We are a community of teachers, researchers, gamers, students, kids, and artists. Some of us discovered ARIS for the first time this year. Others are veterans. You could spot many of us by our black ARIS t-shirts and colorful stickers, or maybe just by our enthusiasm. We are focused on a noble vision: for education to be rich and centered in self, story, and community. We come from a broad set of disciplines, educating young and old in science, history, geography, and art.
ARIS Summit 2015 brought our virtual community together to the UW Madison’s Memorial Union. It was our most well attended yet, with over 60 registered. People drove, flew, or video conferenced from across the country, even from as far away as Greece.
With the incredible growth of the ARIS community, many more projects exist than what we’re aware of, so as we scheduled the Summit presentations, we sent out a call for proposals. We heard from third-grade teachers in Waukesha, WI (Heidi Williams, Tiffany Humphrey, and Traci Koepke) who used ARIS to build a locative game that to teach their kids about local history and geography.
Researchers Eleni Kolovou and Maria Saridaki from Greece video-conferenced in to share how ARIS was being used in the EU to bring generations together for environmental conservation. Exhibit designers from museums in Minnesota and Kansas shared how youth interacted with new installations.
Of course there were many more project reviews — which were your favorites?
It was inspiring to see how our community is “maturing” in the depth and breadth of projects. ARIS has an “easy on” entry point (think simple youth-created games) yet it also has the ability to go deep. For instance, some ARIS users (Shari Metcalf, Amy Kamarainen, and Nicolaas VanMeerten, to name a few) shared how they dove into user data to analyze how students experienced and interacted with the games.
The presentations exemplified the way ARIS lets anyone build something he or she cares about. With the help of ARIS, children experienced a fun and hands-on field trip to a farm — for many of the kids, it was their first time seeing where food comes from (Julie Oltman, Pennsylvania). Craig Brumwell used ARIS to help his students connect with and appreciate generations that had gone before them as they explored what it meant to enlist in the army in World War II. (Check out a video about it here: Dilemma 1944.)ARIS will be used to help train nurses statewide by creating 150 simulations over the next three years. And ARIS has been used in Oxford, Ohio (by Elias Tzoc) to create a role-playing game as a civil rights activist involved in “Freedom Summer.”
Overwhelmingly, our favorite part of the Summit was interacting face-to-face with so many people we had only “met” in Google Hangout sessions or on the message boards. It was great to put faces to screen names and welcome the newest people into the center of what’s happening with ARIS.
From a technical point of view one major highlight was the introduction of a new feature that allows an editor to create “world” objects. Chris Holden already built a game with world objects in ARIS — Shoot the Dragon. This allows players to do things in an ARIS game that affects other players. World objects allow games in ARIS to function like shared virtual worlds. We will be posting more examples of this new feature here on the blog.
What can you expect this next year from ARIS? We’d love to see more pioneering games and tech innovation. We’re looking forward to more in-depth understanding of youth-designed games as well as even more thoughtful, engaging projects. As always, we invite people who are doing cool and interesting stuff to be part of our community. We hope you’ll continue to learn with us, grow with us, do crazy things and share what you’re learning.
The ARIS Summit is part of the pre-conference day of the Games and Learning Society Conference. We’re grateful to GLS for supporting the ARIS Global Summit! Its a privilege to be part of this community.
*All Photos by Audre Rae Photography