Week 2 [Mon Jan 16] Attention! Pedagogy & Technology: New Models & Ecologies Reflection

Focus: What are the central arguments, the key quotes, and what are your take away points, applications or extensions, and critical responses to the readings? How do readings connect with one another, or connect with previous course readings (as we go)?

1. de Castell, S. & Jenson, J. (2006). Paying Attention to Attention: New Economies for LearningEducational Theory,54, 381-97.

Central Argument: New technology challenges formal education’s hold over youths’ attention, as adults and youth with more and more “access” to TV, media, movies, games, etc.are finding it harder to devote attention to more traditional forms of education. Networked, digital technologies of construction, representation, expression and communication in schools are corporate owned and profit driven. Attention is crucial in learning environments, especially virtual. Without attention, learning does not exist in virtual communities.

Key Quotes:

  1. “for virtual knowledge-artifacts, their very existence is
    conditional upon user attention. In this respect, a virtual tree falling in a digital forest
    is not at all like a real tree falling in a real forest. The latter, we may at least
    argue, still makes a resounding crash, whereas the former’s silence makes the virtual
    tree no tree at all: neither sound nor forest nor tree itself comes to ‘‘life’’ until some user activates the would-be event with eyes to see and ears to hear” (De Castell and Jenson, 381).
  2. Structures of perceiving, thinking,and feeling that kept students attentive to teachers, tests, and texts are being challenged both directly (students attend, as they always have, to something other than the teacher — writing notes, sending text messages, making faces at each other, staring out the window) and, increasingly, indirectly through popular cultural media that satirize or disregard altogether the importance of ‘‘paying attention’’ in school. What is different here is children’s sense of entitlement: whereas under earlier conditions students had to earn, to merit, to ‘‘deserve’’ their teachers’ attention, nowadays increasingly the tables are turning, and it is the teacher who must earn or deserve the attention of her students—or her students will turn it elsewhere” ((De Castell and Jenson, 382).
  3. “valuable to consider what may be learned from studying computer
    games as virtual learning environments and from looking, in particular, at emerging structures and forms of attention within computer-based play to consider
    their implications for new structures of knowledge” (De Castell and Jenson, 384).

Take Away Points, Applications/Extensions:

Attention is a primary currency for education, in both virtual and physical learning environments. Attention has also always been exchanged in physical classrooms (teacher/student, then teacher with students’ eyes to the front). Virtual learning environments would require shared attention, equal attention, student-centered?

New technologies = greater power = greater choice for students in seeing/thinking/doing because their attention adds value.

Examples of patterns and practices of consumption have become more readily available through the new attentional economy drawing from a globalized popular culture.

Computer-based games: the attention of their players: pleasure, choice, and immersion; speed and efficiency of learning; and finally, meaningfulness of topic, subject matter, and experience. We ask, then, what might education ‘‘learn’’ from the attentional structures of video games?

Critical Response:

Its seeming like the more technology develops, the more attention shifts and acts as a monopoly or currency for learning . Traditionally, teachers have always been the ones in the classroom to hold students’ attention, however, as students engage with multimodal texts and digital technology, the more teachers have to work hard at being more interesting than students’ digital play. Perhaps it is an added challenge as a teacher in current times to have to work to keep students’ attention, as it is critical for learning. Perhaps it would serve teachers well to utilize the very technology that is keep students engaged in their classrooms, and follow ludic epistemology in their work, so as to continue moving with new pedagogies.

The next article relates quite well to what teachers could potentially use to engage students in learning – video games. How might teachers harness and cater video games and multimodal options to students in the classroom and curriculum?

2. Gee, J.P. (2007). Are Video Games Good for Learning? In Worlds in Play: International Perspectives on Digital Game Research. New York (Short)

Central Argument: Video games are good for learning. This hypothesis amounts to two claims. The first is that good commercial games are built on sound learning principles (Gee 2003) that are supported by research in the learning sciences (Bransford, Brown and Cocking 2000). The second is that video game technologies hold out great promise for moving beyond entertainment, to building new learning systems for serious purposes in and out of school. Different games are better or worse at achieving different learning goals.

Key Quotes:

Though video games and scientific simulations are not the same thing, can video games, under the right circumstances, encourage and actually enact a similar ‘attitude’ or ‘stance’ to that taken by scientists who study complex systems?

Could video games create this kind of empathy for the sorts of complex systems relevant to academic and other domains that lie beyond entertainment, such as urban planning, space exploration or global peace?

Take Away Points, Applications/Extensions:

Video games do not just carry the potential to replicate a sophisticated scientific way
of thinking: they may actually externalise, in a better fashion than any other
technology we currently have, the ways in which the human mind works and thinks (3).

Humans think and understand best when they can imagine (simulate) an
experience in such a way that the simulation prepares them for actions they need and want to take in order to accomplish their goals (3).

If games could do so, they would speak to one of the deeper problems of education: that many students who can pass paper-and-pencil tests cannot apply their knowledge to solving real problems (4).

Could other occupational roles, for example, scientists, doctors, government
officials, urban planners and political activists (Shaffer 2004), be modeled and
distributed in this fashion as a deep form of value-laden learning? Could learners
come to compare and contrast different value systems as they play different games? (5)

Since video games are simulations of experience, they can put language into the
context of dialogue, experience, images and actions. They allow language to be
situated (7).

Critical Response:

The quote on one of the deeper problems of education: that many students who can pass paper-and-pencil tests cannot apply their knowledge to solving real problems, really stuck out to me. I agree that sometimes students who are “book smart” can’t always apply their knowledge to solve real world problems. From my understanding of this article, it seems that the multimodality of video games might offer students a chance to gain knowledge, while simultaneously practicing applying the knowledge and making informed decisions by way of actions in the video game. Perhaps our education system might need to take a look at moving from being very heavily theoretical to incorporating practical simultaneously with theory

3. Darvasi, P.  (2014). How to Transform The Odyssey into an Epic Game in Alternate Reality (Short)

Speaking to the points above from both articles, I believe transforming classics like the Odyssey into video games and alternate reality might offer students a stronger base in understanding the original work, so that they can then work to create meaningful branches of alternative reality for learning in video games.


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