The Mac Lab

Changing the Game: Element 246

by on Aug.12, 2011, under Blog

The third limitation is in our understanding of how much potential we have for growth and change. For the most part, people seem to think that life is linear, that our capacities decline as we grow older, and that opportunities we have missed are gone forever. Many people have not found their Element because they don’t understand their constant potential for renewal.
Sir Ken Robinson / The Element

For both the students and myself, growth, change, and renewal are all on the plate for the first day of school—as is positioning the kids to discover their own Element. But how to introduce and explain it right now, before I completely understand and comprehend it myself? That’s going to be a real challenge.

So, I turn to you for ideas and solutions—to the Mac Lab students and alumni who’ve patiently awaited this post all summer, to fellow educators who happen by or frequent this site, and to our other visitors who’ve found their way to this blog for one reason or another. I’m going to just think out loud and you’re all invited to suggest changes, modifications, additions, pretty much anything you want. All input—especially constructive criticism—is welcomed for this is quite literally, a work in progress.

The Concept in a Nutshell: Rather than assignments, students will embark on Quests, earning Experience Points, Leveling Up, and eventually earning creative freedom in choosing a profession that fits their wants and needs: animator, illustrator, graphic designer, digital publisher, photographer, videographer, etc. (Think WoW.) They’ll have the opportunity to embark on multi-player Quests (student-directed collaboration) and initiate their own Quests, like cross-curricular projects, formal student mentoring, commercial work, etc.

The idea is to shape the curriculum into a game. The 2011/12 school year will be an Open Beta with the students and I—and other interested parties—working together to construct, play, and refine the game. Participants will become members of The Mac Lab Artists’ Guild, fighting the insidious forces of apathy and mediocrity. Students will be free to work alone or in teams and they will self-assess their own progress using an LMS. Each Quest or series of Quests will offer five levels to work through:

  • Novice: 1 Experience Point
  • Apprentice: 2 Experience Points
  • Journeyman: 3 Experience Points
  • Expert: 4 Experience Points
  • Master: 5 Experience Points

There are a great many details yet to be fleshed out but because the bulk of the Experience Points (XP) are collected by Experts and Masters, my intent is to encourage deeper comprehension of the subject matter. Because the game must involve risks and rewards, Duels or Challenges will serve to enforce the Code of Honor among members of the Guild who have self-assessed their individual levels of proficiency. Here’s how I see the Levels at present:

Novice (1 XP)

  • Completed first phase of Quest
  • May or may not understand the purpose of Quest
  • May or may not be able to help peers
  • Not subject to Duels

Apprentice (2 XP)

  • Completed second phase of Quest
  • Is beginning to understand purpose of Quest
  • Can help Novices with Quest
  • Not subject to Duels

Journeyman (3 XP)

  • Completed third phase of Quest
  • Understands purpose of Quest
  • Can and does help Novices and Apprentices with Quest
  • Is subject to Non-Binding Duels with no loss or gain of XP

Expert (4 XP)

  • Completed fourth phase of Quest
  • Can Explain purpose of Quest
  • Helps lower level peers with Quest
  • Is subject to Timed Duels (X min—variable)
  • Risks all 10 XP
  • Victory nets an additional 10 XP

Master (5 XP)

  • Completed fifth and final phase of Quest
  • Can teach Quest
  • Helps lower level peers with Quest
  • Is subject to Live Duels
  • Risks all 15 XP
  • Victory nets an additional 15 XP

Background Info: For those not familiar with the Mac Lab, it’s a room full of music, banter, and humor. We have fun while we work. Duels aren’t intended to be punitive. I want to build confidence so Duels will begin easy and ramp up slowly. I want students to win. Because every class includes second, third, and sometimes fourth-year veterans, those kids will most likely encounter the initial Duels, modeling for the rookies. Extreme taunting of the teacher (which is sure happen) will result in extreme Duels. I want to push each kid’s envelope while building confidence. Failures will happen but failure is always instructive and is always part of any good game.

A Little More Information about Duels:

Journeyman: Non-Binding Duel

  • Teacher-initiated random checks for understanding
  • No penalty for failure or reward for success
  • Training ground for higher-level Duels

Expert: Timed Duel

  • Expert-Level students may request Duel but are always subject random checks for understanding
  • Expert has X minutes (variable) to demonstrate understanding in “open book” challenge
  • Expert knows how and where to find answers
  • Expert risks all 10 XP in Duel but victory nets +10 XP

Master: Live Duel

  • Master-Level students may taunt teacher to initiate a Duel but are always subject random checks for understanding
  • Master must demonstrate mastery on the spot, without any aid
  • Master already know the answer
  • Master risks all 15 XP in Duel but victory nets +15 XP

To Summarize: Quests are skills, strategies, techniques, standards, competencies, etc. we (teachers) want students to understand, or better yet, master. Levels are a self-assessed measure of each individual student’s proficiency in each Quest. Experience Points are equivalent to mana, energy, or even a form of currency to be used by advanced Guild Members. Duels are interactive checks for understanding.

