My last day at the TCEA conference was almost over when I started working on this article. It had been an amazing three days of some great presentations, topped off by Wes Fryer’s net safety session. The only thing left was the Blogger Meetup, which was disappointing in his mass, but certainly not it’s quality. Tim Wilson, Wesley Fryer, and I went over to Starbucks for a coffee, chai, and something with too many syllables to remember. Alas, it was a new Starbucks and they wouldn’t take my card.
While waiting for these two very smart guys and our mind boggling conversation, I sat and thought back to a blog I wrote several months ago, listing some of the qualities of the video game experience that I thought might be worth considering as points of influence as we continue to redefine and retool our classrooms. Miguel had asked me to address School 2.0 in my keynote yesterday about Millennials, so I’d revisited that list and edited it a bit. Yesterday’s version was:
- Sharable Rewards
- Personal Investment
- Identity Building
- Value Adding
I got to thinking about the second quality, sharable rewards. That item came from times when I have listened to my children and their friends talk about gaming, often sharing what level they were on, or what powers they have achieved, or their digital assets. There is nothing tangible in what they are earning in these games. They can’t put it in their pockets or spend it at the dime store (uh, WalMart). Of course they may be developing characters and auctioning them off on eBay to raise money for college, but that’s beside the point. The value is in the sharing, in the conversation. It is a reward system that they want to talk with each other about. What sort of reward system might we make a part of the classroom that learners will want to talk about. I didn’t know it at the time, but an answer occurred to me several days ago at the TRLD conference in San Francisco.
I may have blogged about this already, but right after my presentation on Millennials was over, and I had packed up my computer and stepped into the hall, several educators were standing around talking about the presentation. I walked up and mostly just listened as they told stories about their students and their digital experiences. Of every story that was told, the common thread that ran through them all was audience. With MySpace, IM, YouTube, etc. All of them involved, in some way, having an audience to share to. Even as they play solitary video games in groups, usually one plays and the others watch.
It’s also one of the driving energy points of the new web, that the commodity that we strive for is eyeballs, we seek attention. Perhaps that is it. If students are learning, in such a way that they are expressing what they learn, engaged in conversations of some type, with audiences, earning attention, then that may be a useful reward. (blogging, wikis, podcasting, social networks, social media, and what ever comes next)
It’s not a new currency for the class room. It’s just a turn-around.
We ask our students to, “pay attention!”
Perhaps we should ask them to, “Earn some attention!”
Alas, time for many many many hours over the Pacific.
Rutt, David. “Coins.” Rutty’s Photostream. 2 May 2006. 10 Feb 2007 <http://flickr.com/photos/rutty/139026809/>.