TED Conversations

Jose Martinez

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What should the 21st century classroom look like? Could interactive technology provide solutions to the current system of education?

Can game technology be used to make the system of education more fun,engaging, and valuable?

How would such a “gameful” classroom be structured?

How do we begin to implement this new system? What would the 1, 5, and 10 year plans be for creating a new, more engaging system of education?

Please join graduate students from the Rochester Institute of Technology along with game developers, educators, usability specialists, and others from the global community in an online forum as we attempt to solve this problem collaboratively.

Please share your thoughts at http://tinyurl.com/rit-edu and help us shape the future of education.


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  • Feb 19 2012: I really appreciate your asking this question concerning this extremely important issue. Before we can touch the question, however, we should ask "What problems are we looking to solve?"

    To me, the greatest problem is a lack of personal engagement for the students, which has likely existed since the dawn of school, but now is getting progressively worse in North America. We know from the outstanding work of Sir Ken Robinson and so many others that what matters most to the success of the classroom is the quality of the teacher. Connecting with any mind - young minds most of all - is not some simpleton task, but one requiring creativity, empathy, communication, expertise, and herculean perseverance. As such, teachers ought to be the first step.

    Personally, I think we need to see more education in technology and games - not the other way around. Virtual reality is so often proposed as a software "fix" for the malaise of our real experience within the world. Students are disconnected because the system forces them live disembodied: from their own beliefs, concerns, sensitivities and dreams. A virtual world will only enhance this.

    Math on a computer is just as much of an abstraction as math on a page or a blackboard. Rather than frame a tool as an end in itself, why not relate it to their Real world so they can understand its purpose: actually let them USE the tools (i.e. using trig to design a house, French to order at a caf/e, etc.).

    For a more constructive reply, the promise of technology that excites me most is the possibility for it to connect students to the world in ways otherwise logistically inviable. Sir David Attenborough's "Planet Earth" series is a beautiful example of transforming any screen into window to the wide world.

    We ought not shape a world in the image of our escapes, but one in which we eschew them for the splendour of natural sunlight and the wellbeing of an embodied self.

    P.S. John Dewey's "Experience and Education" is worth the read.
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      Feb 20 2012: Aidan,
      Very good points! I think the idea is to wrap all of the concepts in a manner that is not reliant upon memorization and repetition, as it has been the norm when trying to introduce new technologies into the classroom in the past.

      I agree that using technology to drive the same old paradigm will result in failure, so my question is what principles of gaming can be used to turn education into an activity that would excite students? I know that if I am not engaged in a project at work, I don't even feel like getting out of bed but when I am dialed in, I can't wait to get to the office to continue my work.

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