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There are a number of things I greatly appreciate about the “gaming pedagogy” theory employed at Quest to Learn School in New York. I predict that the emphasis they place on questioning as the foundation of knowledge and understanding will greatly increase student initiatives and encourage more interactive learning, as opposed to authoritative pedagogy. Questioning learners become skeptics and scientists, two discourses the world needs more of. Furthermore, the student’s questions will be less intimidating because the system-based learning gives students direct access to the tools that hold the keys to answers and problem solutions. As a student, I was often deterred from inquiry because I could not understand structures upon which abstraction or fact was based, and was subsequently a highly selective learner, only absorbing that which was not based on complex and all-together alien systems. Quest kids have the advantage of an education based in systemic roots, laying the groundwork for well-informed analysis and adept problem solving later on in life and strengthening their critical thinking skills, helping them to formulate connections between different systems.

There are some flaws with this pedagogy, however. Firstly, it reinforces the import of experience and not application. I feel as if there are basic abstractions that need to be introduced before the students are expected to create games that are to teach others these abstract principles. As James Gee explains in the film, people don’t learn from abstract explanations of what really exists, rather they learn from hands on experience. However, there are concepts integral to the grade school learning curriculum such as literary technique and analysis, conceptual mathematics, and artistic expression that are either not suited to the limitations of a game template or would actually lose creative value if approached through gaming. How is a child to express full artistic intent though the limitations of a computer system? Quest to Learn is not interdisciplinary in that it restricts application and expression to media technologies, which are ultimately a degree removed from the ingenuity of the human brain because they are constructed by a computing device. Perhaps with more technological advancement, this restriction will be eradicated, but for now, gaming technologies are still relatively infantile and can not reflect the full range of activities and aspects facilitated by a brain and a multifaceted non-digital world. System-based learning can go one of two ways. 1) It can propagate the user/creator to push media technologies to their limits by striving continually to marry systems and theory or 2) It can shape young brains to think systematically, training students to regard the world in parts and wholes that can be manipulated and evaluated like the parts of a game, leaving the individual to think more methodically and less conceptually which is perhaps inherently dangerous to a race of “dreaming” individuals. Do we want young brains to be shaped strictly along the lines of what is ultimately artistic engineering?

Furthermore, Quest School seems to encourage its students to view the world and share ideas through screens and lenses, which implements a methodology of simulation. Are Quest students indeed interacting more with their world, or are they removing themselves from it within the classroom? This brings up the question of “authentic” interaction within a simulated environment.

I’m not sure if the larger education system will indeed adopt the gaming pedagogy style of Learning because it encourages radical creation along with bottom-up teaching methods and collectivity in a nation/world based on individualization. This view is purely political, though. The truth is, I don’t believe that the masses believe in play enough and are therefore skeptical of the incentives and effectiveness of gaming schools.

Having said all this, I would choose to send my child to this school and what’s more, I’d like to work at it. Despite my apparent level of skepticism in this blog, I believe in this method of education more than that which is the standard in America right now and it is an interesting experiment for this country’s future.

10:10 Commercial; 5 Media Questions

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Genevieve Gillespie

Hobbs

10:10 Commercial

September 22, 2011

 

 

This 10:10 campaign promotional video was meant to persuade disbelievers of global warming and carbon footprint theories to join the “going green” crusade. A spokeswoman for the 10:10 campaign said: “Many people found the resulting film extremely funny, but unfortunately some didn’t, and we sincerely apologize to anybody we have offended.” I see it in a different light….a Spanish Inquisition sort of light. This video is insinuating that those who do not adhere to carbon emission cutting efforts, should be terminated violently and without trial.

 

