Monday, January 27, 2014

Using Technology: Discovery and Collaboration or Cheating?


Have you ever watched a child, teenager, or young 20's play a video game? Now I don't mean a game like the traditional Pong or Pac-Man, (yea...yea...showing my age...) I mean any of the numerous productions of late. Whether its Mario, Halo, Harry Potter Lego, League of Legends, Minecraft, or a million other titles?

If you are my want to sit and play...struggle with the many buttons, get surprised when you accidentally push the right combination that makes your character produce some amazing move that saves you from the bad guys, and really just plow through the game. When you get to a point where you just don't get might mumble a few things and then go to the fridge and actually venture into the yard to rake those leaves.

Discovery and Collaboration

Now that is not how our off spring play...first of all they somehow have total command of the many triggers and buttons...but we will save that thought for another time...most of all they use others to help them figure out the obstacles that are in their way... What?!!! You didn't realize this... Ohhh, yes..they get on-line...go to Youtube...Google their question, get on-line, contact a friend, and talk with each other while they progress through the game together in their different houses...There are so many ways to figure out how to beat the game...! beat the game! They know that they don't have to try, try, try, try, and try...They just have to find the right person who has already beat that character, boss or level and voila! they are through to the next section!!! They are resourceful! Nothing stands in their way...except maybe bed time or a father who really wants to talk about something (You know that's what we exist to do...don't you?) right in the middle of the battle of their life!

Is it cheating or something else?

Unfortunately, these types of strategies run contrary to what we as adults were taught when we were in school and college. We were told that there is one right answer and that using others to help is cheating. In our classrooms it is imperative that we start looking at how we could encourage the collaboration kids use to beat video games. (I don't mean looking over another kid's shoulder to copy or plagiarizing some article that was written fifty years ago). I mean creating the activities and asking the questions that would require them to discover the resources that may deliver them the answers that they seek. Collaborating. Seeking solutions. Overcoming obstacles and developing a critical eye to determine what is good advice and what is just lame!

We live now when we can Google anything...or go to YouTube to find answers...(Need to change the Cabin Filter in you car? Could cost you a YouTube...Boom There it is!!! Saving dollars!!)

Changing the Work

Are they analyzing poetry? Looking at the symbolism of an author? Searching for information to decide whether Hollywood has re-written history or not? Trying to find out what an astroid is versus an asteroid? (Yes...I wrote those words correctly...) Trying to figure out the solution that is used as a catalyst for some chemical problem? I'll bet if you gave them the opportunity to...they could find resources for the answers...and then could create scenarios where these resources could be judged for appropriateness and correctness...finally creating a defense of what the best answer(s) is (are) to their quest ...

Technology creates so many opportunities for discovering the unknown...lets use the strategies that kids are awesome at and incorporate them in our classrooms. Ready...Let's Play and Learn! Collaborate and Discover!