The Dying of the “Digital Native” Concept

Scholarly critique of Eck, R. 2015. EDUCAUSE Review. Digital Game-Based Learning: Still Restless, After All These Years.

Scholarly Critique #3

The Scholarly review of Digital Game-Based Learning: Still Restless, After All These Years addresses the following questions: why this particular critical review was selected as a reflection of my own learning, how is learning conceptualized and what evidences are provided to substantiate the relationship between games and learning. In broader sense the question of how redesign an aspect of a game is addressed and my general reflection on games, play and learning that arise after reading this review.

One of the reason I chose to reflect on this article is that it is a review and a critique of Eck’s publication from 2006 “Digital Game-Based Learning: It’s Not Just the Digital Natives Who Are Restless”. Eck’s earlier publication addressed enthusiastically the power of Digital Game-Based Learning (DGBL) in education in the spirit of Prensky’s “Digital Natives” paradigm. If popular almost fifteen years ago, now Prensky’s conceptualization of the digital learner and the DGBL application seem almost irrelevant in the terms described. The newly published article by Eck is a critique of this earlier work. It describes the facts and the challenges presented earlier in the new light of research and implementation when it comes to the educational benefits and future of game-based learning.

As a brief summary, the article not only moderately criticizes the slightly “naive” approach to games and learning from a decade ago, but also promotes a deeper approach to the issue of benefits of games on the learning outcomes. Along with a more conservative approach, Eck expresses the need for adopting interdisciplinary approach to the study of DGBL. In this publication, as compared to the earlier one, Eck mot only recognizes the limitations of Prensky’s approach to games and learning but focuses the attention to deeper understanding of games narrative.

A greater part of the review is centered around Ian Bogost’s research on misunderstanding and misapplications of the concept of gamification in education. the focus creates a space for a discourse on the superficial context of gamification versus games narratives an intrinsic motivational factors. The need for focusing the discussion on game narratives and games intended outcomes reflects a trend of the way recent (in the last decade)research is conducted on the topic. However, there are some week points in Eck’s review as well.

Eck points out that may DGBL experts believe that the true power of games is in the ability to promote 21-st century skills through learning strategies that are synergized through gameplay. This is very interesting statement and probably very popular as well. The reference to the “21-st century skills” has been used by James Gee and a few other game theorists in the context of educating new generations. These 21-st century skills have been identified as critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, effective communication, motivation, persistence, etc. as clear this statement is, I think these are fundamental skills that need to be addressed in education globally. They are not specific to the problem-based learning nor digital game-based learning. Another point addressed in the review is that DGBL experts believe in the power of digital games to accomplish this transition to 21-st century skills from the “traditional” learning outcomes focused on mastery of facts and conceptual knowledge. The author infers that learning should be more than retention of fact and knowledge is deeper than the ability to make a relationship between concepts. However, mastery of facts and conceptualizing are still necessary components of the learning process.