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ISTE13: Breaking A World Record

By Katrina Stevens     Jun 23, 2013

ISTE13: Breaking A World Record

Jane McGonigal likes to make history--and figured that was a great to way to jump start ISTE13. So she did.

McGonigal closed her ISTE13 keynotewith a massive multiplayer thumb-wrestling match, a striking strategy forreinforcing her mainpoints about the benefits and potential of gaming. The whole audience was fully engaged,curious, collaborating, feeling connected, and almost joyful. Participants feltlike they were part of a larger “lofty” goal of beating a world record--albeitfor thumb wrestling, having fun, and thinking creatively about strategy, all elementspresent when playing online games. Plus, it pulled everybody off their chairs,moving, and away from multitasking on digital devices. Yes, even the bloggers putdown their tablets and phones.

McGonigal claims we collectively spend 3 million minutesevery day playing Angry Birds, andthat most college students spend more time playing video games than they spendon classwork. (One alarming statisticshared by McGonigal: over 92% of American 2-year-olds play video games!) She even showed a scan of the brain, indicating what parts of the brain light up when people either play--or just watch--games. (See above picture).

Imagine what could be accomplished if this intense energy shifted to anotherpurpose. McGonigal suggests that UrgentRevoke, a massive online multiplayer game does just this; participantssolve world problems such as world hunger, for example. Teachersand organizations can request free access.

McGonigal’s research shows that gamers spend 80% of theirtime failing, which, though counterintuitive, makes them want to continue toplay the game. At an earlier ISTE Ignite session, Kill Off the Players, onepresenter essentially made the same point: Gamers like games that kill offtheir players; the challenge of figuring out how to make it to the nextlevel pulls them back to the game. The speaker suggested that when games prompt players with too manyhints, players become less interested in continuing to play, not moreso.

The lesson for education is direct: Give students too many of theanswers  before they solve problems on their own and we stifle their energy, too. Instead, educators need to help students recognize that failure is part of the process towards success. 

Games may not hold the answer to solving ourproblems in education but it’s hard to argue against wanting students toexperience the same emotions every day at school that they do when playinggames. Shouldn’t students be fullyengaged, collaborating, thinking critically, and working towards a goal largerthan themselves? Dare we also mention that school should be fun, challenging,and rewarding?

Community

ISTE13: Breaking A World Record

By Katrina Stevens     Jun 23, 2013

ISTE13: Breaking A World Record

Jane McGonigal likes to make history--and figured that was a great to way to jump start ISTE13. So she did.

McGonigal closed her ISTE13 keynotewith a massive multiplayer thumb-wrestling match, a striking strategy forreinforcing her mainpoints about the benefits and potential of gaming. The whole audience was fully engaged,curious, collaborating, feeling connected, and almost joyful. Participants feltlike they were part of a larger “lofty” goal of beating a world record--albeitfor thumb wrestling, having fun, and thinking creatively about strategy, all elementspresent when playing online games. Plus, it pulled everybody off their chairs,moving, and away from multitasking on digital devices. Yes, even the bloggers putdown their tablets and phones.

McGonigal claims we collectively spend 3 million minutesevery day playing Angry Birds, andthat most college students spend more time playing video games than they spendon classwork. (One alarming statisticshared by McGonigal: over 92% of American 2-year-olds play video games!) She even showed a scan of the brain, indicating what parts of the brain light up when people either play--or just watch--games. (See above picture).

Imagine what could be accomplished if this intense energy shifted to anotherpurpose. McGonigal suggests that UrgentRevoke, a massive online multiplayer game does just this; participantssolve world problems such as world hunger, for example. Teachersand organizations can request free access.

McGonigal’s research shows that gamers spend 80% of theirtime failing, which, though counterintuitive, makes them want to continue toplay the game. At an earlier ISTE Ignite session, Kill Off the Players, onepresenter essentially made the same point: Gamers like games that kill offtheir players; the challenge of figuring out how to make it to the nextlevel pulls them back to the game. The speaker suggested that when games prompt players with too manyhints, players become less interested in continuing to play, not moreso.

The lesson for education is direct: Give students too many of theanswers  before they solve problems on their own and we stifle their energy, too. Instead, educators need to help students recognize that failure is part of the process towards success. 

Games may not hold the answer to solving ourproblems in education but it’s hard to argue against wanting students toexperience the same emotions every day at school that they do when playinggames. Shouldn’t students be fullyengaged, collaborating, thinking critically, and working towards a goal largerthan themselves? Dare we also mention that school should be fun, challenging,and rewarding?

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