New University of Miami Department of Community Service (DOCS) model website now live!

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The Department of Community Service (DOCS) is a student run, non-profit organization endorsed by the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine’s (UMMSM) administration. Through DOCS, UMMSM students and physicians provide quality healthcare to the underserved populations in South Florida. In 2014, DOCS partnered with UM’s School of Communication, and with generous support from the Mitchell Wolfson, Sr. Foundation, to develop an online decision support tool to connect like-minded students, faculty and deans at medical schools nationwide with the program. The website’s goal is to engage interested schools in coordinating, improving, and expanding existing community service projects or establishing new health fairs or student-directed clinics.

I served as the creative director and project manager for this web project, coordinating with a diverse set of stakeholders and contributors including faculty, staff, and students at both the Miller School of Medicine and the School of Communication.

The site is currently available at: docs.com.miami.edu

Thank you to all those who helped make it possible!

Interactive Media featured in Fall 2014 Miami Magazine // Toma el Paso graces the cover

Tim Collie wrote a comprehensive article about our Interactive Media program and games at UM, including both faculty and student projects, for the Fall 2014 issue of UM’s Miami magazineToma el Paso (Make a Move) is featured on the cover and as a sidebar, and Cops and Rubbers also gets a nice mention.

Toma el Paso has been played by hundreds of unaccompanied immigrant minors in Miami since April 2014, and it will spread to Texas starting in April 2015. Stay tuned for more on my immigration games and serious games projects.

 

For the full article, visit: http://miami.univmiami.net/gaming-system/

Miami Magazine featuring UM's Interactive Media program and game projects

Miami Magazine featuring UM’s Interactive Media program + game projects; Toma el Paso graces the cover

UM’s inaugural CoLab course is all about WWF and FSC

This Fall 2014 semester I’m running the inaugural MFA in Interactive Media CoLab class, which is a class where students create interactive solutions for a professional client. The students and I are very excited to be working with the U.S. chapter of World Wildlife Fund (WWF-US) located in Washington D.C.

The semester started out with students researching WWF-US and brainstorming ideas for how the organization can connect with the Millennial generation and encourage environmental advocacy. In mid-September, Sara Thomas (University of Miami alumna) and Kerry Green Zobor from WWF-US joined us in Coral Gables, FL, for a 2-day intensive ideation and design workshop. By the end of the workshop, two teams identified two different campaigns that engage the Millennial generation on the benefits of purchasing Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) sustainable wood products.

On October 6, 2014, 6 of the CoLab students and I traveled to Washington, D.C. to present the 2 campaign concepts to WWF staff. We received excellent response and feedback to the initial concepts, and we even got an exclusive tour of WWF’s green roof (the third largest in Washington, D.C.). Students will continue working on these two WWF-FSC campaigns for the duration of the semester and will present the final projects in December 2014. Stay tuned for the final implementation projects!

 

Without Mosquitoes, there is no Dengue: UM students use HvM to teach Panama youth about vector-borne diseases

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During Summer 2014 in the semi-autonomous Panamanian community known as Kuna Yala, a team of University of Miami Public Health and Latin American Studies students participated in an educational intervention to raise awareness about mosquito avoidance and disease prevention among Kuna Yala’s 10-12 year old schoolchildren. They were successful in engaging the children in pertinent discussions about this topic through the use of a simple card game developed by Clay Ewing and myself called “Humans vs. Mosquitoes.” The student team adapted it to fit the cultural context of the remote village in Panama and introduced the game in a formal classroom setting, supplementing it with an educational talk and community-wide garbage cleanup.

The game has one goal for each team: the humans try to eliminate all the mosquitoes’ eggs from the breeding grounds while the mosquitoes try to deplete the humans’ blood supply. Children were quick to learn the game, and very eager to continue playing and switch teams after each round. Implementing a formal pre and post evaluation proved difficult, but the team left after seven days with very valuable knowledge about this topic. First, the game was popular among the children, which signifies its potential to be adapted to almost any environment. Second, by opening this channel of communication through gameplay, the team discovered that many of the children had difficulty defining dengue and distinguishing it from the mosquito itself or from other vector-borne diseases. Community health workers and health professionals must keep this in mind when developing awareness raising or educational campaigns. The Panama youth experienced situated learning by playing the game, and it facilitated trust and openness between all participants, which encouraged an ongoing discussion about an important health education topic identified by the community.  The game can be used alongside other educational tools like talks and community engagement activities to reconcile the misconceptions about the life cycle of a mosquito and the diseases it may carry.

 

Thanks to Dr. Sherri Porcelain and Professor Ali Habashi for mentoring and creating such a unique student experience

 Video credit: Hannah Artman, Charles Chen, Stephanie Echeverria, Orchadia McLean, and Amanda Randall – University of Miami

Blog content credit: Hannah Artman

 

 

Training Shelter Staff at His House

In August 2014, the University of Miami published an article on my Toma el Paso game, including some coverage on a recently training I did with shelter staff at His House in Miami Gardens.

Lien Tran shows counselors how to play the board game she created for the young, unaccompanied, and undocumented immigrants who are streaming into the United States. Photo: Han Chang

The full article can be found here:
http://everitas.univmiami.net/2014/08/21/make-a-move-professors-board-game-helps-young-immigrants-plot-their-futures/

Cops & Rubbers video is now live!

