Gee's Strategies & Information Literacy: Just in Time

During my blogging vacation I was fortunate enough to be invited as a guest speaker for an undergraduate Game Theory class on campus. My presentation was entitled, "Educational Games: Games that teach, not Preach." I focused mainly on the work of James Paul Gee and Ian Bogost. The objective was to give the students a different framework to view game design through (Gee's learning strategies) and how games help players understand a real life topic (Bogost's persuasive games). Here are the readings the class used for both Gee and Bogost.

My plan over the next week or so is to walk through the content of the slides and discuss how these concepts fit information literacy and library instruction...

I’ve talked about the “just in time” principle earlier this fall when responding to the lack of it in one of our sessions. But this is a concept that all teaching librarians need to consider.

How many new skills are students introduced to before they have a chance to practice?

If we are not giving students a chance to apply the skills/strategies we are suggesting right away what is stopping us? What content is more important the helping cement a concept with direct application? We all learn more by doing and doing when it makes sense, not when it fits into the instructor’s flow – when it fits the students’. In a research class session where we may be introducing new or reviewing old databases or strategies we should provide opportunities to “try” those strategies out. Even if the “trying / testing” component is short, the continued engagement should be worth it. We are very mindful of this in our instruction, even to the point where the first time through a few sessions this fall felt disjointed. But after a session or two, the flow finds a rhythm and the students start to respond. They respond to the chance to try things out and still have continued guidance.

Does all the instruction happen up front with the student exploration and applying happening later?

If so why? It’s easier, sure. But is it more productive? We can comfortable toss our “knowledge” out there and then “turn ‘em loose” but what do we gain? We need to not only supply our students with successful strategies for research but also a context in order to successful apply those strategies in.