When aiming for meaningful learning, we need to take into account two important variables: time and place.
Competing on students' time, engagement and motivation, the videogames take the first place, leaving behind most formal learning. I argue that we need to think of it in terms of revolution - the Videogames Revolution, which is much more than just kids play. Serious games for businesses and organizations are a major component of today's innovative instructional technologies.
What do we really know about the learning interactions and processes when kids play digital games in informal learning settings? What can we learn from turning our academic spot-light on it?
Following this SCoPe discussion, I would lead an academic Panel (real, not virtual !-)) entitled Innovative Perspectives for Studying the Creation of Learning Pathways at The Second Israeli multi-disciplinary conference on qualitative methodologies , which will take place at Tel-Aviv, Israel, 5-6 June 2006. http://www.congress.co.il/icqm06
My own presentation Analyzing Multimodal Interactions in Digital Games Environments would focus on the ways for analyzing interactions in digital games environments from a learning sciences perspective.
Digital games environments have become the building blocks of today?s children?s worlds. Children usually play in groups, and when they do not, they share their experiences socially. Hence, playing videogames cannot be properly understood as simply a human-computer interactions, rather it seems to be situated in social and cultural spheres that are perhaps more important than the game itself. There are many indications that simulations and digital games environments may provide a cognitive bridge between concrete experiences and scientific abstractions (Prensky, 2001). Such a bridge is crucial for enabling students to cope with complex problem solving and other high order thinking skills that are at the core of scientific and technological learning (Resnik, 2002). Through informal game playing, children learn to participate in ?semiotic domains?, which are shaped by children?s interactions with virtual agents and with each other (Gee, 2003). Thus far, there have been few empirical studies which systematically studied the learning dynamics within digital game environments in informal settings. Moreover, there is no one accepted theoretical model which describes the multimodal interactions and learning which take place in these environments.
Innovative methodologies are needed for bridging between micro and macro levels of interactions (individual and collaborative) which occur in different space and time scales. A conceptual framework, based on situated cognition and micodevelopment theory and SIRN Model, was developed for studying multimodal interactions during digital game play which includes: the development of conceptual understanding, problem solving skills and role taking dynamics. Preliminary results and theoretical implications based on a pilot study would be presented.
Gee, J. P. (2003). What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital game-based learning. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Resnick, M.(2002). Rethinking Learning in the Digital Age. In: G. Kirkman (Ed.): The Global Information Technology Report: Readiness for the Networked World. (pp. 32- 45). Oxford University Press.
The abstract presented above describe my pilot study framework which hopefully be developed to an international academic research project. Feel free to contact me for additional info for setting up a collaborative joint research project in this fascinating theme.
Gazit, E. (2006). Analyzing Multimodal Interactions in Digital Games Environments - Innovative Perspectives for Studying the Creation of Learning Pathways Panel, The Second Israeli multi-disciplinary conference on qualitative methodologies , Tel-Aviv , Israel , 5-6 June 2006. (Hebrew). http://www.congress.co.il/icqm06
This is the place to share your thoughts and ideas on the games revolution and informal learning. Lets' Play!
Following Nancy's "Three words game" !-)
I've searched Google Scholar and this is just a sample of what I?ve found (in PDF format): Authentic Learning Experiences Through Play: Games, Simulations and the, Construction of Knowledge , by Lisa Galarneau . Proceedings of iGRA 2005 Conference: Changing Views ? Worlds in Play.
What do you think about the use of video games as informal learning environments?
I was involved in a discussion today with an academic colleague and he questioned what level of cognition was involved in most aspects of popular gaming. I have played a few of these games (World of Warcraft, Narnia, Prince of Persia etc) and I have to agree that the low level, repetitive "rat killing" tasks many games involve are hardly about intellectual engagement. I know the games are engaging and that to some extent problem solving is happening (life is problem solving) but I do have to say that the repetition of tasks (to gain points or status) was not mentally stimulating - for me it sometimes becomes like playing a poker machine (slot machine) where I am waiting to lose and glad to disengage.
I have to say that I work on the implementation of a 3-D multi-user game designed at Indiana University (Have used Active Worlds and Second Life) so I am not negative about games (being somewhat provocative here) but I wonder if sometimes we confuse engagement with learning. Are students dedicated to gaming actually learning? OK games like Civilization and Roller Coater Tycoon - that approach being simulations - do have learning goals but is this true for all games?
Can we claim to be learning because we are engaged?
Today I found a link to a game that posits teaching about world hunger. I have not checked it out yet. Maybe we could explore it together to see how it might answer some of our questions about games and informal learning?
Can we keep the virtual camp fire alive ?-)