Educating Teachers in Game-Based Learning
In the article “Bringing Game-Based Learning to Scale (pdf),” Merrilea J. Mayo from the Kauffman Foundation says this about game-based learning (GBL):
“…the question arises as to why a wildly popular medium in other spheres has not gained a greater foothold in both formal and informal education.”
In other words, what will it take to get GBL pedagogy to finally “take off” and become a standard and accepted way to educate our students?
TEACHER EDUCATION PROGRAM IN GBL
One of the biggest obstacles to wide-scale acceptance of GBL in our classrooms is the lack of proper training for our teachers. In order for GBL pedagogy to really take hold in K-12 education (and in higher education), we need teachers who are knowledgeable and skilled in teaching via gaming activities.
According to this Education Week article, “virtual schools are exploring how to become providers to teachers as well as students.” As a logical extension to my virtual game-based learning online academy, I have started to lay the groundwork for an online teacher education program to train teachers on the design and implementation of GBL activities in a classroom or online setting.
The program will be geared toward both pre-service teachers in teacher education programs and also in-service teachers and administrators as professional development in GBL.
- Evaluating and Using Videogames, Educational Games, Online Games, and Non-Digital Games in the Classroom
This is the area that most people think about when they hear the term “game-based learning.” This course is about evaluating all types of games to ascertain their relevance and effectiveness in student learning:
- Commercial, off-the-shelf videogames that have potential educational value, such as Civilization V for history and Portal 2 for physics
- Made-for-education games, such as DimensionU, Conspiracy Code, and Lure of the Labyrinth
- Sandbox building games, such as Minecraft and Terraria
- Online educational game “collections,” such as Primary Games Arena, BrainPOP, and zondle
- Non-digital games, such as conventional board games and card games
- Evaluating and Using Game Design and Development Tools
Having students design and develop their own games is a powerful way to have students learn not only about the technical and creative aspects of making a game but also about content-specific topics (such as history or math) that needs to be embedded in the game. Popular game creation tools include:
- Designing and Implementing Educational Alternate Reality Games and Other New Media Games
In this course, teachers will learn how to design and develop their own educational alternate reality game or other new media game that does not require programming skills nor a large development team to build. As they design their games, teachers will learn strategies about how to use game mechanics and storylines to ensure that the game covers relevant academics standards.
- Utilizing Gamification Elements in the Classroom or Online Course
Using game elements and principles to turn a class into a more game-like setting can be a way to help motivate and engage students. In this course, teachers will learn about the pros and cons of using gamification strategies, such as the use of badges and point systems, in the classroom or online course and ways in which they can implement these strategies.
Ideally, I would like to integrate this program into one or more existing teacher education programs in a higher education institution. There are not many online teacher education programs (yet), so this program could provide an online component to complement existing brick-and-mortar programs.
Regarding professional development for in-service teachers, this program can start up fairly quickly with one or two online workshop in GBL, and then eventually expand into a series of workshops and/or full courses. Again, it would be ideal to be able to partner with existing schools of education, but another avenue might be to form a nonprofit organization to focus on offering professional development.
I would also be open to partnering with any existing teacher education programs or projects related to GBL. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment below if you would like to collaborate or become involved in some way in this program.
Otherwise, if you’re just interested in GBL and/or teacher education, please feel free to post your comments below. Thanks a lot for your interest and feedback!