Games based learning and the future of education

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Chapter the first, wherein Donald explains his background and makes bold and possibly quixotic claims about the future of education.

Hello Partners!

It is my pleasure to kick off the first in a series of blogs highlighting the terrific work that Microsoft and our friends are doing to create games for learning as well as platforms for gameful education and gameful research. I was asked to contribute to this series because of my work over the last few years to champion a wide variety of game-based education initiatives around Microsoft. These include the Games for Learning Institute, Just Press Play, Kinections, Kinect for Autism, Open Badges, and many other smaller efforts. In my role managing the Microsoft Research games for learning, humanities, and heritage efforts I come into contact with many, many tremendous individuals doing amazing things. I try my best to foster as many of these projects as possible in my own small way – we are a small shop, a tiny corner of Microsoft Research with a global scope but only one full-time employee: me! Luckily there are many, many groups and individuals around Microsoft who are passionate about education and when we find the right idea we all work together to make it shine in partnership with our external collaborators: Universities, non-profits, governments, and schools.

propaedeutic_enchiridion_2The majority of my current work is focused on what we call ‘Gameful Research’. Our goal is to develop infinite frame games for lifelong learning. These infinite games leverage behavioral economics, gamification, expressive analytics, transmedia, culture-jamming, epibolic services, and other disruptive technologies. The desired outcome is a personalized, holistic learning environment that focuses on intrinsic motivation to encourage pro-academic and pro-social behaviors that are highly correlated to academic and professional success. I will be honest with you. We plan on building a propaedeutic enchiridion.

Wow. That previous paragraph has a whole bunch of terms in it that might be unfamiliar to you. That is OK because some of those terms aren’t even commonly known yet and some of them I just made up. Making up terms is something my colleagues and I do as we explore the fringes of emerging 21st-century educational technologies. Even if you are familiar with these terms and can guess the meaning of the fictional ones, you may wonder how we hope to bring all of these technologies and concepts together into a single, unified platform to support the creation of these emerging experiences. Can we really build a propaedeutic enchiridion? If you would like to know more about such a platform you are in luck! The previous paragraph is basically a tightly-bundled table of contents for many of the blog posts I plan to make here over the next year. I will progressively unbundle these concepts for you, describe how we are making them into practical and useable platforms, and ultimately invite you to help us inject a highly-contagious virus into the body of traditional education.

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