Associated Researchers and Staff:
- Ugochi Acholonu
- Adam Ingram-Goble
- Ksenia Korobkova
- Yong Ming Kow
- Crystle Martin
- Paul James Morgan
- Rachel Cody Pfister
- Matt Rafalow
- Christo Sims
- Amanda Wortman
- Timothy Young
The Leveling Up project investigates the learning dynamics of interest-driven online groups that support academically-relevant knowledge seeking and expertise development. How do online groups and platforms support feedback, publicity, and reputation development that fosters skills and expertise? What kinds of learning resources are in the environment, such as teachers, coaches, and instructional materials? What kinds of social and technological supports encourage young people to participate, persist, and achieve? What are the learning and social outcomes of participation? Our initial case studies focus on the learning and production resources surrounding gaming. We are also developing a case study of fiber arts expertise development, centered on a case study of ravelry.com and plan to develop further cases that center on interest-groups that attract large numbers of women and girls.
Our gaming cases center on the learning resources and supports that surround specific game communities. The experience of games is bigger than the designed games themselves. Players think about and work on games before, during, and after play. They develop complex relationships to their play, write detailed theory about their play, invest in their gaming reputations, and bring all of this into other social contexts. All of this “other” activity is known as the metagame, and designing for it is a key consideration in the crafting of games. More explicitly, gaming activities that include a social media component, span physical and virtual space, leverage the social labor of players in ways that reinforce and extend the experience into the everyday lives of the players.
Our project investigates the design and nature of the metagames in two popular gaming communities: The LittleBigPlanet 2 game creation platform and the Starcraft II competitive play leagues and modding activity. By investigating these games and the their metagames we develop better understanding of how to bridge between designed experiences (games and curricula) and the rest of children’s lives. Our work is guided by the following research questions:
- In what ways does metagaming activity provide connected, coherent, and sequential learning experiences for young people?
- What are the motivations and incentives that drive engagement with metagaming or modding participation?
- What structures associated with metagaming exclude participation by certain groups?
- What structures invite participation at individual and collective levels?
- Are there gender, racial and ethnic differences in how and why young people participate in metagaming activities?
- Connecting Youth Interests Via Libraries
- Support the n00bs: Community Design for Inclusivity
- The Powerful Combination of Interests and Peer Culture
- Supports for Help and Feedback in Peer-Supported Communities
- Tracking “Interests” in Interest-Driven Learning Communities
- A new year and a new book
- *This* is Learning: How Perceptions of Learning Relevance Matter for Student Success
- On-ramps, Leveling Up and Recognition: How the StarCraft 2 Community Deepens their Interests
- Self-Directed Learning in Online Connected Learning Environments
- Sports for the Mind: How do you bring Connected Learning into the Classroom?
- On Schools, Sackboys, and Sponsors: a Tale of Two Online Communities
- Training with Purpose in the Junior Lifeguards
- “Join Team Apple!”: Co-Creation and Openly Networked Design on Sackboy Planet
- Hogwarts at Ravelry and the Connected Learning Core Values
- HOMAGO: A web platform to hang out, mess around, and geek out
- Connected Learning Environments and Common Core Standards
- Encouraging Connected Learning Means It’s Okay for Students to Opt-out
- A Fandom of One’s Own: Fangirling and Learning in a Boyband Fandom
- Nerf Gun Modding, Parenting, and Winding Pathways of Interest Development
- To Geekdom! What Can StarCraft II Tell Us About Attaining Geek-hood?
- Feedback and Help as Key Ingredients for an Active Peer-Supported Community
- Becoming a Knitting Pattern Author: A Teenager’s Story
- Red Stone Circuit Workshop
- Exploring interest-powered learning in informal game design clubs
- Design Thinking: New Directions for the One Direction Fandom
- Connecting Youth to Online Resources through Mentorship
- Boss Level: A School’s Experiment with Connected Learning
- Fantasy to Reality: One Fan’s Journey from Interest to Career
- An Issue Full of Knots: Ownership and Sharing in Crochet
- No One Edits Alone: Connected Learning in Game-Based Wikis
- Widow Mine Math
- A Guide to Connected Learning Sessions At DML2013
- Will the real fan please stand up?
