Thursday, December 13, 2007

Wired Play

Today, a visit to the Boston Museum of Science, a place I have visited before—what do I finally see? An Aztec calendar with a pendulum. The main floor exhibit masterfully positioning my questions about a long ago culture that is no more. 

I've just returned from that 14 hour day to Boston and back. Hope Martin and I had two meetings mid-day. One with Kangmei, the other with Emily, both have exciting concepts about creating games for different outcomes. One on building collaboration in a corporation—integrating "next gen" workers; the other on electronic games as applied to discovery for children. 

At 5:00, we headed off to hear the MacArthur Foundation presentation "Totally Wired: How Technology is Changing Kids and Learning". Three distinctly different academics presented in a forum: Katie Salen, Henry Jenkins III and Howard Gardner. Key thoughts:
  • Jenkins expressed the need for new media literacy to allow a larger proportion of the population to be part of  participatory media.
  • Salen focused on the system of learning surrounding games.
  • Gardner wonderfully admitted to being "paleolithic" compared to "digital natives" and  stressed key ethics' questions in regards to youth and new media: sense of identity, privacy issues, ownership & authorship, trust and credibility (to which I add genuineness), and the definition of community.
All offered poignant thoughts on a generation brought up alongside computers. I especially appreciated Howard Gardner's reflection on the concept of present society being immigrant cultures on a new frontier. This resonated after a lunch time conversation this week with Champlain education professor Ken Reissig. He explained the dilemma of Burlington's Somalian immigrants and their difficulty adjusting to the rapid adoption of American language and culture by their teens.

However distinctly missing from tonight's forum were the voices of the "totally wired" generation. I'd prefer to hear them offer their perspective from the stage as well. It is interesting that we can not hear until it is translated by experts.

After listening to these luminaries, my last photo in Boston was of the shooting stars hung in Harvard Square. Thoughts on the 3.5 hour drive home were about how far voices from the Vermont mountains travel. Vermont is incredible because it offers a distinct voice. That may be why I love Champlain College. We do do things differently. We are educating forward. It was with these thoughts that, while driving the mountain high roads, I was surprised by 7 amazing shooting stars—the real kind.

Tonight I have no conclusions to offer except visual thoughts about play from my last 4 days:
  • Playful mannequin in Bristol, VT.
  • Playful cat.
  • Playful art at MOS.
  • Game designers at play.
  • Tinker Toy computer that plays tic tac toe at MOS.
  • Photographic play with holiday lights in Cambridge.

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