Important: Students know (or quickly learn) that the Mac Lab is more a frame of mind than a place. We have a well-established classroom management policy and Mac Lab students consistently produce exceptional work. Assessment is based on the World’s Simplest Rubric™ and the introduction of The Mac Lab Artists’ Guild is intended to heighten student achievement while making the learning environment more engaging and fun.

And since I mentioned assessment…

In a room filled with IEPs, 504s, Plus Codes, ELLs, and everything from 0.6 to 4.6 GPAs, there has to be a way for every kid to reach toward his/her own level of personal excellence and achievement. Expectations in the Mac Lab run sky-high but they are also flexible enough to allow each student the opportunity to excel if he/she tries hard enough. Because students begin the year with widely-varied levels of experience and expertise, they will progress through the Quests at widely-varied rates. Depth and breadth of knowledge and skill requires persistent effort. Students are judged against themselves, not their peers.

If effort (focused participation), more than any other factor, has proven to lead to student success in the Mac Lab, then effort should be the most important factor in determining a student’s grade. In a self-paced, hands-on, project-based, tutorial-driven class, each student determines the pace of his/her instruction and the scope and scale of his/her learning. The question is: How hard is each student willing to try?

This rule may not hold for all things in life, but in the Mac Lab, effort truly does count because it leads to success.

The Fine Print: Giving one’s all includes abiding by classroom rules, policies, and expectations too.

Having said all that, I give you the World’s Simplest Rubric™

A: You Gave it Your All
You tried your best.

B: Great, but…
You tried, but not hard enough.

C: No Second Effort
You really didn’t try very hard.

D: Are You Kidding Me?
You are wasting your time.

F: Who are You?
You stopped coming to class.

Who is the Judge? Formal one-on-one reviews take place every three weeks. Discussions include progress, goals, ideas, dreams, etc. and each student informs me of the grade he/she has earned. While I reserve the right to disagree, I’ve found that virtually every student knows exactly where he/she stands according to this rubric.

I fully realize that some/many educators will gasp in dismay at my seemingly unprofessional method of assessment. The rubric may not appear educationally sound, but dang if it doesn’t work.

Full Disclosure: Tapping into intrinsic motivation matters most to me. If I had my way, I’d dispense with grades altogether. But since grades remain a necessary evil in education, I try to make them as easy to understand as possible—for both the students and myself.

More on Intrinsic Motivation: Obviously, the choice to structure the curriculum around a gaming model is a blatant attempt to tap into students’ intrinsic motivation. But I’ve been pondering this for a while. In October of 2010, an essential question arose:

How might I reconfigure and restructure expectations and assignments in my classroom to provide a wider array of sustained opportunities for students to tap into their own Zone of Intrinsic Motivation (ZIM) without compromising the integrity of the curriculum?

The story, including credit for the Venn the ZIM evolved from may be found right here.

There’s far more to add but it’s time for me to make this public. As this is a work in progress, I reserve the right (as always) to edit the post after it’s gone live.

As I have… several dozens of times already. 😛

Kudos: The intrepid snowman on a San Diego beach is courtesy of Chadd C and a few other 2nd period artistic brainiacs. Special thanks also to the group of students and alumni who helped shape this post by contributing to the private conversation on our Haiku during the summer. In no particular order: Christopher, Christian, Fadi, Kyle, Diana, Semar, Oday, Tiffany, Philip, Vincent, and George.

Thanks: This idea grew out of my Masters Program at FSO. (Only two weeks to go!) Special thanks to Tom for helping me find my ZIM! and Jason for encouraging me to run with this crazy idea. There are also a whole bunch of educators experimenting with serious gaming (gaming with a purpose). Thanks to all for your pioneering work!

Because Someone Will Ask: What’s Element 246?

  1. The Mac Lab is located in room 246 of Valhalla High School.
  2. 2.46 was my cumulative GPA at Watsonville High School. (Didn’t like school much.)

Random Stuff…
I’m going to offer extra XP for cross-curricular projects because I want students (and their teachers) to experience the power of visual information. Y’know, like this or this (Fadi G and Christopher W).

0814: I love epiphanies.

TAG: You’re It
Woke a little before 4:00 with The Artists’ Guild in my mind. Hey! The Artists’ Guild. The program could be called TAG. Sheesh! I’ve been trying to come up with a catchy acronym since May. And this one’s even a game! And TAG: You’re It speaks to the individual members… The cooperative nature… The child-like playfulness… The fun we could have…

The answer is often hiding right in front of us—right inside of us.
— Journal Entry / February 5, 1988 (via)

The best answers are usually so simple, and so obvious, in retrospect. Now, how to get the kids to play? How to introduce this?

