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Introduction to Games in Education. Mark Wagner Coordinator Educational Technology. What is Hard Fun ?. “It’s hard. It’s fun. It’s LOGO.” (1st Grader) “I have no doubt that this kid called the work fun because it was hard rather than in spite of being hard.” (Seymour Papert)

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Introduction to Games in Education

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Introduction to games in education

Introduction to Games in Education

Mark Wagner

Coordinator Educational Technology

What is hard fun

What is Hard Fun?

  • “It’s hard. It’s fun. It’s LOGO.” (1st Grader)

  • “I have no doubt that this kid called the work fun because it was hard rather than in spite of being hard.” (Seymour Papert)

  • “How do we make writing become hard fun?” (Seymour Papert)

  • Seymour’s gears…

Welcome and introductions

Welcome and Introductions

  • Name

  • Site

  • Grade / Subject

  • What were your gears?

  • What are your students’ gears?



Piaget, Papert, Prensky

and more…

Purpose rationale

Digital Natives & Digital Immigrants (Prensky, 2001)

Incidental vs. Intentional Learning (Jonassen, 2002)

enGauge 21st Century Skills (NCREL, 2003)

Digital Age Literacies

Inventive Thinking

Effective Communication

High Productivity

Constructivist Learning Environments…

Context, Choice, Collaboration (Wagner, 2005)


Relevant theorists

Relevant Theorists

  • Jean Piaget (1929 to 1976)

  • Seymour Papert (1980, 1993, 1996)

  • Marc Prensky (2001)

  • James Paul Gee (2003, 2005)

  • Clark Aldrich (2004, 2005)

  • Graduate Students…

Jean piaget

Jean Piaget

  • Cognitive Structures & Schemes

  • Functional Invariants

    • Adaptation

    • Organization

  • Adaptation

    • Assimilation

    • Accommodation

  • Stage Theory

Seymour papert

Seymour Papert

  • Mindstorms, 1980

  • The Children’s Machine, 1993

  • The Connected Family, 1996


Marc prensky

Marc Prensky

  • Digital Game-Based Learning, 2001



James paul gee

James Paul Gee

  • What Video Games Have To Teach Us About Learning and Literacy, 2003

  • Why Video Games are Good For Your Soul, 2005

Clark aldrich

Clark Aldrich

  • Simulations and the Future of Learning, 2004

  • Learning by Doing, 2005

  • Learning Circuits

Virtual leader

Virtual Leader



Graduate students

Graduate Students

  • Nick Yee

  • Kurt Squire

  • Constance Steinkuehler

  • Fiona Littleton

  • Mark Wagner

  • And more…

Share resources

Share Resources

  • Share new or striking ideas from your own…

    • Reading

    • Listening

    • Viewing

    • Experience

Break 5 minutes

Break - 5 minutes

Hands on

Hands On

Experience an Educational Game

The WFP’s Food Force

Richard halverson 2005

Richard Halverson (2005)

“Nowhere is the current generational gap in technology greater than in game literacy, and while asking school leaders and teachers to play commercial video games may be a stretch, integrating game-based learning experiences in their professional development may help them see the merits of gaming from the inside.”

Reflection questions

Reflection Questions

  • What was your experience like as a player?

  • What relationships do you see between this game and the theories we discussed?

Break 5 minutes1

Break - 5 minutes

Games in your classroom

Games in Your Classroom

What can you use on Monday?

Web based games

Web-based Games

  • Browser based

  • Mostly FREE

  • Engaging and content related

  • Great for younger students

Commercial off the shelf cots games

Commercial Off The Shelf (COTS) Games

  • Teachers may not be able to develop a cutting edge game, but many games can be repurposed.

  • “Instead of embedding a game into learning, it is possible to embed learning into a game.” (Downes, 2005)

Civilization iii

Civilization III

  • Real Time Strategy

  • Systems Content

  • Social Studies Concepts

  • Complexity, flexibility, replayability

  • Failure and choice

  • Kurt Squire’s Dissertation (2004)

Kurt squire 2005

25% complained the game was too hard, complicated and uninteresting.

25% loved playing the game,thought it was a “perfect way to learn history”, and a highlight of their year.

Students played the game in different ways, leading to highly different understandings.

Playing games does not appeal to everyone, and no one game appeals to all gamers.

Kurt Squire (2005)

Making history

Making History

  • Designed for education!

  • Assessment features

  • Successfully piloted

Unreal tournament

Unreal Tournament

  • First Person Shooter

  • Mod-able

  • Used to teach chemistry!

Neverwinter nights

Neverwinter Nights

  • Role Playing Game (RPG)

  • Toolset for user-made content

  • Teachers can be gamemasters (GMs)

  • MIT’s Revolution Mod



  • Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games

  • Context, Choice, Collaboration

  • Guilds!

Teen second life

Teen Second Life

  • 13-18 year olds

  • Avatar customization

  • User created content

  • In game economy

And more

Age of Empires

Age of Mythology

Rise of Nations


The Sims

SimCity etc…

Zoo Tycoon etc…


And More…

Designing a game

Benefits of design

Deep understanding of the subject required and developed

Variables identified

Relationships between variables identified

Inventive thinking

Benefits of implementation

Technical Literacy

Effective Communication

High Productivity

Designing a game?

Think pair share

Think, Pair, Share

  • What are some possible uses for games in your class?

Lesson planning

Lesson Planning

  • Outline a lesson plan incorporating a game into your class.

What would a state of the art instructional video game look like gee 2005

What would a state of the art instructional video game look like? (Gee, 2005)

Just do it aldrich 2005

Just do it! (Aldrich, 2005)

“[Teachers] can nudge. They can implement. They can make case studies.” (2005)

Games in education part ii

Games in Education, Part II

  • Social Constructivism:




  • Serious Games

  • Games for Change

  • May 9th, 2006 -

Go forth and do great things

Go forth and do great things!

Mark Wagner


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