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    Research Items (91)
    Digital music technologies have evolved by leaps and bounds over the last 10 years. The most popular digital music games allow gamers to experience the performativity of music, long before they have the requisite knowledge and skills, by playing with instrument-shaped controllers (e.g. Guitar Hero, Rock Band, Sing Star, Wii Music), while others involve plugging conventional electric guitars into a game console to learn musical technique through gameplay (e.g. Rocksmith). Many of these digital music environments claim to have educative potential, and some are actually used in music classrooms. This article discusses the findings from a pilot study to explore what high school age students could gain in terms of musical knowledge, skill and understanding from these games. We found students improved from pre- to post-assessment in different areas of musicianship after playing Sing Party, Wii Music and Rocksmith, as well as a variety of games on the iPad.
    There is a great deal of enthusiasm for the use of games in formal educational contexts; however, there is a notable and problematic lack of studies that make use of replicable study designs to empirically link games to learning (Young, et al., 2012). This paper documents the iterative design and development of an educationally focused game, Compareware in Flash and for the iPad. We also report on a corresponding pilot study of 146 Grades 1 and 2 students playing the game, a paper and pencil related activity and completing a pre- and post-test. The paper outlines preliminary findings from the play testing, which included high levels of student engagement, an approaching statistical improvement from pre- to post-test, and a discussion of the improvements that needed to be made to the game following the pilot study. L’utilisation du jeu dans les contextes éducatifs officiels suscite beaucoup d’enthousiasme. Cependant, le manque d’études qui utilisent des modèles pouvant être répétés pour relier les jeux et l’apprentissage de manière empirique est remarquable et problématique (Young et coll., 2012). Cet article documente la conception et le développement itératifs d’un jeu aux accents éducatifs, Compareware, en Flash et pour l’iPad. Nous traitons également d’une étude pilote correspondante dans le cadre de laquelle 146 élèves de 1re et 2e année ont joué au jeu, réalisé une activité connexe à l’aide de crayons et de papier et passé des tests avant et après. L’article résume les conclusions préliminaires des essais du jeu, y compris des taux élevés d’engagement des élèves, l’amélioration statistique entre les tests avant et après le jeu, ainsi qu’une discussion des améliorations à faire au jeu après l’étude pilote.
    'Community participation' has, over the past decades, become a key component of nature conservation initiatives worldwide. 'Participation', a term that signals the involvement of local stakeholders in conservation practices, is central to Integrative Natural Protected Areas (INPAs) in Latin America, where INPAs have become the dominant form of environmental protection policy and biodiversity research. Based on an analysis of the Sierra de Huautla Biosphere Reserve (SDHBR) in Mexico, this paper describes different and frequently conflicting understandings and practices of community integration. Drawing upon Situational Analysis (SA), we examine the forms through which local participation may be coordinated, in advance, by extra-local conservation agencies. We then trace competing forms of participation where local stakeholders devise tactics to challenge imposed policy templates and articulate their own co-emerging interests. By interrogating a neoliberal rhetoric of inclusion, and by re-mapping local participation on the ground, we make visible an approach to socio-natural conservation research that is more critical, more accountable, and more attentive to local agency.
    In this study, we examine what and how intermediate age students learned from playing in a health-focused game-based digital learning environment, Epidemic. Epidemic is a playful interactive environment designed to deliver factual knowledge, invite critical understanding, and encourage effective self-care practices in dealing with viral contagious diseases, using a social networking interface to integrate both serious games and game-like multimodal design projects. Epidemic invites a playful approach to its deadly serious core concern - communicable disease - in order to see what happens when students are encouraged to critically approach information from multiple or contradictory perspectives. To identify what participants learned while interacting within Epidemic, we deployed two instructional and assessment models, noting the differences each instructional approach could potentially make, and what approach to assessment might help us evaluate game-based learning. We found that each approach provided importantly different perspectives on what and how students learned, and on the very meaning of student success. Recognizing that traditional assessment tools based in print-cultural literacy may prove increasingly ill-suited for assessing emergent multimodal literacies in game-based learning environments, this study seeks to contribute to a growing body of work on the development of novel assessments for learning.
    Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) player data has been used to investigate a variety of questions, ranging from the sociality of small groups, to patterns of economic decision making modeled across entire game servers. To date, MMOG player research has primarily drawn on data (e.g. server-side logs, observational data) collected while players (and their avatars) were actively participating in the gameworld under investigation. MMOGs are persistent worlds where avatars are held in stasis when the player logs out of the game, and this is a feature that allows players to return after an extended absence to " pick up where they left off ". In this paper we explore the sorts of information that can be gleaned by examining avatars after their creators have played them for the last time. Our preliminary findings are that " abandoned " avatars still contain a wealth of information about the people who created them, opening up new possibilities for the study of players and decision making in MMOGs.
    This article explores the play practices of EVE Online industrialists: those primarily responsible for generating the materials and equipment that drive the game’s robust economy. Applying the concept of “immaterial labor” to this underattended aspect of the EVE community, we consider the range of communicative and informational artifacts and activities industrialists enact in support of their involvement in the game—work that happens both in game and crucially outside of it. Moving past the increasingly anachronistic distinctions between digitally mediated labor and leisure, in game and out of game, we examine the relations of production in which these players are situated: to other EVE players, in-game corporations, the game’s developer, and the broader digital economy. Seen from this perspective, we consider the extent to which EVE both ideologically and economically supports the extension of capital into increasing aspects of our everyday lives—a “game” in which many play, but few win.
    In this article we describe an investigation of player expertise deployed as part of a mixed-methods longitudinal, multi-site study that examined whether and how players’ offline characteristics are recognizable in their online interactions in Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs). After detailing our methodology and analytical toolkit, we narrow our focus to a case study that examines three players with previous experience in First-Person Shooter (FPS) games playing Rift (Trion Worlds 2011) (a fantasy-themed MMOG) for the very first time. This case study illuminates how interpretation of data can be inadvertently influenced by the researcher’s choice of technologies and methods employed in their study design. In particular, we demonstrate that initial research assessments of a player’s level of skill may be inaccurate and how the use of multiple data sources acts as a means for triangulating observations and analyses providing a richer - yet more complicated - view of player expertise.
