Quest to Learn, a New York City District 2 Choice school, uses digital games to accelerate learning. This fascinating concept for a school, revolves around the idea that a game, is essentially a set of problems that need to be solved. If students are solving games, and creating them, aren’t they also showing mastery of literacy and standards? I agree completely with this concept, and more, the evolution of video games in the past decade reflect a level of complexity and social interaction never seen before. Video games are now are not just challenging individuals, but groups of people with more complex problems then ever before.
The biggest fear of course, for the older generations, and even for mine, is that kids spend too much time with games and screens. Video games today have a reputation for being a waste of time, overly violent and sexual, or a drain on a could-be-productive member of society. Possibly the most fascinating of the interviewed is Henry Jenkins, a Media Scholar at the University of Southern California. In his walking interview, he questions what our society labels as addictive and productive. He says students spending hours on sports, or art, or reading are hard working, while children who solve complex problems in video games, hours per day per week are labeled as children with addictions. Perhaps we are not seeing the merit, or complex, social teamwork skills that are needed to achieve success in video games. Jenkins uses the infamous World of Warcraft as a reference, but I actually believe he knows what he is talking about. The game is by no means simple, and would honestly be too strenuous and complex for most of its critics.
Players in World of Warcraft experience complex, group dynamic, number crunching, precise team play that merits game success or failure. This complexity has never been seen before in games.
Quest 2 Learn poses a fascinating model of what student centered digital learning could look like. However, its a meticulously organized school, with selective admissions in a city that often requires children to compete just for middle and high school experiences. My thought is it’s a fascinating and successful school, but how can these strategies be mass produced, and funded, so that children in the rest of the city, and nation experience the same tinkering?