This article explores a purpose built learning community, or that which Bruffee (1999) refers to as “conversational community,” of University students. The community functions primarily as a collaborative learning environment, specifically for students studying games design and development at Deakin University. Specifically this article focuses on the electronic, or online learning, “Web community” of the games students. The students typically use the online environment as a supplement to face-to-face lectures and tutorials in games design and development. The games students at the centre of this article are affectionately referred to as “Games Geeks” (with their approval!), and are demographically considered, by virtue of their age, to be Generation Y (those born between 1979 and 2000). Generation Y, and the games students in particular, are collaborative learners with an increased disposition for peer learning and social relationships. Communication amongst Generation Y is continually shifting between face-to-face to online modes, and culturally specific languages such as Leet Speak (Blashki & Nichol, 2005) have evolved as part of these slippery social negotiations and hierarchies. Within the game students’ social and educative milieu, learning via traditional “transmission” forms (the hallmark of university education), is eschewed for a more collaborative and participatory method supplemented by mentor relationships and constructive conversation amongst peers. Active participation and a sense of belonging to a community of knowledgeable peers, allows students to grant authority to their peers for “constructive, reacculturative conversation” (Bruffee, 1999, p. 12) of their work and ideas. Acceptance into the community is dependant upon students being willing to submit to this authority.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Environment: The physical and social elements that surround students in their learning at university as well as their day to day life. In this study known as purpose built learning environment. Environment is a component of the student’s creativity support system.
Generation Y: The generation of people born between 1979 and 2000. They have beliefs and values such as having fun, an enjoyable lifestyle, and having few absolutes for their future.
Creativity: Consists of four components interacting: person, process, product, and environment. Many skills make up what is known as creativity, such as motivation and reflection.
Reflection: A skill within each individual. Thoughts are considered and reflected upon before further investigation.
Community: A social group of any size whose members have a community of interest and cultural background within the games design and development area.
Purpose Built: An environment (encompassing physical, technical, and social components) designed with a specific educational goal in mind.
E-Collaboration: The collaboration of students and staff as well as the facilitation of learning within a Web-based environment.