PCF5: Dare2BDigital

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by Mr Paul Stacey

Dare2BDigital: the Online Learning Challenge is a six-week event broadcast "live" over the Internet. It combines game, social networking and "open house' features with live online audiences influencing team play through blogs, forums and voting.

Teams of students compete in a weekly challenge using online learning resources. They interact directly with a web audience discussing their experiences in blogs and forums and creating new media content about the weekly topic. The new media content teams produce in response to challenges are voted on by the audience and scored by a panel of judges with the best work winning prizes contributed by corporate sponsors.

This event acts as a virtual “open house” bringing schools, instructors, students and the public together in a live, web-based event to showcase:

  • programs and courses available across the school system
  • what really good educational technology supported courses/programs look like
  • people who are using educational technology and their success stories
  • processes and methods of development and implementation of online learning, and
  • the modeling of, and uses for, new technologies

Dare2BDigital allows children, parents, care givers, policy makers and educators to experience and explore hands-on online learning resources as well as meeting the people who are developing, delivering, and using them. It raises awareness through an innovative use of educational media in a fun and interactive event.

This demonstration session will provide the context for how BCcampus came to develop Dare2BDigital and demonstrate the real event itself. Opportunities related to use of the Dare2BDigital game/event engine by others will be demonstrated. Dare2BDigital information is available at http://www.dare2bdigital.ca. The first ever Dare2BDigital event was played live in British Columbia Canada from February 1 through March 17, 2008. The results can be viewed at http://event.dare2bdigital.ca

Dare2BDigital Full Paper

by Paul Stacey, BCcampus, pstacey@bccampus.ca and Sandy Hirtz, T2 Education Online, shitrz@t2online.ca

Context, Origins, and Purpose

BCcampus (http://www.bccampus.ca) is a Ministry of Advanced Education initiative in the province of British Columbia (BC) Canada with a mandate to use Information, Communication Technologies (ICT’s) to connect learners and educators to system‐wide post‐secondary education services.

BCcampus services include:

  • Information about BC post‐secondary online and distance education programs and services provided via an online BCcampus Course Finder and Program Finder
  • Learners can apply online for admission to any BC postsecondary institution through the BCcampus application service (PASBC)
  • BCcampus XML transcript exchange expedites the processing of student information among post‐secondary institutions
  • Annual online program development fund supports educator development of open courseware resources
  • Shareable online learning resource (SOL*R) repository stores and distributes open educational resources to educators across all BC public post secondary institutions for free sharing and reuse
  • Learn Together services provide an educator network and communities of practice for promoting teaching and learning, professional development research, and sharing of best practices

In 2006 BCcampus conducted a survey across the entire BC post secondary education system seeking recommendations on how to promote and enhance educational technology use. Out of that survey came a strong recommendation for BCcampus to create a BC public post-secondary educational technology online showcase that highlights:

  • Institutional or inter-institutional programs or courses representative of what is happening across BC public post-secondary institutions
  • What really good educational technology supported courses/programs look like
  • People who are using educational technology and their success stories
  • Processes and methods of development and implementation, and
  • The modeling of, and uses for, new technologies

As part of its response to this recommendation BCcampus developed Dare2BDigital (http://event.dare2bdigital.ca).

This recommendation is congruent with those coming from other initiatives. It is not enough to simply create online learning resources. The latest UNESCO report Open Education Resources – The Way Forward identifies awareness raising and promotion as the main priorities for promoting the advancement of the OER movement. (D’Antoni, 2007) Those involved with the National Science Digital Library initiative in the U.S. note that over the past five years of operation, they have heard a strong and consistent message from our community: “I don’t want a list of resources; I want to understand how to use them.” (Lagoze, 2006)

Design and Development

From the outset the awareness raising/showcase aspect of Dare2BDigital was designed and developed to be an online marketing and communication event. This is in line with conclusions from the Community Dimensions of Learning Object Repositories project where they note that examples of successful use should be collected and made available to users and should be web 2.0 enabled. (Margaryan, 2007)

Dare2BDigital deliberately set out to be Web 2.0 enabled and drew its development inspiration from both traditional and contemporary sources including:

