Friday, July 13, 2007

Star Schools Session

Brian Lekander provides a brief overview of the Star Schools program and an introduction to today's presentation.

Tim Best: Matrix Learning Project in Ohio
Middle school Achievement through Technology-Rich Interventions (x represents the unknown). Tim compares traditional SES to the primative medical practice of applying leaches - if someone is sick you apply leaches, if they get sicker you apply more...and often people die. So I guess drill and practice is like the educational technology equivalent of a leach. Research shows that middle class kids have extrinsic motivators, are empowered, and find that content is relavent to them (more or lesss) but kids in lower socio-economic groups often lack these core requirements to be successful in math. They are creating a "stealth-math" product to tackle this challenge. Traditionally the continuum in schools runs from coverage/mastery of basic skills before fun stuff can be done - but this project seeks to provide engaging and fun contexts for learning content rather than leaving the fun stuff til the content is mastered. They will be providing 106 hours of programming (during the summer months) and their product will include a robust learning management and assessment tool that will facilitate things for the faciliators (recognize the fact that this is not the primary profession for most of them).

Scott Wilson - University of Oklahoma - the K20 Center, an interdisciplinary research center. Specifically they are studying the effects of Lesson Study - a Japanese profesional development methodology). Started out trying to program for handhelds - now working with UMCP (Ultra-mobile personal computers), there was also a shift from applets to Massively Multiplayer Onlie Games, and a change in game engines. They will have one control group (lesson study only), treatment groups with games and lesson study groups, and a comparisson group with neither (about 1000 students in each group). Why create engine? Wanted to have a unique toolset e.g. interactive map, charts/graphs/spreadsheets for organization and analysis of data, etc. Teachers were invovled in the development of the game and the elaborate backstory that underlies game-play. Undergraduate students at the University of Oaklahoma are assisting in the development as well. Scott played a clip that explains the back-story and has video images four students watching the clip super-imposed and then provided a quick demonstration of the game itself.

Javier - PREL/JUMP Project (again - see notes from today's first post for more info). Developing for Nintendo DS platform - a vocabulary game for 4th graders. The trailer looked fantastic - very engaging and definitely age-appropriate. It has branching dialog in comic book format in which words are presented in compelling ways.

Tracy Lau MPT - Learning Games to Go (in partnership with MIT - Scot Osterweil), the program is directed by Gail Long. Game: Labyrinth, will be focused on improving math and literacy in pre-algebra. Goal: creating stuff that will actually get used. COTS titles aren't being used/can't always be used in schools...and stuff being created for schools is often "deadly dull" so creating something that brings the best of both of commercial and educational games is truly a challenging design problem. Teachers are often interested in games but "have a healthy skepticism...therefore barrier to entry is rather high." Solution: games that teachers can ease into, that tackle major content/curriculum standards, technologically easy to use (flash-based, therefore no installation required - don't just want a trickle-down model - i.e. products designed for the best schools that have the best technologies that will eventually trickle down to the poorer schools and students), and activities that don't demand a lot of in-class time...that can be played independently by students - but are also easy for teachers to use in-class. You can make people "play" without them having any fun - their goal is to make games that people can play and have fun. The game also encourages students to think about their problem solving strategies and write about it - they can share with their colleagues but their colleagues will have slightly different challenges so info about how to think about or solve the problem is more effective than "pick the red door." Scot feels that the evaluation/research component is slowing things a bit, but feels there is great benefit to being able to finally have research that shows the effectiveness of games in education.

GameLog - Fostering Reflective Gameplaying for Learning

Jose Zagal - Starts by explaining that this session is not about learning from games or by creating games - but learning about games. How can students use what they already know about games to help them? Can this teach us anything about learning in general?

How many of these games have you played?

Difficulties students have in learning about games: Can't express ideas about games/gameplay, dwell on superficial features ("cool" or "sucks") and lack the language to understand or describe their experiences or observations. In fairness, there isn't much background or resources that prepare or help students to talk or write about games - most game reviews, the closest thing to a related-resource are really only designed to communicate information to potential players about whether or not they are likely to like a particular game (kind of like the difference between a movie review and an academic reflection on a film).

His product, GameLog, helps people learn about games and game playing. Its a free, online blog with many game-friendly features. It allows you to maintain multiple parallel blogs about different games and enables/facilitates blogging about game-play. Why Blogging? - Writing to learn - writing can be a powerful tool for learning - helps learners integrate learning.

