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Winning Isn’t Everything — Matter — Medium
"I used to think that games would be the dominant medium of the 21st century. The reality? They’re too big, too complex, and too smart for that to be true."



"Despite all the aspirational chatter, a decade and a half into the 21st century a ludic century seems unlikely. Impossible, even. Perhaps it’s time to take a step back from grand proclamations about the past or the future of media, and instead treat it with the attention to detail systems thinking supposedly offers.

There’s a paradox at work in systems literacy. For games to embrace a role as windows onto complexity, as depictions of interconnected systems, they must also reject the very idea of dramatic, revolutionary, disruptive change that drives so much of our contemporary understanding about technology — or about anything whatsoever.

Real systems thinking assumes simple answers are always wrong. Yet when we talk about the future—even the future of games or of systems literacy—we tend to assume that they will unleash their transformative powers in a straightforward way, through ideas like a century with a dominant medium. We are meant to speak like Pollyannas about “changing the world,” rather than admitting that the very notion of changing the world is anathema to the fundamental promise of systems literacy, namely a rejection of simplicity and a distrust of singular answers.

After all, it’s not clear at all that the 20th century is best summarized as a century of the moving image, anyway. Too much happened to pin down a single influence or media form as dominant. Systems thinking would force us to admit that any singular innovation is caught up in a web of others. We could just as easily call the last century the “electric century,” because so many of its inventions and innovations were bound up in the rollout and use of electric power. Or perhaps the “recorded century,” because photography, phonography, and other methods of analog capture and preservation rose to prominence (eventually fusing into film) — not to mention digital information storage. Cinema itself relied on the rise of leisure and the desire for escape, facilitated by two decades of economic catastrophe and war during the Great Depression and World War II. Those features were only further amplified by the rise of suburbanism and automobile culture of the 1950s, where cinema coupled to youth, desire, and freedom.

As the media theorist Marshall McLuhan put it (in 1964, I might add), “a new medium is never an addition to an old one, nor does it leave the old one in peace. It never ceases to oppress the older media until it finds new shapes and positions for them.” McLuhan thinks about media in relation to one another, as a media ecosystem subject to analysis through media ecology. There are just too many elements at work in a medium’s development and decay to single one of them out for special treatment.

When we think about a ludic century or an age of systems literacy, we do so by putting games at the center of the media ecosystem and pondering their influences on our senses and our communities. But such an idea is a fantasy. And there’s no better way of revealing that fantasy than asking instead what conditions would have to exist in order to produce the kind of age that Zimmerman, Spector, Gee, or I have imagined.

A ludic century wouldn’t just be one in which games, play, process, and systems thinking are enhanced, to use one of McLuhan’s terms. It would also be one in which the purportedly non-systemic, non-ludic formats that have reigned in the age of information — namely speech, writing, image, and the moving image — are made obsolete. For systems thinking to reign, linear and narrative thinking would have to wane.

But just the opposite has happened. We’ve never been more surrounded with text and pictures and moving images than we are in the digital era. Over half a century ago, the MIT computer scientist Alan J. Perlis imagined an age of “procedural literacy” brought about by new computational expertise — an early version of the dream of the ludic century. But instead, digital technology has accelerated the rate of production and consumption of “legacy” media formats like writing and photography.

Mostly we use computers to read, write, and look at things — not to build or experience models of complex worlds, real or imagined. It’s as if the horse still pulled the automobile rather than being displaced by it, or if the phone booth had enjoyed a sustained new fashion as a venue to make private calls, texts, or Snapchats from your smartphone."



