzieboss: Hi Rachel--where are you located?
20:56:38 Rachel Smith: I'm in northern California
20:56:59 Rachel Smith: Where are you, Suzie?
20:57:00 suzieboss: Are you a teacher, Rachel?
20:57:05 suzieboss: I'm in Portland, OR
20:57:50 SusanEttenheim: hi - everyone!
20:57:58 Rachel Smith: I was a teacher, years ago, and I'm still one at heart :-) I research emerging technologies and their applications for learning, and I'm into educational gaming
20:58:00 iteachcomputers: Hello!!
20:58:06 Rachel Smith: Portland's lovely, Suzie
20:59:21 suzieboss: Sounds great, Rachel! I'm new to gaming, but getting a crash course with Evoke
20:59:38 Rachel Smith: Evoke's amazing, isn't it? I'm having such a blast with it
21:00:52 suzieboss: Rachel--looking for you on Evoke--what's your agent name?
21:00:59 mschoenberger: what is tonight's topic?
21:01:18 Rachel Smith: I'm agent Ninmah
21:01:25 Rachel Smith: What's your agent name, Suzie?
21:01:50 suzieboss: Suzie Boss
21:02:00 Rachel Smith: Hah, that's easy enough
21:02:26 suzieboss: yep--sending you friend invite now
21:02:32 Rachel Smith: Thanks!
21:03:01 iteachcomputers: I just got here. Can we do some introductions?
21:03:29 iteachcomputers: I am Erica Roberts & I teach 7th & 8th grade tech. I amusing Evoke with one of my classes.
21:04:00 suzieboss: Hi Erica--I'm a journalist/ed consultant with an interest in gaming (among other things!)
21:04:15 Rachel Smith: Hi Erica! I'd love to talk to you about how you're using Evoke. I'm Rachel Smith, I work for the New Media Consortium, and I'm working on developing a curriculum for teachers who want to use EVOKE or something like it in their classrooms.
21:04:51 JakeGarcia: Hello All, I'm Jake Garcia, student, 17, and I was previously on a podcast here concerning Gaming and Education. Chris Sloan is my teacher.
21:04:52 SusanEttenheim: hi everyone! how's our sound tonight?
21:04:58 iteachcomputers: Rachel - I feel like I am flying by the seat of my pants on this. About 1/2 my kids are engaged. The others complain it's too hard.
21:05:13 Rachel Smith: Erica, what's your agent name?
21:05:16 mschoenberger: sounds good
21:05:18 iteachcomputers: iteachcomputers
21:05:19 suzieboss: Hi Jake--good to see you here again
21:05:26 JakeGarcia: Likewise
21:05:31 Rachel Smith: hah, also easy. I'm Ninmah. I'll look for you, let's talk!
21:05:40 iteachcomputers: Cool.
21:06:12 iteachcomputers: Susan - sound??
21:07:13 iteachcomputers: Susan - Found it.
21:07:53 mschoenberger: what is the recommended age range or grade level for Evoke?
21:07:57 JakeGarcia: My review for Evoke: http://youthvoices.net/node/36215
21:08:19 iteachcomputers: @mschoenberger - I think I saw 13 & up.
21:08:31 Rachel Smith: it's designed for young adults, but I know there are older people playing (like me) and some younger people too, high school age
21:09:44 mschoenberger: what is the premis of the game??
21:10:05 Rachel Smith: It's a game designed to teach players how to be social innovators
21:10:17 Rachel Smith: The tagline is "a crash course in saving the world"
21:11:06 mschoenberger: sounds cool--but above my K-5 kids
21:11:08 Rachel Smith: Each week, there are quests and missions that involve learning about a current issue of global significance, coming up with an action(s) you can take individually, and envisioning a future around change
21:11:28 Rachel Smith: yes, it's not for little kids. But the process can be used with that age group, just not the EVOKE system itself.
21:11:29 iteachcomputers: I watched the TED talk by Jane McGonigal - Put it context for me.
21:12:15 Rachel Smith: Good question, Suzie
21:12:19 iteachcomputers: @mschoenbeger - I think it is above some of my 7 & 8 kids.
21:12:20 mschoenberger: anything like Evoke for the younger kids?
21:13:07 Rachel Smith: I don't know of an online one, but one of my personal EVOKE projects is to develop a curriculum that would explain how to do it, without needing to set up the social network
21:13:21 Rachel Smith: I'm collaborating with other agents to create that
21:14:08 iteachcomputers: @Rachel - I would love to work with you on that. The Ning piece of the game caused a bit of a problem for me at school. Had to have it unblocked.
21:15:24 Rachel Smith: Oh, definitely, I'd love to have your help. I'll be talking about this a little later, but there's a wiki where we're doing our work
21:15:31 Rachel Smith: I'll get the URL, I'm having trouble pasting it.
