21st Century Learning

Of the programs discussed in the PBS video, New Learners of the 21st Century, I surprisingly found the Quest to Learn program in New York City the most comprehensive. At first I figured that perhaps it was because the segment on Quest to Learn showed an entire school based around the idea of learning through gaming and gaming development whereas the other programs were supplemental or the segments showed only pieces of a larger program. but after looking back again, I realized it was a comment from Dr. Gee that made me think that way. Dr. Gee explained how video games are intuitively designed to require the player to learn in order to finish, and with most video games, it means learning to solve problems in order to win. This idea, along with the description of the programs, confirmed my thinking that this was the most comprehensive program of those shown.

In one clip, a student described his classes as teaching the same concepts as other schools, but in different ways. As I gave more thought to it, I could see just how true that was. At the school, the students develop story lines for their games, requiring them to utilize their writing skills. In one instance, the class had to develop a game around a fairy tale, which required them to not only read and comprehend the story, but to also be able to interpret it into another medium and retell the story in an appropriate way. In order to do this properly, the student must be able to understand the main idea, important details, and sequencing; otherwise the game would not make sense.

Further, if the children are writing the code for their game, they not only have to apply math skills, but an understanding of another language as well. That is not to mention the critical thinking skills they must use in order to create the problem and then resolve it in an interesting manner that will keep the interest of their peers. Additionally, if required to create historical games, I am sure the students would need to research the context to a level of understanding that would allow them to create a virtual world for their game. Finally, the constant trial and error involved in programming and development allows them to consistently apply the scientific method. In short, the children learn all the skills they would need to from a traditional classroom, but do it in a creative way that allows them to take control of application. The concept is a brilliant idea, and from what I saw in the video it is well executed.

Clearly, this type of classroom setting would not be for every student, but if schools like that could be developed to accommodate different types of interests for method and application, that would be great. In fact, if each school had a similar program that allowed students direct application of what they were learning, I strongly believe that would have a large impact in how children saw relevance in what they are learning.