Quest to Learn has partnered with The Institute of Play to create a school for grades 6 through 12. This year the school opened it’s doors to at least 81 sixth graders. The basis for the school is cutting edge. They believe that games are a great platform for learning. It is the concept of learning by doing. The students literally take on identities in virtual worlds to become any number of things. These could include historians, mathematicians, explorers, scientists, developers, or any great thinkers. They take on these roles and learn to function in them which fosters critical thinking.
This does not mean that the students will sit around playing commercial video games all day long. The games are designed to meet all educational standards if not surpass them. These games are designed to give the student time, space and purpose to figure out complex problems. They are given the tools to succeed in the games but they have to work at it and take feedback from their social group as well as meet complex situations head on.
Some may argue that the “role playing” aspect of this is an iffy topic. But as the school states in it’s 10 Core Practices that we all take on the role of student, teacher, developer, gamer, writer, designer and producer. The great thing is that these kids will be taught that these roles in school are directly linked to their roles in life. For those wondering about the “role playing” aspect rest assured that these kids will not be taking on identities that leave them anonymous and unaccountable for what they do whether it is virtual or not.
The research backing this school is astounding. They have studies to show that most kids between 8 and 18 spend more than eight hours per day interacting with some sort of digital media. This is an astounding amount of time. If kids are learning in high school how to put these skills into something marketable that is just a bonus. Starting in 8th grade Quest to Learn will also have kids in college preparation and internships.
This school is located in New York and is publicly funded.