The Siren Song of Digital Simulation: Games, Procedural Rhetoric, and the Process of Historical Education

The Siren Song of Digital Simulation: Games, Procedural Rhetoric, and the Process of Historical Education

Jerremie Clyde, Glenn Wilkinson
DOI: 10.4018/jvple.2011040105
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This paper contrasts the importance of procedural rhetoric for the use of games in university and college level historical education with the use of history themed digital simulations. This paper starts by examining how history functions as a form of disciplinary knowledge and how this disciplinary way of knowing things is taught in the post secondary history course. The manner in which history is taught is contrasted with its evaluation to better define what students are actually expected to learn. The simulation is then examined in light of learning goals and evaluation. This demonstrates that simulations are a poor fit for most post secondary history courses. The more appropriate and effective choice is to construct the past via procedural rhetoric as a way to use digital video games to make the historical argument.
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Constructing The Past As History

In order to express knowledge in a different format, whether that format is a digital simulation or a gamic representation of a scholarly argument, it is important to know how that knowledge exists. It is crucial to make that decision intentionally because it shows an epistemic awareness that we also want to see in students as critical thinkers. Epistemic cognition is particularly important for history students as valid representations of the past are constructed radically differently depending on the epistemic choices made. Epistemic cognition is the process that enables individuals to develop the criteria for limits and certainty of knowing (Maggioni, VanSledright, & Alexander, 2009), which enables a constructive approach to ambiguity as opposed to the common student misapprehension that historical certainty exists.

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