Gee's Strategies & Information Literacy: Situated Meaning

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." Here is the continuation of that application...

Isn’t this the question we ask ourselves about the difference between stand alone library instruction classes and sessions embedded within an existing class?

If the skills we teach are not tied to meaningful context (class), how successfully will the students retain the skills?

This is not a new debate within academic librarians and I am not pretending to bring something new. The significance here is how connected game design is with educational design… and why it is worthwhile for us as educators to look at our instruction programs through the lens of a gamer.

When skills and concepts are taught outside the full game, there needs to be enough of a connection for students to see the application in the full game situation (as an uncontrolled environment). The examples shown in these two slides come from the Metal Gear Solid series and specifically the VR Missions. The VR missions exist both as a tutorial for the player to learn moves and strategies and as a challenge to demonstrate mastery over those skills in some of the more complicated scenarios. The VR missions give a player a safer environment to practice their initial skills and try out new strategies within a safe environment (the scenarios have no overall impact in the larger story driven game).

This example is relevant to us. It provides a safe environment in which to learn and practice skills but still connects the user to the larger application. The skills are not learned in a vacuum. The larger context is understood by the player/student. As we create information literacy sessions, this connection and context is important to keep in mind. The activities we design for our students, the skills and strategies they encounter, and their understanding of future applications depend on making this context meaningful. Most databases that our students have access to are filled with a great wealth of features for advanced users, but how many of these features will have a meaningful context attached and create situated meaning for our students?