••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• •••••

I began reading Jane McGonigal’s Reality is Broken right after I initially uploaded this post (which I’ve been editing and adding to ever since). It seems like I’ve already highlighted half of Jane’s ideas but there was an especially electric connection to this passage near the end of Part One:

Gamers can imagine 6 billion people coming together to fight a fictional enemy, for the sheer awe and wonder of it. They are ready to work together on extreme scales, toward epic goals, just for the spine-tingling joy of it. And the more we seek out that kind of happiness as a planet, the more likely we are to save it—not from fictional aliens, but from apathy and wasted potential.

Aren’t apathy and wasted potential both ever-present in our classrooms? Back near the top of this post when I wrote: Participants will become members of The Mac Lab Artists’ Guild, fighting the insidious forces of apathy and mediocrity, was I close to resonating with Jane’s visionary declaration? (If you aren’t familiar with this amazing woman, watch her TEDTalk.)

Like any good teacher, I’m going to lift Jane’s idea and use it in reshaping my own vision for TAG: You’re It.

Participants will become members of The Artists’ Guild, fighting the insidious forces of apathy and wasted potential.

Yeah, I like the sound and feel of that better. Anyone else out there want to play along? TAG: You’re It!

••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• •••••

Educators Only: There are two conversations relating to this idea taking place on the Web. One on the Adobe Education Exchange and the other at the Art Ed 2.0 Ning. Both require registration. If you’d rather follow or contribute to the conversation behind closed doors, here are the links to the conversations on their respective sites: Changing the Game and TAG: You’re It. Or, since many of you seem to like email better:

••••• ••••• ••••• ••••• •••••

Back to Our Story…
Just began Part Two of Reality is Broken (called Reinventing Reality) and the book continues to inspire and inform.

For instance, I’d never heard of an Alternate Reality Game (ARG). The most amazing thing about ARGs is that they DO have an impact on the real world because they’re played out here in the real world but using rules that make work into a game. In other words, ARGs are designed to make real life more fun for the players.

Realization: TAG qualifies as an ARG!

The first ARG example Jane offers is Chore Wars (though I like their alternate site’s name better: World of Chorecraft). The concept? To make household chores more fun.  Here’s her intro:

Whenever I walk through the front door of my apartment, I enter an alternate reality. It looks and works just like regular reality, with one major exception: when I want to clean the bathroom, I have to be really sneaky about it.

The point? She and her husband play Chore Wars and they decided that cleaning the bathroom should be worth 100 XP (other chores are worth less). Since they use the XPs for real world rewards (like what music is played in the car), they actually want to beat the other to the dirtiest of chores each week.

Imagine your classroom as an alternate reality. Our (teachers) first task would seem to be convincing the students to become players. And as wonderful as it would be to leave no child behind, it’s got to be voluntary or what’s the point? Modifying what it says at the top of this post:

But how to introduce and explain it to the students before I completely understand and comprehend it myself?

I don’t have that answer yet but one thing’s for sure, writing this down has helped to clarify a number of murky concepts. The responses from other educators have helped as well. David Gran, interested in trying a variation of TAG in his own classroom (in Shanghai, China), wrote:

So tell me more about ‘duels’. What would that look like?

My response:

Now that you force me to think enough to answer (and thanks for that!), I see “duels” as highly individualized public challenges.

First, there has to be a signal—a throwing down of the gauntlet so to speak. Maybe we’ll just use an old leather glove—but something symbolic and potentially theatrical.

For the shy, sensitive, or insecure kids, perhaps the only “public” thing about the duel would be that the person sitting next to them noticed the glove dropping. In this case, the duel would be a gentle check for understanding: “Show me…” But I already know that many students will relish the classroom-wide duel—the overt and dramatic challenge followed by the chance to show Skocko—and everyone else—that she (or he) can beat me by showing what she knows.

Since there’s already a lot of banter in the room and a lot of verbal jousting, this should fit right in. And McGonigal points to research that indicates that getting “pwned” in public is actually socially constructive for both parties. Go figure. (You gotta read the book.)

 If I might anticipate another question:

What real world rewards will students be able to claim for their XPs?

Music is almost always playing in the Mac Lab. With over five thousand of my favorite songs in the queue, music is one of the many wonderful perks of my calling. But—gulp—with Jane’s example as my guide, maybe some students would choose to spend XPs—or more likely some other reward XPs would trigger—to dictate the playlist for the period. I’m pretty sure the kids will enjoy this one more than I will.

Since all students will begin the year with a WordPress blog to chronicle their journey, beginning with a simple, inelegant template may provide an added incentive to earn XPs to access more interesting template choices. Other XP thresholds would open options for a wider array of Quests from which to choose. Significantly higher levels of XPs will open creative freedom opportunities. Accumulating experience points will give players access to more cool features, resources, opportunities, etc.

