This I wrote last night. It is not nearly as brief as the Prensky version, but may be more meaningful… but of course, I am not the best judge. Feel free to leave comments.
Like Prensky, Gee discussed ways in which video games can provide a context for learning. Gee (2003), a linguist and cognitive scientist asserted that â€œwords, symbols, images, and artifacts have meanings that are specific toâ€¦ particular situations (contexts)â€ (p. 24) . He also suggested that â€œthe theory of learning in good video games is close toâ€¦ the best theories of learning in cognitive scienceâ€ (p. 7). In the constructivist tradition, Gee argued that learning involves situating (or building) meanings in context, and that â€œvideo games are particularly good places where people can learn to situate meanings through embodied experiencesâ€ (p. 26). He highlighted examples in which â€œthe player (learner) is immersed in a world of action and learns through experience, though this experience is guided or scaffolded by information the player is given and the very design of the game itselfâ€ (Gee, 2005, p. 59). Gee (2003) understood that â€œmeaning and knowledge are built up through various modalities (images, text, symbols, interactions, abstract design, sound, etc.)â€ (p. 111), which video games can provide in spades. The learning context itself took on a special meaning for Gee, because he believed that â€œthinking, problem solving, and knowledge are â€˜storedâ€™ in material objects and with environmentâ€ (p. 111).
Gee (2003) focused on the way that video games can provide a learning environment that is â€œset up to encourage active and critical, not passive, learningâ€ (p. 49). He believed that active critical learning was based on experiencing (seeing, feeling, and operating on) the world in new ways (p. 23), and on being able to not only â€œunderstand and produce meaningsâ€ in the domain being learned, but also being able to â€œthink about the domain at a â€˜metaâ€™ level as a complex system of interrelated partsâ€ (p. 23).
However, Gee was most interested in the way that good games can facilitate learning by requiring players to take on a new identity and form â€œbridges from [their] old identities to the new oneâ€ (p. 51). He felt that â€œall deep learning â€“ that is active, critical learning â€“ is inextricably caught up with identityâ€ (p. 51), and he tapped into the tradition of Piagetâ€™s little scientists when he offered the example of â€œa child in a science classroom engaged in real inquiry, and not passive learning, [who] must be willing to take on an identity as a certain type of scientific thinker, problem solver, and doerâ€ (p. 51). This concept he extended to the many roles that students might play in good role-playing video games, which he reported made him â€œthink new thoughts about what [he as a player] valued and what [he] did notâ€ (p. 56). He suggested that game designers and teachers â€œneed to create a game-like biology world in which learners can act and decide as certain types of biologistsâ€ (Gee, 2005, p. 85) in order to help students become â€œauthentic professionals [with] specific knowledge and distinctive values tied to specific skills gained though a good deal of effort and experienceâ€ (p. 51). Gee felt that good games can facilitate learning that â€œinvolves taking on and playing with identities in such a way that the learner has real choicesâ€ (p. 67).
Even at a more basic level, Gee (2003) believed that â€œbasic skills are not learned in isolation or out of context; ratherâ€¦ a basic skill is discovered bottom up by engaging with the domainâ€ (p. 137). Gee also suggested that learners should get â€œlots of practice in a context where the practice is not boring (i.e. in a virtual world that is compelling to learners on their own terms and where the learners experience ongoing success)â€ (p. 71).
Gee offered the following recipe for providing students with a context for learning.
â€œThe recipe is simple: Give people well designed visual and embodied experiences of a domain, through simulations or in reality (or both). Help them use these experience to build simulations in their heads through which they can think about and imaginatively test out future actions and hypotheses. Let them act and experience consequences, but in a protected way when they are learners. Then help hem to evaluate their actions and the consequences of their actions (based on the values and identities they have adopted as participants in the domain) in ways that lead them to build better simulations for better future action. Though this recipe could be a recipe for teaching science in a deep way, it is [also] a recipe for an engaging and fun game. It should be the same in school.â€ (Gee, 2005, p. 63)
Though there is more I could post (from my Prensky section), I ought to be getting back to writting about Gee. ;)
Thanks for reading.
PS. Almost all of this refers to the 2003 What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy and 2005 Why Video Games are Good For Your Soul. Formal references will have to follow… after I write them for the KAM.