Archive for November, 2014

My MOOC officially ended well over a week ago but I’ve been busy working on an extra credit assignment. Well…not really, but it is part of my MOOC learning. Here’s what happened…

I enrolled in my second MOOC, Getting Started With MinecraftEdu, over a month ago in hopes of learning how Minecraft (and games in general) could be used in the classroom. Halfway through the course I ran into software problems that stalled my participation. Despite my many efforts, I wasn’t able to download the client version of MinecraftEdu that our instructor so kindly provided and consequently, I couldn’t try the Tutorial World and building assignment. I described my difficulties and plan B solution (buying the commercial version) in an earlier post and tagged my instructor to say thanks when I published it.

Who’d have thought he’d tweet back with this…

Jason's tweet

How cool is that? Now that’s a true teacher! After a few tweets back and forth I got my software issues resolved and a second shot at trying the MinecraftEdu Tutorial World!

The first part of the tutorial works through basic movement (forward, backward, jumping, climbing, swimming, navigating the environment and using levers to open doors.) The video below was spliced using Camtasia from about 20-30 minutes of play so real play is less choppy than this appears.

I had to go to the Minecraft Wiki to figure out how to use levers but I did eventually get out and through the maze on the other side. On to digging and building!

This second video shows the next part of the tutorial world where you learn to dig and build. This part of the tutorial takes you through a number of the shape building challenges that teach the player about the properties of different materials (gravel, sand, cobblestone, etc.) and how to manipulate them to build structures. The video below shows some of those challenges.

For me, the Tutorial World was a much easier way to learn the basics of the game than going it alone (as you saw in my earlier post above). If I were to implement MinecraftEdu into my classroom this would be the best way to get students started for a variety of reasons:

1) It would help level the playing field between students who have played before and those who hadn’t.

2) It would minimize the frustration of beginning players since it provides instructions on the basics (compared to starting out alone.)

3) It would alleviate concerns of inappropriate content in online tutorials.

4) It would ensure that all students got instruction on the same concepts.

On the flipside, students who are experienced Minecraft players might get bored with going through the basics they likely already know. It would be interesting if the Tutorial World could provide some way for players to challenge the tasks before having everyone set out at the beginning.

Though this wasn’t exactly the way my MOOC was supposed to unfold, I do feel like I have a much better grasp of Minecraft and of how it could be used in the classroom. It’s definitely a way to engage students though it would likely require more time to fully explore curriculum concepts in the Minecraft arena compared to other ways of learning.

Aside from the technology, I think the biggest factor for classroom success is the teacher’s comfort with the game, Minecraft or otherwise. Have you used MinecraftEdu or other digital games in your classrooms? How steep was the learning curve for you to begin and how did your students respond? Did it require extra classtime and if so, was it worth it in your estimation?

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

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This semester I have been learning a lot about gamification in education and the pros and cons of using gaming in the classroom. Just to be clear…though I’ve played a few games in my time (as a kid and more recently with my young sons), I do not consider myself a gamer! Assuredly, my views in this post will amplify my ‘beginner’ lens for those of you who have occupied the gamer space for some time!

As a teacher, I’m interested in harnessing my students’ interest by tapping into their love of video games but admit I’m a bit of a skeptic. They get enough screen time already…do they really need more? I’ve seen and tempered enough ‘too-much-video-game’ storms from my own kids to believe the negative hype that’s out there. But is it just hype? (It sounds a little like the ‘Tv will rot your brain’ sentiments that prevailed when I was a kid!)

After watching some of Jane McGonigal’s Ted Talks and reading some of Marc Presley’s work, I retracted some of my reservations in my post Turns out Gaming is Good for You.

 

In Phillip Kollar’s article, Jane McGonigal on the good and bad of video game escapism in March 2013,

McGonigal cited studies showing that violent gameplay is okay, and co-op violent gameplay can be great, but competitive violent gameplay — especially against strangers — raises aggression.”

Here’s another article that presents both the positive and negative sides of the video game equation.

So, having established there’s good and bad in gaming…what about the culture that exists in the gaming world? The title of this post is purposefully provocative but after I wrote it I thought, to be fair I really should have a clear understanding of what ‘gamer culture’ is rather than throw something out there based on my uninformed impressions.

After a quick search it turns out the gamer culture isn’t necessarily the stereotypical misogynistic teenage boys playing violent games on their consoles through the night…though no doubt, it can be. According to the latest ESA study, the average age of video game players is 30 and check out the break down by gender.

