School of Art, Media, and Technology

Professor Katie Salen Founds NYC Public School

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small_lab_play_test_q2l_postNew 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, which is directed by MFA DT Principal Faculty Katie Salen, in collaboration with New Visions for Public Schools, a not-for-profit organization that works in partnership with the New York City Department of Education to improve academic achievement in the City’s 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.

Quest to Learn features strong college and career focused academics, game-based learning, an early college program, a nurturing and caring learning community, integrated curriculum focused on 21st century skills, bloc scheduling, digital tools, including laptops and mobile devices, student advisories, Wellness/sports, and internships starting in 8th grade.

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.”

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 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.”

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