Edutopia: Game-Based Learning Units for the Everyday Teacher

17 10 2011

By Andrew Miller

Edutopia LogoGame-based learning (GBL) is getting a lot press. It is an innovative practice that is working to engage kids in learning important 21st century skills and content. Dr. Judy Willis in a previous post wrote about the neurological benefits and rationale around using games for learning. She also gives tips about using the game model in the classroom. James Paul Gee has long been a champion for game-based learning in speeches, blogs, and books. Quest to Learn, located in New York City, infuses technology with game-based learning, where entire units utilize missions, boss levels, and the like for learning important standards. Here is the next step: taking these great rationales and examples and making it work for the everyday teacher.

Myths About Game-Based Learning

First, let’s clarify a couple things. One common myth about GBL is that it requires high-level technology. Another is that it is simply using games, whether physical or on the web, in the classroom. These ideas are not entirely true. Yes, GBL can be more rockstar when using technology, but it is not a requirement. No, GBL is not simply using games in the classroom. It is about making a rigorous unit of study a robust game, not just one day, where multiple games and challenges are used to explore concepts and learning targets in depth.

Gee refers to teachers as “learning designers,” and I couldn’t agree more. Teachers are the designers of all the components of the learning environment for students, from the management to the assessment. So here is the question for each educator: How do I design engaging game-based units in my classroom to assess important learning targets?

Inspired by the work I’ve seen, here is an overview of components and structure for the everyday teacher to implement game-based learning.

(Full Story)

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