  • the long held tradition of the educational institution open house where the public and students are invited on campus to tour facilities, meet faculty, and see examples of courses and programs. Dare2BDigital is an online virtual open house for BC’s public post secondary institutions
  • student fascination and expertise with games. Dare2BDigital incorporates elements of game design and play including use of hosts, skill testing questions, prizes, and sponsors. Dare2BDigital was developed in conjunction with researchers from the Simulations and Advanced Gaming Environments (SAGE) research network http://www.sageforlearning.ca.
  • reality television shows. Dare2BDigital transported reality television show ideas and format to the web including the aspect of teams taking on a challenge, judges scoring challenge responses, and audience voting for their favourite team
  • web 2.0 and social networking. Dare2BDigital uses blogs, discussion forums, user profiles, and webcasts. These interactive and social technologies were chosen for their proven use in online learning and for their popularity with young students

A team of developers drew on all these ideas to design the concept for the Dare2BDigital event and to define a set of software requirements for the educational technology online showcase. These requirements were published publicly as a Request For Proposals (RFP). A local Vancouver company, the Donat Group, won the RFP and built the Dare2BDigital event engine using the open source software application Drupal.

Description and Format

Dare2BDigital: the Online Learning Challenge is a six-week event broadcast "live" over the Internet. BCcampus conducted the first pilot of Dare2BDigital as a live online event 1-Feb-2008 through 18-Mar-2008.

Each week teams of students compete in a weekly challenge featuring an online learning course from a BC public post secondary institution. The challenge showcases the course, the faculty who teach the course, and the institution where the course is available. The challenge put to teams requires them to engage and explore the course topic being showcased. Throughout the week teams interact directly with a web public audience discussing their challenge in blogs and forums and at the end of the week respond to the challenge by creating and submitting a digital media file that captures their experience. The digital media files teams produce in response to challenges are voted on by the audience and scored by a panel of judges with the best work winning prizes contributed by corporate sponsors.

The web based public audience is invited to explore the same course and resources as the teams. The audience can influence the way teams respond to challenges by posting comments to blogs and participating in discussion forums. Audience participants are invited to vote for the team challenge submission they like best at the end of each week. In addition to the team challenge the audience has their own audience challenge and, like teams, is invited to submit a digital media response to the audience challenge. Audience challenge submissions are judged by a panel of judges with the best work winning prizes contributed by corporate sponsors.

Prizes are a major motivating factor for team and audience participation. Weekly prizes are awarded to the best team and audience submissions to the challenge. Weekly team scores are aggregated over the six weeks with grand prizes being awarded at the end of the competition to the top teams.

Dare2BDigital follows a regular rhythmn and schedule. Monday night at 8 pm the weeks challenge is launched using a live synchronous session (done using Elluminate). During this live session, to which the teams and public are invited, the faculty member showcases their course, sponsors are thanked, and the weeks challenge presented to teams and audience.

Weekly student team and audience challenge submissions are due the next Sunday night at 8:00 pm and are uploaded by teams and audience to the Dare2BDigital event site. Audience voting and judge scoring take place from Sunday night at 8 pm to Tuesday at noon with winners announced on the web site that afternoon.


Dare2BDigital emphasizes social networking and interaction as much as showcasing content. Every effort was made to infuse the event with people to raise awareness of the people who are using educational technology and their success stories and how online learning is a social activity rather than autonomous, anonymous use of content. A short synopsis of the range of people involved in Dare2BDigital includes:

Faculty experts and instructional designers who agreed to have themselves and their course showcased and contributed to the design of the challenge.

