James Paul Gee


James Paul Gee is the Tashia Morgridge Professor of Reading at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He received his PhD in linguistics in 1975 from Stanford University and has published widely in linguistics and education. His book Sociolinguistics and Literacies (1990) was one of the founding documents in the formation of the "New Literacies Studies", an interdisciplinary field devoted to studying language, learning, and literacy in an integrated way in the full range of their cognitive, social, and cultural contexts. His book An Introduction to Discourse Analysis (1999) brings together his work on a methodology for studying communication in its cultural settings, an approach that has been widely influential over the last two decades. His most recent books both deal with video games and learning. What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy (2003) offers 36 reasons why good video games produce better learning conditions than many of today's schools. Situated Language and Learning (2004) places video games within an overall theory of learning and literacy and shows how they can help us to better understand deep human learning and lead us in thinking about the reform of schools. His new book, Why Video Games Are Good for Your Soul, soon to appear, shows how good video games marry pleasure and learning and have the capacity to empower people.


Popular Culture and Video Games: A New Paradigm for Learning
Individual Presentation, Thursday (9:00 - 10:30) in Hall of Ideas G

I will argue that many popular culture practices today-including video games-meld together complexity, pleasure, social interaction, and learning in ways that are revolutionizing the role of learning in society. New language and literacy practices also play a major role in this mix, though their workings often go unremarked both by educators and people in Game Studies. The sorts of learning we see today in popular culture and in video games supports what we have learned from recent research in the Learning Sciences, but goes beyond that research. Indeed, I believe video games are a new laboratory in which we can study learning and design new and powerful forms of learning for our global, technological, but high risk world. At the same time, learning in school has stagnated, returning to forms of skill-and-drill and information- and fact-based curricula (at a time where information is copious, but conceptual understanding of areas like science is rare). Children from more privileged families are learning many necessary skills for their futures at home, not at school, while less privileged children are left behind, creating a new equity gap at just the time schools are beginning to close the older school-based skills gap (e.g., in reading scores). In the end, learning in video games and through game-based technologies has the potential to reform both learning in school and in workplaces. At the same time, I believe game designers and researchers in Game Studies have a good deal to learn by thinking about the role of learning in games-most certainly including commercial games-and the role such games play can play in the future in society in terms of new forms of learning, socialization, and critique, though, of course, not without attendant dangers, dangers whichI will discuss, as well.


Opening Remarks
Breakfast, Thursday (8:30 - 8:50) in the Grand Terrace

Theorizing Games & Cognition
Respondent, Thursday (3:15 - 4:45) in Hall of Ideas G

Simulating Schooling
Respondent, Friday (10:45 - 12:15) in Hall of Ideas G

Games for Thought: The Future of Education & How We can Get There.
Respondent, Friday (3:15 - 4:45) in Hall of Ideas E

Click here to close the window.