    Video game playing has been associated with improvements in cognitive abilities that predict success in STEM fields, and therefore understanding this relationship is important. In two experiments, we used a virtual Morris Water Maze (VMWM) with and without proximal cues to measure spatial learning as a total of 82 video game experts and novices completed a search task across several trials. We measured the participants’ path lengths and tested their mental rotation abilities. The results showed that proximal cues improved overall performance. With no visible cues, experts exhibited better performance than novices when their memory for the general location of the platform was probed. With visible cues, video game experts travelled shorter path lengths than novices to the exact location of the hidden platform. Mental rotation ability correlated with overall maze performance only when no cues were visible, and only novices’ scores correlated with path length in this condition. These studies showed that the VMWM is a useful paradigm in examining how past video game experience influences human spatial cognition.
    As more of our lives are spent online, often in environments in which we interact with others through virtual characters (“avatars”), there remains a gulf between how player practices are documented and theorized, and the complex gendered identity work players actually carry out. This paper draws on a mixed-methods study of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs), with a sample of 359 players and 659 avatars that compares male and female players with regards to two practices: selecting opposite-sexed avatars and customizing avatar appearance. Unlike other studies of MMORPG players that focus on players' customization and use of one particular avatar, this analysis is driven by a consideration of players' multiple avatars. In so doing, we demonstrate how MMORPG play is characterized by gendered practices far more nuanced than can be revealed through a “one-to-one” understanding of the identificatory practices of players and their avatars.
    Building upon a recent call to renew actor-network theory (ANT) for educational research, this article reconsiders relations between technology and educational theory. Taking cues from actor-network theorists, this discussion considers the technologically-mediated networks in which learning actors are situated, acted upon, and acting, and traces the novel positions of creative capacity and participation that emerging media may enable. Whereas traditional theories of educational technology tend to focus on the harmonization of new technologies with extant curricular goals and educational practices, an educational theory of technology looks to novel forms of technologically-mediated learning experience—from production pedagogies to role play in the virtual—to make visible the surprising relations, techniques, and opportunities that emerging media, and their attendant social contexts, may offer educational research.
    Gender and feminism are inextricably linked, as a feminist approach has gender as an analytical focal point. In games, this has meant challenging persisting biological determinist approaches that cast women and girls as less able than their male counterparts when it comes to both making and playing games. It has also meant tracing and documenting the marginal roles women play both as players and designers of games. This entry focuses on five significant areas of inquiry by researchers studying North American and European player populations: player participation, gender representations in games, pink games, gender and the video game industry, and gendered harassment in games.
    As research on virtual worlds gains increasing attention in educational, commercial, and military domains, a consideration of how player populations are ‘reassembled’ through social scientific data is a timely matter for communication scholars. This paper describes a large-scale study of virtual worlds in which participants were recruited at public gaming events, as opposed to through online means, and explores the dynamic relationships between players and contexts of play that this approach makes visible. Challenging conventional approaches to quantitatively driven virtual worlds research, which categorizes players based on their involvement in an online game at a particular point in time, this account demonstrates how players' networked gaming activities are contingent on who they are playing with, where, and when.
    Public education in the 21C presents high needs schools with significant challenges and often unequal access to digital technologies. To address these concerns and build bridges across this digital divide, our research team conducted a one-year pilot project to develop a sustainable university-school partnership between our faculty of education and two local high needs elementary schools. The project is examined through several lenses, including the importance of university-school partnerships, advantages and challenges of the project, sustainability, leadership in high needs schools, school improvement factors, the role of community involvement and the effect of comprehensive school health on student achievement. In this article, we describe the initial formation of a partnership between the university and two schools identified as high needs by Educational Quality and Accountability Office scores, as well as low SES and demographics indicating low levels of educational aspiration and achievement. University professors, administrators, classroom teachers, students and preservice teacher candidates, worked collaboratively to lay the groundwork for a research-based and sustainable partnership by bringing the resources, strengths, skills and expertise of the schools and the faculty of education directly to bear on the “digital divide” experienced in these schools and to provide collaborative support to improve student achievement.
    Background We contend that a conceptual conflation of simulation and imitation persists at the heart of claims for the power of game-based simulations for learning. Recent changes in controller-technologies and gaming systems, we argue, make this conflation of concepts more readily apparent, and its significant educational implications more evident.
    This paper begins with the most obvious, and yet most elusive, of educational media ecologies, the buildings which are ‹home› to pedagogic communication and interaction, and considers how we might understand «building as interface», construed first as a noun, («a structure with roof and walls» – OED) referring to places as physical structures, and then as a verb, («the action or trade of constructing something» – OED), referring to the activities of construction through which we can engage technologies central to theory, research and practice. Our concern is with exploring the larger question of educational sustainability: with what ‹sustainability› means when applied to a specifically educational context, and with the sustainability of the kinds of emerging educational environments in which new information and communications technologies play a significant role. This question of sustainable educational environments is driven by a need to be responsible and accountable for the impact of the technologies and practices we eagerly embrace in the name of «21 st century learning», even as prospects for a 22 nd century are so rapidly receding from view. As one prominent media ecologist put the point: «we have to find the environments in which it will be possible to live with our new inventions» (McLuhan 1967, 124).
    A research project aimed at leveraging the resources of a faculty of education with its local high needs elementary schools.
    A research project aimed at leveraging the resources of a faculty of education with its local high needs elementary schools.
    This article identifies a set of persistent methodological and theoretical challenges to research on Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs), and to studies of virtual worlds more generally. Critically examining some of the ontological, epistemological and ethical lacunae and, in some cases, missteps that characterize well-respected, well-publicized and oft-cited research in what is now a prominent field of scholarly enquiry, this discussion addresses the need for firmer theoretical foundations to support more innovative, more rigorous and more accountable studies of digitally re-mediated, MMOG-based work, play and sociality.
    This article is a theoretical and empirical exploration of the meaning that accompanies contractual agreements, such as the End-User License Agreements (EULAs) that participants of online communities are required to sign as a condition of participation. As our study indicates, clicking “I agree” on the often lengthy conditions presented during the installation and updating process typically permits third parties (including researchers) to monitor the digitally-mediated actions of users. Through our small-scale study in which we asked participants which terms of EULAs they would find agreeable, the majority confirmed that they simply clicked through the terms presented to them without much knowledge about the terms to which they were agreeing. From a research ethics standpoint, we reflect upon whether or not informed consent is achieved in these cases and pose a challenge to the academic research community to attend to the socio-technical shift from informed consent to a more nebulous concept of contractual agreement, online and offline.