Student teams who applied to be contestants and took on each weekly challenge agreeing to publicly show their work and interact with others. A total of twenty-four students participated as contestants. There were six teams from five different institutions with four students per team. Student participants had to be nineteen years of age or older and registered as a part-time or full-time student at a BC public post secondary institution. Teams were recruited by running ads in the campus newspapers of all post secondary institutions and ads in Facebook. Each team created a unique name for their team, a team profile and individual team member profiles. The six teams were:

  1. League of Notions – University of Victoria, Allison Edwards, Brianna Grove-White, Shannon Cummings, Fraser MacGillivray
  2. The A-Team – University of British Columbia, Ann Lu, Amanda Naso, Angel Shan, Anita Yuk
  3. Dattebayo – Simon Fraser University, Clariss Chua, Celeste Pang, Dan Wu, Jonathan Lo
  4. The TRU Digital Pack – Thompson Rivers University, Kelsey Hunter, Carl Kennedy, Caeleen Cochran, Marc Jacobs
  5. The Global Voice – Kwantlen University College, Simran Waraich, Gurpreet Dhaliwal, Sapna Pabla, Asif Patel
  6. United Students – Kwantlen University College, Danielle Radford, Sheena Nand, Deki Tsering, Wanda Gust

Public audience participants included students, teachers, family, friends, and any member of the public interested in online learning. Local, national and international audience participants of any age were welcomed. Over 3100 people made more than 8500 visits to Dare2BDigital from 58 countries around the world.

Nine judges were recruited to score team and audience challenge submissions. Judges included staff involved in developing online learning at public post secondary institutions, senior staff from e-learning private companies, game developers, and Ministry of Education staff. Judges were encouraged to be provocative and emulate judges from reality television shows in their comments and feedback.

Sponsors were recruited to provide prizes and to showcase their involvement with online learning. Every sponsor received their own area on the Dare2BDigital event site to promote and market their products and services. Close to $40,000 worth of prizes were contributed from thirteen sponsors including:

  • Apple Canada
  • Adobe Software
  • Radical Entertainment
  • Elluminate
  • Lambda Solutions
  • BC Hydro
  • WiZiQ
  • Sun Peaks Resort Skiing
  • Prince of Whales – whale watching
  • Saltspring Island Kayaking
  • Hyak Wilderness Adventutes – white water rafting
  • Able Cresting
  • Cherry Point Place Bed & Breakfast

Three people shared the Dare2BDigital Host role providing daily status updates, instructions, and commentary through the Host blog on the event site.

A Dare2BDigital technology and system administrator played a key role in supporting student teams with ensuring their digital media files were uploaded and easily viewable on the event site. Some functionality and configuration tweaks were required throughout the event and it was invaluable to have the support of the Donat group, the application developer as well as our own technology system administrator.

Public relations and marketing staff at all 25 public post secondary institutions were contacted by Dare2BDigital’s marketing and communication staff to help with the promotion and marketing of Dare2BDigital on site. Each public post secondary institution received their own area on the Dare2BDigital event site to promote and market their online learning courses and services.

In addition to these publicly present people there were many people behind the scenes. During the design and development stage there were writers, game developers, programmers and marketing specialists. We also engaged one of the universities to assist with formal evaluation and research into the results and effectiveness of Dare2BDigital.

Many of the people who participated in Dare2BDigital did so as volunteers but a core paid team was essential. Having such a large number of people involved ensured Dare2BDigital was socially rich and made the event lively and interactive.


Dare2BDigital showcased course offerings at six institutions and their corresponding six faculty members. By providing team and audience challenges everyone could participate. The six challenges were:

Challenge #1: An Astronomical Experience

Institution and Course Showcased: North Island College, SSA 101 Space Science and Astronomy: Introduction to Deep Space Astronomy

Faculty Expert: Ron Evans

Team Challenge: Imagine what it must be like to freefall in outer space and invent a game or other type of recreation that could be done in freefall inside (or outside) a spacecraft. Describe your game or recreation activity in approximately 500 words and include a picture or image of your team or others having an ‘astronomical’ recreation experience! If your game or recreation activity has rules, rewards, consequences, or goals, include them in your description.

Audience Challenge: Pale Blue Dot - What’s your sign? Are you an Aries, a Pisces, or a Trekkie? Does space exploration and manned space flight intrigue you? Are you familiar with Carl Sagan’s "Pale Blue Dot" comments around an image of the Earth that was taken by the Voyager Spacecraft as they were passing the orbit of Pluto? Or perhaps you like to sit under a starry sky and contemplate the universe. For our first audience challenge, we want you to complete this sentence in 250 words or less - Deep Space Astronomy excites me because… Creativity, imagination, and spelling count!

