Et samlingssted for nørder?

Gennem den senere tid har man kunnet iagttage en yderst interessant tendens, som jeg fristes til at kalde nørdernes heroisering. Som inkarneret nørd er jeg naturligvis glad for, at jeg ikke længere skal skamme mig over, at jeg interesserer mig inderligt og brændende for noget, som mange klassificerer som ligegyldigt tidsspilde. Hvem sagde computerspil?

Især Lars Konzack har ydet en ihærdig indsats for at afmystificere og legitimere os nørder, og forklare det, han betegner som en særlig geek culture. Han påstår tilmed, at det er in at være nørd! Nørderne yder et uvurderligt bidrag til den fortsatte udvikling på en lang række områder, ikke mindst fordi, som Konzack siger, nørderne er så pokkers gode til at interessere sig.

Mange af os er særligt gode til at interessere os for computerspil, og fastholder stædigt vores tro på, at computerspil også har noget at byde på i en uddannelsesmæssig sammenhæng. Det har vi nu fået en storslået mulighed for at debattere i et nyt, internationalt forum tilknyttet det igangværende projekt Games in Schools. Det er et ganske nyt initiativ, men jeg har allerede kastet mig hovedkulds ind i debatten, og har introduceret nogle af mine idéer i et indlæg, som kan læses længere nede. Jeg vil anbefale alle, der på én eller anden måde har interesse i computerspil & læring at registrere sig og tage del i det, der forhåbentlig kommer til at fungere som rammen om vigtig vidensdeling og kreativ idéudvikling.

Skynd jer til, og læs mit indlæg.

Eller læs det lige her:

Is this the much needed common ground?

The above is the first question instantly appearing in my mind, as I was presented to the idea of this “community of practice” in the field of video games and learning.

I sincerely hope that the answer proves to be “yes”, and preferably even a capital one – “YES”.

There’s not a doubt in my mind that common ground, a common frame of reference, an effective platform for sharing the much needed knowledge and insights – are all necessary elements in overcoming the obstacles on the path towards actually integrating Games in schools.

Let me perform a single step back, and briefly introduce my perspective on things.

First, I’m deeply fascinated by the world of video games, and always has been. I believe this to be the single most important factor in directing me towards the field of learning with those great games. A fascination, which has proven to withstand much scorn from those less inclined to accept games as a cultural phenomenon in their own right. Even though much progress has been made, we’ve still got some ground to cover. Why, for instance, are we on Facebook (of all places!!) urged to promote our favorite music, tv-shows, movies and books – but not our favorite video games?

Anecdotal, yes, but still rather symptomatic, and even more so when talking about actually integrating games in education. In quoting Kurt Squire, the explosion of research initiatives, conferences, books, and software focused on educational games suggests that computer and video games will have some part in education is undoubtedly true. From my point of view, video games is a phenomenon which we must integrate in schools, if only because of it’s sheer size in kids’ and youth culture today. The question of digital literacy can no longer be overlooked. Schools must relate to games, and make them a natural part of education, just as books, movies and the lot.

This is just beginning, and possibly a way to make the “un-initiated” see the potentials of video games. Games are much more of a resource, than “just” a matter of developing digital literacy. Games are clearly a great tool in initiating and supporting learning, as they (for instance) make complex situations more easily comprehensible: once you play a game, and get to explore a virtual universe, you get a chance to “experience” the situation by participating in it. At the same time, what you learn, you learn to play the game. Hence, the process of learning is perceived as both engaging and relevant, as it’s instantly clear, why you learn what you do – to overcome the obstacles of the game.

Despite these perspectives (which are clearly not my invention), at times it seems that the path is long, rocky, filled with difficult quests, and only travelled by those really dedicated (or really naive). To quote one of the reports from Games in Schools:

Only researchers and a few innovative teachers have successfully embraced video games for learning, although many others are willing to do so given the correct resource and assistance to do so.

This very much holds true when looking at the use of video games in the Danish educational system. The approach has been fragmented and sporadic, with no real coordination, no systematic knowledge-sharing apparatus, and a lack of consistency and will to implement video games at all levels, including the education of teachers.

My argument would be, that no real progress will be made, until a number of stakeholders accept the fact, that we need a whole new level of ambitiousness in integrating video games as a resource for learning at all levels of the educational system. The task is one of changing existing mindsets towards video games, just as well as it is one of supplying every single practitioner with the necessary tools to allow games into their classrooms. There is no shortcuts and no easy solutions, and this must be acknowledged. We must establish an inclusive approach, where every relevant organization is urged to participate, and where every level is addressed. It’s not sufficient to solely address the level of practitioners, just as it isn’t enough to make political decisions without the will to back those decisions with the necessary possibilities for actually educating educators to use games in their daily practice.

In short, it’s a matter of mobilizing the courage to act on a much greater scale and with much greater dedication than has hitherto been the case.

With all this said, I’m eagerly looking forward to participating in what hopefully proves to be the birthplace of innovative, creative, dynamic & inspiring ideas, which again will help support the use of games in schools on a wider scale. Maybe this in turn will fuel the desire to actually dedicate the required attention to this field of such great potential.