    It's a now familiar refrain among both players and academics that healing is a 'feminine' activity and tanking a 'masculine' one within Massively Multiplayer Online Games. In this paper we present data from a multi-site study of World of Warcraft and Rift that examines this stereotype across novice and expert players. Our findings suggest that gender role stereotyping is progressively internalized as players become more competent in their gameworld of choice, with experts being more likely than novices to adopt this convention in their avatar selection.
    This paper addresses a set of persistent methodological and theoretical challenges to research on Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs), and to studies of 'virtual worlds' more generally. Critically examining some of the ontological, epistemological and ethical missteps that characterize well-respected, well-publicized and oft-cited research, our goal is to contribute to building firmer theoretical foundations to support more innovative, more rigorous and more accountable studies of digitally re-mediated, MMOG-based work, play and sociality.
    In this paper, we consider the impacts of game addons on conventional notions of game-based expertise in World of Warcraft, through the analysis of 37 travelogues - a data collection tool designed for use in MMOG research. We adopt a multi-faceted definition of gaming expertise as described by Taylor, Jenson, De Castell and Humphrey [33] and we apply their categorization of expertise modalities to the addons named by our study participants. We find that the most commonly understood expressions of expertise in games (time investment and skill) are less represented in the addons reported by our participants.
    In the context of diminishing opportunities for music learning in formal education, our team of educational researchers was given the opportunity to create a learning game for the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra in Toronto, Canada. In this chapter, we document the design and play-testing of a Flash-based Baroque music game, Tafelkids: The Quest for Arundo Donax, focusing on the tensions that arose between the directive to include historical facts about Baroque music and culture on one hand and, on the other, the need to produce opportunities for pleasurable play for an audience aged 8–14. We begin by setting out the concept of “ludic epistemology” in order to situate our design efforts within an emerging pedagogical paradigm, and we review key instances in our design process where we encountered this tension between two very different notions about the relationship of play to learning. Similar tensions arose in our play-testing sessions with over 150 students. We conclude with a discussion of the particular challenges for this educational game in enacting a bridge from propositions to play, digitally remediating a traditional approach to Baroque music education to address the broader epistemological question of what and how we come to know through play.
    With the increasing popularity of massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) such as World of Warcraft, EVE Online, and Maple Story, attempts have been made to define and measure player expertise both within and across online games. Apart from nuanced ethnographic accounts of elite players, which are deliberately localized and small-scale, studies of MMOG expertise to date have either deployed one-dimensional variables such time spent playing and in-game titles and accomplishments, or a combination of the these. These approaches risk obscuring a host of complex considerations, such as players' prior experience with the game or genre, their relationships to other players, and the ludic affordances and limitations of specific games. And they are also significantly less sophisticated than the criteria and tools players themselves use to measure expertise. Our study of expertise in online games is guided by Bruno Latour's injunction to "follow the actors"---which for us in this case meant paying careful attention to how players themselves characterize and pursue 'expertise' in the everyday realities of their everyday/everynight MMOG lives. Drawing from a multisite, mixed-methods study of 250 MMOG players in 8 sites (both university laboratory and public LAN events), this paper proposes a model for identifying and assessing expertise that is better able to take into consideration the multiple forms, components and expressions of 'expert' game playing that players themselves are guided by. This model divides expertise into four inter-related modalities, each addressing a different set of competencies: investment, skill, discourse, and game knowledge. Reviewing each modality in turn, the paper frames this model as an attempt to preserve the complexity of qualitatively-driven, ethnographic accounts of expertise, mobilized in a quantifiable and measurable way.
    New practices associated with the Internet are profoundly affecting many aspects of daily life and learning. The flood of information online, and the increased use of mobile and internet-based platforms, affect from whom, where and what we learn, how we constitute and engage with learning communities, and how we trust online information and relationships. New paradigms are emerging around key concepts of multimodality, networked learning, participatory practice, e-learning, gaming, and ubiquitous learning. This panel examines a decade of transformation in learning practices and addresses recent and continuing changes in how we learn with and through digital media, how this challenges current notions of literacy and learning, and how digital media can be leveraged to support educational initiatives.
    This paper reports on findings from a three-year, Canadian federally funded research project entitled “Education, Gender and Gaming” in which we documented the play practices of girls and boys playing console-based games. We show, in particular, how many of the presumptions and assumptions about “girls playing games” simply do not hold over time, or given a particular context. We therefore attempt to show how our research practices and methodologies help to shape what we have thus far taken as “evidence” or “facts” about gender and illustrate how some of those presumptions might not necessarily hold over time or given different contexts.
    This paper documents the design, development, and extensive play-testing of a Flash-based Baroque music game, “Tafelkids: The Quest for Arundo Donax”, focusing on the tension between constructing an online resource that an audience aged 8-14 would find fun and engaging, and the directive to include historical information and facts, as well as convey some of the sounds, musical structures and conventions of Baroque music, history and culture through play. We further document 3 large play testing sessions, in which we observed, in total, over 150 students aged 12-14 play the game. We conclude with a discussion of the particular challenges in designing a bridge from propositions to play, in effect digitally re-mediating, Baroque music education and thereby address the broader epistemological question of what and how we may best learn, and learn best, from games and play. Author Keywords Educational games, serious games, music education, play
    With the increasing popularity of massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs) such as World of Warcraft, EVE Online, and Maple Story, attempts have been made to define and measure player expertise both within and across online games. Apart from nuanced ethnographic accounts of elite players, which are deliberately localized and small-scale, studies of MMOG expertise to date have either deployed one-dimensional variables such time spent playing and in-game titles and accomplishments, or a combination of the these. These approaches risk obscuring a host of complex considerations, such as players' prior experience with the game or genre, their relationships to other players, and the ludic affordances and limitations of specific games. And they are also significantly less sophisticated than the criteria and tools players themselves use to measure expertise. Our study of expertise in online games is guided by Bruno Latour's injunction to "follow the actors"---which for us in this case meant paying careful attention to how players themselves characterize and pursue 'expertise' in the everyday realities of their everyday/everynight MMOG lives. Drawing from a multisite, mixed-methods study of 250 MMOG players in 8 sites (both university laboratory and public LAN events), this paper proposes a model for identifying and assessing expertise that is better able to take into consideration the multiple forms, components and expressions of 'expert' game playing that players themselves are guided by. This model divides expertise into four inter-related modalities, each addressing a different set of competencies: investment, skill, discourse, and game knowledge. Reviewing each modality in turn, the paper frames this model as an attempt to preserve the complexity of qualitatively-driven, ethnographic accounts of expertise, mobilized in a quantifiable and measurable way.
