Chris Holden is an Associate Professor in the Honors College at the University of New Mexico where he teaches small, interdisciplinary undergraduate courses in his hometown of Albuquerque, NM. He is also an affiliate faculty in Educational Linguistics and Organizational and Information Learning Sciences at UNM. His Ph.D. is in number theory (2008, University of Wisconsin-Madison), but his research since the mid-oughts has been at the intersection of mobile, games, learning, and local place.
He is an active, long-time member of the ARIS project. ARIS is easy-to-use open source software for making mobile games, tours, and other experiences, and through its development, the team hopes to make place-based game design and use something that anyone—not just those with expertise and resources, can do. Chris uses this and other simple tools to help individuals and groups across diverse educational settings in their quest to learn more deeply and learn about their learning. Sometimes this means making interactive experiences, like games, for students to play as part of a larger unit, and sometimes the learning takes place through the activities of design. Sometimes the games serve a more diagnostic role in learning research. A big part of the fun and interest is how multifaceted this work can be and how it can shed light on longstanding deep questions about learning.
By giving people (students, teachers, researchers, community members) a chance to think concretely about these areas and put their ideas into action, we can lay the groundwork for developing self-determination in our educational futures, both what it means to learn and how we go about it. When Chris is really lucky, he gets to participate in design and implementation of these efforts himself, but he also works to make sure there are enough resources and support available for this brand of indie “game” design that anyone, not just those with connections and grants, can get their hands dirty and end up helping to define the future of learning.
Chris tries to find ways to share what he has learned as widely as he can. A game he made with Julie Sykes, Mentira, is particularly well-known in language learning circles. It’s proudest effect is that it got others in those circles excited enough about the possibilities to give AR game creation a go themselves.