Gamer demographics

That surprised me until I read that the study includes all forms of games–from Wii games on a household console to online games on a mobile device. (Even my mother-in-law has a soduko app!) It’s clear that new players are entering the gaming spaces but what about the ones who are well-entrenched there?

In our last class discussion, Audrey Watters reminded me of the dark side of gaming culture, and to the online space in general, particularly for women and other marginalized groups. Much like Bonnie Stewart‘s presentation about networked identity, Audrey’s was not only a cautionary tale of what can happen when you share your opinions with the world, but also a frightening one.

Her presentation was so timely for me as I explore the possibilities of including gaming in the classroom. I am learning to play Minecraft and to use it as a tool for teaching but, as I searched out tutorials to learn how to play I got a glimpse of how the gamer culture might not be the best influence for our students. Specifically, the language used in several tutorials would not be acceptable for my young sons to be hearing. So does YouTube having content warnings? How can we encourage our students’ interests without unwittingly support inappropriate conduct online. Get online parents and teachers! You need to know what’s out there.

And that was just minecraft tutorials…what about the other games and spaces where gamers interact online? I have no idea really…except that my husband occasionally plays Medal of Honor and I have a 12 year old nephew who’s apparently hooked on Call of Duty. In a digital world designed and controlled by men, what about the women who are not only participating in these spaces but also raising their voices against the mainstream. I don’t mean to paint all gamers with the same brush but given the recent events in the gaming world (ie. Gamergate ) one can’t be too careful.

But the gaming world isn’t the only online space where behaviour can be invasive, threatening and abusive. Our class was stunned into silence by the sheer number of names Audrey Watters listed off the top of her head of who she knew who had experienced online abuse. Here are a few more examples off the top of my head:

– Ann Rice explores both positive and negative experiences online in her latest interview with CBC. Check out 7:55 (experiences on Facebook) and 12:50 (tormenting book reviewers on Amazon).

– Audrey Watters noted concerns about ethics and privacy issues with MOOCs.

– Last spring, Saskatchewan news reported on a controversy surrounding the girl from Balcares who wore a sweater reading, ‘Got Land, Thank an Indian’ that escalated to online bullying on her Facebook page.

– and the many other stories like Amanda Todd’s where online abuse moves into real world violence.

So with the online space filled with these minefields should we be encouraging gaming in the classroom? What’s the big deal? Kids love minecraft…but are we inviting real world ‘mobs’ into our classrooms as well? Do our kids get enough positive messages to compensate for the potentially negative ones they may be finding in the gaming world or other online spaces? In his article, ‘Gamers don’t have to be your audience. Gamers are over’, Leigh Alexander wrote:

When you decline to create or to curate a culture in your spaces, you’re responsible for what spawns in the vacuum.”

As teachers, we can’t turn a blind eye on who our students are and the world they are growing up in. However, it is so important to tread carefully and thoughtfully when we bring our students online. We are responsible for the culture that spawns in our spaces. We need to educate students to avoid and not perpetrate the nastiness that can lurk online and in the real world. As Julie Nilsson Smith commented in a recent #moedchat, “Many Ps give phones w/o guidance. Like giving a Ferrari w/o Driver’s Ed.” Like driver’s ed, cyber ed cannot be left to parents alone–our students’ online safety and education needs to be a joint effort.

If your class takes students into online spaces how do you protect them and what things do you do to educate them about online safety? How do you get parents on board and educate them as well? Is an online presence in classrooms worth the risk?

Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear your comments.

As part of my digital project I have been taking a MOOC called ‘Getting Started with MinecraftEdu’. I wanted to explore gaming and other ways to engage my primary learners and this looked like it would be a hit. Unfortunately, I hit a lot of snags with the MinecraftEdu download provided in the course and so I was unable to complete the module as it was designed.

So, to salvage something from the MOOC and still reach my goal of understanding Minecraft a little better, I bought the commercial version and gave it a try…

This is what the screen looks like when it first opens up. No objective, no instructions, this is it!

Minecraft launch screen

I clicked Singleplayer, created a new world with the click of a button and spawned in my first solo attempt at playing Minecraft. As the instructions were sketchy on how to move, where to go and what to do I promptly got killed by a zombie! I respawned and tried again, and again, and again, each time meeting with some ill-fate by way of zombie, skeleton crossbow, creeper, falling off a cliff…I think I even drowned once! Apparently I am not an intuitive Minecraft player!

