Sunday, March 19, 2017

Understanding play is critical to understanding learning

YouTube on connecting and creativity

Creative ideas from A to Z

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

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