Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Kids and Networks: The Gaming Angle

Mashable reports that Sony's PS3 is linking up with Facebook.

And why is this of any significance to us teachers?

Because the majority of your students are using one or the other or both.

You might say: "But my kid ain't on PS3". Ok, so switch out to Wii, Xbox, WoW, etc. One way or another, we're talking about huge gaming networks. And as these networks link to social media, we're talking about bigger-than-huge networks.

Networks in which your students are active participants.

Now, you might think I'm taking this towards some 'security' thesis. I can safely say that I'm not. I'm hardly 'afraid' of kids being a part of big networks; in fact, as I've seen throughout the varied VRs, kids who play these games and systems often 'get' the way things work in a network -- and by-and-large, the players on/in the game are most interested in... well... the game and success in the game.

There's relatively little time to waste on one of these things; task determination is a priority.

Alas, back to the question: Why is this of any significance to us teachers?

Because, you see, your students are taking part on a daily and casual basis in networks bigger than any most of you have ever known.

And they understand the idea of a massive network.

And they understand and are comfortable with the concept of a network disconnected from their physical reality.

Just ask a few of your sophomores about Modern Warfare 2. Or ask a few of your 12th graders about Wrath of the Lich King.

They will demonstrate an understanding of interpersonal skills that would make any human resources exec swoon.

What are you, as a teacher, doing to tap into this?


  1. I'm a teaching assistant in a year 5 class (9/10 years old) I am trying to engaged one student, who is almost totally switched off from most lessons, by tapping into her interest in WOW. I asked her yesterday to write me a story based upon her adventures in WOW and she straight away picked up her pen and started to list the characters in her story. She has not yet started writing sentences but even so this is progress.

    I intend to keep going down this route and intend to bring in opportunities to explore other virtual worlds, such as Myst, as a platform to engage creative writing.

    I'm also having conversations with the children about the games they are playing on their consoles to understand the networks they are involved in and the contexts they prefer. This in itself is something new as I have found most teachers either do not think to discuss gaming or, in some cases, actively discourage talk about games. This something I find baffling considering the major part gaming plays in children's lives and the many opportunities this provides for educators to connect with their students in meaningful ways.

  2. As a 2nd year undergrad in the education program, my high school years were mostly spent gaming. I'd mostly get the whole "Video games are bad" lesson from teachers but there was a few that saw the potential. My 8th grade Industrial Arts teacher encouraged us to play video games to help develop our reaction time and focus. Anyone arguing that video games do not help in these areas should really consider checking out any of the latest strategy games.

    I still label myself as a gamer and I owe a lot of my academic success to some of the games I played. Many games today, as mentioned, will connect you with other players around the world. These people can really end up being part of your own informal PLN. I have a lot of friends from around the world who have helped me with homework and research over the years. One even happens to be an old teacher of mine.


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