Save the Penguin!

That was the quest of attendees of ECOO (Education Computing Organization of Ontario) conference 2011 in Ontario, Canada, who participated in our alternate reality game.

The game placed our beloved PLP mascot, the PLP Penguin, in danger. He had been kidnapped by an irate teacher on his way to ECOO. This teacher expressed in a series of ransom videos that she was tired of waiting for “shift” to happen and that the attendees at ECOO would have to meet her demands for the safe release of PLP’s crocheted critter.

The list of demands came in the form of clues tweeted from @PLPnetwork with the hash tag #ecoopenguin. These clues, the answer to each containing an key letter summating in the spelling of the penguin’s name –Periwinkle. All of the clues had to do with technology and connected learning. By riddling out the clues, ECOO attendees discovered the Penguin’s name, proving to the irate kidnapper that they had gained some 21st Century Teaching ideas along the way. PLP, being very concerned (and at the Periwinkle’s emphatic request!) offered two iPads as a reward for the safe return of our beloved Periwinkle.

The PLP penguin's kidnapper shows up at ECOO to personally deliver a clue.

During ECOO, 556 people registered to play the game, and over 40 finished the game by solving the final clue! This game was a lot of fun, but it really did get participants interested in learning new technology. The clues were found at PLP’s Facebook, blog, wiki, and sent through an email list, QR codes and videos. A clue was even delivered personally by the disguised kidnapper herself.

Here’s what some of the Penguin’s rescuers had to say about playing the game:

“I LOVED the game. It was an excellent way to reinforce the key presenters [Sheryl Nussbaum Beach and Will Richardson] and the key pedagogy of the conference. It was possible to solve as an individual or in a team. I liked that hints were given at a specific time over the conference rather than all at once…..because if you had given them all to me I would have obsessed about solving all of them right then and there!” —Kelly Blair

“Loved the ECOO penguin game … thought it was a great way to enter your name for very cool prizes … we are using the idea of the game in our high school to recruit students to join our school’s Twitter feed!!!  It was a fun thing to do during the conference and it modeled an innovative way to get people involved with, and see the collaborative power of, Twitter.  Thanks!” –Scott Johnson

“I was not a twitter competent person before this contest. Now I have a digital footprint. I Googled myself and see the associations I have online. It made me learn by doing, and I am grateful for the experience…Now I check twitter a couple times a week and see the 5 people I am following.” —Eric Gaebel

Thanks to everyone who participated in our Penguin alternate reality game! This was Periwinkle’s debut as a mascot for PLP, and we’re looking forward to sending him on many more adventures. You can keep up with all of Periwinkle’s future adventures right here on the PLP blog.

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