I’m at the European Conference on Game-Based Learning, in Paisley, it’s the end of day one, so where better to start this blog? It’s been a really hectic day, with a lot of really interesting stuff. The highlight for me though, has to be the final keynote by Constance Steinkuehler, who spoke about her ethnographic work with virtual communities on World of Warcraft. She highlighted five ways in which virtual collaborative worlds like this can support learning:

  • collaborative problem solving;
  • digital literacy;
  • scientific habits of mind;
  • computational literacy;
  • mechanisms for learning.

Personally, I really appreciated the focus on skills rather than content, and I particularly liked Constance’s answer when asked about where she thought games could be used to teach content: “Do I believe games can be used to teach content? Yes. Is it what I’m interested in studying? No. ” Indeed.

I was also interested in Kurt Squire’s definition of the three characteristics of game-based learning: a) simulation; b) user-generated content (participatory media); and c) aesthetics of experience, i.e. the expereince of being an expert. Interesting ideas, and perhaps something to strive for, but I’m not sure how realistic that definition is at present…

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