The learning environment
A ED 811: New Media & Pedagogy, like the other MPS courses, will be conducted entirely on the World Wide Web. There are no set class meeting times, but you will be required to complete weekly assignments. Registered students in this course will need to navigate between several environments in the World Wide Web. These include:
- This Web site (https://elearning.psu.edu/courses/aed811/) - The course materials in this site consist of 6 themes, each is launched from an "Exploration" page of text, graphics, activity overviews with relevant links. Activities prompt participants to explore selected Web sites, to download data and/or software, or other adventures. Registered students are also prompted to navigate to ANGEL to engage in discussions and to submit assignments.
- ANGEL (http://angel.psu.edu), Penn State's course management system. In ANGEL, registered students consult course calendars, communicate with the facilitator and course participants, submit assignments, receive feedback from the facilitator and peers, check assignments scores and course grades. A link to ANGEL is in the Resources menu in the course site. In ANGEL, you will find a link back to this site under the Lessons tab.
There are several ways for course participants to engage in interactivity and generation of content with the A ED 811 course. You will find the following in the leftside menu:
- Participant is the individual's working space for interim drafts to present/share, to invite specific people to review, and as a private space for idea generation and reflection, in which we use blogs with permissions set by individual students.
- Collaboration is a space for working together in small groups with a common goal or project, in which we use wikis for collaborative authoring.
- Community is a public gathering place for the whole class and beyond for full class presentation, exhibition, and discussion, in which we use Second Life and other public virtual learning communities.
- Resources includes a brief description of the type of resource. Click on each and a page will open with several specific free and open source programs that could be used in the activities of this course. You can comment on the page regarding how you used it, or problems with using it. Additionally, course participants can add to the resources by bookmarking a site in Diigo and "tagging" it. Tagging automatically uploads the link to the appropriate resource page.
- Diigo allows for you to contribute content to the course with shared bookmarking and annotations, comments, and sticky notes on Web pages. The resource section of the course provides links to other social networking tools too.
Topics of study
There are 6 themes as indicated under "Explorations" in the left menu of the course, each involving 1 to 4 weeks. Learning activities will be in the form of background reading, explorations and creation with the links and resources provided, and focused discussions as replies to your work posted in ANGEL's discussion forums. By doing this, you will become familiar with the content of new media integration in art and art education. You will also participate in online discussions about how to teach this content at your teaching site. Following the first 5 thematic explorations, you will complete a capstone essay (Exploration theme 6) in which you will construct a speculative fiction of a teaching scenario based on the content of this course imagined in your future teaching site in 2020.
Exploration 1 - Notions of Education and Knowledge (3 weeks)
The main priorities in Exploration 1 are to learn more about you and your beliefs about teaching art, and to imagine possibilities of human-technology interfaces for creating and critiquing art.
Exploration 2 - Identity & Community: Collaborations & Sharing Perspectives (4 weeks)
In Exploration 2, you will select a social networking tool from the course's resource menu to share ideas or resources, or to do a collaborative mini-project. After this introduction to social networking uses in art education, you will create a self-representation online and discuss power relational networks of social, physical, technological, and discursive inscriptions or conditions that either privilege one human representation or material existence over others, or that empowers through empowerment of all.
Exploration 3 - New Media Art and Net Art Multivocal Critiques (2 weeks)
In this exploration we will learn about new media art created with the Internet as the primary medium (i.e., Net art) and strategies to critique interactive Net art.
Exploration 4 - Game Pedagogy: Cyberhouse (2 weeks)
Our focus of Exploration 4 is free, downloadable authoring programs outside of a commercial economy, which enables the creation of interactive experiences without the need for specialized programming knowledge or database support to introduce your students to graphical programming as creative artmaking. We will also do some activities in CyberHouse, an art education online program for the critique of visual culture, that Dr. Karen Keifer-Boyd has developed as game pedagogy.
