Wednesday, March 04, 2009

IDEO's Ten Tips for Teachers

Brenda pointed me at this article about creating a "21st century classroom experience." This has nothing to do with game design per se, except that just about all of these tips are restatements of basic game design principles, suggesting once again that game design is applied education (or maybe it's the other way around).

Summary of the tips and their context as a game design teacher (several points in the article are restatements of one another, so I collapsed them):
  • Don't just push information. Encourage students to think critically by creating an environment where the students can (and want to) ask questions. Translation: let the player actually play in your game world. How fun would a game be if it just told the player to enter a certain code and then asked them to play it back?
  • Make it relevant. Don't just explain arbitrary facts, put it in the context of how they're actually used so the students can see a connection between theory and practice. I've already written about that a couple of times.
  • Soft skills are important. What will really make the difference is your students' abilities in leadership, empathy, communication, teamwork, and other things that are hard to measure on multiple choice exams. This is why games like The Sims and World of Warcraft are popular, despite them not having distinct measurable goals.
  • Allow for variation. Education isn't one-size-fits-all; different students have different levels of ability and prior experience. Translation: include multiple difficulty levels in your game.
  • Give practical experience, not just theory. The article goes so far as to say that teachers are "designers" so apparently I'm not the only one saying this. Translation: if it's nothing more than a series of cut scenes, it isn't a very fun game. Or, as Sid Meier has famously said, "if the designer is having more fun than the player, you have made a terrible mistake."


GordonG said...

But Ian, those skills don't give kids the right answers to standardized tests!

Seriously, I would be very keen to watch how those students who grew up during NCLB perform in college. Do they question things, or do they accept information verbatim?

Ian Schreiber said...

Thank goodness the game industry still hires based on merit and not standardized testing :)

In my experience, a lot of students have difficulty when I ask them to think critically. It's a new concept for many of them, who are used to only operating at the level of fact-recall.

On the bright side, thinking is something that we can do naturally (to an extent), and the questions I ask in class are interesting and relevant enough to students' lives (and gaming experience) that at least a few make the effort to contribute.

Adrian Lopez said...

Isaac Asimov has some insightful comments on education in this set of YouTube videos:

Part 1, 2, and 3

schools game design said...

Very Handy Tips!! Important !!