A great quote from Doug Johnson the other day in a comment to Leigh Blackall:
......as we say in Minnesota, an expert has to be someone from at least 75 miles away......
In Australia, we suffer a bit from that cultural cringe thing a bit when we feel compelled to invite well publicised "gurus" from beyond our shores to come and tell us how to do things better. I was in a conversation with another educator who expressed the view that the recent Marc Prensky visit didn't add much new to the conversation about engaging our "digital natives". I'm in two minds about this. On one hand, we have plenty of talent here in the Australasian region who could inform us on the future directions of education but what Prensky did for us here in Adelaide at least was get people talking and raising questions about where student engagement is at. Bill Kerr has blogged a few times about this in a very thoughtful, reflective manner and it is this process that having an outside "expert" come in is good for. I have found that some of Prensky's analogies and articles to be really useful in my school setting in terms of using non-academic language to explain certain ideas about the changing nature of kids' learning and their world. My favourite part of his seminar that still resonates with me is his article "If We Share, We're Halfway There -- We need to post on the Web everything we do or create that works" because that is the headset that is needed for the 21st century teacher if we are ever to make headway with the ever increasing workload, accountability and relevance to our clients, the students. So my challenge is to practice what I advocate and get more website content jammed in here and in my other hidey holes around the web. I've talked in the past about Doug Johnson's website but I've poked around another that is a great example and makes feel quite inadequate. If you have a few spare hours (you will need it) check out Wesley Fryer's impressive website. It is really, really worth your while.
Admittedly, my experiences in the land of Oz are not extensive (2 trips there and a couple of mates), but I have always sensed part of your national psyche is a totally undeserved inferiority complex. In terms of distance education, library services, educational web use, you Aussies serve as models to the rest of the world.
While I hope you all never become as full of yourselves as we Yanks, I do hope you start recognizing and speaking more of the contributions you make.
Said only in kindness,
When I learnt that Marc Prensky would be in Australia, I jumped at the opportunity. In collaboration with
ACMI and DE&T the
ASISTM Games Cluster was able to bring him to Melbourne. Marc is an excellent communicator and was able to fill the venue easily, something that
would be harder to achieve with an Australian speaker. We were able to spread the message about games in education to a wide audience.
Richard Van Eck, in his paper Digital Game- Based Learning
It’s Not Just the Digital Natives Who Are Restless
suggests that proponents of digital game-based learning (DGBL) should move from the promotion of DGBL to a critical analysis of DGBL.
“Like the person who is still yelling after the sudden cessation of loud music at a party” we now have the world’s attention and its time to do critical analysis of what exactly we are promoting.
Though I don’t agree with his conclusion that we should adopt off the shelves games ahead of game making, he makes a good point.
Its a bit like the 80’s and Logo. The educational literature of the day was strong on advocacy but weak on analysis. There was lots of hype but a shallow
understanding of the pedagogy, teachers were understandably disappointed and Logo got a bad name.
We are fortunate in Australia to have world class practitioners of DGBL. To mention some, there’s Bill Kerr,
Al Upton and Mark Piper and the
Games In Learning group.
Doug Johnson is right, part of our national psyche is a totally undeserved inferiority complex. We need to recognise the position of leadership we hold in game programming and as Doug says “I do hope you start
recognizing and speaking more of the contributions you make”
Tony, thanks as always for your invaluable input. This is another great reason for blogging. Really, I am an ignoramus when it comes to the world of gaming and its possible impact on education but through blogs I can expand my mind and tap into experts like yourself, Bill and Al. (No doubt you would be pleased about his award.) The links here give me more avenues to follow, read and reflect upon. I’m even thinking I need to get into a complex game and get a feel for it. John Pederson has been dabbling in World of Warcraft – but I think I need a starting point that won’t suck heaps of hours out of my life while getting a taste of what gaming offers. Any suggestions, Tony?
there is a very good article, Learning by Design: Games as Learning Machines, by james gee at gamasutra which identifies good games to play based on a set of cognitive learning principles developed by gee. You have to join gamasutra to access the url but its free to join.
I was influenced by this article to buy “Rise of Nations”
I think assertive blogging is a good way to start to overcome the cultural cringe, not to mention the digital cringe …
“a starting point that won’t suck heaps of hours out of my life” Not sure if such a thing exists, its a big risk to start gaming.
If you want to understand the world that kids of today live in you can’t go past World of Warcraft. I spend lots of time with my son watching and occasionally listen in on the Ventrilo audio channel. I don’t play but at least know what “I got a good drop while main tank on a ZG run” means. The WoW world is amazing, and full of more learning than I can identify: strategic thinking, how to by and sell at auction, but most of all for young kids developing the social skills to function in a team of adults. And the adults take the time to explain stuff to the kids, I’m really impressed with my son’s friends.
Personally I love strategy games, Sim City was where I started, I like the oldies Total Annihilation and Dark Reign, newer is Galactic Battlegrounds. Its really fun when my son’s friends come round for a LAN party and they let me play