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Indiana University Bloomington
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Sean Duncan

Assistant Professor Education
Office: W.W. Wright Education Building Room 4020
Phone: (812) 856-8231


  • Ph.D., Curriculum & Instruction (Educational Communications & Technology), 2009, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • M. A., Psychology (Cognitive), 1997, Bowling Green State University
  • B. Phil., Interdisciplinary Studies (Cognitive Science), 1993, Miami University

Research Interests

My research focuses on collaboration and play in informal learning environments, with a primary emphasis on gaming, game design, and gaming culture. I am a research scientist in IU's Center for Research on Learning and Technology, where I direct the Playful Culture Lab. Intersecting with digital media and learning research, I investigate informal learning in interest-driven learning communities, looking at the forms of collaborative learning, design thinking, and complex reasoning that I see as being part and parcel of engagement with media. My work crosses the learning sciences and literacy studies, incorporating perspectives that value the out-of-school forms of learning that are embedded in digital media use. I study games -- not just educational technologies, or digital simulations -- as media, cultural practice, and as engaging contexts for play.

In my current work, I tread the line between design research and empirical research -- I am simultaneously planning new game design projects to help foster financial literacy, and I am investigating online learning environments, looking at badges and other recognition systems in online spaces. I have recently conducted studies of design thinking in online gaming communities, and am currently conducting studies of childhood digital gaming practices, collaboration and computational thinking in board game contexts, and am developing new studies of social expertise in online communities. I have presented work recently at the American Educational Research Association, the International Conference of the Learning Sciences, Games+Learning+Society, Digital Media & Learning, and Internet Research. I am the co-editor (with Elisabeth Hayes) of Learning in Video Game Affinity Spaces, published by Peter Lang.