Immersive Thought Experiment Ed Zed Omega Played on Social Media
Online PR News – 16-August-2012 – St. Paul, MN – Alternate reality game Ed Zed Omega, a collaborative thought experiment about today’s education, launched yesterday on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other “transmedia” platforms. Like a collaborative documentary, except on social media, Ed Zed Omega revolves around six kids who are “dropping out loud” – they intend to quit high school and openly discuss online this intention, their reasons and its ramifications. Ed Zed Omega asks: “What is school supposed to accomplish?” with the hope of facilitating a space for players and in-game characters to share stories about schools and learning and collectively explore what education could look like in the future.
“We’re not talking about just six teens, or even the million-plus teens who drop out year after year. We’re really talking about school being something that many, maybe most, young people tolerate or survive. If the first step is to feel the problem, to make it human and personal, what better start than to chat with it on Facebook?” states Ken Eklund, creator of Ed Zed Omega and experience designer for museums and public media. (Eklund is also the creator of World Without Oil, the widely acclaimed 2007 public media ARG.) Ed Zed Omega is set in Minneapolis, a Localore project in collaboration with TPT (Twin Cities Public Television).
Ed Zed Omega is immersive: its teen characters (the “Zed Omegas”) seem very real. Their story is unscripted, and reacts in real time to the stories and ideas shared by anyone following the game. Each character’s situation poses an authentic question: Why does Clare need school if she wants to be an actress? What’s high school giving Nicole after it canceled her music program? Why should Jeremy attend if he isn’t challenged in the slightest? Because they live out loud on social media such as Facebook and Tumblr, the characters create a space where teens and young adults especially can express what they know about the successes and failures of education.
Creating an immersive, crowdsourced platform to reimagine education grows more imperative each year. Programs abound to address school issues: the Bullying Prevention Summit takes place this month; discussions on alternative ways to teach STEM education have mushroomed; ways to make standardized testing more relevant are being considered; online education in the form of MOOC (Massive Online Open Courses) and accredited online high schools are making their debut; and debates about individualism in the classroom have grown. These important issues need to be shared in a collective way – Ed Zed Omega is the vehicle to bring the education conversation to center stage before more kids leave the building.
Join the conversation to reimagine education at edzedomega.org, and continue along throughout the fall semester. Share your vision of what education could be, lest the Zed Omegas drop out for good.
Created by Ken Eklund (Writerguy) in collaboration with TPT (Twin Cities Public Television), Ed Zed Omega is a Localore project funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and aims to create an alternate reality game (ARG) for all audiences. The participatory documentary is presented by the Association of Independents in Radio and runs from August 15th to November 15th, 2012.