"Games are ancient, and they are not going anywhere anytime soon. But their stock is not rising at the rate that their fans’ Twitter streams and Web forums might suggest. Instead of a ludic age, perhaps we have entered an era of shredded media. Some forms persist more than others, but more than any one medium, we are surrounded by the rough-edged bits and pieces of too many media to enumerate. Writing, images, aphorisms, formal abstraction, collage, travesty. Photography, cinema, books, music, dance, games, tacos, cats, car services. If anything, there has never been a weirder, more disorienting, and more lively time to be a creator and a fanatic of media in all their varieties. Why ruin the moment by being the one trying to get everyone to play a game while we’re letting the flowers blossom? A ludic century need not be a century of games. Instead, it can just be a century. With games in it."
ianbogost  2014  games  gaming  systemsthinking  disruption  culture  systemsliteracy  videogames  media  theory  marshallmcluhan  play  film  linear  linearity  photography  video  narrative  alanjperlis  proceduralliteracy  computation  computers  digital  consumption  writing  complexity  ericzimmerman  tomchatfield  warrenspector  austinwintory  jamespaulgee 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Education’s war on millennials: Why everyone is failing the “digital generation” - Salon.com
"Both reformers and traditionalists view technology as a way to control students — and they're getting it very wrong"



"In addressing the hundreds of thousands who watch such videos, students aren’t the only ones in the implied audience. These videos appeal to many nonacademic viewers who enjoy watching, from a remove, the hacking of obstreperous or powerful systems as demonstrated in videos about, for instance, fooling electronic voting booths, hacking vending machines, opening locked cars with tennis balls, or smuggling contraband goods through airport x-ray devices. These cheating videos also belonged to a broader category of YouTube videos for do-it-yourself (DIY) enthusiasts— those who liked to see step-by-step execution of a project from start to finish. YouTube videos about crafts, cooking, carpentry, decorating, computer programming, and installing consumer technologies all follow this same basic format, and popular magazines like Make have capitalized on this sub-culture of avid project-based participants. Although these cultural practices may seem like a relatively new trend, one could look at DIY culture as part of a longer tradition of exercises devoted to imitatio, or the art of copying master works, which have been central to instruction for centuries."



"Prior to the release of this report, Mia Consalvo had argued that cheating in video games is expected behavior among players and that cheaters perform important epistemological work by sharing information about easy solutions on message boards, forums, and other venues for collaborations.

Consalvo also builds on the work of literacy theorist James Paul Gee, who asserts that video game narratives often require transgression to gain knowledge and that, just as passive obedience rarely produces insight in real classrooms, testing boundaries by disobeying the instructions of authority figures can be the best way to learn. Because procedural culture is ubiquitous, however, Ian Bogost has insisted that defying rules and confronting the persuasive powers of certain architectures of control only brings other kinds of rules into play, since we can never really get outside of ideology and act as truly free agents, even when supposedly gaming the system.

Ironically, more traditional ideas about fair play might block key paths to upward mobility and success in certain high-tech careers. For example, Betsy DiSalvo and Amy Bruckman, who have studied Atlanta-area African-American teens involved in service learning projects with game companies, argue that the conflict between the students’ own beliefs in straightforward behavior and the ideologies of hacker culture makes participation in the informal gateway activities for computer science less likely. Thus, urban youth who believe in tests of physical prowess, basketball-court egalitarianism, and a certain paradigm of conventional black masculinity that is coded as no-nonsense or—as Fox Harrell says—“solid” might be less likely to take part in forms of “geeking out” that involve subverting a given set of rules. Similarly, Tracy Fullerton has argued that teenagers from families unfamiliar with the norms of higher education may also be hobbled by their reluctance to “strategize” more opportunistically about college admissions. Fullerton’s game “Pathfinder” is intended to help such students learn to game the system by literally learning to play a game about how listing the right kinds of high-status courses and extracurricular activities will gain them social capital with colleges."



"However, Gee would later argue in “The Anti-Education Era” that gamesmanship that enables universal access and personal privilege may actually be extremely counterproductive. Hacks that “make the game easier or advantage the player” can “undermine the game’s design and even ruin the game by making it too easy.” Furthermore, “perfecting the human urge to optimize” can go too far and lead to fatal consequences on a planet where resources can be exhausted too quickly and weaknesses can be exploited too frequently. Furthermore, Gee warns that educational systems that focus on individual optimization create cultures of “impoverished humans” in which learners never “confront challenge and frustration,” “acquire new styles of learning,” or “face failure squarely.”"