So much for experiential learning! I decided to get some instruction. A search for Minecraft tutorials brings up tons of hits so I found one for beginners and learned a lot. This one was especially helpful. It highlights the importance of finding coal quickly, how to build a crafting table to build tools like a pick-axe and how to light torches and find shelter to keep the bad guys at bay!

Progress. Though I figured out what I was looking for it was evident I’m not adept enough at finding it before the zombies kill me off! Time to switch to ‘Peaceful’ mode. Yup, that’s right! It’s a wimpy way to play but given that I’m pretty green I’m allowing myself the cushy road for now!

My next hurdle was to actually find coal. Hmmm, the first tutorial never mentioned anything about what to do if you CAN’T find it…luckily, this one did!

Ok, so this is me playing Minecraft. I was trying to shoot a video that captured me freshly spawned in a new world but after a few failed attempts I’m taking you back to one where I actually found some success!

As you can see I’m no expert! I would have definitely benefited from being able to access the Tutorial World in my MinecraftEdu MOOC. The tutorial takes you through basic movement, picking things up, putting them down, the basics of digging and building and much more I’m sure! After exploring the tutorial world we were supposed to consider the following questions:

  1. What purpose does the tutorial world serve?
  2. Would you use the tutorial world to introduce MinecraftEDU to your students? Why or why not?
  3. What was the most challenging part of navigating through the tutorial world?

It’s obvious that the tutorial world would have helped me understand the objectives and basics of the game. I’d rather learn that way than spending hours and getting frustrated! However, the tutorials that I found independently were very useful. A word of warning though…like any teacher, the personalities of the gamers giving tutorials shines through and colors the presentation of the content (coarse language and all!) Another vote for using the tutorial world if you’re planning to implement this in class!

…Hmmm, perhaps my students shouldn’t be watching Minecraft videos at recess!

After the tutorial, the MOOC presented some considerations for classroom management. It stressed the importance of guidelines in the Minecraft classroom especially since behaviours are less observable on screen. Just like real world unkindness, online unkindness can pervade unless teachers promote a sense of community in the game. “Building and survival are easier with community mindfulness and a helpful mentality.”

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to access the next assignment where I’d have seen that community in action building a castle. I’m looking forward to checking out all the cool things you can build in ‘create’ mode and attempting a multiplayer game in my next forays into the Minecraft world.

5702068334_ccc14b31a0Photo Credit: kenming_wang via Compfight cc

The end of the MOOC encouraged us to consider how we would use Minecraft in the classroom. Here’s what I came up with:

Purpose/Objectives

Understand and describe how the land affects how we live (community development, resource management, socialization, social systems). Work with a team to problem solve and think critically. Understanding needs and wants. Understanding the value of diversity among community members.

Plans for Implementation

Minecraft Assignment – Carefully choose a spot within the given world. Build your shelter and feed yourself, and look after your needs/wants using resources from the land. *Remember: Besides our physical needs (food, water, shelter), we also have social and emotional needs. Incorporate some form of socialization and/or entertainment in your development. Consider how you can involve new members to your community.

Questions to Consider Before Implementation

  1. How would I set up this world for use with young students? (easy access to resources, examples of what socialization and entertainment would look like in Minecraft)
  2. How could I set up the assignment so students make connections to the real world?
  3. What kind of custom blocks would they require? What about placement of special blocks and resources? What about timing of gifts?
  4. How do you deal with social difficulties in virtual play? (assuming the real world relationships will extend to the virtual world)
  5. How much structure should be provided with regard to creating student groups?

Click here for tons more lesson ideas from the MinecraftEdu MOOC!

I’m not sure I’m any closer to trying Minecraft in my classroom. Besides my lack of skill there is the other matter of convincing my school board to purchase bulk licenses…though I think there is some interest. For now, I will continue looking into the world of digital gaming and seeking out games that are already tried and true in the classroom…and I may just build myself a castle!

What about you? Are you using gaming in the classroom?

If you are using games in the classroom which games have you found most successful? Any ‘must-have’s for primary students?

Thanks for sharing your ideas!

 

 

 

Inspiration struck!

“I know!”,

she thought,

“I’ll show them instead of tell them.”

And so it was that she began to tell stories through digital media.

She started with Animoto – a short video with a preset template. How could she go wrong really?

A handy little tool.  Hmmm, most Animoto videos she’d seen were much longer. “Are they paying or am I missing something?” she thought.

Bolstered by her success she forged ahead and bravely tried Pixton. After all, what kid could resist a comic?

