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Digital Play: Mathematical Simulations Transforming Curiosity into Play

Julie K. McLeod, Mary Jo Dondlinger, Sheri Vasinda and Leslie Haas
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Julie K. McLeod: Good Shepherd Episcopal School, Dallas, TX, USA
Mary Jo Dondlinger: Texas A&M University Commerce, Commerce, TX, USA
Sheri Vasinda: Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, USA
Leslie Haas: Dallas Christian College, Dallas, TX, USA

International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations (IJGCMS), 2013, vol. 5, issue 2, 34-59

Abstract: This article reports on Digital Play, one of three prominent themes identified in a qualitative case study of sixth grade students who used mathematical simulations in their proportional thinking unit of study. The study was designed to investigate learner curiosity but found play as a prominent theme. Five different virtual manipulatives or simulations were used as part of the study. The Digital Play theme is then further examined, identifying aspects of the virtual manipulatives that led to play and ludic activities. Students’ interview responses revealed all three of Salen and Zimmerman (2004) categories of play, which also align with several patterns of play identified by the National Institute for Play (2009), during their use of the simulations. Students also described the nature of their play with the simulations which was traced to Winnicott’s (2007) potential space. Finally, the implication of the possibility for transformative play is discussed.

Date: 2013
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