Posted by: Jared Seay | May 5, 2015

Make a Game out of Learning: But don’t gamify it!

kids in classroomFROM:  April 1, 2015

In MIT’s Education Arcade, classic game consoles line the office corridor; rafters are strung with holiday lights; and inflatable, stuffed, and papier-mâché creatures lurk around every corner. When I stopped by recently, the arcade’s director, Eric Klopfer, and creative director, Scot Osterweil, talked enthusiastically about the surging interest in educational video games, now used by nearly three-quarters of America’s grade-school teachers, according to one survey.

But these optimistic, play-loving game gurus have come to despise the biggest buzzword in their field: gamification. According to Osterweil and Klopfer, both MIT professors, gamification too often means “making a game out of learning,” in which players win points, magical powers, or some other reward for practicing math, spelling, or another school subject. Klopfer and Osterweil argue that the best educational games capture what’s already fun about learning and make that central to the game. Gamification undermines what they see as the real opportunity for games to radically, albeit playfully, transform education.

The arcade, part of MIT’s Scheller Teacher Education Program, partners with schools, gaming companies, and nonprofits to make educational video games. The staff also trains teachers to make their own games and to weave them into lesson plans, via on-campus courses and a new massive open online course, “Design and Development of Games for Learning,” that launches Wednesday.

“If somebody comes to me and says, ‘I want to make math fun,’ I don’t want to work with that person,” said Osterweil, “because they don’t think math is already fun.”


Posted by: Jared Seay | March 13, 2015

Historia: Learning History by Leading (gaming) History

HistoriaKIDSHISTORIA is a game where students team up to lead a civilization. Watch your classroom transform as students research history, debate strategy and take risks that will determine the future of their people. Aligned to most middle school Social Studies Standards. Available for interactive whiteboard, tablet, PC and MAC. (From Historia homepage)

Here’s how HISTORIA works:

The goal of HISTORIA is to grow a civilization and keep it strong over time. Students work in teams to lead fictional civilizations that compete along side (and sometimes against) the great empires of the past. Highly competitive and compelling rigorous, HISTORIA is for teachers who want to give their students a deeply meaningful and engaging learning experience that they will remember forever.

In each unit, or Epoch, students face a Dilemma about which their decisions will impact the future of their people. Students research history — using their textbook, trusted online sites and other resources — to understand how their decisions will impact the economic, military and cultural strength of their civilization. Students are also challenged to assess the potential impact of key Events in each Epoch that might occur and affect the progress of their civilization.

As the results of each turn are revealed, the teams reflect upon the outcome of their decisions and, more importantly, the quality of their research, analysis and decision-making processes to best prepare for the next Epoch.  (Text from “About Historia” from the Historia homepage.)

Sid MeirThe Civilization creator talks about galactic exploration, childhood inspirations, why he’s happy to avoid freemium – and dinosaurs

Posted from The Guardian by Stuart Dredge 27 February, 2015

“Oh, it was a sad and dark time! We had to make our own fun,” says Sid Meier before his mock-sorrow dissolves into laughter. We’ve just asked him about the games he grew up with.

Given that Meier was born in 1954, those games weren’t played on a screen, yet they nevertheless had a strong influence on the video games he went on to create as an adult, from the seafaring adventure Pirates! to his seminal strategy series Civilization, and the upcoming title Starships.

“I grew up with some board games, and there were also a few war games, then the hex games that I got into a little later,” he says. “Instead of Lego or soldiers on the screen I had real Lego and real toy soldiers.”

“We maybe used our imaginations a little bit more in those days than we have to today. Reading was my growing-up equivalent to playing video games. If there was something I was interested in – pirates, the civil war, airplanes – I would go libraries and get books on it.

READ FULL POST from The Guardian HERE


Posted by: Jared Seay | February 20, 2015

Lessons from Teaching with Games

CluePicReposted from:  Chronicle of Higher Education:  February 19  by

The latest issue of Syllabus, an open access journal that explores the syllabus as a piece of scholarship that should be annotated and shared with the educational community, is entirely dedicated to Teaching with and about Games. As an advocate of games in the classroom, I was very excited when I first saw the call for this issue from editors Jennifer deWinter and Carly A. Kocurek, and I’ve just finished reading through it. There are a number of ideas from the collection (which is practically a book in itself) with possibilities for a variety of disciplines. Here are a few of the takeaways that might inspire you with a new way to bring games into the classroom:
  • Games offer space to explore historical action. Stephen Ortega suggests bringing games into the history classroom as a way to look not only at the representation of history but also at the impact of action: as Ortega explains,  ”games give the player the opportunity to explore historical possibilities and to consider the issue of historical contingency.” It’s easy to dismiss games as flawed, oversimplified representations of history, and of course most games give players agency that makes it impossible to present history as a fixed narrative. In Ortega’s syllabus, however, that very lack of nuanced representation becomes a strength of using games to inspire discussion and research.
  • Writing about games can be an exercise in communication. Stephanie Vie explores the possibilities of video game walkthroughs, an overlooked genre that gamers consult for solutions to difficult puzzles or boss fights. Such walkthroughs demand the writer to be attentive to the needs of their audience and focus on clarity of communicating, as Vie notes: “It can excite students about the fundamentals of professional and technical communication while also introducing students to the rhetorical notion of revision for a particular audience.” This type of project is particularly great as students can see the results of their communication when someone tries to follow their walkthrough in play.
  • Making games can bring students into storytelling. Dean O’Donnell and Jennifer deWinter share an assignment for building alternate reality games, a form of storytelling driven game that unfolds in the real world as I’ve discussed previously. O’Donnell and deWinter discuss making ARGs with students in creative writing and game development courses. I particularly like their achievement-based rubric, which includes social media oriented tasks like using Twitter or Tumblr along with technical challenges like creating an iPhone or Android app to act as part of the game. As O’Donnell and deWinter describe, “ARGs are an excellent way to teach students how to make a story-based game without the substantial time and resource investment required to create simulated environments populated by computerized people and objects.”

