Posts Tagged ‘teachers’

So yes. Textfyre could be seen as trying to push a particular solution onto a non-existent or poorly defined problem. I can admit that I may have missed an important part of this process, especially if I plan to approach schools for money. The part that I believe has been missed is the education side and the business development side.

So I’m going back to square one and starting with:

What is the problem I am trying to solve? Well I do know this and it’s more or less that overall, K-12 schools are performing poorly, we have poor graduation rates, poor literacy rates, and highly complex classroom learning variances.

The primary problem that I believe Textfyre and technology in general can solve is the lesson-plan variance problem. There is research, especially in urban school districts, that show any given classroom requires varied lesson plans for the makeup of the students. There is also research that the very best teachers can handle at most three different lesson plans. Some classrooms require five or more. Clearly there is no way to make teachers more effective if the best they can do is lower than the average requirement. Technology can solve this problem by offering blended learning or ILP’s (Individual Learning Plans). In fact, there is a very strong effort by school districts around the country to procure technical solutions that promote ILP’s.

Within the ILP structure there is a need for immediate feedback to the student, to the teacher, and to the parents. There’s a need for tracking progress towards college access and a need to measure and challenge students to meet and exceed their grade-level requirements. There’s also a need to develop cognitive skills, problem-solving, collaboration, and more.

Many of these requirements, along with the new Common Core Standards, are the root dynamics in pushing a service through the IF medium.

But we need to go back to the beginning and cite all of the existing research for the basis of the IF medium in classrooms and founding a new ILP service.

We also need to build relationships with a number of schools, teachers, administrators, and learning specialists. We have the technology. We need the educators to support and hone the technology properly.

So that’s where I’m going. No more coding or writing. No more meetings. I’m setting all of that aside so I can go back and build personal relationships with people.

If you’re interested in our discussion, let me know. I’m interested in people that can speak strongly about interactivity, gaming, education, lesson plans, assessment, blended learning, and individual learning plans. We have a Yammer account where we’re having these discussions.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve been doing management tasks for Textfyre. This includes pulling in resumes for curriculum content developers, doing phone screens, and face-to-face interviews. This is going well.

I finalized access to the new Chicago digital start-up lab, 1871 where I will be working with technical and business partners on Textfyre.

I went to the first annual Chicago Moxie Awards last night, which was a huge success. I met the guys from Code Academy, the ladies from 30 Second Mom, a couple of guys from YCharts, and many others. It was an eye-opening experience with a lot of very famous tech start-up people. Matt Moog, Matt Maloney, Paul Lee, Eric Lunt, and many more.

I do have a big announcement on the product side coming in the next week or so….we’re still going to publish fiction-based content to mobile platforms….we’re just refocusing on public education tools for the foreseeable future.

Updated 3-31-2010@9pm: Please see last paragraph on contributing…

In Boston we had a panel discussion about IF outreach and I’ve decided to take a proactive approach to this subject. Outside of marketing Textfyre, I’d like to help promote IF in general. I think of the things we can do is reach out to libraries. In order to do this, I think we need to drop off a sort IF Promotion Package.

I see the package including:

  • The IF Promotionall CD, and if we can get a Mac version, that would be great.
  • A Dozen of the IF Help Cards we had at PAX.
  • A single printed (color) page of each game on the CD. This would have the cover art, a blurb, and the standard basic help for an IF game. I would try to get approval from each author to finalize their game page.
  • An introductory IF newsletter that describes what people need to know in 4 pages about IF, including where to find more information.
  • A binder with cover art to bring it all together.
  • Possibly a small swag bag to hold it all.

The idea would be to bring a binder or bag to a new library every weekend, pitch IF to the librarian of your choice, and drop off the material.

We could also give the binder to teachers of course, if you find a way to do that.

I’d also like to mention that there is a Middle School convention in Baltimore in the first week of November. Textfyre may have a booth at this convention, but I’m open to having the booth be about Interactive Fiction and having Textfyre just be one of the sponsors and participants. If other people want to join in, I would welcome that.

I think we need to stop talking about outreach and start pounding the pavement. We need to go out and hand the stuff to people that might actually be interested. People that read regularly are very likely to be found in libraries and libraries all have computers these days.

I’m also working on the Follett angle, trying to get IF into school libraries, and I will share my progress as it happens there.

If anyone is interested in helping put all of this material together, please let me know. I have a SharePoint site I can give access to so we can collaborate. I just added an IFWiki Outreach page. Please visit and contribute.

We’ve had an almost exact number of expected hits to the website since launching our first game “to the hobbyist community”. I thought we’d get a few more conversions from the IF community, but I think the game itself doesn’t resonate enough there. I do believe the next game, Shadow in the Cathedral, will resonate much more strongly within the IF community, but that’s just a guess.

We also had a number of technical issues and most of these were expected as well. Or at least, we expected problems, but felt confident that whatever came up, we could resolve them easily and quickly. Last night we pushed version 1.06 of Jack Toresal and The Secret Letter to the customer download areas and anyone that needs an upgrade is strongly urged to grab the latest installer.

We resolved the Save problems, the Keyboard Lag problem, and removed the Goudy Font. We also added a Settings page that allows the user to set the font, size, color, and background color.

We’re currently working on a Windows (non-Silverlight) version that should work on PC/Mac/Linux via Mono. We’re also working on a console version that is directed to text-reader-using customers, or blind computer users.

The next game is in the process of design testing and should go into major play-testing soon. That process will take a few weeks and then we can start the final production packaging tasks like artwork and such. The target is to get it out by the end of August, but I think we’re looking at September now. A publish date is in the works.

We’re thankful for all of the support from the hobbyist community. They’re initial purchases were helpful in resolving a few bugs and we appreciate the effort.

Now we need to get the word out to teachers, librarians, and schools.