Sharing Learning with Working Examples

One of my favorite parts of writing for ProfHacker is having a space to share experiments, ideas, classroom strategies and, yes, occasionally failures. Thus I’m always excited when I find spaces with that same philosophy of collaborative learning and give me new ideas to spark my next project. I recently was introduced to one such platform, Working Examples. Working Examples is a community site for sharing educational projects while they are still in progress: it’s somewhat a collection of blogs, but the blogs are focused through guiding questions designed to elicit insights into the process. Examples are broken down into three stages: the seed, where a project begins; the sprout, where the project takes shape; and the bloom, after a project is complete. The questions are simple reflective queries that we all ask ourselves about our pedagogy, such as “What problem are you trying to solve and why does it matter?” and “What are your goals and how will you know if you’ve achieved them?”

I recently joined the community, and my colleague Keri Watson and I have started a Working Example for an alternate reality game we’re running now with students in her twentieth-century art history course, Secret Societies of the Avant-garde. While we’re just getting started with the platform, it’s been a provocative way to start documenting some of the early phases of the game design and pieces of the implementation. If you’re interested in games in the classroom, there are several other games-based projects on the site, including a collection in the Games + Learning + Society group. I’ve particularly enjoyed reading about projects such as John Fallon’s Odyssey-based alternate reality game and Trent Hergenrader’s imaginative interdisciplinary collaborative narrative Steampunk Rochester. It’s great to get some insights into the processes and obstacles behind the scenes in these types of projects.

If you decide to contribute to the community, there are some interface challenges to the site. I had some difficulties working with the site itself in Chrome: some of the save functions can be a bit temperamental, and I recommend composing text outside of the interface to ensure you don’t lose your thoughts. The restrictions on image size and upload types are somewhat restrictive, so it can be difficult to include good images of a work in progress. However, the final result is nicely formatted and public facing, and it can be easily exported as a Word document if you want to use your example as a starting point for a paper or presentation.

Have you contributed or explored the Working Examples community? Share your recommendations in the comments!

[CC BY 2.0 Photo by Flickr User Antti T. Nissinen]

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