SimCityEDU: The Fear of the Unknown
So I have a set of lesson plan units ready to go, and yet I still fear turning SimCity over to my students, let me explain. The thought of a game being used for education is so revolutionary, other staff members raise their eyebrow when I tell them about it. Yet, I have put hours into connecting it with standards and learning outcomes, I know this will work. I just don’t know what it will look like yet. This is going to be a hurdle for all Educational Gaming products, but I think SimCity has a huge advantage compared to others I have heard about.
I’ve heard of classrooms using the Auction House within World of Warcraft as a means to explore market concepts and supply and demand, but anyone who plays WoW knows, there are a vast amount of external distractions that would entice students to wander off the lesson path. SimCity is really a very safe environment to explore and dive into. SimCity is fairly linear in game play, even though there are thousands of options, you really are just working on building the best city possible. Because of that, it’s easier for a teacher to link instruction without fear of losing students to the peripheral gaming options that other games offer.
But still, I am excited and scared of the unknown elements that are going to arise for students after we get our cities and their entry level services created. I keep thinking of SimCity as this tiny nut that I’m going to plant in the ground. As a sapling it’s very manageable, but as it grows there will be so many branches that grow from it that it could become overwhelming. SimCity begins relatively small, with a handful of options, but as it grows, the options become so numerous that it can be scary.
Yet, I keep having this picture of my students presenting their cities to the class, talking about the problems and how they addressed citizen concerns, why they made choices based on information that they had collected, and I get excited to see my 4th grades pull this off. This is authentic learning. I fear it, and yet I can’t wait to see it unfold. I am beginning to relax in knowing that I don’t have to have all of the answers and lessons planned already. Cities are going to grow differently, and I will just adapt and create new lessons based on the unique cities my students create.
Next week, the journey begins!