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Lesson 1: Learn all you can

Written by Janelle Bence
July 31, 2011

Seek out the information you need to make sense of it all. If you don’t understand the pedagogy, you can’t make sense of what it could do in your classroom.

I began my journey of an ongoing inquiry into why video games engage players and what they learn while playing. I needed to know what was happening.

Ask anyone about gaming theory and where to get started, and you will probably hear the name James Paul Gee. I figured a good starting point would be What Video Games have to Teach us about Learning and Literacy.

Image originally uploaded on 2011-07-23 14:15

Knowing how I learn and that I needed to wrap my mind around these concepts, I knew I needed to document my understanding. I knew gaming worked, but I just didn’t know why. Without knowing the why, there was no way I could use game-based learning in my own classroom. That just didn’t make sense. And so arises my digital reflections.

One of the most intriguing elements of gaming to me is the multiple identities players adopt. It’s just a system gamers learn and accept as a necessity in order to progress to the reward of the game. Players adopt a persona and feel accountable to their identity in the game. One of the reasons people continue to play is because they do not want their identities to fail. They do not want to let their identities down.


This Nota demonstrates my learning on this concept and seeds of ideas of what this means for my students. It had me wondering about my students’ identities. Do they know how to navigate their various identities? In short, are they literate in their own identities? Do they know how to access the one that will lead to academic success? Do they want to? How could I set conditions that would encourage them to value their roles as members of a cultural group that valued academic rigor? How can I encourage accountability to that identity that excels in the midst of this context? What does that look like in the classroom?

Still more questions than answers, but these are essential. They help me focus my work. I still didn’t know very much, but knowing what I needed to know was a step in the right direction.

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