"What’s striking about the ABC coverage is that it lacked any of the criticism of the educational status quo that became so central for a number of readers of the earlier Chronicle of Higher Education story—those who were asking as educators either (1) what’s wrong with the higher education system that students can subvert conventional tests so easily, or (2) what’s right with YouTube culture that encourages participation, creativity, institutional subversion, and satire."



"This attitude reflects current research on so-called distributed cognition and how external markers can help humans to problem solve by both making solutions clearer and freeing up working memory that would otherwise be tied up in reciting basic reminders. Many of those commenting on the article also argued that secrecy did little to promote learning, a philosophy shared by Benjamin Bratton, head of the Center for Design and Geopolitics, who actually hands out the full text of his final examination on the first day of class so that students know exactly what they will be tested on."



"This book explores the assumption that digital media deeply divide students and teachers and that a once covert war between “us” and “them” has turned into an open battle between “our” technologies and “their” technologies. On one side, we—the faculty—seem to control course management systems, online quizzes, wireless clickers, Internet access to PowerPoint slides and podcasts, and plagiarism-detection software. On the student side, they are armed with smart phones, laptops, music players, digital cameras, and social network sites. They seem to be the masters of these ubiquitous computing and recording technologies that can serve as advanced weapons allowing either escape to virtual or social realities far away from the lecture hall or—should they choose to document and broadcast the foibles of their faculty—exposure of that lecture hall to the outside world.

Each side is not really fighting the other, I argue, because both appear to be conducting an incredibly destructive war on learning itself by emphasizing competition and conflict rather than cooperation. I see problems both with using technologies to command and control young people into submission and with the utopian claims of advocates for DIY education, or “unschooling,” who embrace a libertarian politics of each-one-for-himself or herself pedagogy and who, in the interest of promoting totally autonomous learning in individual private homes, seek to defund public institutions devoted to traditional learning collectives. Effective educators should be noncombatants, I am claiming, neither champions of the reactionary past nor of the radical future. In making the argument for becoming a conscientious objector in this war on learning, I am focusing on the present moment.

Both sides in the war on learning are also promoting a particular causal argument about technology of which I am deeply suspicious. Both groups believe that the present rupture between student and professor is caused by the advent of a unique digital generation that is assumed to be quite technically proficient at navigating computational media without formal instruction and that is likely to prefer digital activities to the reading of print texts. I’ve been a public opponent of casting students too easily as “digital natives” for a number of reasons. Of course, anthropology and sociology already supply a host of arguments against assuming preconceived ideas about what it means to be a native when studying group behavior.

I am particularly suspicious of this type of language about so-called digital natives because it could naturalize cultural practices, further a colonial othering of the young, and oversimplify complicated questions about membership in a group. Furthermore, as someone who has been involved with digital literacy (and now digital fluency) for most of my academic career, I have seen firsthand how many students have serious problems with writing computer programs and how difficult it can be to establish priorities among educators—particularly educators from different disciplines or research tracks—when diverse populations of learners need to be served."



"Notice not only how engagement and interactivity are praised and conflated, but also how the rhetoric of novelty in consumer electronics and of short attention spans also comes into play."
education  technology  edtech  control  reform  policy  power  2014  traditionalism  traditionalists  plagiarism  pedagogy  learning  schools  cheating  multitasking  highered  highereducation  politics  elizabethlosh  mimiito  ianbogost  jamespaulgee  homago  betsydisalvo  amybruckman  foxharrell  geekingout  culture  play  constraints  games  gaming  videogames  mckenziewark  janemcgonigal  gamesmanship  internet  youtube  secrecy  benjaminbratton  unschooling  deschooling  collaboration  cooperation  agesegregation  youth  teens  digitalnatives  marshallmcluhan  othering  sivavaidhyanathan  digital  digitalliteracy  attention  engagement  entertainment  focus  cathydavidson 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Syllabus | Technologies for Creative Learning
"This course explores how new technologies can engage people in creative learning experiences – and transform the ways we think about learning. Students will experiment with new learning technologies, discuss educational ideas underlying the technologies, analyze design strategies for creating new technologies, and examine how and what people learn as they use these technologies."

