Recently I was asked to engage with two “Big Picture” papers on games and learning, write a short, (6-sentence) summary of each, using the “3-2-1” method, then write a 2-sentence “bridge” that identifies common ground or linkages, disagreements or differences, between these two sets of ideas. I found this exercise really interesting and a great way to dissect and digest an academic paper, as such, I will be writing a post on this exercise on my speaking site for those who are interested.
The two academic papers I was asked to reflect on were Serious Play by Suzanne De Castell and Jennifer Jenson in the Journal of Curriculum Studies and Video Game Literacy – A Literacy of Expertise by Kurt Squire. Below you can see my process as I dissected and digested these papers.
My 3-2-1 on Serious Play
- The primary instrument of our time is digital code, yet schooling is alienating an entire generation from its own language.
- Educators and educational administrators are predominantly looking at tech to control, surveil, and document, rather than transform curriculum.
- Commercial game design demonstrates how immersion in play can promote serious learning.
- The idea of learning through play, while valuable, is not new – we can see many excellent examples of this in alternative schools, individual teachers, and extra curricular programs, as demonstrated in Joseph Cornell’s Sharing the Joy of Nature and Thom Henley’s Rediscovery.
- What is new here is the form of play in the case of digital games, and the application of technology to learn through the freedom and creativity of play.
- One sees change and a return to play in small scale examples at alternative schools, with individual teachers, and in extra curricular programs – this is not new – so how do we change this on a broader basis with a system that is designed based on working towards standardization and standardized testing?
My 3-2-1 on Video Game Literacy
- Reading competency is at risk.
- Games present a potential new way of teaching literacy, as they present students with the opportunity to learn, think, and act through game play in a simulated world.
- Learning through gameplay presents a challenge, in that if this is how gaming generations are learning is their learning style at odds with traditional schooling that works on strict time schedules and with teachers telling students what to do and what they need to know?
- Curriculum is malleable and a creative instructor can work gaming / experiential media into cross-curricular learning, the battle is changing traditional systems within schools, such as strict schedules, separate subjects, and standardized testing.
- Rather than pose digital games as quintessential and of greater importance to other forms of digital media or experiential learning, should we not be working together between the silos to change how we teach / learn – looking to examples from old school play / games, outdoor education, experiential media, and digital media (digital games and affinity spaces included).
- If the education system ignores gaming due to fear, do we run a similar risk as using sex education to recommend abstinence, where by ignoring we do not equip young people with the tools to navigate the more mature elements to games and gaming?
As pointed out in both Serious Play and Video Game Literacy, rather than trivializing games or fearing them, perhaps it is time to both use games as learning tools and as models to study how gamers are learning, and how such principles can be used within our education system and in our classrooms. Such change in education is not easy on a broad scale and require open and creative thinking, as to fully embrace and implement what is ultimately experiential learning, we need to question our framework in traditional schooling of strict schedules, separate subject areas, task oriented teaching, standardization, and preparing students for the test.
I am going to leave the final words on all of this to a teacher that has already embraced game based learning in his classroom, John Spencer …
de Castell, S. & Jenson, J. (2003). Serious Play. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 35, 6, 649-666.
John Spencer. (2018, July 22). Seven Reasons to Pilot Game-Based Learning with Your Students [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zPFJQqsATOk
Squire, K. (2008). Video-Game Literacy – A Literacy of Expertise. Academia. https://www.academia.edu/1317105/Video_Game_Literacy_A_Literacy_of_Expertise