These ideas are obviously in flux but one thing I know for sure is that I want students to be a part of setting up some of the game’s parameters. I just want to provide the foundation and framework. We’ll build the rest together.

0817: Thanks to a very exuberant response from an alum (Hannah J in the comments below), I’m thinking that our former students could/should be able to play too. Mentoring and supplying resources would seem to be natural fits. We’ll need a separate alumni self-assessment tool and a leaderboard but that won’t be hard to set up. Thanks for the idea, Hannah!

So, Fadi, Christopher, Kyle, Steven, Hannah, Diana, Julia, and the rest: Do you want to play?

0826: It’s official. After a solid year of toil and trouble, I’ve got my Master of Science degree in Education Media Design and Technology. Now it’s time to focus on the year ahead. What’s that? School begins in 11 days?! Holy deadline, Batman! I better get rolling.

Tag: They’re It! A big ol’ Mac Lab welcome to the first members of The Artists’ Guild: the students of Seminole High School in Florida. Adobe Education Leader, Rob Schwartz, has introduced his students to TAG before we’ve even returned to the classroom. Go Seminoles! Fight the insidious forces of apathy and wasted potential. And don’t forget to enjoy the battle!

WoW: It’s Free! Before I get to the point, I have a confession to make…

Like many others, I sometimes jump to conclusions before examining any evidence. Take World of Warcraft (WoW). Millions of people play it. What an utterly useless waste of time and energy! For years I’ve scoffed at those who played that silly game (that I’d never even seen). Then, in month 9 of my year-long Masters program, I had to play WoW for 10 days. What an utterly useless waste of time and energy!

At least that’s what I thought before doing my homework. That’s right, my homework was to play WoW for 10 days and look for an educational angle. How might WoW help students learn?

To put this in perspective, Gamestar Mechanic was the spark. WoW was the kindling that caught fire and led to this post.

What accounts for World of Warcraft‘s unprecedented success? More than anything else, it’s the feeling of “blissful productivity” that the game provokes.

Blissful productivity is the sense of being deeply immersed in work that produces immediate and obvious results. The clearer the results, and the faster we achieve them, the more blissfully productive we feel. And no game gives us a better sense of getting work done than WoW.
Jane McGonigal / Reality is Broken

I know what you’re thinking because I used to think it too:

World of Warcraft is an utterly useless waste of time and energy!

If I may quote Jane on WoW once again…

You improve yourself by earning more points, which requires managing a constant flow of quests, battles, and professional training. The more points you earn, the higher your level, and the higher your level, the more challenging work you unlock. This process is called “leveling up.” The more challenging the work, the more motivated you are to do it, and the more points you earn… It’s a virtuous circle of productivity.

That’s sums up the idea that sprang to mind when The Artists’ Guild began to take shape in my imagination back in month 9. On May 20th, long before I’d even heard of Jane’s book, this page went up. Right now, thanks to my Masters program, I’ve never been more excited (and less prepared) to begin a school year. I believe in TAG and I know we’ll invent and discover the rest of the details as the year unfolds.

So, to the students and educators who want to join in the Open Beta…

WoW: It’s Free! Before you knock it (like I did), try it. The link to the free trial is on the right sidebar of this page. Experience blissful productivity for free (up to level 20) and think about how we might improve TAG in future iterations.

Hadn’t Seen This Before: Jane on The Colbert Report. I’m always amazed that anyone can maintain composure as Colbert zigs and zags to the point.

0827: Maybe there’s a way to leverage the following into a better way for the kids to keep score in TAG. The current idea is to use an LMS but there’s got to be a better solution.

Twelve Hours Ago: What would @avantgame think? Crazy teacher updates classroom gaming model plans looking to inspire and engage kids: [Link back to this post]

Three Hours Later@themaclab love it!!! super super love it! can’t wait to see reports of how it’s working :)

One Minute Later: full design details of how one teacher is gamifying the entire school year. I LOVE IT. this is smart, intrinsic design [Link back to this post]

In the last nine hours—basically overnight—53 people have retweeted Jane’s link to this post. As the sun rises out here on the west coast and more people wake and encounter Jane’s tweet, I’m wondering…

Does anyone have a better idea of how the kids might self-assess?

Of course, since that question falls 3,600 words downstream, few people will probably ever see it. But to those intrepid few, we need a simple way to keep score. Something that won’t get in the way of the students’ experience. The LMS will track students’ self-assessed progress and collect the data for me but there’s no way to automate negative points for losing a Duel. As soon as anyone (me) has to enter data manually, the fun stops.

The current self-assessment model involves 5 true-false statements:

The journey has begun. I am a Novice.

Step two. I’m now an Apprentice.

Halfway there. I’ve become a Journeyman.

