[Assessment 1375] Re: Learning and Assessing in Virtual and Real Worlds

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Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt katherine.gotthardt at gmail.com
Fri Jul 25 09:11:59 EDT 2008


With the exception of me, my whole family plays online games. I just don't
have the patience to learn the complicated rules. And that is key to the
kinds of games my husband and girls; ages 10 and 11, play: they are
strategic, rule-based games that require reading and thinking. They require
collaboration. They require keyboarding skills. Note, they do not play
realistic, violent games (they play fantasy games like World of Warcraft
which reminds me of Dungeons and Dragons). They are only allowed to type to
each other, not to strangers. They are only allowed to play when at least
one parent is in the room.

When they get frustrated with the game and start acting out ("STUPID
COMPUTER!"), they are kicked off by the Mom who listens to their talk. When
they say things like "kill," they are told to stop it, though this is common
to most PC games, even the more innocuous ones. Remember Atari had us blow
everything up or pulverize at the very least.

Both my kids also play a variety of educational games (such as typing
programs).

Me? I like Pogo's Word Womp. It's easy to understand, and it is word based,
which is fun for me.

On Thu, Jul 24, 2008 at 1:24 PM, PRISCILLA S CARMAN <psc3 at psu.edu> wrote:


> Hi Marie and all,

> I'm enjoying this fascinating discussion, especially since my last video

> game obsession was Mario Brothers several decades ago--I still have that

> music in my head, that for many months was often drifting from the living

> room at 2am in the morning. But, I can't help wondering how this motivation

> and energy can be harnessed for additional educational purposes---I have no

> doubt that current gamers are already learning many valuable skills, but it

> seems like the concept could be adapted for educational programming. Best,

> Priscilla

>

> On Thu, Jul 24, 2008 09:29 AM, *"Kevin O'Connor" <

> koconnor at framingham.k12.ma.us>* wrote:

>

> Hi Marie,

>

>

>

> Great topic! I had a World of Warcraft compulsion last year, (along with

> 10,000,000 other users) and learned a lot from my time online in this MMORPG

> (massively multiplayer online role playing game). For one thing, I had to

> learn a lot of online lingo. Here's a very short glossary:

>

>

> - "leet" or 'l33t"- the online language used; a dialect of English that

> substitutes numbers for letters and leans heavily on texting and game-based

> slang

>

> - "noob"- a "newbie"; someone new to the game

>

> - "pwned"- or "owned"; to be defeated

>

> - LTP- "learn to play"; an insult to someone's online skills

>

>

>

>

> The other players in Wow range in age from preteen to middle age, and it

> is quite a community. It was interesting to be in the apprentice role to

> younger players, especially for an educator who is used to being the

> teacher, not the noob. I found myself getting pwned by 12 year-old kids

> who have figured out how to tweak the statistics of weapons, character type,

> skill attributes, mode of attack and several other factors that always made

> my head spin. I grew up playing Asteroids too, and all I had to do was

> repeatedly mash the same button! These kids put hours into their online

> character (their "avatar") poring over stats, trying the same missions

> repeatedly ("grinding") and memorizing fussy names of coveted items

> ("poltroons of the lesser fire elementals"). It always struck me that if

> their teacher asked them to put this kind of time and work into school they

> would moan and roll their eyes, but if it is for the sake of leveling up,

> well, then…

>

>

>

> But the other dynamic at play is the multi-player aspect; there are many

> missions that cannot be done alone, and players belong to Guilds and must

> build short-term "groups" in order to get through these levels. If

> someone doesn't work well in a group, word travels fast and that person will

> have a hard time getting into a group with experienced players. You can't

> steal all the loot, not follow the plan and keep yelling "LTP N00B" in the

> online chat and expect to be invited back. There is a "worldwide" chat

> board, and if someone is a bad group member it will get broadcast.

>

>

>

> With this long background, let me respond directly to Marie's question:

> If you look at the players whose character (or characters) have hit level

> 70, they are the ones with the best knowledge of game dynamics and a good

> social network support that they have built up by sharing and cooperation.

> However, if a student tells a teacher that he or she has three level 70

> characters and is part of a solid Guild, the teacher will not recognize the

> time, energy and skill invested and instead tell him or her to stop wasting

> time online, thereby dismissing everything learned and accomplished; then

> the student dismisses the teacher as being irrelevant. Don't just dismiss

> video games; they are important to students, so they should be treated with

> interest, just as we would do with other childhood pursuits in which

> children have invested themselves.

>

>

>

> There is a dark side; many point to these kids having virtual friendships

> while living in isolation in the real world, and when my daughter grows up

> I'm going to have to set some pretty strict rules around how much time can

> be spent in the virtual world, but I would argue that through MMORPGs kids

> learn a lot about how to work in a group, negotiate power sharing, and how

> and when to take leadership.

