I remember being a gamer growing up in the dawning era of the internet. Pre-internet a gamer kid like me would have to spend lods of allowance money to buy game guides to learn hints and tricks. The internet put a lot of those guides online and, mostly, for free! There wasn’t really a big social media element in the mid 90s though so I remember alot of these tips still being passed by word of mouth through my circle of friends.  We have come A LONG WAY in terms of internet game guides.

These tips and trick searches were simply content knowledge acquisition. There was no creative or critical thinking. There was a puzzle or hidden object and the player wants the answer or location. It is the base unit of knowldge all other thinking requires but it needs to be acquired somehow and reading or listening works just fine. Which brings me to an interesting personal observation of the modern era.

Over Winter Break my 10 year old son came running down the stairs and asked my wife to borrow her phone. Confused she asked why and he responded that he needed to find the last of the car part locations for a Fortnite mission. I laughed remembering my old Final Fantasy walkthrough guide searches. My wife opened up Google and searched the term. Of course a list came up and she opened the first that came up. Scrolling through the text my son became frustrated and loudly asked why she was reading so much. He asked for the phone and when he finally got it searched youtube and found a video with all the info he neededwatxhed it quickly, and sped off to finish the challenge.

I was interested in two parts of this interaction. First, both my wife and I agreed that we much prefer the written guides. We were curious if the YouTube search was unique to my son or generational. Based on my observations with Juniors I think students are trending toward video. Secondly, I was interested in the fact that my son has struggled with finishing his video based distance learning assignments on EdPuzzle and yet here he was actively engaging in content acquisition and doing so quickly and efficiently.

What’s the difference?

I do think that the video option is helpful but not sufficient. The type of video must play a part as well. A long or particularly dull video doesn’t encourage completion. I like this Blake Harvard reflection on better video practices.

The biggest piece must be the purpose of the work. Getting that info on Fortnite meant getting XP and leveling up which gets him new items on the battle pass. Even this is too simple though. The reason he wants those items is because it is a status symbol among his gaming friends. The research is directly tied into his place in his social network. I’m sure there are additional motives tied in but the point is that work without purpose is a tedious slog regardless of the medium. The key is to make the work truly meaningful for where the student is not where the teacher thinks they should be.

I know I need that reminder sometimes.