Challenge #2: Dare2B You and Me

Institution and Course Showcased: Kwantlen University College in partnership with the University of Ghana, Sociology 3320 Sociology of Global Inequalities

Faculty Expert: Charles Quist-Adade

Team Challenge: Create a digital story to celebrate cultural identity. Story is to be approximately 5 minutes long, told in first person, illustrated with images, include music, be inspirational and motivational, have a message, impart cultural attitudes values and beliefs, and celebrate a cultural identity or collective identities. Audience Challenge: Proud To Be A Family - Using Voice Thread or our 1-800 digital audio phone number tell a story sharing a family tradition and celebrating family heritage.

Challenge #3: Making the Case for Justice

Institution and Course Showcased: University of Victoria, Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History

Faculty Expert: John Lutz

Team Challenge: Solve one of Canada’s Great Unsolved Mysteries - Who Killed William Robinson? Look at the evidence about the murder in the online archive (newspapers, trial transcripts, the judge’s bench notes, sworn statements, and letters). Investigate the evidence by interpreting it from different perspectives - consider labour, legal, political, and social issues. During the week use your team blog and the Forum to communicate with the audience asking them for advice and opinions. Submit your case for justice as a 5 min long Voice Thread presenting your argument to judge and jury. Defend your decision by showing your strategy and interpretations of evidence.

Audience Challenge: Citizen Gumshoe - Have you got an eye for the mysterious? The Internet lets citizens play an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating news and information. Citizen journalism is changing our understanding of current events and news. Bloggers and podcasters are presenting alternative perspectives to mainstream media. This weeks audience challenge invites you to take a picture of something mysterious and submit it to Dare2BDigital with a description, 250 words or less. Engage and entice audience members to comment on and interpret your mystery.

Challenge #4: Looking to the Land for Healing

Institution and Course Showcased: Thompson Rivers University – Open Learning, BISC 399 Plants and Society

Faculty Expert: Michelle Harrison, Linda Stollings

Team Challenge: Choose a medicinal plant found in British Columbia. Create a narrated presentation describing; Where this plant is found in BC and what it looks like. What the unique medicinal qualities of this plant are and how it was used traditionally. How this medicinal plant was harvested and processed into a useful medicine and how it was applied. How this medicinal plant is used today. How would you harvest it? Who currently knows about its use? What it would mean to the people who use the plant traditionally to commercially harvest this plant? What beneficial and detrimental effects the development of this plant for medicinal use may have.

Audience Challenge: Are you health conscious? Do you care about what you eat and drink? Do you exercise regularly and try to get enough sleep? If you live in British Columbia, chances are you make some conscious health decisions every day. This week's challenge starts with an exploration of the traditional plants used by the Secwepemc of British Columbia. Explore the Secwepemc Ethnobotanical Gardens’ website. Do you use any of the plants listed regularly? Do you use wild rose hip? Cedar oil? Thimbleberries? Is there a medicinal plant in BC that you think people need to know about? Send us your testimonial (no more than 250 words) on a medicinal plant found in BC that you have used, or your family has used, or that you plan to use... (My Grandma's mustard poultices come to mind).

Challenge #5: Our Energy Future

Institution and Course Showcased: Malaspina University College, Science 303 - Energy and the Environment

Faculty Expert: Steve Earle

Team Challenge: Create a media presentation that outlines the environmental impact of developing alternative energy options on Vancouver Island. Using Microsoft PowerPoint or some other format (e.g. video) create a presentation two to three minutes in duration which addresses these questions: What are the current problems that Vancouver Island faces regarding energy self sufficiency? What energy resources are available on Vancouver Island that can deal with some or all of the future demand? What are the environmental and social implications of these energy options? What are some reasonable energy-supply options that will help the island meet future demands in a way that is environmentally sustainable? What will be the challenges to a sustainable energy future for Vancouver Island and for the rest of British Columbia?