We were then given an opportunity to play a game and write a gamelog blog entry. I played two of the games:
Double Wires:

My review of the former: My initial response was that it looked like “line rider” so I thought it would be relatively fun/easy. I couldn’t get very far – not even off the first ledge. There wasn’t much feedback – nothing that told me what I was doing right or wrong, my co-player suggested some more visual information about whether or not the web had attached. I got bored with it rather quickly because I couldn’t figure out how to improve my performance.

His students/research subjects came to feel more appreciative of video games - and found that it deepened and broadened their understanding of games and many found it to be empowering to write about their experiences playing the game - e.g. things that didn't make sense. It also helped students to realize that different people have different experiences playing games and what he calls "non-obvious insights."

The analysis of their entries revealed that there were six styles of entry: overview, narrative, comparative analysis, plan/hypothesis, experiment, insight/analysis. Most students used many of these styles over time. The overview was typically the first thing that they wrote (like game review - "contextualizing game for the uniformed reader"). Narrative style was common - students explained what happened (what they did and what resulted). Down the road there was more planning and hypothesizing (state what they plan to do and what they expect to happen) and experiment denotes an entry where they explain actual in-game experimentation. Comparative analyses were efforts to compare something specific in the game to something else. Finally, insight/analysis entries were entries about specific insights that came to the player during the gameplay experience.

Students perceived blog writing to be less formal - therefore the overall writing quality in the blogs was farily low, but the informality was liberating for the students. A teacher in the group commented that she had found, to the contrary, that her students were far more careful in their writing when it was going to be posted online and viewable by their peers as compared to private, non-posted journaling.

He provided an example from a game called Facade, which sounded like it was worth checking out a little later.

Lessons Learned about Educational Game Design

Four groups were partnered to present during this 90 minute session.

Using Videogames as a Strategy for Teaching Complex Topics, Robert Brown UNCG. I could have sworn the presenter's name was Bruce but I could be wrong, and he had a female colleague co-presenting with him who's name I failed to catch. The presentation focused on a game that had been designed to teach introductory Economic principals to Undergraduate students at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. The course, "Principles of Microeconomics" was designed as a complete replacement for the introductory econ course - its is delivered completely online and runs 24/7. All assessments are in-game, most can be repeated but the final assessment (a Jeopardy-like game) can only be played once. Grades are based entirely on game performance and progression through a series of levels and tasks and performance on quizzes. The adventure game about a group of aliens that crash land on a futuristic, post-apocalyptic earth presents economic concepts such as the law of dimishing returns and supply and demand through game-related scenarios. There are also humorous mocumentaries (e.g. parodies of Martha Stewart) and short twitch games that also help to present or reinforce concepts as well as ensure continued engagement. The class has run for 3 seemsters and 300 students have completed it - results show that those students do as well, if not a little better, than students in traditional classrooms (determined in part through similar sets of quiz/test questions in the game-based and traditional classes)

Serious Games by Serious Instructional Designers, Jamie Henderson and valerie Hainley
These designers asked the question that has been asked by many that have come before them, can/should instructional designers design games? Their clients, mainly military, bring many constraints, e.g. flash-based only games - nothing that has to be installed on the machines. They found that it was unsettling, at first, as instructional designers to create a program that would foster failure first and then learning through that failure as part of the game-play experience, but respected the fact that it was a powerful learning experience for players to see what happens when they do something wrong. The game that they designed for the Army was based on a course on Tactical Questioning and was designed to teach questioning skills to soldiers that were going to be deployed in the Middle East. They found, upon reflection, that the definitions of instructional and games are fairly close - in both instances things are being done that lead someone to (hopefully) accomplish goals.

Educational Game Design: Confidential, Meagan Rothschiled and Javier Elizondo
This is a Star Schools Grant Project being developed at PREL (Pacific Resources for Education and Learning). Their inital belief was that traditional game design wasn't that different than educational design. In their presentation they recounted many of the challenges they faced along the way to developing their newest game, including culture clashes between very formal corporate cultures and more informal game-design cultures, designers and producers, etc. They also explained some of the constraints of the grant itself, i.e., that the game be delivered on mobile devices and usable in SES settings. They found the evaluation experience to be challenging as well, and suggested the importance of keeping sights on the end-game player that you are designing for - rather than designing for the evaluator. One of the presenters shared a comment made by Will Wright at the Star Schools kick-off meeting - when asked if they could be successful at creating educational games he said "no" - education is about rules, sequences, etc. and games are not. I suspect that it will be interesting to see who is right in the end. Their game seeks to focus on delivering vocabulary content to 4th grade struggling readers.

