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Keeping the Play in Learning Games. —Scot Osterweil The Education Arcade/MIT November 15, 2007 scot_o@mit.edu. Play, observable throughout the animal kingdom, is the fundamental way we learn.

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keeping the play in learning games

Keeping the Play in Learning Games

—Scot Osterweil

The Education Arcade/MIT

November 15, 2007

scot_o@mit.edu

play observable throughout the animal kingdom is the fundamental way we learn

Play, observable throughout the animal kingdom, is the fundamental way we learn.

"Now in myth and ritual the great instinctive forces of civilized life have their origin: law and order, commerce and profit, craft and art, poetry, wisdom and science. All are rooted in the primeval soil of play."

—Johann Huizinga

Homo Ludens, 1938

An example with rods and clamps

from The Children’s Machine,

Seymour Papert, 1993

slide4

Through the informal activity of play, we scaffold the concepts and ideas that we will engage with formally in school…and in life.

play has no agenda
Play has no agenda

The player’s motivations are entirely intrinsic and personal.

The Four Freedoms of Play

the four freedoms of play
The Four Freedoms of Play
  • Freedom to Experiment
  • Freedom to Fail
  • Freedom to Try on Identities
  • Freedom of Effort
the four freedoms of play7
The Four Freedoms of Play

=

The Four Freedoms of Learning

The Four Freedoms of School

(as currently embodied)

play has no agenda8
Play has no agenda

The player’s motivations are entirely intrinsic and personal.

How do we channel play into learning activities while still allowing for play’s fundamentally open-ended nature?

GAMES

slide10
In games we willingly submit to arbitrary rules and structures in pursuit of mastery, but only if we can continue to be playful.

The promise of games is that through real play, the player will build new cognitive structures, and ideas of substance.

slide12
“What the world needs is…

Grand Theft Calculus

how do we think about learning games
How Do We Think About Learning Games?
  • They should engage players with reasoning and processes relevant to their studies
    • Logic
    • Ethics
    • Design
    • Scientific Inquiry
    • Historical Inquiry
how do we think about learning games16
How Do We Think About Learning Games?
  • They should engage players’ imaginations with places, events, themes and ideas that matter.
    • Huckleberry Finn
    • Civilization, SimCity
game narrative
Game Narrative
  • A game world that allows players to explore their identity
  • Not patronizing or flattering
  • Non-gendered
  • A game world that embodies the subject matter.
game activity
Game Activity
  • Not about memorizing solutions - about learning strategies, processes, habits of mind
  • Students understand that “wrong” answers are part of getting the right answer
  • Learning to think like a scientist, mathematician, engineer, artist
  • Engaging with content in a context
  • Activities that are tactile, offer sensory satisfaction
game structure
Game Structure
  • Multiple passage through challenge (tokens)
  • Partial reward for partial success– clear incentives for more success
  • No brick walls
  • Emerging ideas
  • Not just one way to win
  • No time pressure
    • Enables conversation
    • Collaboration
    • Teacher or parent can observe or engage
the hand off
The Hand-Off
  • Students can play game like any gamer
  • Teacher can bring game into class, relate experience of game to new subject
  • Students undertake that subject with the enthusiasm of an expert
  • Teacher can even use class to discuss future game play strategies – begin to model meta-cognition
  • Individual saved games give evidence of students progress
labyrinth
Labyrinth
  • Puzzle Adventure Game
    • Hours of Play - engrossing story
  • Web Served
    • Play anywhere - on several platforms
    • Cumulative Progress
    • Data Collection for Teachers
labyrinth27
Labyrinth
  • Repeat Play
    • Partial Success
    • Gradual Mastery
  • Team Based
    • Individual play, team goals
    • Promoting collaboration/communication
    • Students write about their thinking
labyrinth28
Labyrinth
  • Math: engaging students in pre-algebra
    • Proportionality
    • Numbers
    • Equations/Variables
    • Geometry
  • Literacy for the 21st Century
    • Writing for communication
    • Visual and Verbal Literacy
    • Comics-based storytelling
labyrinth29
Labyrinth
  • Technology: Flash
    • Scalable to many screen-sizes
    • Stabilizing as platform for handhelds
    • Easy to pilot
  • A new production model: bypassing the Hollywood economics of the gameindustry.
keeping the play in learning games30

Keeping the Play in Learning Games

—Scot Osterweil

The Education Arcade/MIT

November 15, 2007

scot_o@mit.edu