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Thursday, August 25, 2005

Marc Prensky, Video Games, and Collaborative Learning

Here is the section I wrote on Marc Prensky and Collaborative Learning last week. I plan to post some related material based on Gee's work in few hours. These are all early drafts that I am sharing. ;)

Prensky (2001) saw the potential of video and computer games to provide a framework for collaborative learning. Whether in-game (as opponents or teammates), or in the activities surrounding the game (as fellow players and fans of the game), most good games offer players a degree of interaction with social groups (p. 106). Prensky considers this interaction between players more important than their interaction with the computer running the game (or with non-player characters in a game), and suggests that players tend to prefer playing with others, even going so far as to say that “like the internet, computer games are bringing people into closer social interaction – although not necessarily face to face” (p. 123).

“One key lesson many of [the digital natives’] games are teaching them is the value of people working together and helping each other” (Prensky, 2004, p. 1). In their games, they are able to “coordinate their activities online, and to run projects that may involve hundreds of people” (Prensky, 2004b, p. 7). This is such a powerful effect that the US Army turns to games in order to help them “take individuals and mold them into well functioning teams” (Prensky, 2001, p. 303). This is also one of the more motivating and engaging elements of modern games, particularly MMORPGs (Prensky, 2004, p. 4).

Prensky predicts that digital games of the future “will be fully online, wireless, and massively multiplayer” (p. 404) and that “communication and cooperation will become more important elements” (p. 405). With respect to learning, he projects that teachers and learners will be “hooked up to massive, persistent, multiplayer games where learning can be constantly happening, revisions input, students evaluated, and scores compared and tabulated” (p. 407).

Thanks for reading.

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