[Wayback: http://web.archive.org/web/20120808072239/http://mas714.media.mit.edu/syllabus ]
syllabus  learning  creativity  mit  constructivism  coding  children  technology  computing  computers  scratch  mindstorms  ivanillich  davidresnick  seymourpapert  mimiito  henryjenkins  barbararogoff  alfiekohn  caroldweck  mihalycsikszentmihalyi  sherryturkle  jamespaulgee  via:dianakimball  readinglists  education  teaching  programming  syllabi 
february 2013 by robertogreco
Will · Our Numbers Obsession Will Kill Us
"You may think the Common Core is more about critical thinking and skills than about content, a move in the right direction, but it doesn’t matter. The assessments will HAVE TO BE about the quantifiable, since we’ve done such a good job at raising the stakes around how the results will be used.

We’re borked.

"According to the late Gerald Bracey, who conducted extensive research and authored numerous books about the misuse of data on education among policymakers, politicians, and the media, a measure of some of the most valuable achievements that test results cannot capture include: creativity, critical thinking, resilience, motivation, persistence, curiosity, endurance, reliability, enthusiasm, self-discipline, leadership, resourcefulness, and a sense of wonder."

The immeasurable."
numbers  softskills  jamespaulgee  geraldbracey  standards  standardizedtesting  standardization  education  learning  immeasurables  measurement  assessment  commoncore  2012  willrichardson  shrequest1 
september 2012 by robertogreco
Game Based Learning .:: Video Games, Social Media & Learning ::. - Public Pedagogy through Video Games:
"So our argument so far: today’s complex popular culture involves a characteristic form of teaching and constitutes a public pedagogy. That form of teaching involves good design (which makes meaning situated and language lucidly functional), resources, and affinity spaces. In fact, we see much popular culture today as a form of competition for schools and schooling. Much popular culture teaches 21st-century skills, like collaboration, producing and not just consuming knowledge, technology skills, innovation, design and system thinking, and so forth, while school often does not. And, further, we see no reason (other than institutional forces) why teaching in school ought not to be primarily about good design, resourcing learners, and creating efficacious affinity spaces."
education  learning  informallearning  jamespaulgee  simulations  videogames  games  gaming  schools  schooling  formal  stevenjohnson  television  tv  criticalthinking  yu-gi-oh  ageofmythology  thesims  unschooling  deschooling  collaboration  tcsnmy  edg  srg  glvo  consumption  production  content  technology  21stcenturyskills  popculture  innovation  design  systemsthinking  complexity  pedagogy 
october 2009 by robertogreco
We run videogames in our heads - Preoccupations
"At the heart of both talks, besides his zest for life, learning and a passionate engagement with his subject, is the critically important idea of situated meanings and their role in learning: ‘Comprehension is grounded in perceptual simulations [of experience] that prepare agents for situated action’ — Barsalou (1999). ... summarise here James’s six headline slides from his Handheld Learning talk about what characterises videogames: an experience of being simultaneously inside and outside a system; situated meanings; action orientated tasks; lucidly functional language; modding; passionate affinity groups ... Good games makes you feel smarter than you are. Play first, learn later (situated meanings). Where school fails is when it’s like a bunch of manuals without the games — and that’s also a very good way to make the poor look stupid."
davidsmith  jamespaulgee  games  gaming  videogames  schools  teaching  learning  simulations  education  stevenjohnson  perception  immersive  systems  affinitygroups  situatedmeanings 
october 2009 by robertogreco
Spotlight on DML | ‘Rise of Nations’: A Model for Assessment?
"I see no reason why 21st century assessment should not work the same way, and I am not talking about teaching with games. In any real learning: • don’t leave the learning space to assess; • marry learning and assessment closely; • use a trajectory of variables across time in the assessment; • allow learners to “theorize” their learning and develop better strategies; • use the same assessment for formative and evaluative purposes; • track what learners have done over time and how they have used facts or information as tools; • don’t bother assessing people if they haven’t played the game with deep engagement for some time—because you darn well know that people who won’t play Rise of Nations for a sustained time haven’t learned much. (That’s how humans are built—see Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers. For humans, learning is a practice effect, so we should worry more about how to get the practice done and less about “grading” people when they haven’t practiced much or aren’t engaged.)"
