C&I 277 Videogames & Learning
Professor: Constance Steinkuehler
View "You Play" papers written by previous C&I277 students
Videogames have captured much national attention as a powerful learning technology.
Research across areas as disparate as perception, attention, science, literacy,
language learning, history, computer science, and curriculum design suggests that
videogames are not only engaging but, if designed well and placed in the right
context, good for thinking and learning as well. In this three-credit course, we
will discuss current research on the kinds of intellectual work that goes into
videogaming; how games and their culture foster complex forms of knowledge, skills,
and dispositions; and how games can be designed to capitalize on this capacity for
educational ends. We'll investigate the benefits and drawbacks of this digital gameplay,
covering everything from perception and attention in first person shooters to the development
of historical understanding in games like the Civilization series, from sociocultural
learning in massively multiplayer online games like World of Warcraft to computational
reasoning in titles like Kodu, from the inherent tensions between contemporary youth
culture and traditional education to new developments in games for learning intended
to bridge that growing divide.
The goals of this course are:
- To engage students in thinking deeply and critically about their everyday videogame play,
- To strengthen students' critical thinking about research & media reports on games, and
- To foster students' reflection on the ways in which learning is a vital part of everyday life,
relevant not only to formal educational contexts but also to everyday work, socialization, and play.
This course meets Comm B requirements, so it is writing intensive. Throughout the semester, you will
gain familiarity with current research on course topics, develop a language for reflection on the
cognitive and educational merits and drawbacks of growing up on games and gaming culture, and gain
new insights into the ways in which your digital playspaces and pastimes shape how you (and your peers)
think and learn.
Video Games and Learning: Coursera MOOC
Professors: Kurt Squire & Constance Steinkuehler
Video games aren’t just fun, they can be powerful vehicles for learning as well. In this course, we
discuss research on the kinds of thinking and learning that go into video games and gaming culture,
benefits and drawbacks of digital gameplay, tensions between youth culture and traditional education,
and new developments intended to bridge that growing divide.
C&I 675: Design-Based Research
Professor: Kurt Squire
Design-based research (DBR), first articulated in the 90s, is an educational research methodology (or a
family of affiliated methods) that addresses unique challenges in education. DBR evolved in response to
the complex nature of learning in situated contexts, the "applied" (or design) nature of education as a
field, and a recognition of the political dimensions of research, such as the necessity to include teachers'
and students' voices. It has been a guiding methodology for several major programs of research, and has led
to pedagogies such as Learning By Design and products such as Quest Atlantis. Researchers in games often use
it as a framework for developing and researching technologies and pedagogies in complex learning ecologies.
DBR is not without its critics. Debates on the success of DBR can be traced to differing models of inquiry,
differing notions of what constitutes knowledge and how findings are best presented and communicated, and
perhaps most importantly, differing theories of change for how social systems operate. Critics of DBR claim
that it isn't a methodology, that hasn't produced compelling findings, isn't a science, and hasn't led to
changes in education. Meanwhile, DBR practitioners often believe that education is a complex system that
requires multi-dimensional and multi-faceted approaches to change. Many DBR practitioners believe that
change occurs through proof of concept products as much as research papers, and that researchers might benefit
by creating the change they wish to study. After 20 years, DBR should be critically analyzed to understand
its success and failures as a method.
In this course, we will examine DBR in its philosophical and historical contexts. We will examine
examples of DBR and tackle DBR projects of our own. Through the course, you will gain better understanding
of DBR, the issues and challenges facing DBR researchers, and issues in educational research more generally.
ELPA 844 - Technology and School Leadership
Professor: Richard Halverson
This course investigates how school leaders develop and use technologies to improve student learning.
The role of technology in school leadership has changed in recent years from supporting the technologies
school leaders and teachers use in their work to how leaders develop and manage complex technological
systems to effect change in schools.
The course will be organized around two central issues: how learning technologies are used and developed
in the world, and how learning technologies fit into schools. The first issue will address the radical
changes that digital technologies have made in the daily lives of students, teachers and citizens - ranging
from video gaming and mobile, to social networking and media design. The second addresses the technological
challenges faced by leaders interested in creating the schools of tomorrow - how leaders build on the
technological capacity of existing schools to improve learning for students.
Course activities and readings will focus on recent research on technology, learning and leadership
and hands-on investigations of the technologies that shape schools and learning. We will study and use
technologies to facilitate planning, promote and measure student learning, and administrative technologies
to assess and organize student learning. We will also examine how technologies such as virtual schools,
video games, mobile and wireless technologies will reframe the future of schooling and learning. Our
investigations will take account of the ways technologies frame and are framed by institutional cultures.
The seminar format will emphasize the experiences of participants in the conduct and topics addressed
in the course.
