You know that feeling, when you want to write about things that wash down the gutter of social edutainment channels. Oh, maybe you don’t … but there is an increasing amount of ‘game based learning’ debris floating past of late. Here are two things I think are fundamental to how educators think about games in learning.
First, the job of a game is to blur the lines between reality and fiction. Secondly, they are there to change the way the student perceives and interacts with the course.
This doesn’t require a computer, iPad or any other technological tool. It requires imagination – and work. New work, work no one’s going to Tweet @you for free either. It means getting up earlier, sleeping less and doing it because it’s the right thing to do – not because it adds to you’re CV or allows you to sandbag your power-tower.
In many ways, technology is the villain here, not the hero – and it seems apt that the protagonists of techno-learning experiments (students) are set to un-cover some big-fat lies as they sail down the educational canals. Little has changed and even less is ‘new’. Sadly, a good deal of what used to be called Computer Science and Computer Aided Instruction has been told to wear a ballet-skirt and balance on a beach-ball for it’s keep.
The computer was never going to make students smarter or more successful, but to give the student some agency over what is presented as ‘real and ‘true’. That’s what I do as a parent – we use it to poke a digital-stick and the world and to learn from how it reacts.
For example: Educational pundits have constantly used “the slippery slope” and “suppressed evidence” to get what they want, under the illusion that learning was ever remotely a perfectionist endevour. It’s messy and people get things wrong all the time. Wrong is not bad, or the opposite of Right – unless you’re willing to accept that rule.
Pundits have consistently avoided games for the last decade for a good reason. In a culture where false dilemmas and new idioms are sufficient to maintain power-hierarchies, it became lucrative to act as propaganda agents and as a result, many full time staff or evidence-based researcher are now left wonder what the revolution happened to scholarship and ethics.
Games in education, yes please – but not supplied by same people who blew billions on … well