    This paper offers a case study of the design, development, and play-testing of a Flash-based Baroque music game,“Tafelkids: The Quest for Arundo Donax”, focusing on the tension between constructing an online resource that an audience aged 8–14 would find engaging, and the directive to include historical information and facts, as well as convey some of the sounds, musical structures and conventions of Baroque music, history and culture through play. We begin by setting out some basic theoretical principles around game-based learning, in particular, introducing the concept of“ludic epistemology”, in order to situate our design efforts within an emerging pedagogical paradigm. After detailing the game’s design, we document 3 play-testing sessions in which we observed, in total, over 150 students aged 12–14 play the game. We conclude with a discussion of the particular challenges in designing a bridge from propositions to play, digitally re-mediating a traditional approach to Baroque music education to address the broader epistemological question of what and how we may best learn, and learn best, from play.
    This paper provides an overview of the persisting inequitable experiences, conditions and attributions that have thus far defined and delimited what and how girls play. Breaking away from previous research that sought to catalogue ‘gender differences’, but really only conflated facts about gender with facts about relative skill level, this article reports on the observed play patterns, pleasures and preferences of girls and boys who were at the same skill level. We argue that if there is to be some hope of changing these de-limited and limiting repetitions in gender and gaming research, it is probably as much or more through technical innovation than through ideological transformation. Strategic interventionistresearch practice makes possible structurally divergent directions for play that might in time destabilize the resilient ideological containment-field of theory, practice, research and development concerning girls and gaming.
    Attention has been a focus of much of the work I’ve done over the last several years, and in particular the ‘attentional economies’ (Lankshear and Knobel, 2002; de Castell and Jenson, 2005) involving teachers and learners in both classroom-based and non-formal educational environments. What has become very clear is the need to distinguish between attentional behaviours, and other, more complex, more demanding and more generally ‘educative’ kinds of attention. I’m drawn to the idea of ‘exquisite attention’, (Lather 2007:16) and particularly interested in the pleasures of attention, as well of course as its productivity. Maybe its exquisiteness, a pleasure of attention, can be related to its productivity. We have long known that attention can be productive indeed, all by itself, seemingly. Consider the Hawthorne Effect, notorious among researchers---as soon as I begin to pay attention to you, you get better at what you are doing. Having other people pay close and careful attention to what you are doing often helps you do it better. But I want to argue that exquisite attention can never come from other people, but only from ourselves. And I want to set out some ways to see an ethics, an epistemology and a pedagogy in this small claim. Probably many of us gain considerable enjoyment from having other people pay attention to our work, but I’m going to argue that this is a mistake, and a misleading one, in several important ways.
    In this paper we explore the gritty terrain of academic dis/honesty as it is currently being reformulated through new technological affordances. We examine in depth the purchasing of technologically enabled plagiarism detection ‘services’ by higher education institutions in an effort to better understand underlying assumptions about epistemology, learning and cognition in a digitally (re)mediated ‘knowledge economy.’ In particular we argue that questions of intellectual property are today largely driven by new economies of knowledge privileging strategically self-interested individualism, and aimed at private accumulation of knowledge ‘capital’ whose exchange value drives a corresponding call for the policing of those boundaries. Such conceptions and motivations, we argue, promote a misperception that imitation and appropriation are no longer educationally ‘of value,’ and divert our attention away from far more urgent investigations into the ways in which new technological tools are changing what we know and how we know.
    This review of gender and gameplay research over the past three decades documents a set of persistent methodological repetitions that have systematically impeded its progress since the inception of this trajectory of research. The first is, in fact, a refusal to consider gender at all: Conflating gender with sex impedes possibilities to identify nonstereotypical engagements by girls and women. Second is the persistent attempt to identify sex-specific “patterns” of play and play preferences “characteristic” of girls and women mainly to support and promote these in the name of “gender equity,” whether in women’s involvement in the game industry as designers, in the development and marketing of “games for girls,” or the access and uses of digital games for education, training, and entertainment. Third, it is found that “gender” is an issue in research studies only long enough to dismiss it as a significant variable, which in turn makes any deeper critical interrogation unproductive.
    In this case study, we document the development and user-testing of Epidemic: Self-care for Crisis, an online educational resource that invites users (aged 14--20) to develop game-based knowledge and practices around prevention, self-care and (mis)information in the face of contagious diseases -- a timely project, given the ongoing anxieties, and false (and not so false) alarms, over SARS, Avian Flu, and H1N1. Contagion, the forerunner to Epidemic, mobilized the conventions and mechanics of single-player adventure games to engage players 'experientially' with health-and disease-related understandings: we configured the same basic self-care information as "narrative knowledge" [27] intended to mobilize players' attention and intelligence voluntarily, using narrative as a rhetorical strategy. We were using narrative's traditional, paradigmatic function within literate cultural forms of interpellation---stories of playful, pleasurable persuasion designed to engage players, Epidemic takes a decidedly different tack towards delivering the same educational content. Reconfiguring digital play within social networking conventions affords us a design-based platform for fundamental theory development in game-based learning. Epidemic's modular, Flash and XML-based design allows for accessible and straightforward creation and editing of educational 'content', both textual and visual: players can generate and publish their own virus-like avatars, stop-motion animations, and disease-related public service announcements. Some interesting divergences in play-based education on community health/self care, between interactive narrative and social-networking configurations for ludic knowledge representation, appear noteworthy. Our user-testing, we argue, signifies a further innovation in the field of educational game design, leaving behind the clichéd concern over 'what did you learn today' in favor of focusing on when and how laughter, engagement and attention are most at work. Taken together, these innovations instantiate an approach to digitally-mediated learning that construes and practices assessment differently than in traditional education (and in educational technology design), which are more concerned with propositionally identifiable learning outcomes. In the case of Epidemic, however, we are more concerned with how play-based learning design can best support the cultivation of responsible and critically-informed attitudes towards public health.
