Digital Immigrants Bringing the Message to Digital Immigrants

Back on June 14th (I know that was a year in blog terms), I co-presented on assessment at an Information Literacy Forum hosted by the Des Moines Area Community College (DMMAC). That's all well and good, but the interesting piece for those reading here about video games and education was the presentation by Lynn McCartney of Heartland AEA.

McCartney is a curriculum and technology director of K-12 schools and spoke on "Digital Literacy, Inquiry, and the Millennials." While the presentation itself was nothing new to those in the field, this was a room full of high school, community college and college librarians and only a few had heard of the technologies she mentioned. Her content was very solid with many of her resources coming from Marc Prensky's work. Even her introduction about students "powering down" was directly from Prensky. Here focus was good and she really connected with the audience (same generation, demographics, experiences as the majority of attendees). It was good to hear the message about the value of gaming and video games strategies out there in a variety of formats. And good to know that she brings that message to high schools and middle school year'round.

She made an interesting distinction between video games and the Wii, separating Nintendo from the Wii. Her comments were a sign of the Wii's mass market appeal and acceptance. My thoughts on it were even picked up by the video game site Infendo. Check out my thoughts on their most recent podcast
I'm about 29:26 minutes in.

Video Game Promotion at ALA

At the ALA Conference this weekend, James Paul Gee spoke about the significance of games in learning and how libraries and librarians can and should take a role in that. It's not a new message for anyone reading this blog, but it's great to see it addressed to librarians at a national level.

Insider Higher Ed first ran the story here and then Joystiq and Wired's Game|Life picked up the story as well. Wired's article adds the most substantial commentary to the story.

And of course some blogs are picking it up as well and other library websites. Ohio Public Library Information Network (OPLIN) picked up the story as well with their post. OPLIN links to a few other stories about gaming in libraries and the ALA.

LIS News covered Slashdot's story too, but doesn't add anything new to the discussion.

Immersive Learning Environments - Podcasts

Last week saw the "Immersive Learning Environments" conference and EDUCAUSE has a great resource page on the conference. There are a variety of resources for each of the sessions on the main page: podcasts, videos and powerpoint presentations are all there.

I've loaded the conference podcasts into my PDA and they should keep me busy most of the week. Here's the direct link to the podcasts. I enjoyed Richard VanEck's presentation on game-based learning and his slideshow.

Great resources... enjoy

Critical Thinking Advoacy Through Video Games

Last week the Des Moines Area Community College hosted an information literacy forum for community college, high school and college librarians. In the morning our keynote speaker, Daniel Callison led the attendees in some workshops on critical thinking. Much of the discussion covered the lack of historic focus on critical thinking and too much of a focus on tools and navigation skills. What struck me in our discussion was the expression by some that students lacked the ability when entering college to do critical thinking.

I question if it is the ability or the motivation that students lack?

Students have critical thinking skills, they are just not used to or required to apply them to educational content. Our students come in with an existing ability to do this – they evaluate reviews on, trusting some and not others (based on an often unspoken set of criteria); identifying “doctored” elements of photo-shopped pictures; and working through a video game.

The Federation of American Scientists identified “critical thinking” as one of the key educational components within video games. Look back at Gee’s list from “What Video Games can Teach Us about Learning and Literacy” many of which tie into critical thinking.

We can help our students be academic critical thinkers by drawing out these experiences and building upon them with educational content.

Daniel challenged the audience to help students (at a young age) ask question, test limits, explore information and be “intelligent selectors of sources.”

Most video games build these skills and design elements into the game.
We just need to make the connections.

Simon Egenfeldt-Nielsen: Gaming research in the UK

Today Amazon sent me a "suggestion" email about upcoming books based on my search history... normally I would quickly hit Delete, but today's message was about Egenfeldt-Nielsen's book "Understanding Video Games: The Essential Introduction." The book looks like a good overview on game research, but there are not many reviews (amazon, Books in Print, journals). I hadn't read anything by Egenfeldt-Nielsen, but it lead me on an article and web search for his work. Based on what I've read from him so far, his book should be worth the investment. Here's his faculty webpage and a long publication list with links and download file.

