Blog Post

GAME School Opens in New York:Quest to Learn

Katie Salen, of the Institute of Play and Parsons New School of Design, sends this press release for thevery exciting opening of the new game school, Quest to Learn, openingwith 6th graders in New York. This is yet another project being supported, in part, by a planning grant as part of the  MacArthurFoundation's Digital Media and LearningInitiative. It is thrilling:




School to Open Fall 2009 in New York City
Supported by The Center for Transformative Media at The New School
Designed by the Institute of Play in partnership with New Visions for Public Schools

New York, New York ? February 7, 2009. New York City will be home to Quest to Learn, a new 6-12th grade public school that will use game-inspired methods to teach both traditional and critical 21st century skills and literacies. Opening in fall 2009, the school is being supported by The Center for Transformative Media at Parsons The New School for Design. The school was created by the Institute of Play, a New York City-based not-for-profit organization that leverages games and play as transformative learning tools, in collaboration with New Visions for Public Schools. The school will be a District 2 school, located in Manhattan, near The New School campus. Quest will open with a 6th grade in fall 2009, adding a new grade each year.

Design and innovation are at the heart of the new school, labeled ?school for today?s digital kids.? According to principal Aaron Schwartz, former COO of Archimedes Academy, ?Quest balances traditional academic needs with a belief that students today can and do learn in different ways, often through work with digital media, games, online networks, and mobile technologies. Kids today use digital media as part of their everyday interactions?their learning should too.?

In an atmosphere of academic excellence, Quest aims to foster the type of learning that is possible today?learning based on access to online resources and tools from around the globe, learning that supports customized content for every student on demand, learning that is game-like in its ability to inspire and motivate. ?In an age when low-income urban kids continue to drop out of school at alarming rates, yet research is consistently showing the high levels of engagement youth are exhibiting in various media platforms, it is incumbent upon educators to take notice and indeed redirect teaching methods to meet the needs and interests of students,? says Schwartz.

The Center for Transformative Media will operate as the core research space supporting the pedagogical vision of the school, providing expertise in a game-based approach to learning and assessment. Internships, early college coursework, and a robust industry mentorship program allow students opportunities to learn alongside experts, supported by The New School. Bob Kerrey, President of The New School, stated, ?We are thrilled to be supporting the development of Quest to Learn. The work begun with the realization of this school will make significant strides in using digital media as a critical pedagogic tool in secondary education.?
Additional partners, including founding partner The Institute of Play, Pearson, and Pearson Foundation, will offer Quest students unprecedented access to new kinds of learning tools and experiences to support student achievement, youth identity development, and preparation for college and/or career. Steve Dowling, Executive Vice President at Pearson, said, ?Quest to Learn will provide Pearson first hand insight into learning in an exciting new setting and in developing 21st century learning materials and assessments. The Pearson Foundation will focus its philanthropy on teacher training and digital arts as part of its global digital arts initiative, now active in 7 countries. We are very excited and proud to be part of this new school.?

Within Quest?s integrated curriculum traditional and 21st century literacies merge?students ?learn by doing? through coursework focused on helping students make connections between ideas and skills in real world contexts. Enhanced literacy and math instruction occurs daily and all students have opportunities to gain expertise in reading, writing, and designing with digital media, including taking courses in computer programming, media arts, and game design. A fully integrated Wellness curriculum supports students in achieving healthy hearts, minds, and bodies.

?Quest to Learn has re-imagined the traditional school from top to bottom, based on research on how students today learn best?and has created a new kind of learning environment that will prepare students for success in college and the 21st century workforce,? said Robert Hughes, president of New Visions for Public Schools.

Student support structures have been integrated throughout Quest?s learning program. A curriculum-driven student advisory program (Home Base), extended day programs (both a.m and p.m.), daily workshops in numeracy and literacy for struggling students, all address incoming students who may not be adequately prepared, and service learning opportunities support Quest?s goal of ensuring academic success for all students.

?Quest is more than a school?it is a dynamic learning environment that takes its cues from the media-rich learning kids are engaged in outside of school,? said Katie Salen, Director of the Center for Transformative Media at Parsons the New School for Design, and Executive Director of the Institute of Play. ?Students today need to know how to connect what they are learning in school with the world and communities beyond its walls. We want to prepare students for participation in today?s global environment.?

The John T. MacArthur foundation provided funding to support a two-year planning phase for the school.
Helpful urls:
Families interested in enrolling at Quest to Learn should contact:
Aaron Schwartz, Principal
Tel: 718.935.3665 or 516.554.2456

To apply to teach at Quest please send a letter of interest and a resume to Aaron Schwartz, principal:
Tel: 516.554.2456
For other inquiries, please contact:
Katie Salen, Center for Transformative Media: 212.229.8908 x4098
Aaron Schwartz, Principal
In his eight years with the New York City Department of Education working exclusively in underserved communities in East New York and the South Bronx, Aaron has proudly worked as a teacher, staff developer, math coach, academic intervention coordinator and data specialist. An educational reformer, Aaron has worked as a UFT teacher trainer during the implementation of New York City?s core curriculum, an educational consultant tasked with designing professional learning communities for schools, and was selected to be in New York City?s first cohort of Coaches. As lead writer or team member Aaron has been on grant writing committees that secured over 1.5 million dollars for educational reform. In 2007 Aaron participated in the Principal Inquiry Project, the Leadership Learning Support Organization?s program to identify and develop future educational leaders. Aaron?s prior experience as a chef and restaurant owner has framed his belief that learning needs to be hands on and project based. Aaron holds advance degrees from Yale University, Brooklyn College and Touro College.

Katie Salen, Center for Transformative Media; Institute of Play
Katie Salen is Director of the Center for Transformative Media, Parsons The New School for Design, and an Associate Professor in the Design and Technology Program. She is also the Executive Director of the Institute of Play, the non-for-profit that serves as the founding partner for Quest to Learn. As the lead designer on the school, she has led development of the school?s pedagogical vision and research agenda. She has extensive experience working with young people in the area of media creation and game design, and has a deep knowledge of issues surrounding the potential integration of digital media, games, and technology into learning environments, like schools, libraries, and museums. Katie has co-authored several books that have come to serve as seminal in the research field of games and learning: Rules of Play, a textbook on game design, The Game Design Reader, and edited The Ecology of Games: Connecting Youth, Games, and Learning, all from MIT Press. She has worked as a game designer for over 10 years and is co-editor of The International Journal of Learning and Media. Katie holds advanced degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and the Rhode Island School of Design.



Special thanks to Flicrk member everett tassevigen for this beautiful image of a science/game project that Katie Salen worked on last year. I think we can expect a school that is all about beauty, science, thinking, learning, excitement!


No comments