>

>

>

> Kevin O'Connor

>

> Assessment Specialist

>

> Framingham Adult ESL PLUS

>

> 508-626-4282

>

>

>

> -----Original Message-----

> *From:* assessment-bounces at nifl.gov [mailto:assessment-bounces at nifl.gov]*On

> Behalf Of *Marie Cora

> *Sent:* Wednesday, July 23, 2008 4:36 PM

> *To:* 'The Assessment Discussion List'

> *Subject:* [Assessment 1369] Learning and Assessing in Virtual and Real

> Worlds

>

>

>

> Dear Colleagues,

>

>

>

> I hope this email finds you well. This is an unusually lengthy email

> from me – just so you know.

>

>

>

> Since it's summer, I thought I would throw out something a tad unusual as

> a discussion catalyst. Quite a while ago I read a book called "What Video

> Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy" by James Paul Gee (NY:

> Palgrave Macmillan, 2003). The author studies behavior and learning in

> people who engage in video game and on-line play, and he himself becomes

> immersed in all types of video and on-line gaming in order to also

> experience his own learning and behavior within these environments. It's

> a remarkable book. There are many poignant arguments made in support of

> how gaming induces/encourages intense critical thinking, stretches the

> limits of one's intellectual abilities, compels people to work together,

> draws out individuals' skills that contribute to the success of a group, and

> generally does not discriminate in terms of expectations of learning – in

> other words, video and on-line games are constructed in ways that assume

> that ANYONE can engage successfully, and the necessary scaffolding for such

> learning is embedded within the games themselves. Needless to say, Gee

> makes comparisons between this virtual world, and the real world of school

> and education in this country.

>

>

>

> Just for full disclosure, the last time I fully engaged in 'screen' games

> was a while ago: I was pretty good at Asteroids at one point in my life.

> I just never became very interested in pursuing this pastime. I started

> to become fascinated again when my husband engaged our then-4-year-old son

> (he's 9 now) in both video and on-line games. I was floored: with almost

> no instruction other than observation at his dad's elbow, 'P' was able to

> take over the games and carry on as if he had always been playing them. Really

> complex games. Very soon, he was instructing dad in various games, and

> pretty much could beat the pants off him in video baseball.

>

>

>

> At any rate, toward the end of the book, Gee recounts an experience in

> which he had moved from a "weak link" (one with far less knowledge) in a

> network of on-line players with whom he was engaging, to one who held a

> piece of crucial knowledge that he was able to share with his network in

> order for the group to reach success. He notes: "If you were to assess

> just my skills playing video games alone in my own home, you would

> underestimate me. You need to assess me as a node in a network and see

> how I function as such a node" (p. 189).

>

>

>

> With this rather lengthy introduction, the following section of the book

> is really what I would like to hear your thoughts on. Gee writes:

>

>

>

> "If we want to know how good students are in science – or how good

> employees are in a modern knowledge-centered workplace – we should ask all

> of the following (and not just the first): What is in their heads? How

> well can they leverage knowledge in other people and in various tools and

> technologies (including their environment)? How are they positioned

> within a network that connects them in rich ways to other people and various

> tools and technologies? Schools tend to care only about what is inside

> students' heads as their heads and bodies are isolated from others, from

> tools and technologies, and from rich environments that help make them

> powerful modes in networks. [Skilled video game players] wouldn't play a

> game in these circumstances….. Good workplaces in our science- and

> technology-driven "new capitalism" don't play this game. Schools that do

> are, in my view, DOA in our current world – and kids who play video games

> know it" (p. 189).

>

>

>

> Gee then goes on to discuss the work of Jean Lave, a leading theorist of

> socially situated cognition. Lave argues that "learning is not best

> judged by a change in minds (the traditional school measure), but by

> 'changing participation in changing practices'…and that…"learning is a

> change not just in practice, but in *identity*" (p. 190).

>

>

>

> Now here is where I'm tempted to write you a bunch of assessment-related

> questions to get you to respond within the context of this Discussion List.

> But after some thought, I think that the quotes taken from the book from

> both Gee and Lave better posit the notions related to assessment and

> assessing than I can – what they say is what I want to hear you respond to.

>

>

>

>

> Ok, I will pose just this question: if you agree with the arguments

> posed by Gee and Lave, do you do anything in your classroom or program to

> facilitate this type of assessment of learning? If so, describe this for

> us.

>

>

>

> Thanks for indulging me.

>

>

>

> Marie Cora

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

>

> Marie Cora

>

> marie.cora at hotspurpartners.com<http://mail.google.com/mail/?ui=2&view=js&name=js&ver=80lCHVuPxfI&am=R_E4pcLnBaQ6bg#11b562bda24b54f6_>

>

> NIFL Assessment Discussion List Moderator

>

> http://www.nifl.gov/mailman/listinfo/assessment

>

>

>

>

>

> Priscilla Carman

> Literacy Specialist

> Institute for the Study of Adult Literacy

> Penn State University

> 208F Rackley Building

> University Park, PA 16802

> PH: 814-865-1049 FX: 814-863-6108

>

>

>

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>

>



--
Katherine Mercurio Gotthardt
www.LuxuriousChoices.net
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