The penultimate level: I, Expert.

I have conquered this Quest and am now and forevermore a Master of…

The LMS allows students to return to a test up to 5 times so each student may level up by clicking true at each stage of the Quest. I can see where everyone is with a click but… Well, the solution has many problems I can already see from here and probably many more that will bite us as the year progresses. Since it will be very difficult to change the scoring system later in the year, we need to start with a better method if at all possible.

Any better ideas out there?



76 Comments for this entry

  • Oday Yousif

    This should be a very interesting, yet fun, year.

  • Christian Lim

    What an incredible coincidence that the room number matches your GPA.

    Anyways, I look forward to seeing how this unfolds.

  • Diana I.

    Very interesting content, I wished I lived in the era of Haiku in my High School years. It is like a small game in a small world, and yet, students are being taught indirectly to wonderful things about life and Art.

  • Hannah J

    OH MY GOD!!! This is so cool. The quest system= sounds really cool. I’m an ARG freak so just reading about it here is cool :o)

  • Hannah J


  • skocko

    See the 0817 update. 😛

  • Christopher C.

    I’m game, as long as my schedule permits it.

  • Hannah J

    Dude, YES!!! I am so game.

  • Fadi George

    It seems that it will be a fun ride. [I] was very much accustomed and thrilled by the quest idea at the start of the Haiku phase. Though I can’t assure its success, it does have potential. And even though it won’t be the same working outside of the Mac Lab, it [will] still [be] fun being a part of this experiment in some shape or form.

    I’m all for discovering new methods of teaching and utilizing them to bring out more creative sides of students. I can see a [number] of students being favorable of this concept of teaching. I hope that everything will go smoothly this fall. [One] can only hope that we will see more collaborative efforts than previous years.

    And I just can’t wait for this to start[!]

  • Kyle Wheaton

    As long as I have time, I’m game.
    Can’t wait to win 😉

  • Diana I.

    I’m game, as long I don’t get busy to my college.

  • skocko

    All of you are going to be incredibly busy in college. Your continuing education comes first, of course. If you have time to play here, that’s great but it’s certainly not required or expected.

    I just have the feeling this could be something fun from time to time.


    P.S. Did anyone else notice that Kyle threw down the gauntlet (or old leather glove)?

  • Fadi George

    What about my secret message?

  • skocko

    Very clever, Fadi! (Hadn’t put that together before your prompt.)

    Kyle, I believe you’ve been challenged.


    Back to the final Masters project.

  • skocko

    Diana, those are beautiful! I especially love the dreamy, painterly feel of this Niagra Falls shot.

  • Philip Behnam

    I have a couple of questions:

    – Would the Experts and the Masters serve as “Bosses” that the Journeyman, Apprentices and Novice have to “beat” as side quests (Or to advance faster)? (Saying this since the Experts and the Masters seem to be the ones that are fully developed.)

    – Would a Master be able to have an Apprentice?

  • Philip Behnam

    Here’s my explanation to the first question:

  • Philip Behnam

    … Since the journeyman, Apprentice and the Novice are all on their journey to become masters one day, they have to face some obstacles on the way to their glory. Those obstacles are the Experts and the Masters themselves. Maybe, occasionally the three lower levels will engage in a duel against an Expert or a Master (Their choice). This will all be based on their experience and their confidence in themselves (And, again, choice).

    On a second thought, we can have co-op duels. A master and his apprentice against another master and his apprentice. This will show how much the apprentices have learned from their masters (If your answer is yes to my second question)… and also how good the masters are against others (Of course now this is an old idea and it’s mentioned in your post above).

    Also, having two “universes” won’t hurt too. Since you’ve introduced the idea of having the alumni’s participate in this on their own leaderboard, why not have two “universes?” A “universe” for us, high school students, and a “universe” for the alumni’s.

    You know, just throwing ideas out there. Maybe I’m just going all our with my ideas of “Bosses” and co-op duels but an idea is an idea. 😀

  • skocko

    Philip, those are brilliant ideas! Keep ’em coming!

    I really don’t know how the year is going to unfold. I want your input. Heck, I need your input. You guys are the gaming experts. We’ve got to work together to push this idea as far as possible… and a little further.

  • Philip Behnam

    I’ll see what I can do.

    P.S. these ideas were inspired by Starcraft. 😉

  • Christian Lim

    I’ll throw out an idea that I told Mark. He gave me the grin that says “That’s-an-interesting-idea-but-I’m-too-lazy-to-do-it-but-i’ll-have-it-under-consideration.”

    Although it’s more typography/logo focused, the idea is to create a logo based off of a character or aspect from a video game.

    It’s based on this:

    To sum it up, some cool person took Pokemon as an example, and created logos based on the personalities of it. And while the idea of talking about Pokemon logos above 13 years old sounds childish and nerdy, it’s kind of hard to knock down the cool ideas he actually came up with.

