Low Tech

And Now Here’s a Kickstarter to Raise Money for Educational LARPing

So much more than foam swords (which are already pretty great in and of themselves).
Missouri LARPers having what looks like a pretty good time, actually. (Photo: Evan-Amos, via Wikipedia)

Missouri LARPers having what looks like a pretty good time, actually. (Photo: Evan-Amos, via Wikipedia)

For a nice change of pace, here’s an innovation in education that’s got absolutely nothing to do with iPads. A group called Seekers Unlimited is trying to raise $8,000 on Kickstarter to release a series of “edu-LARPs.” That would be educational live action role-playing games.

“You might think of it as re-enactors with foam swords, but there’s much more to it than that,” says the organization’s fundraising coordinator, Whitney Beltran, in an accompanying video. The explainer shows kids in Babylonian headdresses adjudicating according to the Code of Hammurabi, which sounds like a great way to turn a playground into Lord of the Flies but hey, whatever gets them reading. Or, as the pitch puts it: 

“Students (and teachers) pretend to be someone else for the duration of the class, learning by walking in that person’s shoes. Through research and a hands-on approach, they get a full experience of learning beyond just reading a book or hearing a lecture. What’s more fun: reading about Benjamin Franklin, or BEING Benjamin Franklin for a day?”

“EDU-LARPS ARE NOT VIDEO GAMES,” the description adds, in case you were confused.

Seekers Unlimited says they’ve created and tested several “modules” for middle schools, but they’ve got to be modified to meet Common Core State Standards before they can be released, and the creators would also like to add assignments and artwork.

The Kickstarter also makes a pretty good point about the limited applicability of many for-profit technologies developed for classrooms: “Seekers Unlimited believes that although there are amazing technological advances, not all schools or all students have access to the latest computers and upgrades, and it might be years before they do. Our games just require imagination.”

Maybe if this had existed back in the late 90s, this reporter would have done more in middle school than sit in the back of the classroom reading The Fellowship of the Ring.

(h/t Boing Boing)

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com