Inside, Outside, and Off-Site: Social Constructivism in Mobile Games

Inside, Outside, and Off-Site: Social Constructivism in Mobile Games

Denise M. Bressler (Rutgers University, USA), Julie Oltman (Lehigh University, USA) and Farah L. Vallera (Lehigh University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3949-0.ch001
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Well-designed mobile games that require player agency and meaning making are excellent examples of constructivist learning. Mobile games can generate a myriad of different learning experiences such as discovery learning and contextually based learning. One of the most powerful affordances of games is promoting social learning, or social constructivism; collaborative games provide plenty of opportunities for peer scaffolding and collaborative discourse. This chapter details three mobile augmented reality games designed to afford constructivist learning through collaborative interactions: one inside a school, one on and around school grounds, while the last one is located at a working farm. We hope to demonstrate that collaborative mobile games represent a flexible approach that can promote meaningful learning across subjects, ages, and even environments. Game-based learning (GBL) can, does, and should continue to occur in class; however, GBL can also be effectively implemented outside and even far away from the classroom, off-site.
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The games discussed in this chapter draw on a vast body of literature from foundational educational theorists such as Piaget and Vygotsky to today’s top thinkers in the games and learning field such as Kurt Squire and Eric Klopfer. Since all of the games discussed in this chapter are collaborative, we start off with some background literature on social constructivism. Then, we will bring you up to speed on some of the literature pertaining to games and learning. Lastly, we include some of the foundational research on collaborative mobile games that helped us to set up our game designs.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Moravians: A Protestant religious group that emigrated to America in the 18th century to escape persecution. Their church is still active today.

Quick-Response (QR) Codes: Visual markers that look like two-dimensional barcodes. They contain digital information such as a website address. Special software is required to scan them and access the embedded information.

GPS: An acronym that stands for Global Positioning System. It is a radio navigation system that enables the determination of exact position anywhere in the world.

Augmented Reality (AR): Augmented reality is a virtual media platform that provides overlays of digital information on top of real-world objects, images, or quick response (QR) codes.

Social Constructivism: A theory of learning mainly associated with Vygotsky that emphasizes intrinsic learning through social interactions.

STEM: The acronym stands for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It’s an interdisciplinary educational approach where learners engage in real-world problem solving.

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