Shelley Pasnik


Shelley Pasnik is involved in discovering ways media can support children's healthy development. At the Center for Children and Technology much of her time is devoted to understanding how private foundations, corporate philanthropies and cultural institutions can help schools and community-based organizations. She's had the opportunity to work with the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, IBM, Intel, the American Museum of Natural History, Carnegie Hall, AOL, WNET/Thirteen and WGBH in their efforts to support teachers and learners. She also has written for a range of organizations and companies, including Warner Bros, the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture, the National School Board Foundation, Cable in the Classroom, Discovery and PBS, for which she created the PBS Parents Guide to Children and Media website. She sits on the advisory board for the Global Action Project and the Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies.



Playing 4 Keeps: Game Design and Learning

This presentation will feature what we’ve learned from Playing 4 Keeps, an after-school program that engages minority youth in the design, development and dissemination of professionally produced online games, and Teen Second Life, the teen-only virtual world in which Global Kids launched their own island to run interactive, experiential workshops on the theme of digital media. The Playing 4 Keeps program treats online games as a form of youth media informed by significant policy issues. In collaboration with gameLab, an independent game company, Global Kids’s program enables participating students to publish one professional-level web-base game each year. In the program’s first year, Playing 4 Keeps youth and gameLab will build a game that explores education as a basic human right. And, because Playing 4 Keeps has the support of a Microsoft grant, the game will be disseminated through Microsoft’s Gaming Zone, giving youth participating in the program the opportunity to reach their peers as well as educators throughout the world.

The Playing 4 Keeps game will be heavily informed by Global Kids educational pedagogy, as it will be developed by youth, mainly from marginalized NYC neighborhoods, and for youth, to appeal to those not likely to become directly engaged in such educational material. As far as we know, this will be the first time a youth development approach has been applied to games as a form of youth media.

While the game will not be housed within an educational context, it will provide all of the material required by educators to use the game as a tool within their classrooms. Workshop material will be made available for teaching students how to think critically about an issue, as well as assisting educators with the incorporation of the game itself into their curriculum.

This presentation also will include an overview of the research that will be happening along side the Playing 4 Keeps game development process. In addition to teaming up with gameLab, Global Kids is collaborating with the Center for Children and Technology, which will serve as the program evaluator and formative research partner. This research will be guided by three questions:

1)How does the Playing 4 Keeps after-school program influence participants’ attitudes about themselves, game design and civic literacy?
2)What do youth game players learn from the Playing 4 Keeps games?
3)In what ways do educators use the game to promote student learning?

Once participating youth and gameLab establish the conceptual approach and basic design of the game researchers will begin to develop data collection instruments, some of which will be integrated into the game. The goal of these instruments is to determine what players learn from their gaming experience. As a result, these instruments may take various forms from a survey or quiz that asks for specific content knowledge to a puzzle that measures skills to a “reporting out” feature that captures conceptual understanding built directly into the structure of the game play itself. Most likely, data collection will happen between levels, where players are asked to reflect upon what happened during the previous level. Additionally, data collection may be embedded within the narrative, allowing players to remain “in character” as they respond.

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