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 Have you played Cops & Rubbers?

Watch this video to learn more about my Cops & Rubbers game project with Open Society Foundations’ Public Health and Rights Project, which is based on OSF’s Criminalizing Condoms report.

For more on Cops & Rubbers:

 

Thanks to Ed Talavera, professor from University of Miami’s Cinema program, for putting together this fabulous Cops & Rubbers video.

Make a Move (“Toma El Paso”) is officially available on The Game Crafter

For those who have been following my Gaming the Immigration System project and the status of Make a Move (Toma El Paso in Spanish), I’m happy to announce that the game has been translated into Spanish and is now available for purchase! I’ve been working with local immigration experts here in Miami (thank you Americans for Immigrant Justice and University of Miami’s ICAN network) to confirm the content and Spanish language translation.

Since the majority of undocumented unaccompanied immigrant minors (UUIMs) are Spanish speaking, I’ve published the full version of the game in Spanish with an English expansion (you can use the English chance cards and release mats with children who prefer communicating in English). If you will only be playing with Spanish speakers, please order the Toma El Paso version. If you will be playing with both Spanish and English players, then also add the English expansion to your order.

Ordering the game:

For more information on the project, visit: http://lienbtran.com/games/gaming-the-system/

 

 

 

UM Interactive Media MFA Among Princeton Review’s Top Graduate Game Design Programs

The School of Communications Interactive Media Master of Fine Arts program has earned a No. 24 ranking on The Princeton Review’s 2014 list of the best graduate schools to study video game design. The Princeton Review chose the schools based on a survey it conducted in Fall 2013 of 150 programs at institutions offering video game design coursework or degrees in the United States, Canada, and some countries abroad.

It’s an honor to have our Interactive Media program on this list and in such great company (including my alma mater Parsons) in our first year. We look forward to supporting the many amazing game projects that will come out of our Interactive Media program!

If you’re a student interested in studying with us, please check out: interactive.miami.edu

Check out the original article on the School of Communication website.

 

 

Creating Crowdsourcing Mobile App to Monitor Water Quality in Ghana

Article sourced from UM Interactive website (September 2013)

With the global population booming and water-borne diseases on the rise, developing nations are faced with the serious challenge of providing clean water to their citizens. Of particular concern are many cities in Sub-Saharan Africa, which are expected to fall short of Millennium Development Goals for ensuring adequate and potable resources for the entire community. For example, recent studies in Accra, Ghana, have shown that existing water rationing programs are highly variable not only across geographical regions but also income levels. In fact, this is one of the few cities in the world where access to piped water has actually decreased in recent decades due to lagging public infrastructure and production limitations.

In the past, Ghana Water Company Ltd. (GWCL) carried out residential surveys to assess water service at the neighborhood level; the results were alarming. However, follow-up studies and broader research were not feasible due to the cost and time required to do the surveys. Ghana is in desperate need of a cheap, quick alternative that will allow officials to monitor water quality throughout the region without wasting excess resources or time.

In late July 2013, Interactive Media professors Lien Tran and Clay Ewing traveled to Accra to apply the power of crowdsourcing to Ghana’s municipal water challenge. Working in collaboration with Justin Stoler, also from the University of Miami, as well as GWCL officials, they created a new, mobile-based tool to track residential water service. The system, Improving Quality of Urban Water Service by Engaging SMS Technology or IQUEST for short, harnesses the power of short message service (SMS) on users’ cell phones. By collecting data from residents, GWCL management is able to monitor water quality trends across the region.

The road to a reliable SMS-based water quality network is not without challenge; socio-cultural factors, including language barriers, varying literacy rates and expensive texting fees, have limited IQUEST’s test data collection so far. Nevertheless, Lien and Clay eagerly await the results of the pilot study in addition to the responses from local GWCL officials. With time and perseverance, they hope to implement IQUEST throughout the Accra region to help improve water access, managerial awareness and, ultimately, quality of life.

Lien and Clay would like to thank the School of Communication for providing the funding for this project.

For more information visit http://lienbtran.com/design/iquest/.

Accra, Ghana

Ghana Urban Water Limited

IQUEST Collaborators

IQUEST Mobile App

IQUEST Mobile App Results

IQUEST Mobile App Results

UM launching MFA in Interactive Media in 2013

It’s official, the University of Miami is launching a new MFA in Interactive Media program starting in the 2012-13 academic year. There’s also an Interactive Media minor for undergraduates. I know I’m not alone sharing in the excitement of what’s to come with more interaction courses and projects coming out of the U. To learn more about the new program you can visit interactive.miami.edu.

Don’t forget to play Sebastian in Space (I leave it to you to find him), a simple but possibly addicting game designed by fellow faculty Clay Ewing and myself. To learn more about Sebastian check out Wikipedia and to vote for him as Best Mascot in Capitol One’s Mascot Challenge go here.

Bienvenido!

After 5 years in New York I have moved to warmer and sunnier pastures in southern Florida and thus a refresh of my website. I’ve recently joined the faculty at the University of Miami’s School of Communication and am bringing an interaction designer’s approach to communication and journalism strategies. Currently I’m teaching Multimedia Design and will also teach Web Design in the spring. Stay tuned for future games, design projects, and teaching adventures!