A Summer of Awesome

This summer is shaping up to be really great.  I have two major trips planned.  The first is next week to Madison, Wi, for the Games+Learning+Society conference.  This will be my first major academic conference and I couldn’t be more excited.  One of the themes for my summer is gamifying education, a topic that apparently will receive some staunch criticism from a giant in the field.  I am going to be very interested in what Dr. Gee has to say.

This trip is also going to be great because the two people that really got me into this field are going to be there: Constance Steinkuehler and Sean Duncan.  Their 2008 paper “Scientific Habits of Mind in Virtual Worlds” [PDF] was posted to reddit (or somewhere I happened to stumble upon) pre-press and it opened a new world to me.  Since then, I’ve earned my M.Ed., hope to start my Ph.D. soon, and I have no doubt that my career will be focused on this area.

My next major trip will be in July, as I head off to The Amazing Meeting!  I know every year this conference is packed with awesomeness, but I can’t help but feel like this year is the best yet.  Just take a look at their list of speakers.  It’s going to be my first time to Vegas, and I’m kind of skeptical that it’s all that great for someone like me.

I have a few big projects I’m working on this summer.  I’m not ready to talk about Democritus in depth, yet, especially without hearing the criticism I will hear next week, but I am excited about it so far.  My gut tells me that this is something that is really needed and will be huge, but I also realize that I must be skeptical of my gut, as it tends to be wrong.  I will go ahead and offer a short explanation of the project.

Democritus is a next-generation Learning Management System that includes social networking and game mechanics as core features.  On the technical side, it is an HTML 5, with no java / flash / other third party plugins.  I’ve said for years that BlackBoard is crap, so I’m finally doing something about it.