Computer Science, Education, Gamification, K-12, Videos

SXSWedu 2016 – How to Think and Learn Like a Futurist

I have seen Jane McGonigal present before, and I really enjoyed her message. Looking forward to another fabulous keynote address from her at SXSWedu this year, I was not disappointed.

McGonigal’s presentation was, “How to Think and Learn Like a Futurist.”  If you feel like that is impossible, then you should know that a futurist is not someone who predicts the future.  As McGonigal states, “I am making the future!”  And, “To create something now, you have to imagine how things can be different.”

A futurist does these 4 things:

  1. collects signals from the future
  2. combines signals into forecast
  3. creates personal foresight
  4. plays with the future

I can’t really do her talk justice by summarizing it here.  Suffice it to say that it involves jellybean recipes, a Mega NFL where you can earn power ups for your team by being fit, and an intriguing idea that shows a complete shift in the education paradigm, resulting in lifelong learning.

To learn more, please watch McGonigal’s keynote. Yes, it is an hour long – but she will open your mind to new possibilities and new ways of thinking.  If you teach children or have some of your own, you will be fascinated with the potential workforce and education they may may face in one or two decades.

For more information on futuristic ideas, visit the site of Institute for the Future, where Jane McGonigal works along with other inspired and creative futurists.

Creative Thinking, Education, Games, Gamification, K-12, Teaching Tools

What Does Massive Multiplayer Thumb Wrestling Have to Do With Teaching?

courtesy of Dr. McGonigal at ISTE 2013 Keynote, San Antonio, TX
courtesy of Dr. McGonigal at ISTE 2013 Keynote, San Antonio, TX

I have the good fortune of attending the International Society for Technology in Education annual conference in San Antonio this week. Last night, Dr. Jane McGonigal gave the opening keynote to around 6000 of us, and we might have broken a world record for thumb wrestling.

If you have not heard of Dr. McGonigal, you might want to see my previous post about her or go directly to her TED talk.  Her studies on the effect of gaming in education are fascinating.  In last night’s lecture, she made a good case for how we can utilize the positive aspects of gaming to our advantage in the classroom.  She spoke a lot about the importance of engagement in learning, and the fact that our students become less engaged as they move higher in our educational system.  Integrating gaming with our lessons could help us to change that.  The picture above shows one of her slides on the 10 positive effects of gaming, and I think every teacher would like to see that mirrored in the classroom.

McGonigal’s work is controversial because so many people have pre-conceived notions about gaming.  What’s important to note, though, is that you do not have to use actual video games to reproduce their significant qualities.  By convincing her entire audience to participate in a massive multiplayer thumb wrestling game for 60 seconds, McGonigal was able to evoke the same emotions.  We can do this in our classrooms by emulating the positive characteristics of popular video games – choice, control, collaboration, challenge, problem solving.  There are some great educational video games that can be used, but we can also create the type of environment that will have virtually the same effect with less dependence on technology.  Whether you choose to use electronics or do it the old-fashioned way, you can “gamify” your classroom  and aim to awaken all 10 of the emotions above in every student each and every day.

3-12, Behavior, Creative Thinking, Education, Games, Gamification, Motivation, Teaching Tools, Videos

The Positive Effects of Playing Games

photo credit: mrsdkrebs via photo pin cc

The topic of gaming and its usage in the classroom has been popping up more and more in the last year or so.  Jane McGonigal, who is an expert in this area (check out this link to see her extensive experience and list of “unlocked” achievements), gives some good reasons that we should not dismiss gaming as “a waste of time”.  Other than improving flirting skills, it seems that many of the benefits might be worth consideration by teachers.  I am planning to create a gaming environment in my gifted classroom this year for my 5th graders, and I hope to see an increase in productivity in the areas of creativity and ambition, as Dr. McGonigal predicts!  If you are interested in this topic, you might want to visit Gamification of the Classroom and Classroom Game Design, too!