Gee’s What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy

James Paul Gee, What Video Games Have to Teach Us about Learning and Literacy
Area: Digital Media
Chapter 1: Introduction: 36 Ways to Learn a Video Game
•    Book Deals with learners/players embedded in a material and social world
•    8: Three important areas of current research:
o    “One of these areas is work on ‘situated cognition’ (i.e. thinking as tied to a body that has experiences in the world).  This work argues that human learning is not just a matter of what foes on inside people’s heads but is fully embedded in (situated within) a material, social, and cultural world.”
o    “Another one of these areas is the so-called New Literacy Studies, a body of work that argues that reading and writing should be viewed not only as mental achievements going on inside people’s heads but also as social and cultural practices with economic, historical, and political implications.”
o    “The third area is work on so-called connectionism, a view that stresses the ways in which human beings are powerful pattern-recognizers.  This body of work argues that humans don’t often think best when they attempts to reason via logic and general abstract principles detached from experience.  Rather, they think best when they reason on the basis of patterns they have picked up through their actual experiences in the world, patterns that, over time, can become generalized but that are still rooted in specific areas of experience.”
•    10: “Debate over violence in video games is one more way in which we want to talk about technology (or drugs, for that matter) doing things to people rather than talking about the implications of people’s overall social and economic contexts.”
Chapter 2: Semiotic Domains: Is Playing Video Games a ‘Waste of Time’?
•    When people learn a video game, they are learning a new literacy
•    Literacy is not unitary, but a multiple matter
•    Key question: not to get producer-like learning and knowledge, but in a reflective and critical way
•    In the modern world, print literacy is not enough
•    Problem of context
•    Active learning: experiencing, affiliations, preparations
•    To produce meaning, the individual must situate the world amongst experiences
o    Meaning is both situation and domain specific
•    Understanding meaning is an active affair
•    External design grammar (i.e. adding keyboards to gaming platforms) will alter internal design grammar
•    Video games = privilege
•    13: “In fact, in many high school and college textbooks in the sciences images not only take up more space, they now carry meanings that are independent of the words in the text.  If you can’t read these images, you will not be able to recover their meanings from the words in the text as was more usual in the past.”
•    21: “Important knowledge (now usually gained in school) is content in the sense of information rooted in, or, at least, related to, intellectual domains or academic disciplines like physics, history, art, or literature.  Work that does not involve such learning is ‘meaningless.’  Activities that are entertaining but that themselves do not involve such learning are just ‘meaningless play.’  Of course, video games fall into that category.”
•    33: “But things work in the world in certain ways because people make them do so or, at the very least, are willing to accept them as such.  Then, when they work that way, people come to expect them to do so and build values and norms around them working that way.”
•    43: “Critical learning, as I am defining it here, involves learning to think of semiotic domains as design spaces that manipulate us in certain way and that we can manipulate in certain ways.”
•    48: “The content of video games, when they are played actively and critically, is something like this: They situate meaning in a multimodal space through embodied experiences to solve problems and reflect on the intricacies of the design of imagined worlds and the design of both real and imagined social relationships and identities in the modern world.”
Chapter 5: Telling and Doing: Why Doesn’t Lara Croft Obey Professor Von Croy?
•    Video games offer a “bottom up” approach to learning—gamers can start off on a low-level game and advance when ready
•    124: “The first strategy, calling on a previous experience, is an example of what learning theorists call ‘transfer.’ An example of transfer at work would be a case where a student applies something he or she has learned about reasoning in biology to a new problem faced in a social studies class.  Transfer does not always work and can be dangerous.  Transfer requires active learning and, if it is not to be dangerous, critical learning.”
•    127: “The learner learns that, while school sometimes sets up problems so that the earlier solutions transfer directly to later ones, this rarely happens in real life.  The learner adapts and transforms the earlier experiences to be transferred to the new problem through creativity and innovation.”
•    127: “The learner also uses (and is prepared to use) what he or she discovers—often ‘by accident’—on the spot, on the ground of practice, while implementing the new transformed strategy.  This requires reflection not after or before action but in the midst of action.  The learner remains flexible, adapting performance in action.”
Chapter 8: Conclusion: Duped or Not?
•    Readers identify, not distance themselves, from characters in books—just like what happens in video games
o    Projection
36 Learning Principles
1. Active, critical learning; 2. Design; 3. Semiotic; 4. Semiotic domains; 5. Metalevel thinking about semiotic domains; 6. “Psychosocial moratorium”; 7. Committed learning; 8. Identity; 9. Self-knowledge; 10. Amplification of input; 11. Achievement; 12. Practice; 13. Ongoing learning; 14. “Regime of competence”; 15. Probing; 16. Multiple routes; 17. Situated meaning; 18. Text; 19. Intertextual; 20. Multimodal; 21. “material intelligence”; 22. Intuitive knowledge; 23. Subset; 24. Incremental; 25. Concentrated sample; 26. Bottom-up basic skills; 27. Explicit information on-demand and just-in-time; 28. Discovery; 29. Transfer; 30. Cultural Models about the world; 31. Cultural models about learning; 32. Cultural models about semiotic domains; 33. Distributed; 34. Dispersed; 35. Affinity group; 36. Insider


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