Audience Challenge: I’ve Got The Power - Climate change and energy conservation are making everyone think about how they use power. The bicycle has long been admired as an ideal form of transportation. Hand crank flashlights, radios, cell phone chargers, and the one laptop per child initiative, all use hand winding generators as a means of generating energy. What about you? Save energy and get fit by creating an energy saving device that relies on your own personal power! Create a picture of your own personal powered energy saving device and attach it with a description in 250 words or less.

Challenge #6: Walk A Mile In My Shoes

Institution and Course Showcased: Simon Fraser University, Diploma Program in Rehabilitation Management

Faculty Expert: Dan Robinson

Team Challenge: Using the Seven Principles of Universal Design and the Continuum of Functioning select one of these four abilities: vision, hearing, mobility, dexterity (ability to grip). Explore the range of abilities along the continuum you selected. Design and carry out an activity that simulates the experience of fully or partially losing the ability that your team selected. Develop a presentation about your universal design experience. Include the simulation activity you created and describe what you learned. Include photographs, graphics, or other media that highlight or illustrate your experiences.

Audience Challenge: Before and After Universal Design - Look around your house, your neighborhood or your workplace and identify at least one item that you believe could be designed to be functional for a wider range of people to improve its “universality”. Take a digital picture of it. Create a diagram or edited version of your picture showing how you would redesign it to be more universal. Put both the "before" and "after" images together in a digital file so they can be easily compared.

Challenges showcase the range of domains in which online learning is being used including science, sociology, history, botany, energy, and design.

Challenge Submissions and Assessment

Teams and audience members submitted responses to these challenges each week, uploading them to the Dare2BDigital event site. Judges and audience members publicly viewed and commented on team submissions.

A panel of three judges scored each team submissions out of 100. Seven different judges participated over the six week event. Judges were asked to assess each challenge based on:

  • Effectiveness – did the team produce a submission that convincingly responds to the challenge?
  • Innovation and creativity – did the team produce a submission in the specified media format that is creative and innovative?
  • Quality – is the submission high quality, accurate and supported?
  • Entertainment value – is the submission fun and entertaining? Did you want to review it more than once?
  • Engagement and participation - extent to which the team engaged registered audience participation and input into their activities through their team blog, via discussion forum, and other means.

Each of these were equally weighted as 20% of the mark.

Judge scores accounted for only 80-85% of a teams challenge score. The other 20-25% was made up of audience voting. Each week registered audience members could vote for the one team challenge submission they liked best. An average of 202 votes were cast each challenge with over 1270 votes cast over the six weeks of Dare2BDigital.

The Dare2BDigital game engine automatically aggregates judge scores and audience votes into a single challenge score for each team, as a percentage out of 100. Three different teams won each of the first three challenges of Dare2BDigital.

Top submissions received weekly prizes. Winning entries were showcased each week. Scores are automatically averaged over challenges to create an aggregated overall standing score out of 100. The overall standings were displayed on a Leaderboard.

Two challenges were decided by a margin of 1% or less so audience voting played a significant factor. These closely contested challenges experienced the “eBay” effect. As the scoring and voting deadline neared teams actively sought to boost their scores by getting audience members to vote for them and push their teams mark above the others. The overall lead changed several times and one of the teams that lagged far behind at first made a surge to come from behind and take third place overall at the end. Overall, the quality of team submissions was exceptional. See http://event.dare2bdigital.ca/teams/works for examples.

Winning audience challenge submissions were determined entirely by judge scoring done by two different judges. Audience submissions were simpler than team submissions but often equally engaging. The Dare2BDigital production team was surprised at the quality and extent of audience participation in these challenges. Some audience members came back week after week to participate in multiple challenges. See http://event.dare2bdigital.ca/audience/works for examples.


Dare2BDigital emphasizes interaction, communication and social networking. Each team has their own blog and discussion forum. Every challenge has its own discussion forum. All participants can contribute to discussion and comment on blogs at any time. Over 380 posts were made to the dicussion forums and hundreds and hundreds of comments were made. A site feed aggregated all discussion, comment, and blog posts to a continuous feed on the main page making the dialogue easy to track.