C&I 975: Games and National Policy
Professor: Constance Steinkuehler
At the TechBoston event in March 2011, President Obama issued a call to action, stating
“I’m calling for investments in educational technology that will help create…educational
software that’s as compelling as the best video game. I want you guys to be stuck
on a video game that’s teaching you something other than just blowing something up.” A
growing number of universities, companies, and philanthropic organizations have risen to
the challenge, establishing programs not only in game studies but also in game design and
development. Robust communities such as Games for Change, Games for Health, and
Games+Learning+Society have also mobilized around the idea that games could indeed be
leveraged against grand challenges that range from improving healthcare and wellness to
teaching physics to making new discoveries in the structure of proteins. The evidence for
this approach is quickly growing, and the Federal government has emerged as a key partner
in this wave of innovation.
In this seminar, we will review the state of play in the games for impact area, the role
of various stakeholders (federal government, universities, philanthropy, and industry)
in this domain, and both opportunities and challenges to the movement. The goal of
this course is twofold. First, it will serve as a way for me to share with advanced
graduate students the knowledge and experience I’ve gained over the last year while
on leave from academics to work in the White House Office of Science and Technology
Policy (OSTP) as a senior policy analyst focused on national initiatives related to
games for change. By the end of this course you should have a better understanding of
how various White House offices and federal agencies work, and how you as an emerging
scholar might contribute to those agency initiatives and policies.
Second, the course will function as a “do tank” (to borrow a term from Beth Noveck)
in contrast to a “think tank.” Through the semester, you will do actual domain work
of immediate relevance for various stakeholders including a landscape analysis of
the various subareas within the games for impact domain and a draft pitch for new
projects and partnerships that should exist and don’t yet. This course is biased
toward getting stuff done in the world, right now. It is based on an apprenticeship
model that assumes that learning arises through joint activity with an expert. Expect
to engage in collaborative work with an audience that extends beyond the classroom walls.
C&I 802: Discourse Analysis
Professor: Constance Steinkuehler
Discourse analysis is a method of closely examining language in order to connect the micro-dynamics
of language-in-use with the macro-dynamics of culture and society. Discourse analysis approaches
language as action and affiliation, attending to both the content of what is said as well as its
structure or the way in which it is said (which is, in fact, also part of its content) across
the idea unit (clause), the sentence, the paragraph, and even longer pieces of text. By unveiling
the work that is done through language in social interaction, discourse analysis functions as a
particularly powerful means for examining, for example, the actual activities that participants
are involved in, the value structures in play, and the identities that are being performed.
The goal of this course is to develop a deeper understanding of and facility with Discourse Analysis
as a means for analyzing language in use, particularly in the context of teaching and learning in
both formal and informal contexts. Throughout the semester, we will apply a range of discourse
analysis techniques that enable the researcher to empirically document and assess the mechanisms
by which individuals collaborate, establish intersubjectivity, share their understandings, and
learn from one another. Students in the course will engage in weekly data analysis sessions
as a way to develop their own skills in the methods covered which will culminate in a final
C&I 821: Constructionism
Professor: Matthew Berland
This course is a survey of constructionist theory and research as they relate to the development
of tools and curricula. Course content and activities will help students
develop an awareness and understanding of the history, theories, philosophies, tools, research,
and technologies of constructionism and its children.
Goals: Students will work at their own ability level. Goal statements below reflect minimum
competencies. More advanced students will complete tasks appropriate for their
level of expertise.
Student will be able to:
- Define, understand, and use constructionism to build curricula.
- Design, build, and modify constructionist media for teaching and education.
- Examine the core theories, models, and philosophies of constructionism.
- Relate the course content to his/her career/academic goals.
Game Communities and Learning
Professor: Constance Steinkuehler
Games are both designed object but also emergent social practice, and it is both aspects of
games that make them a powerful “sociotechnical” means of learning. In this course, we will
examine how game communities function as naturally occurring, self-sustaining, indigenous
online communities of learning and practice, the conditions under which such learning happens,
its means, and its ends. Throughout the semester, we review sociocultural theories of
learning, current research on game communities, and methodologies for their investigation.
- To educate students in dominant theories of learning related to social interaction
- to engender careful reflection on how given theories of learning entail specific empirical methods over others, and
- to give students experience at applying said theories and methods to game based community data.
C&I 801: Interactive and Multimedia Computers in the Curriculum
Professor: Kurt Squire
Computer and video games have emerged as a model for learning and instruction. Theorists
look toward game as a model for developing educational innovations based on situated
learning theory. Policy makers embrace the potential for games to reach broad impact,
leveraging the substantial industry talent developed over the last 30 years. For teachers
and students, the promise of engaging, effective game-based curricula is alluring.
This course provides an overview of major debates, concepts, and issues in digital
games. It provides students opportunities to confront foundational ideas in a deep
and sustained way. First and foremost, it approaches games on their own terms,
seeking to understand how they operate on their own terms, before seeking to apply
them directly to education.
It is not expected that you be fluent in games, but it is expected that you’re familiar
with (1) Gee’s theories of learning and literacy through games, and (2) canonical games
and genres. This course is an opportunity to explore new games and genres, and it is
expected that everyone will bring experiences from their game play to discussion.
Discussing new or current (or classic) games (or other interesting immersive digitally
mediated experiences) is expected to constitute a substantive portion of the course.