Prensky, Gee, and Aldrich

I don’t think I already shared this bit that serves as a transition from my section on Presnky to my section on Gee.

In his review of James Paul Gee’s What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, Marc Prensky (2003a) wrote that Gee “did something that is extremely unusual, courageous, admirable, and potentially quite helpful to a great many [of his readers]” (p. 3). Though he criticized Gee’s use of jargon, Prensky was “a very big supporter of Gee’s overall message that games are powerful learning tools” (p. 3). Gee, like Prensky, was also interested in the concept of “hard fun” perpetuated by Seymour Papert (p. 165) and his work provided a rich discussion focused on principles of learning which good video games often exemplify, but which many classrooms do not.

Tonight, I’ve written the following transition from Gee to Aldrich, which recalls Prensky again.

In Digital Game-Based Learning, Marc Prensky (2001) shared a phone conversation in which Clark Aldrich pointed out that “the online gaming world… is a self-generated, well-served, highly active, thriving community of learners “ (p. 222). Prensky, like Aldrich, was concerned with whether simulations might be useful for game based learning, but questioned whether simulations were actually games (p. 210). After discussing the relationship between the two, Prensky offered advice on how to make a simulation a game (p. 215). Prensky also quoted Aldrich as consistently telling clients to “get more gamelike” in their simulation designs (p. 286). Four years later, Aldrich (2004) wrote Simulations and the Future of Learning, in which he in turn cited Marc Prensky’s metaphor of digital natives and digital immigrants (p. 218). In the introduction of his following book, Learn by Doing, Aldrich (2005) was still drawing on Prensky’s ideas in his discussion of how “students are changing” (p. xxix).

In contrast, Aldrich (2005) seemed more critical of James Gee’s “wide-ranging hypotheses, organized pre-proof, established by reason… WHOPPERs for short” (p. xxxiv), though he did not mention Gee by name. Aldrich himself was not an academic and proudly declared his lack of desire to ever be one (p. 91). Still, as an experienced practitioner and researcher he offered a powerful vision of what the world would be like “if e-learning truly worked” (Aldrich, 2004, p. 1-2) described the conception, design, building, and marketing of “a new-generation educational simulation” (p. 9), and advocated for new genres computer games and simulations, such as the interpersonal genre typified by The Sims and Virtual Leader, in order to present cyclical, linear, and systems content (p. 64). Considering the games or simulations debate, he suggested that “it is more productive to think about the distinct elements, namely: Simulation elements, Game elements, [and] Pedagogical elements” (Aldrich, 2005, p. 80)

Perhaps a reader will find these connections valuable. :)