Learning is no longer a linear commodity, and – like it or not – traditional skills that rely on memorisation and repetition are becoming obsolete in the era of instant information retrieval. Games can teach us how children will need to learn in the digital age; as active agents, using multiple simultaneous interactive resources. In his rather radical paper ‘Rethinking Learning in the Digital Age’ MIT professor (and creator of Scratch) Mitchel Resnick proposes a total re-think of the classroom space, adopting the modes of the multimedia, multi-tasking era:
“Instead of a centralised-control model (with a teacher delivering information to a roomful of students), we should take a more entrepreneurial approach to learning. Students can become more active and independent learners, with the teacher serving as consultant, not chief executive. Instead of dividing up the curriculum into separate disciplines (maths, science, social studies, language), we should focus on themes and projects that cut across the disciplines taking advantage of the rich connections among different domains of knowledge.”
Resnick envisions a shift from a “knowledge society” to a “creative society” in which the general population are active, imaginative participants. This is exactly what is happening in games at the moment, with the rise of “user-generated” content, and build-it-yourself games like LittleBigPlanet and ModNation Racers. Lots of titles now come with level editors allowing users to create and share their own stuff – and in the era of social networking, social news aggregation and interactive TV passive consumption is over. So what place does it have in the classroom?