This article illustrates through word, image and design the back-and-forth exchange characteristic of Project Oriented Semantic Trading (POST) Cards, a game-based professional learning ritual relevant to educators’ problems of practice. In describing the iterative designs and features of POST Cards, this article intentionally depicts alternative means of narrative and scholarship via imaginative, playful and visual (re)presentation.
Both POST Cards and this inquiry use a design-based process driven by theory about play, intended to improve education practice, and iteratively co-created with participants. As an annotated and dialogical worked example, this representation of game play moves beyond the monolithic medium of printed text. With the intention to provoke discussion about the content and configuration of inquiry, this article traces the literal and figurative tradeoffs associated with the development and play of POST Cards.
In surveying the design and enactment of POST Cards across two iterations, and a related Quote Cards mutation, three design principles are relevant to fostering greater playfulness in higher education: embrace the inevitability of tradeoffs, invite players to co-create new features and iterations, and create conditions whereby everyday rituals and social practices are transformed into improvisational and discursive play.
As an annotated narrative constructed in the form and spirit of POST Cards, this inquiry is notable for presenting an experimental form of multimodal literacy and also for revealing how higher education settings and practices may be designed as playgrounds upon which to render visionary, risky and expressive approaches to game-based collaboration and creative scholarship.
The authors thank, first and foremost, Fred Goodman. Among the many lessons he so graciously taught about games and play, his contribution to the very first conversation regarding the semantic meanings of POST Cards indelibly informed our subsequent design and inquiry. Ebony Flowers and Nick Sousanis have shaped our understanding of comics and the visual affordances of narrative structure; as they illustrate how alternative means of inquiry and representation are research, they have inspired us and others to experiment with new scholarly forms. Finally, we thank Microsoft Research for funding the initial POST Cards pilot, as well as the hundreds of POST Cards players at our professional learning conferences across four years and three continents.
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