Hanover Educator Wins Top Spot in University's Alternate Reality Game

Top Quote The game, which debuted during the 2011 Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference (PETE&C), was designed by two Harrisburg University of Science and Technology faculty members. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) February 18, 2011 - Harrisburg, PA - When it comes to improving teachers' performance at a traditionally under-performing high school, Michelle Krill showed she was up to the task when she bested 150 other contestants to emerge as the winner of a new Harrisburg University designed Alternate Reality Game entitled "I Love Trees."

    The game, which debuted during the 2011 Pennsylvania Educational Technology Expo and Conference (PETE&C), was designed by two Harrisburg University of Science and Technology faculty members. The game places contestants in the role of a newly hired Principal at under-performing West Side High. In order to improve performance at West Side High, Krill had to "grow" the Powerful Learning Practice (PLP) Tree of Knowledge. From this tree, the school gained access to the knowledge and resources necessary to thrive in a 21st century teaching and learning environment.

    An Instructional Technology Coach at South Western School District in Hanover, Pennsylvania, Krill scored the maximum 3,650 points by answering questions, taking polls, solving puzzles, completing online tasks and entering codes.

    Designed by Charles Palmer and Andy Petroski of Harrisburg University, I Love Trees combines real-world experience with fictional clues, puzzles and communication in an interactive game format. I Love Trees is a story-based and problem-based experience that promotes the use of online resources, collaboration among game players and critical thinking related to the storyline and problem-based activities.

    ARGs are not computer or video games, though electronic devices including computers, cell phones, and GPS-enabled handhelds are used to access clues. Clues can be anywhere--websites, stores, signs, recorded telephone messages or printed materials. ARGs are not role-playing games. Players normally function as themselves in a real-world environment

    The game's designers were thrilled with the response to the game and the engagement of players.

    "Feedback from participants supports what we already know about games as tools for learning. Players become immersed in game play, competition and fun, but also develop problem-solving skills in a social and experiential environment," says Petroski. "Confidence and satisfaction are also gained throughout game play as players achieve smaller tasks that add to their overall score and achievement through a game regardless of whether or not they are the leader."

    Harrisburg University's expertise and exploration of games, simulations and virtual worlds goes well beyond the I Love Trees ARG. The University, through the Center for Advanced Entertainment & Learning Technologies (CAEL&T) and the Learning Technologies Master of Science (LTMS) program conducts a yearly event that brings serious game designers from around the country to Harrisburg, PA. The Learning and Entertainment Evolution Forum (LEEF) showcases immersive learning case studies, design and development sessions and a high tech demo area where attendees can explore new technologies that may impact game and simulation design in the future. In addition the LTMS program offers a concentration in Games & Simulations and offers individual courses on the use of games and virtual worlds as part of the summer Educators Technology Clinic series of courses. Finally, the CAEL&T offers the Summer Gaming Academy, a 20-day intensive commuter summer program designed to introduce passionate young game designers and developers to the methods and technologies used by professional game makers throughout the world.
    A leader in the fields of multimedia and information technology, Charles Palmer serves as director of the CAELT. Charles leads the Center as well as spearheads new developments in digital storytelling and forms of entertainment technology. He is a creative educator, administrator, and producer. He previously served as a faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University's Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) since 2004.

    Andy Petroski coordinates the Learning Technologies Master of Science (LTMS) program and learning technologies at Harrisburg University as Director of Learning Technologies. In 2010, Andy received the "Technology Educator of the Year" honors from TECHQuest PA. The honor recognizes Andy as an "outstanding example of IInformation Age Educator" using current technologies to educate, motivate and inspire students to develop careers in technology fields and become lifelong learners." The award-winning instructional technologist has more than 14 years of eLearning design and development experience in multimedia production firms, independent consulting, corporate learning and education.

    Harrisburg University is home to a Learning Technologies Master of Science (LTMS) program and the Center for Advanced Entertainment & Learning Technologies (CAELT). The CAELT works with regional organizations on advanced technology projects in entertainment and learning and coordinates the annual Learning and Entertainment Evolution Forum (LEEF) with the LTMS program. LEEF brings leading serious game and simulation designers from around the world together to showcase their work in games and simulations for learning. The CAELT and the LTMS program have also worked with the Innovation Transfer Network (ITN) to create the Serious Games and Simulations Xchange, a group of universities and businesses that will work together to increase the serious game and simulation activity in central PA. The LTMS program provides opportunities for students to explore games and simulations for learning through the LTMS 603: Engaging with Activities, Games and Simulations course as part of the Educators' Technology Clinic format and will be offering a concentration in game and simulation design as part of the LTMS degree beginning in the fall of 2010.

    Founded in 2001 to address Central Pennsylvania's need for increased opportunities for study leading to careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, Harrisburg University is an innovative and ambitious private institution that produces graduates who provide increased competence and capacity in science and technology disciplines to Pennsylvania and the nation. Harrisburg University ensures institutional access for underrepresented students and links learning and research to practical outcomes. As a private University serving the public good, Harrisburg University remains the only STEM-focused comprehensive university located between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

    For more information on the University's demand-driven undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs in applied science and technology fields, call 717.901.5146 or email Connect ( @ ) HarrisburgU dot edu dot

    Steven Infanti
    Harrisburg University Communications
    326 Market Street
    Harrisburg, PA 17101
    sinfanti ( @ ) harrisburgu dot edu

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