Saara Särmä. “Collage: An Art-inspired Methodology for Studying Laughter in World Politics.” Caso and Hamilton, Eds. pp. 110-119.
Game based learning is a topic that is particularly interesting to me as technology becomes more easily available and present within our society. Although familiar with the importance of game based learning, Kurt Squire’s article helped me better understanding how modding and game spaces in particular play an important role in game based learning.
In my research on game based learning for my presentation on using games to teach coding skills as well as for my final paper on using Minecraft as a MOOC for elementary students, I discovered that game based learning is specifically important as it contributes to differentiation to ensure that every student can learn to the best of their ability. Differentiation is strengthened by the modding and game worlds that Squire discusses.
Many video games allow for modifications (what gamers refer to as “mods”). Teachers or students can download mods and create different worlds to alter the game experience. For younger students, this allows teachers to set the parameters for students with different objectives.
The ability to “mod” these games also allows educators to create puzzles, challenges, and awards and to “assess progress in a multitude of ways with constant feedback to students” (Tromba, 2013, p. 23) Evidently, modding allows the teacher to create user spaces and projects that relate to the specific needs of different students.
In regards to game worlds, students can tell their own story and explore the new space in their own way. There is both a physical and mental exploration of the game space allowing students with different learning styles, such as visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners to thrive in these environments. Many of these gaming worlds are reflections of our world, making it easy for students to relate to. However, added features that differentiate the gaming world from our world add elements of creativity, imagination and surprise, motivating students to continue exploring.
As a new teacher I aspire to use game based learning more in my classroom, however some questions concerns that I may have include: How do you balance gaming in the classroom with other course content to ensure curricular expectations are being met? Does game based learning have the same effects for younger students than for older students (elementary vs. high school)? Is modding more effective if students take part in developing the alternative worlds?
Kurt Squire. “Critical Education in an Interactive Age,” Mirror Images. Pp. 105-123.
Tromba, P. (2013). Build Engagement and Knowledge One Block at a Time with
Minecraft. Leading and Learning with Technology. Pp. 19-23.
DIY is a common term that many people in today’s society are familiar with, referring to the ability to use certain skills to create projects. In the digital world, the availability and common use of networks and online spaces has led to an increase in DIY projects. For example, students now can use online networks focused on DIY projects for writing, programming and drawing (Fields, 19).
Ultimately, these medias have inspired the development of a “Do it with Others” culture where people are more likely to collaborate on projects with others who share similar interests or circumstances. Using digital tools as a means for collaboration promotes the use of feedback and increases motivation (Fields, 19).
I found it particularly interesting that the use of digital medians as a means for collaboration has begun to be used more in the art world. This process can largely be seen through Furtherfield's’s DIWO Social Art Movement, a networked enabled art practice developed as a contemporary means for artists to draw on everyday experiences of other creative people (Garrett & Catlow). The movement began as an email art project with an open-call to all artists on the email list. Every post to the list was considered artwork or part of a larger collective artwork for the project. The project allowed peers to connect, communicate and collaborate across time zones and geographic and cultural distances with digital images, audio and text software to create controversies, structures and a grass roots culture.
The DIWO mentality is one that I hope to introduce to my French Immersion class as a means to immerse my students in their second language through collaborative projects via digital medians.
Deborah A. Fields. “DIY Media Creation.” Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy 58(1), (Sept 2014). Pp 19-24.
Garrett, M. & Catlow R. DIWO: Do It With Others – No Ecology without Social Ecology. Remediating the Social - University of Edinburgh. (2012). Pp 69-74. Retrieved at http://www.furtherfield.org/features/articles/diwo-do-it-others-–-no-ecology-without-social-ecology
Prior to the course, I was unable to understand the power and social influence that certain medias/ texts (Star Trek, for example) could have on our society. After reading articles such as Fan Activism as Participatory Politics: The Case of the Harry Potter Alliance and Teaching Toward the 24th Century: Star Trek as Social Curriculum, I can now appreciate how fan culture molds our society and how teachers can make learning more relevant by incorporating aspects of popular culture into the classroom.
