Science Fiction and Gaming in the High School Classroom

Date December 31, 2008

In Novemember at NCTE I headed into a session where PJ Haarsma, the author of The Softwire series, was presenting on Science Fiction and Gaming in the High School Classroom. I was hoping to have PJ sign his up and coming book The Softwire: Wormhole Pirates on Orbis 3. When I walked in, Jim Blasingame, ASU professor and presentation chair, welcomed me, shook my hand, and told me that he wanted me to join the panel. I was surprised, but eager. I joined PJ, Jim, Pete, and a teacher named Kristina on a panel to discuss how to use video games to get kids excited about reading science fiction.

PJ discussed what he and Jim calls the simulated literary experience (SLE), and that reminded me of how we now see more and more trailers for books, instead of just movies. PJ uses video games to hook readers, and he and Dr. Goggin suggest that we need to redefine “literacy”. Literacy is now whatever we want it to be as creator and consumer. We cannot define literacy as just the ability to read and write; literacy in the 21st century included images, audio and video, too (for example see Gee 2003).

The concept of multimodal composition isn’t a new one, but a colleague and I have been developing courses at Mesa Community College that move beyond the traditional formal papers and more into the 21st century multimodal realms.

In what quickly became my portion of the panel presentation, I discussed the use of wikis to generate collective intelligence lexicons based on Haarsma’s The Softwire Series; of (when) the students generate the lexicon, PJ hopes to publish it in the rear of the paperback in March 2009. I just need to better motivate the students to become excited about this entire endeavor. I am also excited that on another level, this may lead to other presentation and publications for us. The power of technology used to increase youth literacies is exciting.

A couple weeks after that presentation, my name popped up on the grid here. I didn’t know the video from the presentation was online. Here it is. 🙂