Exploration 5 - Critical and Creative Synthesizers: WebQuests (4 weeks)
Explorations 5, involves you creating a socially responsive visual culture WebQuest, which is an inquiry-oriented activity in which learners construct knowledge through interacting with, evaluating, and connecting diverse, and sometimes contradictory, resources on the Internet in order to form new insights that they share in a tangible form intended to make a difference in the world. WebQuests are wrapped around a doable and interesting task that is ideally what responsible citizens do to create a more just world. Your students, when they engage in the WebQuest that you create should be using higher level thinking, which includes synthesis, analysis, problem-solving, creativity, and judgment.
Course Assignments for A ED 811will rely upon a variety of strategies to assess and evaluate participants' learning, including:
- Required participation in on-line discussion forums to provide opportunities for me to gauge your progress and ability to articulate key concepts. You will be assigned weekly readings linked in each exploration, and asked to discuss and debate the significance of these readings within the larger framework of the topic of the current exploration.
- Activities and reflective write-ups that require you to create, experience, interpret for your teaching context, reflect, and share the knowledge and ideas that you are forming.
- A capstone essay that will be used to evaluate your technological imagination applied to your future teaching.
You will learn much, network, and have support. The MPS can help you develop a portfolio for the NBTS, and A ED 811 can help you develop your art education program to meet the 2008 National Education Technology Standards (NETS), which are to:
1. Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity
2. Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments
3. Model Digital-Age Work and Learning
4. Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility
5. Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership
(For more specifics about each see: http://www.iste.org/Content/NavigationMenu/NETS/ForTeachers/2008Standards/NETS_T_Standards_Final.pdf)
It is helpful to protect the time allotted, secure further funding and policy in support of art education by showing school boards, administrators, and parents how you as an art educator and your art education program fulfill all 5 NETS.
Your k-12 students will benefit from the contemporary currency of art educators in the MPS in Art Education program whose teaching becomes inquiry-based, collaborative, and integral to the digital world of their students’ life-span.
Below is a specific example of an Exploration in A ED 811
Exploration 4. Cybergame Pedagogy (2 weeks)
Cybergame Pedagogy Introduction
Studies of computer games that children have created to teach younger children can inform educators concerning children’s perspectives on how they learn. Teachers who encourage student creation of computer educational games can tap into student interests and encourage students to learn by teaching others with their games. Inspired by artists who create computer games as art and from a review of studies on children creating computer games to teach children, I encourage art educators to provide opportunities for children to create computer games as art.
When is a Computer Game, an Artwork?
A broad philosophical and historical definition of games is that games involve mutually agreed upon rules. Twentieth-century philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein, took this position in defining language as a game. One entry in Wikipedia defines games as “a characteristic human activity, strongly determined by custom and the frequent subjects of folklore, have been the subject of anthropological investigations. Another entry states, “Many animals play; only humans confirmable have games.”
A computer game typically involves characters, environments, and options from which the player selects. There is a story or activities and choices the player makes, usually for specific goals. Typically, the goal in computer games is to defeat another player in racing, fighting, or some other contest. In fact, competition is often viewed as synonymous with games. The conflict situation in a game may involve conflict over a resource, power, or money. However, artists tend to challenge, subvert, or parody popular culture computer games.
The nature of art is rarely theorized according to its media, although people commonly define painting and sculptures as art, and “new media” references an elusive, ever-changing “media” as critical to defining its nature as art. Art critics since the 1980s have noted that the database has become the new artform. Philosopher James Carse’s (1986) concept of finite and infinite games is useful in looking at cyber-artists’ games built from databases. According to new-media theorist Lev Manovich (2001), new media databases “function as a new kind of mirror that reflects human activities” (p. 235). Databases are the form underlying computer games, and databases are central to the interactive concepts of artists’ game creations. Arthur Kroker (2003) asks in a blog on new media art, “Are data flesh?” The database may be more analogous to everything under the flesh—skeletal framework, operational muscle, and certainly the central nervous system. Computer source code writing, i.e., database creation, is a powerful way to challenge inscriptions of the cultural body. For example, Ka-Ping Yee launched a Web site on July 30, 2005, that reverses gender pronouns and other gendered terms on any Web site that one enters in the search engine, thus calling attention to socially constructed gendered perspectives in the English language. Regender.com produces high-speed revisionist texts of the New York Times, the Book of Genesis, and other worldview representations. Assumptions about gender roles are revealed in reading a regendered text.