    This chapter describes and analyzes the design and development of an educational game, Contagion. In this account, we examine how knowledge is constructed through character selection, art, narrative, goals, and activity structures within the game, and attempt to show how those inter-related elements are mobilized to create an educational experience.
    In this chapter, we take a fresh look at gender and digital gameplay. Rather than repeat the stereotypes of who plays what, how, and why, we show how our own preconceptions about gender keep surprises at bay, reinforcing, instead, oft-cited ideologies. As researchers, we are entitled to be surprised by our findings. Serious interpretive work, in conjunction with alternative methodologies, promise very different findings from the expected, and accepted, assumptions about women and girls and their involvement in gameplay.
    In recent years, a ‘professional’ digital gaming industry has emerged in North America: this interconnected series of organisations and leagues host competitive gaming tournaments (often televised) in which young, mostly male participants compete for increasingly lucrative prize money and sponsorship contracts. Taking up Jo Bryce and Jason Rutter's (2005) challenge to confront the ways girl gamers are rendered ‘invisible’ by gamers, researchers and designers, this paper maps the various ways women participate in a set of practices around the organisation, promotion and performance of competitive gaming, framed as the exclusive domain of (young, straight, middle class) male bodies. Mothers flying their sons' teams to events all over North America, female players participating in tournaments or promotional models operating sponsorship booths, the women who participate in competitive gaming tournaments negotiate different expectations and carry out different kinds of embodied work. Each of these ‘roles’, however, is tenuously maintained within a community that most commonly reads female participation in sexualised terms: mothers at events describe themselves as ‘cheerleaders’, female players risk being labelled as ‘halo hoes’ and promotional models become ‘booth babes’.
    The goal of this research was to understand life with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Medical practice, based in biomedicine, focuses on physical aspects of illness. A sociocultural case studies approach was used to develop a "situated" understanding of life for 4 people with ESRD. This research revealed that life with ESRD is work. The collaborative engagement in this work is overlooked by biomedical stud-ies that focus on illness as a physical condition of individuals. Medical knowledge is argued to be epistemically deficient in it's failure to consider the 3 critical sources of knowledge: practitioners, par-ticipants, and participants' significant others. This research identifies the need for a bridge between the home world and the hospital world, creating a broader community of practice.
    In this paper we make use of the theoretical resources of actor network theory as a 'frame' within which to organize video data we have been collecting on playing, and more specifically, on girls learning to play, digital games. Through a microanalysis of interaction, we closely examine intersecting trajectories of control --self, other, and technology --within the context of game play. Using MAP, a software program that supports multimodal analysis, we offer an illustrated account of the microgenesis of competence in collaborative, technologically-supported gameplay, drawing attention to developmentally significant behavioural regularities which, because they are embodied and not necessarily cognitive-linguistic in character, have not typically been evidenced in research on collaborative learning. A particular contribution of this paper is its study of group play, a relatively under-studied topic in gameplay research, and a perspective that has allowed us to look specifically at the phenomenon of the distributed development of competence central to learning in and through collaborative play.
    In this paper, we briefly outline some of the early research in the field of digital games and education that attempted to answer the question of what and how people learn from playing games. We then turn to the recent revolution in gameplay controllers (from the classic controller to the touch screen, Wii wand, plastic guitars, microphones, minitennis racquets and plastic drums) to argue that gameplay has only just undergone a significant epistemological shift, one that no longer sees gameplay as the simulation of actions on a screen, but instead enables imitation as the central element of gameplay, perhaps effectively for the first time giving players access to a form of play-based learning relegated to the very young. This radical modification of the way games are played, from simulation to imitation, has already attracted new audiences: in Japan, female players exceed male players on the handheld Nintendo DS, in the U.S. and in Canada and elsewhere seniors' homes are purchasing the Nintendo Wii (with its suite of sports and fitness games) to encourage residents to exercise, and since December 2007, when Rock Band deftly beat out Guitar Hero as everyone's favourite game in which players form a band and play using a "guitar", drums and a microphone as controllers. It has never been so obvious that playing games is not a "solo" act: the player is both acting and acted upon by the technology, and his/her play is very much situated within a broader network of actions, actors and activities which are community-based and supported. The question of what and how players are learning in games has been at the forefront of research on education and gameplay in the last several years when we began to ask what and how people learned from playing commercial entertainment-oriented digital games. Long viewed as artifacts of an "unpopular culture," particularly by educators and educational theorists, commercial videogames are now recognized as highly effective learning environments where player (as learner) agency is paramount, and where the acquisition of knowledge and competency is infused in engaging and pleasurable play, not a prescribed task (de Castell and Jenson, 2003, 2005; Gee 2003, 2005; Prensky, 2006; Squire, 2002). As such, the primary argument for the paper will be to examine new controllers not as simulative experiences, but as technologies of imitation that support players' embodied competence, rather than players' ability to simulate such competence. This hitherto neglected distinction appears to lie at the heart of ubiquitous claims for the power of learning through game-based simulations, and propose that framing inquiry in the terms of what are distinctively meant and offered by simulation and imitation to be a critical conceptual tool for developing theories and practices of digital game-based learning. Whose conflation is at the heart of ubiquitous claims for the power of learning through game-based simulations.
    This paper documents the design and development of a Flashbased Baroque music game, "Tafelkids: The Quest for Arundo Donax", focusing on the tension between constructing an online resource that an audience aged 8--14 would find fun and engaging, and the directive to include historical information and facts, as well as convey some of the sounds, musical structures and conventions of Baroque music, history and culture through play. We begin by contextualizing the game as a collaboration between our team of university-based researchers and the Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra, two groups with quite different histories -- and understandings - of educational media design. We introduce the problem of how to go about creating a media artifact that would "make public", in a compelling and playable way, key features of Baroque music. We then describe a design process in which we tried to bridge the representation of "expert knowledge" about Baroque music with some of the mechanics used in popular music-based games. A discussion of these particular challenges in designing a bridge from propositions to play, in effect digitally remediating, Baroque music education, concludes by addressing the broader epistemological question of what and how we may best learn, and learn best, from games and play.