Games &Schools: A Marriage Made in Heaven or Hell? Angela McFarlane - Presenting on behalf of Futurelab a non-profit group in the UK, McFarlane presented on the Teaching with Games program that they are working on. This program is sponsored by EA, and is a study of Commercial, off-the-shelf software use in classrooms. Specifically they looked at The Sims, Knights of Honor, and RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 and asked general questions about game-use in education. McFarlane pointed out the challenges of getting games on computers in schools - a technical problem that should not be underestimated. None-the-less, they found that 31% of teachers had used COTS in lessons, 59% said they would like to do so in the future, many felt students could gain actual content knowledge as well as higher-order thinking skills through game-play. There were, however concerns over sterotypes and the need for them to be addressed proactively in-class (e.g. Euro and American-centric slants in WWII games) and anti-social behavior. 49% of respondents laced access to appropriate equiment to support game play. Lack of examples and evidence were noted by teachers as being obstacles to implementation, other obstacles included: licensing concerns, time necessary to prep for game us (can't flip through a game like a book), and gaming literacy. They found that gaming literacy couldn't be assumed - not everyone plays games and not everyone that plays them plays well. Even in cases where students reported proficiency at gaming - they were often unable to play well and needed much intial instruction and support. They also found that good teachers did the best job at incorporating games into instruction - more so than younger teachers or more tech-savvy teacher. Another project, Newtoons, allows students to play puzzles that explore Newtonian Physics, and then create and share new puzzles with their peers via cell phones. Their research for this project looks at the effects/outcomes of: Make,Play, Share, Edit or Play, Create, Edit philosophies of gameplay and game design. Do students learn from the games? Do they learn from collaborative experiences related to their gameplay? Do they learn from the experience of creating games? etc. McFarlane concluded by stating that "learning is a process of creation, not a process of consumption" and she reinforced the need for schools to devote more resources to providing tools to create rather than merely products that provide pre-packaged content.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Augmented Learning with Handheld Gaming Technologies

Eric Klopfer, Eric Rosenbaum, Judy Perry of MIT:
(Official Presentation Blurb)

-creating higly engaged, motivated students.
-create immersive environments (and take advantage of the original immersive environment, i.e., our real world).
-teach 21st Century Learning Skills
-capitalize on pre-existing mobile gaming hardware - e.g. Game Boy, DS, cell phones/smartphones, handhelds etc. The hardware they use is readily available (COTS), facilitates interactivity/socialization...

Examples of Games:

Participatory Simulations (peer to peer) - The Virus Game. Players all have palm pilots, you "meet" people by going up and letting your palm communicate via infrared - goal is to meet as many people as possible before getting sick (then figure out how you got sick). Its customizable - features can be changed to enable variation in game-play. Teaches kids how to keep learning - learning skills will continue to be important even if specific science we are learning becomes out-dated.

Palmagotchi - Builds on lessons learned from pilots and usage of Participatory Sims. Inspired by Tomagotchi, Palmagotchis are games/simulations on handheld computers that are played over several days between and within classes. Initial content was based on Darwin's observation of finches on the Galapagos Islands. Transported to PocketPC platform (wider capabilities - myWorld platform). Goal: try to keep your virtual birds alive by taking care of them. They are investigating: personal investment in play/characters, patterns of play (short spurts vs. longer interactions), and in-class reflection to develop and reinforce learning. The goal of gameplay is taking care of birds that have good traits and mate accordingly - game pay during the pilot lasted for one-week. Client-Server Architecture enables accumulation of data and ability for advanced analysis. The program was tested in a serious of pilot tests - students' pre- and post-game-play responses to the question "Is evolution predictable?" were compared and they found that game-play did enhance students' comprehension of evolution concepts. Students also got very attached to their birds. They liked it and felt that it was truly a game. Outcomes are truly open-ended - "its not A, B, C; its A, B, ?" - unique and unscripted outcomes motivated students (teachers just need to be prepped/comfortable to handle a variety of outcomes in a variety of ways).

AR Games - Gameplay is triggered by actual locations in the physical world

Example of Indoor Game: Outbreak!
Location-based, in more compressed timescale. Based on a series of models - virus/disease spread is modeled at a very detailed level. There is a limited amount of protective gear and medicine. Players can interact with other players and Non-Player Characters (NPCs). 30 minutes of real time is equal to 1 week in game-time. There are multiple roles that players can play (with different capabilities). Game was evaluated through surveys, interviews, gameplay and diagrams of disease systems.

