Gee's Strategies & Information Literacy: Identity

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...

How do we create a sense of identity in information literacy and library instruction?

Do we have to since the identity is already created – it’s our students playing the role of our students. There is some identity already given when students walk into a classroom setting. They “are” invested because their success in the class/school is tied to their ability to succeed in the classroom and on an assignment. But is that enough?

Are our students invested in library research because they are passionate about their grade? Really? Who’s the lucky librarian with a class filled with these students? Library instruction, when there even is library instruction, can be met with a student attitude of “Just finish talking so I can go grab it off the internet.”

Can we create situations that invoke an investment from our students? Yes, but how? In the examples from the slides, the first game is Half – Life 2 where the player plays the role of Gordon Freeman, but most of the personality is derived from the players responses not game created reactions. Every player plays a little differently and attaches meaning based on those experiences. In a classroom setting, this type of identity comes from the students caring about their research and creating their own meaning for the assignment. We can help our students do this by showing meaning in their research, tying their research to a larger community, and help them see the significance of findings to their assignment.

The second example in the slide has the player playing the role of James Bond. The student becomes invested because they already care about the character or that there is a context created to grab the student and help them care. A little role-playing by the student. We can create a role for the student outside of just simply a student in class for an instruction session. I’ve done a PR class where the students “played” the role of agents at a PR firm and they were given portfolios on their “clients” to research on. It through the students into a different mindset for the research session, captured their attention, and even allowed for some creativity in their approach and presentation of material. Creating alternative roles or situations for our classes can help create a sense of identity for our students and increase their involvement in a class.