- What We Can Learn From the StarCraft II Elites
- Connected Parents: Sharing Classroom Practices through Social Media
- A Delicate Tension: Where Gaming and Education Intersect
- The Tension between Convention and Innovation: What is the Norm in a Blended Space?
- Creative Pursuits and Professional Wrestling: Connected Learning in WWE Fandom
- The House Unity Projects of Hogwarts
- Announcing the publication of our new report on connected learning
- Augmented Learning through Fashion Design
- Attitudes, Success, and Engagement: A Comparison of Game and School Contexts
- Learning to Learn: The StarCraft II Way
- The Tension between Convention and Innovation: Reflections on Toddlers in Foldable Shopping Carts
- Teach Me StarCraft: Seeking experts in a skill-oriented gaming community
- Changes are Coming to Hogwarts…
- #hashtagging and #learning in boyband fanfiction
- “I want everyone to know ;)”: Negotiating Online Publics for Learning, Production, and Self-Promotion
- Alt_Pub: Getting the Research Out
- Moving Towards an eSports Future
- Information Literacy, Connected Learning, and World of Warcraft
- Ravelympics: The Games That Must Not Be Named
- A Design to Broaden Creativity: Lessons Learned from LittleBigPlanet2
- Gender and Sexism in Online Gaming Communities
- A Female StarCraft Player’s Entry into the World of Competitive Gaming
- Otaku Learning
- The 2012 Ravellenic Games: Community, Challenges, and Competition
- Connecting Workspace Culture to Qualities of Player-Creator Communities
- n00bs, Trolls, and Idols: Status and Social Regulation in Online Communities
- When We Played Video Games With Kids
- What do you know? Connected learning outcomes explored
- Welcome to Sackboy Planet: Learning Among LittleBigPlanet2 Players
- StarCraft – Where Geeks, Digital Media, and Sports Collide
- Knitting Up Hogwarts: A Harry Potter Fiber Craft Community
- A Brief Introduction to the Games and Modding Tools Studied by the Leveling Up Team
- Greetings and Welcome from the Leveling Up Team
- Fandom Unbound: Otaku Culture in a Connected World
- Fashioning Learning: Connected Learning through Fashion Design Programs
- Hats for House Elves: Connected Learning and Civic Engagement in Hogwarts at Ravelry
- Crafting the Metagame: Connected Learning in the Starcraft II Community
- Welcome to Sackboy Planet: Connected Learning Among LittleBigPlanet 2 Players
- Schooling the Directioners: Connected Learning and Identity-Making in the One Direction Fandom
- Learning The Ropes: Connected Learning in a WWE Fan Community
- Connected learning and the future of libraries
- Connected Learning: An Agenda for Research and Design
- Networked Publics
- Personal, Portable, Pedestrian: Mobile Phones in Japanese Life
- Engineering Play: A Cultural History of Children’s Software
- Hanging Out, Messing Around, Geeking Out: Kids Living and Learning with New Media
- Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project
- The rewards of non-commercial production: Distinctions and status in the anime music video scene
- Fandom Unbound: Otaku Culture in a Connected World
- CLRN Interview – Katie Salen
- CLRN Interview – Mimi Ito
- Professor and Game Designer Katie Salen on Games, Learning, and New Media
In the News
One of the purposes of developing Connected Learning environments is to support the development of the Connected Learner. The Connected Learner can, and seeks to, effectively knit together his or her social networks, academic inclinations, and individual interests to form learning communities that develop his or her expertise in a particular domain . However, for individuals to become Connected Learners, they must first value this approach to learning.
The Anatomy of a Fangirl
This is the first of a series of posts I plan to contribute on how connected learning relates to my own everyday life as a parent, and what I am learning from my own kids about making, learning, gaming, and online communication. Clearly the role of parents, siblings, and other caregivers in the family is critical to supporting, directing, or impeding connected learning for young people, and it can be a challenge to get a view into these micropolitics of the home.