21:17:19 SusanEttenheim: hi daniel welcome!
21:17:25 SusanEttenheim: where and what do you teach?
21:17:41 SusanEttenheim: are you playing evoke? and can you hear our sound?
21:17:41 danielsadicario: I teach English in St. Louis
21:17:44 SusanEttenheim: welcome!
21:17:55 danielsadicario: No sound
21:18:13 iteachcomputers: @Jake - That's exactly what my kids are saying at school.
21:18:47 JakeGarcia: Don't get me wrong, it's a noble effort.
21:18:51 JakeGarcia: Just, no cigar.
21:19:19 iteachcomputers: I think it is too. Just overwhelming for them. Too much thinking.
21:19:31 iteachcomputers: That's what they are saying.
21:20:26 suzieboss: Interesting review, Jake--very perceptive
21:20:55 danielsadicario: Sorry I missed the earlier conversation...what grades are you all teaching?
21:21:01 SusanEttenheim: hi tim welcome!
21:21:07 iteachcomputers: I teach 7th & 8th grade.
21:21:10 SusanEttenheim: please introduce yourself!
21:21:17 tim: hi susan.
21:21:51 tim: i teach year 5 & 6 in wellington, NZ
21:22:05 SusanEttenheim: welcome! have you tried urgent evoke?
21:22:31 tim: have only just loaded it up now - from the edtalk tweet
21:22:57 iteachcomputers: Jake - can you post the link to your review again? I lost the chat
21:23:51 suzieboss: Here's link to Jake's review: http://youthvoices.net/node/36215
21:23:52 SusanEttenheim: hi copystar welcome!
21:24:01 iteachcomputers: Thanks suzie.
21:24:12 tim: I get a lot of ssl certificate errors on urgentevoke. is that just me ?
21:24:20 SusanEttenheim: copystar where and what do you teach?
21:24:24 Rachel Smith: Hmm, I haven't seen those, Tim
21:24:35 copystar: in ontario, and I'm a librarian
21:24:52 SusanEttenheim: welcome copystar!
21:25:06 iteachcomputers: @tim - I haven't had those problems.
21:25:08 SusanEttenheim: hi nathaniel welcome!
21:25:17 SusanEttenheim: where and what do you teach?
21:25:20 copystar: is the edtechtalk on evoke stream, a or b,... or non of the above?
21:25:22 tim: could be my script filtering in ff - site seems to run fine
21:25:29 Nathaniel F (redct): I don't actually teach, I'm an EVOKE gamerunner
21:25:33 JakeGarcia: Thanks for reposting that Suzie
21:25:34 Nathaniel F (redct): But not here in any official capacity :)
21:25:36 tim: i'm listening on stream A copystar
21:25:41 copystar: thx!
21:25:41 Nathaniel F (redct): I'm just listening in.
21:25:51 Rachel Smith: Oh, Nathaniel, hi! Nice to see you. I'm agent Ninmah.
21:26:00 Nathaniel F (redct): Hey!
21:26:32 SusanEttenheim: we're on edtechtalk A
21:26:51 Nathaniel F (redct): Got to say, I love what you guys are doing.
21:26:55 danielsadicario: Just read Jake's review. Wow. Yes, says it all.
21:27:07 copystar: Hey Nathaniel (its fellow agent, Mita)
21:27:16 Nathaniel F (redct): \o Mita
21:28:01 danielsadicario: I like Jake's idea about how the game has the potential to be truly ground breaking but it needs some "bad guy" aspect.
21:28:04 Nathaniel F (redct): Where's Jake's review
21:28:16 danielsadicario: http://youthvoices.net/node/36215
21:28:25 copystar: (I'm stepping away so I can finish the dishes) - still listening tho
21:28:27 Rachel Smith: You know, I really like that there isn't a bad guy
21:28:42 SusanEttenheim: interesting idea rachel
21:29:42 Rachel Smith: Not saying bad guys aren't fun -- I'm a gamer, I'm way into WoW, and I really like beating up on a boss of a Saturday night. But in the case of EVOKE, what I get out of it is that people can work together and we don't have to beat anybody up.
21:30:29 iteachcomputers: @Rachel - and the fact that there is no bad guy makes it easier to "sell" it to my Administration.
21:30:55 Nathaniel F (redct): I Love Bees!
21:30:58 danielsadicario: For students in middle school, especially in St. Louis where I'm from, there is a lack of interest on these important issues. The "bad guy" might make it fun to learn about these things.
21:31:00 tim: i've only scanning the site for the last 10 minutes - but like the literary elements
21:31:00 Rachel Smith: I can see how it'd be hard to keep up with EVOKE as part of a class. If you really delve into it, it's almost like a part-time job
21:31:08 Nathaniel F (redct): ARGs FTW.