    As professors working in faculties of education for the past ten years researching digital gameplay and the design and development of games for education, the authors have often been asked whether digital games are good or bad for children. The discourse of good/bad is a slippery one and the authors believe that digital games, like television, film, and books in the past, require ongoing study and attention. In this article, the authors briefly outline some of the early research in the field of digital games and education that attempted to answer the question of what and how people learn from playing games. The authors then turn to the recent revolution in gameplay controllers to illustrate how gameplay has undergone a significant epistemological shift--one that no longer sees it as the simulation of actions on a screen, but instead uses imitation as its central element, perhaps for the first time effectively giving players access to a form of play-based learning previously relegated to the very young. (Contains 6 notes.)
    This paper documents the development of an educationally focused web-based game, Contagion, detailing how such a practical development project has led us to re-theorize questions about what is "educational," and how and in what ways that relates to the ludic. With reference to and within the framework of design-based research, we detail here the challenges we encountered designing this "alternative" game, and how we came to see content, not simply as "what the game is about" but as essentially tied to and enacted through all aspects of the game. We argue that content, that is educationally valuable knowledge, is infused through all relational aspects of the game as the player's activities accomplishments: character selection, art, narrative, programming, goals, game structures and play. Each of these aspects and challenges of game-design are explored in an effort to show how knowledge is constructed through these inter-related elements, and to further understand how and why that might matter to future game development projects.
    This paper reports on findings from a three-year, Canadian federally funded research project entitled "Education, Gender and Gaming". Our study of gender and digital game-playing was driven by two significant factors: first, that far more boys than girls play video games, and boys' early and sustained experience with gaming places them at an advantage with respect to computer competence and confidence. Second, not only are computer-based media increasingly central tools for learning and work, but in fact games are increasingly being recruited in educational contexts. This eager uptake for educational deployment of game-based learning threatens to compound and intensify girls' disadvantage. It is therefore even more urgent that educationally-based research reinvestigates stereotypical presumptions about gender as they relate to computer-based game playing for children in order to make it possible for girls to participate more fully and equally in technology-related fields. In this way, the new push to design educational games might better be informed by as full an understanding as possible of girls' perspectives on and participation in gaming, and about the kinds of games, characters, and overall approaches to "play" that might better engage and involve girls, who are already very much participating in gaming culture.
    This paper explores an intensity-based approach to sound feedback in systems for embodied learning. We describe a theoretical framework, design guidelines, and the implementation of and results from an informant workshop. The specific context of embodied activity is considered in light of the challenges of designing meaningful sound feedback, and a design approach is shown to be a generative way of uncovering significant sound design patterns. The exploratory workshop offers preliminary directions and design guidelines for using intensity-based ambient sound display in interactive learning environments. The value of this research is in its contribution towards the development of a cohesive and ecologically valid model for using audio feedback in systems, which can guide embodied interaction. The approach presented here suggests ways that multi-modal auditory feedback can support interactive collaborative learning and problem solving.
    This paper is about the persistent absence of critical interpretation in work focused on gender and gameplay. Since its beginnings, research (and resulting practice) in this area has moved little if at all from the early work in the path-breaking Cassells and Jenkins volume dedicated to girls and gaming. In the currently very well-regarded and oft-cited volume on "girl-friendly" game design, Sheri Graner-Ray re-instates the gamut of gender stereotypes by now so familiar as to have become "canonical" for the field. In this paper we illustrate some theoretical, research, and practice dilemmas, and, drawing upon sophisticated interpretive work in gender studies and on socio-cultural approaches to research, we propose some tactics for re- thinking the very terms and conditions of this by now clearly resilient orthodoxy about "what girls like best," arguing that until we are able to be surprised by its findings, we can be fairly confident that games studies research into gender accomplishes little beyond re-instating and further legitimating inequality of access, condition and opportunity. This is no game: no fun, and no fair.
    This paper reports on a short-term ethnographic participatory action research project that engaged urban Canadian, street-involved "queer and questioning" youth in a multi-media enabled inquiry into peer housing and support needs. The "Pridehouse Project" (http://www.sfu.ca/pridehouse) was initiated by, and accountable to, a community-based housing support group. These responsibilities raised central critical questions about education, epistemology, and ethics in identity-based, socially activist, research. The dual role of ethnography as both research and pedagogy is here illustrated, and the educational value of productive activity-based learning in non-formal settings, particularly for youth inhabiting the margins of mainstream social life, is argued for. (Contains 16 notes.)
    Attention is a critically important consideration in the design and development of virtual environments for learning, in fact, their very existence depends upon it. Unlike the independent reality of material classrooms and teachers and textbooks, virtual educational realities must address learner attention as an essential condition of their functioning. For just as digital texts are “written” only as they are read—appearing as readable text only when users scroll through them—so for virtual knowledge-artifacts, their very existence is conditional upon user attention. In this respect, a virtual tree falling in a digital forest is not at all like a real tree falling in a real forest. The latter, we may at least argue, still makes a resounding crash, whereas the former’s silence makes the virtual tree no tree at all—neither sound nor forest nor tree itself comes to “life” until some user activates the would-be event with eyes to see and ears to hear. An information society, a society in which information is designated the primary commodity to be produced, marketed, and consumed, has attention as its primary currency. Education has always sought to cultivate a “knowledge society”, and has therefore always had attention as its primary currency: In this respect, if in no other, education is a step ahead in the “information society” game, having given considerable thought and paid considerable attention to the culture and management of attention. In schools, attention, both of students and by their teachers has been “traded” for marks, for disciplinary action, for praise. It is captured and held by compulsory schooling laws and, more traditionally, by fear—fear of failure, fear of corporal punishment, and fear of disapproval. And Teachers typically positioned themselves as the center of attention, at the front of the class, “all eyes forward”, and as the central figure in the distribution of information (text books, worksheets, library) and knowledge (subject matter).
    This paper examines gender and computer game playing, in particular questions of identity, access and playful engagement with these technologies. Because computer-based media are not only central tools for learning and work, and because games and simulations are increasingly being recruited as educational and instructional genres, it is likewise exceedingly important, from an educational equity standpoint to examine the ways in which rapidly evolving computer game- based learning initiatives threaten to compound and intensify girls' computer disadvantage, a cumulative dis-entitlement from computer-based educational and occupational opportunities.
