‘Best Friends’ by Jacqueline Wilson – QR Book Review

From time to time my kids do reviews of books they’ve read on AudioBoo. I tag the post with a QR Code that goes in our copy of the book… and maybe a few other copies that we tag guerrilla style (watch out Waterstones!) AudioBoo will even generate a QR Code for you now so anyone can do this for themselves or with their kids or even at school – see my 2013 World Book Day post here.

This is my daughter’s latest; a review of Jacqueline Wilson’s ‘Best Friends’. Apologies if it’s not your thing!

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Sense of Place – part three

electric theatre

I started using QR Codes in 2010 – firstly to see if I could add any value to advertising. I then became more interested in education and developing the ‘game’ element (of what were essentially digital treasure hunts) to engage children in learning activities.

Conveniently, in the middle of this diversion from advertising in education I was asked to create a trail for an eTouirsm PhD Summer School at the School of Computer Science at St Andrews University. One of the lecturers had been watching the NEoN Knights QR Game unfold on Twitter and got in touch.

QR page mini-banner

His brief was for my trail to achieve two things: 1) An example, on day one, of technology enabling tourism that would prompt discussion and encourage the students to design their own ‘products’ throughout the remainder of the week. 2) An ice breaker, an introduction for the students (most of whom would be travelling from across Scotland) to St Andrews and to each other.

The aim of the eTourism trail, from my perspective, was a combination of both advertising and education. For a city like St Andrews those tow things are inseparable because the majority of the tourism is heritage and history.

St Andrews Space Hop

It was also an opportunity to engage with a Twitter/Social Media active community of independent traders across St Andrews who would value the interaction with tourism in a technological way and boast about it through their online channels.

The combination of these three opportunities has prepared me with the experience to create at least two other trails (though their have been more) that both educate and entertain:

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Dighty Water – A vital stretch of water in Dundee’s history; rich with stories that have been gathered and tagged to QR Codes that will be dotted along portions of the walkway that follows the water.

And now:

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Sense of Place (SoP): The McManus, Dundee

The McManus has a fantastic permanent collection, curated under the title of The Making of Modern Dundee (MoMD). This collection is situated down stairs at The McManus includes remnants of the original Tay Bridge that collapsed in 1879, through to video games from the 1980s created in the city. Many of the objects in this collection inspired work created for Sense of Place. Without moving them, we wanted to acknowledge them as part of our exhibition. QR Codes were the simple solution.

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Throughout the SoP exhibition programme visitors will find QR Codes alongside project descriptions. These codes deliver additional content and help visitors understand the connection to MoMD – you may even find a sample hide here…

However, should you wander into MoMD knowing nothing about SoP there are QR Codes on the display cases that point you to the relevant work in our exhibition.

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For me, it is the richest combination of physical and digital artefacts that I have worked on and another accomplishment in the image of the model I established with my Masters ‘Mystery Boxes’ project during 2011.

As if this wasn’t enough, the content behind some of the QR Codes are pieces of work that could constitute an exhibition for themselves. Trips across the Tay Bridge replicating a journey made, captured and shared over 100 years ago. Besides that you can share in the tour of MoMD that we made as a group with Brian Cox and hear him recounting memories of growing up an living in 1950s Dundee.

mcmanus-qr-codes

The thread through all of this is a desire to preserve memories, stories and experiences. While this feels very new, because the technology is so ubiquitous in 2013, we learned that our capturing and sharing activity is no different, in practice, to that of 1897. More people have access to the tools but the majority of them are filming the mundane processes of daily life as the pioneering filmmakers of the late 19th Century had. Train journeys. People at work. Children at school.

So, I am very grateful to ‘Sense of Place’. As I’ve said before, working with the young people was rewarding/entertaining enough. But in addition to that, together we’ve worked on projects that we will talk about for the rest of our lives – Tay Bridge journey, SmallPetitKlein, Brian Cox, the BIG Print, and so on… Finally, the fact that we’ve had the opportunity to bring it all together for the exhibition is the icing on the cake. But not just any old icing. Elaborate, swirly, multicoloured icing with adornments of sweet decorations covering a beautifully hand-made cake. That’s what it’s like.

Go along. Have a look. Let me know what you think.

Thanks :)

Find out more about:

NEoN Knights (Digital Arts Festival) – St Andrews Space Hop (St Andrews Uni PhD Summer School) – Balmullo Primary School (Permanent Heritage Trail)
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Jesse (in a nut) Schell

Gamepocalypse with Jesse Schell

Excited..?! Excited doen’t come close!!

I was on my way into Dundee on the train this morning when I spotted a Tweet:

@DareToBeDigital Excited for the @jesseschell talk at the Dare Jam at Dare ProtoPlay! Did you get your ticket? http://www.dareprotoplay.com  #Dare2013

Excited doesn’t cover it – Jesse Schell is the chap I watched endlessly while completing my Masters project and wrote about at length on my Masters blog, Mysteryboxes and since, here on “Playful…“!
Disclaimer: If you are in no way interested in games, their value in play and education and plain ‘what-the-heck’ fun, then by-al-means leave now. This is kind of a geek-fest!
Dare To Be Digital - City Square - Dundee
So Jesse Schell is in town! The man who brought us the Gamepocalypse, the engaging and articulate vision of a ‘gamified’ future and, – as I drew to your attention only two months ago – his predictions are coming true!
So, if you’re unaware of his work but into your games then read the article above, read the stuff I’m about to post below and then go get your tickets for tomorrow morning at Dare! I don’t know what he has planned for you but I’m sure you’ll have a ball!
Incidentally, I dropped into the Dare tent today, in Dundee’s City Square. I’m going to write a little later on about a handful of games that I played; genuinely great games that, given the time to polish them up, will be on your mobiles and tablets in no time! 
So, here’s a digest (Jesse in a nut-Schell, if you will) of posts on MysteryBoxes that relate to Jesse Schell – they include a couple of YouTube videos on his Transformational Games theories and The Gamepocalypse talk itself. It’s long, but soooo worth it!
Enjoy! And let me know how you get on!!

