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Article
Publication date: 30 January 2009

Constance Steinkuehler and Elizabeth King

This paper aims to reviews the structure and format of an after school incubator program that leverages online games for literacy learning, particularly for adolescent males. It

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to reviews the structure and format of an after school incubator program that leverages online games for literacy learning, particularly for adolescent males. It also aims to describe its dual function as both quasi‐natural context and design experiment laboratory and to discuss some early findings that illustrate the kinds of literacy practices the authors are beginning to see within their homegrown community to date.

Design/methodology/approach

For the past year, the authors have been engaging game‐loving boys in digital and print literacy practices, not by playing matchmaker between them and those game communities that engage in such practices naturally, but by growing such a community of their own. Following the lead of other games‐based educational programs and known characteristics of game‐related indigenous online communities, the design encourages distributed expertise and collective intelligence in place of standardization and peer‐to‐peer learning in the form of modeling and networked apprenticeship.

Findings

The goal is to leverage teenage boys' existing interests in games to strengthen and enrich their engagement in literacies with payoff both in school and beyond. The findings suggest that the laboratory has met with initial success, particularly in terms of the use of literacy as a tool for solving problems, researching and assembling online multimodal game‐related resources, and synthesizing in‐game and out‐of‐game information.

Research limitations/implications

There are challenges inherent to taking this sort of “piggyback” approach to literacy learning, yet some characteristics that emerge from such approaches warrant further investigation. Specifically, virtual worlds enable what we call “networked apprenticeship” and function as “levelers” in their ability to let mastery rather than credentials decide who is considered expert in any given situated interaction. Such social contexts for learning, despite the challenges of fostering them, warrant additional research.

Practical implications

While previous literature has blamed videogames as the culprit behind boys' lagging success in literacy‐related coursework and assessments, this program inverts this equation and instead investigates the ways in which games can function as a sort of “gateway drug” for important digital literacy practices.

Originality/value

The paper focuses on a program whose target audience is adolescent boys identified as “at risk” and failing in literacy‐related classes yet highly motivated by games.

Details

On the Horizon, vol. 17 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1074-8121

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 9 May 2016

Constance Steinkuehler

The purpose of this paper is to inform designers and researchers about the current state of play in videogames in education and its broader context.

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to inform designers and researchers about the current state of play in videogames in education and its broader context.

Design/methodology/approach

This synthetic piece reflects the author’s past decade of work and observation in the domain. It is not a research piece but a reflective essay.

Findings

Structural issues inflect the development of games for learning. Here, the author argues for the incubation of a new indie scene in educational domains on par with the burgeoning indie scene in commercial entertainment games.

Originality/value

This is a short essay for scholars, designers and leaders in games for learning who work inside academics yet aspire to have their work impact not only on publications but also on products.

Details

On the Horizon, vol. 24 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1074-8121

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 30 January 2009

Constance Steinkuehler and Kurt Squire

This brief introductory paper aims to outline seven key principles for educators thinking about life in a continuously partial virtual world.

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Abstract

Purpose

This brief introductory paper aims to outline seven key principles for educators thinking about life in a continuously partial virtual world.

Design/methodology/approach

The seven educational design principles are based on observations of both successes and failures the authors have encountered in their work as the “Games, Learning and Society” (GLS) Initiative.

Findings

The seven principles of virtual world cultures that educators should address (if not capitalize on) are: ubiquitous access to information, overlapping copresences, collective intelligence, learners as information producers and not just consumers, authentic participation, learners as designers of messages, and student autonomy.

Practical implications

Already, inside and outside of classrooms, students participate in virtual worlds of their own choosing with genuine consequence for what and how they learn. As such virtual spaces/communities become increasingly ubiquitous to work and play, traditional power structures in schools fall under increasing pressure. This brief paper provides initial heuristics that educators might use to design compelling curricula that take for granted that students will access online content whenever they so please.

Originality/value

Rather than advocating the effort to continue firewalling out the digital world and cultures of today's youth, the paper suggests building on them.

Details

On the Horizon, vol. 17 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1074-8121

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 8 February 2016

Crystle Martin and Ryan Martinez

– The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the impact a games-based curriculum can have on library and information science (LIS) curriculum.