Not long after I first participated in the StarCraft community, I fell in love with it. I admire its members’ activism, congeniality, and camaraderie. The players built the community infrastructure including organizations, learning ethos, social networks, and other programs. The StarCraft II community reveals one possible model of how peer-supported and academically relevant learning may manifest in grassroots and openly-networked settings.
The Wrestling Boards is an online community based around a set of forums that discusses all things related to wrestling. There are sub-forums for fans to discuss wrestling companies and shows, like General WWE, RAW, Smackdown, NXT, Payback, and TNA impact. There are also sub-forums for members to introduce themselves, give suggestions, and discuss off topic, games, sports, and fantasy wrestling. The members of this site are big fans of wrestling and avid participants in the community.
In previous blog entries, I have talked about designers in fiber crafting. In this entry, I will share one designer’s story of how she moved from learning to knit and crochet to eventually become a designer. Through her story we can see how the online community of Ravelry has played an important role in her becoming a designer.
Guest blogger biography: Gabriella Anton is currently a research specialist and the project manager of Studio K at the Games+Learning+Society Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her current work focuses on examining the educational and computational thinking benefits of learning game design. More broadly, she’s involved in the study of interest-powered learning, especially in online communities.
In exploring the fandom of a young boyband called One Direction (1D), I am often struck by the serious forethought and complexity woven into the lighthearted artifacts produced by the band’s fans. The fan artifacts they make include fanfiction stories, book covers, song remixes, and gifs.
Those interested in learning more about fashion can look no further than YouTube for countless online guides and other resources.
As a CLRN Research Fellow, I spend a lot of time thinking about Connected Learning and what it means for schools. At its core, Connected Learning is about equity and empowering students to become change agents in their communities now, and not just when they reach adulthood. But what does connected learning look like in practice, in a school setting? To gain some insight on this question, I have spent the last couple of months observing schools that are trying to integrate connected learning principles into their curriculum and organizational structures.
This blog post follows the journey of one fan, Henry Jenkins IV, a writer for the television show Cult and several other upcoming shows, from the beginning of his fandom to his current career. Jenkins, from a young age, was very interested in the drama and storytelling of professional wrestling. These academically-relevant creative practices housed within his interest inspired him to pursue creative writing as a profession, creating a connected learning experience. This post details how Jenkins’ interest in professional wrestling lead him to a career in writing for television.
Figure 1. An example of what a pattern looks like. This excerpt is from a free pattern for baby slippers and is unrelated to the patterns mentioned in this text.
Guest blogger biography: Amanda Ochsner is currently a PhD student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Interim Research Manager at the Games+Learning+Society Center. Amanda’s research interests focus on learning in online game communities. She is also working on a team project for the design of an online space for young women to learn computational literacies and computer programming.
By Lone (right) and mitosis (left) on TeamLiquid.net
Consider a circle drawn on a track field to have a radius of 5 feet. If you had to run across the circle within a span of 1.5 seconds, what is the maximum cord length that you could traverse within the span of that time?
Compiled by Courtney Santos and Amanda Wortman
In November, as I drove from L.A. to San Francisco, I picked up an audiobook of the Hunger Games. After all, I was starting an inquiry into teenage girls’ fandoms and fanfiction practices. Having read literature on fanfiction and learning, I felt prepared to hack into the very roots of popular teen fandoms. My audio-archival research did little good, however, since when I ventured into forums, fanfiction aggregators, and blogs, I discovered that the most popular fanfic topics were pop music artists and TV stars.
In early February of this year, I visited a middle school near a historic district in Chinatown. The school is one hundred years old with a rich colonial history. I met Gary, the head of information technologies at the school, who is also a math teacher. Gary mentioned to me he wants to develop an app to help their 800 students learn about the school’s heritage. In the past, the school had students fill up a booklet by answering a list of twenty or so predetermined questions, like naming a celebrity alumni.
