A Student’s Perspective

Kodi Sims PictureHello! My name is Kodi, and I will be blogging for the new Planet Stewards: Personalized Learning in 3D GameLab. So here is a little bit about me, I am currently a junior at Boise State University with a major in Environmental Studies. I plan on getting a Doctorate in this subject field. As a profession I would love to work for NOAA and for my focus to be on the oceans. I would do anything from coral studies to oil disaster cleanups. There is something about the ocean that draws me toward it. In fact, at the age of 11 years old I received my Scuba Diving license. I have traveled to many places and have seen some incredible things from the perspective of a fish, and what an incredible feeling that is! To be one with the ocean is soothing and it feels natural for me.

After graduating from High School in 2009, I had a huge dilemma on my hands. What was I going to do for the rest of my life? I racked my brain and realized that throughout the years the one thing, education wise, that I really cared about and that intrigued me was the environment. Many of my friends have gotten into degrees that they didn’t like, or didn’t interest them, but I never felt the way they did about Environmental Studies. It’s hard to think about a career when your only 18 years old, but if you can figure out what your most passionate about college will go by a lot quicker. I have taken over 30 credits relating directly to my major and each and every class has been interesting, and has lead me to believe that this is what I will do for the rest of my life.  I have built up a huge passion to help protect and educate people on environmental issues, and to show them how they can help.

I can’t even begin to tell you how important education is. I had always planned on going to college, but after 3 years of being a full time student I was surprised how much I have learned, grown, and expanded my mind and ideas. Parents and teachers always gave lectures while I was in high school, and I really never paid attention to what they were saying, I was going to college anyways right? Come to find out, they weren’t wrong about the importance of education. Through education we can change the world! People can’t pull together and change something if they don’t even know about it.

I am really excited to be joining the bloggers and followers on here. To get involved with NOAA and the education of students is quite exciting. My ultimate goal in life is to make the world a healthier place not just for humans but for all living things. The pathway it doing this is through education that is why 3D GameLab is very important to me. I would encourage everyone out there to take one baby step at a time, and help with the education of others.

Planet Stewards: Wouldn’t it be cool if..?

Planet Stewards imageChris Haskell and I like to joke that a lot of our ideas start out with a “Wouldn’t it be cool if…”  If we offer a gaming camp to teens, if we use quests as pedagogy, if we had a quest tracker tool to monitor progress on quests?  And thus the birth of 3D GameLab.

Then along comes the DML Badges for Lifelong Learning Competition.  Wouldn’t it be cool if NOAA would pair up with us to do quests in 3D GameLab?  If those quests led to the award of a badge?  If those badges represented NOAA career pathways (non-traditional) instead of content grouped around clusters (traditional)?  And if students could choose which badges to work on based on their own interest (personalized learning)?

All those “ifs” came true, and Planet Stewards is now in progress!  We feel so fortunate to be teamed up with the great folks at NOAA.

Project Objectives

  1. Introduce and motivate high school students to career pathways in the five NOAA science areas
  2. Design three career pathways in each of five NOAA science areas
  3. Integrate Mozilla OBI badging capability
  4. Offer OBI badges for both NOAA certified teachers (who train in this content), and NOAA certified specialists in each of the career pathways (students)
  5. Integrate new Science Framework standards and assessments (8 scientific and engineering practices)
  6. Design ID training, and train instructional designers to create master set of curriculum
  7. Design teacher training, and train teachers to create customized quest groups for their students
  8. Improve the learning analytics
  9. Improve the data visualization
  10. Implement with students and evaluate in real-time
  11. Work in partnership with school and organizational partners


  • Phase 1 (April-July 2012):  Planning & Design (instructional, graphic)
  • Phase 2 (July-Oct. 2012):  Teacher Training & Analytics Design, Mozilla coding (badge design)
  • Phase 3 (Oct-Dec 2012):  Teacher Training & Evaluation Planning, coding
  • Phase 4 (Jan-March 2013):  Student Piloting & Evaluation

Who’s Who

  • Peg Steffen, education coordinator NOAA National Ocean Service, and brainchild of the Planet Stewards curriculum
  • Lisa Dawley & Chris Haskell, co-inventors of 3D GameLab, and professors at Boise State University
  • Alark Joshi & Andy Hung, professors at Boise State helping us improve learning analytics and real-time data visualization

What’s Up?

Peg has pulled her working group together at NOAA, and we’ve had one large group meeting to begin looking at the “topic tree,” or exactly what content/standards NOAA recommends we cover in each career badge.  We had a great time thinking about careers, the types of learning activities students might engage in, and just how radical it is to learn content through real-world application that might lead to a new career in life.  Very inspiring stuff!

On the learning analytics side, we’ve set up our new analytic server, Andy & Chris are working on the KPIs to refine our data collection, and Alark shared some examples of data visualizations he’s exploring with the different data sets.  On the left are some examples of data visualization examples we discussed this week.

Next, we firm up our instructional designers on the project, and begin a one-week asynchronous training inside 3D GameLab.  Since we’ve previously focused on training teachers to design quests in the platform, this part is easy.  Later in June, we meet at NOAA to plan the overall scope our master set of curriculum, quest pathways and badges.

We’re currently hiring the graphic designer to pull together the badges.  This week on our call with Sunny Lee from Mozilla, she used the word “flair” to discuss the overall look of the badges–loved this!  And she also gave us Badges Resource Decision Map!  If you are new to badges and want to learn more, check it out, a very creative and useful tool.

So let’s all keep asking those “wouldn’t it be cool ifs,” know no boundaries, and continue to push it forward!   We’ll continue to post project updates here: http://hastac.org/competitions/winners/planet-stewards-personalized-learning-3d-gamelab