Morning in Monterey, David Warlick, & Video Games in Education

I’m enjoying the weather and the cool crisp air here in Monterey. This image is the view off the balcony of my 7th floor room. Not a bad place to spend a few days, eh? As Mike Guerena pointed out, it’s nice to be able to connect with nature between sessions of geeking out with educational technologists. (I have no idea how I scored such a cool room, btw.)

I’ve moblogged David Warlick’s keynote, and blow are the cleaned up version of my notes. Incidentally, this session is being video podcast by CLMS and CUE and I will link to it as soon as it is available. (I saw it on Amy Murphy’s iPod immediately after she filmed it! Through an inexpensive device, she recorded right to the iPod harddrive. Cool.)

David’s handouts are available at online. He also pointed out his video games and education online bookmarks. I was surprised (and pleased) to see just how much this topic then factored into the rest of his keynote. This also made me realize I need to get back to using FURL or Delicious. Back in February I imported all of my FURL links into this blog in an effort to provide one single feed of resources. I had been writing a lot in the FURL annotations – they were very brief blog posts really. I haven’t been able to keep that up, though, and now my link posts are languishing in draft form in MarsEdit.

At any rate, Warlick went on to explain that for “the first time in history, our job as eduators is to prepare our students for a future we cannot describe” and he advocated for telling a compelling (new) story that fits the marketplace and fit the future, resonates with our deeply held values. As is required by all keynoters, he then shared some examples from Thomas Friedman’s The World Is Flat (his joke, not mine), and he suggested that globalization is now “more about collaboration than competition.” As he said, “no country in walmart’s supply chain will go to war with another country in the supply chain.” He also asked “what kind of classrooms are going to prepare our kids to facilitate this kind of cooperation?”

He provided some great statistics about the aging workforce at NASA as a sort of scare tactic. And it works on me. I think it is a real problem that we do not have a young vibrant national space program.

David shared several stories about his son not investing in the technology, but rather investing in the story. For instance when he purchases video games, he doesn’t buy them for the engineering, but for the art and the immersive story.

David did acknowledge that we as a culture are very good at telling stories, but he also challenged us to be better.

He included a great introduction to the idea of The Long Tail and the new digital bazaar. As an example he shared that he has published his last two books through, a self publishing service that allows you to upload a book, cover art, etc… creates an online storefront to sell the book… and then prints it on demand for customers. Cool! I can’t wait to do that once my dissertation is finished. Maybe there’s no need for big publishing deals after all, at least not when you just want a book to support presentations or vice versa.

Incidentally, many of us talk about students creating a collaboratively authored class text… how cool would it be for them to see their work in print at the end of the year, or the end of a project? How cool!?

Warlick also included a segment on how different our kids are today, and he had a greaet joke/metaphor that he ran with for some time. He started by saying, “we love our kids, but let’s face it, they’re not human. They have powers that can reach through walls.” He went on to describe the alien tentacles they have that reach out via IM, texting, MySpace, online video games, etc.

He also shared a great video of his son’s mashup of audio from The Music Man broadway musical and his own in-home performance with different hats (and mustaches) on. Cool stuff. David didn’t teach him how to do it… and neither did teachers at the high school.

David also mentioned the digital divide between students who can’t do that sort of thing (or don’t have access to the technologies and skills to do it) and others like his son, and he called it is a huge national problem. I’d say it’s a huge global problem.

I loved his bit on IM speak… he said we should be in awe of what they have created collaboratively, and without a guiding committee, as their parents would have done. His wiki also linked to a recent blog post of his that linked to a story saying New Zealand students will be able to use IM speak in their national tests! His focus in the presentation was that if you’re writing to accomplish a goal – to communicate a message – then the question should be which format, IM speak or standard english, would better accomplish that goal? He used WOMBAT (Waste Of Money Brains and Time) as an example of what students value – they value money, so they can buy information (media).

Next he spent a good deal of time on a video games and learning slide. He discussed the learning that happens when playing Rollercoaster Tycoon, and he then cited ideas from Prensky, Gee, and Beck & Wade among others. This was a significant portion of his presentation. Referring to Beck, he discussed how gamers are competative, risk taking, socialable, believe in the role of luck, selfsconfident. He also related overhearing his son’s friends talk about video games the way he knew teachers hoped they would talk about Shakespear. He then discussed the way kids grow up being the hero… by failing and failong and failing until they get it right… while when he grew up there could only be one pitcher or one quarterback.

He finally came out and said that “video games are learning engines… this is who is teaching our students higher order thinking” and he suggested that “instead of the boss, we should become the strategy guide.” He cited an interview with Beck on this… but what an awesome quote!

When he moved on to talking about Google… I found this question particularly interesting: where were we asking those 1 billion questions a day before Google??

I also appreciated his quote from Vinod Khosla, “There is no longer a need to teach kids the facts.” Warlick went on to say that they need us to teach them how to work the information… to find the facts, choose which facts, use the facts… how to make the decisions about where to find the information.

As part of his information literacy examples he shared the bbc and wikipedia articles on the number of planets in the solar system. The news spread from the convention, to the mainstream media, and into Wikipedia in only 2 minutes. Many of the teachers in attendance seemed to know about Wikipedia, but many jotted down Technorati when he brought it up.

Later he said this: “people who know how to make themselves an expert – this is what needs to be coming out of our schools.”

Someone yesterday in conversation was trying to recall this statistic: David said that 57 percent of american teenagers have produced online content for authentic audiences. Vinod Khosla, though, says that content will not stay king… cultivating audience will be key. Warlick asks how can we do this with our classrooms. He also says how do we make our classrooms like videogames? He suggests that might be accomplished by incorporating more of the following elements into our classes:

– responsiveness
– convertible and conversbale rewards
– personal investment
– identity building
– dependability (the answer is there)

As I milled around for a chance to say hi to David again I was thrilled to see that much of the conversation attendees were having with him revolved around the ideas he shared about video games in education. Things are moving in the right direction. :)

When I got to talk to him myself, I brought up some things I thought would be great additions to his games segment, particularly serious games and games for change such as Food Force and PeaceMaker. Mike Guerena also shared our video games in education video with him as well.

I also just this morning got a new comment from David Williamson Shaffer on my old blog. Through the comment I discovered his new site, Epistemic Games: Building the Future of Education, and his new book, How Computer Games Help Children Learn. (I’m sure he’d be happy to learn that I just pre-ordered the book at Amazon.) I suspect these resources would interest David Warlick as well. :)

Tags: millenials, warlick, montereytech06