His dissertation is also available:
Beyond Edutainment: Exploring the Educational Potential of Computer Games
Download his
dissertation here

He has a variety of articles in print and online:
Can Education and Psychology Join Forces
Egenfeldt-Nielsen, S. Can education and psychology join forces: The clash of benign and malign learning from computer games. NORDICOM Review, 26(2), 103-107.

Understanding the educational potential of commercial computer games through activity and narratives. This article was published in "Game Research"

Egenfeldt-Nielsen was one of the founders of Serious Games Interactive. The website containsh research and demos of serious games for learning. Their game "Global Conflicts: Palestine" looks very thought provoking. As someone who taught a high school World Studies class, this game creates a great springboard for experience and discussion. There is a free demo for download so give it a try.

200 posts... really?

Since I grew up in an area of TV sitcoms "clip shows" filled with flashbacks, I felt it appropriate to take a moment to celebrate the 200th post with a series of flashback links. Now while most of the posts were written after the relaunch / refocus of the blog as video game and information literacy research, there were a handful of posts from my personal life circa 2005.

Here's a look back at some posts you may not be familiar with to a time when...
[camera pans, screen image goes out of focus]

[screen image goes out of focus]

And so, as another Father's Day passes, I hope those father's reading had a good day. But really shouldn't we enjoy everyday with our children? Happy Father's Day.

Curriculum Mapping = Game Design

Hear me out for a moment on this one...

I spent 4 days last week either prepping or lecturing about curriculum mapping. I also helped walk the librarians at another college here in town through the process of curriculum mapping the week before. And thus, curriculum mapping is on my mind as of late. This afternoon, while mowing the lawn (exciting, I know), I realized that good game design is very similar to curriculum mapping.

Of the following applications, please tell me which apply to video games, curriculum, or both:

  • Introduce new skills
  • Provide practice opportunities for new skills
  • Demonstrate application of skills
  • Advance skills by modifying and/or adding skills
  • Provide opportunity to demonstrate mastery of skills
Regardless of if a program is introducing, reinforcing or providing mastery of a set of objectives or a video game introduces basic moves/controls, adds to their function and complexity and then has the player demonstrate mastery by advancing through levels and bosses - they are attempting to do (in a rough sense) the same thing - Create new learning that can be retained.

If this model works, what (if anything) does it mean for library instruction?

Upcoming Reading List...

"Video Games in the Classroom"
The online table of contents provides a pretty good idea about what is offered.

It looks to like a neat application for K-12 teachers. Traditional lesson content with a video game topic. It would be a nice way to get students invested into their topics a little quicker since they would be working on issues they feel passionately about. I would have loved to work on a project like some this. But I wonder how a non-gamer student reacted to these lessons?

I've also ordered two more scholarly books as well...

Good video games and good learning : collected essays on video games, learning, and literacy

By James Paul Gee

Here's the table of contents to Gee's new book. The chapters look good, but many look to be reprints of former material. The "Why Study Games Now?" chapter is very similar to the Games and Culture article "Why Game Studies Now?" Even the subtitles are the same. Granted, this doesn't mean that the information just a simple reprint... Gee could have updated it. Has anyone read it yet?

Gaming lives in the twenty-first century : literate connections

Edited by: Cynthia L. Selfe and Gail E. Hawisher

This is another collection of essays, but from a variety of researchers. Check out the table of contents for a full list. I'm not sure how many of these essays were previously published, but the topic list is impressive. Even though the scope is broad, most have educational applications.

As I get past the article deadline in July and start reading again... I'll post analysis and discussion.

Missing the Value Added - Blog Follow-ups

So often I'll dig through the hundreds of blog posts the filter through my RSS reader (Google Reader is my choice) reading some and skimming others as I go, but rarely do I jump back to the initial post. My mindset was that of:

"I read it, got the point of what was being communicated, and wanted to move on since there were still 161 unread posts waiting to be read."
But what I miss is part of the entire significance and value of blogs and a variety of other social software - I'm missing what other users are saying. Last week I read Michelle Boule's guest blog post over at ACRLog.

