Can the zombie apocalypse teach all that you need to know about geography? What about a roleplaying game that requires players to plan their course of action? Can that kind of gameplay reinforce geographic lessons, especially when the roleplaying includes locating "safe zones" survivors can continue to, well, survive in?
That's certainly what the Zombie-Based Learning Kickstarter project, created by David Hunter, is banking on. While the concept of video game-enhanced learning is not a new concept, per se, applying zombe apocalypse survival specifically to geography is. Aimed at kids who are in the middle school age, Zombie-Based Learning is clear about the goal of giving students an alternative to "boring textbook reading."
The Kickstarter page reveals more about the ingenious idea:
What we’re doing here, is teaching how to be a geographer by learning skills needed to survive a zombie apocalypse. Imagine being in a classroom where instead of reading about maps, you’re designing them to show the spread of a zombie outbreak. Instead of reading about the distribution of resources on Earth in a textbook, you are researching available resources to plan your post-outbreak settlement. I’m not just talking about learning where places are or memorizing capitals of states or countries, I’m talking about learning the deeper concepts of geography that geographers actually use. And all in an exciting scenario.
Hunter credits both his love of geography and the undead for the appropriate inspiration. He also feels this kind of role-playing/teamwork-based projects are fantastic teaching tool, one he has taken one step further by focusing on a particular subject being "taught" via a specific kind of roleplaying. Hunter also believes combining the two concepts can draw the interest of students who would otherwise ignore their geography lessons:
By building this project, we can show that learning can be done through far out scenarios, or even just based on what students are interested in. I also believe that the Zombie genre has the potential to engage often disengaged students, providing an alternative to boring textbook reading.
There are also two videos describing his idea. One is a shorter one for those interested in the Kickstarter, and the other one is a longer one for teachers who are curious as to how Hunter's idea would work for their students.
First, the Kickstarter pitch video:
The second video, the one aimed at teachers, is a little longer, coming in at 24 minutes. This, as you might expect, has a lot more detail than the six-minute pitch video:
Hunter envisions five different scenarios with which students can learn from. They include:
Planning for the Outbreak
News of a zombie-like outbreak has reached your community. You are helping to plan in case the outbreak reaches your area.
Post Outbreak Survival
The outbreak has reached your area and chaos has followed. You use your skills to just try and survive and find other survivors.
Finding a Place to Settle
Through surviving you have met with other survivors, now you are trying to decide upon a safe place.
Building a Community
With your group of survivors, you make decisions to build a safe and sustainable community.
Planning for the Future
Based on what you know about Geography, and based on a knowledge of the past, your community makes long term plans for survival and rebuilding a life.
Considering all of that information, what are your thoughts on using the zombie apocalypse as a tool to help students learn about geography? Is this a brilliant idea that's been long-needed or is just a frivolous exercise on Hunter's part? Let us know what you think.
For those who are wondering, Zombie-Based Learning has over half of its $5000 goal. Perhaps he should partner up with James Paul Gee.