Note to self…

Kids playing video games

Guest post today! It’s me… but me two years ago..!

Do you or your kids play video/computer games?

I wrote this during my Masters year (on ‘Mysteryboxes’, my Masters blog) when I was looking into video games and what we can learn from them about learning and engagement. At the same time I was a concerned parent… What should my kids play? How long should they play them?

Over the course of a year, by paying a little attention, I learned a few things that I felt were worth remembering – so I wrote a ‘note to self’! Having just read it for the first time in a couple of years I stand by it… especially the stuff about “better than TV” and “tantrums”!

I think games can be valuable in learning, but like everything else there needs to be a balance! But I feel as a parent I need to have some control, or sense, of what that balance should be.

So, if any of this sounds familiar please, click here, have a read, and let me know what you think!

 

Getting QReative with World Book Day – part one

capturing stories

Thursday 7th March is World Book Day 2013

On this day all sorts of activities are organised across the globe to celebrate ‘the book’!

One of the events a lot of schools are adopting is the ‘Book Swap’ where young people bring in a book from home, that they’ve already read (and presumably recommend…), and swap it for something new to them.

I love the idea of swapping and sharing stories and so, as my local Primary school was organising a Book Swap, I offered to help, and add a new twist, to sharing stories…

World Book Day logo 2013

Class by class I asked some of the children about their favourite books – Without spoiling the ending, what was the story, who their favourite characters, why did they love this book! I recorded our little chat, and I’m now in the process of editing and uploading to AudioBoo.fm. I’ll then tag the AudioBoo with a QR Code and the QR Code will go in the front of the book.

Soon, these well loved books will be carrying two stories – the one in print and the one in the QR Code. And of course, the next owner could very soon be adding their own story and QR Code… we’ll have to wait and see!

Look out for links to the AudioBoos later in the week – and enjoy World Book Day 2013!

UPDATE: Part Two here

Mystery – the forgotten ‘capturing’ device

So often we hear how difficult it is for celebrities to maintain their privacy and yet two of the biggest stories of the last few months would suggest that it is possible to manage your affairs while avoiding unwanted (and unnecessary) media attention…

new Bowie album

Back in October 2012 George Lucas managed to surprise the world with the bombshell news conference that saw him sell his Lucasfilm company to Disney… and while speculation has since been rife on the internet, the news that JJ Abrams was to direct ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’ remained secret until 24 hours before the official announcement.

Then in the past few weeks we’ve seen David Bowie, one of the single most famous people in the world, release a single and announce an album that not even his record company knew about until a few days before…

Now, I’m not so naive as to believe that certain media companies and distributors are above ‘leaking’ their own content… and besides cheap efforts at publicity some have even used that method to great viral effect! But artists such as Bowie and Abrams, I believe, have an interest, not only in the creation of the work but, how it is best enjoyed. And that’s not to say they aren’t interested in the financial success of their products; after all they both work within the music ‘business’ and movie ‘business’ respectively. The point is they both appear to understand the ‘user experience’ and are masters in the use of ‘secrecy’ to create ‘mystery’.

The moment we become aware of a ‘gap’ in a story (news or otherwise) the instinct to fill it with speculative content generated by our own minds kicks in. It’s called imagination… and  while many in the entertainment business don’t trust us to use it, there are those who understand ‘imagination’ is ‘captured’ to great effect through carefully managed mystery… and that sometimes, it’s what you don’t see, or didn’t say, which is most important!

Creative Speed Dating

I attended Fife Creativity Xchange 2012 (#CXFife12) last week where I presented my Balmullo History QR Code Safari. Held at packed Rothes Halls, Glenrothes, it was a well attended event where 10 groups presented creative educational projects in a ‘speed dating’ format. I’m fine with creativity, but ‘speed dating‘? This was a new experience!

Each project was sat at a table and, on arrival, the attendees were appointed one of the 10 tables to start at. After the opening key note (Fife Director of Education – very good!) each project had 10 mins to present (a countdown clock was projected onto the main screen), at the end of which an alarm would sound, attendees moved on to the next table and the process started again.

The cons: As a presenter, 1) I didn’t get to hear about the other projects and 2) I had to listen to myself 10 times! Nothing could be done about 1) but 2) turned into a little challenge in it’s own right and I quite enjoyed it – reiterating the presentation on the fly was really good practice – and by the time I’d got to 8) it was really flying!

The Pros: (Besides the Pros which came out of the Cons…) Having talked to a room of 60 – 100 and beyond I’ve never had so much immediate feedback from one session. I’d present for about 6-7 mins and then 2 or 3 mins would easily be filled with a combination of questions and feedback.

Standing on a stage doesn’t suit everyone or put them at their best. Likewise, not everyone is up for approaching a speaker so this process solved both of those problems.

It’s not for every event (Would TED have been as successful in this format?) but I think the ‘speed dating’ approach is a good alternative to bear in mind.

Anyone had similar experiences..?

Thanks to all who contributed to the organisation of #CXFife12 and turned up, contributed and made it a genuinely worthwhile afternoon! For more on the QR Safari go here.