Constance Steinkuehle, a researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison known for her work on cognition, learning and literacy in massively multiplayer online games recently published an interesting article entitled "Virtual Worlds, Learning, & the New Pop Cosmopolitanism" in Teachers College Record getting a lot of press.
She states: "American schools largely remain locked within a Ford type factory model of industry and efficiency; games, on the other hand, are forward leaning, recruiting intellectual practices, dispositions, and forms of social organization that are aligned with many of today’s “new capitalist” workplaces."
Game theory folks has been around for a while...its role in learning is well established.
Dr. Steinkuehle is specifically interested in massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) as a way of young people to learn and create "self-sustaining online communities of learning and practice". She suggests, obviously, for any adult parent with a child, that "there is a great generational divide on the matter of video games"; meaning to those of us over 35 video games are a waste of time, and even a way of "introducing our youth to violent, misogynistic themes".
She suggests however; "For those younger, they are a (if not the) leading form of entertainment, a resource for creativity and innovation, and a new campfire around which to socialize.
Apparently more than eight out of 10 kids have video games at home! What a surprise. There is a "huge cultural transformation of “our society’s massive shift toward electronic media”. And you know the whole argument....passive participation...shorter attention spans...etc. Well, Dr. Steinkuehle finds that gamers are engaged in some rather powerful learning that she says "rivals the contemporary classroom"...and I'd bet are probably much much more interesting than school too.
FUN FACT: Did you know that (only) three game titles that she researched had a total population of 9.5 million gamers! We can't ignore this trend!
What does this mean for education? Read Dr. Steinkuehle article...