And while it's over a week old now, so I'm not going to recap it... if you haven't read it - please do so. But when I read it initially on the first day there were only 2 comments. Now coming back after a week there are 14 comments, many of which provide information on other librarians looking at gaming and academic libraries.

There are many names here that I want to follow up with and develop some academic correspondence. But most of it would have been missed if didn't come back today. Maybe most of you are doing this already, but I know now that posts that I saved on the initial read deserve a follow-up.

It is not one, but the entire package

Today our library hosted a workshop with two other Iowa Private college libraries. Each library shared what they were doing. They shared about marketing, research assignments and faculty collaboration. We shared about curriculum mapping, assessment and faculty collaboration. It was a good day and each library walked out with new ideas. Thankfully, some of those ideas are a result of my presentation on incoporating gaming strategies into instruction.

Much of what I presented was pulled from my LOEX and Iowa ACRL presentations, although refined more as a research of continued research and discussion. The key refinement that resulted from this workshop is the importance of the entire package.

The success of applying video game strategies into information literacy is a result of the entire package. The educational strategies that video games imply (critical thinking, practice, motivation, personalization, feedback, problem solving) are not unique. Librarians have worked on these for decades. The reason that video game strategies work for instruction is because the lessons do not just target 1 or 2 of these, but the lessons incorporate many of these skills at once and allow students to apply them together.

Video game strategies improve information literacy instruction, not by simply labeling a skill set we previously taught as a "game."
Video game strategies improve IL instruction when they are applied in unison and the lessons look at the strategies as an entire package.

Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney

I could blame the summer time on the lack of posts in June. I could blame vacation trips for not posting since the first of the month. No lay the blame squarely on Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney.

Phoenix Wright is an adventure game for the Nintendo DS, where you play as a lawyer investigating crimes, locating evidence and cross examining witnesses in the courtroom. The core gameplay is really based on reading comprehension. You are provided with evidence (assuming you find the evidence by talking with people and examining the crime scenes) that points out inaccuracies in the witnesses testimony and your job is to point these out in court and ultimately trap the guilty witness in their web of lies.

It's a great information literacy game. You check different sources, determine the accuracy of them, and decided what the information need is in a variety of situations.

So yes, the librarian is wrapped up in a game that tests my information skills. I'm in the 3rd of 5 chapters and they get longer as they go. The game's a great value, but it's not perfect. The evidence gathering scenes get long and tend to drag on. And while the courtroom scenes are the most fun, they are very linear and force the correct choice before moving on.

Phoenix Wright is guilty as charged of stealing away my free time.
Any objections? If so, try out this fun page and create your own objection... Like this one.

Book Club vs. Video Game Club

What do you think your students would choose to join?

Over at the video game news blog Kotaku there was a post about starting a video game club for players to play and then meet online to talk about and analyze the game. Even the Chronicle's Wired Campus blog picked up this story.

This is another great application of use games for social interaction. As I mentioned back with the Quarantined game, there is a lot of potential for social discussion through gaming experiences.

I'd love to discussion the high and low points of a game with others that had just experienced the game, but finding the time would be the hard part. Anyone interested?

Educational Technology and Life

I've read Mark Wagner's blog for the past few months and it is a wonderful resource. Mark is working on his dissertation and is publishing the planning, content and revisions. Mark's blog is a great research based resource for anyone interested in video games, education and learning. With over 400 posts about "Games and Education" it is a rich blog.

His most recent entry provides a link to download his 12 page "Video Games in Education" section of his work, including a good bibliography.

This is the fleshed out version of that post, complete with examples, citations, and quotes. This long version is also different from the other long segments I’ve been posting because it’s more based on the presentations I’ve been giving than the formal notes I’ve collected.
It's worth your time to download and read through his work. It is a good introduction for those new and for those of us entrenched in this subject the 16 page bibliography is excellent.