Rigorous: behaviors must be consistent with concepts and data

Rigorous: behaviors must be consistent with concepts and data

August 13, 2018

I believe that our educational systems’ failures to demand consistency from students could explain a variety of the problems we face in the world today – call it a lack of "critical thinking" if you will, but extend the term beyond thought to action. Over the years, in my classroom teaching, I tried to emphasize rigor in my students’ thinking and behavior.

Figuring out how to put this kind of meticulousness into Interactive Learning eXperiences was a major breakthrough. But should it have been?  Why couldn’t online education be just a rigorous as great in-person education? Yet, it never has been.

Now that we’ve built I-L-Xs, I can safely say that we have created an educational process much more rigorous than any classroom experience will ever be. Because rather than one student in a classroom being grilled by the prof while everyone else looks on, each student is held to an equal and coherent standard. Every “player” in an I-L-X has to maintain consistency between the facts and recommendations – but each individual may be dealing with a completely different set of information and coming up with completely different solutions. Trust me, that could never be done in a classroom.

Because I-L-Xs are database driven, the technology is not the hard part. It is rather simple to assess whether or not every student action is consistent with their espoused strategy which must be based on the facts they personally have been exposed to and the concepts they are trying to apply. 

While the technology is easy, the design is really, really hard. Creating games that are filled with the necessary information to assess this kind of strategic integrity is the most intellectually challenging thing I have done in my life.  Those of us who work on the content in these “games,” regularly feel like our brains are just about ready to burst; there are so many moving parts. But we have done it.

And we hope to make a small dent in the consistency/rigor deficit that has emerged in education as our secondary schools have come to be focused on “teaching to the test” and universities care more about scale and accreditation metrics instead of quality.

image: flickr/JDHancock