21:31:22 tim: that would make it useable for my year level
21:31:29 SusanEttenheim: that's so true rachel - that's the problem that we're having
21:31:34 cogdog: Also, "I Love bees" did not junp up and say "I am a game"
21:31:37 iteachcomputers: @daniel - That's the issue I am having with my kids. About 1/2 of them "get it." The others don't.
21:31:41 SusanEttenheim: even with the whole class it's hard to keep up
21:31:56 Nathaniel F (redct): It's true, one of the ARG mantras is "TINAG". "This is not a game."
21:32:15 Nathaniel F (redct): There's a clear division of behind-the-curtain (think Wizard of Oz) and in front of the curtain
21:32:30 Rachel Smith: One thing to try might be to pick one of the weeks and go really deeply into that theme -- don't try to keep up, just really explore that one topic, and culminate the experience with students taking action somehow at school
21:33:00 Rachel Smith: They can still take advantage of the posts that others make and the info that others share, and they can contribute too
21:33:04 tim: i personally would struggle to integrate this into my classroom programme
21:33:18 SusanEttenheim: our students do community service and they've asked it they can use that.. but say on a food week, maybe what they did wasn't about food..
21:33:47 tim: @rachel I like the idea of delving deeper into one topic/focus
21:33:59 tim: that makes more sense for students at my level
21:34:15 Nathaniel F (redct): Would you guys like to talk to one of the creators of 'Bees? I can see if he can answer a few questions via email or something
21:34:22 iteachcomputers: Since I teach an elective, I can do what I want. I was going to have them work on it once a week.
21:34:39 JakeGarcia: @Nathaniel: Yes please!
21:34:43 JakeGarcia: That would be so wonderful!
21:35:08 Nathaniel F (redct): Let me grab him on Twitter and I'll see what I can do.  Who should I contact if it gets set up?
21:35:25 SusanEttenheim: just let me know and i can skype anyone in!
21:35:38 JakeGarcia: @Nathaniel: [email protected]
21:35:40 SusanEttenheim: I do have to call them though to add to the conference call
21:36:17 SusanEttenheim: nathaniel - remind us again.. where and what do you teach?
21:36:18 Nathaniel F (redct): For posterity: http://42entertainment.com/bees.html Those are the guys that did it.  They're an ARG agency formed by staff members at Microsoft
21:36:24 tim: I really like the graphic novel elements - a lot of my male students, really enjoy the support that graphic elements give to their reading and comprehension
21:36:40 Nathaniel F (redct): Susan: I don't teach. :) I'm a student (and EVOKE gamerunner) here to listen in
21:36:51 SusanEttenheim: ahh well we're glad you're here!
21:36:56 JakeGarcia: I find the graphic novel portions the only compelling part of the game.
21:36:56 Nathaniel F (redct): I'm really interested in your work with EVOKE and education
21:37:16 SusanEttenheim: could you explain to everyone what a gamerunner does?
21:37:39 suzieboss: Where are you located, Nathaniel?
21:39:36 Nathaniel F (redct): Austin, Texas
21:39:49 SusanEttenheim: nathaniel - do you have skype?
21:39:55 SusanEttenheim: can I call you into the call?
21:40:05 Nathaniel F (redct): Yeah, my microphone isn't working right now
21:40:14 SusanEttenheim: can you get one?
21:40:15 Nathaniel F (redct): So it'd be kind of worthless :/
21:40:20 SusanEttenheim: :(
21:40:27 Nathaniel F (redct): I know how to fix it, I'm just too lazy and I don't want to crack open my macbook
21:40:45 SusanEttenheim: do you have headsets with a mic or an external?
21:41:06 Nathaniel F (redct): Oh! I think I can probably get in on my iPhone
21:41:09 Nathaniel F (redct): Let me install the Skype app
21:41:19 SusanEttenheim: or I can call you on your phone
21:41:27 SusanEttenheim: you can pm me the number
21:41:34 Nathaniel F (redct): I'm billed 25¢/minute, no thanks :P
21:41:39 SusanEttenheim: oh dear
21:42:11 Nathaniel F (redct): The pitfalls of a prepaid iPhone.
21:42:21 SusanEttenheim: ahh well just let me know!
21:42:28 SusanEttenheim: I'd love to call you in!
21:42:32 Nathaniel F (redct): Speaking of demographic outliers, I'm 16 >_> Most definitely not a college adult.
21:42:50 SusanEttenheim: haha what is a gamerunner nathaniel?
21:43:01 Nathaniel F (redct): Okay, so
21:43:18 Nathaniel F (redct): We're basically moderators and general, uh...
21:43:22 Nathaniel F (redct): Stagehands would be the best word
21:43:48 Nathaniel F (redct): Plus, I started to develop tools and code stuff, so I got informally recruited into the development team
21:44:32 tim: @jake it sounds like you'd enjoy a more immersive experience than evoke offers
21:44:38 Nathaniel F (redct): However, we're all basically back there to shuffle things around, improve, connect with the player base, mentor, and so on
21:44:56 SusanEttenheim: nathaniel - is there anyway we can call you in?