jamespaulgee  riseofnations  games  seriousgames  gaming  learning  assessment  evaluation 
may 2009 by robertogreco
Spotlight on DML | James Paul Gee: Games as their Test
"If I play Halo on normal difficulty level & finish, then you know I am a “proficient” Halo player. If I play it on hard & finish, you know I am very good indeed. It would be quite silly to take people who had finished Halo--especially on hard--and give them a “test” to see how good they were at the game. The game is already its own best test...Why doesn’t assessment work this way in other domains, e.g., in civics or physics? Most people will say--though I would not--that learning in school should be about content (i.e., “facts”, “information") and learning in Halo is about doing things. But, in my view, all real learning--learning that leads to the ability to deeply understand and solve problems--is about doing and not “content”. Facts in physics are just tools to do physics (to solve problems and think about interventions in the world); facts in civics are just tools to engage in civic participation. Beyond doing, in this sense, facts are cocktail party fodder and not well retained."
jamespaulgee  games  gaming  assessment  testing  learning  videogames 
march 2009 by robertogreco
The Brainy Gamer: Gee whiz
"He's a 60-year-old whirlwind of erudite passion; an evangelist, of sorts, who believes that if we don't change the way we teach our kids soon, the world is headed to a very dark place. Games aren't the answer (and he spends a fair amount of time dispelling misconceptions of his work), but they do help point the way toward a system of engaged learning that clearly works, and he has loads of persuasive data to prove it." ... "Gee believes the form of schooling that dominates American public education, which privileges people who know a lot of facts but can't solve problems with them, is on its last legs. Video games offer a way of thinking about teaching that effectively combines learning and assessment."
jamespaulgee  videogames  play  learning  schools  tcsnmy  problemsolving  glvo  unschooling  deschooling  assessment  change  reform  education  schooling  lcproject  teaching  via:preoccupations 
march 2009 by robertogreco
Game Based Learning .:: alpha version ::. - Public Pedagogy through Video Games:
"informal learning, at least of the sort we see in today’s popular culture, does involve teaching in a major way. It is just that the teaching it involves is not like what we see in school. Teaching in informal learning, in much of today’s popular culture, involves three things: design, resources & what we will call “affinity spaces.”" ... "When a word is associated with a verbal definition, we say it has a verbal meaning. When it is associated with an image, action, goal, experience, or dialogue, we say it has a situated meaning. Situated meanings are crucial for understandings that lead to being able to apply one's knowledge to problem solving." ... "Affinity spaces are well-designed spaces that resource and mentor learners, old and new, beginners and masters alike. They are the "learning system" built around a popular culture practice." ... "We believe that learning how to produce and not just consume in popular culture, as Jade did, is one good way to start the critical process."

[via:http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/page.cgi?post=47493 ]
jamespaulgee  games  gaming  stevenjohnson  informallearning  learning  schools  gamedesign  videogames  play  unschooling  deschooling  formal  informal  alternative  authenticity  mentoring  teaching  tcsnmy  pedagogy  affinityspaces  design  yu-gi-oh  education 
january 2009 by robertogreco
Spotlight on DML | Pinkard: Videogames Inspire a Different Design for Classroom Learning
"U of Chicago’s North Kenwood Oakland MS and the Center for Urban School Improvement’s Digital Youth Network team used principles such as those outlined by Jim Gee's book... to design a real-life simulation for our incoming sixth grade students."
education  media  music  games  videogames  play  learning  design  programs  schools  students  children  creativity  jamespaulgee 
february 2007 by robertogreco

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