Classroom and afterschool programs sometimes organize competitions or recitals as a way to connect parents and friends with student achievements, generating excitement and motivation for all involved. Fashion Camp provides an example of how openly networked practices with new media, or environments that design links between institutions, home, and interest communities, engage parents with student classroom practices.
Guest blogger biography: Stephen Paolini is a junior at Winter Park High School in Winter Park, Florida. His interest in the concept of interest-driven community stems from his experiences with his unique family structure and the International Baccalaureate program, an internationally constructed college prep program created to provide a rigorous all-around curriculum. With a passion for connected learning, Stephen has always been interested in gaming, education and the integrated role they play in a modern society.
This is the second in a series of posts that explores the tensions between innovation and convention, and what it means for the design of Connected Learning Environments. This post focuses on blended learning spaces and their affordances for innovation and conflict.
WWE Wrestlemaina 28 (The Rock vs John Cena. Photo credit to: Simononly)
The House Unity Projects of Hogwarts at Ravelry began with Ravenclaw filling the Great Hall (discussion area) with crocheted and knit fireworks in the summer of 2011. After that summer, the House Unity Projects became a ritual performed by every House and in every “school rotation” as an expression of House Unity and pride.
There was a lot to take in on my first day at Fashion Camp. Although the formal lessons weren’t scheduled for another few minutes, I had apparently arrived late for the first lesson: the teacher was talking with five youth about the latest trends. One young woman, about 13 years of age, said that she was into “ombre.” The teacher expressed that ombre is “very in right now,” and that they happened to have ombre polka dot fabric at the camp.
During my dissertation work, I interviewed three male youth from the same school: one junior and two seniors, who all had college aspirations of technology or game design, and came from a variety of home situations with varying socioeconomic status (SES). These youth were avid gamers and were part of my research because they were World of Warcraft players. Despite the fact that they were highly engaged with World of Warcraft (WoW), they had all disengaged from a traditional school setting.
When we discuss learning, some people attend primarily to the learning content, such as physics or math. They may raise their eyebrows when the content to be learned is a game. But it is not learning content that concerns me in this blog. It is about how we can learn to learn. In many contexts, take StarCraft II for example, there is no assigned teacher whose exclusive role it is to teach. Therefore, learners learn based on productive social interactions with peers. In StarCraft II, learning is such a social process.
This is the first of a series of posts that I will write exploring the tensions between innovation and convention, and what it means for the design of Connected Learning Environments. This first post focuses on the lure of convention, and why it is so much easier to go with the status quo, than to forge your own path.
The One Direction Chronicles
“Louis saw it, and he retweeted it, adding hashtags like #brilliant and #mynewbff and before I knew it, he was following it. Our friendship was meant to be.”
“I want everyone to know ;)”: Negotiating Online Publics for Learning, Production, and Self-Promotion
During my fieldwork in Sackboy Planet, an online community of LittleBigPlanet2 players, I frequently observed community members sharing their designed levels with others and for various purposes.1 Usually, players share their levels-in-progress on the website’s for
I recently traveled to Athens, Greece and experienced the cab ride from the airport into the city centre as a trip through an alien landscape. This was partly due to the general lack of sleep and fresh air that accompanies trans-Atlantic travel, but was wholly amplified by the view out the car window. Every roadside billboard we passed—and there were many—was either sun bleached to the point of unintelligibility or completely empty. And not the hopeful empty symbolized by a crisp, white surface awaiting an eager advertiser but the sad emptiness of one left ragged and stripped by the crash.
eSports are a specific category of computer games. eSport games like StarCraft II are intentionally designed by the game developer to be both highly competitive (“difficult to master”) and also easy for fans to watch. eSports is an emerging market participated in by professional gamers, coaches, sponsors, event organizers, and celebrities. An eSport is an emerging sporting genre entering public spheres occupied by traditional sports like football and soccer.
World of Warcraft (WoW) is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game with a subscribership of 10.2 million1. The player is offered a variety of options when choosing a character. There are two factions each with six races (and the recently added pandarens which can play either faction), two genders, and there are ten classes and each class can have one of three specializations. There are many choices just to select your character. Then there are professions to choose and play style choices (like whether you want to join a guild), and the list goes on.