    Just taking the Drowzee logo as an example. You don’t even need to play the game to connect the dots with Drowzee and sleeping. Same with Kadabra playing off of the abracadabra-psychic theme, using bent spoons.

    Anyways, bringing this back to what I was saying earlier, Mark came in my room complaining about something, and I told him to pick a video game, then pick any character except the main character of that game, and if they had some sort of store or company, what would it be called? Then design the logo for it trying to incorporate the character and company together.

    If you really think about it, there are a lot of small things in video games that’s easily overlooked. After all, games create that sort of ‘alternate-universe’, so it’s kind of hard not to imagine you’re walking in the shoes of most of these characters and going through various towns and such.

    And don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t only need to apply to video games, that’s just a quick and easy example. As gaming isn’t as prominent in girls, this can easily be adjusted to say books and novels, television shows, etc. There’s a million different alternate realities in our head with the different entertainment we’re fed, I don’t think it’s hard for anyone to think of something to do it on.

    Just a silly twist on logo creation to get the creative juices flowing 😉

  • Fadi George

    Sounds interesting. I want to try my own Pokemon logo.

  • skocko

    Christian: Great idea but when you expanded it to include other forms of media, ideas started popping all around me. More potential energy for kids to discover. Keep it coming!

  • Christian Lim

    Well there’s a project I’m doing in one of my classes right now, and it’s more of a good lesson to take in.

    It’s essentially focused on the idea of staying committed to your ideas. I know when I was in the Mac Lab, I switched between whichever idea ended up looking better in execution as opposed to executing a single idea to perfection regardless of whether it was good or bad. Make sense?

    So the teacher gave us a specific theme, and we had to sketch out various thumbnails, pick one of the thumbnails, and turn it into a semi-comp. No looking at references online or anything, everything from our head and we had roughly half an hour – an hour to come up with the semi-comp and have him sign off on it. Now we’re locked into it. We can’t change our idea, and we can’t add on to what we already we drew. If we only drew a picture of a seagull, we can only have a seagull on it.

    I’m doing a picture of chess pieces inside a mouth as the bottom row of teeth, with decaying teeth above and zombies crawling from the back of the mouth ready to fight the chess pieces. what?

    It’s nonsense, makes no sense, and isn’t even focused on designing a legitimate poster and whatnot. But the practicality of it teaches to stick to what we’re committed to, because if you’re working with a client and you change what they agreed upon, you’re going to get yelled at.

    This is sort of intended for the more advanced Photoshop/Illustrator users and if they had my habit in class, can really push people at forcing them to come up with something. Yes?

  • Christian Lim

    Whoops, I meant to simplify what I said above into the words of what my Concept Design teacher says, which is basically take away crutches in design.

    Now this is definitely not intended for beginners. Projects that force people into doing uncomfortable design approaches. For example, no horizontal type, no using the color red, no round curves, etc.

    One example I had to do was do a Valentines Day Card without using Red or Pink, no hearts, no cupid.

    These can be spun into things like,
    -for this poster you must use negative kerning
    -pure typographic poster with overlapping text
    -must have perspective
    so on and so forth.

  • skocko

    Christian: I can see ways to spin these ideas into Quests. Keep ’em coming. 😛

  • Vincent A

    the maclab… she is back.

  • schwartz

    Dude, we’re in as the Florida Guild. Kids working on the idea and we’re assembling ideas to build into the specifications of the design brief. Will keep you posted.

  • skocko

    Ironic, isn’t it, that Mr. Schwartz’s classes are beginning TAG before we do? Go forth and conquer, mighty Seminoles!

    Kyle and Fadi: Wars and Duels are fair game if we can determine the playing field.

    September 6 is not far off.

  • Tyler Roy

    I am so excited for next year to start! 😀 I can’t wait to be back in the Mac Lab again!

  • george scott

    i miss the mac lab so much. i can’t wait to get back into programming. :)

  • Vincent A

    Scocko, I have a plug in my brother invented that I think you might like… Can you say round javascript corners?

    Check out how it made this site I’m building look:

  • skocko

    Tyler and George: If you’re really lonely for the Mac Lab, a few of us are cleaning and setting up computers on Saturday. 😛

    Vincent: Why not CSS? Just wondering.

    P.S. How ’bout a bit of kerning and maybe some even distribution of the links?

  • Christian Lim

    This thought just found it’s way into my head while looking at a blank screen.
    Photography – Symbolic Treasure Hunt

    Students try to find symbolism in their environment through photography. I don’t quite know how to specify this down, but I know the idea is there somewhere.

    I say symbolic as if it was just a regular treasure hunt, that would be way too easy. It would at least stretch the imagination so there wouldn’t be too much similarity between picture. And since this is for High School students, I don’t want to encourage kids to go out hiking to some obscure location to take a picture of a rare centipede or something.