Themes in the research:
-How do students prioritize personal involvement relative to goals of the games?
(found that students found the importance of keeping themselves and their colleagues alive take on more importance after playing)
-Style of gameplay - students naturally spread out rather than staying together.
-What they learned - diagraming exercise revealed more complex causality and a more sophisticated model.

Example of Outdoor Game: POSIT
Looks at changes in public opinions over time - POSIT: Public Opinions of Science using Information Technologies - it is a collaboration between MIT and local museums. ex: Discussion Game - tracking players' opinons over time - Susan Yoon (University of Pennsylvania). Central question in the game: Should MIT build a BSL-4 lab? Players win based on the strength of evidence that is collected (using an opinion slider similar to that used in the Discussion Game, and by asking questions/challenging other players or NPCs - NPC opinions can change over time based on the model for information dissemination/public opinion). Results: personal opinion survey - a few large and several small changes, were more against it at the end than at the beginning. Dialog was also analyzed. Students' ability to argue effectively developed over time. Location matters - one student's opinion was swayed while standing on the site where the proposed, hypothetical building was set to be built and realizing how many people were walking around near-by.

Science learning games for Informal Science Education

Presented by Walt Scacchi of the Institute for Software Research at teh University of California - Irvine.

Scacchi's game-related work has focused on networked games that facilitate social learning opportunties (more so than on games played by individuals) and opportunities for doing real science.

Science Learning Games: (1950-2005+)
In the 1950's there were research articles and source codes for computer games - game design helped to spur on advancements in computer science.
In the 70's there were non-game science learning programs (e.g. Plato and Sophie)
+Science-inspired games - e.g., science fiction - fun to play but learning outcomes related to science objectives are unclear.

-Disney Dino
-Zoo Tycoon - Dinosaurs (fictional world where humans and dinos co-exist)
-Nanosaurs - Dinosaurs with Jetpacks do combat with one another
-LucasArts Droidworks - Teaches engineering design skills e.g. tradeoffs and iterative design
-Kinetic City - NSF keystone science learning games - produced by American Association for the Advancement of Science - 2million+ grant - for 5th and 6th graders with several mini-games e.g. Body System Identification. Requires iterative play - reset if incorrect.
-Genius - Task Force Biologie - German game, not available in English
-Industry -Player - about how commodity markets work - investment science. Developed in UK for teens
-GTR Racing Simulation - control and configure the mechanical design of the car to determine in-game performance - teaches graduate level mechanical engineering more or less.
-NASCAR Racing 2007 (by EA) provides telemetry data from a cars test run on the track.

"Graduate level engineering concepts, undergraduates don't know how to do it...but kids do."

Intro to DinoQuest at Discovery Science Center - in Santa Ana, California. Science Centers are increasingly becoming a prefered source of hands-on science instruction in California and the rest of the US. Scacchi briefly discussed the challenges for Science Centers and other museums to cover operating expenses.

This leads in to the portion of the presentation prepared by Joe Adams (who was offsite working on a dino dig in Montana)...wherein the business end of things are discussed: e.g. the importance of capturing the visitor's interest within 15 seconds, the challenges of securing funding. The DinoQuest exhibit is dino-themed but focused on Life Science...dinos are surragotes for humans in this exhibit - they capture children's interest and help them to learn life science concepts that they are expected to learn.

The HighSchool graduation rate in Santa Ana is 50% or less despite the fact that it is in the 5th most affluent county in the US. More than half the local potential workforce has not graduated - and that is problematic in world of work that is requiring more and more skilled workers.

(Photo of Argentinosauras that visitors can walkthrough and interact with and see demonstrations of bodily functions in addition to seeing the anatomy.)

The exhibit:
-IR Transmitters (shaped like a wand), developed by Creative Kingdoms - the same folks that developed the wands for the Harry Potter theme park (it was cheaper to go with the wand looking devices rather than recreating one of their own - an economic decision), allow visitors to interact with items throughout the exhibit and complete tasks.
-Kiosk stations are tied into science collaboratories (a current push to foster emerging scientific experience with hands-on involvement rather than mere exposure experiences)
-opportunities for social role playing - familes and gropus complete the tasks together.
-rewards - earn research points

The Online Game:
Use: "demo" and "demo" for user name and password.