Last month, I blogged about the 2012 Ravellenic Games as a Ravelry community event that encouraged participants to craft while watching the Olympic Games. The event was a huge success and was a source of inspiration and learning for many of the 10,000 participants who scrambled to start and finish projects, learn new techniques, and overcome many obstacles to cross the finish line and earn a badge.
In my previous posts I’ve talked just a bit about some of the design principles that our work with the game designers at MediaMolecule (Mm) revealed. The purpose of this post is to foreground a system of design principles underlying the LittleBigPlanet2 game that are relevant to the design of connected learning environments.
While news about sexism in gaming came as a shock to many media outlets in recent months, researchers of gender and game culture were not surprised.
According to a StarCraft self-reported community survey, only 1.8% of respondents are female.1 That is a very small number. Why are female gamers nearly absent from the StarCraft community site?
July 27, 2012. The countdown on the London 2012 website hit 0, the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremonies began, and I made a slipknot and slipped it onto my crochet hook. My daughters – sitting with me in their red, white, and blue outfits – curiously picked at the yarn that I’d strategically placed in their laps for this photo opportunity. My husband took a picture that would later be uploaded to my team’s group to document our official entrance into the 2012 Ravellenic Games.
As a learning scientist one of the first things I was trained to consider is my underlying epistemology—the theory of knowledge, or what it means to know—and how that relates to the learning environment being studied. Seymor Papert (1980) discussed epistemology as what “reflects and reinforces a particular way of thinking and knowing that is aligned with the norms and principles of a particular community” (Hatfield, 2011).
Q: how do you know someone is a n00b?
A: If they’re like “ZOMGZ PLAY MY LEVELZ PLZ! YOU WILL LOVE IT! OMG!” XD
Q: hahahaha. so all caps probably!
A: Or all lower case XD
Q: ah, like me
A: run on sentences
Most parents would agree that competitive sports like soccer and football are good for kids. How about competitive video games? In my research, I interviewed kids who not only share video game interests with family members and peers, but they also derive academic and social benefits from their gaming experiences.
When I was a kid my dad used to come home from work and greet me by asking, “So what do you know, kiddo?” It was his way of saying hello. But as an seven year-old obsessed with World Book Encyclopedia’s way of sorting knowledge into alphabetized volumes of varying thickness I missed the obvious and instead took up his query at face value: What did I know? Each day I worried over selection of the juicy new fact or strange invention I could share with him over dinner.
When I first started playing LittleBigPlanet2, a Playstation 3 game created by the company Media Molecule, I was both excited and frustrated. I was excited because the graphics, characters, and story of the side-scrolling platform were stunning and engaging.
On October 22, 2011, I found myself in a full capacity crowd at the Anaheim Convention Center in California. We eagerly awaited the appearance of two superstars. The stars, with aliases MVP and NesTea, were professional gamers–among the very best in the world. They have team coaches, impressive skills, and fans. About 10,000 fans attended, and 200,000 more watched from home. Most of the crowd was male, white or Asian, dressed in T-shirts and jeans, and short-haired; some sported goatee beards. I sat on the floor in the aisle; the seats were filled.
Figure 1. Fiber crafts meet Harry Potter: jen2291, a Hogwarts at Ravelry member, has crocheted the main characters of the Harry Potter stories.
“[T]here is something huge about that [moment] in education where the most powerful person is the student, where they just suddenly realize that, ‘even if I don’t get this fancy course, nobody is going to stop me being [what I desire to be].’”
– Kareem Ettouney, Media Molecule, Art Director
We are delighted to announce the opening of our new blog for our Leveling Up project team. We’ve been hard at work for the past academic year, launching new fieldwork on games and online communities that can teach us a thing or two about how young people learn in highly networked and interest-driven settings. As we start to analyze our data and reflect on what we’ve learned, we’d like to share our work in progress in hopes that we might invite engagement and formative feedback from a broader community of researchers, designers, educators, and learners.