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The Education Game

I’m a bit grizzled when it comes to presentations and keynote speeches these days, so it pleases me to no end when someone I have never heard of knocks my socks off. Enter Jesse Schell, Asst. Professor at Carnegie Mellon, CEO of his own game design firm, Disney Imagineer, and published author. I’m not much of a “gamer,” with the pinnacle of my achievements in that arena coming on Super Mario Brothers in the late 1980’s, so it does not surprise me that a person with this resume has flown well below my radar.

No longer.

In the video below (WARNING: the ideas are appropriate, but the occasional curse word may make the video NSFW) Jesse begins by talking about online games. Stick with him though, because he transitions into the concept that in the future LIFE ITSELF will be the game. Like any future facing predictions they are a bit over-reaching. However, we in Education are fools (FOOLS!) if we don’t capture some of this psychology and apply it in our classrooms.

At one point in this keynote he mentions in passing a college Professor who did away with the traditional grading system for a course and substituted a video-game like points system. This is not a completely unique idea, I did something very similar myself when teaching a grad school class at the University of Colorado-Denver 8+ years ago. The point is that Education itself is a GIANT GAME. We could be doing a much, much better job of using that fact as a hook to engage students. The preponderance of evidence suggests that they want to engage content in this way, and we’re dropping the ball in this area.

On a completely different topic, I’ve been actively following the ideas discussed over on the Nebraska Educator’s NING asking for ideas on who people would like to see keynote the 2011 NETA conference. I’m pleased to see the NETA members taking this cue from ISTE’s crowd sourcing experiment this year. For the record, I would love to hear what Jesse had to say to an Education specific audience, and I think he would certainly be one of the more dynamic speakers ever to walk the NETA stage should they be able to land him.

Posted in My Thoughts, Reblogged, Videos.