Game design considerations:
-Had to put things in the game solely for the purpose of adults - kids knew what was going on, but adults didn't, e.g. interstitial explanations of what's going on.
-Budgetary limitations force players to make decisions about where to search, therefore fostering learning via strategy and preventing an exhaustive search
-Multiple different sciences are touched upon in a series of different games.
-Different game genres are used - including very short mini-games designed for young learners
-Rewards (items accumlated) for missions that are accomplished

Player Centered: Scores and missions completed identify progress and provide feedback in context
Exhibit Centered: ability to test content comprehension by player quiz upon completing mission
Different stakeholders have different goals - business goals (its successful if it is bringing more people in), educational goals (its successful if people are learning)...

The exhibit has helped to double the science center revenue and increased memberships by 75%, in part because it is very visible from the 5 freeway. New goal/idea: Massively Multiplayer Online Science Learning Games! Link together networks of science centers - via a cyberinfrastructure.

-Build on the past, but develop for the future: e.g. The Incredible (nanotech) Machines (based on the game: "The Incredible Machine")
-Game-based Science - Games as scientific investigation/exploration instruments, e.g. Plasma fusion simulation exploration game

Teaching Evaluation - through games

Presented by a team of developers at UW-Madison: Rich Halverson, Moses Wolfenstein, & Dan Norton.

Concept: create a tool that can help school leaders run schools better. The problem with this is that there's way too much that could be done, so they narrowed their focus a bit to teacher evaluation.

Four stages/phases of the game:
1) Observation (done)
2) Argument Construction (just now under development) - reporting back on what was observed
3) Expert Analysis - kind of like John Madden play-by-play reporting
4) Conference

The game/tool is being created with Transana -

They piloted the program with a group of students in a UW class on Supervising Teaching and Learning and found that the observation application worked fairly well as a tool. Administrators have requested being able to use it - thought it would be valuable to sit down with their teachers and walk through things together.

The interface is very basic - a classroom map on the right, with class&teacher data/lesson background buttons above. a large video window in the upper left, anda set of commenting tools beneath it. there are four buttons that can be customized by the person doing the evaluation. They found that when these buttons were predefined it constrained the evaluation strategies and styles of the person playing the "game." The tool allows the "player" to pause - in the game mode, they envision removing the ability to pause time - as a reflection of the players greater evaluation skills.

We then got a chance to try our hand with the observation tool.

One of the presenters came by to see how we were doing. We wandered slightly off-topic and he shared an annecdote from another project (using DSs for classroom vocabulary instruction) he was working on where an evaluator refused to see student discussion as a positive thing - a lively discussion about evaluation strategies and PT3 video programs then ensued among the folks at my table.

Teens tell it like it is...

Three teens present in Madison (Angela, Jonathan, both Global Kids leaders, and Lane a 13 year old from NY who had gotten involved through Second Life) and one logged in remotely via Skype (audio) and in Second Life join Barry Joseph, the director of the online leadership program for Global Kids, in presenting this teen panel.

After a brief introduction, Barry showed a video that introduced information about the Global Kids program and highlighted many of the program participants talking about their experiences. The group was then invited to play a card game/mingler that helped to introduce various things that Global Kids has done.

Jonathan, one of the teen panelists described his experience in the Playing for Keeps program - designing a game about life in Hati last year and a game called "Consent," developed in Second Life that explores the problems of experimentation on prisoners.

Angela then described a digital media project that she worked on that tackled the problem of obesity, using Dance Dance Revolution among different things and showed a brief video. Shen then showed a video, entitled "A Child's War." Created in Second Life, this short film was a great example of machinima with elaborate scenes acted out by avatars (at least that's how I'm assuming it was created), told the story of a boy from Uganda forced to fight as a rebel. Angela served as the interviewer in this movie and explained how Second Life enabled them to make a film that they otherwise would not have been able to make. She described the use of SL as an educational tool as "fun as well as complex." She explained a situation where their movie was tampered with after they first put it up on SL, and Barry explained that the permissions were subsequently changed to protect the students' work.

Next, Lane was invited to help with a demo of Teen Second Life. Barry explained that there are nearly 1000 teens that now own some form of property in SL. Other property is owned by Linden Labs and organizations such as Global Kids. Barry explained how he had come to meet Lane in SL - because Lane (and his avatar "Cheesepuff") had created a form of in-world graffiti that protested the involvement of adults in the teen grid. Lane explained that this was in response to having heard that some kids had gotten kicked off the adult grid. The interaction that resulted between Lane and Barry, sparked additional public conversations about the role of adults in the teen grid that continue to this day. In April, shortly after the one year anniversary of Teen SL, a debate was held in-world. This ultimately led to a proposal to more clearly delinate adult-owned lands in Teen SL. When Linden actually modified the grid accordingly. Lane was quite pleased about the fact that he had contributed to changing SL - he commented that he was suprised that he had as much "power or voice" as he did - how much power a group of teens had when they got together to protest.

