Games for Change Launches Youth-Focused Initiative, Raising Good Gamers

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Global nonprofit community Games for Change and The Connected Learning Lab have announced a new initiative, Raising Good Gamers, a program that aims to change the toxic culture of online gaming by giving voice to the next generation of gamers.

Raising Good Gamers will bring 30 middle and high school teenagers for a TED-Ed program, TED’s youth and education initiative. Five of the participants will then go on to receive coaching by TED-Ed and speak at the inaugural Games for Change Youth Summit, which is tentatively scheduled for June 2021. Featured talks will be upload the TED-Ed Student Talks YouTube channel.

“TED-Ed is on a mission to celebrate and amplify the voices of young people around the world,” said Ashley Kolaya of TED-Ed. “We believe this generation’s creativity, their art, their questions, their play — this generation’s ideas will define the future of our world. While Raising Good Gamers aims to build kinder, more civically engaged gamers, TED-Ed believes the most powerful tool for making that happen are the ideas and voices of those gamers,”

The Raising Good Gamers initiative is made possible by a $100,000 grant from the Susan Crown Exchange.

“We have long imagined an event just for teens, and with support from TED-Ed and the grant from the Susan Crown Exchange, we are bringing that vision to life with the first Games for Change Youth Summit in 2021 featuring youth experts from Raising Good Gamers,” said Susan Pollack, president, Games for Change.

Raising Good Gamers was announced during the Games for Change Festival, which is taking place online right now through July 16.

Third Grader Inspires Us To Take a Second Look at Games in the Classroom

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Individualization, Failure, and Fun: Changing the Way We Educate Students (by Cordell Steiner, October 15, 2014)

Third grader Cordell Steiner took the TED stage last month to talk about his experience with video games as a learning tool. His teacher, Mr. Pie, has adopted video games and other technology in his classroom. Cordell points out several areas in which games in the classroom differ from traditional methods: individualization, the emphasis on failure, and last but not least, fun.

For kids who need more of a challenge—like Cordell—this classroom model might be especially useful. He describes being bored in school, hating tests, and feeling unmotivated. The individualization that games afforded him and his classmates offered a way for him to move forward at his own pace, something as important for the kids who “get it” first as for those who need a bit more time or help. Moreover, he was able to do this without having either his failures or his accomplishments paraded in front of his peers. When he did fail, he simply tackled the problem again until he figured it out.

While tests do serve a purpose in our education system (we do need some way of keeping track of kids’ progress, after all), they can have some negative side effects on students. Stress and shame are a factor. And tests—particularly multiple choice or single-answer tests—don’t always indicate how much students really know or what areas they may still be lacking in. Finally, doing poorly on a test doesn’t necessarily open any doors for students to learn the material better. I think most of us can remember what it’s like: being certain we knew the material, studying for hours, and still getting a bad grade on the final. If only we’d had another chance, or had studied a little harder, maybe we might’ve gotten it, but usually that chance isn’t offered. It simply goes into the final grade, and students begin to feel like they might not be smart enough to figure it out.

Although Cordell doesn’t go into quite so much detail on his feelings on test-taking, it’s clear that games, at least for him, offered a better solution. When he wasn’t able to get something right on the first round, he simply went back and tried it again. Would this work as well for students who struggle more than Cordell, who admits he’s a gifted child? It’s hard to say. I think it’s worth a shot, though, and this third grader would certainly agree. It’s clear that Cordell’s experiences in Mr. Pie’s classroom will stick with him for years to come, and in the good way.