Lesson 2: Power in Numbers
Open your inquiry to others. If you make your wonderings transparent and accessible, your thinking just may be clarified.
Luckily, I am part of a network that nurtures collaboration. National Writing Project (NWP) is a network of educators constantly seeking ways to best facilitate literacy instruction. Many NWP teacher consultants are innovative leaders in using digital media and literacy in education. I paid close attention to the tweets of folks like Paul Allison, Kevin Hodgson, Digital Media and Learning, Their tweets were like nonstop professional development about gaming amongst other topics. I also explored Digital Is for more resources and ideas.
Just as I sought resources from my digital heroes, I also continued to be very open with my thinking. I pondered and reflected on helpful articles in my blog Persistent Pondering. To make my thinking more accessible, I autoposted to other outlets like Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr. I figured the more people who knew about my inquiry, the more information I could gain that may help in my pursuit. I also welcomed clarifications, explanations, illuminations from anyone willing to offer. It was good to know I wasn’t alone on this journey, and every person I encountered respected my candid admission of just not knowing the answers. I was able to collaborate with others to either gain information to respond to my inquiry or hear another questions that refueled my quest.
One collaboration that really shaped my thinking was Teachers Teaching Teachers (TTT) on EdTech Talk. It’s an NWP-produced webcast where, teachers “meet here to talk about education, technology, our practice and the contexts we work in. You can come too.” I listened in on episode #244 Juan Rubio and David Gagnon on Geo-Locative Gaming, the ARIS Project. Also: Why Games?” This is where I was first introduced to the idea of students designing games. It made sense. If students are creating a game, they are forced to become masters of the content that drives the game’s narrative. If not, the result is an unrealistic game that may have gaps in its narrative. If a strong sense of narrative is absent in a game, a player will be less motivated to continue and progress. Plus, while creating a game, the designer still needs to exhibit attributes of a gamer: persistence, risk-taking, willingness to adapt to new situations, pattern-seeking, and problem-solving. Oh, how I wanted these qualities to be demonstrated in my students in an academic context. Could game design give me the answer?
Game design both intrigued and scared me. I knew nothing about it. I had never designed a game. Again, that question loomed over my head: How do I teach what I do not know?