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



Effective Online Teaching Requires Skill – Take the Gloves off

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Ironically, while Common Core is causing a shift in pedagogy in traditional face-to-face classrooms, online classrooms are proliferating with the previously used pedagogy. The Common Core movement has veteran teachers rethinking and changing the way they teach. It is not … Continue reading


Firewall to Learning or Shield of Liabilitly

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The Internet is vast, diverse, and can be dangerous just like our physical world.  Helping our youth by imparting information regarding the world and how to deal with it goes back to the beginning of time, I am sure that … 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

Teachers Tackle Machinima: A Week in The Life of the VWBPE MOOC

Teachers attend Machinima Monday at the Montmarte Theatre in Second LIfe.

The second week of the 4-week VWBPE Games and Education Tour MOOC had a Machinima focus.  What fun to watch and participate with fellow educators as they crammed an incredible amount of energy, curiosity, intellect, humor and talent into developing machinima to help us all learn to do it better and to help our students with machinima as a learning strategy.  The word that kept cropping up was FUN…and fun it was, sometimes funNY.

The week started with a Second Life Machinima Monday meeting with non-educators, an introduction to some machinima created by artists using this medium to relay emotions and ideas.  There was much discussion on technical issues…aspect ratio, capture tools, in world camera devices, editing software, special effects, space navigators to name a few.  Always a benefit to get a different perspective.  Our Hostess, the gracious and talented Chantal Harvey facilitated the conversation and welcomed teachers to join the digital artisan group.

Discussing a possible script with an alien avatar – the alien ended up in the movie Sand Surf Saloon.

The remainder of the week consisted of working groups, and some individual work on machinima with the of using the medium for teaching and learning.  The MOOC participants were all comfortable in virtual environments and some, though not all,  had significant comfort with creating machinima.  The week was an opportunity for educators to work together on a machinima project and reflect on the potential use with students and in delivery of instruction.  K-12 and higher education educators worked side-by-side, incorporating strategies, taking on a variety of roles (script development, actor, director, machinimatographer, builder, costume designer, sound editor, video editor, stunt actor, special effects editor), and collaborating to complete a project in less than 1 week.

Attendees enjoy teacher created machinima at the Gaity Theatre on Second Life.

The exercise served to help us understand what we can expect of your students and what skills our students will need and will develop as they participate in this kind of learning activity.   The culminating activity was a Premier held at the Gaity Theatre on Caledon in Second Life, a tour destination from week 1 of the MOOC.

As the ISTE Conference this summer draws near, this talented group of machinima educators will continue to polish off their work and encourage colleagues and students to submit their digital creations to the ISTE EDUmachinma Fest.  No doubt we will have entries form the growing number of virtual worlds and from a growing number of participants.

The VWBPE Machinima developed last week:

Sand Surf Saloon; Cowboys and Aliens and Aliens.mp4

Learning is unveiling

VWBPE 2012 Volunteer Appreciation

SIGVE Machinima Promo

Mosel SL machinima

They Came for the Cavorite


Living Literature in Virtual Worlds

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The use of Virtual Worlds to explore and enhance the literary experience is a useful activity for pre-reading, ongoing as a specific piece is read, and/or  as reinforcement after the reading is complete.    The value of a virtual world in … Continue reading

Virtual Worlds as Part of a Transmedia Literacy Experience

Transmedia Storytelling is a strategy that uses current and emerging technologies along with traditional strategies to enable the participant to become immersed in a story to increase engagement and understanding.  Henry Jenkins, Professor of Communications, Journalism, Cinematic Arts, and Education at the University of Southern California, explains that “In transmedia, elements of a story are dispersed systematically across multiple media platforms, each making their own unique contribution to the whole.” It is a strategy that is used in the world of marketing and entertainment, still lagging in the education sector.

Telling stories across multiple platforms and formats addresses multiple learning modalities, encourages participation and motivates participants.  Stories are used to teach a wide variety of concepts at all levels of education.  A virtual world with a sim designed to draw students into a “game”  could potentially result in a high level of learning of a literary work, historical event, or scientific phenomenon.  The compelling attributes of transmedia storytelling are the capacity to engage participants and the capacity to promote creativity among the participants.  Engagement is crucial to meaningful learning and creativity is identified as a 21st Century skill necessary to solve problems and be competitive in a global environment.  As we look into school reform and teacher preparation for 21st Century schools it may be beneficial to ensure that teachers have some knowledge and skills in the the use of Transmedia storytelling.


Teaching as a Game Designer

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Teaching as a “performing art” has validity.  In the book with that title Seymour Sarason compares teacher preparation to performer preparation,  describing that a teacher must practice, be articulate, know the curriculum (script) and engage the audience. We all remember … Continue reading

Managing a Virtual Environment Classroom

The traditional physical classroom has not changed much in the past hundred years.  It contains desks and chairs for students, a teacher desk and chair, a board on which to write or project and wall space which is often decorated with appropriate curricular materials. The most important instructional resource in the classroom is the teacher. A skilled teacher manages the space, materials, furnishings, and students to ensure that students are engaged and learning.  A virtual learning space has less boundaries and limitations and a skilled teacher is again the most important resource.  The teacher must  manage the three-dimensional virtual space, guide students to navigate and interact with the environment and provide experiences to ensure that learning takes place.

Often virtual learning spaces are a replica of the traditional, providing a frame of reference for participants and taking advantage of the potential available in a virtual setting with ‘backchannel’ chat and follow-up assignments.  Teachers and students understand the traditional role of  “sage on the stage” and play the respective roles in the virtual setting, with the added benefits of a virtual setting.  Students can be physically in the same room using computers (a lab setting) requiring both real world and a virtual world classroom management strategies or in remote locations which would require more intensive virtual strategies to ensure engagement of students.  The teacher must :

  • Plan
  1. Design experiences which are interesting, relevant and aligned to curriculum objectives
  2. Plan appropriate amount of time for completing of tasks
  3. Provide direction and guidance so that students know expctations
  • Deliver and Guide
  1. Give clear directions
  2. Encourage questions and answer according to the protocol established
  3. Circulate (virtually and/or physically) among students to provide individual support and ensure engagement
  4. Institute a “buddy” policy for peer support
  5. Intervene when necessary

Norma Underwood uses both real-life and virtual world classroom management strategies to ensure learning for 5th - 8th grade art students on her sim in Reaction Grid.