EDGE lab is proud to announce a new publication from lab director Jason Nolan and graduate RA Melanie McBride. Their paper, ‘Beyond gamification: reconceptualizing game-based learning in early childhood environments,’ presents a new theoretical framework for conceptualizing Digital Game-Based Learning (DGBL) that emphasizes the role of autonomy, affinity, play and space as critically overlooked dimensions of children’s informal and out of school learning and play with games. As well, they seek to help educators distinguish some of the differences between game-based learning and other game-associated trends such as gamification and so-called ‘serious games.’
With much of the current conceptualization of DGBL reflecting the increasingly standardized and ‘data-driven’ priorities of K-12 and Post-Secondary education, Nolan and McBride ask whose identities, priorities and cultures are advanced or ignored when schools attempt to appropriate and relocate games in contexts far removed from those in which they are typically enjoyed. Finally, the paper interrogates why, if play and engagement are really at the heart of learning with games, we aren’t we starting with a model of learning that definitively play-based — that of the early years? From the abstract:
The recent promotion and adoption of digital game-based learning (DGBL) in K-12 education presents compelling opportunities as well as challenges for early childhood educators who seek to critically, equitably and holistically support the learning and play of today’s so-called digital natives. However, with most DGBL initiatives focused on the increasingly standardized ‘accountability’ models found in K-12 educational institutions, the authors ask whose priorities, identities and notions of play this model reinforces or neglects. Drawing on the literatures of early childhood studies, game-based learning, and game studies, they seek to illuminate the informal contexts of play within the ‘hidden’ and ‘null’ curricula of DGBL that do not fit within the efficiency models of mainstream education in North America. In the absence of a common critical or theoretical foundation for DGBL, they propose a conceptual framework that challenges what they regard to be the institutionally nullified dimensions of autonomy, play, affinity and space that are essential to DGBL. They contend that these dimensions are ideally situated within the inclusive and play-based curriculum early childhood learning environments, and that the early years constitute a critically significant, yet overlooked, location for more holistic and inclusive thinking on DGBL.
Amy Fong is a previous internship student who completed her fourth year placement at the EDGE Lab. She is currently finishing her last year in the Early Childhood Studies Program and has returned as a regular volunteer.
For her fourth year internship project, she created an “Adaptive Dollhouse” that included adaptive design pieces created at the EDGE Lab. She recreated and integrated many of these unique furniture pieces into her dollhouse in hopes to bring forth awareness of what adaptive design is, and what their functions are.
The special furniture pieces in the “Adaptive Dollhouse” can be seen and used as a learning tool to inform children about adaptive design.
The EDGE Lab welcomes our new undergraduate research assistant Lyubka Totina. Lyubka is a 3rd year student in Ryerson’s Ted Rogers School of Management – Business Technology Management and will be working under the direction of Sherene Ng and Rubina Quadri on the Wearable Shoe Sensor commercialization project. Funding for the assistantship comes thanks to the Ryerson Summer Research Opportunities Program, and the Wearable Shoe Sensor project is funded by a grant from FedDev Ontario.
In March 2013, Sherene Ng, a recent graduate of the Early Childhood Studies program (Fall 2012), received a $54K FedDev Science and Engineering in Business Fellowship to start a business to commercialize a prototype that began as an idea during her 4th year internship. She was placed at the Experiential Design and Gaming Environments (EDGE) Lab, where she learned about adaptive design. Adaptive design is a process for creating custom adaptations to meet the specific needs of a user.
With support from Dr. Jason Nolan, Assistant Professor, ECS and Director of the EDGE Lab and Rubina Quadri, a part-time undergraduate (ECS) and her field educator, she worked on creating an assistive device for people with low vision. Vlad Cazan, a Lab Technician at the EDGE Lab, helped her with the electronics for the prototype. The device is a wearable shoe sensor that vibrates to alert users when objects are in their walking path. The goal is to minimize tripping hazards and falls for people who may not be able to detect the objects on their own.
