All posts by Lidie Olesen

Lidie Olesen is the founder of Boris Temkov Institute, a research facility encouraging cultural analysis. The institute hosts online library with contemporary Bulgarian history documents, supporting students, educators and history interested individuals in their study quests.

LEGO Universe to go Freemium and Digital Download only

After an investment of 200 million Danish Kronas ($36 million) and a “not as good as expected” launch in October 2010 LEGO Universe, a MMORPG based on the famous building blocks, will become partially free to play with the hope to bring more user traffic.

According to an interview with Jesper Vilstrup, director of LEGO Universe with, the product did not fulfill the commercial expectations.

“Several hundred thousand players have been through the game since launch, but we must acknowledge that the registration itself was too complicated for kids and parents. LEGO Universe has not lived up to commercial expectations, and therefore we take the consequences for getting significantly more players in.”

Two out of 15 game zones will be available free from August giving some 15 to 20 hours of game experience with the hope to convert some of those users into paying customers. The subscription price for the entire game will be $10 per month with discounts if you choose a six or twelve months payment. There is of course the risk that those free levels will be more than enough for some kids who then don’t feel a need to upgrade to the full version.

LEGO is also going to discontinue the installation via DVD. From August, the game can only be downloaded. LEGO is planning to add more updates and new gaming content on a regular basis and this won’t be possible to handle via classic installation methods. LEGO Universe runs both on PC or Mac. Currently the game is available in English and German with the most users coming from the US. A Danish version is in the planning but won’t be launched this year.

LEGO Universe is developed by Gazillion Entertainment in Colorado, USA which bought the former developer of the game NetDevil in 2006. About 70 developers are currently working on the project.

Lessons from Denmark: Summer Camps don’t need to be boring

Danfoss Universe is a modern days entertainment park that is visited by 100 000 guests in high season alone.

The Science Camp takes place every year the week before the school starts and its focus is set on children’s experiences like meeting new friends and having fun while learning by doing. One of the most popular attractions for teenagers is a Segway Track.

On the Segway track, you experience on your own body the technologies and principles behind the gyroscope stabilizer and mechanical steering system.

Danfoss Universe works closely with LEGO which is no surprise as the former park manager and present Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Charlotte Sahl-Madsen, used to work for the world famous company.

Another part is the Universe Research Lab, established by the Universe Fund in 2007. It is set on “collecting, generating and conveying knowledge about learning processes, learning environments, creativity and innovation”. The park offers local schools and teachers courses on innovation in education.

I remember the Soviet era summer camps in Bulgaria which used to be much inspired by the Makarenkos’ school – cold pasta dishes and gym before wasting a perfectly nice day with doing nothing. Fortunately that has changed and for many Bulgarian parents in need today the libraries change the picture proactively. I recently praised the crafts&arts workshop at the library in Shumen where kids of all ages can participate in many fun activities throughout the summer holiday, all free of charge. The volunteer’s center in Lovech is another good example how to combine reading and fun.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s initiative “Global Libraries” that is the main donor to Bulgarian culture today just recently furnished 900 libraries with state-of-art hardware running Microsoft software. The library staff is now undergoing intense training on how to use the new devices.

Among the partners and sponsors of Danfoss Universe are the Danish Ministry for Science, Technology and Innovation, the Ministry of Education and the Municipality of Sønderborg. The advantage of the Danish model here is once more the state participation – quality standards are important as well as the principle of equality. It takes careful planning and engagement on all sides to bring up a generation. Also during summer holiday.

School Library 2.0 – The Future of Education is the Future of Libraries

The very first reading campaign in Denmark took place in 1956, writes Anette Oesters in her book Childrens Reading – Denmark, Sweden, Norway.

The general dislike for comic books advance into the children’s room, introduced “The children’s book week”, a true propaganda as it was described in the info materials. The focus was on reading, not on what was being read. “Children’s book week” was held every fifth year till 1971 when it grew into a Children and youth literature festival.

In 1993, “Read aloud festival” took place with the purpose of raising media attention for children’s reading, though with more a relaxed attitude toward comic books. The similarity between all the initiatives was the focus on reading, not books.

A new Danish initiative from 2011 is Ordet Fanger, parents and friends reading to children, with the smart aim to bring 25% increase in book sales and library loans. The book should enter the youth Top ten list, believe print houses, writers, supermarkets and libraries that support the project. The initiative gets a huge social media coverage.

A week ago, I talked with Justine Toms from in Bulgaria, a true edupreneur and person behind the very first summer reading online diary. Summer reading held two intro seminars hosted by the children section of the public library in Sofia and Varna. In ten days, the Library in Plovdiv will welcome Justine’s team of ambassadors of reading. The innovation behind the aim to secure book donations in times of budget cuts is the digital reading profile. More than 500 Bulgarian children from all around the country have already registered and began filling in their impressions from their books of choice. The project site hosts video interviews with favorite Bulgarian children writers.

I draw a parallel with the kingdom of Denmark’s organized model of state engagement to point out what cooperation between the different stakeholders could produce. The Danish school library model and experience with children reading events through the years can be used as a benchmark by the representative of Bulgarian library and information association appointed to participate in the working group for creating the new state standards for the school library in Bulgaria.

I believe that the future of education is the future of libraries. Based, of course, on my own experience. I got my first library card when I was 3.

Picture Credit: Mary R. Vogt taliesin from Morguefile