Tidepool is moving along nicely these days after a slow summer.
Our current plan is to finish up Alpha 2 in the next ten days, so get your paintbrush ready to sketch and make stories. I know it’s been a long time since the last alpha. This should be a good one.
We’ve also started to reach out to area colleges in hopes of giving them a taste of Tidepool during our upcoming “Kismet Club” classes. My aim is to build partnerships in my own backyard (for a change!). We’re looking to spark the same kind of interest as our earlier Waveplace work, encouraging teachers and students to make courseware, do research, and organize service learning trips. Read more about it in my latest book chapter.
In other news, our funding ran out last month. I’m pretty happy we made it nine months, though wish we were further along. I did manage to find a corporate gig I can spend half my time on while I finish Tidepool. Unfortunately this means everything will slow down for a while. My new goals are beta by New Years and gold by March 21st. Gotta pay the bills!
Donations are still open and very much appreciated. All money will be paid forward from profits to other educational groups.
Lastly, I’ve made a Reddit section for Tidepool. Please help make it more lively by subscribing and posting a comment or two, perhaps in the Introductions thread. If you don’t yet know about Reddit, I highly recommend the “Today I Learned” section, which always has something interesting. Be warned though, there are places on Reddit that aren’t suitable for work or children, so I wouldn’t leave your kids alone with it. It’s a very populated nexus for gaming though, which is why I posted our shingle there (for a start).
Lately most weekdays, you’ll find me afterschool on the playground, using my laptop while my daughter plays with friends. Coding Tidepool with gradeschoolers in view has been great for my momentum, or rather it was, until they discovered what I was up to. Now I’m getting interrupted with urgent questions like “Is Tidepool done yet?” “What are you working on now?” “Is that a portal?” “Can I make another sound?” and so on. Yesterday I had a crowd around me, with most asking to play Tidepool at home.
With Alpha 2 approaching, it’s time to make plans. Today I invited 24 local families to join the “Kismet Club,” a group of children alpha testers. We’ll meet every other Saturday or so for a few hours of guided Tidepool play, with perhaps some professors from local colleges looking on, in hopes of fostering a face-to-face ed-tech scene nearby.
So long I’ve looked to other states, countries, and continents for collaborators, but never my own backyard, which is a bit nuts since Lehigh University, my alma-mater, is only three miles away, with quite a good reputation for education technology. Our Waveplace work has always been at a distance, with only two week stretches of face-to-face time. What a change it’ll be to see the kids over time.
So now I’ve got some genuine deadlines to meet. I’ve an audience to aim at again.
If you’re getting this, then your child knows my daughter Isabel, either from school or around town. As you’ve probably heard, I’ve been developing an educational computer game called Tidepool, which with any luck should be published by the end of the year.
Last summer, we organized the “Kismet Club”, a group of twelve children who would be the first players of Tidepool. Today, I’ve doubled that number, adding another twelve children, most of whom are third graders from the Fox and Anthony classes at UFS.
In the next three months, the Kismet Club will meet six times at colleges around the Lehigh Valley. Each 90-minute meeting will be both a kids brainstorming session and an ed-tech workshop. We’ll teach your children using the techniques from our Waveplace classes in places like Haiti, Nicaragua, and Africa, though this time with Tidepool, the newest in a line of learning environments that includes Logo, Squeak Etoys, and Scratch.
Nothing is required from you except time and transportation. It’s not necessary that your child make all six meetings, though the first is probably a good idea. Your child should also have access to a computer at home (Windows, Mac, or Linux), so they can use Tidepool in their free time. The kids will likely want to play together from home, as their schedules allow.
We’ll ask you to sign our standard waiver, which allows photography of the children and use of the materials created by them. All works will be Creative Commons, so they’re essentially owned by the world, just like Wikipedia.
I completely understand if you don’t wish for your child to participate. I’m actually hoping that some of you decline, so the class is smaller. Please let me know if you’re interested or simply reply with “no thanks” (no reason needed) and I’ll take you off the list. If you have questions, call me anytime at the number below.
To learn more about our Waveplace work (or to hear us featured on NPR’s All Things Considered), visit: http://waveplace.org
Immediately following this will be a SignupGenius email. If you’re interested, let me know what dates. We have flexibility with the times, so if you want another time, indicate in the comment for that day.