I suspect the campaign designed this commercial to be so drastic because they’re selling an idea. Products can sell due to their demand and material value but ideas have an equal chance of being both completely rejected, or overwhelmingly accepted. There are so many ideas in existence, these memes must compete, pushing them to the point of ludicrousness. The violent explosions and taboo approach certainly grab the viewer’s attention, albeit not in a way the producers may have intended. This commercial targets the viewer’s sense of human responsibility and morality by suggesting that only those who want to reduce carbon emissions are worthy. It nearly forces the idea of global unity and it perfectly represents a trend in modern societies for apocalyptic pseudo-science theories to proliferate amongst the masses and become dogmatic. It assumes that all peoples have unified value systems and understandings of science. As it is, they are pedaling theories, not facts. The socio-political and scientific issue at hand, namely climate change, is still a highly debatable and widely contested topic. There is a large discourse of people that believe billions of government dollars should not be poured into efforts such as the 10:10 movement, since more research is needed to determine patterns of homo-environmental correlation. I was disgusted and terrified by the implications of this video, finding it anything but funny, unlike many of its viewers. I am a “non-believer,” and therefore represent a minority interpretation. I don’t want to be blown up for being a rightful skeptic and I wouldn’t want future generations of skeptics to fear a society operating like the one promoted in this video. No statistics or scientific proof is presented in this video and the opposing side of the argument is absent. By the looks of it, this video doesn’t want anyone, anywhere to present any opposition.

Gee and Boyd Quote Reviews

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Genevieve Gillespie

New Media Literacies

Sept. 15, 2011

“Children from non-mainstream homes often do not get the opportunities to acquire dominant secondary discourses, for example those connected with the school, prior to school in their homes, due to lack of access their parents have to these secondary discourses.” – Gee

Gee’s definition of literacy doesn’t work in a scenario in which our primary and secondary literacy is actually determined within the same discourse. In a digitally mediated, entertainment society, digital media constitutes our primary, secondary, and further discourses by serving as our main form of information gathering and communication from the time of birth. Obviously, in this situation, it’s either very easy or very difficult to determine who the dominant discourse is. It refers to a fundamental question raised frequently in media analysis – are we being dominated by those who distribute our media (advertisers, programmers, politically slanted media elite, anchors, campaign directors) or are we being granted political awareness and information liberation by our interactive internet networking? If we could construct a clear idea of who holds the power in our relatively uncharted and minutely nuanced culture, we might have hope of understanding where the dominant discourses lie. Regardless, it remains that the television, for instance, or our video game culture not only shape us in the early stages of primary discourse by acquisition, but also determine the overarching discourse of urban and global pop culture, which glue our secondary discourses later on in life. Therefore, Gee’s model of intimate primary discourse differing from “stranger – to – stranger” external secondary discourse is unwoven by the ultimate influence of constant and ever-present media discourse.

“All humans, barring serious disorder, get one form of discourse free, so to speak, and this through acquisition. This is our socio-culturally determined way of using our native language in face-to-face communication with intimates”…….“In modern technological and urban societies which function as a “society of stranger” the oral mode is more narrowly used.” (Gee, 5)

I would argue that our discourse-dictated way of interpersonal communication is becoming more homogenized because we no longer relate on a “stranger – to – stranger” basis though technology. Our social networking simulates interpersonal and intimate communication while using unified internet jargon, therefore unifying our language and connecting our experiences. Also, widely distributed television networking is morphing the language of younger American generations into “middle American” speech and dictation.

“Games encourage players to think about relationships, not isolated events, facts, and skills…..In our complex global society, such system thinking is crucial for everyone.” (Gee, 2005: 36)

Gee is saying here that if life involves constant relationships and increasingly constant interaction, why does our education focus around the building of knowledge instead of the ability to problem solve within varied situations in relation to the experiences of others and their trajectory through the same spaces. I’m not sure if the frequency of social disorders has really risen in the past decade, but it does seem as if anxiety disorders have become more frequent.

“Profiles are constructed by filling out forms on the site.  While the forms were designed to control the layout of the content, MySpace accidentally left open a technological loophole and their forms accepted (and then rendered) HTML and CSS code.  Capitalizing on this loophole, participants can modify the look and feel of their profiles.  By copying and pasting code from other websites, teens change their backgrounds, add video and images, change the color of their text, and otherwise turn their profiles into an explosion of animated chaos that resembles a stereotypical teenagers’ bedroom.” (Boyd, 2007: 6)

If we consider governing bodies of the world to be living organisms, those living organism’s genes would control the content of the “information” within the body. All the information that was in circulation through the body’s genetic code could be like the body of informational content in circulation through media networks being dictated by corporations within a dominant or governing body. The comparison here is the genetic information carried in genes being likened to memetic information carried through Richard Dawkin’s famous “memes.” When a virus attaches to a cell, it injects its own genetic material and then begins replicating, challenging the very identity of the healthy cell. The loophole Boyd describes in this quote makes me think that memes are proliferating easier and faster than ever! The proletariat has begun to reproduce their own content like a virus, but unlike a virus, they’re not ultimately winning a battle and killing the original organism. They’re actually changing the nature of the living model! Our governing bodies and nation states and systems of power are (for now) still intact. So one of two things will happen. Either we continue mutating cells like a cancer until we’ve mutated the entire world, or we will eventually kill the governing bodies. This is obviously a radical comparison.

