Embodiment, Embeddedness, and Experience: Foundations of Game Play for Identity Construction
There is considerable interest today in the use of computer games for student learning. Researchers, as well as educators, recognize that games can engage students in sustained and focused mental activity for extended periods of time. Indeed, game playing often occurs at the expense of more traditional forms of learning and schoolwork. Should we bemoan this fact, or should we seize the opportunity to harness gaming technology for teaching and learning? Does learning by game playing necessarily contradict what education is all about? For those persuaded about the value of learning by game playing, how can the design and use of computer games be introduced into classroom learning that is carried out in the broader context of school-based practices?
In this keynote address, I explore the dimensions of embodiment, embeddedness, and experience in learning by game playing. I argue that these are productive and powerful elements that can help students establish a sense of being, develop agency and self-directedness in their learning experience, and, ultimately, construct a personal identity. I shall also examine the construct of identity in education and address its importance in the light of New Literacies. The foregoing ideas will be presented in the context of ongoing research into learning by game playing at the Learning Sciences Lab of the National Institute of Education, Singapore. The broader goal of this research endeavor is to investigate and design ways in which game playing might be introduced and used in classroom teaching and learning such that the innovation is pedagogically sound and sustainable.