Most of these sessions will be recorded and made available on the web, so I’ll just keep this really brief with my editorial comments. Also, obviously, I can only go to one session per time slot, so check out the whole GLS 2008 program when you get a chance. I’ll come back and link to the media so you can watch them and make my comments contextualized. :) Also, I was taking photos with my cell phone but they all suck so I won’t bother posting them. How bout I embed their portraits from the GLS site instead? :)
Betty Hayes, discussant, gave a brief intro on how games research doesn’t focus on social aspects of gaming enough.
Globaloria: Social media networks for learning through game production with a social purpose
Idit Harel Caperton, L. Kraus, S. Sullivan, R. Reynolds
Idit made available some of the papers she wrote on constructionism and games.
There are social media networks that falicitate constructionist learning. Need to get gamers to participate in the social network. Plugged the MacArthur funded book edited by Katie Salen. Cited Mimi Ito and how she looked at educational software vs. games in home contexts. Games that are in the construction genre (SimCity, etc.) is on the cusp of becoming a new trend in participatory, constructionist learning.
Globaloria is about game-making for participatory engagement by some youth in West Virginia.
Background: Katie Salen’s classification
Okay, she’s talking way too fast for me to write a summary here… But you can check out Globaloria online!
We saw a couple of videos where students talked about the games they created and what kinds of activities (blogging, wikiing, game design, collaboration) they were engaged in while creating. It’s cool seeing how excited they were.
Idit’s Powerpoint was more like a website for her, where she kept jumping between slides rather than going through it chronologically. Seemed kind of hectic, but she’s really good at making connections with what other people said even just moments ago, so it was kind of like having a conversation with her… One with lots of run-on sentences and diverges… Maybe she didn’t prepare really well or maybe it was her way of dealing with only 20 minutes, but the videos were pretty cool. :)
Lots of examples of how not all kids are “digital natives.” They weren’t fluent in tech stuff, were not prone to programming and participating in tech tools, but this project engaged them very successfully and got them to transform themselves into participants.
Game design through mentoring & collaboration
Kevin Clark, Kimberly Sheridan
Kevin described the work done at George Mason with McKinley Technology High School in DC. They wanted to increase motivation for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) areas and careers by having them work with experts to design STEM related games.
The high school students were also trained to be mentors with middle school students. That’s pretty cool.
They also focused on collaboration and create a studio environment. They also focused on fostering metacognition during the design process (what makes a game fun and how do you teach a concept?).
Turns out they were successful in getting students motivated in going to college, etc., but they still didn’t know how to apply! So they ran a STEM summit to introduce parents and kids on the application and SAT taking process of applying to colleges and universities.
Not just teach them how to make games, but have them own the tools and products and have it reflect who they are and their community.
Kevin kept his fingers on the arrow keys of his Mac so he was able to go through his slides without having to look at his computer. It seemed to work really well; all his attention was on delivery.
He highlighted how much kids lives are complex and stuff outside of the classroom happens. One student was pregnant; one student had to go prom shopping ( :) ).
Check out their project online!
Centers of expertise
Kurt Squire, Shree Durga
(Kurt’s hair is much crazier than his photo, btw. :p)
Described his Civilization work in after-school contexts with middle and high school kids. One problem is that often the typical lesson plan is 20 hours long but a single game of Civ can take 20 hours.
Systems thinking is needed in a world where global food shortages and other complex systemic problems exist. Civ helps players learn a system.
Framework: Grounded cognition–comprehension is grounded in perceptual simulations. So when you think about how something works, you run a simulation in your brain.
How does this theory look with Civ and how does expertise develop?
They showed pre-intervention measures (low efficacy, etc.), interview data while kids were playing and figuring out how the game worked, and finally the kind of talk kids used after playing. It’s clear that they are more expert in that they can assess textbooks for info by comparing it with their practiced knowledge.
The experience is not bounded by just game/player interaction but includes external resources (other people, books, etc.)
Deepens understanding of the simulation.
But grounded cognition doesn’t model external resources well. Maybe need to think about role taking and identity posing more.
Also, how do you argue for model simulations in a field (history) where expert practitioners don’t necessarily use models?
Starting to see some evidence of better grades. Possibly it’s thru getting the kids more engaged? Idit argues that transfer evidence won’t come in for another few years. Betty asks whether we should turn the idea of transfer around and rethink schools. Is traditional school knowledge what we really should be concentrating on or should the schools goals change to reflect 21st century skills?
Often learners are more expert than the teachers with some of these game tools. It seems like that stuff should be valued.