Two years ago I held a learning conference. A colleague invited a couple admirals. I though it was a dumb idea, but I was blown away by their sophisticated view of human development and job training.
Today I spent an hour with a defense contractor that probably runs the biggest simulation and training business in the world. I found the conversation about creating ‘rapid pathways to mastery’ at a whole different level than most K-12 conversations. They get paid on outcomes (like certification to fly expensive jets) and use the most efficient mixture of classroom, simulation, and flight experience possible to get to mastery.
We discussed where massively multiplayer online learning games (MMOLG) will make a difference. I suggested a ‘fun continuum’ ranging from compulsory use to voluntary:
- In school: core and supplemental
- School related: afterschool and homework
- New schools: incorporated into the design of new formats (e.g. Quest to Learn)
Developers can, arguably, pack more learning into compulsory mmolg while consumer versions will need to meet the fun test. The school and school related markets will be bigger for a while, but it’s conceivable that consumer learning games will be even bigger in five years.
We also discussed how learning games and augmented reality technologies could ironically mean less time indoors in the confines of a traditional version of school and more time experiencing the world with enriching and valuable contextual information.
Following up on the ‘killer app’ discussion at Philanthropy Roundtable, we discuss the functionality of smart recommendation engines including:
- adaptive assessment to precisely determine learning level (e.g. Wireless Generation Burst)
- performance (e.g. Wireless Generation ARIS responses queued in part by student performance on formative assessement)
- popularity/user review (e.g., DIGG, iTunes)
- modality (e.g., Renzulli)
- interest (e.g., iGoogle feeds)
- motivation (I don’t think we know much about the ‘hooks’ that create persistence through difficulty; maybe Reiss knows something)
But back to MMOLG, we all agreed that games, simulations, and virtual environments would soon (i.e., 36-48 months) be part of most secondary student learning routines. STEM is an obvious application (and a great way to make science less boring), but exciting developments in history and civics are also providing rich learning experiences.
We didn’t discuss Common Core, but shared outcomes will make it easier for game and sim developers to backmap from national standards. I’m looking forward to learning more at the training, sim, and training conference.