Tuesday, March 27, 2012
Fun is OK!
Images above: Students at Nuriootpa Primary School having fun.
Related sites to the Spatialworlds project
21st Century Geography Google Group
Australian Geography Teachers' Association website
'Towards a National Geography Curriculum' project website
Geography Teachers' Association of South Australia website
Using games in humanities
Understanding play is critical to understanding learning
Play is the basis for cultivating imagination and innovation
Seely and Brown
So what about this play thing? For many educators play is recognized as a critical tool for children. They consider that through play they come to understand, experience, and know the world. However as we get older (and the teaching force fits into this category), play is seen as unimportant, trivial, or as a means of relaxation and learning switches to something you do in school where now you are taught.
“What we fail to fully grasp is that play is the way that children manage new, unexpected and changing conditions, exactly the situation we now all face in the fast-paced world of the 21st century. Play is more than a tool to manage change; it allows us to make new things familiar, to perfect new skills, to experiment with moves and crucially to embrace change —a key disposition for succeeding in the 21st century.”
Seely and Brown believe play as part of a new culture of learning does the above in four ways:
1) By thinking about the problem as a crisis in learning rather than teaching
2) By looking at the incredible power of new cultures of learning that are happening already and understanding what makes them successful
3) By tapping new resources: peer to peer learning, amplified by the power of the collective, which favors things like questing dispositions over transfer models of education and embraces play as a modality of exploration, experimentation, and engagement.
4) By understanding how to optimize the resources (and freedom) of large networks, while at the same time affording personal and individual agency constrained within a problem space created by a bounded learning environment.
Play provides freedom to act in new ways which are different from "everyday life" within a set of rules that constrain that freedom. Think of any game a kid creates of make-believe. It is both fantasy and it has to have rules (which may be arbitrary and even ridiculous), but what it results in is a world of imagination and something entirely new and innovative.
In short, play cultivates imagination and innovation, two capacities critical for individuals to function and be successful in the 21st Century.
Such consideration of play brings me to the idea of games and game-type activities (simulations, quizzes, puzzles etc) in the geography classroom. Here is just a selection of free game type activities/resources available on-line which could and in the view of Seely and Brown should be embraced by the geography classroom.
Fun is OK!
* Test your knowledge of world geography
* Games for Change curates digital and non-digital games that engage contemporary social issues in a meaningful way. These games have been created by cross-disciplinary teams from around the world.
Ideas to inspire: Online Geography Gaming: This site contains links and background to hundreds of online games and simulations for use in the geography classroom. The site also has ideas and links to ICT and on-line collaboration tools. An amazing one-stop shop for teachers to incorporate games and fun into the classroom for students to learn.
Here is a selection from the excellent Ideas to inspire site (28 out of the 102 profiled on the site)
* Stop disasters
* 3rd World farmer
* Sim sweatshop
* Darfur is dying
* McDonalds game
* My Sus House
* My abodo
* Flood Sim
* Google Flight Sim
* Sporcle: Place based games
* Place games and quizzes
* Classic Sim City
* Oil and extraction
* Free poverty
* Global rich
* Trans Aid: transport issues and aid
* Refugees: Against all odds
* Climate change Pentathlon
* Food force: Humanitarian food game
*Race against global poverty
* Climate challenge
* Earthquake: make a quake
* Urban plan
*Environmental quiz game
* Virtual volcano
* Map Zone games