Here’s some more information about the gaming issues we touched on today, beginning with an interesting TED Talk by Jane McGonigal on how games can “change the world.”
McGonigal’s book, “Reality is Broken”, is a great read for anyone, but teachers will definitely find some great ideas here, not only in the chapter about NYC’s Quest to Learn school (which uses game mechanics to engage students), but in the the author’s fascinating (and increasingly-pervasive) idea that games can be a way to motivate us to be better and more satisfied with our work and life, and may even provide a model for generating real knowledge and community. Again, the book is definitely worth a look and full of great ideas for motivating students and improving upon lesson plans in meaningful but practical ways (without going outside of the curricular standards).
Games for Change (http://www.gamesforchange.org/play) is a great place to start looking for actual, playable games you could use in your classrooms. I recently attended a conference with a panel discussion titled “Death of the Textbook, Emergence of Games” — the audio for that session is available online here: http://schedule.sxsw.com/events/event_IAP5809. Texas is already requiring roughly half of their public school textbook funds be spent on interactive resources, including games, so the time to start thinking about this is now (considering how much influence and buying power Texas has on the educational/textbook industry).
NPR’s “On the Media” also did a great episode on the Influence of Gaming in our Culture. Audio and transcripts for the Dec 31st episode are available in 3 parts at http://www.onthemedia.org/episodes/2010/12/31 or you can download for free via iTunes or any other podcast marketplace.
Obviously, this stuff is only marginally related to our work on Cleveland Historical (which may some day incorporate some game mechanics), but it is quite directly related to teaching and learning in and out of the classroom. And it’s just kind of fun. Enjoy.