“The process of learning to read social cues and react accordingly is core to being

socialized into a society.” (Boyd, 2007: 12)

            Boyd is saying here that those who are socially literate are those who recognize, understand, and respond appropriately to social cues. If a great majority of our social cues and social identity comes from our interactions online, are we then assuming that cognizant objectors are inherently illiterate?

Assignment #1: Reflections on McLuhan and Social Networking

September 8th, 2011

For me, the most striking concept originally introduced by McLuhan and reintroduced in this week’s reading is his notions regarding the timeline of literacy dictated by our media developments. McLuhan purports that “The mere accustomation to
the repetitive, lineal patterns of the printed page strongly disposed people to transfer such approaches to all kinds of problems.” He suggests that our culture, economy, local and global relations, and interactions have formed linearly and uniformly through the medium of the printed press, strengthening themes such as nationalism and individualism. Although McLuhan considers this development to be, by nature, catastrophic to the unique and multifaceted composition of human cognizance, he neglects to theorize about the possible ways in which new media technologies (television and radio in McLuhan’s time) were reconstructing linear thought, although I’m sure he recognized the infancy of the electronic age and perhaps restrained from commenting too definitively on this subject. While watching a disappointingly shallow documentary that aimed to “expose” the falsities of the Bush administration’s war against Iraq today, I realized that McLuhan wisely steered clear of political saturation within his theories. Perhaps, he considered all political content within media to be ultimately dictated by the nature of the particular medium in use and therefore felt it more critical to focus on the effects of the medium itself, rather than the political content being expressed through the media. Then again, McLuhan’s fundamental conjecture that print media cultivated imperialism and nationalism by unifying and organizing individualized masses and creating global competition actually does add political undertones to his work, reducing our entire modern and post-modern political cultures to “catastrophic” systems brought about because unified thought allowed for the manipulation of large amounts of people.
At the risk of deviating from the prompt too drastically, I feel as if one of the most prevalent and polarizing habits of educators in the face of modern popular technologies that I have often experienced first hand, is to negate the import of social technologies because they “squander” the power of technology that could be used for more scientific pursuits. Incidentally, I am a huge proponent of greater scientific literacy and the need for a more generally conscientious use of cyberspace. Yet, denouncing social networking and video gaming has made me regard these media as pathetic means of simulation and the human race’s attempt to represent and readjust ourselves at the center of a mediated universe. However, I think older generations that have popularized these theories (not mentioning, but referring specifically to, many of my professors) mistakenly believe that the facebook generations have all the answers regarding new media technologies and are being lazy with our approach to the vast digital frontier. I believe, on the other hand, that we are just as lost as those who have gone before us. We have grown up within a culture our predecessors do not understand, being provided with no guidance for use and understanding. We are essentially pilgrims, if you will. Just as McLuhan shied away from producing volumes of authoritative work on the effects of new media, I feel the need to remind my educators that we are at the advent of a new age, with massively underestimated and little understood technology. We are digital media infants. Social networking and video gaming may be “media playpens” for the online generations! We need to contextualize ourselves within this datasphere and symbolically learn to speak and use our new language before we can explore, criticize, and analyze our infant digital universe. Human infants must form relationships within the borders of their culture before they can manipulate it and progress through it. Perhaps, young “users” of these technologies are doing the same. Failure often precedes facility and, although still operating under the “Baudrillard-ian” perspective that we are living a facile and doughy reality within the comforts of online hyperreality, I may amend my jaded views and give our youthful data universe (and its users!) a little elbow-room. Social media does not replace the classroom, or a book, and I am hard up to believe it ever will. New “entertainment” technologies do, however, have to be reconsidered in less culturally, politically, and existentially crippling terms – especially by educators.

I am self-admittedly playing the Devil’s advocate in this Blog post, not necessarily adhering to the schools of thought I have presented here. But I find myself actually starting to believe what I’ve written….

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