I enjoyed our class readings (and discussion) on Star Trek, one of the most influential science fiction TV shows of all time, and the links that can be made between this social phenomenon and the classroom/ curriculum. Although Star Trek may be a difficult concept/ cultural trend for younger elementary students to relate to, as it was a cultural phenomenon that reached peak popularity decades ago, some of the main concepts could still be applicable to the current classroom (and it is neat having them learn about popular TV shows from the past!). As a French Immersion teacher, I am motivated to use social phenomenon and aspects of subcultures, such as those influenced by Star Trek, into my classroom as I can now appreciate some potential benefits of these tools for language learning: motivating students to learn a second language, encouraging the development of connections between languages and supporting creativity within language learning.
Elementary teachers could use Star Trek and its sub culture (for example, communication and the language of Klingon) as a means for increasing student motivation. Students may recognize and relate to the characters and their experience communicating in a foreign language.
By learning language concepts via the example of Klingon taken from a pop culture trend, students are being opened to the idea that language is everywhere, which may help them better understand the importance of learning a language / communicating with others. Additionally, teachers can develop further opportunities for students to create connections and think creatively through tasks such as translating from Klingon to their second language, predicting the meaning of Klingon dialogue with an explanation or allowing students to use their existing schemas and knowledge of language structures to develop a new language.
Klingon is a great tool for the language classroom as it allows students to create connections to past pop culture language trends, however teachers must continue to find trending (current) pop culture icons and sub cultures to allow students to make deeper, relevant connections to the world around them.
Language education app Duolingo is set to offer a course in Klingon!
MacGillivray and Henward’s article on horror media and children suggests that, unlike previous viewpoints that horror should be forbidden for certain ages, horror is a genre that is presently deemed suitable for children, including young females.
One horror fiction story (novel) that came to my mind while reading this article was Coraline by Neil Gaiman. I found Coraline particularly interesting in terms of the horror genre as it includes a young female as the heroine/ protagonist of the story. I also found it particularly relevant to current pop culture as an animated movie adaptation was released and targeted children as the main audience (the link for the trailer is at the end of this post), showing its popularity.
The story appears revolutionary in terms of the horror genre as it contains a female protagonist while the majority of horror fiction revolves around the idea of male dominance. However, despite incorporating a female heroine into the story, male dominance does not appear to be dismissed completely. Following Feminist Post-Structural Theory, "gendered beings can move within, across and counter to dominant masculine and submissive feminine paradigms" (Davies 2003). With this is mind, Clover (1993) indicates that when women play the role of the hero in horror, they often “switch into male subjectivities”. Throughout the story, Coraline displays characteristics representative of both genres. For example, when she is first introduced, Coraline possesses many gender-stereotypically characteristics of the “docile female”: her parents and neighbors ignore her and refer to her as “poor girl”, which shows that she lacks a dominant presence and indicates weakness and pity. She is also described as “small for her age”. However, during times of uncertainty and darkness, such as when her parents are in danger, Coraline appears resourceful, courageous and adventurous, risking her life to save her parents.
This is a text that I read and studied as part of a Children's' Literature course and would be interested in incorporating into my Elementary classroom. Although there are some dark themes and concepts, monitoring students closely during reading or reading scarier stories together as a whole class would allow for proper discussion and reflection and would help increase student understanding of a new type of media. Similarly, MacGillivray and Henward argued that adults should "pay attention to all media with which children might interact, play and manipulate, regardless of genre rather than eradicating discussions of forbidden genres".
When looking for new television shows to watch, several of my friends have recommended The Walking Dead. I never had an interest in zombies but was able to recognize that zombies, people returning from the dead and apocalypses were current trends/ fads that have been becoming more and more popular within the last decade through film and literature such as: 28 Days Later, Resident Evil, The Rising and World War Z. Having a lack of interest in the zombie theme, I am interested in understanding why this trend has caught on and why so many people are captivated by the living dead.