Monday, September 26, 2005

Place in socially-situated learning

In the Abstract (and conclusion) of Video Games and the Future of Learning (2005), David Shaffer, Kurt Squire, Richard Halverson, and James Gee contend that:
video games matter because they present players with simulated worlds: worlds that, if well constructed, are not just about facts or isolated skills, but embody particular social practices. Video games thus make it possible for players to participate in valued communities of practice and as a result develop the ways of thinking that organize those practices.
In this short excerpt, five elements are introduced that I feel need to be explored:
  • communities of practice -- Lave & Wenger (1991). A classic framing among socially-situated theories, in some ways, this sets up the metaframework on learning and identity as a social process.
  • participation -- between John Dewey, Lev Vygotsky, Jim Gee's ideas on Discourse (1990), the whole realm of Activity theory, this is covered.
  • ways of thinking -- David Shaffer's epistemic frames (2004) seem to address this nicely
  • embodiment -- While much is written on this, I think this still needs exploring as to its more explicit links to socially-situated theories
  • worlds -- whether physical or virtual, there needs to be more work in tying this area to socially-situated theories of learning.
Research on worlds is of great interest to our ARGaming group, given our work with GPS-enabled, location-based games. Our need to research Space and Place leads us outside or at least to the edges of mainstream educational research to thinkers like Yi-Fu Tuan, Michael Streibel, David Gruenewald, and perhaps even (another suggestion) Keith Basso (1996) -- Wisdom sits in places: landscape and language among the Western Apache. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque.

I'm suggesting that research on the role of place in socially-situated learning may be a larger (system-wide) need than just for our interest in AR Gaming. Even in Distributed Cognition, the focus is on actors and tools, and does not seem to delve much into the role of Place (however, I am just beginning to look into DC, so there may be much that I just haven’t yet seen).

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