Where to start this post?
I could point you at my earlier presentation on “Augmenting OER with Client-side Tools” to orient you to the idea the browser itself offers one of the most powerful ways for users to both customize content on the fly and interact with each other.
I could tell you a story about seeing a reference to a browser-based multiplayer game, played (in my own words) “on top of and alongside of the web itself,” but then loosing that reference in my aggregator, only to have the niggle in the back of my brain eased when my query on twitter was successfully answered.
I could explain how, until recently, the web browser/web server model was kind of replicating earlier (boring) client-server models, treating web browsers often as dumb terminals. And how P2P challenged that in one (network) way. And how social software challenged that in another (that there were *people* at all those browsers). And how browser-based plugins are bringing both of those phenomena (albeit in a different way, technically) to the web experience.
I could point you at various pieces on “networked learning” which I think are all pointing to a new way of learning where the “online” part, the “network” isn’t just an afterthought, whose existence radically challenges what “to learn” and indeed “knowledge” even mean.
Or… you could just tell you to
- install Firefox. I mean really. Install Firefox (though v2.x). Seriously, give me one reason why you haven’t already.
- go to pmog.com. Get an account. Install the toolbar. And go on a mission.
Why? Because there you will see the (well not “THE” because hopefully there will always be many) future. In brief, once you’ve got that installed, you are in the game. Suddenly, you will notice small windows appearing when you look at web pages, windows urging you to “take this mission” or instead alerting you to dangers or treasures placed by other players. Where is the game taking place? Well, there is a site, and a codex (which is kind of essential reading to get the real flavour of the game). But the game takes place “on top of and alongside of the web itself,” as a PASSIVELY multiplayer online game, meaning it comes to you as part of your regular experience on the web.
So immediately I can see people blanching at the idea of their students being called “shoats” or “bedouins” and coming up with all sorts of FUD on why PMOG.com can’t be used as a platform for education. I am not suggesting that PMOG.com itself is the platform to rush out and adopt (though indeed, why not? Take a mission yourself – can you see any potential for leading people through a learning path, placing obstacles in their way that they must overcome and building a rewards system into these goals? Sound familiar?)
Indeed, the first (easily implementable) idea that popped into my head was to go back to Trailfire and start constructing trails with pieces left out, so that to continue on the trail, you needed to answer a question or figure out a problem that would result in a URL where a new annotation would leave to the next site. But more on that later.
The web has always had this potential – what are hyperlinks (and Google thinks this way) other than people providing context on whatever they are linking to, and through that, paths.What’s new is that all of this context (and all of the people) can be brought back to the very thing being described, in place, enriching the experience, and in the example of PMOG, tied together with a narrative thrust.
Finally, if I was really good, this post wouldn’t be a post. It would be a PMOG mission. And maybe it will be… – SWL