Sunday, February 9, 2014

Student engagement: Flappy Bird and why school should listen.

School is hard and so is Flappy Bird.

What is school missing that Flappy Bird has? 

Some of the answers to these questions are obvious. 

Flappy Bird is a game. It is fun. It has fun looking characters. It has a simple game structure. It is difficult, but not so difficult that it is impossible. It is frustrating when your friends get a higher score than you. It is awesome when you get a higher score than your friends. It is even more awesome when you figure out a strategy that works. Something that you previously learned in another game (a game called life or school) that you could apply to destroy the perilous Mario looking pipes through which you will fly to glory! All of the statements above are a reflection of school. 

Teachers and administrators want school to be like Flappy Bird. Engaging, difficult, fun. Where is the disconnect. Why can't school be like Flappy Bird. 

If Flappy Bird were a learning target and the skills that it cultivated were part of some learning objective then this lesson would score distinguished on Charlotte Danielson rubric for excellence in teaching.

Flappy Bird is Vygotsky's dream of Zone of Proximal Development. All video games are this way. It is the reason they are successful. It is the Goldie Locks version of difficulty vs. achievement. 

This is only one more example of the next evolution in education. Game based learning is the future. If we could only design a lesson like Flappy Bird, then our students would be engaged.