Social Media and Education

Rescuing the Fair Maiden

Posted on: May 10, 2010

As an older digital citizen, I find it interesting how kids stick with a video game. They will sit for hours with their DS, their xBox, their Playstation, ect. starting various levels of play over and over again until they have mastered the technique. In school, teachers try to get our students to master a times table or a list of helping verbs. They are lucky if only half of the class needs remediation.

The people who make video games are on to something. They provide just enough interest and challenge to keep kids reaching for that next level. But it is more than that. It is the reward at the end. It is not a reward of monetary or physical value. It is nothing you can hold in your hand. It is a reward of accomplishment. It is a reward you hold in your psyche. It is rescuing the Fair Maiden.

I use the imagery of the Fair Maiden, because she was the person to be rescued in the old video game, Donkey Kong. I hate to think of how much money I spent trying to rescue that lass. It wasn’t a game I owned. I played it at the arcade and at the pizza joint up the street. Mastering those levels were the mini-goals that kept me coming back, hoping against hope that I would one day save the Fair Maiden.

As teachers, what can we learn from the insatiable desire of our students to work through failure after failure in a video game in the hopes of an intangible measure of success. How do we get them to look at learning in the same way? How do we get them to be so involved in learning that they can think on nothing else? I try to figure that out every day.

Here is an example. Recently, I introduced my students to Glogster. Glogster is an online program that helps its users develop and publish digital poster. The graphics are excellent. The tools are easily mastered. It’s safe for kids.

I told my kids there were some levels to be mastered. I alluded to a reward. The kids jumped right into the site. They taught themselves to choose and manipulate the graphics. They learned how to add text and photos. They learned how to add music and videos. They learned how to create hyperlinks. Then, they started to wonder what would happen next. I told them we would figure something out.

We started talking about Science projects. We had done some earlier in the year. The kids had written reports, made power point presentations. created dioramas, and posters. I told them that this time around, I wanted to see if they could come up with a way to show their work with some kind of digital media. I loaded the music from 2001 A Space Odyssey in my CD player and leaned back in my chair while they talked.

I am not sure who came up with the idea first. I only know that it wasn’t me. Suddenly it was everyone’s idea – Glogster! Everyone wanted to use Glogster. I gave them a list of topics from which they could freely choose. Then I stopped them. There were more levels to be played.

They had to do research. They needed information from books, from the web, from experts in the field. They jumped right into the project. They collected their information and wrote citations for their resources. They assembled a database for those things as well as supplemental pictures, videos, and hyperlinks. Some added bits of music or wrote tracks in Garage Band. Then, I turned them loose in Glogster.

Their projects are due next week. I can’t wait to see what they have created. Granted, I can take sneak peeks through my Glogster account. I just really don’t want to do that. They are so excited. I don’t want to say anything in the way of comments or advice. I want them to continue to relish their learning.

It is also interesting that some of them seem to think that using Glogster is their Fair Maiden. What they don’t yet realize is that their Love Of Learning is the Fair Maiden I wanted them to rescue all along.

Rick

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Teaching Tech-Savvy Kids

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