Prensky, Gee, and Aldrich – Preliminary Conclusions

Here is a few paragraphs from the draft conclsion for the depth portion of my human development KAM.

In order to facilitate constructivist cognitive development, a digital game-based learning environment should provide opportunities for context-embedded, inquiry-driven, and socially negotiated (or collaborative) learning. The purpose of this depth portion of the KAM was to critically examine theories of digital game-based learning in light of this working theory of constructivist instruction.

The work of Prensky, Gee, and Aldrich supported the notion that digital games and simulations can provide a context for learning and opportunities for inquiry. Prensky and Gee agreed that video and computer games can also provide learners a wide variety of individualized and differentiated opportunities for inquiry. While all three theorists found some value in the framework for collaboration offered by these games and simulations, Aldrich raised some arguments to support the use of single player scenarios as opposed to multiplayer games, particularly those with persistent environments. All three discussed ways in which games can support constructivist learning and ways in which games-based learning might be supported by instructors in a classroom environment. In addition, each author, but particularly Gee and Aldrich, explored other potential educational benefits of games which can be described in terms of helping learners develop the twenty-first century skills of digital-age literacies, inventive thinking, effective communication, and high productivity. In most cases, each of these elements is best exemplified by the genre of role playing games and/or massively multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs).

These pioneering authors have provided a broad foundation for studies in the field of digital game-based learning, but this can only serve as a beginning for serious academic inquiry. Though James Paul Gee is an academic, a former linguist, and a former cognitive scientist, and though his writing draws on his knowledge of these fields, his work in the field of digital game-based learning is largely based on personal observation and reflections. Both Marc Prensky and Clark Aldrich, though experienced practitioners and researchers in the field, wrote from the perspective of for-profit corporate trainers. Especially where the use of such games and simulations in formal k12 education is concerned, more formal research studies are required in order to establish or disprove these preliminary conclusions with a greater degree of confidence. These initial projections about the potential of computer and video games, particularly MMORPGs, might first be established through a formal Delphi study involving these experts and others in the field, including additional academics.

So, any idea what I have planned for my dissertation study in the spring? :)

At any rate, over the next two weeks I should be posting my reflections on one related article per day… these will be from refereed journals, and once I’ve completed 15 with the approval of my advisor, these will become the annotated bibliography for the depth portion of this KAM. One step at a time…

Thanks for reading.