I really liked James Gee's Good Games and Good Learning article, particularly his enumeration of the principles that can be practiced and learned through game playing. And many of the 16 points map to principles we've been learning about in other classes. For example, point #6 (Agency) sounds like student-centered learning. Leveling in a game (in point #7) maps cleanly to Zones of Proximal Development. A lower level player not only is underpowered in a higher level environment, but even if given a higher level without working their way up, they would not know how to use it. I also liked Gee's inside-out notion of incorporating lessons from the gaming world in the classroom. Educational software vendors are focused on pushing the real world into the virtual. But it should work both ways.
brb... Running a dungeon with my guildies, gotta gear up my pally so I can respec from tank to healer…kk, I'm back.
Jane McGonigal's TED talk is fun. I can imagine the bulk of non-gamers would find it hard to believe that increasing game-playing time 7-fold would solve the world's problems. But I agree that well-designed games with an agenda (reducing oil consumption, teaching students algebra, etc) will become increasingly part of our lives. My daughter learned her multiplication/division facts using a dungeon-based game distributed through Ann Arbor Public Schools (AAPS). If you can make rote drills engaging, that can address fluency issues in the classroom. But adding more elements of the dimensions of learning is inevitable. A soon-to-be 5th grader, she is playing DragonBox and without knowing it, is learning algebra.
Multiplayer games have great potential for building the student-student and student-teacher connections. An important caveat: multi-player gaming has some of the same issues as the real world, including bullying. WoW provides guilds, which might provide a safer environment, but a good guild requires a good leader (teacher).
David Niguidula's article "Digital Portfolios and Curriculum Maps: Linking Teacher and Student Work" from the book by Curriculum 21 discusses how students can build a digital record of their work. Teachers can create curriculum maps that show students what the teachers expects the student to accomplish. A revelation was the idea of letting the students see the curriculum map, see how their portfolio work connects to the curriculum, and then provide feedback to the teacher about the curriculum. Adding systematic student feedback at the curriculum level (at any level for most teachers) seems pretty revolutionary. Why don't we incorporate students into our reflections more frequently? How would van Es & Sherin's video club be different if students participated? Here's an idea: create a Future Teacher's club at a school, and have them participate in some of the curriculum reflections.