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Quest to Learn

Quest to Learn

Written by Erin Wilkey Oh
October 31, 2010

Quest to Learn is a school that uses the underlying design principles of games to create highly immersive, game-like learning experiences. 

Developed through a partnership between New Visions for Public Schools and Institute of Play, Quest to Learn (Q2L) is an innovative school in New York City for students grades 6 through 12. Q2L promotes 21st century learning skills in its integrated, networked, mathematically rich, and systems-oriented curriculum. Skills such as design, collaboration, and systems thinking are emphasized through differentiated and challenge-based learning contexts. Funding for the school’s design and development was provided by a grant from the MacArthur Foundation

Systems Thinking 
At Quest to Learn, games are viewed as rule-based learning systems. When these systems are translated into a pedagogical model, students are engaged and enthusiastic about learning. The designers of Q2L recognize that when students play games they “use strategic thinking to make choices, solve complex problems, seek content knowledge, receive constant feedback, and consider the point of view of others”–all fundamental 21st century learning skills. Students at Q2L do not sit in class playing commercial video games; rather, Q2L students are immersed in “game-like” learning experiences. In other words, the learning environment at Q2L acts like a gaming experience.

Core Principles of Q2L

  • Learning for design and innovation
  • Learning for complexity (systems reasoning)
  • Learning for critical thinking, judgement, and credibility
  • Learning using a design methodology
  • Learning with technology and smart tools
  • Prep for college and world of work

Because of its innovative pedagogical model, Quest to Learn has received national press coverage, including a feature in The New York Times Magazine on September 15, 2010.

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