    Just an idea to consider that popped up on the spot

  • Oday Yousif

    Is that an open invite for Saturday, Skocko?

  • skocko

    Christian: That idea rocks! I was thinking of sending students on elements and principles and/or color theory/harmony Photo Quests but your idea opens a whole bunch of new doors.

    You’re on a roll. Don’t stop! :)

    Oday: Absolutely. All that’s left is cleaning the monitors, keyboards, and mice then matching all the odd-length ethernet cables to the computers. The more hands, the quicker we’ll be done! I’ll be in the lab at 9:00. Come whenever you want.

  • Oday Yousif

    I’ll see if I can make it Skocko.

    That really is a great idea Christian

  • Fadi George

    Too bad, I wanted to come. But I had fun time at State.

  • skocko

    Fadi: The guys got the lab pretty well squared away. Now all we need is curriculum. 😛

    Thanks for asking and glad you enjoyed the event at SDSU!

  • Christian Lim

    The amount of retweets has bumped to 66 when I checked 😛
    And the more I think about alternatives, the more I just can’t help but think that the whole thing would have to be some funky-custom-craziness.

    The most that I can think of for now doesn’t really address how to ideally score it as opposed to simplifying the process for determining who’s ready to throw down that old leather glove for a duel.

    It’s a really simple idea too, but a small strip of paper with their name followed by which quest and level on it, dropped into something like a box (or a box).

    So I would have my name on one side, and on the back it would be Networking / Master.

    This addresses a few minor points in such a subtle way that it may not be too effective. But first of all, people should be proud/happy/cocky that they believe they’ve mastered a quest. Walking up to a box in front of you and dropping that paper in with a cocky grin sort of symbolizes the classic throwing down the leather glove/ okay Skocko, I’m ready, bring it on! moment.
    Now that that’s happened, you can easily sort out who’s ready for a public challenge.

    Now granted, this idea has it drawbacks (Just about every other idea in all fairness has it’s drawbacks). The clear one being people putting other people’s names in the box. But I figured throwing out this idea may open doors to better ones.

    – – – – – –

    And I have a question just to clarify something, which I think I know the answer to but just wanted to double check.

    Say I’ve gone all the way up to Expert level, throw down the glove, lose the duel, and lose all ten experience points.

    Where do I stand following this? Do I get knocked down to Journeyman/lower?
    Do I have to redo all the quests to build it back up?
    Is my chance permanently gone?

  • schwartz

    Only reason we started before you is that the school year is already in it’s second week here in Palm Beach, FL. Admittedly, when I first heard your idea, I wasn’t as excited about it as I am now…

    Have some notes from today’s ideas that I’ll post soon as I have them in some logical/ readable order. Ideas are flying!

  • Kyle Wheaton

    @Christian, I believe you just get knocked back all the way to Novice and have to work back up.

    @Semar: I loved it. I actually learned something too. 😛

  • skocko

    Christian: Have to think about the paper idea… Still thinking about the consequences. It’s all tied up in our scoring model. Trial and error will guide us.

    Schwartz: Can’t wait to hear the ideas. Also found a Secret HQ populated by heavy hitters (gaming, fx, edu) that you’ll love. Coming your way in an email.

    Semar: Was going to say that I’d seen it but I hadn’t. Then I noticed it was part 2. I’d tell you that there’s an original version but it’s inappropriate so I won’t.

    Kyle: That Commodore Stinky is in kitty cat heaven? (Kidding. The CH crew are very creative and the Photoshop raps are great.)

  • Nils Davis

    I know this is version one of your scoring system, but I have some thoughts for you. You could have some aspect of the score or rank that’s earned from your peers – either they can vote you to the Master level or give you points toward your Master level. Or an Apprentice might need the sponsorship of a Master to get upgraded to Expert.

    Also, part of your score could be based on how much you help others – not only is it a good way to show you’ve learned something, but it also widens the purpose of the game beyond just achieving for oneself to helping the whole guild advance.

    I know you’re on version one of the scoring system, so these might be hard to implement at this point.

    Can’t wait to see how this project turns out – I’ll be following you!

  • Semar Y

    I saw the first part too, both are awesome, I might do something similar

  • Fadi George

    First day of classes. Oh how quick the classes go. Even quicker tomorrow (2 hrs). Love the campus so far.

    As for the quest, I especially like the idea of having Masters promoting lower levels. Master level votes can have more points to them and so it will have considerable influence on their choosing. As such, lower levels will have lesser valued votes. And this should fair since in principal, you’ll have more lower -levels than upper-levels. These votes can be in favor or disfavor of any particular situation such as what kind of songs get played in class or something of that nature.

  • skocko

    Nils: Great ideas. I’m going to share all of these strategies with the students (and whomever else is interested) to see what sticks. Needless to say, TAG will evolve all year long. It’s going to be a fun ride!

