Teaching the Web 2.0 Student

I ran across this presentation a few months ago on Slideshare:

It really got me thinking about how we educate college students, and what kind of a world we are preparing them for. Clearly our “Charlie’s”  are going to increasingly find themselves working in these types of “virtual companies,” so what are we doing at the university-level to help them do this? As educators, we must begin to re-think our approach to education to better reach these “Digital Natives” of Generation Y (or the Millennials, if you prefer). For my part, I’ve tried to do this by promoting more small group work centered around the construction of wikis, in addition to using blogging projects. I’m strongly considering expanding this approach by incorporating Second Life into some of my courses. But this doesn’t go far enough.

I was listening to an older Boing Boing podcast which featured a member of the design team behind an alternate reality game called “I Love Bees” whilst at the gym a few weeks ago, and I began to wonder – why not design a course like this? I had read Steven Johnson‘s “Everything Bad Is Good For You” earlier this summer and followed it up with “Gamer Theory” by McKenzie Wark and began to wonder if, given the nature of our Gen Y students as gamers, who have developed a problem-solving-based learning style which is inherently social in its nature, shouldn’t we be rethinking our course designs to take advantage of this? Then I ran across this post over at Pat Kane’s Play Journal which describes a new school which intends to use gaming (and design) as the basis of its pedagogy. Here’s the money quote from the NPR article Pat cites:

“We are conceiving the school as a dynamic learning
system that takes its cues from the way games are
designed, shared and played,” said Katie Salen,
Executive Director of the Gamelab Institute of Play.
“All players in the school – teachers, students,
parents and administrators – will be empowered to
innovate using 21st century literacies that are native
to games and design. This means learning to think
about the world as a set of in interconnected systems
that can be affected or changed through action and
choice, the ability to navigate complex information
networks, the power to build worlds and tell stories,
to see collaboration in competition, and communicate
across diverse social spaces. It means that students
and teachers will engage in their own learning in
powerful ways.”

“This project will reimagine the traditional school
from top to bottom, based on research on how students
today learn best—and will create a new learning
environment that will prepare them for success in
college and the 21st century workforce,” said Robert
Hughes, president of New Visions for Public Schools.

These guys are spot on in their analysis. I would SO love to design a course for one of our Freshman Discovery Seminars which would be constructed as an ARG. The students would wrestle with the course material as they played the game throughout the semester. Perhaps checking on for a one-hour seminar every other week for “facetime” but otherwise use blogs, wikis, Second Life, Twitter or Pownce, Flickr, Del.icio.us, Facebook, etc. to keep in contact and find clues. Virtualization and game-ification of the learning space. I think it would be a worthwhile experiment, and would help us prepare the “Charlie’s” of the Web 2.0 world not only for gainful, productive and creative employment (or entrepreneurship!), but also help them to develop a better model for lifelong learning and inquiry.

What do you think? Are there any other examples of this sort of approach being taken anywhere?

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1 Comment

Filed under Academia, Design, Gaming, Teaching

One response to “Teaching the Web 2.0 Student

  1. Pingback: Recent Pew Study States the Obvious, Web 2.0 used by 20-somethings « Christopher Scott Rice [dot] com

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