6 essential outcomes of successful learning spaces

I have been reading Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe. It reinforces this view I have that we use the wrong (but convenient) language when it comes to using ICT, and in this we are not sending the right message to teachers. The new task is about Integrated Communictions Technology ecosystems, not using Information Communications technology – as information does not yield understanding in itself, and so results in poor scaling and unsustainable practice as we endlessly move chairs to dance around notions of innovation.

We clumsily ask them to be ‘digitally literate by presenting social-dilemmas and also demand they become capable creators of information in new forms.  Nothing great that comes out of digital realms happens without understanding design. This separates the users from creators. The goal of ICT and Innovation leadership is not more users, but make better creators.

The authors set out essential elements in a successful design for understanding.They are not particularly interested in game design or games, however these principles appear evident in the understanding kids have – and expecially our Massively Minecraft players. This is because we’re getting better at working out the facets of the task design itself, however like most games (Warcraft, LOTR, Runequest, Rift, Aion etc) these principles are met – and in turn the player’s understand.

  1. Can explain: provide thorough, supported, and justifiable accounts of phenomena, facts, and data.
  2. Can interpret: tell meaningful stories; offer apt translations; provide a revealing historical or personal dimension to ideas and events; make it personal or accessible through images, anecdotes, analogies, and models.
  3. Can apply: effectively use and adapt what we know in diverse contexts.
  4. Have perspective: see and hear points of view through critical eyes and ears; see the big picture.
  5. Can empathize: find value in what others might find odd, alien, or implausible; perceive sensitively on the basis of prior direct experience.
  6. Have self-knowledge: perceive the personal style, prejudices, projections, and habits of mind that both shape and impede our own understanding; we are aware of what we do not understand and why understanding is so hard.

When we step back, and look at the design of learning (lesson plans, scope and sequence, technological wonders) are we yet to deal with thse these are the meta-outcomes that sit above just about everything youth does with technology?

Without addressing them critically – as a designer, it appears to me that aligning content with outcomes and assessment is only one facet of the teacher’s role in the digital classroom. These are 21st Century skills, standards, outcomes – they are hard to assess using an essay or a test – and yet clearly persistent in game spaces.

Game based learning is job embedded learning, which is exactly why training, resource handouts – or handing out tokens and badges don’t create greater understanding or satisfaction.