If we spend 3 billion hours a week playing online games, is it possible to direct some of that human energy to creating positive change in the real world? Can gaming have a positive impact on students? In the past week, I had the opportunity to explore some of the content from the GamesForChange.org conference. During this event, the speakers and thought leaders explored how games can improve our planet.
Why should teachers consider using games to enhance traditional learning? Dr. Rick Van Eck, a leader in instructional design and technology, has a great TED talk exploring the major benefits of game based learning. I wanted to share this content to help you understand the context of the conference.
- potential for individualized learning
- systems thinking – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systems_thinking
- situated cognition/authentic learning – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Situated_cognition
- platform for collaboration
From the conference, I was especially moved by the keynote by Jane McGonigal. You can view the full talk here (http://new.livestream.com/g4c/janemcgonigal) She talked about the influence gaming can have on emotion, mental resilience, social relationship, self image, and engagement. She challenged the community to work together to help measure and prove that games can have larger positive impact. I loved her story behind the birth of http://www.superbetter.com. As a game designer, she created this game in response to a concussion she had experienced resulting in a period of profound depression. In response to this dark time in her life, she designed the game to make small steps to wellness. This game looks like it would be helpful to anyone going through a traumatic life event or illness. I love that she collected her back story and academic literature review at http://blog.superbetter.com/show-me-the-science-resilience-games-post-traumatic-growth-and-more/ .
In other contexts, Jane McGonigal has promoted the idea of online games that you play in the real world. For example, you should checkout World without oil. While I feel some of the execution of the game can be improved, the game idea has really resonated with me. As an aspiring game designer, I will definitely explore this concept more deeply.
To the team that constructed the gamesForChange.org organization and conference, I greatly appreciate all of your work. You have given the world a lot to think about. I am more convinced that online and real world games can create positive changes in health, education and our planet.
What kind of social change do you want to make in education? What are you passionate about teaching? Can we use games to teach that topic? When does teaching by gaming make sense?