Friday, November 15, 2013

Education as an Alternate Reality Game

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra Helen Keegan, University of Salford, is speaking on learning through gaming, sims and innovative media. She described becoming increasingly frustrated with higher education as a product with fixed learning objectives and students as customers,. So she created a fictional character "Rufi Franzen". She talked yesterday at University of Canberra on "Open: Social: Mobile: Connected". You can read her blog.

The idea of a game the students is an interesting one. However some aspects of the exercise I found disturbing. As an example, students were sent anonymous cryptic notes. New university students find study stressful enough when an effort is made to make courses clear. Also international students in particular may be subject to forms harassment and physical threat. Some students are also members of various national security organizations. A cryptic anonymous note may be interpreted by a stunt as a threat. In addition international students can expect to have their on-line communications monitored by their own government, as well as others. Any cryptic communication could be misinterpreted as part of a conspiracy threating national security.

On a more positive note, much of what  Helen described, in terms of setting a task for the students, then stepping back and then providing small amounts of guidance, seems to be a reasonable description of education. Disciplines, including law and medicine, make use of role playing and simulations, but these are announced and within narrowly confined limits.

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