The night wore on into the wee hours when the sky is emptiness and all is quiet (except for the clicking of the keys on the keyboard at the kitchen table.) She toiled and toiled. The mic worked, then it didn’t, then it did, then it didn’t, then…you get the picture. And finally, finally she saved the last changes and embedded the link…(a few times.)

And despite the fact that no self-respecting farm-girl would ever wear dress pants and heels in a barn she declared…

“This!”
“This is how our next unit will begin.”

Her story was not done but the witching hour had long passed and beauty sleep alluded her yet again. She’d have to find another voice tomorrow. She closed her laptop and laid her weary head down only to take up the tale again another day.

This time she weaved her story with…Audacity

[ummm…so apparently Audacity is more about audio which IS digital but she thought the visual element was important so she thought she’d try something else.]

Here’s the puppet software she used called AnMish that she found on  50 Sites and Apps for Digital Storytelling.

They’re short and ridiculous but she could see kids having fun making them! For whatever reason the AnMish creations wouldn’t embed on their own so, like the Pixton comic above, she had to screen capture them and upload to YouTube first. She had tried EzVid but had quite a bit of trouble getting it to do what she wanted it to do. “Not so easy,” she sighed and decided to use Screencast-O-Matic instead.

“What’s next?” she thought, “I should try one more.”

She had heard about VoiceThread through her colleague, Kelly Christopherson so she thought she’d give it a try.

She uploaded some old photos, found some on Compfight and a video on Vimeo and voila, hours (and hours and many redos) later, she had her story. Here’s the short tribute to her family’s Remembrance Day Connections. Lest we forget.

It’s a little rough around the edges as far as production goes but she deemed the project a successful experiment. Here are the sources she used along with her family photos and archives.

poppy video – https://vimeo.com/32027057 via Michael Szefer

poppy photo – Photo Credit: jenny downing via Compfight cc

plane photo – Photo Credit: Jez B via Compfight cc

wheat field photo – Photo Credit: waferboard via Compfight cc

The midnight oil was spent yet again but she went to bed happy with her first attempts at the amazing world of digital storytelling.

The End.

 

In an effort to learn more about game-based learning to engage primary students I am presently pursuing a second gaming MOOC, ‘Getting Started with MinecraftEdu‘ from Canvas Network. Though I think I might enjoy playing Minecraft, I can’t see developing any sense of commitment or addiction for it. I confess…I am no gamer! I chose this MOOC for the potential to effect my teaching practice and so far it has been filled with lots of ups and downs on the path to learning.

minecraft guysPhoto Credit: Dunechaser via Compfight cc

 

Though the MOOC was advertised as a free course it requires the purchase of some software in order to participate fully. Had I read the fine print I would have noticed that earlier but as I hadn’t, I was stuck and deadlines were looming! The first mountain to climb.

alarm clockPhoto Credit: Alan Cleaver via Compfight cc

I decided to go ahead with the MOOC and do as much as I could while I was figuring out my software woes.  I took a stab at the commercial demo version of Minecraft which offered little to no explanation of what to do, why nor how to move so, for a newbie, it was not all that helpful. Thank goodness I had the help of a friend’s son who showed me around the software a little last spring. Honestly, if the demo is supposed to entice parents to buy it for their kids I think the marketing team needs to reevaluate.

With higher hopes for the MOOC, I got started. The beginning module provided some thought-provoking resources about the role and use of gaming in the classroom. My previous posts, ‘Turns out Gaming  is Good for You’ and ‘Digital Native or Immigrant?’, explore some of the viewpoints and research presented in those resources. Jane McGonigal’s TedTalk below was one of several gems I found.

 

I may just might spend the $41 on software to buy in…

After looking at gaming in general, the MOOC moved on to using Minecraft, specifically MinecraftEdu, in the classroom. Many of my young elementary students LOVE Minecraft and it would be awesome to leverage that motivation for learning curricular outcomes.

 

Ok, I’m in! Unfortunately, after deciding I’d go ahead and purchase the software I discovered that it is only available to educational institutions and they must buy client licenses in bulk along with the server version. Sigh, another mountain to climb. I checked in with our division tech consultants just in case we had access to the software but unfortunately ran into another roadblock. Now what? Keep climbing!

Not long after, I was excited to hear that our facilitator, Jason Schmidt, a techie in a Nebraska school division, got approval to allow us access to his MinecraftEdu server. This would allow the MOOC participants to try the tutorial world and some other minecraft adventures for the purpose of the course. Score! Things with my MOOC seemed to be on a smoother path!

