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Playing to Learn?

Children love to learn, but at some point they lose that and become adults that don't like formal learning. Let's explore why "play" has gotten such a bad rap and figure out how to get it back in education.
by Maria Andersen on 19 July 2013

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Transcript of Playing to Learn?

First Problem:
http://xkcd.com/657
what if LOTR was a
course or a textbook?
How DO
children
learn?

they
give
it a
try
they push at boundaries
The brain is
ready to learn
by filling in blanks
We tend to LIKE something if we are able to "see" the patterns in it
When this happens, we begin to "groove" in the patterns ... to seek them out and to expect them.
conscious thought
the brain
functions
at three levels
of thinking
making lists
recalling facts
mathematical
assigning values
a simulation or a formal system where choices and rules are important
allows you to practice patterns and permutations of patterns
"Fun from games arises out of mastery. It arises out of comprehension. It is the act of solving puzzles that makes games fun. In other words, with games, learning is the drug."
- Raph Koster, A Theory of Fun
"Boredom is the brain casting about for new information. It is the feeling you get when there are no new patterns to absorb."
Flower Power
Factortris
http://bit.ly/9uhSJF
http://www.funbrain.com/
Math Baseball
http://www.mangahigh.com
Question that game designers ask themselves ...
- Dr. James Gee
"How do I get somebody to learn something that is long and difficult and takes a lot of commitment, but get them to learn it well?"
"the best instruction hovers at the boundary of a student's competence"
- Andy diSessa, Cognitive Scientist
[Video games] tend to encourage players to achieve total mastery of one level, only to challenge and undo that mastery in the next, forcing kids to adapt and evolve.
- Dr. James Gee, University of Wisconsin
Wired Magazine, 2003
-Raph Koster, A Theory of Fun
Tombstone City
Munchman
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dinah/239650274/
2
5
28
Think like a Babylonian
[ !?*!? ]
75
12
59
60
35
61
Babylonian
"Cheat Codes"
http://gwydir.demon.co.uk/jo/numbers/babylon/index.htm
Revelation #4:
I can still play the video games I played when I was a child.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/bobfoldsfive/2596985632/
Sorry bobfoldsfive, I am using this image without permission because I can't seem to log in to Yahoo to ask for permission. Please don't be mad!
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kkseema/2042946052
http://www.flickr.com/photos/seandreilinger/959010447
they
try
over
and
over
and
over
http://www.flickr.com/photos/wwworks/3039389897
they seek patterns
GAME
Learning is not Linear.
Third Problem:
- Raph Koster, A Theory of Fun
Fourth Problem:
Second Problem:
We give away the "cheat codes"
for the game (learning) up front.
the act of
mentally
mastering
a problem
fun
some games just make games lame
IBL is great,
in theory, but ...
time-consuming
in reality.
Designing and using activities where students learn new concepts by actively doing and reflecting on what they have done. The guiding principle is that instructors try not to talk in depth about a concept until students have had an opportunity to think about it first (Hastings, 2006).
Inquiry-based Learning
addition & subtraction of integers
simplifying like terms
3x+4+2x-7
multiplication and division of integers
solving
one-step equations
x+3=6
finding points that
fit x+y=5
absolute value
e.g. |-8|
graph an inequality on a number line
where
do we want
our students'
brains to be?
why did
you go in to teaching?
AHA moment =
the brain having fun
See if you can figure out Babylonian without the "cheat codes"
On linear learning paths,
students often get stuck
because of
one concept.
autopilot
reflexes
running "scripts"
a game is a delicate balance between
boredom
and frustration
sorting and packaging
associative
integrative
intuitive
"common sense"
Revelation #1:
Technology is making "content" irrelevant. It's what you're able to do with the content that's important.
Revelation #2:
Revelation #3:
My students, some of whom can't seem to learn algebra, CAN seem to learn complex video games that require logic, memorization, and teamwork, and strategy.
We've been trying all sorts of untested strategies to improve student outcomes for decades, with little or no forward progress.
children
think
learning
is fun

what is a
?
PLAY
what is
?
illustrations by
Mat Moore
as adults, we perceive that
play is
"frivolous"
and non-
serious
there are
many
definitions
and
descriptions
and yet, children learn a remarkable amount before
they ever enter
formalized education
"entrancing absorption"
http://www.flickr.com/photos/seandreilinger/2187892869/sizes/o/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/wjarrettc/2135222193/sizes/l/
play involves a relaxed pace
freedom to explore
revelation #2
But, in education, we
have taken "fun"
out of learning.
addition & subtraction of integers
simplifying like terms
3x+4+2x-7
multiplication and division of integers
solving
one-step equations
x+3=6
finding points that
fit x+y=5
absolute value
e.g. |-8|
graph an inequality on a number line
This is what we do in math
(and I suspect your discipline is similar)
learning
^
So ...
what can
we do?
http://bit.ly/PlayLearn
http://www.kwarp.com/portfolio/grammarninja.html
Grammar Ninja
Vocab Sushi
http://www.vocabsushi.com/
http://lab.andre-michelle.com/tonematrix
Tone Matrix
You don't have to
"play" using a video game.
Darfur is Dying
The Forbidden City
Discover Babylon
Peacemaker
McVideo Game
Second Life:
The Ultimate Simulator
SimCity Societies
Places to Visit:
http://bit.ly/aAG7oX
Simulations
of the
Real World

Immune Attack
Non-digital Games
Shift the "exploration"
to the students.
Handy Tip
Maria H Andersen, PH.D.
@busynessgirl
busynessgirl.com

Not only can I still play this one,
I can get to higher levels
than I was able to as a child.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/cmduke/3035453343/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/smiles_for_you/409382195/
from the time
we are very young ...
Surely, we can
take advantage of
this in adult learning
though it may require us to stretch our minds a little
If we're not careful,
we're going to take
ourselves out of
learning too.
Unfortunately, most
formal education focuses on
surface-level learning
boring
http://www.flickr.com/photos/zen/241745451/
this is what
we could
(theoretically)
do in math
one solution
4 in 5 young adults
half of adults
1/4 of seniors
http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2008/Adults-and-Video-Games.aspx
who plays video games?
*disclaimer
some games provide practice
some games get it just right
Final thoughts ...
was it ...
Let's put play and fun back in education.
Maria H. Andersen, Ph.D.
Twitter: @busynessgirl
busynessgirl@gmail.com
web: busynessgirl.com
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