Mike Edwards has responded to some of the TechRhettors’ thoughts on the #edcmooc on his own blog, and I’m interested in the concept that he picks up from Cheryl Ball, the prevalence of multi-modality on the web. I’d like to add a brief thought: when we discuss multi-modality, we should discuss games as well. One of my reasons is purely mercenary – I’m guessing that as we try to keep track of future technological development as it impacts education, the gaming industry will be an excellent place to start. Another reason might well be called plagiarism, or, perhaps more hopefully, collaboration – the gaming industry teaches gamers how to play very efficiently, and we can perhaps learn from their success.
The word ‘efficiency’ in this context scares me more than a little, but I think that another reason to look at games and game development might lie in these two paragraphs from a condemnation of MOOCs (at least as they’re imagined by venture capital) in an article in The Awl:
Let’s put ourselves in the undergraduate student’s position. Someone eighteen years old, embarking on an academic career, might well ask: Will this world welcome me, welcome my potential abilities? Or am I being trained for a life on a hamster wheel? Is my value simply the value of a hamster that can run, a bioform for the Matrix to plug into and extract my essence for the benefit of a larger machine? Is this world full of possibilities, is it asking me to contribute, welcoming my contribution, valuing me for the things known and unknown that I may one day be able to contribute? Or am I being wronged from the start, treated as a “customer,” which all too often means, alas, someone to fleece?
Is the world full of smart and welcoming adults who are interested in what I have to say, encouraging me to work hard and learn and try things, or is it full of thieves and charlatans who are out to rip me off and saddle me with debt and enslave me before I even get a chance to start my adult life??
Games, I think, express both sides of this binary beautifully – welcome young people to a world that welcomes their potential abilities while also locking them into a specific world with specific rules that might or might not be breakable. For every Minecraft there is yet another Call of Duty version; for every SWTOR encouraging collaboration there is a Halo that offers endless opportunities for (virtual) slaughter.
I also just noticed that somehow I’m attracted to posts by my fellow rhet-techors. That’s sort of kismic…