Wednesday, September 28, 2011

New Perspectives on Learning Through (Game) Design

New Perspectives on Learning Through (Game) Design
Annotation provided by Kali Frederick

Hayes, Elisabeth, et. al. “New Perspectives on Learning Through (Game) Design.” International Conference for the Learning Sciences. Volume: 3, Publisher: International Society of the Learning Sciences, pps: 253-257.

Six different articles in one! After a symposium that focused on computer game design in the classroom, the presenter’s works were put into one article that addresses the many dimensions game design can offer in a classroom. These authors explore the world of game design and it’s relevance to a classroom. All authors take different approaches when discussing the skill building that game design can offer in a classroom setting. Kylie Peppler and Yasmin Kafai analyze the role of videogame design in literacy training and collaboration. While Elisabeth Hayes, James Paul Gee, Ivan Games, and Robert Torres, stress the importance of graphic design and visual aesthetics in game design. Nichole Pinkard suggests that game design can be used to engage girls and support female leadership in a classroom. And Maryanna Rogers, Karin Forssell, Caitlin Kennedy Martin, Brigid Barron, Wanda Eugene, Shaundra Daily, Ugochi Acholonu, Lori Takeuchi, Sarah Walter, Kristen Briggs emphasize the collaboration that is required and fostered when introducing students to computer game programming.

Quotes, Connections, and Reflection
This document is a combination of summaries for each presentation held at this symposium. The articles provided insight into numerous studies that involve using game design in the classroom. The summary of the sympoisium stressed the results that using game design helps studetns “engage in iterative problem-solving, and integrate skills and knowledge from across disciplines.” As a teacher that understands the bare minimum of classroom technology, I find that introducing new technology and programs into class activities fosters engagement, collaboration, and critical thinking skills. Sometimes it is scary to have students using programs I know absolutely nothing about, but the results are always impressive. The students are more articulate, mature, and professional when teaching each other how to use new technologies. Students that would never work with each other, are drawn by the lure of learning a new program.

Kylie Peppler and Yasmin B. Kafai study suggests that literacy and learning can greatly improve when using game design in the classroom. Peppler and Kafai argue that “many of these new forms of media an dculture involve more sophisticated language, tools, and thinking skills, such as simulation and modeling, than what young people encounter in school.” Many of our students are participating in conversations and activities of a much higher order than schools demand. They are often multi-tasking at ridiculous rates and communicating with people from around the world through computer games and online searches. They have access to the world at their fingertips. We need to consider how we, as teachers, can incorporate these skills and passions into projects. Celebrate their strengths in these areas and help them build on these skills while addressing the skills necessary for state and school standards.

One surprising aspect of game design that Peppler and Kafai note, is that “individuals worked together in groups with increased frequency, with some youth specializing in aspects of game design akin to more professional settings.” Students need to learn how to collaborate successfully with a group of individuals. Especially in a rapidly changing world, new technologies will need the creativity and skills of a large number of talented individuals. Collaboration will be even more vital to our future.

My biggest question was, after reading Nichole Pinkard’s summary about engaging girls in game design, why the difference in engagement between boys and girls in game design? How can we engage our female students in exploring new technologies and mastering this field?

Additional Resources
Ching, C.C. and Kafai, Y.B. Peer Pedagogy: Student Collaboration and Reflection in a Learning Through Design Project. New York: Teachers College Press.

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). (2007). National Educational Technology Standrads for Studetns: The Next Generation. Retrived November 5, 2007 from

Resnick, M., Kafai, Y., Maeda J., et al. (2003). A Networked, Media-Rich Programming Environment to Enhance Technologcal Fluency at After-School Centers in Economically-Disadvantaged Communities. Proposal to the National Science Foudnation (funded 2003 - 2007). Available:


Stacey Caillier said...

Great description of this article Kali! I especially like how you connected the findings/recommendations from the various studies to your own practice! And those additional resources sound really interesting. I love James Paul Gee's work - if you are interested in pursuing digital technologies, gaming and youth culture, he is a great person to follow! (There's also a great interview with him in UnBoxed from when he was here for the Speaker Series)

hpapandrea said...

Very interesting article. I was surprised to hear that students interacted and collaborated more when working on game design. My perception would be that they would be more isolated, but it makes sense that they would want to share what they know about the new technologies. What drew you to this article? Are you interested in incorporating game design into your practice?

Kali Frederick said...

Gaming is one of those issues that consistently enters into class and school discussions. As I look for articles that discuss structure and supports in a project-based classroom and integrated curriculum, I thought game design would best fit this criteria. While the articles did not necessarily discuss structures, the research highlighted the various skills and content that is strengthened in game design. I am interested in game design only insomuch as it inspires my students to do beautiful work.

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