Over the holiday break, I added a new piece of gear to my recording studio – an XBOX 360 and Ubisoft’s Rocksmith. This is the first truly immersive learning experience on XBOX that blends real world skills with video game mechanics.
Rocksmith is a real electric guitar learning experience that uses XBOX 360 or a Windows PC to take a novice musician to a stadium rocker over time.
My musical background is in piano, percussion and a bit of saxophone. I have never played the guitar in my life. However, with XBOX 360, I went from an initial performance of 67% to 70% in my second effort playing the Rolling Stones “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”
Now three percentage points may not be a lot. However, for a new guitarist, it is immediate performance progress and quantifiable development of a new competency-based skill. The sense of progress was immediate “satisfaction” from have partaken in the experience.
It is hard to think of Rocksmith as a game. I am not using a plastic guitar-like device with multicolor buttons. This is an actual Les Paul electric guitar. It is the authentic natural user interface for the competency that I am attempting to develop.
What is amazing about this learning experience is that my performance is tracked real-time and the experience adapts to my demonstrated ability. I unlock achievements as I develop skills and practice new pieces. So my learning is reinforced with immediate feedback along the way. I also love that the music is contemporary and relevant to competency I am trying to master.
Are not these the same scenarios we want to produce in our classrooms?
Immersive Learning happens when we can create an actual or simulated environment to learn or demonstrate a competency. When the knowledge gain or competency learned is portable beyond that experience into the real world, we can now make new and meaningful applications.
In my case, my guitar skills learned on XBOX 360 will be immediately relevant in my music writing, performing, recording, and producing. It adds a new dimension that heretofore had to be produced with either a session player or sampled instruments. In time, I will be able to add an original guitar performance exactly the way I envisioned.
The ability to synthesize or create something new from the knowledge gained is Bloom’s highest order cognitive development. Achieving this higher order thinking skill through a video game is a revolutionary idea.
It is revolutionary because until XBOX 360, immersive learning has been impractical and expensive. Moreover, gaming in education has been more about “drill-and-kill” exercises than building competency-based skills that can be transferred to new applications.
Rocksmith is the first example of authentic immersive learning that I wanted to present for your consideration in 2012. I can foresee music classrooms being updated with XBOX 360s and music games to enable students to build authentic music competencies with real instruments.
Rocksmith beats the plastic recorder that my daughter keeps playing Hot Cross Buns (or is it Three Blind Mice) for the last six months.
“Hey Hey Hey…that’s what I say!”
How do you see contemporary gaming consoles and PC making your learning experiences more immersive? Let me know in the comments below.
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