Sunday, October 14, 2012

How Gaming Can Help Us

Once again this year I'm participating in the PLP experience, this time as a coach rather than a participant / team member. Even though I'm coaching this time around, I'm already learning so much from my teams.

One of the things that I have heard so much about, but didn't really understand, was the whole idea of gaming being a new venue for learning. Having watched my husband spend hours playing a variety of different games, I can certainly see the problem solving and the perseverance needed to win a game. But I didn't exactly see how that could fit into education. The other day one of my teammates started a discussion about gaming in the classroom, and I asked what skills and resources teachers would need to make this transformation. While we haven't come to a consensus about that just yet, she did share the title of Jane McGonigal's SXSW talk, and I very quickly googled it. If you have 20 minutes, and it would be well spent, you can watch it here:

 My biggest takeaways from her talk were:

  • Gaming encourages us to be our best selves. 
  • Gaming encourages us to get up after failures and try again.
  • Games give us a specific task to complete that it just at the very top of our ability level. We may need to work hard, but we can accomplish the task.
  • Games give us a ton of collaborators right at our fingertips. 
  • Games provide us with constant positive feedback, rewarding us with leveling up and +1 in the skills where we have developed and grown.
  • Games allow people to believe that they are individually capable of saving a world.
That's a pretty meaningful list right there, and it made me think of one huge question:

Do we do ANY of that for our kids when they show up for school?

My answer? I don't think we do. I think we focus way too much on failures, we train kids to think that collaborating is cheating, and we teach them that there is one score on one test that will determine everything about you for the next learning year.

What kind of people are we creating? Are we creating kids who will grow up into creative, brave, inventive risk-takers beyond the walls of their X-boxes and PS3s? Or are we creating a group of people who sees how good they can be in a virtual world but see themselves only as failures in real life?

I'm still not sure where I stand on gaming in the classroom - perhaps the teacher in me just needs a little more time. But I look at my list of takeaways from this talk and I do say to myself, "THAT is the culture I want in place in my classroom."

What do you think?

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