Codeworlds. Qlink. Boss Level; three terms that seem to belong in a video game codebook.
The terms, however, are typical school-day vernacular at Quest to Learn (Q2L), a New York City, public school developed by the Institute of Play (IoP), a non-profit gaming design studio. Through various gaming interactions and activities, IoP seeks to develop highly relevant 21st century skills in students that include systems thinking, risk taking, critical reflection, collaboration, creative problem solving, tenacity, empathy, and innovation.
Thanks to a $2.4 million grant by the MacArthur Foundation, Richard Arum, interim director of the Institute of Human Development and Social Change, will spearhead the project, “Connecting Youth,” looking closely at participants in these types of educational initiatives developed by Institute of Play (IoP), including Q2L and the Chicago Quest Schools (CICS). The study will also look at students in the Hive Learning Networks in New York City and Chicago as well as the impact of YOUmedia sites in New York, Washington, D.C., and Chicago.
“The purpose of this research is to document activities and outcomes associated with these programs, specifically how these programs use of digital media potentially can change the behavior and attitudes of participating youth,” Arum, also a professor of sociology and education, explained. “Organizations involved in this study work with cultural institutions to use digital learning to attempt to enhance young peoples’ interests, and community awareness, and to shape their educational outcomes.”
The Hive Learning Network is a community of civic and cultural institutions dedicated to transforming the learning landscape, and creating opportunities for youth to explore their interests in virtual and physical spaces. YOUmedia was created to connect young adults, books, media, mentors, and institutions in one dynamic space to spark collaboration and creativity.
Arum will look closely at the characteristics of the youth participating in the educational programming, their everyday interaction with and access to digital media, their attitudes and familiarity with digital technology, and change in youth educational attitudes, behaviors, and performance.
”We are very excited to have the privilege of observing these innovative programs on the ground,” Arum noted. “The potential for digital technology and connected learning strategies to improve the lives of young people makes clear the importance of the work.”
In total, Arum has received $3.25 million from the foundation for the “Connecting Youth” project.