New media art, especially new media activist art typical involves what is referred to as “reverse engineering,” that is the “decompiling and dissembling of redistributed code” (Kroker, 2003, ¶x). Reverse engineering extends Dadaist collage and other social critiques using assemblage artforms. In reverse engineering the source code or data is rearranged in a new database as critiques of institutions, governments, and newsmedia to reveal power structures that control cultural narratives or worldviews of a society that privilege some and oppress others.
Historically, artists have been fascinated with games. For Duchamp, chess was the perfect art form. Today, Mel Chin, Gabriel Orozco, Sophie Calle, and Net artists teams such as ActionTank, aux2mondes, and Playskins create games intended for players to emotionally experience issues, such as biotechnology. Artists are intrigued with Web-based games as an artform partly because players experience a transformation in playing the game, and thus the power of art is highly effective in such work. Making a computer game is an interdisciplinary enterprise, often best achieved through collaboration.
KNOWMAD, a creative team of artists, includes Rocco Basile, Emil Busse, Mel Chin, Tom Hambleton, Brett Hawkins, Andrew Lunstad, Jane Powers, and Chris Taylor. Their installation KNOWMAD/MAP: Motion + Action = Place (2000) incorporates a physical space of a temporary home in the form of a tent and a virtual simulation of travel. In navigating the pseudo-arcade game, one’s journey is an exploration of the changing cultural meanings of carpet designs found in Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. The symbolic meanings transgress fixed national identity and geographical origin, and change according to context and social use. Thus, the game/art perpetually displaces a fixed form of knowledge and communicates that meanings change according to context.
Natalie Bookchin describes her cyberactivist goals in her co-created Web game MetaPet in the following excerpts from an interview with Mia Makela:
I wanted to set up the conditions to lure people away from their duties and make it convenient for them to play at work. The Situationists and their interventions into daily life as well as their slogans against work and for play have not escaped my game design methods.
The Metapet is more of an active agent that one may initially recognize. Players’ positions in the game are also instable. Winning and losing, the “goals of the game”, and the satisfaction attached to each scenario are not as linear or clear-cut as one might assume. Winning may be a rather dull scenario, and it may be more rewarding to subvert the system. (Makela 2003, ¶ 7 & 9)
The Progressive Dinner Party, inspired from pioneering feminist artist Judy Chicago’s art installation, The Dinner Party (1975-79), is an assemblage of feminist hypertextual literature on the Web (Guertin and Luesebrink 2000). In hypertexts, a term and concept introduced by Theodor Nelson in 1965, the reader creates her own pathways through the text; and as poststructual feminist Wendy Morgan posits, the author does not control the viewpoint or authority of the text (2000). In game studies, The Progressive Dinner Party, would be placed in the Interactive Fiction sub-genre, and viewed as text adventures. Photographer, Esther Parada’s (2002, 1996) constructive hypertext, such as “Transplant: A Tale of Three Continents,” has an interactive fiction game structure through archival photos and real life stories formed by the players’ choices.
Implications for Art Education in the 21st Century
I conclude with a list of what I propose are important areas in art education in the 21st century. Of course, this is not an exclusive list—but addresses some areas of study and experience that are relevant art education.
1. computer games, like museums, present and interpret culture
2. collaborative artmaking experiences
3. interdisciplinary studies
4. familiarity with learning theories
5. explorations of simulations and games as constructivist story creation
6. knowledge of inclusive and infinite game design
7. experience in working with databases as an artform
8. consideration of human-technology interfaces
9. historical roots of computer games as art based in conceptual art, Dadaist collage, assemblage (reverse engineering), Situationist constructivist story, activist art, museumism art, contemporary issues, and popular culture.
Carse, J. (1986). Finite and infinite games. New York: Free Press.
