Posts Tagged ‘Participatory culture’

Another computer game encourages innovation

November 10th, 2009 2 comments

We’ve already discussed how multimodal computer games promote interaction and participatory culture for the expanding minds of children. Henry Jenkins, Ravi Purushotma, Margaret Weigel, Katie Clinton, and Alice J. Robison thoroughly discuss the coupling of pedagogical uses of new media technology, such as computer games, with the development of literary skills in their research text, Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the 21st Century.

Teachers and researchers recognize hands-on learning as often being a preferred and faster method of learning for school-age children. “Metagaming” and simulated programs, such as The Sims, help broaden experiences and skills that cannot be taught effectively through verbal lectures (Jenkins 40). Countless other simulation games are valued by teachers for their help in building problem-solving skills, such the early 1991 game, Myst.

Perhaps the most impressive game that I’ve seen, however, is Crayon Physics. Michael Thompson’s review of Crayon Physics offers a great description of the game and what skills it builds in its players:

“The basic idea behind Crayon Physics is that gamers have to get a ball to a point that is marked by a star. This is accomplished by drawing a number of different items that can act in a variety of ways to help get the ball from Point A to Point B. On a basic level, the drawings act as ramps or barriers, while more advanced implementation accomplishes a number of feats like creating weights and levers, as well as malleable platforms that can be affected by other creations.”

Thompson calls the object a “puzzle,” identifying the game’s real pedagogical value – players can solve these puzzles by “drawing” innovative solutions, instead of relying on items already provided by the game. There will obviously be more than one way to solve each “puzzle.” Thompson says players can be “creative and solve each puzzle through whatever means they can conceive, as opposed to only having one convoluted method as the only solution.”

crayon physics

Jenkins may have valued knowledge of Crayon Physics in arguing for Ian Bogost’s theory of “procedural literacy, a capacity to restructure and reconfigure knowledge to look at problems from multiple vantage points, and through this process to develop a greater systemic understanding of the rules and procedures that shape our everyday experiences” (Jenkins 45).

Jenkins stresses the value of simulation in games, arguing that schools need to build on skills afforded in each to help students become both literate and  critical readers. His idea of “distributed cognition” explains how students learn the affordances of different tools and information technologies (Jenkins 65). Crayon Physics perfectly argues his case for the use of computer games, as players must choose apply different solutions to different problems based on context.

MIRO Community

November 8th, 2009 No comments

I wish I had seen this while we were still talking about Vaidhyanathan’s, Copyrights and Copywrongs. Participatory Culture Foundation’s MIRO Community ties in Vaidhyanathan’s ideas of free, open spaces to share creativity, while working toward more participation. The non-profit’s mission is to build a service allowing people to become more engaged in their culture.

Here’s a little about it from the site,

“In addition to providing simple and convenient access to diverse video content from anywhere on the web, it creates a unique, personalized video site in minutes. Best of all, it is free to create a site (and it’s open source, so you can host your own).

Miro Community tackles two fundamental issues facing online video—the navigation of content dispersed all over the web, and the difficulty for less tech savvy producers to establish their own attractive video site. Audiences and creators know all too well the hassle of searching unsuccessfully for a video or maintaining unified video content across a growing number of popular hosting platforms.”

Discussion points – Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture

November 3rd, 2009 No comments

Given that we were asked to read Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture entirely on the computer, it is appropriate that discussion notes should also be posted and read entirely on the computer as well.

According to Jenkins, participatory culture allows “artistic expression and civic engagement,” gives support for sharing with others, includes “mentorship … [for] … novices,” contributions of participants are meaningful, and connect people socially. (Jenkins, 7)

Jenkins also states that young people already are part of participatory culture through affiliations with online communities, expression through creative work using media, already utilize collaborative problem solving by working with others, and circulation by sharing of media (Jenkins, 8 )

The above can be affected by what Jenkins refers to as:

  • the participation gap – unequal access to technology (Jenkins, 3, 12)
  • the transparency problem – students’ potential lack of knowledge regarding the media itself (Jenkins, 3, 14)
  • the ethics challenge – the “breakdown of tradition forms” and students’ growth in media use and participation (Jenkins, 3, 16)

Personal note/direct observation – world of warcraft participants can create their own maps and societies and invite others to join them – this is a clear example of a young person experimenting with participatory culture

Jenkins says there are certain skills that young people utilize in participatory culture (Jenkins mentions both middle/secondary school as well as young college students) – those skills need to be nurtured and by educators and utilized to help students’ growth – the following terms define Jenkins’ theories – definitions can be found in the texzt on pages 4 and 56:

  • Play
  • Performance
  • Simulation
  • Appropriation
  • Multitasking
  • Distributed Cognition
  • Collective Intelligence
  • Judgment
  • Transmedia Navigation
  • Networking
  • Negotiation

We can define and discuss our understanding of the terms from Jenkins text noted above.