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the impact a games-based curriculum can have on library and information science (LIS) curriculum.

Design methodology approach

This is a worked example, using a case study and iterative design approach. Each iteration of this course and the reports are from the respective opinions of the instructors.

Findings

The authors found that once students looked past games as being pleasant distractions and were able to see them as both context-rich and well-designed learning environments, they were conducive in bringing games to libraries to spur interest-driven learning. Some students tackled analog and digital game design, while others would play historical games and tie those back to available books, and still others used board and video games to bring parents and their children together through play. While these findings do not dictate that this would work in all situations, presenting games and play as an inclusive practice that spans topics and interests was successful.

Research limitations andimplications

This research focuses on an LIS course and its development. Research and best practices in this course better inform future designs on how to take games-based design and interest-driven learning into broader areas to use games to spur interest and learning. The authors do not claim that our individual approaches to this class are the best methods in any course using games-based learning. Yet instructors in other fields can take what the authors learned, and the different approaches used to teaching games-based learning, and augment based on the authors’ experiences.

Practical implications

This worked example demonstrates that a games-based curriculum can help generate interest in informal learning spaces, such as in libraries.

Originality/value

The value of this paper is to emphasize the impact that games and games research can have on other disciplines. Games-based and interest-driven learning are broad enough that their usefulness in other fields is worth consideration. Libraries have been commonly looked at as “old” spaces to acquire knowledge. Combining “old” and “new” technologies to serve a more technologically savvy demographic not only helps the field of games-based learning, but also helps those in LIS how to better service a new generation of learners in collaborative relationships.

Details

On the Horizon, vol. 24 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1074-8121

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 8 February 2016

Trent Hergenrader

– The purpose of this paper is to describe how videogames can be worked into various courses in a digital humanities curriculum.

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe how videogames can be worked into various courses in a digital humanities curriculum.

Design/methodology/approach

The concepts included are drawn from media studies, game studies, and game-based learning.

Findings

The Digital Humanities and Social Sciences (DHSS) BS degree will begin enrolling students in the academic year 2016-2017, at which time findings will be available.

Originality/value

The DHSS BS degree is among the first of its kind, and will be a model for other programs to follow.

Details

On the Horizon, vol. 24 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1074-8121

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 8 February 2016

Seann M Dikkers

This study aims to review the development of six iterations of a master’s level course between the summers of 2013 and 2015, with a particular focus on the use of optional quests…

Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to review the development of six iterations of a master’s level course between the summers of 2013 and 2015, with a particular focus on the use of optional quests to engage and motivate student learning.

Design/methodology/approach

The comparative case study analysis draws on design-based research theory to consider learner activity, perceptions and commentary on course design.

Findings

Findings show students consistently exceeding expectations in the classroom, creating their own assignments, accepting custom challenges and, on average, sustaining a high regard for the learning process and format.

Practical implications

Positive results appear using free and available tools that can be adopted in any classroom setting.

Originality/value

Given the degree of voluntary engagement with course content, this local set of case studies implies that quest-based learning can drive an entire course design with positive results and provides a design model for others to adopt and build from.

Details

On the Horizon, vol. 24 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1074-8121

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 30 January 2009

Elisabeth R. Hayes and Elizabeth M. King

The purpose of this paper is to describe how a popular computer game, The Sims2, engages players in computing practices that are foundational to information technology (IT

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe how a popular computer game, The Sims2, engages players in computing practices that are foundational to information technology (IT) fluency, and to draw implications for engaging young people, particularly girls and women, in computer‐related learning.

Design/methodology/approach

The analysis is framed within a conceptual perspective on learning as a process of acquiring situated understandings through participation in meaningful activity. The paper draws on two years of work with girls developing IT fluency through playing and modding The Sims. It also draws on interviews with adult women who are highly engaged in creating Sims content.

Findings

The paper identifies a set of practices inherent in Sims game play that are foundational to IT fluency: managing complex systems; cheating and glitching; tinkering with tools; and making, manipulating, and reasoning with spatial representations.

