My dissertation explored the connections between the design and analysis of video games and our design and understanding of teaching & learning. Much of that work was shaped by a conversation I had with one of my supervisors:

A comic, portraying a conversation between myself and a supervisor, about the nature of online learning becoming like a video game - and wondering if the video game was any good… Figure 1.2: One of the conversations that shaped the direction of this dissertation. AI-generated character portrayal provided by Stable Diffusion.

I’d written a bit to explore the comparison between video games and online teaching, to see what it might look like if it was experienced as a Zork-like text-based adventure game.

A common pattern observed during the COVID Pivot involved teachers who were unfamiliar with designing online courses and with teaching online, who were unfamiliar with the tools, and struggled to adapt their didactic classroom teaching practice into remote teaching. The result was a low-fidelity experience for the teacher, as they had suddenly lost their internalized scaffolding - mental maps and models for approaching their course and their students. Such an experience often became linear (although branching), and could be described through the lens of a text-based adventure game such as Zork:

WEST OF HOUSE
    This is an open field west of a white house with a boarded front door.
    There is a small mailbox here.
    A rubber mat saying 'About your course!' lies by the door.
    
> open mailbox
    
You open the mailbox, revealing a small leaflet.
    
> read leaflet
    
(first taking the small leaflet)
WELCOME TO YOUR COURSE
To open your course, click this link. (the text glows blue)
    
> click link
    
A web browser window opens:
BRIGHTSPACE
You see a list of all of your courses for this semester. 
One of the courses has a red ball with '99+' in it. 
At the top of the screen is a bell icon with a red dot beside it.
    
> click on course
    
COURSE HOME
You see the homepage for your course, including news items and a navigation menu that reads:
COURSE HOME | CONTENT | CALENDAR | COMMUNICATION | ASSESSMENTS | MY TOOLS | EDIT COURSE
    
> click 'CONTENT'
    
COURSE CONTENT
You see a table of contents and button that says 'New >'
    
> click 'New >'
    
ADD A FILE
You see an interface that offers to upload a file from your computer.
    
> upload document 'course syllabus - final (final) v23 (revised).docx' to brightspace
       
FILE UPLOAD
You see a progress indicator:
10% 20%… 20%… 90%… 91%… 92%… 92%… 92%… COMPLETE!
         
> click 'COURSE HOME'
    
COURSE HOME
    
> click 'News > New Item'
    
NEW ITEM
You see an interface for creating new News item in your course.
    
> type 'The syllabus for this course is now available in Content'
    
A news item has been posted to your course. You hear trumpets in the distance.
    
> click 'COMMUNICATION > Videoconferencing'
    
VIDEOCONFERENCING
You see a list of meetings. One is scheduled to begin less than one minute.
    
> click 'Start Meeting'
    
VIDEOCONFERENCING
There is an update available for this software. Would you like to update now or later?
    
> click 'Update Later'
    
MEETING
Your screen fills with a window. You see yourself. There is a note that says:
	There are 38 participants in the waiting room.
	Admit all participants?
         
> click 'Admit all'
    
MEETING
38 boxes appear in the meeting window. 
Most are solid black boxes. 3 display video feeds. 8 display images. 
1 displays a picture of a crudely drawn frog. 
    
> share presentation 'Lecture 1.pptx'
    
PRESENTATION
Your screen changes again. The boxes disappear. Your presentation fills most of the screen.
    
> give lecture
    
PRESENTATION
You begin the lecture, talking as you move through the slides.

A window appears:

WAITING ROOM
There are 18 participants in the waiting room.
Admit all participants?
         
> click 'admit all'
    
PRESENTATION
18 participants have joined the presentation. You cannot see them.
    
> continue lecture
    
PRESENTATION
You continue the lecture.

A window appears:
WAITING ROOM
There are 9 participants in the waiting room.
Admit all participants?

> click 'admit all'
    
PRESENTATION
9 participants have joined the presentation. You cannot see them.
    
> continue lecture
    
PRESENTATION
You continue the lecture. 
After several minutes, you reach the end of your presentation slides.
    
> click 'Stop Share'
    
MEETING
Your screen changes. You see a grid of mostly black boxes.
At the bottom, a label says 'Participants (1/2)'

You notice an icon that says 'Chat (235)'
    
> click 'Chat'
    
CHAT
A window appears at the side of your screen:
	Participant 23: I can't hear you.
	Participant  8: I think you're on mute.
	Participant 12: Still can't hear you.
	Participant  3: F
	Participant 42: F
	Participant 51: F
	Participant  7: F
	Participant 23: I still can't hear you.
	Participant  3: F
	Participant 23: Hello? I don't think he can see the chat.
	Participant  3: F
	Participant 42: F
         
	(the chat continues)
         
> click 'Mute'
    
MEETING
Your microphone is active.
    
> say 'Sorry! My computer is acting up! 
	I'll post the presentation to the course site so you have it.
	Let's try again next class.'
    
> click 'End Meeting'
    
COURSE HOME
The videoconferencing window disappears. 
You see your course site once again.
    
> look
    
WEST OF HOUSE
This is an open field west of a white house with a boarded front door.
    
> go west
    
FOREST
This is a forest, with trees in all directions around you.

Anyway. I thought it was too snarky and sarcastic to include in the dissertation…