21:45:03 Nathaniel F (redct): It's practically a part time job, but I find it fun; I count it as an educational experience lol
21:45:04 suzieboss: Nathaniel--sounds like a great experience!
21:45:06 Nathaniel F (redct): Yeah, just one sec
21:46:00 Nathaniel F (redct): Okay, Skype?
21:46:11 SusanEttenheim: okay what's your user name?
21:46:17 Nathaniel F (redct): redcti
21:46:47 tim: I can see how evoke might cause my students to think, consider other options, make those connections.
21:47:12 tim: i'd be happy if it was a start to a more engaged worldview for my students
21:47:25 Nathaniel F (redct): It rang my laptop skype
21:47:27 Nathaniel F (redct): Call again?
21:47:35 tim: i wouldn't expect them to want to save the planet by the weekend....
21:48:50 copystar: Yay redct!
21:49:45 Rachel Smith: You know, Evoke kinds of turns the idea of an ARG on its head. Unlike I Love Bees, which pretended not to be a game but really was, I think Evoke pretends to be a game but really isn't.
21:49:59 tim: brb
21:50:10 Rachel Smith: I can definitely see how that would be less appealing to some folks, Jake
21:50:28 JakeGarcia: @Rachel, ergo, I don't consider Evoke to be a game.
21:50:49 suzieboss: Nathaniel--how much time are you putting into Evoke/week?
21:50:52 JakeGarcia: I consider Evoke to be Youth Voices with a plot.
21:51:11 Rachel Smith: I can see that, for sure
21:51:34 Rachel Smith: OTOH, don't dismiss it for everyone just because of that, I would say.
21:51:48 JakeGarcia: @Rachel, I never did.
21:54:24 Rachel Smith: I was wondering how many were active. That's good to know
21:57:30 suzieboss: Jane McG makes an interesting point--that the game designer wants you to WIN
21:57:50 SusanEttenheim: her TED talk really helped us understand
21:59:14 copystar: Superstruct had a global point target that the group was supposed to work towards...
21:59:30 suzieboss: Great point, Susan!
21:59:52 suzieboss: "Get in the game" is the message here, sounds like
22:03:28 suzieboss: Great question, Paul
22:04:48 tim: thanks for the discussion. will explore evoke a bit more.
22:05:10 tim: end of the school day here in nz - time to start staff meetings. :)
22:05:13 tim: cheers.
22:05:17 Rachel Smith: thanks, Tim!
22:05:21 Rachel Smith: have a good evening
22:05:27 suzieboss: thanks, TIm!
22:06:06 cogdog: That seems to suggest the game is needed... encourage people to go out and act.
22:08:40 suzieboss: http://www.urgentevoke.com/forum/topics/collaborative-project
22:09:26 suzieboss: This link is a thread about collaborative project ideas--some very real already!
22:11:39 suzieboss: Rachel is describing how change happens, grass roots
22:13:06 suzieboss: Rachel--need to follow up with you later
22:13:28 suzieboss: where do I find teacher group on Evoke?
22:13:35 JakeGarcia: @Rachel; what you've described is wonderful, though
22:13:41 JakeGarcia: All I see in that is a social blog
22:13:42 JakeGarcia: Not a game
22:13:45 JakeGarcia: You follow?
22:13:48 Rachel Smith: In the forums, Suzie, under Agent Initiatives > Calling All Teachers
22:13:52 Rachel Smith: there's a link to the wiki
22:13:58 suzieboss: great--thanks so much!
22:14:00 Rachel Smith: Jake, I totally follow, and I don't disagree
22:14:13 Rachel Smith: I've really enjoyed hearing your views
22:14:27 JakeGarcia: Likewise! It was wonderful talking with all of you, again, in fact.
22:16:26 Rachel Smith: Nathaniel, I'm curious: did you enjoy being a player more, or do you enjoy being a gamerunner more?
22:16:33 Rachel Smith: I get the sense you're a tinkerer
22:17:39 Rachel Smith: http://urgentevoke.wikia.com/wiki/Calling_All_Teachers
22:18:01 Rachel Smith: the curriculum project is called EVOKing in the Classroom -- you're all invited to help with that, or any of the other projects, or to propose your own
22:19:11 Nathaniel F (redct): Just a little side comment; I'm going to see if I can round up the list of our "noteworthy" evidence
22:19:22 Rachel Smith: excellent!
22:19:37 suzieboss: Thanks, everyone--great conversation!
22:19:45 SusanEttenheim: thanks for joining us!
22:19:52 JakeGarcia: Thanks again everyone!
22:20:18 Rachel Smith: Night everyone!