All you need to feel like an old fart is to spend a few hours spread over a few days trying to imagine what learners of English could get out of playing online games. This is really quite hard for me, just learning to move around and react to virtual surroundings makes me feel like an utter fool. (I’m the dead one, or the one standing in the fire, or the one with the strange hair.) Anything you learn is hard. But other hard things, like learning to play the keyboard or straining on my mountain bike, make me happy. Multiplayer environments, on the other hand, give me nothing that text based communication doesn’t do much, much better … for me.
I keep thinking hard about Negroponte’s remark that we humans weren’t designed to write, and that learning simply can’t remain text-based. I loved his example of the boy who was able to show him how the computers in the lab work even though he “couldn’t read or write”. There are so many kinds of intelligence and learning:
- reading the water and the sky to know what the weather is doing
- tasting food to see if it has the right amount of salt and spice for everyone at your table
- giving someone just the right kind of smile to establish your relationship.
- finding just the right words to make someone feel better about him- or herself
- being able to create the release of dissonance without forgetting harmony
Knowledge is so … subtle. I’m looking forward to Zapdramatic’s relaunch in April, including a new game for teens called “Sir Basil Pike Public School”on the dynamics of bullying. I really like Michael Gibson’s “Choose your own adventure” approach, perhaps because deciding which skript to follow is just a bit smarter even than anything newer that I’ve been seeing. I wrote about this series of games here last year, following up on the tip from Mark Powell, and my Moodle platform to host a forum is still there, and now there is even twitter so one could run a Zapdramatic game “course” using that … So you see I still want to get more of my learners interested in expanding their language and communication skills this way.