Designing School More Like A Game

Breaks are my time of ideas.  I slow down, read, think, take walks, drive my car without the radio on.  Taking that time to recharge and let ideas percolate is so important for me.  Over winter break this year, my favorite WNYC program, On the Media, aired a show around gaming.  Their last piece, The Future of Gaming was an interview with journalist Tom Bissell which aired pieces of the two following videos:

Jane McGonigal: Gaming can make a better world

Last year when I visited Al Doyle at Quest 2 Learn (Q2L), I saw the vision of Katie Salen who wrote Rules of Play and founded Q2L.  Kids using system design theory to learn History, English, Math and Science in a 21st Century way.  Kids creating their own games to teach their peers.

This leads me to Jane McGonigal’s book, Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World.  I’m only 56% of the way through, but her stories of real games being designed to make the world a better place is compelling.  Not that we have to solve all problems with games, but designing compelling experiences for our students so they are engaged in their learning seems a lot like designing games.

Here’s one example of how I’ve applied McGonigal’s work here at school.  A few weeks ago, I was running an exchange day between boys at my school and girls at one of our sister schools.  The boys and girls were doing some icebreaker activities and one of the activities was starting to get stale and we still had about 10 minutes to go in the period.  I added a new challenge (do the activity standing up instead of sitting down) and it allowed the activity to reengage the students.

I used the understanding that “all games share four defining traits: a goal, rules, a feedback system, and voluntary participation.” (McGonigal, 2011) was important to this process.  A new rule refreshed the game that I described above.

So I’m finding myself more and more interested and engaged in thinking about game design and design challenges as centerpieces of student learning.  Solve big problems, figure out how to change the world, engage people around you. Dan Pink nailed it when he wrote about autonomy, motivation and purpose.  This all seems inter-related in critical ways.

What do you think?  What are your examples of using games to develop better learning environments?

NAIS–School Change Hitting the Pavement

Today, arvind grover and I presented at the NAIS Speed Innovation Sessions. Our presentation concentrated on publication, collaboration, and productivity.  The slides are below.  Comments/Questions appreciated.

https://docs.google.com/present/embed?id=dg6ps4wh_60gr2c96fb&size=m

Call for a Conversation: Online Teacher Academy (beta)

Fred Bartel’s Starting a Virtual Independent School thread morphed recently. As we discussed the topic, what resonated in me was the importance that our communities understand what it means to learn online. Once a critical mass of our communities know what the the pros and cons of this environment are, we can better assess how they will fit into our schools.

Over the past couple of weeks, arvind, Vinnie and I have been discussing the creation of an Online Teacher Academy for this purpose. Here are links to the two podcasts:

21st Century Learning #97:Designing an open, web 2.0, personal lear…
21st Century Learning #98: Designing an Open Online Teacher Academy…

In the two podcasts above, we begin the discussion about how to lead our teachers through an online experience that provides them with the tools and the inspiration to build their own personal learning network.

After our last podcast, I posted a couple of goals and a short description for this experience:

1. Teach online tools in the context of teaching and learning
2. Creating online community to model and sustain this learning

This online teacher academy starts by walking its participants through some basic online tools while building a community, and creates a structure for the participants to create and document new work thus leaving a legacy for the next generation of learners.

I would like to spend some time working to create this learning experience with a group of interested educators from June 30 – July 2nd here in New York City. We’ll definitely be broadcasting this, so don’t worry if you can’t be in NYC. This also coincides with NECC and I’m sure we’ll be bringing folks who are there into this conversation.

We already have some takers who are interested in participating in this discussion.

What do you think? Who’s interested in participating? Please add comments to the thread at isenet.

Photo from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jiscinfonet/405736372/

Disrupting Class Primer

I have been having lots of conversations at school (the one where I work) about  Disrupting Class.  People keep saying, "I have to read the book." 

Obviously, reading the book is the best way to get this, but if you don’t have time to read the book right now and want a primer, here’s some audio/video/text to get you  up to speed:

Start here:

And if you’re still interested (this is what’s on my bookshelf at least):

There are tons of other good resources out there.  I’ve been watching Google Blog Search for Disrupting Class as well. 

arvind, Vinnie and I will also be interviewing Michael Horn and Curtis Johnson on 11/24 at noon EST and 12/4 at 2:15 EST respectively at EdTechTalk

What recommendations do you have?