Lets’ NOT use video games as “teaching” tools!

An article in eSchool News caught my eye today. It was entitled “How mainstream video games are being used as teaching tools”
There were some really exciting ideas mentioned in the article. One that seems really promising is the effort underway by Lucas Gillespie, a former biology teacher from Pender Co, NC. First he helped create a middle school language arts curriculum tied to World of Warcraft (WOW). Now he has expanded that in what, to me, is an even better direction. He is opening up his site to collaboration with the goal of tying WOW experiences to the Common Core (and not standards to the game?), and it’s available for use under A Creative Commons License. http://wowinschool.pbworks.com/w/file/41449036/WoWinSchool-A-Heros-Journey.pdf

What a great opportunity for contributions and collaboration that could be of tremendous value to students everywhere! We need efforts like this to really get us going. What I would love to see is an inverted design collaboration. If teachers make students aware of the standards, kids could begin to extract their WOW experiences, expand them as necessary, tie them to the CCSS and use them as evidence of ways that they are meeting the standards. And as someone with a passion for learning languages I can imagine the power of this when it’s an effort from an international guild of WOW players who are students at schools around the world.

Of course, there are naysayers. One response to the article had the following comments: “There is no doubt that video games do hone beneficial skills; however, schools must remain vigilant over the extent to which video games are used for instruction. Games certainly offer a greater incentive for many students to engage in the material, but none of the games listed in this article were specifically constructed to enhance learning. That is not to say that the mentioned games do not enhance learning, but there are a wide array of software providers who create engaging games and that are designed for the classroom.”

“Yikes! Save us from instructional games” is my response. WOW has all the elements for autonomous learning that Daniel Pink describes in Drive, control over Time, Task, Team and Technique. Responding to instruction –whether in a game or a traditional classroom severely limits each of those elements, and often eliminates them.

I hope many of my teaching colleagues will draw the attention of their students to Gillespie’s site and encourage them to get involved!

“The Future’s Ours . . . If We Can Free It!”

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