Monday, 5 September 2011

What are students learning outside of the classroom?

In her presentation at a TED conference, Jane McGonigal from the Institute of the Future (IFTF) mentioned a very interesting statistic. She said that people who play online games spend as much time gaming by the age of 21, as they would in class from grades 5-12 with perfect attendance (10,080 hours). Online games are where many of today's youth spend their free time and they're always connecting with people from all over the world. Gaming is constantly becoming more social, entertaining, and educational.

What interests me most about online games is how a person becomes so motivated to play on their free time. How can we harness that motivation and direct it at something specific? Imagine if teachers could give their students a lesson that they could take home and play. If they enjoyed the lesson than they would also enjoy practicing it. They could share it with friends and interact with people in their class online. This educational gaming experience would be very similar to the online games that people play now. The games attract and retain the attention of students, build on complex cognitive processes, facilitate a positive attitude toward studying, and create the motivation to learn new things. Of course we have all had boring classes at some point, but today, youth are being exposed to very fast moving technology. I feel that if we as teacher-candidates and teachers don't stay connected with what's "new," the students will look back and say, "School was boring!"

Therefore, I believe we have the opportunity and challenge to be innovative. If we can learn to implement lessons using technology in this capacity, we can improve the learning environment and enhance our pedagogical practices. After all, making classes more fun and interactive would be... fun for everyone! 


Check out the video below! It's Jane McGonigal's presentation for TED.com. I think it's amazing how she analyzes the positive influences video games have on people:





4 comments:

  1. I love McGonigal's writing and the concepts she talks about. How did you come across her?

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  2. I think I searched warcraft under Ted.com and her name came up. I haven't researched much about her, but I look forward to it.

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  3. Great Post Zack. I don't think education has fully grasped the benefits (or not) of gaming in education. It will take future teachers like you to critically think about these teaching methods.
    You (and Shawn) got me thinking more deeply about the issue - so I just spent the last hour writing a blog. http://pipedreams-education.ca/
    Great stuff.

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  4. Hi Zach - I really enjoyed this post and not just because I come from a "gaming family" - actually, who am I kidding? One of the main reasons I liked it was because it resonated with what I see with my own students and my own children.

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