    Challenging formal education's traditional monopoly over the mass-scale acculturation of youth, the technological infrastructure of the new economy brings in its wake a new “attentional economy” in which any “connected” adult or child owns and controls a full economic share of her or his own attention. For youth who have never known the text-bound world from which their elders have come, new technologies afford them far greater power and greatly expanded rights that enable them to decide for themselves what they can see, think, and do, as their teachers grapple with ways to attract, rather than compel, students' voluntary attention. This paper reviews various formulations of “attentional economy,” and it urges the study of popular forms of technologically enabled play. These technologies effectively mobilize, direct, and sustain the engaged attention of youth, whose learning in and through play far exceeds the kind of glazed-eyed button-mashing complained of by those who have made little effort to understand the educative prospects of computer gaming.
    This article describes how a feminist intervention project in Canada focused on girls' more equitable access to and use of computers created significant opportunities for girls to develop and experience new identities as technology ‘experts’ within their school. In addition to a significant increase in participants' own technological expertise, there was a marked shift in the ways in which they talked about and negotiated their own gender identities with teachers and other students. Most significantly, the participants in the project became increasingly vocal about what they saw as inequitable practices in the daily operation of the school as well as those they were subject to by their teachers. This created, within the otherwise resilient macro-culture of the school, a more supportive climate for the advancement of gender equity well beyond the confines of its computer labs. We suggest that while equity-oriented school-level change is notoriously difficult to sustain, its most enduring impact might rather be participants' initiation into a discourse to which they had not previously experienced school-sanctioned access: a discourse in which to give voice to gender-specific inequities too long quieted by complacent discourses of “equality for all.”
    Cet article propose une reflexion sur la perspective d'un enseignement ludique et divertissant s'appuyant sur l'exemple des jeux (non educatifs) commerciaux et dont la cible pourrait etre ces memes joueurs.
    Gender inequities in technology are systemic in Canadian schools and workplaces (Status of Women Canada, 1997). Several recent analyses of British Columbia (BC) students? participation in technology?intensive areas of the public school curriculum have documented a range of these inequities (Braundy, O'Riley, Petrina, Dalley, & Paxton, 2000; Bryson & de Castell, 1998; Schaefer, 2000). In the BC Ministry of Education's (BC MOE) most recent technology policy report, Conditions for Success (1999), gender inequities are treated as symptoms of poor access, rather than as a systemic part of the school conditions themselves. Because the report's authors misapprehended the extent of inequities, BC MOE's Technology Advisory Committee recommended a distribution and integration of technologies to provide the new conditions for success in technology throughout BC's public schools. We argue that the inequities in the BC schools are systemic and cannot be understood without an adequate assessment of participation and performance data. We analyze provincial trends in gender?differentiated participation and performance of students in the technology?intensive courses of BC public secondary education, at a time in Canadian history when competence and confidence with a range of technologies are essential for full cultural participation. More financial resources are being directed to technology than to any other area in public school budgets. For the period 1998 to 2004, the BC government committed $ 123 million to establish a Provincial Learning Network to network BC's 1,700 public schools and improve access. Other provinces made similar commitments to information technology. Alberta, for example, invested $85 million for the same time period. Inasmuch as girls continue to be under?represented in technology courses, they have not benefited from the comparatively large financial investments in technology. Policy makers in Canadian public education require access to sex?disaggregated data, in order to create and implement equity?oriented strategies in technology. The research described here represents a step towards the development of an information?rich database for monitoring technology course enrolments in Canadian schools and has both policy and scholarly implications.
    This article offers a critical consideration of current initiatives, and concomitant discourses, exhorting educators to adopt and integrate digital tools on a large scale. Despite immense obstacles standing in the way of full-scale implementation, educational perspectives critical of the e-learning imperative are, for the most part, marginalized and/or ignored, as economic interests are prioritized over more specifically educational ones, and a new breed of entrepreneurial academics give intellectual legitimacy to commercial and corporate ideologies. New 'partnerships' of designers and developers committed to technology for its own sake now create products for the 'education marketplace,' with little or no experience of, or interest in, underlying educational goals, while explicitly educational theories are supplanted by a re-purposed economistic discourse. Two prominent examples of 'educational technology' are describe here: the "integrated learning system" and the "networked e-learning environment", and some contrasts are made to the authors' own, small-scale, school-based technology research and development efforts.?his latter type of interventionist work, designed to challenge business-as-usual in the culture of public schooling, offers a critical perspective on the typically under-theorized and unproblematic uptake and mis/uses of new technologies in school-based settings. It is proposed that one way of re-thinking the purposes and uses of new technologies for education might be to re-position common theoretical questions, asking not how education might use these new tools, but instead asking what, educationally, they might offer; instead of theorizing educational technology, then, the focus becomes an educational theory of technology. Adopting this reflexive stance, which views intervention activities as object lessons, provides instructive opportunities to learn from our tools even as we endeavor to rethink, not just their uses, but more fundamentally the prospects of digital technologies for reconceiving the very idea of a truly public education.
    The theoretical and practical constraints of identity formation for lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) persons with developmental disabilities are explored. Firstly, disability and queer theory and conceptions of identification and community are presented. This is followed by a synopsis of some of the common societal myths about disability and about homosexuality. Thirdly, we trace how these myths affect and filter into caregiver attitudes, lesbian and gay communities and communities of persons with disabilities, including developmental disabilities. All these factors conspire to inhibit self-identification as LGB for persons with developmental disabilities. It is further argued that neither disability theorists nor queer theorists have adequately accounted for such complex identities, and that, perhaps, a fusion of disability theory and queer theory may provide a more comprehensive lens to capture these complexities. We conclude with tentative yet practical suggestions to begin to create community for LGB persons with a developmental disability.
    Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge; where is the knowledge we have lost in information (Eliot 1934).
    This article's concern is with discourses of innovation, and it makes some instructive connections between techno romanticist discourses across two "irevolutions ": the industrial revolution at the dawn of the 19th century and the information revolution at the close of the 20th century. Its central question is this: Given the proliferation of futurist and neophilic rhetoric about the "digital revolution" and the wonders of computer-mediated learning, how can we explain teachers' less than enthusiastic participation in bringing about changes involving computers? This article draws on data from a 2-year study of the implementation of new technologies in 12 elementary schools across the province of British Columbia. In broad strokes, it is a study of failure, for what it does is document in some detail the very great divergences between what teachers actually do with computers in their classrooms and the enthusiastic claims and exhortations of educational administrators and policy makers with respect to the educational benefits of new technologies.
