Skyping with superheroes :)

Wouldn’t it be awesome if you clicked on this blog post and saw pictures of my students skyping with Ironman or Batman? Yup, that would be so rad. Sadly, that is not what you will see, although maybe one day I will do my best to make that happen. This blog post is about different kinds of superheroes, but super super, nonetheless.

My year 9 gaming class love gaming. The don’t just game, they proper game. They’re like super serious gamers who are devoted to their chosen consoles (OK, we have some PC fanboys as well) and their chosen franchises. I really have discovered that I am WAY out of my depth with them. Seriously, being able to name a few video game titles (“Oh, Skyrim, yeah, I love the khaajits the best!” or ‘Isn’t it cool when you finally get to the Nether in Minecraft?”) just doesn’t cut it with this crowd. To be honest, I thought I’d at least win the respect of my girl gamers (yup, I’m an old school sexist who assumes girls only play SIMs) but no, they out game geek me times a thousand with their intimate knowledge of complex narrative-driven games like The Last of Us. Yup, within 30 minutes of the course I was outed as ‘one of those people’ – yeah the non-serious gamer people. Sigh. Luckily for me, I have connections! A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to have a young uni student, Gerard Altura, attend my Extension English class’s website launch. He is currently doing his honours project on video games in the classroom and asked to use my class for his research. Sweet! I bagged an expert without even going to any trouble finding one!

Last week Gerard happily agreed to Skype with my class about his experience with researching video games. As you might already be aware, I suck at teaching kids how to research. Before our chat, my class generated a bunch of questions to ask Gerard and they nominated Will to be their spokesperson. They had some great questions about research (like, ‘How do you do it?’ lol) and of course they wanted to know what his favourite games are. This last question resulted in the most heated, intense discussion I have ever seen these 28 young people involved in. It included a couple of students walking out and slamming the door (Gerard isn’t a PC gamer) and a couple of our girl gamers swooning because Gerard’s favourite ever game is The Last of Us (yes, I’d never heard of it before). The lesson ended with the class telling me it was the best lesson they’d ever had and with them gifting Gerard with the name ‘Gee-Dawgs’. Hilarious.

photo 1The following lesson we Skyped with my mate Kelli McGraw. Kelli is a gamer. She might not game ‘the serious stuff’ but she takes the light games seriously… I hope that’s a fair assessment, Kelli? Kelli provided my students with so much quality information about research – I totally felt like a noob when she was talking! My favourite line was, ‘Don’t research something you really love because you’ll end up hating it.’ Haha – oops – too late! Once again, my students were fascinated by her favourite video game – Guitar Hero – and were very excited about her suggestion for them to play an augmented reality game that can be bought from Google Play (name, Kelli? I forgot – see, I’m so not a gamer!).

photo 2Both Kelli and Gerard saved my hide, truly. OK, it’s true that they outed me once again as being an epic gaming noob, but that’s cool. What they provided my students with was the impetus to take their research seriously and to see that a love of video games can lead to a full time job, haha! I know that we will be calling on both again soon, especially since we’ve agreed to take part in the research of both, lol.

Skype. It’s easy. Use it and find yourself some superheroes!

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2 thoughts on “Skyping with superheroes :)

  1. Able to leap into distant classrooms with a single bound!

    Thank you for writing up this experience Bianca! I had a great time beaming into your classroom, though now I am jealous that your class didn’t give me a nickname lol 😉

    I think that this model of teaching is ‘super’ effective. I think that it’s ‘super’ smart to show students that teachers don’t know everything about every topic, but to share the knowledge you do have and model expert-seeking strategies. I also think that your students are ‘super’ awesome for being interested in this topic!

    I’ve placed a few items up on a website for this project, so that students can see how I develop my own research project alongside them: http://kelliplaysgames.weebly.com/

    PS. The name of the Google AR game I play (and it’s free) is INGRESS

  2. Not sure how I managed to miss this update. I love the sound of this class. I do hope at least one of them have played the Mass Effect franchise. The ‘perfect’ game for an English class as you look at multiple narratives and story-archs.
    I wish I had skype in my classroom.

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