Everyday Use of Computer/Video Games and Critical Literacy

Dr. John Kerr
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As the ever increasing popularity of computer/video games among the youth in the U.S. becomes more obvious each year, it also becomes clear that these activities motivate those youth engaged in playing these games in ways that school based instructional activities do not. The popularity of the computer/video games thrives even though there is intense criticism about the use of such products among politicians, educators, and parents alike. As the standards revolution gains more momentum in the U.S. each year, educational policies have become fixated upon instrumentalized instruction, standardized testing, memorization skills, and objectified behavioral goals to guide how educational experiences will be conducted in classrooms. The emphasis on "basic skills" in literacy education, which has dominated instructional practices at all levels of education, neglects to consider how the cultural/social/political nature of literacy activities operates in the construction of meanings that students produce from their reading/writing experiences. This paper examines the pedagogical strategies that have been used to design the activities that students who play these games become engaged. The students who participate in the activities that the computer/video games promote, become "situated" learners where cultural/social/political forces operate in ways that require the player to be aware of and to understand issues of power, injustice, and inequality that reside in the fantasy world that they temporarily occupy. An analysis of such experiences will be useful in understanding how the pedagogical strategies built into computer/video games, that require many hours of intense participation to move through increasingly more advanced levels of complex problem-solving decisions, which require players to assume identities that also possess specific cultural/social/political values, beliefs, and assumptions could enhance educators efforts to provide experiences to their students where critical literacy is embedded into their everyday life experiences.

Keywords: Computer/Video Games, Critical Literacy, Pedagogy, Semiotic domains
Stream: Technology in Education
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Everyday Use of Computer/Video Games and Critical Literacy

Dr. John Kerr

Associate Professor in the Humanities Dept., Division of Liberal Arts and Sciences, State University of New York at Cobleskill

I have been a professor of English at the State University of New York for the past 25 years. During my tenure there I have taught courses in freshman composition, American literature and basic reading/writing. My position as a classroom teacher has allowed me to assume the role of teacher/researcher. This role has provided me with opportunities to conduct research projects that have practical applications in my teaching as opposed to conducting research which resides in theory only. Recently, I have written papers on the cultural/social/political nature of the writing difficulties that basic writers confront in their attempts to produce academic writing, the commodification of the literacy curriculum in the academy, and how border pedagogy may be a useful concept in designing curriculums for students enrolled in basic reading/writing courses.

Ref: T05P0055