But then, another mountain loomed before me.

mountainsPhoto Credit: Mr. Physics via Compfight cc

Despite the free access to the download my computer wouldn’t connect the dots to let me in. ARGH!!! I quickly posted to our instructor in the facilitator forum but given there are nearly 900 participants, his ability to reply in a timely manner is not very realistic. A fellow MOOC participant stepped in to help as did my school tech consultant but still no dice. The problem might be related to java blocking the software to protect the student data on my school laptop so I tried on my home computer. I figured I’d have better luck with Firefox than Explorer and had to update my adobe flash and in the process of downloading the browser (and who knows what else) ran into security troubles. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing especially when it comes to me and technology! Not sure what I did or what malware I downloaded but now my home computer is NOT happy. Sigh, keep climbing…

Despite the technology glitches, I’m determined to get as much as I can from this MOOC experience and my persistence was finally rewarded with the mother load of gems!

treasure chestPhoto Credit: Ro9.flickr via Compfight cc

In module 3 the MOOC goes in to how exactly to use Minecraft in the classroom. The Teaching with Minecraft section is a rich, resource page for all things Minecraft in education. You name it; it’s there…the motherload!

Need help getting started? Click here. Want to check out other worlds created by educators?  Click there. Examples by subject, Teacher cheat sheets, worksheets (everything from basic controls to farming guides and smelting guides), even how Minecraft can line up with curriculum standards. If you still need help there’s Minechat, a Google community for teachers, and a video for what it looks like in schools.

The resource rich page wraps up with over 20 links to articles, videos, research, websites, books and podcasts that explore game-based learning and advocate for its inclusion in mainstream education.

A few more that I pulled out…

Massively Misunderstood Minecraft – blog on purpose of minecraft in the classroom

Minecraft in education Scoop-it – even more resources

 Unorthodox uses of games in education

Podcast – games in learning

I’m not sure I’ll reach the top of the mountain that is my technology woes with this MOOC but even if I can’t complete all of it I have already mined lots of gems to polish and keep. If I can’t get my download to run I may just break down and buy the commercial version to play around with…I’m sure my sons can teach me how to use it! If not, there’s always the Minecraft Wiki and a zillion Minecraft YouTube tutorials to check out.

Are you using Minecraft or other digital game-based learning in your classroom? Please share your experiences with me!

And where to go from here? Keep climbing and keep mining!

 

 

I grew up in the 80s…there I said it. I had big hair, stretch jeans, LA Gears and a love for Def Leopard! I didn’t have a cell phone, facebook or instagram account (thank goodness!) but I did have floppy discs in my binder and went to a computer lab for class. We played Asteroids on a Commodore 64 (after waiting forever for the tape to load…surely some of you know what I’m talking about!) and Donkey Kong on the neighbour’s Playstation. Ah, good times!

80s rockerPhoto Credit: Rik Goldman via Compfight cc

(For the music aficionados this is actually Billy Sheehan from Mr. Big…and yes, I liked them too!)

Times sure have changed! Our learners have too.

When I read Marc Prensky’s Computer Games and Learning: Digital Game-Based Learning as part of the requirements for my MinecraftEdu MOOC, I was immediately taken with his idea of digital natives vs. digital immigrants. I was hopeful that I could classify myself in the former category–I don’t transfer from paper to computer; I collaborate online with colleagues; I’m active on social media–but alas, despite these savy digital behaviours, I fear I am an immigrant!

In his article, Prensky outlines ten ways digital natives are different and how we as teachers need to keep pace with their new learning style. Here’s his summary of how digital natives are different (though I encourage to check out the full article–a lengthy but fascinating read):

 Digital natives summaryp. 5

Ouch! That’s a damning indictment for many of today’s educators. So, can you teach an old dog new tricks or at least use their new tricks to our purposes? Prensky says we can. He purports that kids are already learning real life skills from playing video games. This is what he says they’re learning:

1. How – Game specific skills (useful or not depending on the game) and non-specific skills (ex. multi-tasking, perception)

2. What – The nature of rules and comparing rules in real life

3. Why – Game strategy and the nature of consequences

4. Where – Cultural context and ideology like good vs. evil and other messages within the game that become part of their schema or filter

5. When & Whether – Making moral judgments; comparing what the game is teaching them to their experiences in real life

There’s no question that there are both positive and negative aspects to the skills they are learning from gaming. (I’m pretty sure the old folks said the same thing about what my generation was learning from TV, right?!) It’s all about perspective, isn’t it?

