Getting "Meta" with Video Games

by Libraryman

I have started reading What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy by James Paul Gee. I am only twenty pages in but I highly recommend this book. I am interested in using gaming ideas in my classroom coupled with PBL. Not the gamification kind of stuff, but the idea that video games are self-motivating activities just like authentic learning is. This book is not anything about gamification (at least not so far and I do not think that it will be) but is really a work on literacy and learning.

Gee argues that “literacy and thinking–two things that, at first site, seem to be ‘mental’ achievements–are in reality also and primarily social and cultural achievements.” (p.5) He explains that it is impossible to learn or think in a vacuum because every individual constantly interprets according to her own culture, history, and perspective. Each “genre” of literature has its own literacy in order to understand it. Gee is using literacy very broadly here to include lots of experiences including music, art, and yes video games.

I have been thinking about getting students to think about their learning processes after a great session about teaching students to analyze by Kevin Gant at the New Tech Annual Conference. I really think we need to create experiences to intentionally get students to think about their own thinking. They need to be taught how to reflect and ask questions such as “what is learning?” and “when am I analyzing and what does it mean?”

In PBL we encourage students to “present” their learning in multiple methods to demonstrate their learning. We also talk about things such as digital or visual literacy. My students appreciate the choices in their learning but I am not sure they really understand the why of it. Gee does a great job at the beginning of this book explaining a broad definition of literacy. I decided that I want my students to understand the reasoning and importance of why they are given different ways to demonstrate their learning. So I created this presentation that I plan to show the class and have them write down their “answers” individually and then discuss in small groups.

Then I will share this presentation with them to discuss in their small groups.

I hope to start a conversation and to get students to see the importance of being literate in multiple modes. What do you guys think? How do you get “meta” with your students?

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