Quest to Learn: From Idea to Implementation

Its been fulfilling to see the realization of Quest to Learn and the wider audience now aware of its model and goals.  From working with the design team two years ago, its been amazing to see how the concepts and strategies iterated over weekly on paper are now being experienced by real students and teacher.

Inspired by the media-rich environment that kids are now engaged with outside of school (some data on youth and games) and the potential of games as systems and engaging problem spaces that can be rich vehicles for learning, the school was created to foster the type of education that is possible today.

It’s not a school where kids sit around playing commercial videogames, rather its a school that uses the underlying design principles of games to create highly immersive, game-like learning experiences.  As kids progress from Missions and Quests to Boss levels (synthesizing opportunities), they learn “ways of being and doing”, rather than learn “about”.  Some examples.  A key focus is on the ability of games and other forms of digital media to model the complexity of systems and the types of systems thinking and tinkering skills now required to succeed in today’s global environment.

Instead of traditional subject areas like math, science, social studies, and english, domains of knowledge were re-examined and re-framed to reflect the interdisciplinary nature of life (see above diagram + more detailed description of each Domain here).   For example, Codeworlds is about symbolic representation of meaning. One can think about Math and Language (and even computer programming) as pivoting around the encoding and decoding of symbols.  Perhaps this integration and re-framing can reduce the notion of “I’m not a math person” and facilitate the transfer of knowledge.

Quests from all Domains can utilize Smallab, a mixed reality environment for embodied learning and multimodal feedback (building on work out of Arizona State University).  The space uses motion capture cameras and wireless controllers to interact with digital objects projected onto the floor.

Geology Layer Cake

There is also a recognition of school as only one of the many nodes of learning and the need to extend and connect it to other nodes in multiple ways. One mechanism is through BeingMe, a custom social network platform, where students communicate, post work, collaborate and reflect.

More invisible but essential to the implementation of this model is the establishment of Mission Lab, where game designers and media specialists are co-located and work with teachers on professional development and curriculum projects.

This brief post does not describe in justice all the components to the model. Furthermore as it grows there will be continued iteration and lessons learned. Follow along with Q2L’s progress here.


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