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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

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
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?
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.
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 -