The Mac Lab

Archive for February, 2012

Time Zips By (Week 23)

by on Feb.27, 2012, under Blog

A good game is a unique way of structuring experience and provoking positive emotion. It is an extremely powerful tool for inspiring participation and motivating hard work. And when this tool is deployed on top of a network, it can inspire and motivate tens, hundreds, thousands, or millions of people at a time.

Anything else you think you know about games, forget it now. All the good that comes out of games—every simple way that games make us happier in our everyday lives and help us change the world—stems from their ability to organize us around a voluntary obstacle.
Jane McGonigal / Reality is Broken

Think of the Mac Lab as a voluntary obstacle. All of my classes are electives; you’re not required to take them. You can fulfill the fine arts graduation requirement in a number of alternate courses. But whether you actually wanted this class or landed here against your will, you still have a choice: pass or fail. Try or don’t. If you choose to look at it that way, you can then view high school itself as a voluntary obstacle. Turn it all into a game. Then play to win.

Last week we spoke about personal perspective and how you’re free to view events as you wish. If you choose to view the Mac Lab as a game—and yes, right now it’s a very crude beta version of what will be available next year—then you’re free to choose the role of player and co-creator. That way all the bumps in the road are part of the adventure, part of the fun.

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Something Extra (Week 22)

by on Feb.21, 2012, under Blog

Not only does everyone today need more education to build the critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are now necessary for any good job; students also need better education. We define “better education” as an education that nurtures young people to be creative creators and creative servers, That is, we need our education system not only to strengthen everyone’s basics—reading, writing, and arithmetic—but to teach and inspire all Americans to start something new, to add something extra, or to adapt something old in whatever job they are doing.
Friedman and Mandelbaum / That Used to Be Us

Left unsaid in that paragraph is that students need to be active participants in the quest for “better education.” If you don’t want to strengthen your basic skills, there’s not much a teacher can do. If you don’t want to bring something extra to the classroom, “better education” will remain a goal rather than an experience.

You play the key role in making education better, not the teacher.

So what’s it going to be? What’s your something extra?

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Find Your Flow (Week 21)

by on Feb.14, 2012, under Blog

During this kind of highly structured, self-motivated hard work, Csikszentmihalyi wrote, we regularly achieve the greatest form of happiness available to human beings: intense, optimistic engagement with the world around us. We feel fully alive, full of potential and purpose—in other words, we are completely activated as human beings.

…Csikszentmihalyi argued that the failure of schools, offices, factories, and other everyday environments to provide flow was a serious moral issue, one of the most urgent problems facing humanity.
Jane McGonigal / Reality is Broken

When it comes to fully implementing TAG, ZIM, and AMP, we’ve barely scratched the surface of what’s possible. I keep searching for ways to improve the experience but at this point much of the responsibility falls on you. The challenge is simple. So simple, in fact, that it’s become overwhelming for a few of you:

What do you want to learn to create?

This isn’t what you’ve been conditioned to expect at school. Grades, deadlines, and mandatory assignments are, for the most part, off the table. Oceans of resources are at your fingertips. The time is all yours. Relax. All that’s left is for you to decide what you want to do.

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Super Charged (Week 20)

by on Feb.06, 2012, under Blog

The science shows that the secret to high performance isn’t our biological drive or our reward-and-punishment drive, but our third drive—our deep-seated desire to direct our own lives, to extend and expand our abilities, and to make a contribution.

We know—if we’ve spent time with young children or remember ourselves at our best—that we’re not designed to be passive and compliant. We’re designed to be active and engaged. And we know that the richest experiences in our lives aren’t when we’re clamoring for validation from others, but when we’re listening to our own voice—doing something that matters, doing it well, and doing it in the service of a cause larger than ourselves.
Daniel Pink / Drive

Every week I search for a quote to set the tone for the post, for what we’ll be doing all week long. When I reread Pink’s words this morning I knew they were perfect. But as I was typing them a few minutes ago I experienced a sudden realization. Those words apply to me as well.

Funny how I forget my own motto sometimes:

You teach best what you most need to learn.
Richard Bach / Illusions

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