Employing a Critical Lens on Instructor Perceptions of Learning Games: Introduction to a Method
Scott J. Warren and
Jonathan S. Gratch
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Scott J. Warren: Department of Learning Technologies, College of Information, University of North Texas, Denton, TX, USA
Jonathan S. Gratch: University of North Texas, Denton, TX, USA
International Journal of Virtual and Personal Learning Environments (IJVPLE), 2013, vol. 4, issue 3, 1-17
Digital games like Where in the World is Carmen San Diego and Oregon Trail have been used to support learning since the 1980s. However, the last decade has seen games, simulations and virtual world use take firm hold of the academic imagination. There also has been a rapid expansion of sponsored, formal research, informal inquiry, and a growing body of theory supporting the use of learning games. As a result, several challenges to their use have been identified such as flaws in the games themselves, inadequate methods of assessment due to complex, confounding variables, and the perceptions of students and teachers. How then can academics develop valid research methods that recognize such challenges and allow for strong claims regarding the impacts of such tools through the lived digital and classroom game experiences of learners and teachers? This article presents a description of one research method that seeks to provide one possible solution called Critical CinÃ©Ethnography. It stems from a discursive, systems-oriented view of learning that explores the arguments and truth claims made by learners and teachers. Beyond examining in-game discourse alone, the method employs video capture of out-of-game discussion, artifacts, and body language that should allow researchers to build a complex picture of participant experiences that can be easily shared with academics and practitioners alike. For additional context, a sample study is presented that investigated teacher perceptions and use of learning games.
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