Bill MacKenty

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Informal Learning and Video Games

Posted in Games in education on 28 - January 2009 at 07:16 PM (15 years ago). 257 views.

Great article entitled: Public Pedagogy through Video Games by James Paul Gee and Elizabeth Hayes (pdf here)

I think about computer and games learning in basically two ways.  Informal learning and formal learning. These aren’t exclusive viewpoints, nor are they necessarily contradictory. 

Formal learning using video games happens in a classroom, with highly structured lesson design, and clear assessment of learning objectives.  I advocate this type of use of video games because it fits with my occupation; an instructional designer and computer teacher.  I’ve always been focused on proving that video games are effective instructional tools.  if you are interested in a quick guide for games in education, click here (you can also click here to see everything I’ve written about games in education).

Informal learning refers to the inherent, automatic, and natural learning that happens when people play video games. It is this area that scholars like Gee and Schaeffer write so eloquently. My summary of their thinking is that games are inherently educational and computer games are excellent and complex learning systems. Just playing a complex computer game is educational.

I happen to agree with the informal learning ideas, but I spend more time thinking about formal uses.

In comes the above article, which is really good for understanding why computer games are inherently educational. The article discusses design, resources, and what the authors call call “affinity spaces”.