At a bit late: sxsw was awesome. Jane McGonigal gave a great keynote about the future of happiness and her work in alternate reality games (see the graphic representation.) She mentioned four characteristics of happy-making experiences:
- Having satisfying work to do
- The experience of being good at something
- Spending time with people you like
- Being part of something bigger
She also mentioned that feedback (not report cards or occasional progess reviews, but feedback and encouragement consistently and continuously), instructions, and a mission help make games more engaging than the real world.The whole thing made me think about how amazingly simple it would be to make everything we do more engaging by taking ourselves a little less seriously and thinking more about how we can make people happy. Too often we (thinking specially of TIG and even more specifically about TIGed) get drawn into a pretty high degree of seriousness because of the environment in which we operate. When it comes to teachers and technology, there don’t to be a lot of happy-go-lucky conversations. The blogosphere, listservs, conferences… everywhere I look is full of conversations about cyberbullying, cheating, lack of access, lack of use, etc etc etc. And as much as we’d like to create paradigm shift, we’re drawn into these conversations and spend a lot of time focusing on all the reasons to not change at all.
So not only was this keynote really inspiring in and of itself, but the fact that it’s key messages are being replayed over and over again, in slightly different ways in all sorts of different venues is really making me think seriously about all of this. In a lot of ways, Jane’s messages are very similar to the things we talk about at WorldBlu Council Meetings, and most recently, Dave Eggers’ TED Talk (thanks to Alberto via Facebook). He started an amazing tutoring program that relies on principles very similar to Jane’s to give students opportunities to learn with a purpose, produce for an audience, and spend time in an environment they enjoy with one-on-one, consistent, continuous feedback. And guess what? It’s “addictive”… and fun. His pirate-supply-store-cum-tutoring-centre is now just one of many “fake” storefronts helping to open learning environments to the community.