This was a question asked by curious listeners to Henry Jenkins discussion in Second Life on the pedagogical potential of video games and other digital media. The full audio (38 minutes) is definitely worth listening to here, or watching the short YouTube video here, especially to hear the music interspersed on the dance floor by teen DJ Alpha Z. Also, check out his new book: Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide.


How do we expand the educational process by using video games? We need to value what goes in in game spaces

He sites an example of students that were playing Doom and Quake and learning a great deal of how to manage people, teamwork, collaboration and leadership-similar traits that sports teams practice and learn-yet this kind of online participation is not valued as much.

Youth are learning how to be part of a community through technology, how to care about issues, express their opinions, and find out what is taking place in the world around them.

Video games and especially platforms such as Second Life, provide roles and goals for learning and information to act upon. Using virtual worlds or games to think through the experience of being a city planner, historian, environmental scientist helps one to use the information in a new way and helps to structure knowledge.

Second Life, is emerging as an important space for people doing a lot of important things. It is as diverse as the real world itself and people are able to try things they could never do in the real world in the same way such as create new connections, reinvent the economy, and imagine new governments.

Continue to look for battles over who owns our culture. These decisions are going to determine how much we can participate in the communities that we do.

Jenkins says that we need to use games to re-engage reality-not just escape it. The origin of science fiction was to help average people make sense of technology changes taking place around them. Popular culture and education, sorting out and speculation, has always been a part of science fiction.

So many questions and application for libraries:

How can we as librarians expand the educational process through video games? How are we doing this already?

Are we valuing online participation through our policies and practices? How can we value it better? How can we get comfortable with what is ‘worth’ holding valuable?

How can we create more opportunities for youth to be part of an online community?

How will battles of who owns culture play out in our libraries and how can we inform the youth we interact with about this?

posted by Kelly Czarnecki

About Kelly Czarnecki

Kelly Czarnecki is a Teen Librarian at ImaginOn with the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library. She is a member of the YALSA blog advisory board.

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