What is Deeper Learning?
By Beverly Vaillancourt
When it happens …it makes your day!
When it happens …kids can’t wait until the next class!
When it happens … intellectualism fills the air!
It’s just like peeling an onion!! Deeper Learning pulls apart the layers and allows learners to explore and dive into the essence of a problem. Yet Deeper Learning is far more. It involves the transfer of knowledge and skills from one situation to another to effectively solve a problem and gain new understanding. It’s critical thinking and invention. It’s the power of technology. It’s what inspires the desire to learn!
Deeper Learning requires that kids ask questions and participate in discussion. Deeper Learning fosters a curriculum where students participate in a variety of tasks that challenge them, allowing them to demonstrate their cognitive competence and apply existing knowledge to creatively manage a problem. The result is a product built with skill and pride.
Deeper Learning is defined by authentic assessment, self-reliance, and collaboration. It is the makings of game design and it forms the foundation of all of Zulama’s courses.
Consider what happens when an individual designs a game board or a video game.
The game design process builds interest in topics that are carefully selected and researched, deepening content knowledge. Facts are learned and integrated into the student’s expanding frame of reference. Knowledge is applied within a game format. Assessment is both formative and authentic.
One of the most important aspects of Deeper Learning is feedback. Digital natives have been captivated by feedback since they first tapped on a keyboard and watched the magic happen on a computer screen. For digital natives, there is an intuitive understanding that failure leads to new strategies and success. This iterative process is among the 21st century skills identified as essential for success in the global learning environment.
Playing and designing games in a project based learning environment is a highly effective way to deepen learning as students work collaboratively within IDEA teams to create a game specific to a subject, specific to rules, specific to consequences, and specific to changes made as a result of playtesting and iteration. Likewise, game design strengthens the critical thinking and concentrated intellectual effort central to Deeper Learning as students identify problems and seek creative solutions.
Zulama’s GameMaker™ Programming course is a perfect example of how Deeper Learning happens within a game design context. As students perfect their computer coding skills, they are forced to analyze why a programmed action does not show on the screen as intended. Effort must be spent in debugging and retesting. Questions are asked. Student to student problem solving occurs. It’s the “figuring it out” process that is so essential to building critical thinking skills, self-reliance, intellectual tenacity, and a dive into knowing more – not because of an assignment, but because of interest and determination. Deeper Learning.
Zulama students are participating in Deeper Learning and preparing for creative, good paying jobs in the gaming industry. As West Allegheny’s Xavier Santiago says, “I think being able to learn how to program, develop games, and design them in the future will be very helpful and give us the knowledge we may need in the future to get jobs we may want.”
Perhaps West Allegheny superintendent, John DiSanti, says it best when he states, “The Zulama Entertainment Technology Academy provides a tool for our West Allegheny students to develop the skills and discipline necessary to succeed in future careers and educational pursuits. This goal is accomplished through high-interest, engaging programs that motivate students as they use technology in meaningful, authentic settings.”
Learn more about the National Research Council’s Report on Deeper Learning here.