Tuesday, August 16

Computer Games and Classrooms already share one limiting feature

People, such as myself, are advocating a time when classrooms borrow more lessons from computer games. But they already share one, not-so-great similarity. They are both self-referential.
  • Doing well within the world of a computer game, be it buying the biggest house or uniting the world, is in itself victory. There is no need to transfer that to the outside world before getting the accolades. And you are not directly better prepared to actually buy a bigger house, or unite the world, for having played the game.
  • Similarly, most classrooms are self-referential. Getting the 'A' does not mean that you were successful outside the classroom, just inside.

Now in both cases, there may be correlations. The 'A" student and great gamer might be better able to get and perform complex jobs. And in the case of the 'A" students, they can stay in the self-referential academic world indefinitely, eventually getting tenure. But there is also the opportunity to 'game' the systems, building skills sets that actually hurt the opportunity for success outside the enclosed environments.

With all of that as background, I found these ideas on massively multi-player online role playing games (thanks, Kevin Kruse for sending it to me) very interesting. There are at least two parts to it. One is what happens when games have consequences outside the self-reference. The second is, how can gamers, like our life-long academics, never leave the self-reference and do quite well.

Still, with the exception of a few monks, the vast majority of us are going to have to transfer skills, knowledge, and perspectives between these various walled gardens. Smoothing those transitions are both quite difficult and, I suspect, world-changing.

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