Changing Tracks with Classroom Game Design
Aug 13, 2012
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Summary of a keynote and link to a TEDx video by Montana educator Paul Anderson. The message is essentially one promoting drastic change while remaining rooted in the classroom. I can't see it, personally: I think we will have learned how to design edcuation for the future when we have started moving out of the classroom, and into the world. "The only time and space we can shape is our classroom environmentl," writes Jeff Whipple. "Don’t place excessive demands on students to watch videos or do other academic work outside of school." I understand this, the most crucial argument against 'flipping' the classroom, as it creates unfairness for those who work outside school, or have unstable homes, or lack connectivity and other resources. But that's no reason to focus only on the classroom! We need to think more widely, toward a more inclusive and community-oriented education, rather than simply being blind to the spocial disparities that exist outside our doors.

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Re: Changing Tracks with Classroom Game Design

I think part of the challenge is that educators tend to 'add' pedagogical value to their proposed learning activities to the current way/paradigm/formula/approach with technology and other resources.

Maybe if we (the education system, i.e. people) took a large step back to see in whar ways can we "do school otherwise", we'll stop 'adding on' to an obsolete model of 'schooling'. This statement implies many things: shifting the onis of learning to the student ("apprendre, c'est d'abord prendre la d├ęcision d'apprendre") through engagement and motivation (of learners AND teachers); understanding and believing what congruent learning outcomes are, in this day and age (skills and competencies AND concepts, not either or); understanding and engaging in creative pedagogical scenarios greatly leveraged by tech, open resources and access; tapping into the incredible resource that lies just beyong those brick-and-mortar walls, i.e. the community; going beyond those darned systemic constraints that characterize the daily school system. This one is a big one. But I truly believe that solutions are simpler than we think... Just ask Chris Kennedy and David Truss in BC, Roberto Gauvin in Clair NB, Darren Kuropatwa in Manitoba, Steve Collis in Sydney AU, Manon Richardson in Cocagne NB (just down the road from your office, Stephen), Stephen Hurley in Toronto, Laurence Juin in LaRochelle FR, Jeff Whipple in Fredericton, just to name a few...

Vision, leadership, innovation, intellectual rigour, resilience, responsability, engagement.

Or... just doing it differently, for all the right reasons.

Yes, we need to think more widely.
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Re: Changing Tracks with Classroom Game Design

I can understand why Jeff Whipple relates to the traditional learning environment while the world is moving outside the classroom. Furthermore, with the paradigm shift in technology, epscifically in mobile technology it is necessary to change our teaching approach from didactic to a more rubust individualized client-based design that will meet the needs of the technology and manufacturing jobs which are focused on mobile technology and social media.

Additionally, almost all academic institutions have some form of course management system to organize teacher and students coursework. How could we ignore all the new technologies that somewhat absorbed instudent's and teacher's daily activities both in traditional classroom and and fully online environments? My understanding of utilizing technology in both traditional and online environments requires the understanding of appropriate selection of technology that promotes meaningful learning, rather than random use of technology for students pleasure.

If students live I rural area, they may encounter additional bandwidth problem that may not provide them the connectitivity they need for multimedia access. However, we should not deprive or limit the majority of students from multimodalities of learning such as virtual 3D worlds, multimedia, moblie technology, social media, video games, and simulations. These are the most common applications that support students learning actitivites that helps them to perform to the "edge of their abilities".

This is my 2c

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Re: Changing Tracks with Classroom Game Design

It might be useful to start at the beginning.

Space: safe, comfortable, contemplative, learning spaces. Schools (despite everything else, and all the misgivings) currently provide this.

I am lucky, I can create learning and contemplative space all over the place. So can just about everybody reading this sentence, no?

This just isn't true for many children.

Forget the fancies for a moment, start, if you like, with one of Mitra's Holes in the Wall, but put some safe space around it - add a few key humans, some granny clouds, places to sit, to write things down - and not only in online repositories. Free paper and pens, 'lockers' too.

Private spaces, within public provision.

Its not a big ask. Take the school as a safe learning space, and work with it, create the new template. Many people in these forums, and Mitra in particular, have already done the spade work. Collaboration, sure, connectivity and networking, sure, but from my own base-station/space, please. Not floating in some hypothetical, totally unattainable middle-class virtual space, if the argument is not clear enough.

For instance: a learning space consisting of real materials to work with, a touch table interface (for fun, games, collaboration, sharing, building, knowledge creation), OPC computers with wifi links, humans in attendance (preferably linked to non-virtual apprentice/placement sites for embodied and embedded learning), virtual and physical granny clouds (in various guises), places to sit, write, talk, get together, consult, support, lockers for stuff), a roof, walls, windows, water and electricity.

The virtual in service to the material, not the other way round. The task is not to discuss the world, but to make it work (for everyone, for a change). Zaha Hadid's BMW HQ as an example of the integration of research, design and production.

Oh, yes, and clear route maps to progression to further learning and employment. [Comment] [Permalink]

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