Flickr Photo by Sharyn Morrow
I keep getting reminded that many of the people in my audiences are not of my generation, though I suspect that this is more true of those who read my blog or follow me on Twitter than those who sit politely in front of me. I was reminded of a generational gap over the past few days as I have conducted a Twitter poll using polldaddy. The question…
Do you typically read the packaged instructions before you start playing video games?
86% indicated that they do not read the instructions but simply start playing the game, learning along the way. This was out of 117 respondents. I asked my son if he reads the instructions and he said, “No!” and that he didn’t know anyone his age who did. If you think about it, ask your students how many of them play their game only after reading the instructions, or if they just start playing. Comment here if you have time.
Of course the respondents of my survey were probably not a good cross sampling as they were Twitter users, who follow me — a suspect group from the start. But still, when I am presenting to a school district, it is a far more representative audience. Often someone asks the attendees to identify their generation, and a vast majority, typically about 80%, will stand up as Boomers.
The best corollary I can think of for my gen is board games, and you simply could not play most board games without having read the instructions. So what’s the difference? There are probably those who believe that it’s because these kids are not capable of sustained reading for deep understanding. I think it’s because playing a video game is more like a conversation. Each decision you make and action you take is responded to by the game and you learn the goals and rules of the game through that conversation.
Of course, I do not play video games. But admittedly, when I attack a new piece of software, it is in the same way that my son approaches a video game — I just start playing with it. I try something, and if it does what I expected, then I’ve learned something about the tool. If it doesn’t do what I expected — then I’ve learned something about the tool.
Added later: I guess my question is can teachers who demand instructions (step 1, step 2, step 3) teach experiential learners?
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