Week 7 (Week 4 of Module 2)

Before reading anything this week, make a list of what you now think are the educational issues in relation to digital culture generally and computer games in particular.

The readings this week are not what you might expect, papers about the implications of games for education per se, but tackle the issue from a variety of different perspectives. As you read them add to your notes about what you think are the important educational issues in relation to digital culture and games.

de Byl, P. (2012). Can Digital Natives Level-Up in a Gamified Curriculum? In M. Brown, M. Hartnett & T. Stewart (Eds.), Future Challenges, Sustainable Futures: Proceedings of ASCILITE, 2012. Wellington: ASCILITE. Retrieved from http://www.ascilite.org/conferences/Wellington12/2012/images/custom/de_byl%2c_penny_-_can_digital.pdf.

Despite the title, the paper offers a simple mapping of the terms and issues that are commonly found in debates about games and education. The URL in the EndNote library is incorrect. It needs to be replaced with the link above.

She offers a nice quote from Smith-Robbins1:

If the goal [of education] is intellectual growth, then classmates and faculty are teammates. If the goal is to beat the system and earn more money, then classmates are competition and faculty are obstacles to be overcome.

Green, H., Facer, K., Rudd, T., & with Patrick Dillon and Peter Humphreys. (2005). Personalisation and Digital Technologies. Retrieved from [http://admin.futurelab.org.uk/resources/documents/opening_education/Personalisation_report.pdf]

This paper explores the issues that derive from the perceived capacity to engineer computer software so that it supports a much more personalised experience in education. You'll recognise the personal term in the now routine use of PLEs or personal learning environments. It is important to read these kinds of documents carefully. They tend to the booster side of things. It draws attention to the now stark difference between what goes on inside school and what happens outside in terms of student use of digital media. The work of Sugata Mitra2 and Salman Khan3 effectively exploit these differences and provide a kind of schooling that is extremely different from the norm. What did you make of the charter that they develop?

The Spacemakers project described in the paper bears a close resemblance to the knowledge-producing schools agenda with which I have been associated for many years. What did you make of some of the other projects described in the paper?

This short clip by Jim Gee is well worth a look. He is commenting upon a number of important educational ideas and draws attention to the fact I have made a few times in this course: everyone is now in the education business. Learning from games to improve student learning is his key focus. He is an important thinker in this field. He poses a lot of interesting challenges.

Another short clip by Katie Salen talking about game design is also well worth a look. Salen is another of the key players in this field. Her experimental school in Manhattan, Quest to Learn is an interesting initiative. You'll find a lot of her papers, materials, projects and presentations readily available.

This longer clip by Jim Gee explores a number of issues that relate to education. His critique of conventional schooling is well worth thinking carefully about. His emphasis on problem solving and the notion of a video game as a form of assessment are two important ideas. His publications develop these ideas more slowly but this is a useful account of his agenda. Many of his arguments pose significant issues for what teachers do and how they are prepared. The notion of passion communities and the very high standards demanded for participation also resonates with much of education that is happening at the edges. The professionalism of teachers is also a key part of his argument. His mention of the competition for formal schooling aligns with the argument Christensen4 makes about disruptive innovations generally and in education.

This is a deliberately light load but all important grist in terms of thinking about how you design your resource (task 2).

There is one paper on L@G to save you doing the library thing: Gee, J. P. (2008). Video Games and Embodiment. Games and Culture, 3(3-4), 253-263. doi: 10.1177/1555412008317309

This quote (p. 256) might give you a sense of the argument:

We think and prepare for action with and through our model simulations. They are what we use to give meaning to our experiences in the world and to prepare us for action in the world. They are what we use to give meaning to words and sentences. But they are not language. Furthermore, because they are representations of experience (including feelings, attitudes, embodied positions, and various sorts of foregroundings and backgroundings of attention), they are not just “information” or “facts.” Rather, they are value-laden, perspective-taking “games in the mind.” (I call them “games” rather than “simulations” because we organize them in terms of goals, which are our “win states.”) So I am arguing that thinking for humans is often like modding a game. It is a form of “modding” our experiences, experiences we have had in body in the world.

How are you modding 7131?

This paper is a marker paper, i.e. it maps a useful take on the games and education field and poses interesting questions about education if thought about in this way. It provokes us to get past the how to apply games to subject X thinking. The game of life is still something of a commonplace phrase. How did the parallel Gee drew between thinking and modding work for you? Can this course be usefully thought of in game terms? Can your classroom?