Trans-contextual Learning: Student Learning with Mobile Devices in a Persistent-world Game to Construct Meaning and Identities
Project ID: NRF2007IDM005MOE007
NRF Funding: S$1.15m
The project in a nutshell:
Statecraft X is a 24/7 persistent-world, multiplayer game for students to construct meaning and identities in the context of citizenship education and social studies. The game is played on Apple iPhones. Its use is situated within the broader context of a learning program that explores how learning can be engendered across the boundaries of school, home, and other ‘outside’ environments such as on the train and in the shopping mall.
In Statecraft X, students learn citizenship by playing the role of governors in a fantasy world. They have to ensure the total well being of the different peoples of the land, comprising trolls, elves, dwarfs, and humans. Satisfying the material needs and non-material wants of the citizenry being governed turns out to be a non-trivial matter. Support of the citizenry cannot simply be bought with money. Ideological issues have to be addressed. Coalitions have to be forged. Diplomacy has to be skillfully managed. Should players compete or collaborate for the successful development of statehood?
Game-based learning with Statecraft X seeks to create an open dialogic space within which issues related to the social studies curriculum and principles of governance at the secondary three level can be openly confronted and deliberated. Students’ meaning making and identity construction are examined through the lens of the performancenarrative dialectic. Values and beliefs related to active citizenship are fostered through trans-contextual participation in game play that crosses the artificial boundary of in-school and out-of-school.
View the Statecraft X learning program on YouTube.
Screen snapshot of Statecraft X running on iPhone:
The primary aim of this project is to investigate how students, as digital natives (Brown, 2002) and members of the millennial generation (Howe & Strauss, 2000), engage in trans-contextual learning: learning that transcends the boundaries between school and non-school and blurs the edges between the two. To engage in this investigation, we shall (a) design and develop Statecraft, a multiplayer, networked mobile game based on a persistent game world in which groups of students participate in the building of a multicultural nation to develop a deep understanding of issues relate to governance and the management of a nation state, (b) design activity structures for game play and learning that interweave in-game, in school, and out-of-school engagement, and (c) trace student participation and decision making in this interwoven learning ecology to understand how students construct personal meaning and identity as nation builders and “statecrafters” over time.
The game Statecraft is intended to deepen students’ understanding of Social Studies at the upper Secondary school level. By “incorporating” (as opposed to simply “immersing”) (Calleja, 2007) students into a fantasy world where they can experiment with innovative ways of nation-building, Statecraft invests students with personal agency needed to shape and develop the kind of nation state that aligns with their personal ideals and to live out the consequences of their in-game decisions. This organization of learning creates greater intellectual and experiential “space” in which students can explore and consider other forms of governance and points of view different from their own. In playing the game Statecraft, students can develop their personal identity through performance (Carlson, 2004) and narrative (McAdams, Josselson, & Lieblich, 2006).
Adopting a situated (Clancey, 1997; Lave & Wenger, 1991) and developmental (Rogoff, 1997) perspective on student learning, this project seeks answers to the following research questions:
- How can activity structures be designed to provide maximal support for crossing the boundaries of in school versus out-of-school learning?
- What are the salient characteristics and participatory frameworks of trans-contextual learning and how do they manifest themselves on a contingent basis?
- How are participant activities, their purposes, and people's roles in them mediated by the medium of a persistent-world game in a trans-contextual learning milieu?
- What design characteristics are needed to facilitate the developmental construction of identity through the dialectic of performativity and narrativity?
- How can student learning be supported via dialectic interplay between in-game experience and out-of-game Web-based reflection and in-class teacher facilitated lessons?
- What are the reactions of parents and key education stakeholders toward game-based learning in school and how might they be managed, if necessary? What role might such stakeholders play in facilitating the blending of learning in and out of school?
New screenshots (added 11 June 2010):
Choosing in-game character
Building a healing center
Battling for control of the capital city
In-game battle update
Chee, Y. S.. Tan, E. M., & Qiang, L. (2010). Statecraft X: Enacting citizenship education using a mobile learning game played on Apple iPhones. In U. Hoppe, R. Pea, & C. C. Liu (Eds.), Proceedings of the 6th IEEE International Conference on Wireless, Mobile and Ubiquitous Technologies in Education (pp. 222-224). Los Alamitos, CA: IEEE Computer Society. [pdf]
Gwee, S., Chee, Y. S., & Tan, E. M. (2010). Gender differences in patterns of mobile game play. In S. Martin (Ed.), iVERG 2010 Proceedings International Conference on Immersive Technologies for Learning: A multi-disciplinary approach (pp. 113124). Stockton: Iverg Publishing. [pdf]
Gwee, S., Chee, Y. S., & Tan, E. M. (2010). Spatializing social practices in mobile game-based learning. In Kinshuk & J. M. Spector (Eds.), Proceedings of the 10th IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (pp. 555557). Los Alamitos, CA: IEEE Computer Society. doi:10.1109/ICALT.2010.158 [pdf]
Gwee, S., Chee, Y. S., & Tan, E. M. (2010). Game play time and learning outcomes of boys and girls in a social studies mobiile game-based learning curriculum. In M. Montebello, V. Camilleri, & A. Dingli (Eds.), Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Mobile Learning (pp. 1623). Valletta, Malta: University of Malta. [pdf]
Gwee, S., Chee, Y. S., & Tan, E. M. (2010). Assessment of student outcomes of mobile game-based learning. In S. L. Wong, S. C. Kong, & F. Y. Yu (Eds.), Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on Computers in Education (pp. 455459). APSCE. [pdf]
Chee, Y. S., Gwee, S., & Tan, E. M. (2011). Learning to become citizens by enacting governorship in the Statecraft curriculum: An evaluation of learning outcomes. To appear in International Journal of Gaming and Computer Mediated Simulations, 3(2), 1–27.
Gwee, S., Chee, Y. S., & Tan, E. M. (2011). The role of gender in mobile game-based learning. International Journal of Mobile and Blended Learning, 3(4), 19–37.
Chee, Y. S. (in press). Video games for "deep learning": Game-based learning as performance in the Statecraft X curriculum. To appear in C. B. Lee & D. H. Jonassen (Eds.), Fostering conceptual change with technology: Asian perspectives. Singapore: Cengage Learning.