Interaction and dialogue created a dynamic site and a reason to return to it over and over again to keep up with, and participate in, the dialogue and interaction. Dare2BDigital generated over 8,800 site visits and more than 83,000 page views. Site activity took place 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The busiest time of day was between 6 and 8 pm when the average time on site by each visitor was more than eleven and a half minutes long. Dare2BDigital differed from many web sites in offering up a deep intensive experience best experienced by logging in every day to follow and participate in discussion, blogging, and challenge progression.

All teams eagerly anticipated judge comments on their challenge submissions and often commented back to judges. Favourite judges treated the assessment with considerable levity and humour. Teams also looked at each others challenge submissions and made constructive supportive comments. In addition to blogs, comments and discussion forums, live synchronous sessions were held each week that combined Voice-Over-IP (VOIP), webcams, whiteboard, instant messaging, presentations, and application sharing. A fun social networking aspect of the event was the ability for each participant to identify which team they were cheering for. The images of these “cheerleaders” displayed graphically on the team profiles in an area titled “Who’s Rooting For Us”.

Dare2BDigital Outcome and Future Plans

Dare2BDigital is the first of its kind. As an awareness raising educational technology showcase it blurs the relationship between educational, social, and recreational learning spaces and demonstrates how teaching and learning institutions can embrace those changes. Dare2BDigital is an online event/game engine enabling the entire post secondary system to have a virtual open house profiling the range of course offerings available and showcasing the creative talent of faculty and students. Dare2BDigital brings together students, faculty, institutions, vendors and the general public in a fun interactive event that promotes online learning and the use of educational technology.

A Dare2BDigital Grand Finale party was held at the end of the six weeks. Student teams had requested we have this event so they could meet each other for the first time. Sponsors attended the grand finale to hand out the grand prizes to winning teams and the event was simulcast over the web live using Elluminate.

Dare2BDigital has been nominated for the Vidfest Peoples Choice Awards http://www.popvoxawards.com. Its' been nominated in two categories Best User Generated/Crowdsourced content site, and Best BC Based Venture - the Homegrown Award. Voting opened May 1st, 2008 and closes May 12th, 2008. Winners will be announced on May 26th.

Based on the success of this initial Dare2BDigital event future plans include repeat seasons of Dare2BDigital for BC’s public post secondary system with new challenges and new teams each season. The K-12 sector in BC has also been excited by Dare2BDigital and plans are underway to do a K-12 Dare2BDigital either for the entire K-12 system, within school districts, or within individual schools. Preliminary discussions are underway exploring the use of Dare2BDigital to support other domains such as literacy and the 2010 winter Olympics taking place in Vancouver. BCcampus is working to make the Dare2BDigital game engine available for others to use in such a way that it can be skinned and branded by others for their own use. If you are interested in exploring the use of Dare2BDigital for your own initiatives please contact Paul Stacey Director of Development at BCcampus by e-mail pstacey@bccampus.ca or by phone 604-412-7736.

A summary report on Dare2BDigital’s first season was developed and sent out to all participants and sponsors. This report can be accessed here.File:Dare2BDigitalSummaryReport.pdf


D’Antoni, S., (2007). Open Educational Resources – The Way Forward, p.11. Paris: UNESCO, IIEP accessed March 30, 2008.

Lagoze, C., Krafft, D., Cornwell, T., Eckstrom, D., Jesuroga, S. & Wilper, C. (2006). Representing contextualized information in the NSDL. In J. Gonzalo, C. Thanos, M. Felica Verdejo, & R.C. Carrasco (Eds.) 2006, Research and Advanced Technology for Digital Libraries: 10th European Conference, EDCL 2006, Alicante Spain, September 17-22, Heidelberg: Springer Proceedings (pp. 329-340).

Margaryan, A. and Littlejohn, A. (2007) Communities at cross-purposes: Contradictions in the views of stakeholders of learning object repository systems, in Proceedings ascilite Singapore 2007 - ICT: Providing choices for learners and learning pp. 624-635 accessed March 30, 2008.

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