Tuesday, August 02, 2005
Innovate is a bimonthly, peer-reviewed online periodical (ISSN 1552-3233) published by the Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University. The journal focuses on the creative use of information technology (IT) to enhance educational processes in academic, commercial, and governmental settings. Our basic assumption is that innovative uses of technology in one sector can inform innovative uses of technology in each of the other sectors.In addition to articles, you'll find webinar in Breeze and an RSS feed.
I just finished the current issue but don't have time to read the five previous issues, so I'm going to turn Copernic Summarizer loose on them and choose articles to read by the summaries it provides.
Innovate, The Journal of Online Education
The August/September 2005 issue focuses on education and electronic games.
This is a marvellous article; I encourage you to read it all. I've excerpted a few of the theoretical parters. The full article applies the theory to the game Full Spectrum Warrior.
What Would a State of the Art Instructional Video Game Look Like?
Any domain of knowledge, academic or not, is first and foremost a set of activities and experiences. That is, domains of knowledge are special ways of acting and interacting in ways that produce and use the domain's knowledge; they are special ways of seeing, valuing, and being in the world. Physicists do physics. They talk physics. And when they are being physicists, they see and value the world in a different way than do non-physicists. The same goes for good anthropologists, linguists, urban planners, army officers, doctors, artists, literary critics, and historians (diSessa 2000; Lave 1996; Ochs, Gonzales, and Jacoby 1996; Shaffer 2004a).
Something very interesting happens when one treats knowledge first and foremost as activity and experience, not as facts and information—the facts come to life. A large body of facts that resist out-of-context memorization and rote learning becomes easier to assimilate if learners are immersed in activities and experiences that use these facts for plans, goals, and purposes within a coherent knowledge domain (Shaffer 2004b).
Learners are novices. Leaving them to float amidst rich experiences with no guidance only triggers the penchant for finding creative but spurious patterns and generalizations that send learners down garden paths (Gee 1992, 2001). The fruitful patterns or generalizations in any domain are best recognized by those who already know how the complex variables of the domain interrelate with each other. And this is precisely what the learner does not yet know.
Here we reach the central paradox of all deep learning. On the one hand, it will not work to try and tell newcomers everything. We, as educators, can not put it all into words because a domain of knowledge is composed of ways of doing, being, and seeing. When we do put what we know into explicit words, learners cannot adequately retain or even understand them because they have not yet performed the specific activities or undergone the experiences to which the words refer. On the other hand, simply turning learners loose to engage in the domain's activities will not work either, since newcomers do not know how to start, where to look for the best leverage, and what generalizations to draw, or how long to pursue them before giving them up for alternatives. We can hardly expect learners to create for themselves domains that took thousands of people and hundreds of years to develop.
Unfortunately, our schools are still locked in endless and pointless battles between "traditionalism" and "progressivism," between lecture-style teaching and immersion learning, as if these were the only two alternatives. In contrast, given that good commercial games have been so successful in attracting and maintaining learners, it is clear that they appear to have solved this central paradox of learning.
Note: This article was originally published in Innovate (http://www.innovateonline.info/) as: Gee, J. 2005. What would a state of the art instructional video game look like?. Innovate 1 (6). http://www.innovateonline.info/index.php?view=article&id=80 (accessed August 2, 2005). The article is reprinted here with permission of the publisher, The Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University.
This issue of Innovate contains numerous other stories related to games and learning. Here's a piece of an interview with Clark Aldrich:
JF: What will the educational domain be like after the revolution has succeeded?
CA: I am assuming there will still be schools, at least as a place where most parents will want to send their children. There will still be classes. There will still be teachers. There will be a greater shift to remote study and self-study, where students can drop in on classes in other parts of the world. Teachers when teaching around simulations will be there as a coach, as a helper, as someone who is good at sensing when someone is getting too stuck or too frustrated or too detached. Teachers will also help students apply what they have learned in the sim to their experience in real life. Teachers might also assign "remedial" sims for areas where students are having trouble.
There will be a tighter integration of work and school. College students for the most part will not be locked away but integrated into interesting jobs. The curriculum of all schools will be different: it will change from obsessing about things like literature, to obsessing about things like project management, stewardship, relationship management, and ethics. This content can only be learned in a hands-on way, so there will be more integration between learning and doing.
I also believe the schools will develop the ability to swarm. By swarm, I mean predict some piece (or pieces) of popular culture and develop content that plays off of it. Television shows like Biography and specialized documentaries on The History Channel do a perfect job here. They know that Disney or whomever is going to put out a major movie in six months, say about Hitler or hurricanes or a start-up baseball league. They prepare content that plays off it, such as related events ("Third Reich week") or the real physics behind it ("The Truth about Tropical Storms").
JF: It's a type of "just in time" manufacturing—a better integration of consumer needs and producer output.
CA: Yes. That’s a great way of thinking about it.
At a higher level, tighter integration between learning and doing, between schools and the rest of the world, between understanding history and impacting the future, has been prevented by a very primal truism: What is taught is governed by what can be taught. What can be taught today is material found in books and that can be delivered via lectures. And perhaps we should add: what is captured from the past is governed by what can be captured.
That has reduced most valuable information/knowledge/wisdom to rules, timelines, and the often complex internal monologue of others. Curricula and content have reflected and reinforced this limitation. Most of schooling has a historical nature to it. We teach calculus not because people need to know it, but because it is a stunning piece of historically relevant thinking. And we teach the content of books—the traditional "killer app" of linear content. Academics admire contemporaries who publish. What is the best thing to have on your resume? Articles! Books! Chapters!
There is a vicious loop between media and content: lectures and books as input, and papers as output. This metric warps the learning process.