Monday, May 9, 2011

Education: The Game

Just a short post. If we think of typical university education as a game, it is horribly flawed. I'm going to use one abstract course as a test unit for this analysis.

The game starts with the player having some resources (including skills etc.) which they have earned from previous games. Hopefully they can remember all that stuff, because this game is not going to re-iterate over that material. Often they are at least told what resources they should have before starting this game. When the game starts, it's level after level situations where the player gains resources. They just are not told what these resources do and how much they actually have them, because this information is completely invisible. Often these levels feel like grinding. Grinding for random drops, but the player doesn't even know what is dropped.

Skip to the end of the game. The infamous boss monster, The Exam. Now the player is rewarded for having all those bits of resources they have gained. Most players go grind for resources in completed levels just to be sure. Some just run through the levels, and only start getting resources a few days before the boss fight. After the boss dies, the player has to wait a while. Then they are told whether the boss actually died.

Our education system is like a game where all meaning is packed to the very end. We just grind through the levels until we get to the end and only then it is revealed to us whether that grinding was useful or not. Would you play this game? If it takes 40 hours? Or you could just skip the grinding for permanent resources, do a quick grind for some one-time items and defeat the boss. You get the same reward but your character has gained next to nothing. The game doesn't really reward you for having a better character, only defeating bosses.

I think this needs to go.

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