Tag: Warlick

Can Gaming Skills Be Transferred to the “Real World?”

In a recent blog post, David Warlick discusses his experience presenting a discussion of the value of gaming in education to a group of parents and educators. He related some resistance on the part of some attendees, particularly one woman, who challenged his assertation “that the video game generation is moregame controller sociable and better collaborators than the previous generation.” The woman asserted that, in fact, the opposite was true, and that today’s students had difficulty interacting and adjusting to life in the work force. Warlick responded basically that there were many factors that “make our children”, not simply their participation in online games, and that most of us struggled initially as we entered the workforce. He also added “that to see and leaverge these skills we have to alter our expectations and even aspects of the work environment and schedule and even the nature of our assignments.” In other words, as I understand him, employers (and, I would assume, educators) need to examine the environment that we create and the type of work we expect our young people to complete and adjust them to better take advantage of the skills that they are developing while playing these games (particularly the online, social-type games).

This is an interesting idea, as it calls into question the very nature of many of the standards by which the success of our students is measured, both in the classroom and beyond. It also would require a radical re-thinking of the work environment and the nature of social interaction and collaboration. Certainly, avid participants in the online video game culture do engage in many tasks that have either overt or implicit value in the working world. They solve problems, formulate hypotheses, apply subject-specific skills, communicate, and collaborate. However, the nature of these actions is certainly significantly different in many ways than the forms that they would take in a traditional classroom or workplace.

Two competing questions come to mind, then, one putting the impetus for change on the student/employee, the second, posed by David, on the employer/teacher. First, how do we take students from the virtual application of these skills to the physical, real-world environment? Research is beginning to bear out the idea that they truly are developing valuable skills, but will they have value if they cannot transfer them? Secondly, what can future employers (or schools) do to make their work environments places which leverage the types of tools that take advantage of young employees’ (or students’) affinity for and skills with these games? For instance, are social networks or simulations perhaps more effective tools for job training than traditional, in-person training sessions with this generation?

I suspect the most productive answer lies somewhere in the middle. I do agree with the premise that David makes that systemic change in the workplace should be considered. But I also think that there needs to be a transitional focus, and students need to be able to adapt the virtual experiences and interactions they have used to build their skills to the application of those abilities into marketable and useable traits in the workforce. Adaptability and the ability to respond to changing environments and situations are actually key qualities of the successful gamer, so this should be feasible. I don’t know the solution, but I do recognize the value of online gaming and the diverse skillsets that research has demonstrated can be gained/enhanced. We would be remiss, as educators, not to put some serious effort and thought into considering just how best to take advantage of this fact.

I would add that, piggy-backing off of David’s post, I went back and re-read the ISTE NETS for Teachers, and I found several ideas that could be easily applied in the workplace. Simply substitute “employers” for “teachers” and “employees” for “students”. A few examples…

1.  Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity
Teachers Employers use their knowledge of subject matter, teaching and learning, and technology to facilitate experiences that advance student employee learning, creativity, and innovation in both face-to-face and virtual environments. Teachers Employers:
a. promote, support, and model creative and innovative thinking and inventiveness
b. engage students employees in exploring real-world issues and solving authentic problems using digital tools and resources
c. promote student employee reflection using collaborative tools to reveal and clarify students’ conceptual understanding and thinking, planning, and creative processes
d. model collaborative knowledge construction by engaging in learning with students employees,colleagues, and others in face-to-face and virtual environments
2.  Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments
Teachers Employers design, develop, and evaluate authentic learning experiences and assessments incorporating contemporary tools and resources to maximize content learning in context and to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes identified in the NETS•S. Teachers Employers:
a. design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student employee learning and creativity
b. develop technology-enriched learning environments that enable all students employees to pursue their individual curiosities and become active participants in setting their own educational occupational goals, managing their own learning, and assessing their own progress
c. customize and personalize learning activities to address studentsemployees‘ diverse learning styles, working strategies, and abilities using digital tools and resources

Theme of the Week: Change

Beginning with last Monday’s presentation by David Warlick and proceeding up to an article I just read in eSchool News, the theme of radical,change disruptive change has been my constant companion the past several days. Some examples of the theme of change from David’s presentation:

  • The 21st century teacher must above all things be a master learner (instead of a fount of knowledge).
  • Students can learn the technology on their own. We need to focus on showing them how to “work the information.”
  • Only a tiny fraction of new information is generated on paper. Why do schools spend so much time focused on its use?
  • Professional and personal communications are increasingly virtual, rather than face-to-face.
  • We are preparing students for their future, not ours (and these are drastically different concepts).
  • Computing will continue to become more portable and compact.
  • Students today DO want to learn, but the form that their learning takes is different.
  • Copyright laws need to be revisited based upon the ways students use/reuse information today.
  • Technology has moved toward the simple, with the exception of video games, which have gotten increasingly complex.

In the article from eSchool News, Clayton Christensen speaks of impending radical changes to the educational system as we know it. Christensen, the author of Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns, asserts that schools have been trying to fit new tools into an old system, which has brought about slow implementation and limited impacts. However, he describes a model of change that can mathematically show that, once an innovation is demonstrated to be effective, affordable, accessible, etc., it takes off, dramatically altering the entire system into which it is implanted. Christensen believes e-learning will soon have such an impact on education, and that the entire system will change as a result of learning becoming individualized, available anytime, anyplace.

A third conversation about change occured between our me and our superintendent, Dr. Stephen Waddell. He is part of a panel on Web 2.0 and it’s impact on education at CoSN this week, and he has been a strong proponent for technology and change in the curriculum in our district. In our conversations, he stated that he, too, believed that a complete system change was needed to make schools more relevant and to make technology take the place that it rightfully should. Dr. Waddell believes this begins at the highest levels, and he further asserts that the schools that are slow to change will be rendered obsolete, as the new system will increase options and accessibility of quality schools for all students.

In my current doctoral course, we had to describe our vision of the 2020 classroom last week. While I see no changesome of the changes described by Warlick, Christensen, and Dr. Waddell looming on the horizon, I also see a struggle against a system that has more inertia built into it than most. Educators are slow to change, for many reasons. Certainly the current emphasis on basic skills as the end-all-be-all form of school assessment is a strong limiting factor. So is the previous history of change in education, where one “reform” after another was hurredly implemented then just as quickly rushed out the door. Of course, the difference here is that the change will be driven not by educational researchers or policy makers, but by the changing world of students, who increasingly expect greater engagement, access to broader information, and the ability to communicate with the global audience, and who are increasingly dissatisfied with “traditional” instruction. Still, I wonder how long it will take before their voices are heard by those in the positions to quickly change the system. One of the biggest advantages they (students) have is that there are so many ways to make their voices heard today. I know some great teachers who are already listening, and some other great teachers who aren’t quite there yet. It can get frustrating, as a technology specialist, waiting on the parade to catch up, particularly at the state and federal levels, which seem to move the slowest, but also at the local level. You want teachers to embrace the change, to lead the way. The reality is, though, they are handcuffed by a system that doesn’t reward innovation and relevance, but rather rewards performance based upon minimum skills and limited knowledge. I know it will happen, but (I can line up many witnesses to verify this.) patience has never been my strong suit.

Live Blogging from Birdville ISD: David Warlick (Part II)

I’ll summarize tomorrow. Thanks to all who contributed comments!

Live Blogging from Birdville ISD: David Warlick (Part I)

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