I have never been a big gamer, and personally take satisfaction out of interacting with other people instead of sitting in front of a TV or computer playing games, but I have to admit, Jane McGonigal has a point. When I first began reading this book, all that kept going through my head was “this is a nice theory, but how will it be applied and would it actually work?” No one wants work to feel like work. It makes the day drag on and makes us unhappy. Jane McGonigal’s solution to this issue it to apply the concepts of gaming within real life. That’s all fine and dandy, but real life isn’t all fun and games. At least that is what I have been taught. So needless to say I was a little skeptical when I started reading.
When I finally got to section two, the pieces started falling together. I thought the chapter where she talked about the Quest to Learn charter school in New York was fascinating. My generation has grown up with the internet and most of us could use a computer by the age of five. We had access to a world that former generations did not when they were growing up. Because of this, many believe that students today crave more from their educators and it is becoming increasingly harder to keep them engaged. I have to agree with this point. Today, everything is instant and I feel that our attention spans don’t last as long because we are so used to that instant gratification. I personally find myself zoning in and out of lectures if I don’t find them particularly engaging.
This is why I thought the Quest to Learn school was very innovative and might possibly be a great concept to apply to schools across the nation. The Quest for Learn school is a charter school grades 6-12 that opened in the fall of 2009. The curriculum is like other schools. They follow the same subjects taught in schools across the nation, but the way it is presented to the students if different. Their entire experience in and out of the classroom is a game. Each student is “questing” their way through grades until graduation when they have completed all their quests. Tests and Quizzes are presented in the forms of avatars that need help learning how to complete a “task” or assignment. They believe that students learn more by teaching others and this method relieves the students of the stress associated with standard test tasking.
The first senior class will graduate in 2016. I would love to keep up with this school and see how well these students learned what they were supposed to upon graduation. If it works, I think that this could be an amazing tool that would keep high school attendance up and make students want to learn. I never thought I would say this, but many games are the way of the future.