After watching Paul Anderson’s TED talk about game design and classroom design, and his experiment about setting up Angry Birds on his computer with a sign that said “play” and nothing else, I got interested in what would happen if I did the same thing in my classroom. So, yesterday, for morning work, I put Angry Birds Space on the interactive board, and pinned a huge “PLAY” sign on it, and just watched as my sixth graders came in. I purposely gave them minimal directions and very little input.
Here’s what I was expecting: a mad rush to play the video game first thing in the morning, particularly when they were expecting some math morning work. I figured we would have a crowd of kids up in the front of the room, all clamoring to play (I also hoped that the interactive pen would work for pulling back the birds, but it didn’t, so they had to use my computer.) I even had my camera ready, to capture the scene as it unfolded.
I was, therefore, surprised by what did happen. Not at all.
Only three or four of my students sat down to play. A few watched, but then milled about to chat with friends. They sort of kept the game in view out of the corner of their eyes. But mostly, it was a small handful that played. And they weren’t dominating the game. They would play, walk away, see no one else playing, go back, play, etc.
I did notice some teaching going on, as the more experienced Angry Birders showed another student how to play the Space version (which uses physics and gravity), and there was some interesting cheering going on.
But I was surprised it wasn’t much of a hit. Certainly not like Paul Anderson showed in his video. (Maybe they are already bored with Angry Birds? Maybe the social interaction with friends was more important? Maybe they didn’t know what to make of my “PLAY” sign? Maybe they need explicit instruction from the teacher? Or maybe they were tired on a Monday morning.)
Peace (in the experiment),