University of Oulu

Videogames as a platform for learning : self-case study: the videogame never alone

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Author: Hawley, Kandace1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.6 MB)
Pages: 81
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : K. Hawley, 2016
Publish Date: 2016-09-14
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Laru, Jari
Reviewer: Laru, Jari
Haapakoski, Jani
The themes of this thesis are videogames and learning. More specifically, what educators ought to know about videogames and their utility in carrying out educational initiatives. Videogames are a defining medium of the 21st century. However in comparison to books, film, and print media, videogames are often overlooked as viable platform for educational initiatives. This is partially due to the fact that since the emergence of videogames in modern mainstream media, the platform has mainly been used for entertainment purposes. The thesis mainly explores mainstream videogames beyond entertainment media and examines how the platform can foster learning for various educational initiatives applicable to 21st century learning. The initiative this thesis focuses on in particular is cross-cultural learning because in an increasingly globalized society, increasing intercultural competencies and cultural awareness is an imperative initiative of 21st century education. Therefore this thesis starts by generally exploring videogames as learning platforms and then the research portion of the thesis how a particular mainstream videogame can foster cultural learning. The first question addressed in this thesis addresses is what educators ought to know about mainstream videogames. A chapter titled “Videogames and Learning” is dedicated to exploring this question. The conclusions of this chapter suggest two things. First that videogames as they currently exist are built on solid learning principles that allow the player to independently learn the internal design grammar of the videogame they’re playing. Knowing these principles and seeing how they operate/ function in videogames is useful to educators because it reveals inherent truths about how human beings learn. Implementing these learning principles in classroom curricula or even lesson plans can increase good learning potential. The second conclusion of this chapter expresses that videogames can serve as a platform that fills the gaps of modern education. Videogames and their vast capabilities can perform as semiotic domains which link information to its corresponding practice. For instance, students can learn about information of space travel and apply that information in a videogame that allows the player to manipulate the variables of space travel, thus allowing for better learning. Using this conclusion, the author then performed a case study which addressed the question of how videogames can serve as a platform for enhanced cross cultural learning in the 21st century. To explore this question, the author conducted a self-case study by assessing her learning experience playing the videogame, Never Alone, a mainstream game that aims to shed light on a marginalized culture in Alaska through a cultural narrative. The author had never previously encountered this culture and had no specific knowledge of this culture prior to playing the game. The goal of the case study is to determine what this case can demonstrate about videogames as platforms for cultural learning. In assessing her experience, the author uses David Kolb’s (1984) four-part learning theory which claims that learning takes places when 4 actions have been carried out: experience, observation/reflection of that experience, conceptualization, and application. The conclusions of the case study suggest that videogames can be a viable platform for cross cultural learning granted that each part of Kolb’s model is carried out. In other words, the simple act of playing the game is not enough. One must carry out all steps of Kolb’s model to construct a cultural learning experience. It also suggests that any educator attempting to use a mainstream, narrative-based videogame as supplementary media to a lesson must implement reflection, conceptualization, and application practices in order to construct a learning experience out of a videogame. However, the reliability of this case-study can be questioned due to the fact that the researcher performed the case-study seeking a learning experience, the researcher herself is highly interculturally competent, and the accuracy of the cultural conclusions the researcher made about the videogame is not confirmed.
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Copyright information: © Kandace Hawley, 2016. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.