I am teaching a course on Emerging Instructional Technologies at the University of Northern Iowa. I want to integrate gaming into the course but don't know how. I don't want to have a single night where I say "here are a couple of games that could be used to teach about the Civil War." Nor do I want to have gaming take up a good part of the semester.

What are you suggestions? What have you done? Can you recommend any free, online simulation games?


Leigh Zeitz

Tags: emerging, gaming, technologies, university

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Leigh, Have you seen this one:

How about the work by James Paul Gee?

GREAT stuff, Ed Jones!

Prensky's work is crucial in this field.

I found the Games Learning Society a valuable resource for mods for games like Civilization.

How do you use games in your teaching?

Check out http://historytech.wordpress.com/page/2/?s=gaming. Glen seems to do a better job of discussing gaming in education than anyone I've seen. He also has a very cool presentation at http://www.slideshare.net/glennw98/video-games-in-learning-laptop-l... on the subject.

My take is a little different. I don't personally focus on gaming IN education I focus on gaming AS education. I think games teach things by their nature not by their content. I realize that is probably not what you're looking for so hopefully the links above will work for you.

Thanks for the references, Kev. You are right about Glen addressing the gaming issue. I especially like his posting about Grading with Gaming and his reference to Gee.

How do you use gaming in your classes?

I use game principles as a model for how I run my class. Things like presentation, exploration, progression, etc. This year I'm adding the ability to "level up" to more complex assignments.

You can see my website at mrroughton.com and it might give a better picture. There are some cheesy flash games I've made on there too.
Hey Dr. Z-
What you are describing is a real issue. To do something significant with games in the classroom, it takes significant time. I addressed some of these issues in my K12online conference presentation Games in Education (it's a short video), and there is a companion wiki with lots of resources for teachers using games in the classroom.

For me, Prensky's work is a bit hysterical. I don't believe that children's brains have changed or anything like that. To me, it's obvious that you can learn from games, but the question is can you learn what school wants you to learn.

By the way, I've done some video chats with grad classes where we explore what makes a game educational, and how to quickly figure out which ones are right for your classroom. Happy to help if you'd like!
First, you cannot declare "games" as a singular educational pedagogy. Moreover most people mistakenly equate simulations as games (Ian Bogost most notably), in truth if its a game, the sim-ness dissipates (more on this in a moment)

Anyhow, on Sims - History- ish topics
http://civworld.gameslearningsociety.org/ - as noted by others here :)
http://website.education.wisc.edu/kdsquire/research.html - Squire has been at this for while...he's behind the Civ stuff

Now For Management and Leadership,
IBM's got some articles, can't recall this at the moment.
(there's plenty of free RPG's online now)

Games to teach Social Awareness
Or Politics

Meanwhile there's the basics...
Crossword Puzzles and Quiz Games
Its easy to forget these are still around...

Books -

Serious Games
For a Buck, buy the 1971 version - role-playing in the classroom. Frankly as a guide if you can't prototype an educational game in your live classroom, you can't make one work on the computer either

Lastly what have I done, well with UB's Kidsteam I reviewed dozens of education games and prototypes. As for writing, I deal with Fake Fun (why educational games aren't fun) and the Ludic - Narrative divide as it applies to educational games. Building educational games, lol I don't really believe in them, so I've only dabbled. I did work for game company in Finland, prior to teaching, so not like I can't build my own. My own work is about synchronous web3D and instructor led practices.

My advice, break the class into groups and address different genres of educational games.
Heck get some of off the computer and try role-playing a murder mystery - or a sport...(physical education?)

Taking a simulation only approach will only further bind them to the current pop culture academic trend, and limit their ability to dig deeply into the learning practices and educational outcomes possible via games.

Do some presentations and comparisons between groups at the end...

Oh and "sim-ness dissipates" in Jesper Juul's Half Real he cites someone for purpose of the Ludic - Narrative divide, can't recall who - but the gist was that players actively reduce/abstract the information in games and game problems to improve performance. This act of reduction often shatters the "scaffolding" notions people want. Only in true sims where Ludic & Narrative match real world actions OR in Crosswords / Trivia Games where Ludic and Narrative elements are separate does this reductive act not happen... (Of course management, creative, and social games, don't quite get hit by this - but then again they often offer the best results upon game failure - aka a moment of reflection outside the game process proper...)

Part of what we are doing now is to identify what brain research is telling us about how people learn best. The interesting thing that keeps coming up is how much game developers rely on brain research to help them create really engaging (and profitable!) games.

So two things:

1. We should continue to use and explore how best to use games because they cause all kinds of good things to happen in the heads of our kids.
2. We should figure out those parts of the gaming experience that are good and use those ideas (based on brain research) to develop better instructional units and lesson plan design.

Good instructional design and good game design look similar because they are both based on how the brain learns best.

It may be too late at this point but I have put together a list of some example games/sims/web/print resources at a couple of places:

Wii ideas:

iPod Touch ideas & resources


(Kev listed some other places in an earlier comment - Thanks, Kev!)

I would enjoy talking more if others are interested!

Glenn Wiebe
I spent the last four years "collecting" web sites that feature learning games, simulation, flash content, etc. With these resources I have created my own web site for teachers sorted by subject and topic. All the links are graphical which makes it easy for the younger grades to use. Feel free to use it in your class! Here is the link:


- Scott



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