Practical implications

The paper suggests how existing practices associated with games might be leveraged for the development of IT fluencies.

Originality/value

This study contributes to efforts aimed at rethinking how educators might conceptualize and support the development of IT fluencies. The paper offers new perspectives on the nature of IT fluency in the context of participatory culture and productive uses of new media.

Details

On the Horizon, vol. 17 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1074-8121

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 30 January 2009

Melissa Gresalfi, Sasha Barab, Sinem Siyahhan and Tyler Christensen

This paper aims to advance the idea of consequential engagement, positioning it as a necessary complement to the more common practices of supporting procedural or conceptual

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to advance the idea of consequential engagement, positioning it as a necessary complement to the more common practices of supporting procedural or conceptual engagement. More than a theoretical argument, this notion is grounded in examples from the authors' work in enlisting game‐based methodologies and technologies for supporting such engagement.

Design/methodology/approach

Through the presentation of two example designs, an elementary statistics curriculum and an undergraduate educational psychology course, the paper attends to the potential of narratively‐rich, multi‐user virtual environments for positioning students to critically engage academic content. In particular, it discusses the importance of designing spaces that afford opportunities to understand and apply disciplinary concepts in making sense of, and potentially transforming, conceptually‐revealing scenarios.

Findings

The paper discusses the role of consequential engagement in supporting meaningful procedural and conceptual engagement, and the potential of these designed spaces for positioning learners to develop an appreciation both of the power of the conceptual tools they engage, and of themselves and their peers as people who use these tools.

Originality/value

This paper proposes a framework for design that can be applied to both real and virtual learning environments.

Details

On the Horizon, vol. 17 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1074-8121

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 8 February 2016

Hiller A. Spires and James C. Lester

The purpose of this paper is to describe how the authors created a community of inquiry for game design with Crystal Island, report research results from a school pilot and…

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to describe how the authors created a community of inquiry for game design with Crystal Island, report research results from a school pilot and analyze lessons learned. Using a community of inquiry approach, the authors created participatory structures for design and communication among the university team (i.e. computer science, literacy and science education, educational psychology and art design), elementary teachers and elementary students who were involved with Crystal Island.

Design/methodology/approach

As part of the design process and in the attempt to create a community of inquiry, the authors conducted ongoing sessions with the teachers and students (N = 800), or what the authors refer to as design charettes. The design charettes included forming a lead teacher cadre and conducting game-based learning teacher institutes. These sessions led to a mixed methods school pilot study.

Findings

Results of the classroom pilot study suggested that game-based learning environments not only increase student engagement but also positively impact content knowledge on science topics and problem-solving skills. A key finding was that these gains were not unique to any specific group of learners, as there were no differences by race or gender.

Originality/value

Applying a community of inquiry contributed greatly to the success of the authors’ results. Distributing knowledge and authority throughout the community (university and elementary schools combined) promoted rich social interactions that encouraged meaningful contributions from all participants. Future efforts will focus on sustaining our community of inquiry as the authors attempt to scale gameplay with CRYSTAL ISLAND.

Details

On the Horizon, vol. 24 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1074-8121

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 8 February 2016

Thomas Hainey

The purpose of this study is to look at existing literature and empirical evidence to compile a number of viable research directions to move the study of digital games for…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to look at existing literature and empirical evidence to compile a number of viable research directions to move the study of digital games for learning forward.

Design/methodology/approach

This study uses a combination of the archival research methodology to present secondary empirical evidence and a large-scale survey methodology to present primary empirical evidence. The archival methodology reviewed a number of extensive systematic literature reviews, and the survey methodology specifically looked at single and multiplayer motivations for playing games in education. A synthesis of the secondary and primary research findings was produced.

Findings

The findings produced the following five viable research directions: more Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs), more longitudinal studies, more studies investigating the pedagogical benefits of collaborative play, more studies investigating the pedagogical benefits of 2D and 3D games and more detailed evaluation frameworks.

Originality/value

This paper presents a synthesis of previous research and empirical evidence to produce a number of potential research directions to drive the study of digital games for learning in Higher Education (HE) forward.

Details

On the Horizon, vol. 24 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1074-8121

Keywords

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