Information Flux in the 21st Century

Ourcourts.org launched!

ourcourtsOurcourts.org is an online initiative conceived of by Sandra Day O’Conner. The goal is to teach civics to children in an easy to understand way that engages and fosters interest. The website offers straightforward information, a couple of games (at least for now?), resources for teachers that include games, links to other sites, and links to news stories.

I first heard about ourcourts.org at the Games for Change conference last June. This is one of the game ideas that got me thinking about how games in new media can inform our education system.

I went to ourcourts.org to find a resource when I was helping my daughter with her social studies homework. Her homework was to put in her own words descriptions about the three branches of government. She had a handout for this assignment that distinctly illustrated the responsibilities of each branch. However, she struggled with the meanings. Legislative and Executive made some kind of sense to her, but the Judicial branch was more difficult for her to understand. “What does interpret laws mean,” she asked. If only I could come up with a good example, and break it down for her.

One of the games on ourcourts.org is The Supreme Decision. This game enlists the player in a case about a student’s rights to wear a band t-shirt after his school banned band t-shirts because arguments broke out over them and disrupted learning. The attorneys for each side state their case and then the player listens to four pairs of judges interpreting the case. The player answers questions about the arguments presented by each pair of judges. There’s even an earlier case mentioned that shows how precedence can be used to defend an argument. My daughter played the game, and continues to play it over and over, interpreting the judges arguments differently to see how the case plays out. She now understands the concept of interpreting laws.

Last night my daughter came home with some more civics related social studies homework which she had no problem with at all. Is this due to the immersive experience she had while playing the game? I’d like to think so.

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October 7, 2009 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , ,

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