Developing new literacies using commercial videogames as educational tools

The general aim of this paper is to examine how videogames, supported by conversations and theatrical performances in the classroom, can contribute to the development of narrative thought as present in written compositions in various contexts. Given that one of the primary ecological influences on children is the mass media, we discuss how media messages create an environment that can teach people about the rules, attitudes, values and norms of society [Bakhtin, 1999; Gee, 2003, 2004; Jenkins, Purushotma, Ciinton, Weigel, & Robison, 2006]. From a methodological point of view we adopt a sociolinguistic, ethnographic and action research perspective. Our data come from a workshop in which the research team, acting as participant observers, collaborated with the teacher and the students of a primary school classroom with 10 boys and 11 girls from eight to nine years of age. We worked with the class during seven meetings, of approximately 2 h each. All the sessions were video-recorded and we also gathered all the children’s written productions. Finally, each of the participant investigators produced daily summaries of the sessions, thus enabling multiple interpretations of the same activities. An inductive approach to the data has been taken, with the aim of defining the analytical categories that consider participants’ activities in specific contexts. Our main results show that children’s reconstructions of videogames stories are dependent on specific contexts; for example, whether they are re-elaborating the content of the game while they are playing it, writing a script some days later, or developing a web page.

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