Old teaching versus new teaching, slightly modified version (source Wim Veen, courtesy of Marc Prensky)
Learngaming is the mathetic (and didactic) methodology behind LEARNGames. Mathetics is the science of learning. The term was coined by John Amos Comenius (1592–1670) in his work Spicilegium didacticum, published in 1680. He understood Mathetics as the opposite of Didactics, the science of teaching. The word comes from the Greek word mathēmatikos, which means "disposed to learn”. The mathetic approach can be summarized as "learning by doing by self-discovery”. In learngaming it is essential that information of each individual and collective learning process is available at the end of a learngame session. Feedback for a process of self-discovery. In our Learngames we provide this.
Learngaming is the way in which the 21th century skills are achieved. After all, learning is adapting so that Darwin's principles of natural selection are activated in the context of the 21st century. Survival of the fittest is always the survival of the best adapted. The focus should be the future! Learning is all about the future!
Why do people need to learn? Because behaviour and actions must adapt to the future context. A future context that changes and continues to change. Panta rhei (Heraclitus, Greek: πάντα ῥεῖ) or 'everything flows', as a metaphor: 'you can't step into the same river twice')
Where in the mid-19th century the rise of industrial society emphasised socialisation (being on time!, where peasant life had a very different perception of the concept of time), learning to count and language (to be able to understand instructions). Today's society is characterised by a global context full of digital information and entertainment. Analogous to Darwin: if the context demands a different behaviour as a survival strategy, you have to learn that. Learngaming sees learning as an evolutionary process to be able to be effective, efficient, flexible and creative in the future as an individual or as a group.
This implies that learning methods nowadays, taking the time dimension into account, should have features such as:
Effectiveness: the power to achieve the learning objectives. To learn, one has to give meaning to information and communication, which can be achieved in the best way within networks where people communicate, cooperate and negotiate. In LEARNGames, being a role game simulation, participants operate in such a network, experiencing connectivity in their ‘learning by doing’. Learning by doing is a very effective mathetic concept.
Efficiency: the power to optimize inputs in order to realize the learning objectives. In LEARNGames we developed the concept of “minimal learning energy game”. (Finalist at ECGBL Odense). A very efficient mathetic concept.
Flexibility: the power to adapt fast changes so that the effectiveness and efficiency in learning processes still can be achieved. Evolution implies continuous change , for the short term it implies the need for flexibility in learning processes themselves too.
Each LEARNGame simulation is different and played in a different context. Sometimes new participants are added (or leave), groups are different: adults, students, (gifted) young children, refugees, etc. The dynamics of complex role game simulation is characterized by new elements in the game simulation which arise due to the creativeness of the participant. Many times these elements create explaining opportunities where metaphors can be used as teaching elements. A very flexible mathetic concept.
Creativity: the power to bring in the changes which result in the future learning methods still will be effective, efficient and flexible. Evolution implies continuous change, for the long term it implies the need for creativity in learning processes. Creativity as an amoral process of natural selection for learning methods themselves, to create new learning opportunities. Also for LEARNGames, the better is the enemy of the good. “Technology as friend” implies continuous improvement. For example the availability of WIFI makes the integration of smartphones possible in LEARNGames which opens a lot of new mathetic concepts. The non-availability (like in South-Africa with our LEARNGame is often the case) implies searching for creative solutions.
A major characteristic of our learngaming method is that we never "push the rope" but always focus on "pulling the rope". Create a learning environment where teaching and learning use "PULL learning".
Our target groups in education request new learning methods, so teaching methods should change too.