Immerse Into Mobile Games for Fitness

Screen Shot 2014-04-13 at 11.07.01 AMVirtual Word interaction can be mobile and active.  Businesses across the country are recognizing that employee fitness contributes to better attendance associated with reduced sick days, reduction in health benefit costs, and an increase in work product.  Mobile applications can contribute to this end.  My work place has started an informal “walking club”, we walk for 15-30 minutes during our lunch hour and track all our steps daily.  One of our Director’s actually holds “walking meetings” scheduling times for staff to walk and discuss instead of sitting around a conference table.

Multiple applications and devices are available to help individuals track their distance, steps, times, calories burned etc.  I find that walking with colleagues provides a network and support group that is motivating and, well, fun.  If you do not have interested individuals around you, you can find them via the games/apps or just connect with distanced friends to get fit together.

Zombies Run appA Game-based application with an element of immersion is Zombies Run.  It is billed as an “audio adventure” in preparing you for a  5K.  I first read about this application in Jane McGonigals’s book Reality is Broken, as she discussed Alternative Reality Games (ARGs).  The objective of this game is to prepare you for a 5 K run and gradually increases your stamina as you level up  with walking and running as zombies chase you.  The runner/walker has “missions” requiring running and walking to save people, deliver emergency supplies and to escape the ever-present zombies.   Between the storyline you listen to your favorite playlist, earbuds are a good idea. The one change I would make to the game is to use the participant’s actual geo-location to make it more immersive (Zombies jumping out around the corner of your home or workplace).   Although the objective of this game is a 5K preparation it is a fine as a fun way to exercise and build stamina.  Completing the game gives a sense of accomplishment, even if you never run in a 5K.

Screen Shot 2014-04-15 at 12.15.15 PMA number of free or inexpensive gamified applications can be downloaded to your mobile device to make excercise a social and fun experience.  Some are Steps ManiaSTRAVAEarndit (Allows you to redeem earned points for prizes and charities), run keeperiSmoothrun, and Fitocracy. These applications track walking, running swimming and biking distance (check them out to see which does what), exercises, date and time, and then reward achievements based on progress.  Achievements  are scaffolded, guiding the participant to  “level-up” by increasing the duration and frequency of exercise.  The apps all use graphs and leaderboards providing personal data to compete with yourself or with colleagues.  Though less immersive than Zombies Run, they do have a social aspect.  Your fitness friends can be located anywhere in the world and can complete their fitness routine on their timezone while networking with remotely located friends.  Some are designed to track every step you take while others are designed for specific workout sessions and they can all bring a playing feel to your workout.


How Regular Exercise Help You Balance Work and Family

Exercise Boosts Work Productivity



Machinima for Education

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A group to support the development and use of machinima in education will begin meeting bi-weekly, starting on Monday September 16 at the Front Range Sim in Second Life.  The SLURL for the meeting is and the meeting will begin at … Continue reading


EduMachinima Fest for Teachers and Students

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The annual SIGVE EduMachinima Fest is unique in that it is for both students and teachers.  Those who enter their work will have the opportunity to create and share their manipulation of images, sounds, music and words effectively to convey … Continue reading


Machinima as a Teaching and Learning Tool

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Teachers are generally a creative and resourceful bunch, and though we do make use of commercially produced materials, we often customize them for our students.   Unusual, humorous, poignant and the relevant materials (pictures, artifacts, movies, stories) help us to … Continue reading


Online Teaching and Learning: From Independent Study to Immersive Collaboration

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I come across an article several times a week that describes a K-12 district or a state’s efforts for offering the opportunity  for students to “learn online”.  Higher education has been involved with online/distance learning for a longer period of … Continue reading


WoW in Education: A MOOC Adventure

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The VWBPE MOOC took me into WoW last week.  It was a bit of a learning curve, but  my Virtual World (SL, RG, Opensim) experience did give me some frame of reference, particularly with basic movement and communication skills.   … Continue reading

Geography Standards via Terraforming and Virtual Mapping

Forming continents, islands, mountains, valleys and rivers works with mashed potatoes, beach sand, mud in the back yard and pixels in the virtual world.  Terraforming physical landform characteristics including  mountains, valleys, rivers, oceans, lakes and beaches is as easy as a click with a mouse on the correct tool and then sliding or moving the mouse in a circular motion to raise, lower, flatten, roughen and smooth the land.

The terraforming tool options are basic and easy to understand

The size of the area as well as the strength of the tool is adjusted as desired.  A little practice in an empty “sandbox” is typically enough to get the “feel” for pressure and size attributes.  Adding Flora and fauna to the newly formed topography is an opportunity to learn about climate, elevations and ecosystems.

A map view of a sim on Reaction Grid

Geography standards include various elements of map reading.   Reading the maps in a virtual world and being able to zoom in provides not only the opportunity for recognizing the use of a legend, direction, location and distance, but also the ability to see  influences of hydrology and physical characteristics of a place.

Federal Virtual Worlds Challenge

An open challenge to create the most innovative and interactive solutions in virtual environments.

  • $25,000 in prizes
  • Focus on AI
  • Open to everyone
  • Submission due date Dec 6 2010

Spatial Training in a Virtual World May Improve STEM Skills

Studies over the past 50 years indicate a significant, positive correlation between spatial thinking and STEM disciplines.  Project Talent is one of those studies to support spatial training among our students.  Findings indicate that thinking with images plays a central role in scientific creativity and communication.

Determining a path on Core1 in Reaction Grid

Participating in a virtual world incorporates spatial thinking on a variety of levels.  As consumers, participants in a virtual world deal with location, shapes,  object’s relationship to each other and verbal descriptions such as near, far, next to, on, and under.  In order to traverse the digital terrain they need to be able to move and to communicate spatial concepts.

On a more complex level participants may rearrange furniture, complete puzzles, move objects, and use maps, all contributing to spatial thinking.

Using a map to locate an event on Second Life

In a virtual world workshop

As producers in the virtual environment, participants build and script.  Building requires assembly, measurment, visualizing 3D models and reproducing them or creating new ones.  Producers can build real or imagined structures, vehicles, objects and clothing.

Virtual worlds could, used effectively, provide formal and informal learning models for STEM learning environments.  With the recent announcement of Race To The Top Winners, significant funding is allocated towards the STEM disciplines school districts may have an opportunity to expand and research this promising environment.