    These are just a few of the ideas shared in the Teaching with and about Games issue, and as bringing games into the classroom is becoming even more popular there are lots more materials out there for inspiration.

Posted by: Jared Seay | February 13, 2015

New Games & Learning Site

gamesandlearning_logoReposted from

About Games & is a news and information service aimed at increasing the amount of information available for those interested in developing and funding new educational games for children and young adults. The site is operated by the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and is a project of the Games and Learning Publishing Council. The Council and the Site are made possible by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

The gaming industry has grown to be a behemoth $65 billion-a-year industry, with products ranging from arcade-style shooter games to increasingly complex tools for learning and education. Although games have for decades made their way into classrooms and informal learning outlets, there are few major sources to inform the development and funding of games with overt or subtle educational components. provides an unbiased source for research to help those producers and funders who want their games to “do good” and to assess what has and has not worked.

To serve game developers and foundations, venture capitalists, government agencies and others who support the development of new games, we will produce a variety of content including:

  • Market snapshots. These brief reports will help to explain the potential markets for new games, including size, challenges and opportunities.
  • Translation of Research. These reports will offer possible takeaways that are often hidden in academic journals and highlight the best new research.
  • Explainers. These reports will explain some of the more arcane and jargon-filled aspects of the educational games market, introducing and analyzing key trends.
  • Commentaries. Track the thinking of some of the leaders in the industry through timely and engaging op-eds and audio interviews.
  • Future Features? Well, that is partly up to you. If you have news and information needs about this sector, please don’t hesitate to contact us with suggestions, critiques or rants.
Posted by: Jared Seay | February 11, 2015

Revolutionary Learning

revereI recently came across this blog from Excelsior College called Revolutionary Learning.  The blog is part of Excelsior’s site Center for Game and Simulation-based Learning.   The Center’s goal ass stated is to “provide a transformative model for learner success through the expanding field of educational games and simulations including curriculum and learner support innovation.”  Among the many objectives of the center is to “integrate educational games and simulations across the curriculum at all levels of education in order to foster a transformative learning environment.”

Though the blog you are now reading (Gaming for Learning in Libraries) is produced through the lens of using libraries as a place to facilitate game based learning (GBL), the Center at Excelsior exemplifies attempts wider attempts in higher education to bring this “revolutionary learning” to pass.

David Seelow, PhD is the founding director of the Center and the creator of the new Revolutionary Learning blog.  I quote him from the first post in January of this new blog describing the Center’s goal to “explore new pathways to improve learning at all age levels, from early childhood to adult. ”

“This new blog represents one of the Center’s many proposed paths to achieve this goal. Our hope is to become a go-to platform for thought leadership; a stage for guest contributors to offer their industry expertise to like-minded reformers. The more perspectives this blog can infuse into a national conversation on innovative pedagogy, the better for everyone concerned with improving American education.”

 Jared Seay

Seelow invites any and all to contribute ideas, thoughts, and posts to his blog.

Revolutionary Learning:


Posted by: Jared Seay | January 29, 2015

Can Games Make High-Stakes Tests Obsolete?

testscoringNobody likes high-stakes testing. The problems are well documented. But maybe games can help to change the way we approach assessment.

Games allow processes to take place all at once–instruction and assessment simultaneously happening through practice re-imagined as play.

Jordan Shapiro, Digital Learning Coordinator for Temple University’s Intellectual Heritage Department shows how games are especially well suited to take over and greatly  improve the job that standardized testing has held for decades.

FULL ARTICLE at Mind/Shift

Posted by: Jared Seay | January 7, 2015

Classroom Game Design

Classroom Game Design: Paul Andersen at TEDxBozeman
Paul Andersen has been teaching science in Montana for the last eighteen years. He explains how he is using elements of game design to improve learning in his AP Biology classroom. Paul’s science videos have been viewed millions of times by students around the world. He was the 2011 Montana Teacher of the Year and he is currently a science teacher at Bozeman High School. For more information on Paul’s work visit (from the TED description)

From original post by Beth Hawkins of MinnPost.

Third grade teach Ananth Pai developed a system of using data make individualized curriculum for his students using educational games.  “Pai’s work brilliantly showcased the potential for some of the ideas currently generating the most buzz in education policy circles: Blended learning, personalized learning, data-driven instruction.”*

Hawkin’s post of this story includes a short (13 min) video documenting Pai’s efforts. But, the most amazing thing is that this incredibly successful result has largly been ignored by the bureaucracy, and was completly done in spite of the bureaucracy. “Pai’s brave experiment is fun to hear about, but the point of the EE video is that organizations resist change. (And the nonprofit is very careful to note that the resistance in this story does not accrue to a school, district or agency; it’s a systemic issue.)”*

* Beth Hawkins of the MinnPost


See full article and video @ MinnPost

Posted by: Jared Seay | October 16, 2013

Games for Educators Site:


Featured Site:

(  This is a varied and resource rich site.  It includes articles, game reviews, free games, interviews, teaching strategies, games and school libraries podcasts, and links to other web podcasts.  It is geared toward teachers, homeschoolers and parents, and librarians.

Our Mission

The Games for Educators web site and newsletter are dedicated to supporting the use of games and toys in education. We want to help educators of all types fully engage the minds of children, and take advantage of all the benefits that play brings.

—  From the “About” section of this site:

Older Posts »



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.