(the modified look of the Teen Grid displayed)

Then Barry turned back to SL, joining Brooke Barmy, a well-known in-world furniture designer. Brooke described his involve in the Global Kids camp in SL. The camp adressed global issues (such as child sex trafficking) and leadership, but also allowed time for traditional camp activities such as in-world campfires. A brief video on YouTube explained more. The participants ultimately created a maze that mirrors the exprience of being drawn into the world of child sex trafficking). This maze was incredibly helpful not only in raising awareness about the image, but also in helping to raise funds to help combat the problem in-world.

Barry asked Brooke, why did you create a maze (a game) to raise awareness? Brooke's response: "in world, people don't just want to come and sit and hear someone speak. The maze, on the otherhand, is a physical activity that people can try their hand at." Barry then asked Brooke about the promotional strategies. Brooke explained that Linden put messages up on the welcome screen about the maze and a special teach-in event, and several in-world products were also created to promote awareness.


What barriers do you see to doing something like this in your regular school experience?
J: the school officials would never agree to it - they are more concentrated on academics...they would see it as not good enough. Games are seen as a waste of time - they destroy your brain, or so they fear. In a very professional and adult manner he then cited a study done by a Harvard professor who did a study that showed students who played games went on to do better in school than peers in a control group that did not play games.

Once schools see what students learn, how can they deny the value of it?
B: its not always enough

I'm a teacher, one of the challenges I see is that everything takes time. How long did it take you to do this project and build this game?
A: it took us the whole school year. To make "A Child's War" it took 2-3 months and we didn't finish during the school year.
J: the computers were too slow at our school. We couldn't develop the games ourselves, we just came up with the idea and did the design. Barry explained the Digitial Refinery (headed by a home-schooled 15 year-old who started the first for-profit in-world development company) helped to actually make the game in-world.

Have you ever thought about taking this to libraries instead of schools? Would you go to this program if it was in a library?
J: a good idea
L: If you do libraries you get a much wider spectrum of teens, if you target one school at a time you aren't going to make much progress.
A: I go to a musuem, so why not a library.
B: GK was the second adult-owned island in teen SL - the first was owned by librarians.

Strictly virtual vs real-world? Benefits to doing it in person/in the real world?
J: shouldn't be strictly virtual - good to meet people. Instructors help you out - I didn't know much about it before, plus got to meet and socialize.
L: benefits to online - get lots more people involved, don't have to drive anywhere. But I also agree, if you don't meet in person you don't get the social element - good to have a balance.
A: Both, it is helpful to have somebody there to lead you but doing it in SL at the same time.

How important is your identity in SL:
J: I believe that the avatar enables kids to create an image that is more creative and lets you do things that you can't do in real life.

The Program:
The Blog:

PS: it is _really_ hard to take notes in real time - but it was sure fun to give it a try.

Greetings from GLS

Sitting here in a beautiful spot overlooking lake Monona and listening to James Paul Gee deliver the opening Keynote address at the Games+Learning+Society. Its similar to past presentations I've heard him give, but interesting and thought-provoking none-the-less.

Golden nuggets thus far: He discussed the supposed education/learning gap that exists between rich and poor students - noting insightfully, that the poor tend to get bad grades for knowing nothing, but more disturbingly, the rich tend to get good grades for knowing nothing, i.e., they lack the ability to apply the things they've supposedly learned in any meaningful way.

He then went on to discuss the way that learning happens in games, pointing out along the way that dirty capitalists often trust our children and their capacity to learn and master information more than our schools. The gamer motto, according to Gee: "Fail early, fail often." Learning in gaming comes from failure and transgression and this flys in the face of the way things are done in most schools.

Some additional comments:
Playing games involves/evolves into building them. Gaming is about design.
Newbies and masters often play in the same space.
Race/gender and other factors that tend to define us in the "real world" can be used strategicially by players when, and if, they choose to divulge that information - they are not defined by who they are
There are many different routes to participation and status (not like middle school where there's only a few routes to status and stiff hierarchy thus results)

Now on to the next session!