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New School Uses Games As Teaching Tools

o Alex Wawro
17.09.2009 kl 21:48 |

The first school in America with a teaching philosophy based on game design opens in downtown Manhattan next month, and the mission statement promises to employ the "design principles of games to create highly immersive, game-like learning experiences for students."

 

The first school in America with a teaching philosophy based on game design opens in downtown Manhattan next month, and the mission statement promises to employ the "design principles of games to create highly immersive, game-like learning experiences for students."

Quest to Learn is the brainchild of NYC non-profit Institute of Play, and with funding from the Parson's School of Design and a number of independent donors like the Gates Foundation the school promises to instruct students "through an innovative pedagogy that immerses students in differentiated, challenge-based contexts," acknowledging that "game design and systems thinking [are] key literacies of the 21st century."

What that means in common English is that students will ditch chalkboards and class periods in favor of a laptop in every classroom and four 90-minute "domain" blocks centered around the study of a new concept or idea. Some examples cited in a recent Economist article include "Sports for the Mind" (game vernacular and design,) "The Way Things Work" (basic science) and "Codeworlds" (a fusion of English and math.)

Games like Spore and Civilization will be a central part of the curriculum, as students study the effects of different weapon choices on the evolution of a species or step into the boots of Napoleon to better understand French military history. Pupils aren't limited to video games, either; tools like Google Earth or Maya will be used by classes to solve real-life challenges (laying out the pyramids and designing their structure, for example) while classic board games like "Settlers of Catan" might be used to help kids understand diplomacy and the basics of international trade agreements.

It's not all fun and games for Q2L's students though, as the school is expected to receive full funding from the New York City Department of Education by 2015 and students are still expected to meet city education standards. That means they still face the same math and reading tests offered in traditional schools, and every domain concludes with a "Boss Level" which lasts two weeks and tests pupils on everything they've been taught throughout the year. Quest to Learn will be accepting it's first class of 20-25 sixth-grade students next month, and plans to add an additional grade level each year until topping out at 12th.

Keywords: Industry Verticals  Games  
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