Friday, May 3, 2013

School as a Game

Encountered this video earlier this morning--it's from way back in 2011. I think there are some very, very interesting ideas here...

I have to confess, this has me thinking a lot about the "game" of school. And I think Dr. Haskell is right on--the current game stinks, and we can make it a much better game.

Quest-based learning makes a lot of sense to me. I'm thinking of the hours I poured into The Legend of Zelda: The Ocarina of Time back in the summer of 1999 to master all of the challenges that game provided. The game is huge, and while there is a basic narrative to follow to win, there are many elements the player can do in the order they choose. To successfully solve some of the puzzles and beat some of the enemies, I had to do online research and learn from others who had played the game and practice, practice, practice. The sub-quests and side-quests were all part of the main quest. I learned a lot, and I was immersed in the experience. And I beat the game!

Does this translate to school? I think it can. Students love choices. Most students enjoy the chance to practice and get better--especially if it's a topic or concept they are excited about learning. And the learning would be about things that matter, not just how to defeat the next monster or how to upgrade to the next weapon.

This idea sounds a lot like what Dan Pink proposes in his book, Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us. (Highly recommend this book!) Pink synthesizes a great deal of research into three key elements:
  1. Autonomy - the desire to direct our own lives
  2. Mastery - the urge to get better and better at something that matters
  3. Purpose - the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves
(From the "Cocktail Party Summary" on p. 204 of the book.)

Sort of sounds like what Dr. Haskell was talking about in the video, doesn't it?

Gets me dreaming and scheming a little about how I might rework my classes for next fall...

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