    Semar: A mentoring rap? I love it. (And a pretty high-level quest.) This is the only edu-musical number produced in the Mac Lab so far: Click

    Fadi: Are you sure? I know a few kids who will work super-hard so they could earn the right to have Shop Vac in the playlist every day. 😛

  • Semar Y

    just wanted to say forth per. is gonna rule

  • Oday Yousif

    Congratulations on getting your Masters Skocko. I was re-reading this post and saw that. Congratulations.

  • Christopher C.

    Congratulations Mr. Skocko on completing your Masters program! I know that the Mac Lab is going to be a better place thanks to all your hard work.

    I miss being able to help get the Mac Lab ready for the new school year, but things up here in Berkeley are really exciting too. I have been in classes for a week now and I am really liking the differences in the college education system compared to high school. But I still miss the Mac Lab. Interestingly, the UC Berkeley branch of the IEEE, an organization that determines technology standards, is located in room 246 of Cory Hall. That’s quite the coincidence.

    It turns out that for the 2011 – 2012 school year, Berkeley students will be able to get the Adobe CS5 Design Premium software package for free as part of a pilot program designed to remove technological obstacles that prevent them from achieving success. Staff members are lucky enough to get the Master Collection, and both parties are entitled to a free copy of Acrobat X Pro. I think that’s pretty cool.

    Anyways, I look forward to watching and participating in TAG from afar!

  • Vincent A

    …Chris, we’ve decided we’re going to get you kicked out of Berkley so you come home…

  • Kyle Wheaton

    Are the students allowed to challenge the teacher?
    If so, how does the winner get chosen?
    Does the teacher lose points?
    Does the student get some kind of medal or cookie?

  • Kyle Wheaton

    Just wait Chris….
    Just wait…
    By the way, we all miss you!

  • Christian Lim

    You’re missing out Chris. Mac Lab Media is entering the realm of visual effects now. : )

  • Christopher C.

    Kyle: There is always Starcraft, as soon as my schedule evens out.

    Christian: I saw, but who says that I have to miss out?

    I had a lecture today about 3D graphics from the point of view of computer science and I started thinking about the Mac Lab. It turns out that Berkeley has one of the top ten CG departments in the country. So, while you guys are making the effects I will be learning about what goes on behind the scenes.

  • Christopher C.

    As a side note, my CompSci lab also reminds me of the Mac Lab. Apple was generous enough to donate 30 Mac Pros running duel 2.63GHz Quad-Cores with 12GB of RAM and shiny Cinema Displays to help power our adventure into programming.

  • Christian Lim

    Hoozah. So will you also be learning cg? Mac Lab would be unstoppable if you are… 😉

  • Fadi George

    Free Adobe programs and Macs? It does have that Mac Lab feel. Should’ve gone to Berkley. Well, there’s always grad school.

    It’s great to hear you’re doing fine Chris. Hope you keep enjoying your time at Berkley.

  • Christopher C.

    Christian: I will be learning about the hardware and software that makes CG possible, as well as (if I choose) creating CG effects and 3D models. But that is just one small part of just one of many categories of the plethora of CompSci topics that I will be exposed to (and Master) over my next seven years here (PhD = 7 years).

    Fadi: Thanks for the thoughts! I hope I see you up here in Golden Bear land in four years!

  • skocko

    Christopher: What an adventure ahead of you. Rock the future! (And enjoy the tools of the trade. Donated?! Look this way, Apple!)

    Kyle: That’s not a bad idea. As with the rest, we’ll have to see how it plays out.

  • skocko

    Chris: Forgot to say that I loved the 246 connection.

  • Christopher C.

    The more time I spend at Berkeley, the more I realize why it is so widely respected. It’s hard to explain, but it seems as if everyone here (students and staff) is so motivated and capable of achieving greatness. It is going to be an amazing ride.

  • Stockwell

    I don’t know how your 3D students are responding to this but I would love to participate, even maybe mentor in that field! Muwahahaha!

    Nice to see the Mac Lab Back, I’ll be dropping in soon Skocko, what’s a good day?

  • Semar Y

    This year is going to fun but I think the biggest obstacle we are going to face is the idea itself and this being a beta, if we want this to work then we have to be patient and optimistic.

  • Treyson C.

    fixed it.

  • Colton B.

    This seems like a very interesting idea. I don’t know if it’ll work but I’m usually a sceptic about anything that not a lot of people do or have so I’m sure it will work just fine. Cant wait to try it out.

  • Alexandra S

    Yay! It’s fixed! :) Again, second day of school. Already one of my favorite classes.

  • skocko

    Stockwell: The first three weeks of school are crazy. Check back week four.

    And we welcome alum mentors. Even ones with evil laughter. 😛

Learn it all.