Video games in 6th grade

photo by NYTimes

The NY has published this week a interesting article about Quest to Learn, a New Yorker school which the pedagogical curriculum was reinterpreted by game designers to be more user-friendly for kids nowadays. We have already talked about how commercial games can be used as learning tool as they are and how game features can be applied into reality, creating a more engaging activity, and Quest to Learn use both strategies and the same time.

First, a team of game designers reinterpret the formal curriculum, adapting it in a more hybrid and interesting way for kids. For example,the have a discipline named Codeworlds  [a hybrid between math and English]  and another called Sports for the Mind. Those disciplines blend skills from different subject areas and, some times, also use fantastic elements to help engaging like a fictional community of strange creatures who need student’s help.

Also, classes are programed to explore all kinds of new media while teaching formal knowledge. Therefore, students are asked to assign from games, designed throw a simplified software  editor, to podcasts and films as homework. They are as well encouraged to play all sorts of video games and to use different softwares in order to learn different tools for different projects.

The great thing about Quest to Learn, in my opinion, is that it engages students in learning activities, from which they really learn without acknowledging it. James Paul Gee also always says that is have been proven that learning is more effective when binded with emotions. In traditional methods, generally this emotion is fear [fear of failing, fear of punishments, etc.], games can teach while spawning other emotions, positive ones, that might work just as well. Also, in basing learning in positive stimuli and new media, Quest to Learn may also be suggesting a solution for the high drop-out indices in amercian schools.