San Jose Mercury News columnist Mike Cassidy shared his thoughts this weekend on Globaloria, a new digital literacy program coming to the region, praising the initiative’s willingness to take new approaches by using game design to empower youth with important skills.
"We need to embrace experiments," urged Cassidy, "-- the riskier, the better."
He continued, saying,
"A few Silicon Valley schools are about to try a program that shows some promise in not only getting kids interested in learning (imagine), but also forcing them to exercise the kinds of skills they'll need if they ever hope to get a decent job in the 21st century. It's called Globaloria (hey, I didn't name it) and in essence it turns middle and high school kids into game designers.
The program, developed by the New York nonprofit World Wide Workshop Foundation, requires students to distill concepts they learn in standard classes – math, science, literature, social studies and other subjects – and build a game that teaches the concepts to their peers. They learn to work together, manage a project. They learn to try and fail -- and try a different way. They learn to blog about their progress and to take suggestions from other Globaloria students in other schools. They learn that they can create something.
And they learn it all in a world where they live -- a world of digital gizmos and social networks; a world of instant feedback, a world where a text or instant message is as comfortable as a conversation."
Knight Foundation recently committed $950,000 to integrating the platform into school, club and community center curriculums over the next three years. The effort is part of Knight's focus on promoting informed and engaged communities in the digital age.
"No question this is a dark time for public schools," writes Cassidy. "But the ideas to make things better are out there. And it turns out, so is the money. It's just a matter of getting those who are able to to step up."