Moving forward, Sherene and Rubina will work closely to start up a business to commercialize adaptive design with the shoe sensor. Although Sherene never imagined that she would be an entrepreneur after graduating from the ECS program, she is grateful for the skills and knowledge she gained during her 4 years at Ryerson, which have enabled her to understand and identify needs for people with disabilities.
Dr Jason Nolan and EDGE-lab researcher Melanie McBride presented “Embodied Semiosis: Autistic “Stimming” as Sensory Praxis,” based on their forthcoming chapter for the International Handbook of Semiotics (Springer, 2014) as part of “ Do-It-Yourself Media and Youth Engagement: Repurposing Media for Play, Resistance, and Learning” at this year’s American Educational Research Association annual conference. The panel also featured:
Megan Boler (University of Toronto), “From Apathy to Occupy Wall Street to 4th Wave Feminism: Youth Practices of Social Media and Participatory Democracy”
Suzanne de Castell (University of Ontario Institute of Technology), “Mirror Images: Avatar Aesthetics and Self-Representation in Digital Games.”
Jennifer Jenson (York University) “Raising the Bar on “Voice” in a Troubled Community: Student Media Projects,” DIY (Do It Yourself)
Yasmin B. Kafai (University of Pennsylvania) & Kylie A. Peppler (Indiana University – Bloomington) “Beyond the Screen: Creative, Critical, and Connected Making With E-Textiles.”
From the AERA program abstract:
The emergence of online and offline do-it-yourself (DIY) communities of practice invites educational researchers to revisit critical pedagogy and informal learning at a moment of unprecedented poverty and rapidly shifting paradigms of education, labour, creativity and social space. We explore DIY culture a contested yet vital location of identity and self-representation for children, youth and marginalized individuals varied social, cultural and ideological sites of creativity and struggle. Our panel brings together transdisciplinary research exploring the impact of DIY culture with risk students and communities, children with disabilities, and women exploring STEM to locate commonalities, differences and paths of resistance.
Ryerson just put out a press release about the EDGE Lab/Phantom Compass partnership.
TORONTO, March 13, 2013 —- Ryerson University’s pioneering Experiential Design and Gaming Environments (EDGE) Lab has partnered with leading Toronto game development studio Phantom Compass. The partnership brings EDGE Lab’s world-class academic research and the creative industry know-how of Phantom Compass together, facilitating commercialization of the Lab’s applied research projects while enhancing the effectiveness of the studio’s desktop, mobile and tablet game products. EDGE Lab and Phantom Compass have already started sharing experience, best practices, and state- of-the-art technology to study how children learn while playing games and how to use that knowledge to better engage children in learning at school…. [read more]
In ‘Why School?,’ educator, author, parent and blogger Will Richardson challenges traditional thinking about education — questioning whether it still holds value in its current form. How can schools adjust to this new age? Or students? Or parents? In this provocative read, Richardson provides an in-depth look at how connected educators are beginning to change their classroom practice. Ultimately, ‘Why School?’ serves as a starting point for the important conversations around real school reforms that must ensue, offering a bold plan for rethinking how we teach our kids, and the consequences if we don’t.
Education Leadership: Will Richardson at TEDx Melbourne
Many thanks to owner Avi Assor, for the generous discount he provided to the EDGE Lab for materials that will be used in our Adaptive Design lab. If you are in the Queen West area looking for fabric or notions, check out Fabric by Designers.
EDGE Lab research associate and founder of the Adaptive Design Association (http://Adaptivedesign.org) recently gave a keynote address at OCALICON, and has provided us with a PDF of her talk about where Adaptive Design comes from and where it is going..
Gaming the imagination: counterpublics and the contestation of symbolic production is a video that addresses the political ramifications of the shift in production of videogames for oppositional groups known as ‘Counterpublics’ . What do these groups, and their contestation of who gets to be in control of symbolic production mean for society today? It is a digital report from the Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies, York University, and the EDGE Lab at Ryerson produced and narrated by Lab RA Daniel Joseph. Enjoy.