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This project was submitted by an applicant to the Digital Media and Learning Competition.

Meet the Earthworks Builders


Project goal:  connect resources and people through the Internet and encourage free-style, informal learning supported through badging. The badge system will encourage learning by connecting identity or motivation for visiting museums and parks with content. John Falk’s visitor experience model, five distinct identities: Explorer, Facilitator, Experience Seeker, Professional/hobbyist, and Recharger. We will build upon existing partnerships and provide an option for others to join and even create a badge.

The badge system should be sustainable and not rely upon continuous monitoring in order for badges to be awarded. To achieve this, we must develop and grow a self-sustaining community which (initially) will require a host to encourage people and set the tone, providing a safe way for people to share and participate (much like Catarina Fake did for Flickr), perhaps adopting some strategies developed for Gameful (

The primary website will promote Native American history and culture through studying the earthworks, connecting science and history with culture through the multidisciplinary nature of the earthworks. The video game (see below) will provide an interactive, educational experience that will create a desire to know more, motivating players to use the resources and badge system, allowing for a learner as producer role.


Understanding the earthworks is like solving a puzzle without the picture and a lot of the pieces missing.1 Studying the earthworks provides a rich, cross-disciplinary subject, connecting the past with the present, including: archeology, anthropology, cartography, geophysics, astronomy, art history, art education, history, geography, geology, architectural landscaping, and more. This topic supports global education. Even though we are focused on North American earthworks, they exist in counties all over the world including Brazil, Korea, Ireland, and Austria.

We have a small team of scientists, educators, and game designers, some of whom are Native Americans. We are making a video game prototype about the earthwork builder culture (funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities). The funding covers creating the prototype only and we are in the process of evaluating content and deciding the learner outcomes and in-game goals. (project blog:

Not all of the content identified can be used in the game environment, but it does provide lots of content for a badge system. Through HASTEC funding, we hope to develop a badge system for involving the learner as producer, by encouraging user-generated content via social networking, wikis, blogs, hyperlinks, and the use of mobile devices. James Gee’s explains the idea of Big G and Little G – “The “game” is the software in the box and all the elements of in-game design. The “Game” is the social setting into which the game is placed, all the interactions that go on around the game.”2 Building upon this idea, we want to build out from the game, through the website and develop a free, self-sustaining learning community. This could take various forms, but it has been done successfully (i.e. -caveat: the video game will in no way resemble Civilization.

In addition to some of those who are part of the team created to work on the game prototype, a few others have agreed to partner in making an online build out that will support learning about the cross-disciplinary aspects of the mounds and earthworks. (See appendix.)


The website for the video game, (, would host the badge project and provide information about the structure and system of earning badges created, and link to other websites.

Significant learning can be demonstrated by creating an ePortfolio, website, or blog. In a personal blog, learners post written work, video, sound, artwork, data visualization, remix, etc. Badges could be collected in the learner’s personal blog. This space will also provide options for others, through a crowd-sourcing of awarding badges, to award a badge. For example, to receive a badge in an specific area about Native Americans, there would need to be 3 people who agree to award the badge, one of whom must be Native American.

Learning content and activities supported by badges

provided through video, sound recordings, images, and “assignments” on the host website.

  • Gifting
    • Native American perspective on gifting (video of Chief Wallace)
    • The earthworks are a gift from the ancestors
    • Gifting in other cultures (The Gift by Lewis Hyde)
    • Ray Johnson and the artist movement of postcard art
      • Build upon this idea to encourage gifting of original art, sent to someone, the topic must relate to the mounds, posted on the learner’s online space.
  • Displacement
  • Removal
  • Loss
  • Reservations
  • Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act
  • Land
    • Earthworks preservation (parks)
    • Identifying earthworks
      • Cartography
      • Lidar data
      • Geophysics
  • Collections - museums
  • Organizing objects, creating categories
  • Should some things be reburied?
  • What do you do when you find something?
  • Visiting the mounds
  • Ruins of ancient places - stirs imagination
  • cultural landmarks and spaces, preservation
  • Ownership
  • Anthropology, archeology
  • Using the idea of pen pals, create ways for people to connect with one another through awarding badges and commenting upon one another’s work
  • Create an ambassador program through badging
  • Awe and mystery
  • Inquiry – prompting people to question and analyze
  • Understanding of a different culture, making a connection.
    • oral tradition – storytelling
      • trickster
      • Native American stories
    • Poetry, performance
    • Dance
    • Cooking

Badges would be awarded through learning analytics gathered through website use and crowd-sourcing reviewsconcept map - background for submissionconcept map - background information of blog postings.


An example:

For Ohio Ancient Trails (

–      visiting sites - passport badge

–       upload a photo, write a comment, share with others, comment on someone else’s post - participation badge.

–      confirmed through phone GPS  




OSU game development team (see appendix)


Sonya Atalya, anthropologist & National NAGPRA Review Committee


Newark Earthworks Center


Ohio Ancient Trails

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