I recently came across an article that talks about how kids learn in video games. Not LeapFrog or other obvious educational games, but things like World of Warcraft and others. I couldn't find the original article, but I did find another to help act as a a reference : http://chronicle.com/article/5-Lessons-Professors-Can-Learn/63708/
Anyway, I wanted to open a dialog here about this. To see what others thought, and get any feed back on the idea
Some of the core ideas:
1) Give measurable successes that they can see. Most schools operate on a percentage, where each paper, test and project account for some small percentage of their grade. Because of the magnitude (9 months) and one piece of homework accounting for so little of a percentage, it is difficult to feel like your accomplishing something.
- Video games do this, but preparing hundreds, if not thousands of achievements/awards/level ups, in conjunction with the larger goals. I remember somethings about geometry acting like this, like Pythagorean Theorem and PI. Once these are learned, they are like tools under the belt to use for all sorts of other things.
2) knowing WHY. I remember going through most of school, asking things like "How will knowing this help me in the future?" and in most cases not having an answer. In a video game this is typically always answered. The path and goals and purpose are clear, in video games, and that would only be a 5-40 hour segment of my life. In school, it often felt like a useless path, that I had to sit through for 180 days.
3) Let the kids make more decisions, or at least feel that they are. In games, the players can practice and try different things. This might be done by teaching them one new skill, and then the game having the student try different paths with the skill. In school, we already do things like this, by teaching the students a new skill and giving them time to practice.
- The decisions might play out by giving them several light skills, that work well together, and giving them projects that let them pick and choose from the skills, sort of like a test, but with less stress or time focus.
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I bring this up because I am starting an internship at my school (which teaches game and business development, but also develops software) which will be used to test a few educational plans along this, before adding it to paid classes.
If anyone has any thoughts, questions, challenges or experience along these lines, please bring it up.
I think gaming is education is essential in the 21st century, and it's gaining a lot of popularity -- in part because it's very similar to some other proven methods we've been using in the classroom for years, like Project-Based Education.
I wrote a detailed blog post about gaming in the classroom a few months ago -- it includes lots of research as well as examples of what some teachers are trying across the country. Check it out at: http://digitaldollar.edublogs.org/2011/03/07/let-them-play-video-ga...
We're born learning. Play is an extension of that. A baby kicking and cooing and looking is actually learning kajillions of things every second.
In school we take that away. We make it a numbers game, a paper-pencil-book day, a sit-in-your-seat and learn-only-that way style. Bad, bad choice!
Incorporate playing, gaming, and a personal "quest" and a child will learn just about anything, if it's a challenge and if it's interesting.
I'm a big believer in the gamification movement. It's a far better system than we're using now, confining kids in like cattle (quiet, seated cattle!) and force-feeding topics. Give them engaging surroundings, present them with things to learn about, and kids do work hard and do learn.
If you haven't seen Sugata Mitra, take a look at this very short video. It's truly astonishing. :)
my name is Pablo Benvenuto and with my partners we have been developing a new Learning Management System, which is free, whose sole purpose is to transform learning into a gaming experience. Check it out and tell us how we are doing: http://www.studybuddycampus.com
I use a curriculum based on "layered curriculum" where my students move from layer to layer choosing from a wide variety of activities that meet the content goals. We have a ritual where students get to publicly acknowledge their success in moving through the layers. Students love this format and really take ownership of their learning!