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Digital Game Building: Learning in a Participatory Culture
ARTICLE

Educational Research Volume 52, Number 4, ISSN 0013-1881

Abstract

Background: The emergence of a participatory culture, brought about mainly by the use of Web2.0 technology, is challenging us to reconsider aspects of teaching and learning. Adapting the learning-as-digital-game-building approach, this paper explores how new educational practices can help students build skills for the 21st century. Purpose: This paper examines elementary students' learning experiences through digital game building and playing. The following research questions guided the study: (1) What emotions do students experience during the process of building digital games for others to use?; (2) What traits do students display when they learn through digital game-building?; and (3) What do students learn from the digital game-building experience? Sample: The participants were 21 elementary students (19 boys and two girls), aged between seven and 11, who were on a summer camp at a university in Canada. Design and methods: This small-scale study made use of enactivism (Li, Clark, and Winchester, Instructional design and technology grounded in enactivism: A paradigm shift?, “British Journal of Educational Technology” 41, no. 3: 403-419, 2010), a new theoretical framework, as a basis for analysing the students' experiences and responses as they created computer games to teach others the concept of Issac Newton's Three Laws of Motion. Quantitative and qualitative data collected included student and parent surveys, teacher and student interviews, field observations and the digital games created by the students. Data were subjected to quantitative and thematic analyses. Results: The results indicated that only a small minority of students reported never feeling the positive emotions excited/happy or smart/proud during the process of building digital games. In addition, analysis suggested that “creativity”, “engagement” and “new identity” were the three salient traits displayed by the students when learning by digital game-building. There was also evidence that students increased their understanding of the subject matter in question (mathematics, science and technology) and enhanced their general problem-solving abilities through the process. Conclusions: This small-scale study suggests that student engagement in the game-building experience can enhance not just the learning of the game design process but also subject matter and generic skills. Thus, the learning-as-building approach can empower students to “take over the technology” and become creators rather than passive consumers. (Contains 4 tables.)

Citation

Li, Q. (2010). Digital Game Building: Learning in a Participatory Culture. Educational Research, 52(4), 427-443. Retrieved April 24, 2019 from .

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Cited By

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  5. Teacher Designed Games: Leading Innovation in Classrooms

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