New interactive game puts you in the shoes of today’s educators

In conjunction with the PBS film 180 Days: Hartsville, Black Public Media is sharing an interactive game in which players can become either a teacher, a parent or a principal, and assume responsibility for a class full of 5th graders (or their own child), via ten different scenarios that unfold over the course of a year.

As you’ll see — click here to play the game yourself — the purpose of the game is not to suggest that it’s possible to “win” or “lose” in the traditional sense. Rather, the goal is to help people better understand the sorts of choices educators and parents must make every day, and evaluate the extent to which our current system is putting them in the best position to meet the developmental needs of kids.

I should add that the educator scenarios were not dreamt up by me; they were provided by a select group of some of our country’s finest teachers, principals, and education advocates. So special thanks to Margaret Angell, Pierre Brown, Lydia Carlis, Kim Carter, James Comer, Camille Cooper, Ben Daley, Carlita Davis, Dwight Davis, Scott Edwards, Cristina Encinas, Jamal Fields, Nancy Flanagan, Wanda Govan-Augustus, Judy Hall, Cosby Hunt, Edward Ingram, Tara King, Gloria Ladson-Billings, Rebecca Lebowitz, Chris Lehmann, Christian Long, Bobbi MacDonald, Marlene Magrino, Julie Mahn, Scott Nine, Kate Quarfordt, Cyn Savo, Rebecca Schmidt, Maya Soetoro-Ng, Joshua Starr, Laura Thomas, Marla Ucelli-Kashyap, Amy Valens, and Autumn Wilson.

And please — play the game, share your thoughts, and spread the word

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  1. Katelyn Goolsby
    Posted April 21, 2015 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Games based learning is a highly debated topic in education right now and this game brings to mind an article I researched recently about how games can benefit a child’s problem solving skills. This game, the 180 Days Challenge, is a fantastic example of how games based learning can even help adults to become better problem solvers. I played the game as a parent and teacher and both times received feedback mentioning my interest in the emotional needs of the student. Now I know what I think is the most important aspect in schooling as well as knowing that I need to be open to other aspects as well. It was eye-opening as well as interesting and helpful. When I become an educator and a parent I will be aware of my bias towards the emotional needs of the students and will be able to help myself in the long run with solving problems with children in my classroom or my own future children.

    There has been a lot of research I have found that focuses on the ways games based learning can help to motivate students but the ones I have found most interesting are the ones that involve problem solving. This article, An Investigation of the interrelationships between Motivation, Engagement, and Complex Problem Solving in Game based learning, through Eseryel et al. investigates the same information this game brings about. That the parents, teachers, and administrators can learn something about their teaching style from this game and that can help them be better problem solvers in the future. I think it can also be argued that these games can increase the players’ motivation to problem solve and increase their engagement with difficult problems of teaching and difficult children. For example, a parent, teacher, or administrator would be more flexible and motivated to change something about their style to improve a difficult child’s outcome. All in all I think this could be a great resource for new teachers and old alike because we always have an implicit bias towards something about our teaching styles that we could always learn from and game based learning is an up and coming method for teaching everyone.

  2. Posted April 22, 2015 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    Thanks for sharing such a thoughtful reply, Katelyn, and for the title of that article. I’m hopeful we can find some folks who are interested in helping us produce a 2.0 version of the game — something that can do an even more helpful and thorough job of the sort of feedback you describe.

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