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Learning through Digital Game Design and Building in a Participatory Culture

An Enactivist Approach


Qing Li

This book discusses topics concerning digital game-based learning focusing on learning-by-game-building and Web 2.0. Grounded in the new theoretical perspective of enactivism, this book shows how such an approach can help students gain deep understanding of subjects such as mathematics and history, as well as undergraduate or graduate students’ learning of pedagogy and also adult driver’s learning of road safety rules. Written for undergraduate students in teacher education, experienced teachers, and graduate students, this book is an ideal text for courses related to technology integration and digital game-based learning. It is also beneficial for researchers, educators, parents, school administrators, game designers, and anyone who is interested in new ways of learning and digital games.


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Part 1: Epistemology


!! • P A R T O N E • Epistemology !! • C H A P T E R O N E • Enactivism: A Framework for Understanding Cognition and Beyond This chapter starts with a discussion of learning, knowledge, and cognition. The introduction describes several stories, one of which is a story of Sam, an elementary school teacher, and his kindergarten students, playing with Crayon Physics, an online game. These stories demonstrate that learning can occur through learners’ conscious and unconscious interactions with their environment without any specific, predetermined goals. This leads to the introduction of enactivism, an emerging philosophical paradigm. Such discussion is contextualized by comparing enactivism to constructivism and behaviourism. Then, leading figures in the field of education—Lev Vygotsky, Seymour Papert, and James Paul Gee—are profiled. The ideology of their work forming a foundation for digital game-based learning is discussed. This chapter concludes with a proposed model based on enactivism, integrating learning by game building and Web 2.0. Learning and Cognition Prologue I was working when my 12-year-old son, Richard, rushed up to me and said, “Mommy, can I ask you a question?” “Sure,” I answered, only half paying attention. “Which one is better? Being a perfectionist or being a workaholic?” “Huh?!” was my first reaction, as he looked at my puzzled face, eagerly waiting for a real answer. While I was still absorbing this bizarre question, Richard suddenly declared his thought, “I got it.” With that, he dashed out, leaving me scratching my head. Later, while having a conversation...

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