Gamers vs. Students

All, CLMOOC, Teaching

During the Making Learning Connected Game Make Cycle, I had an epiphany. I spend a great deal of time thinking about the big picture for my classes. I want to create a community of passionate learners and I use all the tools in my arsenal to encourage and support this goal, but I also want to inspire my students to be passionate learners long after they leave my classroom. I want my classes to be makerspaces where we spend more time creating than consuming and curating. But there is one problem I continue to encounter – student resistance. So many of my students have been conditioned to view education as banking pedagogy that when given the power to control their own learning many are panic-struck (even veteran learners and teachers).

And yet, I continue to hope that using gamification will help address this problem, but I need to work on my scaffolding. I am going to talk to my students more about games, play, and gaming communities to help them transfer their experience creating and curating outside the classroom into learning experiences within it.

As Michael Buist noted during a #CLMOOC discussion, it is interesting to think about how games whose rules have been codified (in game instructions, in handbooks, etc.) were hacked by their creators and those who initially played the game as well as how we continue to hack those rules (there is a great scene from the TV show “The Middle” when the family creates one of the popular strategy board games with bits and pieces of lots of games). His idea inspired me to think about how we can talk about the “game” and “rules” for all sorts of things from teaching writing to analyzing literature, but it was the discussion during the #CLMOOC Week 3 Twitter Chat that I really started to think about what games can teach us (not just our students). It was a real “duh” moment for me as I have often talked to my students about the nature of the online gaming community and as the mother of a 13-year-old gaming buff, I witness this in action almost every day, but I hadn’t transferred that idea to my own classroom. I am still such a work in progress – I have this idea to visit ProgamerReview for more tips and information on gadgets.

Most of the games that my son plays on the gaming monitor are not games that you win or lose. It is about surviving (progressively longer) and learning and simply playing for the fun and challenge. This is what I want my classes to be like for my students. I want them not to be devastated when they fail but instead to simply “play again” and again and again until they are done (rather than the “one and done” mindset so often associated with grades and traditional coursework). I want them to hack their own learning so they get the just-in-time support they need. When my son gets stuck in a game or simply isn’t progressing like he wants then he has multiple channels of support available. Sometimes he simply asks the gamers he is playing with “how did you do that” and other times he will visit YouTube and watch a video where another gamer not only demonstrates the maneuver but breaks it down as well. I am constantly amazed at the wide variety of online help available to gamers today. There are individuals and communities who spend enormous amounts of time running forums and creating repositories of information, tips, tricks, and hacks for just about every strategy game out there (I can even find help for my favorite game Plants vs. Zombies).

Now I just need to hack my classes (inspired by Sheri Edwards’ “Play is the Game“) so that I can harness this power and energy for my own purposes.

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