Tuesday, November 9, 2010

New Toys and Games for Education

Education is about to see an influx of DIY toys, games, and APPS that teach important content and skills encompassing what students should know and be able to do. These learning objects, environments and experiences will at first be crude and unsophisticated but will evolve quickly as online sharing creates an environment of friendly competition that goes viral.

Way back in 2007, Will Wright (right), famous for developing the online games making up the SIMS franchise, talked about creating SPORE (left), a game in which you guide the creation of life. The game had mixed results but represents the kind of thinking people are increasingly putting into immersive environments for learning.

My students, in an Introduction to Design course, are tackling, as a design project, the re-design of environments for learning. This includes 2D images like textbooks, whiteboards, interactive boards, maps, timelines, posters, handouts, etc.; 3D objects like globes, toys, manipulatives, desks, chairs, e-readers, etc.; 4D spaces like classrooms, halls, schools, playgrounds, parks, cafeterias, labs, etc.: and 5D experiences such as interactive exhibits, online games, theme parks, immersive environments, hands-on-learning, etc.

They are going through the steps of Ideation (identifying and clarifying the problem, researching the problem and other attempts to solve it, and developing criteria for a successful solution); Visualization (brainstorming multiple potential solutions to the problem in visual form so others can see and contribute to their ideas); Prototyping (selecting potential solutions and mocking them up to see any design flaws or additional challenges in realizing a viable solution); and Implementation (which, because of the classroom environment, consists of presenting their ideas to classmates and others to see if they have created a compelling and plausible solution to the problem.)

Click on the heading above to hear what Will Wright has to say about developing toys and games for learning.

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