Thursday, August 23, 2012
Three books on games, learning, participation and expertise
In chronological order, the first to appear was Myint Swe Khine's collection on Learning to Play: Exploring the Future of Education with Video Games. Following the editor's careful Introduction, the book addresses nine highly relevant contemporary themes:
- Video game design as model for professional learning (Rich Halverson, Christopher Blakesley and Regina Figueiredo-Brown)
- A game-based learning framework: Linking game design and learning outcomes (Jan-Paul van Staalduinen and Sara de Freitas)
- Presenting content information and facilitating instruction: Design techniques for advancing game flow (Atsusi Hirumi and Rick Hall)
- Using digital games and virtual environments to enhance learning Mary E. Green and Mary Nell McNeese)
- Game changer: How principles of video games can transform teaching (Janna Jackson)
- Motivating science education through games (Christopher A. Egert and Andrew M. Phelps)
- Operation KTHMA--Reign of the Demiurge: Game worlds, Greek history and situated learning (Roger Travis and Michael Young)
- "All I know I learned from Zelda": Immersive gaming and learning and why the Legend of Zelda is a perfect learning game (David Squire)
- Digital Game analysis: Using the Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge framework to determine the affordances of a game for learning (Aroutis Foster, Punya Mishra and Matthew Koehler)
Next came Mark Chen's full-participant ethnographic account of Leet Noobs: The life and death of an expert player group in World of Warcraft. T. L Taylor rightly describes this book as "a must-read for anyone interested in the rich forms of action, and interaction, in multiplayer spaces". As editors we were riveted and, ultimately, traumatised by the unfolding epic recounted by Mark of what transpired over a 10 month period of involvement in a 40 person raiding 'family'. The back cover statement best describes the contents:
"Leet Noobs documents, for over 10 months, a group of players in the online game World of Warcraft engaged in a 40 person joint activity known as raiding. Initially, the group was informal, a 'family' that wanted to 'hang out and have fin.' Before joining, each player had been recognized as expert in the game; within the group they had to adapt their expertise for the new joint task and align themselves to new group goals. Through their shared activity, members successfully established communication and material practices that changed as they had to renegotiate roles and responsibilities with new situations and as the larger gaming community evolved. Players learned to reconfigure their play spaces, enrolling third-party game mods and other resources into their activity. Once-expert players became novices or 'noobs' to relearn expert or 'leet' gameplay. They became 'leet noobs' who needed to reconfigure their expertise for new norms of material practice. Ultimately, these norms also changed what it meant to play World of Warcraft; some group members no longer wanted to just hang out and have fun, and eventually the group died in an online fiery meltdown."The most recent publication is Elisabeth Hayes and Sean Duncan's collection Learning in Video Game Affinity Spaces. It is largely concerned with what James Gee calls "the 'beyond games' part of the 'games and learning' movement -- with what people "do with games beyond just playing them".
Bookended by the editors' account of 'Expanding the affinity space' and James Gee's 'Afterword', the book comprises 8 engaging chapters on diverse dimensions of being members of affinities:
- 'Is the Hangout ... The Hangout?': Exploring tensions in an online gaming-related fan site (Jayne Lammers)
- Kongregating online: Developing design literacies in a play-based affinity space (Sean Duncan)
- Learning to mod in an affinity-based modding community (Shree Durga)
- The productive side of playing in the great indoors (Elizabeth King)
- The not-so-secret life of Dance Dance Revolution (Christopher Holden)
- Wither membership? Identity and social learning in affinity spaces (Ben DeVane)
- Specialist language acquisition and 3D modding in a Sims fan site (Elisabeth Hayes and Yoonhee Lee)
- The game of Neopian writing (Alecia Marie Magnifico)
We are thrilled to have these books in the series and thank all those who have contributed to them for gracing our series with their presence.
Electronic serendipity and the Nexus 7 tablet
Of course, it only takes a day or so and I'm ready to get back. For all kinds of reasons.
Among the reasons is the wonderful serendipity that seems never far away from the interfaces among the internet, everyday purposes and routines, and the digital tools I use as a matter of course.
Today brought a case in point. I'm still waiting for the keyboard and case for my Google Nexus 7 tablet to arrive, but meanwhile a couple of micro usb adapters had arrived that allow for plugging regular usb devices into the micro port on the Nexus. I had got this for exploring using a mouse for the time when the keyboard arrives, and it works fine.
Being pretty much ignorant of the Nexus architecture I tried plugging a usb stick in, but to no avail. The file app didn't help. So I figured "ok, no go. No loading media from a stick".
When I first got the Nexus, Michele sent me a message about the Reddit Nexus forum and I took a look. Lots of people saying lots of things of interest, but many of those folk are programmers whose topics I but dimly understand. But I filed it away.
Here comes the serendipity. Today, while idling away a bit of time I thought "I wonder what they are talking about on the Reddit Nexus forum. For some reason unknown to me -- although almost certainly linked to my regular states of befuddlement -- rather than going direct to the forum I just keyed "Reddit Nexus" into google search.
Of course, you can guess what happened.
Right. The first hit on the search was for a thread on a usb media importer. I clicked on the page with no idea of what might be there and started reading about the Nexus not being root based. And before I could sneeze I found I had hit on a discussion of a brand new app that did exactly what I had been trying to do a couple of days ago. It would, allegedly, make it possible to save or stream media from a thumb drive. And for $1.99.
I went to the site that the thread pertained to and found the developer had a free app there for photos, and recommended trying the free app to see if it would run on the device.
So I downloaded the media importer app. It didn't run the first file type I tried, but it did run the next one. In no time at all I was streaming the movie Australia from a 16 gig stick.
That is precisely the kind of app functionality you need for a device that has no SD slot but does have Bluetooth and micro usb capacity.
I bought the 16 gig version of the Nexus to allow me some space for downloading media files from the computer, but this app means that for anyone who wants the Nexus for the kinds of uses I put it to they will be fine with the 8 gig version.
That is a LOT of wonderment for $199. This tablet just keeps getting better and better.