From the O’Reilly Web2Summit: Make Life More Like Games
- Games come with better instructions; you have a clear goal, and other people share information on how to succeed.
- Games give you better feedback on your performance in the form of scores and ratings, plus they provide an audience that’s tuned into your success.
- Games offer better community: everybody’s agreed to same rules and narrative, and you share a heroic sense of purpose.
I’m not sure how quickly that’ll happen in life but what about school? How can we make school more like this? How can you make individual projects more like this? Every little bit will help.
Just about every kid wants to please. Some of the major problems I’ve had in my classroom, and seen in other classrooms, occur when kids don’t understand what you want them to do. They get frustrated and/or start wandering off task. You get mad because they’re not doing what you “explicitly” told them to do. It’s often interesting to see what a third person thinks of my “crystal clear” directions. I usually run my directions and plans by at least one person.
The hard part for me is figuring out how to get a community of support built around your class. Our current school system is certainly not set up to enable or encourage students to help one another. That’s usually called cheating in the school system. Anyone out there succeeding with this? Let me know how.
Performance and Audience
I think the thing that differs about game scores and ratings is that they’re pretty much instantaneous and constant. That’s not often the way school works. How can we give feedback that is constant and relevant? Should it even be the teacher doing this? It seems like that’s be impossible. Feedback and rating has to be farmed out to more people- that real audience. Creating a class where this happens takes some work and it certainly isn’t something I’ve seen a lot of.
Then there’s the fact that the goal has to be something the student wants to get to. Education is often really, really bad at this. For the most part, I’ve haven’t been interested in teacher set goals – not in high school, not in college, and not in graduate school. The main problem I have is – I don’t matter. My interests, my knowledge and my background too often have no bearing on what I’ll be assigned to do. That cancels out a lot of my buy in.
This is one place I’ve seen a fair amount of success. I see teachers set community standards and get their classes motivated and excited. The teacher creates a sense of purpose and can even weave a narrative that suspends disbelief. I love watching amazing teachers do this. This is one of those things that has a lot to do with personality and style. I often wonder if it can be taught.