Archive for category video games
I just came across this excellent 10 minute clip from the RSA Animate series. It was put up in 2010 and has had over 9.6 million views on YouTube, so some of you may have seen it the first time around. The clip is called Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us, and is an animation of a talk by Dan Pink.
I’ll be adding this clip to my English Curriculum Studies reading list next semester – a way to link with my students’ other studies in ed. psych.
I’ll also be making a bigger effort to bring in those concepts – mastery, purpose and self-direction – to explain the pedagogical strategies involved in project-based, play-based, inquiry-based and challenge-based learning. I’d be grateful for any insights about this that you folks care to drop as a comment here!
Enjoy the clip!
This post is a culmination of a week or so of talking about play-based education. If that’s its official term for it? I don’t know. I must declare my rookie status in this field, which means you should feel really free to jump into the comment s section below and school me on what I’ve missed!
Thanks to @malynmawby, @vormamim, @biancah80, and @benpaddlejones for their ideas via twitter and email. You can read more about @malynmawby ‘s experiences with play-based learning here, here and here.
Play-based Learning: Another PBL?
Despite these terms being used fairly liberally (along with inquiry-based learning), I don’t seem to often come across material that explores the differences or similarities between these terms. I mean, I’m sure we could all take guesses about it, based on what we know about the words chosen; what is a project? what is a challenge? a problem? an inquiry?
Well, while you’re pondering it all, here is some more information to add to the learning theory soup.
States of Play
An overview of the elements of play presented by the National Institute for Play (based in California) outlines seven “patterns of play”:
- attunement play
- body play and movement
- object play
- social play (including ‘rough and tumble’ play and ‘celabratory’ play)
- imaginative and pretend play
- storytelling-narrative play
- transformative-integrative and creative play
And here is a really excellent TED Talk by Stewart Brown, who argues the physiological importance of play:
After listening to Stewart’s TED talk, the idea that I keep coming back to is this:
If the purpose is more important than the act of doing it, it’s probably not play. (Stewart Brown, TED Talk 2008, at ~6 mins)
Which begs the question: by trying to pin down a definition of ‘play-based learning’ to use in my curriculum theorising, am I contributing to WRECKING IT?
Play in the curriculum
In my quest for answers I came across some interesting material relating to motivation and mastery.
This puts me back into territory that is a little bit psych-y, and I know such approaches don’t always sit well with post-structuralist curriculum types like myself. But I resist that 😉
Writer and researcher Katherine Cushman lead a Practice Project for the non-profit group ‘What Kids Can Do’ (http://firesinthemind.org/about/) asking the question ‘what do kids already know about and do well?’.
When adults openly explore our genuine questions about getting to mastery—and include young people’s knowledge and experiences in that exploration—we model the expert’s habit of taking intellectual and creative risks. We demonstrate that we, too, always have things we need to understand better, and things we need to practice. We teach kids to approach any lack of understanding as a puzzle: stretching the limits of their competence, continually testing new possibilities and seeing how they work out. As they expand their knowledge and skills, young people, like us, will discover even more challenging puzzles they want to tackle—not just outside school, but as part of it. (K. Cushman, Fires in the Mind p.10)
In light of this, play strikes me as a form of ‘intellectual and creative risk taking’, essential to building the habits of mind and the resilience needed to seek out and tackle new puzzles.
Who is playing?
Concepts about transformative play have been utilised by the Quest Atlantis project, and a lot of my Tweeps are currently going bananas for Minecraft. These are rich sites and communities tapping into discourses about educational play.
However, I rarely hear any critical views about play or games, and I guess that’s what makes me itch to interrogate this field.
The reflexive dilemma
Listening to a talk by Julian Sefton-Green during his recent visit to QUT, I was conscious of the points he made about the field of ‘out of school learning’, which often involves elements of play.
His research has found distinctions between school and out-of-school learning tended to set up binaries that actually maintained the boundaries around ‘official’ curriculum, and other project and play based activities happening outside of schools (the binary of formal and non-formal learning, for example). His review of the literature showed how debate about not-school environments in the UK is often bound up with techno-utopianism and generalisations about the public school system.
In relation to this, he poses the ‘reflexive dilemma’ that we face in thinking about all of this. That is, the more we reflect on learning experiences, the more we formalise them. In our quest to ‘optimise’ all learning experiences, the learning is more carefully arranged and disciplined.
Which brings me right back to that TED talk – by naming ‘play based learning’ and trying to give play an official role in curriculum, do we run the risk of ruining play? Will the act of ‘doing play’ become just another ‘strategy’ for learning?
In short, how can we develop play as a habit of the mind without over thinking it and taking the fun out of the act of play? And, will defining the difference between all of the different PBLs etc help us in this endeavor, or just get in the way by drawing boundaries that don’t need to be there?
I dig gamification. I also dig Games Based Learning (GBL).
But sometimes when I’m watching these concepts get promoted, big alarms go off in my head.
Take a look at this list of some key elements of gamification:
Doesn’t this remind you of anything? Add that together with our enthusiastic embrace of digital and electronic teaching, and the ‘games & machines’ motif becomes really familiar. I’m thinking Skinner, and Behaviourism, and Pavlov’s dog…which means that we need to think about the ethics of gamification, stat.
How do I integrate Games Based Learning, or GBL, into my pedagogy without disrupting or contradicting my current approach to learning and teaching?
I think the idea of ‘the game layer’ is the answer. I think it’s also a great concept for me to use in thinking further about the role of motivation and learning theory in explaining the success of teachers who ‘gamify’ their teaching.
Seth is the Cheif Ninja at SCVNGR and the use of the popular game meme here did make me chuckle. Playful right down to the business card eh? I like it! Especially as I’ve been characterising myself in class as the ‘Cheif Pirate’. I wonder who that is in Seth’s camp, and what they do?
I highly recommend a watch. He has quite a few talks online now but this TED talk (above) gave a great overview of four key elements that build a successful game.
Watch the video and your reward will be to find out what they are 😉
Came across this excellent animated lecture by Daniel Floyd on Jawbone.tv. Perfect for an introduction to narrative in videogames for my Year 9 class. I think I’ll make a listening task for it – will post it up if I do.
I could listen to James Gee all day…
Vodpod videos no longer available.
I have added another page to my blog now – one where I will be collecting the resources that I have found useful in teaching video games in the English classroom.
Please feel free to add your own ideas and resources.
In my school I am part of a group of beginning teachers that are completing action research projects in their gifted and talented classes. Our school is half-selective, meaning half of the students had to sit an academic exam for entry. The rest of the school is made up of local students, but we also run a G&T class in years 9 & 10 of the local stream. The class I’m using for my action research is my Year 9 G&T class, and the unit I am studying is the videogame unit…fun research 🙂
In our school there is a focus on developing three traits of giftedness as identified by Renzulli:
- above average though not necessarily superior general ability;
- high level of task commitment or intrinsic motivation;
- and creativity
The students in my class certainly do display above average ability, and my aim is for my teaching units thie year to boost their levels of task commitment, intrinsic motivation and creativity. The videogame unit so far is proving successful in these areas – in today, the third lesson of the unit, students worked in their groups for the first time, taking turns at playing the games (Need For Speed: Carbon, and Street Fighter II) and at creating an account on our class wiki and making some new pages.
So far the level of task commitment and intrinsic motivation is sky high! The creativity is off to a slow start in some respects, but I think we did some important work today in laying the foundations for creativity. I spent a lot of times with the groups on the laptops today, making sure students were comfortable with their roles as writers/authors on the class wiki. This creating of information, along with activities in later weeks where students will create their own video game concept and characters, is all designed to lead students into higher order thinking.