Games and Learning/Topics/Epistemology/GamesLearning

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Gee, J. P. (2007), Learning and Games 'The Ecology of Games: Connecting Youth, Games, and Learning', The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning, pp. 21-40.

In this chapter, I argue that good video games recruit good learning and that a game's design is inherently connected to designing good learning for players. I start with a perspective on learning now common in the Learning Sciences that argues that people primarily think and learn through experiences they have had, not through abstract calculations and generalizations. People store these experiences in memory—and human long-term memory is now viewed as nearly limitless—and use them to run simulations in their minds to prepare for problem solving in new situations. These simulations help them to form hypotheses about how to proceed in the new situation based on past experiences. The chapter also discusses the conditions experience must meet if it is to be optimal for learning and shows how good video games can deliver such optimal learning experiences. Some of the issues covered include: identity and learning; models and model-based thinking; the control of avatars and “empathy for a complex system”; distributed intelligence and cross-functional teams for learning; motivation, and ownership; emotion in learning; and situated meaning, that is, the ways in which games represent verbal meaning through images, actions, and dialogue, not just other words and definitions.

Gee, J. P. (2010), Science, Literacy, and Video Games: Situated Learning, in Alberto J. Rodriguez, ed., 'Science Education as a Pathway to Teaching Language Literacy' , sense publishers, Rotterdam , pp. 1-13.

Bruna, K. R. (2010), Commentary on Gee’s Science, Literacy, and Video Games: Situated Learning, in Alberto J. Rodriguez, ed., 'Science Education as a Pathway to Teaching Language Literacy' , sense publishers, Rotterdam, pp. 14 - 17.

Gee, J. P. (2010), Play and the Real World: A Response to Katherine Richardson Bruna’s Commentary, in Alberto J. Rodriguez, ed., 'Science Education as a Pathway to Teaching Language Literacy' , sense publishers, Rotterdam , pp. 18 - 22.

Begg, M.; Dewhurst, D. & Macleod, H. (2005), 'Game-informed learning: Applying computer game processes to higher education', Innovate 1 (6).

Computer games have made a significant cultural, social, economic, political, and technological impact on society Newman 2004. Given the widespread popularity of video games, their ability to sustain long-term player engagement with challenging tasks Gee 2003, and their tendency to elicit proactive player comm unities Rheingold 1994, it should come as no great surprise that educators have become increasingly interested in the potential of such games as learning tools. The term game-based learning has emerged as a general name for the use of games in education. Despite early work showing rich inferential learning taking place as a result of gameplay Greenfield 1984, most game-based learning has been geared towards using a game as a host into which curricular content can be embedded. This approach can be problematic, however, because it too often builds upon the premise that learning is not fun and that games are, and that by introducing a game element, one can make learning fun. As we will argue, the processes involved in learning and play are often very similar, and the true potential of gaming in higher education may be realized in other ways. By allowing the learning process to become informed rather than supplemented by processes identified with successful gameplay, instructors can maintain consistency and coherence without relying on extrinsic motivational interventions. The importance of consistency and coherence shall be touched upon throughout this work, but for specific discussion on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, see Malone 1982. In contrast to game-based learning, game-informed learning suggests that educational processes themselves should be informed by the experience of gameplay—a tenet similar to the principles of contemporary active learning approaches such as constructivism and problem-based learning PBL. Recent discussion of such approaches has been offered by Boud and Miller 1996, but these methods clearly have their roots in Kolb 1984, Lewin 1948, and Dewey 1933. Indeed, the principles of successful gameplay build on these established learning practices, suggesting that game-informed learning may offer a particularly valuable—and already influential—alternative to game-based learning in higher education.

Additional Readings

Gee, J. P. (2005), 'Learning by design: Good video games as learning machines', E-Learning and Digital Media 2 (1), 5-16.

This article asks how good video and computer game designers manage to get new players to learn long, complex and difficult games. The short answer is that designers of good games have hit on excellent methods for getting people to learn and to enjoy learning. The longer answer is more complex. Integral to this answer are the good principles of learning built into successful games. The author discusses 13 such principles under the headings of 'Empowered Learners', 'Problem Solving' and 'Understanding' and concludes that the main impediment to implementing these principles in formal education is cost. This, however, is not only or even so much monetary cost. It is, importantly, the cost of changing minds about how and where learning is done and of changing one of our most profoundly change-resistant institutions: the school.

Gee, J. P. (2003), What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, Palgrave Macmillan.