Richard R. Halverson


Richard R. Halverson is an Assistant Professor in Educational Administration at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His work aims to bring the research methods and practices of the Learning Sciences to the world of educational leadership by exploring how to access, document and communicate the practical wisdom of school leaders. Halverson's research develops conceptual frameworks based on cognitive psychology and classical philosophy to capture the complexity, expertise and situated nature of leadership practice and seeks to communicate research findings through developing on-line, multimedia cases of practice.


Games as Social Systems Theory Testing: Games for Instructional Leadership

This presentation explores how video game design can provide social science researchers with a powerful method for testing theory adequacy and interdependence, outlining our effort to bring the principles of game design and play into the world of school leadership in the form of the Instructional Leadership Game (ILG). We take theories of school improvement and school leadership as a subset of social science theories in order to investigate how videogames might test social science theory adequacy and reliability. The ILG provides a research-driven context for leaders to see the short- and long-term consequences of trying out new strategies, engaging in the politics of leadership, and practicing the micro-tasks of teacher evaluation and supervision.

We begin by reviewing the ILG game design by describing how we operationalized key theoretical components of teacher evaluation practices into a game-play interface. We found that each aspect of the component theory was radically underspecified and that we needed to engage in interviews and basic research in schools to understand how the theories would play out in practice. Assembling the model involved extensive user-testing to insure that the designed process actually represented authentic practices. Then we discuss the implications for video-game design as a tool for vetting existing school improvement theories and speculate on the next-generation of theory development that might result from game-modeled research.

SYMPOSIUM: Media Literacy & Gaming Literacy

Historically, media literacy efforts have been couched in terms of helping a younger generation of students learn to "see through" media messages emanating from corporate-produced media that are designed to produce hegemonic discourse. Today's emerging media environment, built on a logic of participation operates quite differently. To be literate in today's media environment means to produce knowledge as represented through multiple media forms, and, critically, to understand the modes for producing and distributing that media via various private and public media channels (usually centered around the Internet). In short, if yesterday's media landscape was one of /broadcast/, today's is one of interaction, and those people who learn to leverage technologies, social structures, and design grammars to produce and communicate messages will be those who profit.

This session focuses on recent research done at the games, learning, and society program at UW-Madison demonstrating how to participate in today's media landscape fundamentally is to engage in the practice of design (writ large), critically, meaning not just to engage in the design of software, but to engage in the design of social networks and institutions. It begins with naturalistic studies of gamers, showing how "entertainment" today means to design collective experiences via sociotechnical networks. We will demonstrate how educators can create similar game-based learning programs that use learners' interest in games like Civilization III to develop expertise and gaming, and skills in media production. David Shaffer describes his work developing and researching epistemic games, games that involve players in the roles of media producers where they confront problems, posit design solutions, and examine the consequences of decisions within worlds designed to simulate the practices of professions. Unlike past approaches to media literacy, these approaches take into account the social contexts and communities in which knowledge is developed and legitimized.

This approach argues that new approaches to media literacy need to develop a design inclination toward the production of media materials. By design, we mean more than just simply the production of materials; rather, we mean critical reflection on the part of students in identifying and understanding needs in their social worlds, the production of materials that meet those needs, and critical feedback from interested parties and constituents on students' work. We believe that this last component -- students receiving feedback on the projects that they create by and from constituencies that they value and are in a position to judge the quality of their works is a key way that new media literacy initiatives can avoid the trappings of liberal pedagogies.

Teachers Arcade

This workshop, geared for K-12 educators, explores the role of video games in the classroom. Jim Gee opens the session with an explanation why video games are relevant to education. Brock Dubbels, a middle and high school educator, offers an example of using video games in the classroom. Richard Halverson presents practical considerations for games in schools from an administrative perspective. This session concludes with time for questions and sharing of ideas.

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