    Taking a lead from Textor et al's (1985) innovative project of "anticipatory anthropology," this article describes a project on gender, equity and new information technologies that is in its infancy. The authors offer a preliminary, "anticipatory" analysis of this project' s prospects and pitfalls. In search of a "community of research practice" having an explicit commitment to what we resort to calling "radical practice" in education/educational research, we invite others, using e-mail as a medium for a discourse community so focused, into an ongoing conversation concerned with marginalization, alterity, gender and identity as "tool-user," radical pedagogies and socio-culturally situated research practice/s. It is envisaged here that the formation of larger "community of alterity in practice" could substantially enlarge opportunities for critique, support and dialogue while there is yet some material difference which might be made to the work by these means. This anticipatory account of the Gentech Project is, accordingly, one conceptual space from which such a conversation might begin.
    This article examines tensions between post-structuralist theories of subjectivity and essentialist constructions of identity in the context of a lesbian studies course co-taught by the authors. We describe the goals, organizing principles, content, and outcomes of this engagement in the production of "queer pedagogy" — a radical form of educative praxis implemented deliberately to interfere with, to intervene in, the production of "normalcy" in schooled subjects. We argue for an explicit "ethics of consumption" in relation to curricular inclusions of marginalized subjects and subjugated knowledges. We conclude with a critical analysis of the way that, despite our explicit interventions, all of our discourses, all of our actions in this course were permeated with the continuous and inescapable backdrop of white heterosexual dominance, such that: (a) any subordinated identity always remained marginal and (b) "lesbian identity" in this institutions context was always fixed and stable, even in a course that explicitly critiqued, challenged, and deconstructed a monolithic "lesbian identity."
    A great deal has been written and said about reader/writer/text relations, and about the locus of authority over text interpretation. But this body of work, which emerges primarily from the field of literary criticism, although of substantial interest and importance to educators, fails to apply very well to the special case of relations among reader, writer, and textbook. This article proposes a view of the school textbook as a unique form of document (from the Latin docere: to teach), and discusses some distinctive differences in construction and interpretation between literary texts and fact-stating textbooks, respectively.
    This analysis of the alleged literacy crisis examines the historical origins and current consequences of the development of a technology for literacy instruction. Reliance on technocratic skills-based approaches, the authors argue, has resulted, on the one hand, in a gradual deskilling of teachers and, on the other hand, the production in students of a literal, uncritical, and mechanical relation to reading, writing, and the interpretation of texts. The authors contend that given the limited range and scope of what is today written and read by the majority, the mass production of such lower-order literacy represents no crisis but indeed is well suited to the demands of contemporary labor and culture.
    * Paper presented at the Tenth Annual Conference of the Philosophy of Education Society of A'asia, Brisbane, August 1979. It was submitted to Discourse by Helen Freeman prior to her tragic death. Permission to proceed with publication was subsequently authorised by Helen's co‐author.
    This study briefly examines contemporary approaches to literacy which, for purposes of clarification, it classifies in two basic categories: the "technocratic" (or "behaviorist") and the "progressive." The technocratic approach, it is argued, reduces the rich complexity of literate behavior in order to satisfy demands for a presumed scientific rigor and a simplified index of accountability. The progressive approach, on the other hand, acknowledges the complexity of literate behavior, yet fails to provide an analytical framework for a systematic investigation of its complexity. The authors discuss the currently popular concept of "functional literacy" in relation to the classical model of "high literacy." They further comment on Kirsch and Guthrie's (1977) attempt to extend and refine the notion of functional literacy. The focal concern of the authors is to outline the kinds of questions that must be asked in order to assess and to critically elaborate existing research into literacy achievement. They suggest, for example, that research must be guided by considerations of contextual factors influencing the acquisition and use of literate abilities. Finally, the authors suggest the importance of organizing research on literacy in relation to recently documented contradictions between Canadian culture and the democratic goals of Canadian society. /// Cette étude examine sommairement les approches contemporaines au problème de l'alphabétisation et, pour les fins de simplification, les classifie en deux groupes de base: l'approche "technocratique" (ou "béhavioriste") et l'approche "progressiste." L'approche technocratique, affirme-t-on, diminue la complexité du comportement de l'alphabétisé pour répondre aux exigences d'une supposée rigueur "scientifique" et d'un indice de responsabilité simplifié. L'approche progressiste, par contre, reconnaît la complexité du comportement de l'alphabétisé mais ne fournit cependant pas la structure analytique nécessaire pour une étude systématique de cette complexité. Les auteurs examinent le concept de "l'alphabétisation fonctionnelle," dont on parle beaucoup actuellement, par rapport au modèle classique de "l'alphabétisation supérieure." Ils font en outre certaines remarques sur l'ouvrage de Kirsch et Guthrie (1977) qui ont tenté d'élargir et d'épurer la notion de l'alphabétisation fonctionnelle. Les auteurs cherchent avant tout à passer brièvement en revue le genre de question qu'il faut se poser afin d'évaluer et d'élaborer de façon critique les recherches actuelles sur les réalisations de l'alphabétisation. Ils suggèrent, par exemple, que les recherches soient guidées par un examen des facteurs contextuels qui influencent l'acquisition et l'utilisation d'aptitudes à la lecture et l'écriture. Ils suggèrent enfin qu'il est important de structurer les recherches sur l'alphabétisation par rapport aux contradictions récemment documentées entre la culture canadienne et les objectifs démocratiques de la société canadienne.
    To better understand boys' privilege and girls' educational disadvantage with regard to video games, this presentation aims to challenge the ways girl gamers are rendered invisible by gaming communities, researchers, and designers. Drawing from audiovisual research of a girls' gaming club at an elementary school in Toronto, this paper explores the micro-interactions of a gaming session between five girls which is interrupted when two boys enter the scene and try to hijack their play. Using the MAP (Multimodal Application Program, developed by Suzanne de Castell and Jennifer Jenson) tool to visually chart and analyze the co-ordinated reactions of the girls as they put down their controllers and hold their bodies immobile during the boys' disruption, this paper explores the tenuous relationship to video games these girls enjoy, even within a space ostensibly devoted to their play.
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