“The Gamers of Today May Be the Leaders of Tomorrow”

Rethinking Education

Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology, by Allan Collins and Richard Halverson

I’m preparing for a parent presentation on video games, learning, and kids. It’s a subject I’ve wanted to bring to a parent meeting for a number of years, and I’m excited to finally have it scheduled on the calendar.

Here’s my basic outline:

  1. Inoculate – basically address some of the common objections outright and diffuse potential defensiveness
  2. Reframe the discussion of video games: why do kids like them? (spoiler: it’s not because they are easy)
  3. What can games teach us about learning? (Overview of the research and history of games in learning and flow)
  4. Discuss common ways we denigrate or undervalue gaming, many times without even realizing it

I’m hoping to weave in lots of examples from Minecraftedu and SimCity, since those are the two video games we currently use in our curriculum. (Although it could be argued both of these are not the typical video games people think of. Minecraft is really more of a sandbox/creative tool and SimCity is an open-ended simulation tool.)

Stay tuned for a post of resources for my presentation!

I’m taking this opportunity to return to a book I read last spring, Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology, by Allan Collins and Richard Halverson. Just as with It’s Complicated, I’ll include some quotes, but know that the items that I pulled out specifically relate to my presentation on video games and don’t represent the entirety of the book.

  • My biggest picture observation is that we are in a time of enormous change in the structure of education, and educators have little control of this, which is probably why things are actually changing. Educators are conservative in their practice because of the design of the system. Change is upon us, whether it’s the internet, the computers, the nature of globalization and global problems, or the homeschool communities. I think this is exciting!
  • Watch a kid do math problems for homework. Watch a kid play a video game. When we know they are learning through the video game, why do we still feel in our gut that the math problems are more valuable? How did the popular culture and media so convince us into the idea that school and learning must be serious in order to be effective?

Notes from the book:

p. 9: 2 key arguments by technology enthusiasts:
1. “the world is changing and we will need to adapt schooling to prepare students for the changing world they are entering.

2. “technology gives us enhanced capabilities for educating learners, and … schools should embrace these capabilities to reshape education.”

p. 13 “To prepare students to communicate in this emerging world requires not simply the traditional reading and writing, but learning how to communicate using different media with people who do not share the same assumptions…. Internet communication may involve email, social network sites, chat rooms, video conferencing, and share workspaces: Students need to learn to communicate in all these different contexts.”

p.20 “Computer games … excel at providing scaffolded task designs that ease players into complex tasks.”
p.20-21 simulations allow environments where students can test real scenarios and practice skills. There are scaffolds for learning. “These simulations make it possible to embed cognitive skills and knowledge in the kinds of contexts where they are to be used.” “Simulations allow learners to try out different courses of action and see the consequences of their choices.” (In a traditional classroom, they can try them out as a thought experiment or if they ask the question aloud to the teacher, but not every kid will. When they play the video game, they have to make decisions in a novel situation and see the results quickly and clearly.)
p.23 “Much of school is like learning tennis by being told the rules and practicing the forehand, backhand, and serve without ever playing or seeing a tennis match.”
p.23-24 “Consider the contrast of watching a student do middle school math homework with the same student playing the football video game Madden. Working through the math problems is often a grinding task isolated from either applying or understanding the “big concepts” of math. The main goal of math homework is to get it done. In playing Madden, however, the student will use many of the same analytic skills to maintain a salary cap, guess future player performance standards, and calculate odds for success while assembling a football team roster. The flow state of game play integrates skill development and usage in a seamless experience that, unfortunately, masks the complexity of the skills require for successful game play.”

p. 84 “An understanding of video games as learning environments is becoming increasingly important as gaming culture rivals schooling for the attention of children and adolescents across the world. James Paul Gee argues that the compelling nature of video game participation is in part due to the underlying social, cognitive, and developmental learning principles around which successful games are built. With this perspective, games and gaming can be a source for inspiration in building more effective learning environments.”

p.85 “Video games are regarded as diversionary threats to the integrity of school (at best) or as destructive, compelling activities that simultaneously corrupt moral capacity and create a sedentary, motivation-destroying lifestyle.”

p.85 “games offer the prospect of user defined worlds in which players try out (and get feedback on) their own assumptions, strategies, and identities.”

p.86 “As John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas have suggested, the gamers of today may become the leaders of tomorrow.”

2 thoughts on ““The Gamers of Today May Be the Leaders of Tomorrow”

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s