Why Wii?

November 20, 2008 | 4 Comments

The unveiling of the Wii in the Digital Media Commons last Friday added a dimension of hilarity, energy, and friendly competition to a successful Institutional Advancement and TLC sponsored event that was designed to blend learning with play and build community among MIIS staff.

It also raised questions for some: why are we buying toys when we need (you fill in the blank)…?

Here are some things to think about:

(1) Generally,  “play” unleashes creativity and enhances learning. To explore this idea, check out Tim Brown’s TED Talk.

(2) Specifically, the Wii controller makes possible a particular kind of activity that invokes our kinesthetic learning ability.  There is a great deal of interest in using this new tool to enhance learning in virtual spaces.  For example:

Lane Kuhlman, a graduate student at Ohio State, is studying gesture based interaction and its role in educational multimedia.  This kind of research could have major implications for the design of simulations for intercultural communication, negotiation, or conflict resolution.

MIT Research Fellow David Stone was featured in a recent Wired article for his work building Wiimote-controlled simulations in Second Life. To the already information-rich experiences available in this virtual world, one can now add the ability to take your hands off the keyboard and speak, gesture, and move naturally through virtual environments ranging from your favorite international city to an exhibition of the latest green building technologies.

The Educause Learning Initiative is encouraging its members to investigate the potential of the Wii. See their white paper, “7 Things You Should Know about Wii.”

Finally, in another TED talk, Johnny Lee demonstrates how he turned $40 Wii controllers into a multitouch display, and into a close approximation of a $2000 interactive whiteboard, increasing access to these technologies for schools and organizations with limited resources.

(3) We would like for MIIS be at the forefront of thinking about how people learn and experimenting with ways to enhance the quality of our education.  Our limited resources have, in the past, caused us to bypass many of the technologies that our peer institutions were adopting at great cost.  Now we are in a position of competitive advantage, in that we can leapfrog some of the less versatile earlier tools for learning, and focus on tools and strategies that match our pedagogical commitment through Monterey Way 2.0 to immersive learning, high performance thinking, and open architecture.

Agree? Disagree?  Join the conversation with your comments!


4 Comments so far

  1. Tony O'Brian on November 21, 2008 11:52 am

    How we judge the Wii’s merits is of complete non-interest to me. While it may be a great tool for teaching, my perspective is that it’s a fun and interesting way to get people into the TLC and DMC to learn about other innovative technologies. For example, I came to the sandbox for a game of Wii tennis and ended up learning how to use iMovie and became a Yammer power user. 🙂 Additionally, I think that interacting with our colleagues on more informal levels can, at times, produce great ideas that may not have come forth in typical office setting. So, kudos to your out-of-th-box methodologies!

  2. Bob Cole on November 22, 2008 10:20 am

    I have to say the first time I saw a Wii was at my Dad’s house last Christmas, an uncle had brought it over. As I watched others play, I thought, this is ridiculous! If you’ve ever seen people on a Wii, you know what I mean. Flailing arms, focused attention, likely even beads of sweat. I reluctantly picked up a wiimote to play some tennis. Immediately the wiimote buzzed in my hand and I was serving to my opponent, flailing arms and all.

    The Wii offers a unique immersive gaming experience that is multi-sensory: visual, aural, tactile. Players interact with the computer generated players and with each other. If connected to the Internet you could even play with someone on the other side of the planet. Players receive a constant flow of feedback and opportunities to review their performance, whether it’s playing tennis, bowling, darts, or making music together.

    It wasn’t until after I played that I understood where the players in my Dad’s living room had gone to as they waved their arms, honed their attention, and laughed.

    Do I know how I would use this game in a classroom? No. Not yet. However, the Wii offers a unique play experience which we could all learn from as we continue to talk about durable teaching and learning experiences.

    Hey, but don’t take my word for it. Come over to TLC and try for yourself.

  3. Erin Morita on November 24, 2008 9:43 am

    It is fun! In a world that has grown increasingly “seated” with the advances in technology, it seems a good avenue to explore to open up a healthier learning pipeline that irresistibly gets people up and moving, and interacting in person.

  4. Anne Marie Steiger on November 24, 2008 2:48 pm

    For my graduate thesis I studied the ways people learn and how to apply them to digital training materials. Some people who learn best by doing, kinetic learning, will learn faster by using systems like the wii. I believe we’re seeing the very beginning (infancy stage) of this technology. There may not be an obvious way to use this in the classroom just yet, but I think it’s worth being aware of its potential.

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