Blogs on Game-Based Learning

Game-Based Learning

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Get tips, techniques, and tools that apply the principles of game design to the learning process -- engaging kids and helping educators assess learning.

Junaid KhanApril 8, 2014

The creative potential of LittleBigPlanet 2 (LBP2) is evident as soon as the PlayStation console is turned on. The game opens with a colorful video that exposes first-time users to an amazing storyline, a host of characters and -- most importantly for teachers -- an endless variety of spaces in which creativity and collaboration are the theme and focus of the gameplay.

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Matthew FarberMarch 28, 2014

All games tell stories. Unlike other media (books, television, film), the interactivity puts the player in the role of protagonist. Writing games can be quite complex and involve more than characters and dialogue. To get a better understanding, read this article by Darby McDevitt, lead writer of Assassin's Creed. He explains the prewriting and production process. Students should be surprised (as was I!) at how sophisticated game writing is.

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The breakthrough happened after the student took the Bartle's Gamer Profile Quiz and we found out that he was a "killer." Off-the-charts killer, but achievement meant nothing to this student. Just like grades.

No, we haven't identified the next school shooter, and I sure wish that Bartle hadn't named one of the four gamer profiles "killer" -- but nonetheless, this student identified with this profile. Jane McGonigal mentioned it in her Gaming Can Make a Better World TED Talk when she discussed an epic meaning. My so-called "killer" student (and we really should rename this when applying it to education!) simply saw things as a battle between good and evil and wanted to fight on the side of good in an epic quest to make the world a better place. Points don't matter in gameplay, and grades don't matter, either. But when we tweaked the kinds of work he was doing in our Gamifi-ED project to focus on "world-changing games," he was suddenly engaged. Now his face lights up when he sees me. He's one of the first kids to class. He's an engaged gamer and, finally, an engaged student.

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Leah HirschMarch 11, 2014

For 12 weeks, sixth graders in my class embark on a learning adventure based on the misadventures of a fictional character called Dr. Smallz. The class is a hands-on, inquiry-based, integrated science and math course. Students get a chance to be scientists, designers, makers and players as they learn all about human body systems, cellular functions, and the ability of the human organism to maintain dynamic equilibrium. The Dr. Smallz Mission is a great example of the type of game-like learning experience that creates a powerful "Need to Know" in students, leaving them hungry to learn more.

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Tara JeffsMarch 10, 2014

The sandbox of today has gone digital and is filled with dynamic touch screens that permeate the play area with brilliant colors, music and animation. These devices provide opportunities to increase engagement, participation and social interactions. Parents, educators and related service providers seek out activities that ensure young children can reach their potential. The brilliant colors and unique interface of today's technologies offer young learners the opportunity to explore and learn in brief-yet-powerful, on-demand learning intervals with increased focus and motivation.

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Monica BurnsMarch 6, 2014

There are so many ways to use mobile devices with students. You can create interactive textbooks for children to read, ask them to explain their thinking through screencasting or help them access informational text using QR codes. Mobile devices can also be used to help students practice foundational math skills and build their math fluency.

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Matthew FarberFebruary 19, 2014

All well designed games begin with a spirit of fun. Some games must deliver a serious and purposeful message, too. An example is Nightmare: Malaria, an iPad game with a similar mechanic as the popular side-scroller Limbo. The difference here is its message: malaria is dangerous and kills, especially in developing nations. Actress Susan Sarandon voices the beginning cut scene, and the action takes place within a sick young girl's blood vessels and brain. The mission is to save teddy bears while avoiding mosquitoes. It's dark and chilling, yet still engaging to play -- no easy feat! When you die, a message about malaria pops up, along with a plea for donating mosquito nets. To preview the game, download for free, or donate a net, go to Escape the Nightmare.

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Rick BrennanFebruary 11, 2014

History is the greatest story ever told. However, what makes history so compelling a story too often gets lost in translation in the classroom. As a result, students start tuning out social studies -- sometimes as early as middle school -- despite their teachers' best efforts.

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aaronkaioFebruary 4, 2014

When I was in middle school, I had a U.S. history class that I can remember almost nothing about. The only thing I recall was that during a really exciting jeopardy game, the teacher asked me about a French word somehow connected to fur trappers during the colonization of North America, and I didn't recall ever seeing it in the book. Honestly, that is the only thing I remember. Oh wait, I also remember that we took a lot of true and false quizzes.

When I became a teacher, I knew that I wanted my classes to be different.

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Alicia IannucciJanuary 14, 2014

In my sixth grade integrated math and ELA class at Quest to Learn, students play a board game called Caterpillar to learn about probability and statistics. As a founding teacher at the NYC public school with a unique game-like learning model (currently in its fifth year), I have worked through many iterations of this game and how it affects students' mathematical experience over the years.

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