Ruth Howard

Students are Game Changers #edfutures

The complex problem. Current education students are disengaged with the Cartesian learning model as hierarchical institutions fast become irrelevant, content abundant, facts in flux, knowledge outsourced, learning ubiquitous and technologies exponentially pervasive and democratised. Moreover according to the iN2015 Education and Learning Sub Committee Report there is a lack of digital content. (p19)

It is no surprise that students are voting with their attention, deeply engaged in digital technologies online and off in extended networks based on shared passions and play. (Drotner, 2008, Jukes, 2006). Some of these participatory networks are already sophisticated self organised peer to peer learning. Particularly those found in the guild structure of Massively Multiplayer Online Games. (Cisco Report, Leadbeater and Wong, 2010).

Concurrently according to John Hagel and John Seely Brown, business is now looking to peer to peer learning replete with ‘passion-based participation‘. (Seely Brown, 2005). Sir Ken Robinson’s book The Element too calls for fostering ‘passion’ within education.

My point is that students are leading by example, so let them! With this in mind I have penned below my response to Will Richardson the ways in which we can seamlessly integrate educational content with game play.

The complex solution? Students are the game changers, let the students design the missing digital content in the form of  educational  simulations and learning games.

  • Invest in students (venture learning) whereby groups of students and teachers co-create curriculum, rewarding students for the work they do, either in cash or social revenue sharing and/or (work place relevant) certification? That is the students create the much needed and missing high quality ‘digital content’ in the form of  digital games for the curriculum. The main thing is to bridge viewpoints, platforms, disciplines, brain hemispheres and cultures.
  • How? Sloodle. Sloodle is an Open Source Second Life mashup which uses Moodle. (Too much Doctor Seuss!)

That combination makes this LMS a game engine. This I understand allows educators and students to co-create simulations and learning objects for anything at all, including academic, vocational and technical education.

I’m sure this is already happening and if so I can see it scaling up from here on in.

I’m imagining to solve several challenges in one here, no small task, I know it’s very much about relationships and finding the will.

  • Engagement-all parties vested will naturally have an interest in the learning process.
  • Relevance-empowering real life learning, authentic, honest. Youth are already the game changes, let us acknowledge their leadership.
  • Collaborative problem solving-where teams of teachers across disciplines oversee game development so that art and maths are no longer compartmentalised but wholly integral, alongside history, geography, english etc. Teams of students work as game designers, technical support, web design, marketing, graphics, game narrative, code etc. Students and teachers mentor for each other.
  • Global and Open- a culture of sharing whereby each game could be translated into multiple languages (cross cultural collaboration), then uploaded into the Commons. Copyright is an integral lesson here, both public and open education the receptacle and the beneficiaries but they may also be benefactors.
  • Professional Development-it’s a way to motivate teachers about gaming and game changing. Tell ‘em it’s collaborative, realtime, just in time (dont tell ‘em that), social, authentic, transparent, project based and inquiry, even discovery learning. Ensure they have access to the skills, documentation, mentors too.
  • Entrepreneurial-further develop games into apps, api’s, t-shirts, mugs, badges, stickers, as fundraising merchandise, demonstrating marketing, graphic design and ecommerce. Ensure students decide how it is reinvested.
  • Androgynous thinking-left and right brain learning, creative, critical and analytical.
  • Work readiness-a follow on outcome is that students design their own courseware to teach their game/project to others?
  • Beyond the classroom-input from appropriately vetted sponsors/mentors/developers/artists/musicians/writers/parents.
  • Self assessment-post game launch all user stats can be followed up and graphed visually, new games prototyped, based on user feedback, bugs fixed etc. Websites for the games will offer points of contact where students can download and provide feedback,wiki and or forums.

Drotner Kirsten, (2008) Leisure is Hard Work:Digital Practices and Future Competencies, University of South Denmark, Danish Research Centre on Education and Advanced Media Materials.

Jukes, Ian & Dosaj, Anita, (2006) Understanding Digital Children DKs Teaching and Learning in the New Digital Landscape, The Infosaaavy Group;


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