A Very Cool Afternoon

Photo from Creative Commons by by jimmywayne

In the matter of 3 hours I was supercharged about three things that happened on our campus. Just imagine if your students were had access to the following learning experiences.

Lorin Baumgarten was in to speak to our students about the narrative of video games. Lorin is a video game journalist and you can find his work on EpicBattleAxe. He was speaking to our IB Language and Literature students. I have to give props to the IBO for designing a course that is relevant for today’s students. They were not learning about the great works from the past, but they were learning about the stories behind video games. The IB Language and Literature in the language and mass communication unit looks at the following:

  •  “Examine different forms of communication within the media.”
  • “Show an awareness of the potential for educational, political or ideological influence of the media.”
  • “Show the way mass media use language and image to inform, persuade or entertain.”

Our students learned how the development of a video game is similar to that of a movie. For me, the real difference is around Narrative and Ludonarritive. Ludology is the study of gaming and the ludonarrative is the story that arises out of the actual playing of the game.  Sometimes the developers have planned for this, sometimes it’s totally created by the user. The emotional story that the user experiences from the game was not necessarily created by the creators. How cool is that? He talked about gamers from Grand Theft Auto who hoisted cars on top of a building and had a demolition derby on top of the building. Is it possible that the designers thought that this would happen? Lorin talked about how gamers are fighting for legitimacy in terms of their craft.

From there I went to visit our IB Physics students who were participating in TakingITGlobal’s COP19 Virtual Town Hall Video Conference. The conference was held in conjunction with the UN Climate Change Conference. The discussion fit with their current unit and it was a fantastic opportunity to join with students from around the world in the climate change debate. Our students were giddy when their tweets were acknowledged by the moderator. While the overall experience could have been better, it was an fantastic opportunity for them to experience a global town hall on an important topic. You can find the Storify version of the conference here.

Photo from Creative Commons Anna Bashmakova and Oculus RiftBy Sergey Galyonkin

Finally, after school Lorin brought his Oculus Rift to our MakerSpace for students to experience virtual reality gaming. About 40 students showed up to try out the demos. While they only experienced 3 – 4 minute demos they left very impressed. If anything, the left thinking about the future of virtual reality and how it can be used in gaming and other experiences.

Aside from the Oculus Rift, the focus was not on the technology but on stories and an important global issue. Technology was definitely involved but not the focus.

For me, it is so exciting to see our students having these experiences. This is exactly what they need for the future. Thanks to Josh Berg, Silvana Meneghini, Adam Cross and Lorin Baumgarten for providing them with these opportunities.


One thought on “A Very Cool Afternoon

  1. Yesterday really offered experiences that are relevant to learning while being “outside of the box”of what is traditionally seen in schools, and for this reason connected with the world reality. The best aspect of it was to see how students are interested and engaged.

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