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Virtual Worlds, Learning, & the New Pop Cosmopolitanism


by Constance Steinkuehler — November 17, 2006

American schools largely remain locked within a Ford type factory model of industry and efficiency; games, on the other hand, are forward leaning, recruiting intellectual practices, dispositions, and forms of social organization that are aligned with many of today’s “new capitalist” workplaces. Massively multiplayer online games (MMOs), in particular, function as naturally occurring, self-sustaining, indigenous online communities of learning and practice, and our study of them can tell us something important about how such communities form and function out “in the wild” (Hutchins, 1995). Perhaps most interesting, however, is the constellation of intellectual practices that constitute gameplay in such spaces and the way these coalesce into a form of cosmopolitanism found in the least likely of places: the context of pop culture. Games are incubators of a new pop cosmopolitanism–a discourse, or “way of being in the world” (Gee, 1999), marked by a willingness and ability to navigate an increasingly globalized, diverse, networked, socio-technical world. If our world is indeed becoming increasingly “flat” (Friedman, 2005), then gaming communities such as those found in MMOs are, in some respects, our proverbial canaries in the coalmine.


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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: November 17, 2006
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 12843, Date Accessed: 12/14/2017 4:01:49 PM

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About the Author
  • Constance Steinkuehler
    University of Wisconsin-Madison
    E-mail Author
    CONSTANCE STEINKUEHLER is an Assistant Professor in the Educational Communication & Technology program in the Curriculum & Instruction department at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Her research is on cognition, learning and literacy in massively multiplayer online games (MMOs).
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