Reading Blog 14 – November 2, 2015

“Q&A: Howard Rheingold on Using Technology to Take Learning into Our Own Hands” and “Q&A: Constance Steinkuehler on Games in the Classroom.” Excerpt From: Spotlight on Digital Media & Learning. “Leading Thinkers: Digital Media & Learning.” iBooks.

The MacArthur foundation has conducted a multitude of interviews with digital technology educators across the United States to gauge their opinions on how digital media correlates with educational learning. The first interview that we read was with Howard Rheingold, who is a digital media critic and educator. Rheingold argues that digital media is a way for students to take their learning into their own hands. He elaborates on this idea that we’ve already talked about in class which is about the “empowered user.” Rheingold believes that because of digital media, students are able to break the mold of traditional learning. This idea is what scares digital immigrants the most, especially educators. Rheingold brings up the factor of compliance, and how educators like traditional forms of learning because it teaches students how to comply to traditional roles. However, new advances in digital technology allow students to collaborate on new ideas and gain knowledge on their own. Rheingold coins the term “peera-gogy” to describe the way students bounce ideas off of each other. Of course, these new forms of learning can’t be attributed to just technology, Rheingold argues. It is the combination of access to technology and critical thinking that helps students empower themselves and take responsibility for their own learning.

This sense of autonomy and empowerment is especially important when discussing the relationship between video games and learning. A lot of the times, people think that they can just apply any old concept to a video game, and kids would automatically learn about it because they like to play games. However, Constance Steinkuehler argues otherwise. She claims that in order for video games to be an effective tool in a students’ learning, it needs to give the student a sense of autonomy from the classroom. It’s a way for students to be in charge of what their learning. Steinkuehler suggests that the best way for video games to really assist in the learning of students is by making sure that it has a clear purpose. However, it can’t be a straightforward representation of that purpose. But rather, it should be like a “trojan horse.” That’s why Steinkuehler believes that indie video games are one of the best ways students can learn, because indie game designers are creative in the way that they convey their message, while posing a challenge to their players.


  1. “Using technology as a learning tool, not just the cool new thing” –
  2. “Here’s how we can reinvent the classroom for the Digital Age” –
  3. “Are we losing our ability to think critically?” –

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are some examples of games that have shown a clear purpose, without being too obvious? As a class, do we feel like these games are effective?
  2. Do students like using technology in the classroom because it helps them to think critically, or because they feel like it just makes hard work easier? Or both?

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