I’ve been learning about a world I had no idea existed or I totally just took it for granted. Either way, it’s important to realise that there is a huge community out there which some of our students are part of and that impacts everything they do in their lives. And seriously, if you think being a gamer is a bad thing, well, you might have to step back a little bit on your prejudices before you can actually understand what games are all about. I won’t claim that I have. I’m still taking my baby steps here, but extremely happy that I get why one would spend hours and hours playing a game. In fact, I’m fascinated by how quick they can think and act.
I just watched the video above shared by Vance in his slide presentation and Gee’s point is very simple. Schools make learning all about reading textbooks and answering questions about what was read while gamers are not just playing complex games but also operating in communities where they share expertises and experiences. Most schools I know still operate pretty much under the assumption that academic success is about repeating in a test what was read in textbooks or heard in when teachers lecture them on the subject. As Gee points out, “Words said or read without having any experience are just words.”
“The opportunity to learn is not the book. It’s whether you can bring experience to the book.” Gee, 5:45
Learning a language meaningfully like learning any subject means to do it by having real experiences. Two things I learned from my project with teens last year that are important in my opinion to foster meaningful learning.
- a community of learners to be built needs a shared interest to support its development. After all a group of people have different needs, motivation and wants. It important to find something that can connect people to one another in a given moment. This moment of connection create experiences. I wonder though whether we can actually forsee these moments and design experiences for our learners, much like game designers do in a way that we provide positive experiences and therefore it facilitates not only community building but also leverage language learning and willingness to use it.
- language is not used in a vacuum. We need an environment that is conducive to language use or opportunities that are meaningful to use the language, not by forcing people to do so which never really works, but by creating the space for them to be willing to give it a try. It’s not easy to try out a language one might feel not competent or confident to use it. After speaking English for almost 25 years, I still go mute in certain situations. Mind you even in Portuguese. Speaking is much about knowing as it is about emotions and how one sees oneself in a given situation.
In about a month, I’ll be in class again. The experiences I am gaining from this MOOC is reshaping my way of viewing my teens. I can’t wait to meet them all. And I’m sure that the games my students created last year will support this year learning experiences. I’m so proud of them and all they are capable of.
Here is the post I wrote for iTDi blog about how creating games with my students changed our game.
EVO Minecraft MOOC posts: