Jenny Reeder


More and more games
April 20, 2007, 1:16 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

After reading another round of James Gee, I must admit, I’m STILL not convinced that video games are the ideal learning scenario. After our class discussion, I realized that we do need to understand the draw of video games–rewards, the interactivity, the multi-layered approach–and figure out how to apply that to other educational opportunities. I recognize that video games appeal to some people and that we can tap into that appeal. So I read Gee with the hope of figuring out application. Unfortunately, Gee follows the same trajectory in this article as he did in his book. The underlying idea is that classrooms force learning or dumb things down, while video games empower learners by customizing identity, manipulating tools and knowledge, and providing authenticity and a sense of accomplishment. School is still seen as the big bad, boring, punishing authority which ruins education.

Gee does provide some insight into the learning style of some websites: the trigger of deep investment and time, the cycles of expertise, the empowerment of readjustment and situational use. He does not, however, link these skills with education. He simply presents them as binary differences. Unless there is a connection, I see little value.

On the other hand, Niall Ferguson’s article, “How to Win a War,” deals more profoundly with the connection of games and the study of history. His argument was slightly more persuasive to me–that history can be revitalized with technology. However, I believe that players must have a strong base knowledge in order to really succeed. They need to know the implications of the different countries, their politics and history, in order to take control and make decisions. This requires learning outside and previous to the game experience. Go school!

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5 Comments so far
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Gee must really have hated school! Either that, or he is just exaggerating the ill effects of the classroom to make his point. Naw, he wouldn’t do that, would he? The classroom will work best for some, and a computer game will learn best for others. And some kids will just crawl into a book and others need to be physically shown how to do things. And oddly enough, it won’t happen the same way to the same kids on any given day. Go figure .

Comment by Misha Griffith

I’m with you on Gee…I see how he uses games for insight into learning, but he overstates his case by equating games with learning.

Ferguson’s utility in strategic wargaming needs a hefty does of reality. Maybe you are onto the value in recharging interest in history. I thought he was hitting alternative outcomes from historical choices too hard. Please see my caution in my posting.

Comment by Bill A

I agree with you Jenny, as you can see on my post for this week, that Gee is basically wrong and overly critical of “school.” And I agree with Misha that perhaps Gee hated his own experience in school or that he is indeed exaggerating things to make his point–oh yes, I believe he would do that (I spoke of this in my post, too). I also think that Ferguson is on to something and that this type of game is actually used in the real world–he mentions game theory, and we all know of model UN, and war games that various US government agencies participate in.

Comment by Laura

[…] gaming as a teaching method because video games are a common experience for children today, and on Jenny’s blog about how Gee must have hated his own experience in school and how Ferguson’s article makes a […]

Pingback by veprek.com » Blog Archive » The Educational Possibility of Video Games

I think we’re all heading down the same path on the Gee situation…he’s really overblown the usefulness of games. Maybe I’ve softened a bit from last time we discussed this in class, but I see now how the process he explains is useful. I agree with Bill here that he needs a reality check though.

Comment by Jennifer Levasseur




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