Guertin, C., & Luesebrink, M. C. (2000). The Progressive Dinner Party. Retrieved March 15, 2009, from http://www.heelstone.com/meridian/templates/Dinner/dinner1.htm
KNOWMAD Confederacy (2000). KNOWMAD/MAP: Motion + Action = Place. Retrieved January 15, 2009, from http://listart.mit.edu/node/285
Makela, M. (2003). METAPET – Genetic Code in the Service of the Brave New Corporate World: An Interview with Natalie Bookchin. Intelligent Agent, 3(2). Retrieved March 1, 2009, from http://www.intelligentagent.com/archive/Vol3_No2_gaming_bookchin.html
Manovich. L. (2001). The language of new media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Morgan, W. (2000). Electronic Tools for Dismantling the Master’s House: Poststructuralist Feminist Research and Hypertext Products. In W. S. Pillows & E. A. St.Pierre (Eds.), Working the Ruins: Feminist Poststructural Theory and Methods in Education (pp. 130–147). New York: Routledge.
Parada, E. (2002). When the bough breaks: Loss of tradition in the urban landscape. Journal of Social Theory in Art Education, 22:72–91.
Yee, Ka-Ping. (2005). Regender. Retrieved 1 March 2009, from http://regender.com
WEEK ONE (March 23-30):
Cybergame Pedagogy background audio and written texts. Select one or more from 6 text options below as background reading.
1. Jenkins, H. (2007). From YouTube to YouNiversity: Learning and playing in an age of participatory culture. International Journal of Communication, 1, 145-146. (1:19 minute audio lecture)
2. Fromme, J. (2003). Computer Games as Part of Children's Culture
3. Keifer-Boyd, K. (2005). Children teaching children with their computer game creations. Visual Arts Research, 60(1), 117-128.
4. Select an article from the MacArthur 2008 series on digital learning (all the articles are freely accessible at http://mitpress.mit.edu/catalog/browse/browse.asp?btype=6&serid=170).
5. Go to http://www.gamesforchange.org/play and play a game from the list. Keep these games in mind as you read Wasik, B. (2006). Grand Theft education: Literacy in the age of video games. Harper's Magazine, September, 31-39. Consider how these games that you just played support or refute the positions taken in the article.
6. See http://www.archimuse.com/mw2009/speakers/ for articles on Museums and the Web 2009, particularly these 3 papers:
- Learning In The Wild: What Wolfquest Taught Developers and Game Players
- Fictional press releases and fake artifacts: How the Smithsonian American Art Museum is letting game players redefine the rules
- City Treasure. Mobile Games for Learning Cultural Heritage
WEEK TWO (March 30-April 6):
Explore free, downloadable authoring programs outside of a commercial economy such as Korsakow System, which enables the creation of interactive experiences without the need for specialized programming knowledge or database support; and Scratch, developed at MIT Media Lab to introduce children to graphical programming. Here are two open source or free game creating software programs: SQUEAK, GameMaker. Others that could be used include: Alice, Ethos, Flash, StageCast, StarLogo, and MicroWorlds.
Explore cybergame pedagogy in CyberHouse, an art education online program for the critique of visual culture that I am developing. CyberHouse players explore perception, production, and dissemination of images as cultural practices in terms of inclusion and exclusion from power and privilege. Like the air we breathe, we are immersed in visual culture and, therefore, are usually not aware of how power and privilege operate in works of art and other forms of visual culture from past and present times. CyberHouse is designed to expose ideologies of power conveyed by images, to help youth and adults examine privileged as well as neglected perspectives expressed or silenced through visual culture, and to participate in self-representation with their own visual creations and the choices they make in their interactions in CyberHouse.
After checking out readings on digital game play as education, and ways to create games as art education, develop a lesson plan for your teaching site that involves cybergame pedagogy. You are experienced teachers and know that lessons need a motivational hook and the purpose needs to be clear to students. The form of this lesson can be in narrative form, or traditional lesson plan form, or a lesson form you find useful (or is required) in your teaching site, or the form can even be a more visual and creative presentation of the lesson idea such as in a comic strip format. Post your lesson plan in ANGEL at the forum folder titled, "Cybergame Pedagogy."