*** BREAKING NEWS – The Digital Worlds blog will become one of several resources used in a NEW “10 points at level 1” Open University undergradute course delivered wholly online and running over 10 weeks starting in May 2009. As the course will have a somewhat experimental feel to it in the first presentation at least, we’re capping numbers to 40 students. If you’re interested, mail me: Tony Hirst, 16th March, 2009.

Education is going to have to change with the times – so we are told – in order to keep pace with the changes in attitude, attention, and the availability of knowledge that have been wrought by the spread of affordable internet access (at least, in what used to be called “the developed world”…).

So this blog represents something of an experiment in the production and delivery of online educational materials…

The subject matter – as I hope you’ve realised from the title of the blog – is digital media. In particular, we’ll be focusing on what goes into the design, production and delivery of computer games and those interactive media that we might describe as games for want of a better phrase.

The inspiration behind the approach – creating educational materials by blogging them – is twofold:

– firstly, the Open University Relevant Knowledge programme, which delivers course materials in part via the web, using web pages that are each about the length of a blog post…

– secondly, the Open University’s OpenLearn website, which makes content available via RSS feeds.

Given that the OU is making materials available that look like they could have been delivered via a blog, I thought I’d close the loop – and doodle the production of some example materials by actually blogging them…

The style and tone of the content may be a little more informal than current OU materials, and there be rather more cross referencing and outlinking than is typical, but this is a blog, right?

I guess I need some disclaimers, too: this isn’t an OU course, and you can’t get academic credit by ‘studying’ it (at least, not unless there are hundreds of being clamouring to be assessed on what I post here!)…

…but I will try to write posts as if it was OU material I was producing, at least in a draft form, and at an educational level at or around foundation undergraduate level…

…and who knows, some of the content may make it into an OU course one day!

If you want to learn, or play along, you’re most welcome. I’ll try to keep up with any comments, though I’m going to moderate them, at least at first.

If a community does star build up around the materials, then I’ll try to write posts in a responsive, conversation developing way – after all, why should it be solely down to me to set the direction of the uncourse;-)

I do have a set of things I want to try to cover though, and I will try to stay loosely on topic…;-)

— Tony Hirst


11 Responses to “About”

  1. 1 Marc Eisenstadt March 1, 2008 at 12:01 am

    Hi – I don’t tune in to this stuff but since I bumped into you online, I wanted to add one little anecdote. I had a really memorable interaction with Randy Hinrichs and Anoop Gupta of Microsoft Research a few years ago when we (KMi) proposed some fairly radical course environment/production/experiment ideas to them. One of their responses was, “COURSE?” “Why are you so ‘COURSE’-centric?” At first glance, it seems like much too cavalier a response, and “courses” are critical to the way universities work. Hey, I’m taking a “course” right now… but, well… you get my drift…
    aw, shucks… Andy Fairweather-Low is on Jools Holland right now, so I’m gonna stop there… ;-) “Who IS that masked man?”

  2. 2 redbaiters March 10, 2008 at 2:25 am

    I love the new blogging diggs Tony. I am very interested to see how this works for, not to mention the unbelievable improvements to this kind of educational publishing platform you;ll figure out along the way :)

  3. 3 David Marsh November 24, 2008 at 9:30 pm

    Looks very interesting, any news on the OU course review ? When can we expect to find out the status ? When will the course run if it gets the green light ?

  4. 4 Deborah Teramis Christian January 16, 2009 at 1:08 am

    Course or not, I’m glad you have this content here. I found you while googling around regarding game design issues. I’m a science fiction/fantasy novelist and former rpg game designer who plans to run an immersive storytelling/game project on the web late in 2009. Beyond chit-chat and scattered tech notes which are everywhere on the net, I’m looking for chunks of useful information regarding underlying game structures. I don’t have time or inclination to enroll somewhere for a traditional ‘course’ in this sort of thing – even assuming one were taught that fits my idiosyncratic needs – but this pseudo-open coursework approach you are taking is very useful for me. Glad to discover you here, and I look forward to participating with comments now and then.


    aka Deborah Teramis Christian

  5. 5 Claire Johnson March 3, 2009 at 2:39 pm

    Really interesting way of delivering an uncourse! I however am trying to do something similar, which has to be a little more structured, for some research I am doing with Year 9 pupils in game authoring in ICT. So to support my particular pupils in learning how to use Game Maker, I am writing a website – sort of like an online manual. Does anyone know if this has already been done? I am aware of the tutorials and the Moodle course but so far haven’t seen a web manual type thing. I agree that learning by doing is best and aim to start them off with a practical tutorial, but found that they needed a manual they could refer to when making their own games…

  6. 6 Tony Hirst March 6, 2009 at 3:54 pm

    Hi Claire

    The Digital Worlds uncourse blog is actually going to feature as recommended reading in a ‘proper’ OU course that will be piloted later this year (T151 is the code, running for 10 weeks from May).

    As far as a structured GameMaker tutorial goes, I took feeds from the Game Maker parts of this blog and piped them to a Pageflakes page in separate topic areas:

    The method behind the madness is described here: http://ouseful.open.ac.uk/blogarchive/013966.html

  7. 7 Daniel Livingstone August 26, 2009 at 10:10 pm

    Hi Tony, the archive link is good – was wanting to ask what you’d use if you were to start a similar experiment all over again?

    Would you still use WordPress, or give it a miss?

  8. 8 Connie May 21, 2012 at 8:04 am

    I need some basic advice on how to turn my board games into interactive digital games. I would like to put my games online; i just don’t know how to get started. Please help me. thank you.

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