Jun 16, 2013

Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World

After a Twitter suggestion, I started reading Jane McGonigal's book, and I suspect that it's already taking me somewhere. I'm not sure what it looks like, yet, but it's going to change my classroom.

Listen to this:
Today's "born-digital" kids--the first generation to grow up with the Internet, born 1990 or later--crave gameplay in a way that older generations don't.

Most of them have had easy access to sophisticated games and virtual worlds their entire lives, and so they take high-intensity engagement and active participation for granted... And that's why today's born-digital kids are suffering more in traditional classrooms than any previous generation. School today for the most part is just one long series of necessary obstacles that produce negative stress. The work is mandatory and standardized, and failure goes on your permanent record (127).
She goes on to explain the Quest to Learn school.
Secret missions, boss levels, expertise exchanges, special agents, points, and levels instead of letter grades--there's no doubt that Quest to Learn is a different kind of learning environment... It's an unprecedented infusion of gamefulness into the public school system. And the result is a learning environment where students get to share secret knowledge, turn their intellectual strengths into superpowers, tackle epic challenges, and fail without fear (127).
Fail without fear. Many of them could improve so much faster if they would only take chances. And finally...
Leveling up is a much more egalitarian model of success than a traditional letter grading system based on the bell curve. Everyone can level up, as long as they keep working hard. Leveling up can replace or complement traditional letter grades that students have just one shot at earning. And if you fail a quest, there's no permanent damage done to your report card. You just have to try more quests to earn enough points to get the score you want. This system of "grading" replaces negative stress with positive stress, helping students focus more on learning and less on performing (130).
I'm fascinated by that paragraph. I have some work to do.

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