Blog Post

Where I am at...

So, I've finished my prelimary exams, and life is good.  But it's time to get cracking.  Conferences to attend, and DISSERTATIONS to write (!??!!).  I guess the most difficult thing about dissertations is doing them.  ;)

I think, for my dissertation, I will be thinking about the measurement of "learning" in game contexts.  What that means from a technological perspective, and how contemporary communication/media studies methodologies, might in many ways, fall short as instruments.  "Learning" is a complex variable.  We are having fun with games, yes, but what is the endgame?  

 

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4 comments

Hi Maria,



I too have become intrigued with looking at the value of games in education; after all, video games are so ubiquitous these days it seems silly to not try to understand if their popularity has anything it can teach us about teaching and student learning.  I think this quote gets at what you are thinking about well: in the game industry, “…Designers face and largely solve an intriguing educational dilemma, one also faced by schools and workplaces: how to get people, often young people, to learn and master something that is long and challenging – and enjoy it, to boot.” (Gee, p.1, 2003)  The author of the journal article that quote comes from also wrote a book by the same name; you can find more about it here.  I just picked it up :-)  Another site I think you would find fascinatiing is about motivation in games.  While the focus of that article is on video games, it uses a psychological framework to analyzing human behavior in relation to those games that I have found has signifigant relevance to the field of education, called self-determination theory.  Looking at the various components that make a player highly motivated to keep playing a game, the article finds autonomy invaluable; in a classroom setting, this means open-ended projects and meaningful choices for students are available.  Second, they find feelings of competence are a key factor in motivating players to keep coming back to a game.  People want to play a game that is challenging but the also want to succeed when they put in a bit of effort.  Similarly, students want to feel successful in school and having feelings of self-efficacy; this requires the teacher create learning opportunies that are tailored to the students ability level and often just beyond what skills and knowledge the student is currently comfortable with.  Finally, as games like "World of Warcraft" demonstrate so clearly, players want to feel connected to others, and they want their accomplishments within a game to be validated through the words and actions of others.  Students love to work with their friends and want the approval of their peers.  Of course, as a teacher you cannot simply give a student total freedom or assign work that is always exactly at their level, and having students work successfully in groups can be a difficult task.  The principles, however, are very useful if applied generally to teaching.  What else do you think can be learned from games?




Resources




Gee, J. P. (2003). What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy.  
     Computers in Entertainment (CIE) - Theoretical and Practical Computer Applications     in Entertainment, 1(1), 1-4. 


 

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Hi Tyler,

Wow! And thank you!  I think there are myriad things to be learned from games, but most importantly casual (and non) games evidence preferred modes of learning.

I'm working with Minecraft right now (almost an anti-game), but it is helping us to understand self-determination and motivation in the form of creativity and innovation because it is a construction based game.  It requires that an individual or group make a game of their own self-discovery and innovative spirit.

Right now, one of my soapbox messages is the danger of edutainment.  I think the innovative ideas surrounding video games can very dangerously risk becoming edutainment games.  I love Mimi Ito's (2008) essay on the video game industry in the context of education.  

 

More soon,

M.

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Hi Tyler,

Wow! And thank you!  I think there are myriad things to be learned from games, but most importantly casual (and non) games evidence preferred modes of learning.

I'm working with Minecraft right now (almost an anti-game), but it is helping us to understand self-determination and motivation in the form of creativity and innovation because it is a construction based game.  It requires that an individual or group make a game of their own self-discovery and innovative spirit.

Right now, one of my soapbox messages is the danger of edutainment.  I think the innovative ideas surrounding video games can very dangerously risk becoming edutainment games.  I love Mimi Ito's (2008) essay on the video game industry in the context of education.  

 

More soon,

M.

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Currently in the proposal process for a MA thesis in which I'm going to be examining what challenges games and technology have given to twentieth-century conceptions of authorship. And part of learning is actually experience and stories, so some of what I'm going to be examining might be useful for you. Look into the work of Henry Jenkins (Convergence Culture, Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture and Fans, Bloggers and Gamers might be helpful). Ian Bogost's books Persuasive Games, Newsgames and How To Do Things With Video Games might also be helpful. Though those might be more in line with what you're looking at. I will list more if I think of them. I will also refer you to some games that might help your research as they pop into mind.

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