ARG designed to teach new literacies

On September 12, 2007 by Christy

In May 2007 my keyword alerts informed me of an ARG being developed to teach new literacies. The project was briefly described at Research Quest:

During the fall term of 2007, a team of faculty, librarians, instructional designers and student volunteers will be hosting an internet-based alternate-reality game (or ARG) designed to teach critical thinking and information literacy skill. The game will be targeted to college students, yet will be freely open and promoted in order to attract a broad range of participants.

After speaking to John Farquhar (with help from Perplex City puzzle-maker Peter Blake — thanks Peter!), I now know the project is well underway. Farquhar says he was inspired by the project after attending a lecture by Bryan Alexander. Although only online, it appears the project will draw on many elements of ARGs. It will commence on the 21st September 2007. So far, the only info is this paragraph on the trailhead:

William Lewis has a mystery to solve. He found a volume of a 1933 World Book Encyclopedia among his own books. Inside the book was a note with some mysterious and cryptic messages. How did it get there? What does it mean? And, where will all of this lead? Join William’s mystery here on September 21 and expect to uncover new mysteries and puzzles throughout the fall. Participate in the online forum or create your own blog of your experience. Use the online tools to: 1) describe search strategies that successfully locate additional clues, 2) critically examine the clues, documents and other sources information, and 3) guide other participants to successfully search for and critically examine information. Perhaps you’ll make new friends and learn new things.

I asked Farquhar whether he was OK with non-schools participating and he is definitely keen:

Our ARG will be open to anyone and I am encouraging participation outside of the academic community. In fact, I am particularly interested in seeing the collaboration between those participating for college credit and those who happen upon the experience for other reasons. The game is being designed to teach information literacy and critical thinking skills which I think all good ARG players seem to have.

Check it out: http://helpmesolveamystery.com/