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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Help Me Solve a Mystery ARG

This week John Farquhar from Western Washington University, posted an email to the DEOS-L listserv about an alternate reality game (ARG) hosted by a team of faculty, librarians, instructional designers and student volunteers. The game, which is totally Internet-based, is designed to provide practice in critical thinking and help develop information literacy skills. The game is targeted to college students yet will be open and promoted to everyone to attract a broad range of participants. The game opened September 21 and is set to end in mid-December. "Help Me Solve A Mystery" (http://HelpMeSolveAMystery.com) I'm not sure exactly what information literacies are targeted.

Below is a summary of the experience as well as a description of how students can participate:

William Lewis has a mystery to solve. He found a volume of a 1933 World Book Encyclopedia among his own books. Inside the book was a note with some mysterious and cryptic messages. How did it get there? What does it mean? And, where will all of this lead? Join William's mystery and expect to uncover new mysteries and puzzles throughout the fall.

Participate in the online forum or create your own blog of your experience. Use the online tools to:
1) describe search strategies that successfully locate additional clues
2) critically examine the clues, documents and other sources of information
3) guide other participants to successfully search for and critically examine information. Perhaps you'll
make new friends and learn new things.

I know very little about the entire concept behind alternate reality games, but I am interested in knowing more about what they hope to teach and how it would happen. I have looked at the site. It looks interesting. However, since I do not play these kinds of games on a regular basis, I'm not sure how I would incorporate it into my classroom. I'm not sure what they are asking/expecting the students to do. Does this game operate similar to a scavenger hunt? Should the students post suggestions on how to decode the cryptic page? Should they pose questions for others to answer? I am assuming that additional clues will be found or supplied by the game hosts. Or do the students provide additional clues?

If anyone can tell me more about the project, let me know. John indicated that since the project is just getting started, now is the time to get in on the fun. I would love to see how my Developmental Reading students could use this project.

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