Cher Ping Lim


Chirp is an Assistant Professor of Learning Sciences and Technologies at the Center for Research in Pedagogy and Practice at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University. He is/has been the chief investigator of 3 major research projects in ICT integration, emerging technologies and game-like environments. He has published widely internationally in different areas of ICT-mediated learning environments. Chirp has also provided consultancy services to e-learning portals in Shanghai (China), the Singapore Armed Forces Training Institute, APEC, UNESCO and the Inter-American Development Bank.


Bringing the Gaming Center into School: Empowering Students and Extending Visions
Individual Presentation, Friday (1:30 - 3:00) in Hall of Ideas F

Over the last decade, new technology opportunities have been growing at an exponential rate. Students today are constantly exposed to new applications of these technologies and possibly the most motivational and addictive are computer games. Huge amounts of time are invested to master the rules, functionalities and strategies. It is common to see gamers gathering and gaming in LAN gaming centers till late into the night. Such excitement and engagement among students playing computer games hints at considerable potential for education. Based on a case study of a student-initiated gaming center at a working-class neighborhood high school in Singapore, this paper provides a descriptive and interpretive account of how the center has empowered the students and how the researchers intend to support the extension of the vision of the center. The gaming center in West Zone High School was proposed by a group of seven fourteen year old male students in the beginning of 2004. The vision of the gaming center was to provide an open and safe environment for students in the school to play computer games; these students would have otherwise spent time and money in the gaming centers around the school that were recruiting grounds for street gangs. The seven students had to present and defend their proposal before it was accepted with a budget of S$1000 (approximately US$650).

The whole operation was managed and run by the seven students with parent volunteers supervising the gaming center during its opening hours in the afternoon, three times a week. With the limited budget and from donations of equipment from students, the game center opened in May 2004 with five networked computers, one Playstation II, three X-Boxes, and a selection of at least 50 games. Although the center attracted at least 15 players each afternoon, the seven students were unsatisfied with the level of operation ("mundane") and the composition of gamers ("almost all boys" and "mostly express stream students"). This set the stage for collaboration between the school and the researchers to support these students to enhance their empowerment and extend their vision for the center. Drawing upon the working principles of the 5th Dimension, the collaboration aims to acquaint students with the art and science of game creation (enhancing digital literacy), engage academically at-risk students in an after-school program at the center, provide the student community with a stronger sense of local empowerment, provide a platform to engage female students in less gender-biased games and create an environment that facilitates transfer of learning from after-school to school context.

The collaboration based on the principles of the 5th Dimension has the potential to excite and engage students for whom school may be considered of limited value especially for the academically at-risk students. It offers them the possibility of personal control over learning activities, and it enables social networks of support not just from authority figures such as teachers but also from their peers and adult friends; where traditional pedagogical approaches do not employ these attributes in either the classroom or technology-based learning environments as first steps in the students' lifelong learning process.

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