Week 8 (Week 5 of Module 2)

Key players, research agendas and sites.

The first thing to ask or think about is why should I be worrying about this now that I've done my scoping of the digital space that will serve to underpin my professional resource? The reason is that while you all have scoped useful and interesting slices of digital culture, there are other ideas and ways of thinking about all of this that you will not have come across. So the remaining weeks are intended to keep adding to your collection/curation of ideas, people, key sites that relate to thinking about digital culture and education. In other words this material can be seen in two ways: as resources for your ongoing thinking about this field but also as ways to help you think about the design and development of your professional resource.

If we take the broad logic of thinking about things educational in a game sense then thinking about your resource and drawing on the ideas of some of these folk, particularly the practical insights they offer will help you design and put together a resource which will be better for it.

Which players are key is of course a matter of your particular interests. In the absence of suggestions I have chosen a number of folk whose work offers useful and interesting insights into ways of thinking about digital culture, games and education. I have opted for a larger number of folk with a light scan of their work to give as broad a coverage as possible. The links are to the individual's pages. Feel free to add/edit. These are not in any order or sequence so feel free to jump about and choose folk whose work looks to relate to your own take on things. I've tried to weave information about sites and agendas around the different folk below. In terms of agendas/interests I have tried to pick those that are more likely to resonate with your interests. There is a longer list under the People menu1

A person whose work we looked at last week is well worth a revisit because of his agenda. James Gee's interest in what can be learned from video games to change/improve what is done in schools is important because it is not in the let's apply games to schooling line. The apply argument dates back to the 80's. It is a logic that privileges what goes on in schools. All else has to fit in, conform or be discarded. I'd like to suggest that such certainty is worryingly dangerous at this time in human history.

Tom Apperley is an Australian whose book Gaming Rhythms2 we had a look at in week two of this module. The journal he co-edits will be a useful long-term resource for your thinking in this field. Tom has a number of important agendas but one that is developed in his book is an examination of the often heard claim that computer games do things to people. His answer: it's complicated.

David Shaffer is the director of the Epistemic Games Group in the Wisconsin Center for Education Research. Shaffer studies how new technologies change the way people think and learn. He is a member of the Epistemic Games Group consortium. From time to time, they offer virtual internships. His 2005 paper on epistemic games3 is a must read. It usefully maps a good deal of the ideas that have shaped thinking about games for educational purposes. You can track more recent work of Shaffer's and epistemic games via Google scholar.

Catherine Beavis was the convenor for this course4 and has a long standing interest in the changing nature of text and the implications for literacy, education and schooling of young people’s engagement with digital culture and the online world. We will look at Catherine's work in more detail in week 2 of module 3.

Katrin Becker has similar interests to Jim Gee's but is interested in how what is learned from game playing might be used to design educational games.

Ian Bogost is an influential and important thinker/writer in the digital games and education sphere. He recently wrote an excellent critique of the notion of gamification5. For one of the best analyses about the various terms, labels and rhetorics associated with games and gaming, he is a key person.

Constance Steinkuehler is another that comes from the literacy/games field and has broadened her work to consider a much wider set of cultural issues and questions that derive from the playing of MMOGs. Like Apperley she is interested in the local practices that spin out of game play as she argues6:

This is why we need to understand the emergent game cultures within virtual worlds and not simply the designed objects that hit the shelves.

Jesse Schell is an academic at Carnegie Mellon but also has a strong involvement in game deign and development. He has in interesting argument that story and gameplay are one7. His interest in entertainment is captured in a couple of presentations: