It is very difficult for me to believe that I am entering my fourth year of teaching with Making History as a part of my curriculum. Games have an ever increasing interest in our society. I think the entertainment value of games has no end in site. However, what is the limit of educational gaming? Why haven’t games for education taken off like games for entertainment? This question has caused me some dismay this summer. When I first started using Making History I knew it was a good thing. I was certain that the game would explode into education and others like it would soon fill the classroom. That has not happened. My answer to why is probably not any better than any other but here goes. I think our problem is systemic. I find it ironic that education as an institution pushes the use of technology but then struggles to use technology itself. I will begin my school year tomorrow. We will have an entire corporation staff meeting. That meeting will be run just like the 59 meetings before it. I will then have students for school on Tuesday……and unfortunately that day will run much the same as it did 59 years ago as well. What technology is a school good at using and teaching kids to use? The answer is the ones we are forced to use. Email…..yep we can all do it. We are required to. The spread of communication and the speed in which we now required to do it has forced us all to be good at email and most teachers encourage interaction with students via email. Word Processing….yep we can all do it. We actually called it typing when I learned but the interesting thing about typing is kids are not good at the basic rules of typing. However, they type with greater speed and efficiency than I. Of course they may need surgery to fix their tendons, which I hope to avoid. But what else are we good at as educators using technology? Some courses it has become inter-twined with the curriculum. Computer Aided Drafting, digital photography, etc….but what about the Three R’s? Are we really doing anything different? I would say not. What about my classroom. Sure I use Making History and it works. But the other 34 weeks of the year my history class looks much the same as every other history class in America. In Sociology I use the Sims. I am not sure if I can continue to do that this year. I only have one copy and when I first started using it my class numbers of students in Sociology were 14 or 15. This year that number has almost doubled. So I may have to dump The Sims or buy more copies from my own pocket (which is how I got the one copy). Mid 20’s number of students trying to be actively involved in playing one Sims game doesn’t seem to work in my mind. I may give it a shot but we will wait and see.
So where is education going? I think that answer is simple. Education is going no where fast. Education is like the large machine that moves the Space Shuttle from its bay to the launch pad. Don’t know how many of you have ever seen that machine but it is ENOURMOUS and moves at a top speed of 1 mile per hour. Our educational system is HUGE and moves at about the same pace at least in terms of change.
I am frustrated that I haven’t changed more. I am even more frustrated that education has changed even less. I will continue to use games and look for opportunities to use more. But not many products have come out since Making History that I think I can use effectively in my room. When they will come I don’t know. I just hope we jump off the space shuttle transport machine and into the space shuttle.