Designing Learning Environments: Lessons from

I am thrilled to announce that the first of a few publications resulting from my research on the community has been published. I’m thrilled that, almost a year-to-the-day after I announced the start of the project the first of the resulting publications is out. Over the last year I had a lot of fun sharing  preliminary results from my survey on this blog and present a poster about the project at Games+Learning+Society conference last June. With that said, it is really exciting to see the results of that work ending up in  peer reviewed journal.

In this particular essay, I try to document the how and what people are learning in the community and try to abstract some principles from the kind of learning that occurs “in the wild” into lessons we can think about incorporating into more formal learning environments.

You can see a screenshot of a screenshot of the forums which I included in the paper below.

The folks at On the Horizon were great to work with. Specifically the guest editor, Christine Greenhow, and the reviewers gave me very invaluable feedback as I refined the essay. I should also note that I am quite excited to dig into the other articles in the issue.

I have included the structured abstract for the article below. Below that you can find links to it.

Trevor Owens, (2011) “Social videogame creation: lessons from RPG Maker”, On the Horizon, Vol. 19 Iss: 1, pp.52 – 61 DOI: 10.1108/10748121111107708

Purpose – Online community sites devoted to RPG Maker, an inexpensive software for creating role-playing video games, have emerged as spaces where young people are developing valuable competencies with digital media. This study seeks to examine the largest of these communities.

Design/methodology/approach – The study uses a mix of qualitative methods including a survey, interviews and analysis of the structure of the site. The study uses discourse analysis and is grounded in work on situated learning.

Findings – The study suggests that the site and community are scaffolding young people into deeper understanding of digital production and the development of practical skills, like programming, as individuals take on identities associated with different roles in game design.

Research limitations/implications – This study reinforces the value of research focused on young people’s social media creation and also suggests that there is still much to be learned about technologically simple but socially rich platforms like web forums. As qualitative research it does not generate statistical generalizations.

Practical implications – This research suggests three implications for the design of online learning environments focused on media production. Designers should: start with learners’ interests and basic skills will evolve; support a diverse range of production roles and identities; and offer simple technical systems that can support sophisticated digital learning communities.

Originality/value – While there is much work on learning in online communities, little of that work has focused on the importance of the role-taking of young people in those communities and on implications of these spaces for designing online learning environments.

If you don’t have access to the very nice looking official PDF you are free to take a look at my personal less nice looking PDF. I should note that I am able to deposit this copy of my paper on my personal website because of Emerald Publishing’s very reasonable author charter.

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