Week 7: Refining My Research Inquiry

What do I need in order to move forward on my final project?  A fine glass of red wine…

Seriously, I will need to narrow down and focus my research inquiry to one specific question related to educational video game design for children, and find supporting literature that discusses this topic.

This week we have written an abstract and a critique about an article related to our research inquiry.  I have chosen to write about Garzotto’s article “Investigating the educational effectiveness of multiplayer online games for children” (2007).  I will share the abstract this week, which relates closely to my research interest:

Abstract:  Learning has a social dimension (rooted in social interaction theory), making social gaming a strong potential for educational benefits.  Although multiplayer games are becoming an important part of internet use, there are relatively few researches that investigate such games designed for young children.  Garzotto’s article focuses on the educational effectiveness of multiplayer internet games, and introduces some heuristics (“hands on” discovery type of learning) for its evaluation.  In addition to the literature review, Garzotto reports an empirical study that involved eighty-five elementary school children (located in Milan), and measured the educational effectiveness of an online multiplayer game.  The game (“Pirates Treasure Hunt”) stimulates interest and attention on “other cultures and ways of life”, typically related to non-European countries.  Empirical evidence was provided that some aspects related to content, enjoyment and social interaction had measurable beneficial effects on children learning (i.e. 3D learning space for motivation, and competition and collective goal for group interaction).  Moreover, since educational heuristics are difficult to measure through expert review only, combining theory with empirical study enabled Garzotto to compare the findings of the two evaluation methods.  Thus, this article presents some practical insights on how to measure educational effectiveness of online social games for children as a more general evaluation framework for this class of systems.

October 23, 2008. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , . Columbia University Doctorate, Video Games and Education. 1 comment.

Week 6: Are Ants Better?

This week we were asked to review our blog posts and discuss themes that keep emerging from our ideas, and reflect back on our research questions presented early in the course.  The topics that keep popping out through my posts revolve about constructed and perceived identities weaved in a social group interaction setting.  To add an ingredient to the already-complex mix, I wonder how cinematic narrative and structure (i.e. components in Facebook and SecondLife) impact the identification process, construct an identity, change the social structure of the participant, and society at large.  I also wonder whether educational content developers should approach video game design differently, depending on cultural and social context.

Based on these topics I reflect back on the Week 1 post, and see my initial questions in a new light.  I would still like to focus on my first question about whether educational video game designers should approach game design in a local or global context.  However, I would have to define and discuss a local approach to educational content development versus a global approach.  As I enhance my reading, research inquiry process and class discussions, I notice that there is narrative tension between composing the game in a local context and designing in a global context.  This question becomes more relevant when speaking about educational game design for young children, who in the western culture were already born to a somewhat ‘global’ social structure through internet communications, collaborative interchange and mobile technologies.   

Did you know that all working ants are female?

Did you know that all working ants are female?

Connecting between ideas related to young children, social groups and interactive game design brings to mind a reading that was assigned in another class: Video Game Design in Education (taught by Professor Jessica Hammer).  At first it was a surprise to me that the second chapter by Steven Johnson from his book “Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities and Software” (2001), discussing the efficient team work of ants was assigned to us as a reading in a video game design class.  The local nature of the teamwork of ants ultimately makes them being considered more successful than human beings as a surviving and productive specious.  I wonder whether educational game developers should adopt the “think global, act global” approach, which would be, by the way, a great slogan for ‘green’ activists.

I face more ambiguity when I read my second inquiry question about how important it is to enhance the child’s ‘existing identity’ through game design, versus exploring her/his various identities.  As we progress in the class I realize that identity theory cannot be simplified.  Therefore, the second question would require further clarification and exploration of ‘multiple identities’ in an interactive video game, as well as what ‘enhancing one’s own identity’ means.  The more I think and read about video game design, narrative themes and identity theories, the more I understand that this topic is multi-faceted and that definitions and interpretations vary.

October 14, 2008. Columbia University Doctorate, Video Games and Education. Leave a comment.

Week 5: My Mirrored Self

What do you see in my mirrored identity?  How do you think it affects your view of what you see after you have met me (and will meet again) face-to-face?  What will you write (contextual to this blog) and what will you withhold in your reply?  How will your friend or associate, who may never meet me and would not know that her/his comment will be posted as a part of a class blog feel about my constructed identity?

What do YOU see?

Relating this post to this week’s question, what I disagree most with in this week’s reading is that people bring their desired identity to the online space.  The questions above about my mirrored identity will be answered differently by every person.  In other words, it is in the eye of the beholder how she/he perceives my mirrored identity.  The recipient (signified) reflects from their own desired identity on how they ‘code’ (consciously and unconsciously) my projected identity.

What do YOU see?

October 2, 2008. Columbia University Doctorate. Leave a comment.