Learner as Fan

Halverson & Halverson
Halverson & Halverson
One of the most intriguing presentations that I saw at the Games+Learning+Society Conference last week, was partly a replay from last year’s conference.  It was delivered by Erica Halverson and Richard Halverson (don’t know their relation), and their delivery was fun.  They’ve been researching fantasy sports, looking for the whys and ways that people learn while playing their teams against each other. 

I really don’t understand the endeavor, other than you bid for players (playing cards), and then play your teams statistically against each other.  Strategies vary, and they told of at least one professional baseball team that successfully carried over some of what they learned about playing/working the statistics into their field game strategies.

Click to Read...The construct that Halverson and Halverson suggested is an interplay between what you know about the sport (fan knowledge) and what you’ve learned in your real world experiences (prior knowledge).  In a way, it is about investing your passion along with related prior knowledge to theorize and test strategies.  What pressed itself on me the most was the sense of investment, putting elements of yourself into the experience.

How might we tap into this in school.  Probably not by passing out sports playing cards, though I suspect folks have found some inventive and effective ways to use them in math class.  But what else might we be able to call “Fan Culture,” that could be applied in schools.

In a sense it happened at the conference as they ran a competition for game developers, where teams were challenged to create the best game during the two days of the event.  They are fans, or else they wouldn’t be there, and they were bringing their own, largely self-developed skills as programmers, strategists, and content specialists together with a newly launched game development system. 

First Off the FerryThere was a similar story in Sundays News & Observer, about a competition, here in Raleigh that challenged contestants to create a new business over the weekend.  Some of the concepts were amazingly innovative. Halverson and Halverson seemed to be pointing to the competition as the motivation for learning, but I think that there is probably more to it than that. 

Ooops!  There’s the Cape May light house.  I guess I’d better get on down to the car, so I can drive it off, when the ferry touches ground.

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.