Two Great Videos about Education and Motivation

When we were discussing Ender’s Game in class last week, my team touched upon the idea that Ender completely rethought everything about the game.  He didn’t say “what new formations can I create”, he said “formations are stupid” and analyzed every aspect about the game, discarding ideas that other people took for granted.  In applying this to education, it occurred to me that we should do this with education: why do we set up a classroom the way we do?  Why do we use powerpoints and lectures and tests?

I’m housing an exchange student from Austria this semester (a cultural education in itself), and he introduced me to RSA Animate, which animates lectures by the RSA, and are completely addicting.  I found two I thought were relevant to what we’ve been talking about.

The first is about reforming education, and talks about how schools seem more like a factory these days, the increase of the diagnoses of ADHD, and how culture plays a role in our education.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

The second focuses on how people are motivated.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc

 

Enjoy!

The Diamond Age (Or a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer)

When we were talking about novels that featured augmented reality, Anthony brought up one of my favorite novels in the comments: Neal Stephenson’s The Diamond Age (Or a Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer). In it, a girl named Nell gets a world class education through the use of an interactive book (the illustrated primer of the title). I’ve been thinking about The Diamond Age a lot as we’ve been talking about Ender’s Game as both use video games as teaching technology. They also both use tablet-style computing of the iPad variety (Ender’s “desk” sounds a lot like an iPad to me).  Most significantly to me, they both incorporate direct interaction with another person in ways that appear to be simulations (the bit at the end of Ender’s Game where it’s revealed that one of the Bugger queens was trying to communicate with Ender through the psychological game). These interactions are part of what makes the experiences rich. Particularly in The Diamond Age it appears to be a statement about needing interpersonal interaction regardless of how complex and immersive a given simulation might be (or at least that’s always been my interpretation–if anyone else has read it and wants to weigh in, I’d love your take on it).

Speaking of The Diamond Age and teaching technology: I saw video of the PhoneBook product below from Mobile Art Lab for the first time a few years ago. As these videos were going around, a lot of the comments mentioned that it made viewers think of The Diamond Age. In fact, when I was searching for a video to add to this post, I looked for “diamond age iphone interactive book” and got one of the videos as the first result in a Google video search:

Some of the gameplay still seems to be of the spinach sundae variety, but it’s still pretty cool.

Incidentally, I realized today that I first read both of these novels when I was a junior in college, which is kind of fun since so many of the people taking this class are juniors and seniors. I’ll talk about Stephenson more when we get to Second Life (you can’t talk about Second Life without talking about Snow Crash).

Game Design Similar to Ender’s Game

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2011/03/the-enemy-gate-is-down-5th-cell-debuts-innovative-shooter-hybrid.ars

Jeremiah Slaczka may have never read Ender’s Game, but his game HYBRID looks a lot like the Battle Room from the famous science fiction novel. And although the game was not designed to be a “learning” game, it seems to owe at least some of its success to the application of learning principles.  5th Cell was looking for a new spin on third person shooters, something that could be differentiated from classics such as Halo, Call of Duty, and Gears of War.  The result was a shooter with a parkour-style movement and cover system emphasizing slower, more careful battlefield tactics.

The part of the article above that struck me most was that it took them a whole year to design (just) the movement system, but it only takes about twenty minutes for a player to learn, thanks in part to the simplicity of the controls.  To run across a room filled with whizzing bullets, from one point of cover to another, you simply point one of the thumbsticks in the direction you want to go and tap A.  Your player will automatically jump/flip/parkour-move over any obstacles in the way.  Oh, and if you double tap A you can fight on ceilings and walls.  The rest of the moves are simple one or two button combinations, too.  Sounds a lot like Gee’s Amplification of Input Principle to me.  And the gameplay seems like it utilizes Gee’s Multiple Routes Principle pretty heavily.  If you can fight from any surface of a room, including the ceiling, using everything and anything as cover, you’re going to have plenty of options.

I, for one, am excited about this game.  I think that although the game is not a learning game in the sense that it teaches any K-12 content, it still has the potential to teach gamers a lot.  Especially those of us that love first and third person shooters, but don’t know much about battlefield/movement tactics.  I can definitely see myself taking tactical concepts learned from HYBRID and applying them to my favorite shooters, such as Call of Duty and Halo.  And even though the tactics won’t translate perfectly – I don’t think the next Call of Duty will allow you to walk on ceilings – I’m guessing that my gameplay will still improve (Gee’s Transfer Principle, anyone?).

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