Give me a week to rejuvenate and well, I start thinking about things …
Last year as a faculty we suggested books to read for summer reading, formed groups, and came back together to discuss our books at the beginning of the school year. I have already decided that I want to recommend “Reality is Broken,” by Jane McGonigal (see her TED Talk, below). Having just come back from EdCamp Social Studies, and seen the power of a group of people who just want to come together and discuss similar interests – find a space and make it happen, I’ve decided that I want to propose a Game Think Tank for the summer.
So my husband (the game designer) and I got together and brainstormed some ideas. We can hold about 20-25 people in our home. I’m going to propose the book for summer reading, letting the prospective group members that along with discussing the book, participants will have the chance to:
- See what a real live, gamer’s house looks like (including the 10,000 painted miniatures that are arranged in old library card catalogs in our basement).
- Participate in a role-playing, resource-management, collaboration-type game that will involve learning and combine math, history, science and/or a variety of “curricular mashups” to see what it’s like to use game mechanics to build a lesson that is motivational and meets instructional objectives.
- Eat lots of great food (my husband and I are fantastic cooks, and my “Victory Garden” will be in full swing by then).
- Discuss both the book, and the possibilities for using the motivational structures of games in the classroom (and out of the classroom – who says learning has to happen in the classroom)?
- Include some experienced gamers in the day for both the gaming and the discussion/brainstorming session.
- More surprises to be arranged …
I’m calling this “EduGameCon.” I can see it happening again – thanks to EdCamp, I now feel it is “doable,” and I feel empowered to do so. I’m hoping that what comes out of this is a lot of great thinking about using games in education, most importantly the “game mechanics” aspect — which is so much like good lesson planning and design. I also hope to dispel some negative stereotypes about games in education:
(Some feel that) Gaming in Education means:
- … individual students sitting in front of monitors interacting with a video game and cut off from everyone else.
- … a break for the teachers – plug and play the students in and let the program do the teaching.
- … trivializing content.
- … glorifying violence.
- … “un-assessable” – can’t measure how students are doing or what they’re learning.
- … encouraging unhealthy competition.
I think really good game design is the opposite of these. I like what Jane McGonigal says about games being intrinsically rewarding because they are structured to meet our craving for: “satisfying work, meaning, social interaction, and hope of success.”
So, the idea is born. It’s Spring – let’s see what grows …
Gaming Can Make A Better World