7629235266_635ccdc570 (1)Photo Credit: JD Hancock via Compfight cc

“One wonders whether there’s any limit to what can be done in merging the addictive elements of computer games with effective instruction.”  Bob Filipczak

Prensky goes on to detail how to create games that are both fun and educational, a fine line to walk especially when educational designers typically “suck the fun out of” the game! (p. 13) His words, not mine! Despite the digital native’s desire for eye candy (ie. great visual imagery) it is the gameplay that makes or breaks a game. This is tough for instructional designers who are bound by curriculum. The other tough paradigm to shift is that for an educational game to fly it’s got to put fun first and learning second. (Read that again teachers! Not an easy task in this age of standardized testing and outcome accountability. Nevertheless, it is the task set before us.)

I sat in my staff room the other day and heard one of my colleagues mention how she had told her students she wasn’t here to put on a show for them. Hmmmm…perhaps we need to start?? It’s clear that many of us need some help and some resources at hand to begin. Here’s one place to start. Reaching digital natives (aka my young students!) is the very reason I’m researching game-based learning and taking the MinecraftEdu MOOC to begin with.

Prensky’s predicts that like the rise of the auto industry in the industrial world, digital game-based learning will become the norm in our digital world. With this new learning paradigm, educational DGBL has a lot of promise:

  • Increased learner motivation
  • Improved learning, competence and behaviour (and thus economy)
  • Increased rate of learning
  • Talent will out / easy access to successful, effective instruction
  • Game industry will focus on authors and style rather than publishers
  • Will gain worldwide exposure (like the movie industry)
  • Internet will be a competitive forum for best learning games
  • Gamers will enjoy classic educational games and look forward to new releases

With so much promise of digital game-based learning being the future, what’s a digital immigrant to do?

What every other immigrant does…

Learn the language, venture out, ask for help, and immerse yourself in their digital world…And yes, play a few video games too!

Digital natives vs Immigrants tagxedo

Learn more about Marc Prensky’s vision for educators to become ‘future-cators’ rather than ‘pastecators’.

Or check out his website.

If you have a moment to weigh in please add to my google doc Pros & Cons of Video Games in the Classroom.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

I have recently started a MinecraftEdu MOOC and have discovered some surprising things about gaming in the first module…it turns out gaming might just be good for you! Who knew! Haven’t we all been programmed (Did you catch the ironic turn of phrase there?) to immediately shun gaming as a time-waster and evil-doer especially among our youth?

kids playing video games

Photo Credit: inneedofhelp08 via Compfight cc

As a mom of two young boys I immediately notice when my kids are getting too much game time (whether it’s Angry Birds, Mario, Lego Star Wars…whatever!) In fact, not long ago, I declared a video game detox in our house, much to their chagrin, and at week’s end had a calmer, happier household. So, you can imagine my surprise when I watched Jane McGonigal’s TedTalk on how Gaming Can Make a Better World.

I initially found this talk on my colleague, Jenn Stewart Mitchell’s blog and had it on the ‘to view’ pile. Check out her post for more resources. Definitely worth the view! 

In her TedTalk, McGonigal says that if we could harness the power of gaming to real world rather than virtual problems our world could be a better place. To get good at anything one needs to spend a lot of time practising. Gamers collectively spend billions of hours gaming so what is it they are getting good at?

McGonigal outlines the following skills developed through gaming:

  1. Urgent Optimism – It takes extreme self motivation to tackle an obstacle and to believe in a chance of success.
  2. Social Fabric – We like people better after we’ve played a game with them! Playing together takes trust.
  3. Blissful Productivity – Humans are happier working hard than relaxing. We are optimized to do hard, meaningful work.
  4. Epic Meaning – Games provide awe inspiring missions! For example, the World of Warcraft wiki is the second largest wiki in the world! Talk about motivated gamers!!

This makes sense to me. When I listen to our youth you can hear the gaming culture resonate. They speak in terms of ‘power ups’ and ‘leveling up’ and I’ve seen them work forever just to try to master a level. Talk about determination!

McGonigal says gamers are “super-empowered, hopeful individuals. They believe they can change the world…the only problem is, it’s a virtual world.” To harness that power she suggests that we have to make our real world more like a game. Or, make real world problems into a game for people to solve. She shared the following examples:

World without oil 2

 

Superstruct game 2

 

Evoke

 

The idea that gaming can make a better future gives me hope that our world can become a better place especially given the amount of time people are spending on video games! (Did I just say that?!)

I am also hopeful that my MinecraftEdu MOOC, despite my difficulties with software requirments and tech vs. teacher focus (Note to self: Always read the fineprint!), may just provide some gems for my teaching practice.